Small is equal to the distance between me and every other person in the world. Between technology, media, curiosity, etc., the distance is pretty short. I am no longer dependent on someone else's story of what is over yonder, but can actually (virtually) be there.
Larger is equal to the number of people that are in my immediate vicinity (whether physically or virtually) that can influence me or other people around me. In the earlier times there were thousands and thousands of villages each containing a few hundred people. That was the only "world" they needed to concern themselves with. Today there are few villages each containing millions of people. That is a lot of change. Maybe more than humanly conceivable.
So people that fear villages getting even larger WILL propose ways to put up fences. In a small town way that seems to have so much appeal. For me (speaking only for my little piece of humankind) it feels degrading, controlling, and reinforcing of prejudicial thinking (they're not one of us).
I believe that there is nothing random about his place in the discovery cycle. There have been many a thinker and inventor that started as unknown and remained as such. Stories abound of inventors arguing that they "were first". And then there are those selected few intellectuals whose names become household words. Galileo, Newton, Bell, etc.
These people come forth with their discoveries at exactly the time these discoveries need to be made within the context of what mankind can conceptualize and accept. These discoveries become the fuel for other thinkers/inventors so that within a generation we are working to exhaust every new avenue created through these new understandings. It could not be by chance that every time, at the exact right time, a new genius is uncovered.
Through diligent work and with the help of a few thousand rats that volunteered to have their genes spliced, scientists have determined that if my ancestors had enjoyed a larger choice of mates I would now be far healthier. In their words, "They (researchers from the universities of Bath, Edinburgh and Sussex) believe that if our ancestors had benefited from the vast choice of mates available to other species such as mice and rats, there would have been fewer of the mutations in our DNA that can trigger illness."
I not sure if I am happy for all those healthy rats and mice, or saddened at my genetic propensity to illness... Maybe just a bit of each.
Today I ran across this great article at the shifted librarian that includes this wonderful quote, " 'We've got an entire group of people under age 30 who grew up playing video games,' said Jim Gee, professor in the UW-Madison School of Education. 'It's completely changing the way people think about education and the workplace.'
Sometimes even the "smart" folks say dumb things. The implication that the people of the world are getting dumber, like we've hit a tipping point of some kind, is dumbness in itself. My thought is that the people overall (that's me and you too) are not any dumber now than at any other time. What has changed is our ability to know the vastness of dumb. We used to only know one village idiot. Now we can witness the idiot's in every other village as well.
Johnny Carson passed away today. I grew up watching The Late Show. As a teen it marked the end of the day. I had to at least stay up long enough to see his opening monologue. In marriage it was a show we shared together in laughter. When Johnny left TV he left shoes that would not be filled.
To me there was something about him that seemed so real-life. I imagined he was a wonderful friend to those that knew him. I could watch him and imagine he'd be comforting to talk with; That he knew when to share, when to listen, when to laugh, when to help, and when to just be there.
When people like Johnny Carson pass away, at least for me, it takes a moment to put my world, and all the background of life back into order knowing that something is now gone and will not return. Everything is always changing. Some moments are a reminder.
"I teach at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), where the student population is about evenly divided between technologists who care about aesthetics and artists who aren't afraid of machines, which makes it a pretty good place to see the future. Part of the future I believe I'm seeing is a change in the software ecosystem which, for the moment, I'm calling situated software. This is software designed in and for a particular social situation or context."
When I was introduced to computers (remember Ohio State-Compuserve and MAC 512?) there were almost no choices for what programs to use to accomplish any computing task. As a non-techie I simply loaded programs according to what Apple said would work and I was off and running. Though always growing, the population of people who actually understood what was happening "under-the hood" was pretty tiny... And getting paid by a small pool of companies that published the software. For most of us technology was a tool.
Now, an entire generation behind me has grown up using technology as a toy. Not "toy as in "ha-ha", but "toy" as in "I was just playing around and look what I did." They are not constrained by what they don't know. Technology is so familiar to this generation they won't allow companies to control their curiosity (and along the way rejuvinated the curiosity in the rest of us).
Their curiosity has driven battles over intellectual property, file sharing, open source vs. closed, net access, and on and on.
And their curiosity has led to knowledge... And we all know what knowledge leads to; Choice. Most of us started with Netscape because that is what "worked", then, most of us switched to Interent Explorer (let's not debate how THAT happened) because we believed it worked better.
Now there's a generation of users that knows enough to ask, "Why?" And when they don't like the answers, they come up with their own. They use technology to spread their answers; to ask new questions; and create new answers.
IE is losing market share because we've stopped being dependent on what we're told and are acting on what we know.
While researching labor statistics I came across this little jewel on the changing workforce released by the folks at Success Performance Solutions. As a tail-end baby-boomer I interpret the declining workforce as a pain for employers and an opportunity for me.
Just a thought; When I am the most stressed my outward signals including voice and breathing calm significantly. Will a machine be able to adjust into this gray area of human variances or am I forced to "act" in order to gain priority? Second thought; This system implies that I am guided by what others determine my priorities should be. I hope if the system becomes commonplace I will be able to sort messages so that I hear the "happy" ones first.
The TNIV (Today's New International Version) of the Bible arrives in stores in mid-February stuffed full of new words to replace "archaic" words. A committee of collaborating scholar's were tasked with making the scripture more understandable for modern readers. At least, that is what the publisher set out to accomplish.
It is true that words and connotations have changed over time. As I read my Bible I do have to pause sometimes over words and sentences that are hard to comprehend because of the way they're written or the words that are used. But it does seem misguided to believe that changing a few words inside a sentence will not change the original meaning and intent of the author.
It's my opinion (as a non-expert in language studies) that if the scholars want to change the bible to reflect modern language usage they would need to re-write entire passages so that the EXACT meaning is still retained. They would need to write fresh sentences as if the Word was being put to paper for the first time.
What they have accomplished in the TNIV is to mute God's voice in favor of their interpretation of His intent. If the TNIV was the only text available to teach from, would new Christian's know God as He intended? This sort of effort WILL effect many generations.
Just as an aside, I am not a Ludite. I do however trust in the "nature of man" to build first, then adapt to the result. Put enough momentum behind any initiative and the nature of man is to be inclusive.
Remember Isaac Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics"?
- A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
- A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
- A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
When we as a society decide to alter what is black and white to fit within what we think will be pleasing to others we are compromising our society's ability to sustain itself. The long term effect of this particular choice? At some point it will be "reasonable" for someone else to determine if your "life" is worth living.
Over a billion people have been directly and traumatically effected by the post-Christmas Tsunami of 2004. Beyond the "right now" is a billion people that will live in a decidedly different way. They will think and feel differently. They'll work differently. They'll love differently. They will treat their world and our world differently. They're already shifting economies and politics, mobilized a globe, and turned talkers into doers.