kitchen table math, the sequel: books are technology

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

books are technology

A great observation re: technology from Brad DeLong:
From my perspective, I will not dare make predictions about the potential Christensenian disruption of higher education until I understand why and how the university as we know it survived the Christensenian disruption that was the coming of the printed book. I don't understand that. Thus I do not dare forecast what is coming.
Shortly after C. began his freshman year at Hogwarts, Ed and I asked the principal about technology. We had learned that the school had a technology committee, and we were concerned. We'd seen what cascading Technology Initiatives had wrought in our district.

The principal said people often worried they were behind on technology (true), but technology was expensive (true), and they weren't going to invest in technology that didn't advance the students' education.

Then he held up a pencil and said, "A pencil is technology."


Jean said...

Yup. A book is technology, and it took over from scrolls because it was more convenient. For many purposes, the book is both the simplest and the best technology. Unnecessary complication usually erodes away after a while and people settle on the simplest technology that will do the job effectively.

For, say, encyclopedias and other large reference works, books are turning out not to be the best and simplest technology. There are going to be jobs for which ebooks and databases are best, and jobs for which paperbacks are best.

lgm said...

Books don't always divulge guild secrets.

Look at K-12 math books now, and compare to yours back in the day. The recent ones omit quite a bit of instruction. Some are just collections of exercise sets, with nice photos. A bored kid could not read ahead and learn more, as he could in the old days.

Robin said...

They are all cognitive tools but some cognitive tools like a book use symbol systems so you have to use your abstract mind initially to work with them. Makes you mentally stronger.

Other tools like a computer where the interplay is all visual are not using the conceptual part of your brain at all. When the computer does all the knowing the technology can make student weaker.

This might all be news to us but what I call the scheming set because mentally weak future voters works has been quite aware of it for a while. lays out the hoped for vision based on a book called The Axemakers Gift by James Burke.

It's the ability of the abstract Axemaker Mind that schools are supposed to be shutting down.

I cannot tell you how often I read the desire to push technology precisely because it is visual more than mental.

Catherine Johnson said...

I cannot tell you how often I read the desire to push technology precisely because it is visual more than mental.


I haven't seen that but I don't doubt it.

It's funny, though, because at least in my experience the internet is highly don't have gesture or facial expression, just words, and you're writing in sentences....

I tend to think that if you want a more verbal form, 'technology' in the shape of the internet isn't it.

Maybe I'm wrong...