Something to Consider During the Holiday

TSTA is off the next couple of weeks. I’m posting twice today. The post below is standard format. Can’t give Michelle Rhee the holiday off, not after this new attack.

 This post is going to be less standard. You see, when we consider the future, it’s possible we have no idea what’s coming. Others are starting to plan it, though.

If you had told someone about the Internet in the early 1980’s, this would have been a ridiculous idea to them. Or consider those black things we used to spin to hear music. Tell someone in the 1970’s about the last 25 years or so. “Digital music? What’s that?” Then “Music without cd’s?” Then “Pay by the SONG?” Then “What do you mean, there are no moving parts in this player?” How about this last question: “You mean the player is in this portable phone thing?”

In the 2004 election, there was no Facebook to speak of. Twitter didn’t exist. In the 2008 election, these were primary means of communication. Technology is changing history…and the way we are making it.

There is a site you might want to hit over the break. It’s called 2020 Shaping Ideas. It comes from Ericsson, the telecom/cell phone company in Sweden. They chose 20 leaders, visionaries, to speak about the future in health care, global poverty, education, and other issues. You may need a sleep aid after watching the videos. You need to watch them, though.

Two of the videos should be especially interesting to you. The first is significant because it deals straight-up with education. The man’s name is J.P. Rangaswami. Watch it, and you will get perhaps your best-ever idea for a student assignment.

The second is both absolutely thrilling and absolutely terrifying. The key questions are these: What if electronic communication wasn’t limited to information? What if it was possible to send more than copies over a fax machine or pictures through an email attachment? What if you could send things, physical objects, through electronic means?

They’re already starting that one. To see the very beginnings of the brave, new, terrifying world, watch Adrian Bowyer’s post on his RepRap machine. Anybody need a coat hook? Children’s shoes? Another RepRap machine?

And that’s just the first phase. I can’t imagine what is coming next. But I probably need to start trying.

Ariana Huffington agrees with me in her video–you don’t know what’s coming in 10 years.

Still, we need to brace for it, and hopefully embrace it.

Here you go. Have a safe, happy, restful, and rejuvenating break!

About Paul T. Henley, Ph. D.
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