We certainly live in a science fiction world.
To think that I grew up in a house without even a phone - I bought my parents their first phone when I was about twenty. It was a Christmas present. Up until then we had very few people to call, maybe the doctor. My sister had married and eventually moved all the way from Stevenage to Hitchin (at least 3 miles from each other according to wikitravel). My best mate at school lived about eight minutes away - mind you, I had to go where there were dragons to get to his - Whitesmead Road; I still get the jitters thinking about it. 1970's Stevenage and places like that were the equivalent of police no-go areas now. That's where all the bully boys lived; the "broken families". But now, we have phones that are connected to us in the way Captain Kirk would have grown up with. Just think, had the bully boys had personal phones then, I would never have got through the alley up to Grace Way alive. "He's just entered the alley" - "Okay, we'll head him off at our end".
I am assured by those who know better - people who care - that this is all natural and part of the world we live in. To me, it smacks of witchcraft and a dystopian future. I can write notes, plan lessons, keep a diary, make presentations, map journeys, use it as a compass and a gps system (we've been here before, I know); keep in contact with everyone (literally), check banking, read newspapers, magazines, novels, comics, watch tv, films listen to the radio and just about anything else you want to ask of it.
Another thing is to film on it - there are various ways of capturing ideas or documentary evidence available; there is nothing we can't record or document, it seems. All well and good. I suppose.
chindogu. Are these new pyramids for future civilisations to find and make assumptions about us? I'm put in mind of that Arthur C. Clarke story Expedition to Earth where a future alien race find artifacts from the Twentieth Century and it ends up that it was a Disney cartoon they were watching. Suggesting, of course, that even our entertainment may seem like the pinnacle of our civilisation whilst ignoring the important stuff. Whatever that may be.
So, we have so much to take up our time now that we can't possibly process all the information available. Now I'm reminded of William Gibson's concept in Neuromancer of information being the Twenty First Century's main form of wealth/power. The idea that all information available is out there (ie on the web) but the people with actual power are those who know the right things - you know, as far as wealth goes, knowledge is power not how much money you have. As I often tell students, I may not be that intelligent but I know how to access information. This is a point that Ian Gilbert wrote about in Why Do I Need A Teacher When I've Got Google? I have learnt the skills required to access info and can work out what is the right info. "Research" nowadays seems to mean typing a phrase or word into Google and printing what comes out having not read it, processed or understood said info. This is where teachers are important to Gilbert - we can teach how to work out what you need to know. An obvious point, I guess, but it doesn't seem to be globally accepted as such.
Anyway, at our school (all right, Academy) all the sixth form are being given iPads - hence me being given one as I'll need to know how to use one - but this could be seen more as a bribe than a reasoned educational imperative (I mean to keep the students at the school as opposed to defecting to another one). We'll see whether the experiment works. I hope that they get them soon and the film and media students can get their production work made. Then we'll see whether it's useful for my subjects - whether they are going to be useful for the more traditional subjects, amongst others, is a moot point currently. I have a feeling that it's going to be difficult knowing what the students are actually doing - given that iPads were really designed for a more leisure approach to life. Texting and Gaming seem to be the more obvious choice for these machines. Still, I'm off to London again for the BFI Media conference later in the month and one of the workshops is "Using iPads in the classroom".
Hmm, I can't imagine for one minute that I'll come back much wiser but I'm sure the powers that be** know better.
* not that I ever bother to check work emails once I get home
** our management, that is, not the government - they'd have us using chalk and slates