Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Go On To The Next Page

TigerBlog always hated the achievement tests that he had to take when he was a kid. These were the state-mandated tests that measured something, TB assumes, long before there was the "No Student Left Behind Act," which has spawned a new generation of testing.

The teachers - and the booklets - always gave the instructions as if every single person taking the test was a complete idiot. There were big stop signs instructing you to, well, stop, as opposed to the big arrows pointing you on, saying "Go On To The Next Page."

The tests were always in sections, and TB always reached the "stop" with plenty of time to go in that particular part of it, so he had to wait for long stretches before being told to "go on to the next page."

And don't get TB started on coloring in the little circles and what a complete pain that was.

With that background, TB is not unsympathetic when his own kids have to take such tests, which is what has been happening for the last few school days.

Yesterday, TB overheard TigerBlog Jr. and his friend Matthew as they talked about the essay question - TB doesn't remember having those, but maybe he did - on their test. Essentially, the question was something along the lines of: What three things would you put in a time capsule to be opened in 100 years and why?

For TB, the answer obviously would be a CD of "Born To Run," the book "A Prayer For Owen Meany" and a can of Yoo-hoo.

TBJ said he would have included a lacrosse stick, an I-pod and something else that TB can't remember.

Matthew, for his part, mentioned that he would include a textbook.

"A textbook?" TBJ asked. "Which one?"

"Doesn't matter," Matthew said. "Just so they would have a book. They probably won't have books in 100 years."

It's amazing to think what technology is doing to staples of society that have long been taken for granted and that ultimately will be obsolete. The first example of this that TB remembers is the old-fashioned phonograph record, of which TB had a few hundred back in the day.

Eventually, they became worthless, because nobody had a record player anymore. CDs wiped out records, cassettes and 8-tracks all at once, and CDs themselves were essentially wiped out by I-pods and especially the I-tunes music store, as well as similar devices.

As for Matthew's statement, it is correct, though he's almost surely going to be a few decades behind in his prediction.

How many people already have a Nook or Kindle?

Is it that hard to imagine a world without printed books, without televisions as they have existed for years, ultimately without what there is now because the next technology is coming around the corner.

TigerBlog has two meetings scheduled for today, and both are about the future of videostreaming.

It's something that makes him laugh, since what is that future all about? Will streaming exist the way it does now, or is the next handheld device going to make everything that is out there now just as obsolete as its predecessors?

One of the meetings involves decisions to be made for three and four years down the road. The other involves looking into new technologies that are becoming available.

A week ago, Gary Walters asked TigerBlog, as part of an annual review process, to put down on paper what the main issues facing the OAC at this juncture are.

TB came up with a list of a few, but really it could all be about streaming and mobile apps.

When he was done with the exercise, TB compared it to a similar memo from 2003 and another from 1999. The two older ones were pretty similar; the one from this year had almost nothing in common with those two and what was in common between them was there only because TB threw in some traditional sports info stuff for the 2011 version.

What really struck TB was that the other two were four years apart, but not much had changed in that time. The 2015 version will probably have moved so far beyond 2011 that it won't be recognizable.

That's the challenge in making decisions now for the near future. Are you banking on a world that is similar to the one that currently exists?

If you are, that could be a mistake.

By the time today's meetings reach "stop," it'll already be time to "go on to the next page."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"JAMES H. BILLINGTON, librarian of Congress: The new immigrants don’t shoot the old inhabitants when they come in. One technology tends to supplement rather than supplant. How you read is not as important as: will you read? And will you read something that’s a book—the sustained train of thought of one person speaking to another? Search techniques are embedded in e-books that invite people to dabble rather than follow a full train of thought. This is part of a general cultural problem."