I'm back from my winter break from the blog; and am excited to get back to writing eco-literate related posts for music education. On Monday, I'll be presenting a lecture at Elizabethtown College on the intersection of peacebuilding, music, and ecology. Here's a link to the Elizabethtown "Campus Connections" page for Peacebuilding, Music & Ecological Care: The Power of Music-Making in Rooted Places. Its time we declare peace on ourselves, on our communities, and on the more-than-human world.
Okay. I return with a challenging title. Perhaps even a little unfair. A mountebank is a charlatan. Someone who deceives in order to make money. In the case of music education technology mountebanks, there's certainly some money in our field in promoting technology. Its not as bad as large fields like Engineering or Medicine. But any time profit is involved in promoting less sustainable options, we should question technology scholars who avoid discussing negative aspects of technology. Here are two big challenges all technology scholars SHOULD have to address in every single published article, without exception.
1. E-waste. In 2017, the UN released an important report, "United Nations Sytem-wide Response to Tackling E-waste." All technology researchers need to read this report closely, and direct their scholarly effort to critiquing and challenging music education practices that exacerbate the e-waste crisis. E-waste is a problem that affects the global poor, women, and people of color, while tech-heavy pedagogies benefit primarily the global rich, in the U.S. and Europe. We cannot go on having our purchases hurt those on our planet who are suffering the most.
2. Human relationships. With the now infamous pro-Trump Facebook scandals of 2016, little has to be said to the general public (at least those who do not write about technology in journals) about the negative affects of social media on face-to-face relationships. I won't say too much here, but you can start by reading some of the (large amount of) scholarship that challenges social-media-as-unquestionably-good discourse. It's 2019, so I'd start with a recent book, like "Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now." If you start there, you'll at least understand the field on which social media is played.
As it is, David Orr might call our technology scholars ecological yahoos (a phrase he uses in his groundbreaking book Ecological Literacy). If they don't understand the documented impacts of e-waste and possible impacts of social media on human relationships, they can also be called technology yahoos. If we can get every music education technology scholar to consider these two problems, e-waste and human relationships, in a decade we'll understand technology in our field much better than we currently do, where much technological writing might be considered mere advertisement. We can begin to construct a meaningful approach to technological use in the 21st Century. One which addresses the unique economic and ecological challenges we face. Though I joke about it, I'm not actually a Luddite. I am a long-standing user of Facebook and YouTube. There's a chance I spend more time on these platforms than many of our field's technology mountebanks. I played M.U.D.'s in the 90s, and had a Geocities page like everybody else. But, unlike a mountebank, I do know firmly that more isn't always better. One beer isn't bad for you. Ten is horrible. The same is true for technology ... unless you're selling it. If you're an actual scholar, you need to be outlining where the good limits are to be found.