One of the best short essays about how disruptive technology gets adoption to the masses, gently and seductively…
New technologies solves problems, yes. The more difficult problem is adoption of technology, which is a people-problem. It reminds us that most people are uncomfortable to changes, resistant to changes, due to unknown and little understood consequences.
Would we have made use of the electricity, microwave, radios, and lasers, if not for great inventors, coupled with the finishing touches of great salesmen who tackled both sides of the problem effectively?
The advancement of civilization as we know it, would be doomed if such new “magic” and “blasphemous witchcrafts” were so labelled, before they had a chance to enter our everyday lives.
“The wise use of leisure, it must be conceded, is a product of civilization and education. A man who has worked long hours all his life will become bored if he becomes suddenly idle. But without a considerable amount of leisure a man is cut off from many of the best things. There is no longer any reason why the bulk of the population should suffer this deprivation; only a foolish asceticism, usually vicarious, makes us continue to insist on work in excessive quantities now that the need no longer exists.”—Bertrand Russell, In Praise of Idleness (http://www.zpub.com/notes/idle.html)
…software engineering is all about abstraction. Every single concept, construct, and method is entirely abstract. Of course, it doesn’t feel that way to most software engineers. But that’s my point. The main benefit they got from the mathematics they learned in school and at university was the experience of rigorous reasoning with purely abstract objects and structures.
Many of my peers have never found a direct need to use higher mathematics outside of the academic realm, but little did they know that they might already have benefited greatly from the days of rigorous mathematical grind.
Where else would one find an easy way to sharpen the reasoning and abstract thoughts faculty of the brain in our world where almost everyone is compelled to go through an education route, thanks to the industrial revolution?
True freedom requires that we take part in the market as fully formed agents, with life goals determined not by advertising campaigns but by our own experience of and reflection on the various possibilities of human fulfillment. Such freedom in turn requires a liberating education, one centered not on indoctrination, social conditioning or technical training but on developing persons capable of informed and intelligent commitments to the values that guide their lives.
This is why, especially in our capitalist society, education must not be primarily for training workers or consumers (both tools of capitalism, as Marxists might say). Rather, schools should aim to produce self-determining agents who can see through the blandishments of the market and insist that the market provide what they themselves have decided they need to lead fulfilling lives. Capitalism, with its devotion to profit, is not in itself evil. But it becomes evil when it controls our choices for the sake of profit.
A great piece by Gary Gutting, professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, and an editor of Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
This is an example of some very basic questions we sometimes just don’t ask and yet we take it for granted that the reality simply just exists as it is.
I strongly believe there are always underlying causes and effects, especially when it comes to human society.
Professor Gutting, has nailed down a link between current paradigm of “work” and “education”, further lending evidence to the perception that current educational institutions are made to produce workers, no more thinkers, in contrast to the reality before the industrial revolution, when education stands for more than just work.
The current waking nightmare of paper-chases towards diplomas and degrees are blights in the lives of current urbanites, that is us. Unfortunately, it seems that our fate and our future generations are latched firmly by this “parasite” that eats away our being from the core, reducing us to “slaves” and “serfs” of this modern era. Leaving empty shells of unfulfillment, we slowly step into our graves, wondering what kind of life had we actually experienced, or missed entirely.
Do you work to live, or live to work? Is the question relevant?
"If there is one student attitude that most all faculty bemoan, it is instrumentalism. This is the view that you go to college to get a degree to get a job to make money to be happy. Similarly, you take this course to meet this requirement, and you do coursework and read the material to pass the course to graduate to get the degree. Everything is a means to an end. Nothing is an end in itself. There is no higher purpose."—David Jaffee
After more than 20 years of education, or what’s left of it, I finally come across the word that describes the sentiments of many fellow students which infuriates me—”Instrumentalism”.
The way it is now, knowledge has been pushed back to second place, right behind “appearing-knowledgeable-by-a-piece-of-paper-just-so-that-hopefully- it-will-raise-my-employment-chances-with-future-employers”.
While it is true that, all else accounted for, livelihood is of utmost importance. This is a smear on education’s role in mankind’s progress.
Finding causation isn’t hard, because there’s simple so many right in front of your eyes: globalisation, urbanisation, labour demand, industry shifts, economy restructuring, rat race, etc.
Finding people to accept it as a problem, determining roots of the problems, and be resolved into solving it, is extremely difficult.
Not much is left of the days where education is seen as sacred, bringing enlightenment to the people, contributing to society’s progress.
Are we seeing progress now?
Maybe we are, just that we’re going in the opposite direction.
