I was fascinated to learn that in many pay-to-attend primary schools, each child has a laptop, more precisely, an ‘Apple laptop’. It was explained that learning is more effective when self-motivated and self-discovered. Technology seems to be offering a new medium and tool. We build on what has been built before us and the microchip led surge since the 1970’s has allowed us to build ever and ever sharper tools. Although these tools were not necessarily conceived as an end in themselves, many have proved to be so.
Accessibility in the form of GUI’s, WIMP, Google, Wikipedia and now Apple led UI’s empowered the technologically mass-excluded and this has revolutionised communications, commerce and global well-being.
Vannevar Bush, in 1945 wrote a paper called “That We May Think” which depicted organizing knowledge as a big hypertext web-like construct. This would give users methods for following existing trails and making new ones. This was based on his understanding of how the brain creates nodal links and thoughts by association where any node can and should point directly to every other. This would be very unlike other information filing systems such as libraries or cabinets.
One Laptop Per Child is a belief and organization that are looking to bring development to the current (educationally and economically) mass-excluded. The impact of this dispersal of technology may one day be compared to the laying of the rails that have directed industrial revolutions or the AT&T Long Lines which only in 1951 connected the people of the east and west coast of the United States with efficient telecommunications and television broadcast. I’m not sure which coast this has benefitted the most. As global nodal connections increase, we will reach the stage where a one-to-one correspondence between anyone and everyone else exists.
The scene may have changed, but thankfully “the aspirations of men of good will persist”.