Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Promise vs. Reality

Jack keeps on coming up with great responses to my posts, which in turn spawn other posts. Thanks Jack!

His latest comment had a point I wanted to pick up on:
" I do not ultimately worry about which way [virtual vs. real world] we go provided people are taught the notions of responsibility and honour."
Therein lies the rub. Technology promises a lot, but what we receive from it is largely determined by how well we are educated to deal with it.

The same goes for democracy - an appropriate topic on the day Aussies and Kiwis celebrate those of us who have fallen in battle (usually for the sake of freedom and democracy), and so soon after Iraq actually has a government.
(A side note on that: it's actually really hard to find news on this very significant development; instead there are tons of reports on the mounting casualty list, car bombings, etc. Biased media? Surely not...)
Anyway, the more I've learnt about democracy, the more I agree with Winston Churchill when he said "Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried."

It's got it's shortcomings, but democracy is intended to ensure fairness and freedom. But I, an individual citizen, can't do much with my freedom unless I understand how the system works. And unfortunately, it can only be dumbed down so much.

Same with technology. It's incredibly powerful, and, like democracy, it exists in a free market. So there's Mac and/or PC, Internet Explorer and/or Firefox.

If simplicity were all that mattered, we would only be allowed to have one OS and one browser. That way, everyone would understand what it's all about, and be able to use technology to it's full potential.

As it is, we have a competitive system where price, features and benefits all collide, and, as Roy Williams' Jetsons-like story shows (start from "Let me tell you how screwed up I am...") getting them to work together creates all kinds of problems we never had before.

So, what am I saying? Education is the key. Or at least a key. But it must be an education unlike anything we've seen or identified before. Who knows what form it might take? Any ideas?


At 12:59 AM, Blogger Jack Yan said...

I am stealing from British politics but I do say that the top three priorities for any government are education, education and education. Excellent post here, Sy—if we are smart enough, we can master technology, see through the biases of mass media, and be clear about our destiny. We would do things that contributed to what we say we want: a united planet. Instead, so many of us do things that create divisions between people and nations.


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