Thursday, 25 March 2010
The Future is the Internet - The Internet is the Future
Picture from: http://www.impactlab.com
In recent days my head has been spinning. The internet is getting to me: Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Blogger, Myspace, Wikipedia, youtube - the list goes on snaking its way ever skyward like some serpentine colossus. Where is this new cyber world located? Its physical tangibility is something that perplexes me. How can we rationalize this global phenomenon, and make sense of this pulsating beast of ever growing complexity, when its whereabouts are beyond the imagination of the majority of its users?
What got me thinking about all this was something that happened during my reading skills lesson this morning. For me this was a first and I am sure it is a sign of things to come.
After pre-teaching a handful of new adjectives and adverbs to two new excellent students, I gave them the opportunity to take down the work from the whiteboard into their notebooks – they declined. Instead a mobile phone appeared and a student began to take pictures of my semi-legible scrawl at the front of the classroom. Intrigued, I probed the eager students further to figure out the point of all this technological posturing. They stated that the pictures would be sent via email to each other, and then copied into their notebooks at home. I don’t know why, but this blew me away. Feeling introspective, I sat looking out at the rapidly rising sun as the mid-morning heat pulled dance moves in continuous waves scorching the leather on my desk.
The internet is a first in our history. It has made the unfathomable, fathomable; the unthinkable, thinkable. In the 1950s science fiction writers had shiny, metallic visions of the future full of flying motor vehicles, robotic servants, and delicious meals in a pill, but not one foresaw the advent of the internet
The late great Aldous Huxley in ‘Brave New World’ and ‘Brave New World Revisted’ demonstrated his belief that technology would eventually lead to our collective enslavement and subsequent downfall as a race. Could Huxley’s stirring of the predictive tea leaves turn out to be correct? Is man destined to over play his hand? What will be remains to be seen, but one thing we know for sure is that things can’t be un-invented.
The internet has the capacity for being the greatest tool for individual freedom the world has ever seen; but, what if it was used to thwart our development, and create something demonstrably awful. Could Huxley’s dystopic vision of technological dictatorship become a reality?
I don’t see the future as a bleak, shapeless and monotonous like Huxley. Expounding views such as these does little for the advancement of human kind, but at the same time it does not negate the possibility. The internet is an amazing resource when used responsibly.
The wealth of information at our fingertips has never been greater. It it an opportunity to grow intellectually, socially and financially heralding in a new age of understanding and coexistence on this planet. Advantageous information is out there and we can all access it and grow together in unison. In these terms the future is filled with wondrous possibility, rather than enslavement.
An eastern scholar once said that enslavement is only in the mind. The actions of my students today started a flow of thoughts running though my head, reverberating like a tuning fork. It took the form of a mantra, one that will have a succinct grounding for generations to come.
The future is the internet; the internet is the future.