Summary: High school isn’t educational because it incentivizes a credential only meaningful to universities instead of educating students. Then, it lets students blame their ignorance on their school when they enter The Real World.
I love learning, but I’ve never excelled in school. That might…
A great read. Education lost its meaning when it’s primarily used to sort population through games like examinations and tests. The battle is not just of intelligence and wits on knowledge acquisition, but also of gaming the system by conserving your resources.
"Why do more when you only need to get that certain grade with sufficient amount of work? I’m not interested anyway."—This might be a common attitude that results.
For those who really wants to learn, there are few opportunities in the form of school project work which sometimes has larger scope than what is taught in the classroom.
On a side note:
The minds of schoolchildren are sometimes drilled so much into school, and all the work load that it offers, that they don’t realize what they actually are getting. “Too young to know,” “it is for their own good,” is always used as an excuse for further stuffing inane facts down the young students’ throats or brains.
I’d say, “Good trick, then they’ll never have spare time nor spare brain capacity to realize for themselves.”
An old article featuring Alan Kay, the 2003 ACM A.M. Turing Award winner, speaks on computer aids and their impact in schools.
“When I look at computers in schools, this is what I see. It’s all Guitar Hero,”—Alan Kay
The medium of instruction has been changing over the span of our known civilization. From speech, carvings, and stone tablets, to writings, books, and computers.
Sure, there is technological progress, and there is definitely increasing adoption of the information technology of our age. However, we’re missing the point if we think that we can improve the imparting of knowledge from one generation to the next only by getting better tools.
The essence of teaching, is the instruction itself. The medium in which instruction is delivered is all icing on the cake, or *blink* *blink* that looks nice but less than useful enough.
It seems, most educational institutions are not teaching correctly, much less using computers to even try teaching.
One of many things about media design (where x ranges from from art, theater, writing, teaching, to interactive computer interfaces) that most people don’t understand, is that the main purpose of “great x” is to act as a kind of “magic mirror” which reflects the beholders’ own intelligence back out at them so they both “remember things they have forgotten”, and that one of these things is that they can learn how to think and learn.
An intriguing question that has harped the minds of generations of beings in the science fiction world of Isaac Asimov.
It’s not so much of the geekness or nerd aura of the question that is important. The real question is "Then what?"
It is always an interesting thought experiment to think about the progression of events and situations into infinity time and space. However, man’s lifespan, as of now, does not compare much to the immortality needed to observe when all things end.
For those people who have spent much time to think hard about it, either in jest for self-amusement, or in earnest for the better of the future generations, must have had some inkling that there might be an unavoidable dark future ahead.
Dark as in without light, physically, and also as in without a future, figuratively. Some might have trouble accepting that and either stopped thinking altogether or fall into some sort of depression or madness at the unsolvable. Some might come to peace with it knowing that we’re all stardust.
How to manage all that complexity when your designs gets too big with many different layout templates and CSS grows into a monster.
Some things gotta give for pragmatism, that will be the “semantic web”.
Those of you who know me well will probably do a double take after reading this post. I am using a lot of presentational class names in our new system. Has Chris given up on semantic layouts? No. But I am a pragmatist – CSS file size has to be kept in check on a site of our size. However, this approach provides solutions to many of the issues I’ve had with traditional grid systems in the past. What’s more, it is just one step away from true semantic layout approach (extending layout classes instead of using them in your markup) – but that last step is the one that bloats the output the most.—Chris Eppstein
We are excited to announce a reduction in Amazon EC2, Amazon RDS, and Amazon ElastiCache prices. Reserved Instance prices will decrease by up to 37% for Amazon EC2 and by up to 42% for Amazon RDS across all regions. On-Demand prices for Amazon EC2, Amazon RDS, and Amazon ElastiCache will drop by up to 10%. We are also introducing volume discount tiers for Amazon EC2, so customers who purchase a large number of Reserved Instances will benefit from additional discounts. Today’s price drop represents the 19th price drop for AWS, and we are delighted to continue to pass along savings to you as we innovate and drive down our costs.
All of your On-Demand usage will automatically be charged at the new lower rate as of March 1st. New Reserved Instance prices will only apply to Reserved Instances purchases made on or after March 6th. With the new pricing, Reserved Instances will provide savings of up to 71% compared to On-Demand instances, so you may want to take this opportunity to review your current usage and to determine if you would like to purchase additional Light, Medium, or Heavy Utilization Reserved Instances.
Please visit the Amazon EC2, Amazon RDS, and Amazon ElastiCache pricing pages for the complete list of new lower prices and an overview of the new volume discount program.