While the Dynabook doesn’t seem so revolutionary today, this was certainly not the case in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Your own computer? That you program? How wild and futuristic considering that Thomas Watson had predicted worldwide demand of 5 computers. Interesting how these visionaries, like Kay and Goldberg, realized that “the best way to predict the future is to invent it.” Many of us simply experience technology happening to us.
Universities had better not assume this posture. Momentum already appears that the university/college as institutions of higher education are being undermined by entrepreneurs who are seizing upon technology and opportunities availed by economic conditions to create change – i.e., invent the future (hey! I thought WE were supposed to do that!) See: A Boom Time for Education Start-Ups in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Gardner Campbell spoke to my students today on emerging trends that I suspect they hadn’t quite considered. I felt like they expected me to defend the role of the university in it’s current form, which I was not about to do. Given the role of personal “computers” as tools/devices with infinite applications – only limited by what we can imagine – our conception of “computer” as a box, portable, or tablet should already be changing. We have “smart” roads, smart cities, cloud-connected thermostats, smart bombs(?), etc. all with the ability to collect information and react to specific commands. In essence, the Dynabook is miniaturized and distributed throughout our environment in one form or another.
The fear is that humans will lose personal skills to deal with other humans and discontinue building relationships. I already witness this and it doesn’t involve computers. Religion and politics are very effective at dividing and dissolving human interaction. In my opinion, religions that preach discrimination, intolerance, and hate, are far more destructive to human relations.