A Successful Symbiosis

If today’s technology had not already encompassed Licklider’s speculations for interaction between humans and electronic computers, I would not have been able to  process some of the ideas in his article, Man-Computer Symbiosis.  It is interesting to think of the respective roles of  each part of this symbiotic relationship.  Licklider makes an very valid point, one that remains today; he says “instructions directed to computers specify courses; instructions directed to human beings specify goals” – the key words being “courses” and “goals.”  Humans for the most part have full control over what they find on computers, especially through the utilization of the handy-dandy search bar (which relates back to the associational way we think, discussed last class).  The search bar, among other technical processes which I have yet to understand completely, provides the “courses” through which we reach our “goals.”  Humans rely so heavily on computers today for the “clerical” activities Licklider describes.  Think about how many times we use our calculators to do simple math; most of us do not even trust our own mental math today.  The fact that our heavy reliance on computers has not compromised our control of them represents  the sheer success of this symbiotic relationship.

On a side note, something I found kind of paradoxical for today’s time was the statement that established books as a “functionally important” component “with-in the context of man-computer symbiosis.”  With dependence on computers increasing exponentially, it seems that libraries become more and more futile everyday.  This is a major theme in news today and it shows how much our values have changed, all because of this successful symbiosis.  It’s kind of bittersweet if you think about it.  Current technological innovations, like the Kindle, the Nook, and the many assortment of smart-phones, cause the phasing out of a centuries old information source, the book.  What’s the old saying?  When one door closes, another one opens?


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One Response to A Successful Symbiosis

  1. Jordan Jacobson

    I actually had a very similar reaction to the thought that books are becoming futile in the new innovative ways of communicating through the internet. I have a Kindle and so does pretty much every woman in my family. The only reason this is the case, however, is because my grandma (an extremely addicted reader and lover of books and movies) enjoys books so much. Every time there is a new addition of the Kindle she buys it and passes her old one down to some other woman in our family. She has databases full of her own books in her archives and new books she wants to read. I think it’s absolutely fascinating. Now just because her books are digital does not mean that they are not useful. Much of the research being done is from Journals or peer-reviewed published articles. Just because the form is going from paper to digital does not mean that books are becoming less relevant. In fact, I think they might be more relevant. Since I’ve gotten my Kindle I have read so many more books, just because of the simply ease of being able to keep an entire library in my purse. I think the idea of pushing textbooks and scholarly journals in to the digital age is extremely important and makes these books even more useful and relevant to us each day. Who knows? Maybe some people don’t enjoy reading digitally and disagree with this, maybe some think that having real time discussions are much more effective at creating innovative ideas and learning, than published books. I suppose we’ll have to see!

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