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A lesson in progress: we dont believe in change.

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  • A lesson in progress: we dont believe in change.

    We simply dont believe in change. People dont WANT to believe in change, because the idea that things will be different tomorrow is a scary prospect. This is the reason that the future has always been science fiction. But how many of those science fiction novelties have become reality? Sure, we dont have jetpacks and flying cars, but theres a hell of a lot that we have accomplished that 50 years ago was the subject of whimsical future-fantasy. I've seen it throughout my entire life. There are hundreds of cliche examples.
    "Man will never be able to fly."
    "We will never reach the moon."
    "The internet will fail."
    Wait, what?

    Yeah, I hadnt heard that either, until a friend of mine pointed me toward a newsweek article from 1995, which I have quoted below. Please read it for a good retrospective chuckle. I know I did.
    Originally posted by Newsweek
    By Clifford Stoll | NEWSWEEK
    From the magazine issue dated Feb 27, 1995

    After two decades online, I’m perplexed. It’s not that I haven’t had a gas of a good time on the Internet. I’ve met great people and even caught a hacker or two. But today, I’m uneasy about this most trendy and oversold community. Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic.

    Baloney. Do our computer pundits lack all common sense? The truth in no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.

    Consider today’s online world. The Usenet, a worldwide bulletin board, allows anyone to post messages across the nation. Your word gets out, leapfrogging editors and publishers. Every voice can be heard cheaply and instantly. The result? Every voice is heard. The cacophany more closely resembles citizens band radio, complete with handles, harrasment, and anonymous threats. When most everyone shouts, few listen. How about electronic publishing? Try reading a book on disc. At best, it’s an unpleasant chore: the myopic glow of a clunky computer replaces the friendly pages of a book. And you can’t tote that laptop to the beach. Yet Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we’ll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Intenet. Uh, sure.

    What the Internet hucksters won’t tell you is tht the Internet is one big ocean of unedited data, without any pretense of completeness. Lacking editors, reviewers or critics, the Internet has become a wasteland of unfiltered data. You don’t know what to ignore and what’s worth reading. Logged onto the World Wide Web, I hunt for the date of the Battle of Trafalgar. Hundreds of files show up, and it takes 15 minutes to unravel them–one’s a biography written by an eighth grader, the second is a computer game that doesn’t work and the third is an image of a London monument. None answers my question, and my search is periodically interrupted by messages like, “Too many connectios, try again later.”

    Won’t the Internet be useful in governing? Internet addicts clamor for government reports. But when Andy Spano ran for county executive in Westchester County, N.Y., he put every press release and position paper onto a bulletin board. In that affluent county, with plenty of computer companies, how many voters logged in? Fewer than 30. Not a good omen.

    Point and click:

    Then there are those pushing computers into schools. We’re told that multimedia will make schoolwork easy and fun. Students will happily learn from animated characters while taught by expertly tailored software.Who needs teachers when you’ve got computer-aided education? Bah. These expensive toys are difficult to use in classrooms and require extensive teacher training. Sure, kids love videogames–but think of your own experience: can you recall even one educational filmstrip of decades past? I’ll bet you remember the two or three great teachers who made a difference in your life.

    Then there’s cyberbusiness. We’re promised instant catalog shopping–just point and click for great deals. We’ll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obselete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month? Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet–which there isn’t–the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople.

    What’s missing from this electronic wonderland? Human contact. Discount the fawning techno-burble about virtual communities. Computers and networks isolate us from one another. A network chat line is a limp substitute for meeting friends over coffee. No interactive multimedia display comes close to the excitement of a live concert. And who’d prefer cybersex to the real thing? While the Internet beckons brightly, seductively flashing an icon of knowledge-as-power, this nonplace lures us to surrender our time on earth. A poor substitute it is, this virtual reality where frustration is legion and where–in the holy names of Education and Progress–important aspects of human interactions are relentlessly devalued.
    It's a good thing that there are a select few who regard innovation and change as the whole point, because if we were all of the same mind as the author of this article, we'd still be hunting mastodons with sticks. Well, maybe not mastadons, but you get the point.

  • #2
    Re: A lesson in progress: we dont believe in change.

    Well, I'm glad this wasn't a post on how the internet is going to fail eventually... I don't want it to change!

    "The true genius shudders at incompleteness - and usually prefers silence to saying
    something which is not everything it should be." — Edgar Allan Poe


    • #3
      Re: A lesson in progress: we dont believe in change.

      Its just a fad


      • #4
        Re: A lesson in progress: we dont believe in change.

        I've seen lists like this before. They are really interesting.

        THis is also why I am a huge (hard)-SF fan. I believe the future is shaped often by ideas, from artists, from SF writers, from creative thinkers, and not by scientists.

        The scientists feed of the Isaac Asimovs, Arhtur C. Clark's, Jules Verne's of this world. I mean the best models for the mind scientists have come up with have been in that order:
        -a calculator
        -a computer
        -and in the near future perhaps the network of the internet

        Basically all physical things that already exist.

        On the other hand, Artists have brought us:
        -The idea of a spacestation that revolves to create gravity
        -The uttelry brilliant and insanely prophetic idea of ....!!!! the Dyson Sphere!!!! (One of my favourites).
        -Etc. etc. etc.


        • #5
          Re: A lesson in progress: we dont believe in change.

          People often tend to be close-minded to what the future will bring. Just consider how humans lived 50, 100 years ago - I doubt many of them were able to imagine life as it is today. And technology is progressing faster and faster. Much more developments happened in the last, say, 50 years, than in the 50 years before them. I find it quite likely that the next, say, 20 or 30 years will bring us even more groundbreaking developments - think AI revolutionizing IT, think power armors changing warfare from the basics up, think cybernetics changing just about everything (OK, OK, I'm getting a bit optimistic here, I know ;) ). The future's gonna be awesome.


          • #6
            Re: A lesson in progress: we dont believe in change.

            « A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.»

            Max Planck

            Goes to show how closed-minded we can be :)


            «That looks like a really nice house except for that horrible bathroom.» Donrhos

            | |


            • #7
              Re: A lesson in progress: we dont believe in change.

              Funny me, I think the article is completely right in every regard, when applied to people who prefer in person contact instead of long distance communication. The internet is a big bully filled, unedited place where human involvement is still necessary to teach and learn complex concepts.

              Unfortunately the author fails to realize that people can easily fill their human contact requirement outside, and alongside their internet time and that the multimedia can enhance education instead of being replacing it altogether. I think the points are correct, but the conclusions are based on taking the usage to the extreme.

              Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.


              • #8
                Re: A lesson in progress: we dont believe in change.

                Originally posted by snooggums View Post
                when applied to people who prefer in person contact instead of long distance communication.
                Kinda like people who prefer horses to those noisy, dirty, smelly cars for getting around town.

                I have no doubt that in reality the future will be vastly more surprising than anything I can imagine. Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.
                Dude, seriously, WHAT handkerchief?

                snooggums' density principal: "The more dense a population, the more dense a population."

                Iliana: "You're a great friend but if we're ever chased by zombies I'm tripping you."




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