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  • Metaphors

    Posted on February 14th, 2012 lisskane No comments

    As I was reading Nelson’s Computer Lib/ Dream Machines, I came across a few metaphors I found rather interesting. They are not completely related or in any sort of order, but I thought they were worth sharing.

    The first metaphor I saw was “But the main idea of this book is to help you tell apples form oranges, and which way is up” (303). I think it is awesome that Nelson found so much importance in the computer being a tool everybody can use. He wanted there to be a resource that people could use to learn the most important basics of using a computer. Even if computers were just for experts, they would need to get to that level If people can not understand the basics, there is no way they will ever advance and become a skilled user. The computer is not something that is immediately black and white to everybody and it’s great that Nelson acknowledged this and took the time to explain it. With anything you learn in life, you must start at zero knowledge and the computer is no different.

    The next metaphor I came across was “It matters because we live in media, as fish live in water” (p. 306). I thought this was an insightful way to answer the question “Why does media matter?” or “Why should we learn about media?” Nelson wrote this piece in 1974 and claimed that media was essential and foremost in our everyday lives. If the comparison to media being all around us made sense back then, it makes even more sense now. Media is interlaced in every area of our lives, even areas that may not be immediately obvious. That fact that it is so prevalent in today’s society makes educating the public on media a priority. It is important to learn because we must be able to design this media or “water” that we live in. We need to be able to understand it and be able to improve it and change it in ways that benefit our society. In today’s world there is no ignoring media or pretending that it is not there.

    The third metaphor I looked at compared the way our education system engrosses us in knowledge to dog food. “If everything we ate were kibbled into uniform dogfood, and the amount consumed at each feeding time tediously watched and tested, we would have little fondness for eating” (310). The section that this was in, about our education system, is where I found the most relevance to my life. I often think that there is a problem in the education system in that it stifles our education and what we learn. There is such a strict agenda that schools must follow, with the exact materials we must learn and an exact way in which we learn it. With such extreme structure, I find that students “learn” for their grades and not for their own knowledge. I believe that education should be about inspiring students to learn what they want to and find important in the world. The subjects we learn in school should be starting off points and inspiration, not strict walls in which we must subside. I thought the comparison to dog food was interesting in that it is true that when education and learning is fit to such a specific mold, we lose a desire or spark to go after it. Food is such an enjoyable thing. Everyone likes different types and categories of food. Food is something people can experiment with and search in directions of which they like. If we were all limited to a mundane type, eating and food wouldn’t be such an exciting and enjoyable aspect of our lives.