Brings to mind Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death". Great post, Richard.I suppose we all know the answer to your questions. The proof is in the pudding: we just need to take stock at what "skills" homo electronicus has retained, and how much we've abandoned to our "tools".
I do a lot of amateur astronomy and I'm amazed at how college type astronomy texts don't tell you anything about how to navigate the sky, find constellations, find compass points, right acsension, declination, your latitude, etc.. Everything is information about star, galaxy, planet structure. In short nothing to tell you what to do when out in the field. Nothing to tell you what to see when you just look up at the night sky. Nice post.
I own a Garmin hiking GPS, but it is only a data logger as a backup for a map and compass. I've run into foreign tourists out in remote canyons carrying a bit of water and not much else. Coming back from a cliff ruin that gets maybe 50 visitors a year, I met a couple just starting down canyon. I mentioned that they should take the right fork at the bottom and the response was "Oh, we have this." (holds up GPS). I was surprised to not find bones a year later.I have to say that the flood of digital data is both empowering and overwhelming. Either way, in my professional life slurping in data from multiple streams is a fact of life. The pace of everything has increased dramatically in the twenty years since I started doing regulatory compliance. Unfortunately, my high school freshman has teachers that must work under the assumption that everyone has broadband. Her homework includes lots of stuff that was not covered in class or in the text. We are constantly going online for information. I hope she doesn't forget how to use books.
I can assure you that in my class, books are king. The internet is a fun extra like whip cream, but man can not live on whip cream alone.
Also, instead of thinking for a few seconds, we use our electronic helpers to think for us.
Great post Richard. I agree with the comments left by others. I find most people are owned by their devices and if left without them or even one of them, do not or cannot do things on their own. Many I believe have lost their ability to think and reason.I'm thankful that I had teachers in school and professors in college that went beyond the textbook and made their classes real-life because even in the 70s there was quite a bit of information not in the text. Then maybe the books would become so large no one could carry them.I love the internet since it brings so much information to our fingertips. Thing is to remember what we must know because just like the book the PC or other web device may not be with us when we must know something; like finding our way in a canyon.
What is this strange thing in your hand?
That's not me, it's just a photo I found online: a $300,000 dumbphone!
I am constantly amazed at how DEPENDENT people have become on these electronic devices.I draw the line at the computer, thank you very much. (This is bad enough for me.) The "smart phones" seem to be smarter than their owners, who can't seem to do without them.I particularly dislike the habit of people using these phones EVERYWHERE, including the dinner table. Give it a REST, won't ya?
On the flip side, there is so much power in these tools when you have also have the knowledge without them. It is just like woodworking (or probably any trade). You can do some extraordinary things with hand tools, but sometimes you can do more with power tools AND the knowledge (or maybe just do some things faster so you can actually do MORE things).There is a balance, of course.
I'm with Cameron. Mobile phones have their legitimate uses. However, making communication possible in any place and at any time leads to a lot of pointless and trivial communication. Moreover, mobile phones don't help people communicate better. They just make poor communication occur with more frequency.