The pervasive presence of digital technologies in society, and their transformative powers in this second decade of the 21st century, remind us that we have entered new times full of challenges for educational systems. This is globally true even if one recognizes different levels of economic development of countries around the world. Significant and increasing availability of digital technologies has opened windows for people to explore new social spaces of participation and eventually redefine their own identity. In Mexico, there are about 99 million mobile phones, which means 86 phones per each 100 inhabitants. During a trip in the subway, in Mexico City, one can observe how people become isolated whilst using their phones (basic cell phones and even smartphones) for messaging and playing games. Isolation, however, is apparent as the phones mediates their presence in another place. Identity involves presence in social space, but now, social space is extended into a realm of virtual reality, on a permanent basis. The phone is the key to enter and participate in this enlarged infrastructure of society. Friedman (2007) uses the notion of flatness to explain and argue that, with the use of technology resources, more people are involved or can directly collaborate in addressing and discussing societal concerns than ever before. He writes: “what the flattening of the world means is that we are now connecting all the knowledge centers on the planet together into a single global network . . . in an amazing era of prosperity, innovation, and collaboration, by companies, communities, and individuals” (p. 8). Digital technologies have transformed and are transforming human relations and human cognitive powers. Friedman’s book, among others, provides ample evidence of this fact. At the moment, the use of cognitive technologies (Pea, 1985) could be seen as amplifiers of human cognition. For instance, the use of a handheld calculator with Computer Algebra Systems (CAS) can help us solve problems that involve finding the roots of a given polynomial. This is something we could do without the handheld device, but it is faster and convenient to rely on this recourse. Like a magnifying glass, a cognitive technology can improve an ability we already possess. People usually develop this cognitive affordance when they begin representing and exploring tasks through this technology. However, in the long run, this is not quite the only proper role. Like a Trojan horse, a cognitive technology begins working stealthily in our mind and after a while it becomes part of our cognitive resources. This is the case with the technology of writing, for instance. As Donald (2001, p. 302) has explained, literacy skills transform the functional architecture of the brain and have a profound impact on how literate people perform their cognitive work. The complex neural components of a literate vocabulary, Donald explains, have to be hammered by years of schooling to rewire the functional organization of our thinking. Similarly, the decimal system (Kaput & Schorr, 2008, p. 212) first enlarged access to computation and eventually paved the way to the Modern Age.
Today, we cannot imagine the world without these technologies. They have become part of our infrastructure-obviously much more than mere amplifiers. That is, they have become essential tools that everyone learns and uses to sustain individual and social activities. They have rewired, as Donald (2001) wrote, the functional organization of individual brains and, at the same time, have become coextensive with our culture. It is the omnipresence of technologies in society that eventually endow them with invisibility: they blend into society, as people are increasingly accustomed to their effects.