I skip over the points that could be made concerning the change of information storage technology from Bush’s beloved analog to digital, giving wide access to nearly all of the world’s knowledge nearly instantaneously. The associational trails are created by search engines, hyperlinks, and tags.
I skip over the increased scale. Bush’s scenario of 5000 pages crammed into his memex every day for a hundred years equates to about a third of my terabyte hard drive. I’ll get there by the end of this year (but will it do me any good?).
I’ll even skip over the societal indicators in this essay, Bush speaking of “the girls” in office work, and scientists and mathematicians as “men”. Certainly we are beyond that now.
The nugget that grabs my attention is the thought expressed in the final paragraph, “(the applications of science) may yet allow him truly to encompass the great record and to grow in the wisdom of race experience. He may perish in conflict before he learns to wield that record for his true good.”
I don’t really want to be pessimistic, but I see no evidence that the bulk of humanity has changed in wisdom and concord along with the growth in technology of all sorts (and especially information technology). Yes, we now have better access to “the record”. Yes, we create more new data than ever before. But along with that we still have conflict on the national and global levels and on the personal individual levels. The technology aids in conflict resolution, and the technology aids in conflict escalation.
Yes, I would hope we can increase our personal and our global wisdom. Yes, Dr. C, wisdom should be a learning outcome! How can we do that? How can education not only prepare individuals for careers, but also for thinking and living wisely? How can we live in peace, both individually and globally?
I suspect that the answers involve choices and practices that many of us will refuse to consider. To go to the roots of conflict might mean seeing “enemies” as humans. I am not prepared to give any broad-stroke answers.
OK, these are big questions, and probably not what will lead to the final inquiry project. But I think (associational trail alert) that my own pursuits over the coming weeks and years may be related to these questions. There is some reason I am participating in this course beyond having fun with friends on the Internet.