Here is another favourite author of mine, Douglas Adams, “with a set of rules that describe our reaction to technologies:”
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re a born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
(2003, p. 95)
I may have already posted this in another MET course, but keep returning to the wry evaluation on the way humans, and in particular teachers, see the technologies in their daily lives. Rarely are students meant to marvel at how an eraser works, they just know it’s there, usually at the other end of their pencils, ready to be used if a mistake is made. Most teachers, I find, are at that turning point between rule two and rule three; perhaps at the beginning of their careers, laptop carts or digital video projectors were brilliant innovations, but now they find tablets and interactive whiteboards a curse inflicted upon their classrooms. Of course, younger teachers, many of us here in the MET program, are eager to make use of these revolutionary technologies, perhaps unheedful of the losses to the teaching profession these items represent.
Adams had his own unique relationship with technological change, starting off his career as a writer for the BBC. Shortly after Star Wars made its debut in 1977, the BBC were looking into sci-fi stories, and the radio show The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy came on the air in 1978. Of course, there’s nothing new about radio plays, having been around for decades before Adams’ birth in 1952. Producing the show, however, took its toll on the BBC, as Adams describes:
I think that the BBC’s attitude towards the show while it was in production was very similar to that in which Macbeth had towards murdering people – initial doubts, followed by cautious enthusiasm and then greater and greater alarm at the sheer scale of the undertaking and still no end in sight.
(1992, p. 9)
The show went on, and became a novel and television series, and eventually a movie. By 1984, a few years before Adams’ 35th year, a video game designer from Infocom collaborated with Adams to make H2G2 into a game, and this classic was born…
…one of the first MUD games I experienced, well before the age of 15! Here is a link to the 20th anniversary edition of the H2G2 game. Enjoy this exciting and new technology.
Adams, D. N., (1992). The hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy: A trilogy in four parts. London: Pan Books.
– -, (2003). The salmon of doubt. New York: Pan Books.