- Mar 2022
The tech industry's historical amnesia — the inability to learn about, to recognize, to remember what has come before — is deeply intertwined with the idea of "disruption" and its firm belief that new technologies are necessarily innovative and are always "progress." I like to cite, as an example, a New Yorker article from a few years ago, an interview with an Uber engineer who'd pleaded guilty to stealing Google's self-driving car technology. "The only thing that matters is the future," he told the magazine. "I don't even know why we study history. It's entertaining, I guess — the dinosaurs and the Neanderthals and the Industrial Revolution, and stuff like that. But what already happened doesn't really matter. You don't need to know that history to build on what they made. In technology, all that matters is tomorrow." (I could tie this attitude to the Italian Futurists and to fascism, but that’s a presentation for another day.)
A view of internet technology from 1998. It's filled with techno-utopianism, but provides some thought and admonishment against watching out for design which may have future deleterious consequences.
It's a bit amazing how many problems he highlights as relatively easily solvable are still unsolved and largely untouched: search/search engines, academic publishing workflows, democracy, and general digital humanism.
Distance education by tele-mentoring, tele-lecturing, and computer mediated conferencing is gradually reshaping education, and is likely to accelerate as the technology becomes more widely available. Additional research and development is needed to ex plore how education can be reshaped in a 24-hour electronic environment in which the teacher shifts from being the "sage on the stage to the guide on the side." The web supports collaborative teaching methods in which students do more than surf the net - - they learn to make waves. Ambitious team projects can provide valuable services to clients who are outside the classroom. These authentic projects can be highly motivating to students as they learn business-oriented and personally enriching skills of communicating, critiquing, and collaborating (Shneiderman, 1998b).
Example of techno-utopianism within the edtech space which largely hasn't come to fruition.
Were there prior references to "sage on the stage to the guide on the side" that indicated the guide on the side not being a person, but the Internet or technology instead?
Of course, users are still the source of the insight that makes a complete document also a compelling document.
Nice that he takes a more humanistic viewpoint here rather than indicating that it will all be artificial intelligence in the future.
Refinement is a social process: New ideas are conceived of by individuals, and then they are refined through reviews from knowledgeable peers and mentors.
Refinement is a social process. Sadly it can also be accelerated, often negatively, by unintended socio-economic forces.
The dominance and ills created by surveillance capitalism within social media is one such result driven by capitalism.
Since any powerful tool, such as a genex, can be used for destructive purposes, the cautions are discussed in Section 5.
Given the propensity for technologists in the late 90s and early 00s to have rose colored glasses with respect to their technologies, it's nice to see at least some nod to potential misuses and bad actors within the design of future tools.
- technology for destruction
- Weapons of Math Destruction
- humanist web
- surveillance capitalism
- cautionary tales
- sage on the stage
- user interface
- artificial intelligence
- guide on the side