I spend most of my days right now thinking, writing, talking and musing on many issues surrounding education and development. Many of my thoughts are discussed in my book, but I also enjoy challenging my own thoughts by sharing and discussing with others. Thus here are a few blog-posts of my current thoughts on a few topics to share with you all. Comments, ideas, questions back are greatly encouraged :)
…On Augmented Reality
Here is a podcast I listened to recently. Although it is over a year old now, it touches on concepts that are creeping further and further into our world today: wearable technologies, in particular those which are bringing with them the magical world of an augmented reality.
Looking in particular at Googleglass (the glasses/portable computer/wearable brain) and computerised ski-googles, the discussion in the podcast is on the future of wearable technology and augmented technology, and how we are using /evolving /submitting to technology within our lives and our future habits.
Here are a few thoughts and snippets relating to particular comments made throughout the discussion:
Many new technologies being created and put out in the market place have the purpose of "trying to get us more active" within natural human interfaces (the argument for Googleglass being that we can be using the computer without having to look at a screen, instead we can look out to the world through our computer glasses!) In other words, these technologies are encouraging us to interact more as humans by using technology. This strikes me as a little crazy. After all, surely we could all interact with humans and be more human without using technology? (This seems a bit of a logical point to me, unless I'm missing something).
What is the actual need for these technologies? Technology originated with the purpose of being a tool to support us in our daily lives, yet how much do we honestly feel we still use technology as a tool to support a need as opposed to replacing ourselves or part of ourselves simply for the hell of it?
There seems to be a given presumption that we, as consumers, will simply embrace everything new that comes our way: “New things must mean better things.” But why? Why is the iPhone 6 better than the iPhone 3,2,1 (or even, for that matter, my little mobile phone bought in 1995 that I still use and that works wonderfully well)?
The world of technological revolution has created “Augmented ski goggles” - the merits of which are apparently that you don't need to think/remember where things are as you're skiing along; your goggles can do that for you. You don’t need to worry about which direction you are heading in, where the boulders, trees or obstacles are, where the café is – the goggles will work that all out for you. You can also read your text messages and emails whilst slipping down the slopes. Brilliant. You can "know" (for the brief second you're whizzing down the hill) information about what's around you so you don't have to find out any other way, and can forget it once it's passed you by. And you can know lots of fascinating facts about yourself and your skiiing prowess to brag to other skiiers about when you get to the bottom.
My fundamental question here (as ever) is Why? Why do we need something (a pair of glasses) to think for us? Are we really becoming that lazy?
One of my greatest concerns about the rapid development of technologies across the world is their impact upon children. Beyond psychological and neurological influence, for many, (especially children) new technologies are encouraging and developing a disconnect from the world around us. I worry about this a lot as a teacher when I see the negative ripple effects of consumptive technology upon the children I teach. As the discussion says, if children are growing up not knowing what they have around them (as they are disconnected from the natural world when plugged in to other realities), then how can we ever expect them to care about its erosion or to miss it when it goes?
How much do modern technologies distract us from actually living in the present? When we are creating alternative realities/augmented realities, what are we saying about the merits of the real world? And, as stated in the discussion, when corporate greed puts aside ethics for the sake of profit, who then actually cares about the loss of our abilities to live in the here and now? When people are having to go to camp or on holiday to experience reality (to spend time in the real world to escape their world of consumptive technology), should we not perhaps worry that our dependence upon technology has already impeded our ability to fully interact in the real world?
I know this "brave new world" is a dystopia for some whilst a utopia for others, as there will always be a spectrum on the merits and application of technological use. Listening to this podcast, I came back to points I often make when I think and talk about the world's use of growing technologies: it seems that the more we gain materially, the more we become disconnected from the world and from ourselves. And try as I might, I just do not see anything good in this.
I worry in particular about our children, as they look to adults for advice on how to live in the world and, if they are being born into a fully wired world and a movement away from strong interpersonal relationships and communities, they often have no ability to think outside of this if they are not given that opportunity.
Just because something is new, shiny and can do exciting things, does this automatically mean that we need it?