Block 1, Week 1: E-Learning and Digital Cultures | #edcmooc | THURSDAY

In sociology and philosophy, agency is the capacity of an agent (a person or other entity), to act in a world. The short film, Thursday, depicts two people and a bird family with hugely varying ways of acting and interacting with the world.

The mother bird is shown flying free in the beginning of the film and throughout the film as well. The term “flying free” is an apt one to summarize the birds’ agency with the natural world. On one hand, the birds do have to interact with technology and the modern world; For example, the mother bird is shown flying away from the street sweeping machine while trying to forage for food in the street. The birds, in their own ways, also interact with technology and use it to their advantage, like when the mother bird is shown grabbing a network cable to help reinforce her nest.

There are two people in the film, a man and a woman, who are also shown interacting with the world. They are depicted as anything but free. Technology seems to rule their lives. The woman is shown walking to work through a park (where the mama bird is also shown) and paying absolutely no attention to nature at all. Instead, she is glued to her cell phone. The everyday world of the people, in fact, is shown as very modern and ordered in a grid-like fashion. The patterns in their house are grids; the streets, traffic, office building and their cubicles at work are all shown as grids. I think that these grids also represent the bland efficiency and order of technology. The network outage caused by the mama bird grabbing the network cable brings their work to a complete stop. People are shown bumbling around, not sure what to do. After work, the couple is shown paying for “amazing views” to be had by riding in a great elevator (i.e., another technology). The birds get these views for nothing, because they can fly free, whereas the couple seem to have tethered themselves willingly to technology.

In conclusion, the birds clearly have the most agency in the world depicted in the short film, Thursday. They can live with technology and still fly free. While the couple may have certain gains from using technology, they are also imprisoned by technology to a certain degree without even realizing it and I think that is the main message presented here.

This blog is temporarily getting re-purposed.  I will be posting my responses as part of the coursework for a Coursera MOOC out of the University of Edinburgh, E-Learning and Digital Cultures.


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