Fischer, G. (2002) Beyond 'Couch Potatoes': From Consumers to Designers and Active Contributors, in FirstMonday (Peer-Reviewed Journal on the Internet), at

Briefly discuss the following issues:

1. what do you consider the main argument of the article?
I consider the main message to be the power of the interrelationship among new media and the mindset of a culture either as designers or consumers. New media has the power to change the cultural mindset, but it is also dependent on a new cultural mindset of designers in order to gain buy-in. People need motivation and need to see the personally, meaningful value of investing time and energy into acting as a designer using new media.

2. do you agree or disagree with the main argument? give a answer based on your own experiences?
I agree with the argument, but I believe it is going to be difficult to establish a balance between a do-it-yourself society and the need for experts in certain situations. The key is knowing oneself well enough to know what you need or want and to be able to explain it to someone else or some system if it is something you are not capable of attaining on your own which is true for many things. It reminds me of the question, do we want to create a world of generalists or a world of specialists or do we need some of both? I know that when I am involved in something like teaching, I feel responsible and accountable for what I do. Too often as a student, I am not asked or sometimes even invited to give much to a situation and therefore, I typically don't get much out of it.

3. enumerate in which situations
3.1. you acted as a designer/active contributor

3.2. you acted as a (passive) consumer

3.3. situations in which you believe you should have acted differently
As a teacher, I act as a designer and active contributor. The challenge for me was to create a learning environment that encouraged everyone to see themselves as active learners and as contributors to the learning experience. I act as a passive consumer when I watch a movie. I am usually motionless, watching and thinking, but I have no power to design or create anything within the movie. When I was in high school, I rarely spoke in class and acted like a passive consumer. I wish I would have been more of an active contributor.

!An exercise in learning for understanding — pick one of the following problems and try to solve it

3. How Old are the Children
3.1. A person visits a family with 3 children and would like to know the ages of the children. The mother tells the visitor: “Their ages multiplied with each other is 36. Their age added is equal to the number on the house.” The visitor goes in front of the house and looks at the number (and she knows now the number). She comes back and says: “I still do not know the age of the children.” The mother then tells her: “The oldest son plays the piano”. Now the visitor knew the age of the children.

3.2. Question: How old are the children? (note: the ages of all children are integers!)

answer briefly the following questions:
1. describe your solution (if you found one) or why you were unable to find one?
I started to write XxYxZ=36 and X+Y+Z=?. Because I don't know the house number, I don't have enough information. I believe that the house number is somehow related to the number of keys on a piano, but I don't really understand the connection between the oldest son playing the piano and figuring out their ages. Other information besides the house number that would be useful are if there are twins in the family.

2. what did you learn solving (or thinking about) the problem?
I like word problems like this one, but I get easily annoyed if I don't have all the information I need to figure it out.

3. what kind of knowledge was most important for solving the problem?
Knowledge about equations and knowledge about the specific situation.

4. are (or would be) computers helpful in solving these problems?
Yes, it would be neat to be given this information, work on it, and then given more information a little bit at a times to scaffold one's thinking and problem-solving.