Review: FutureHype: The Myths Of Technology

Author: Bob Seidensticker

ISBN: 1576753700

In an age where there is considerable hype about the wonders of modern technology, Bob Seidensticker prods us to take a step back and put everything into a more realistic perspective or as he most aptly states, we should vaccinate ourselves against hype.

Seidensticker’s principal theme in FutureHype: The Myths Of Technology Change is that the pace of technological change does not increase exponentially. According to Seidensticker, although we may be living in an era of fast change, this does not imply that we are the only ones to have experienced this phenomenon. In earlier times people had their own examples of fast change and to discover if our times are really unique, it is necessary that today’s social change be compared to that of the past. In fact, as Seidensticker warns us, “the popular perception of modern technology is inflated and out of step with reality.”

Divided into two parts, the book first illustrates how we fall into the trap of incorrectly and myopically seeing technology. Seidensticker underlines his contentions with several concrete examples that are elaborated upon throughout this first section.

As an example, we are reminded that a technology might be innovative, but the product that we build from that technology does not necessarily have to be revolutionary, particularly if our predictions are off the mark. It is to be remembered that predictions are often more of a picture of the present rather than the future and there is often a danger of careless extrapolation.

The Internet may be able to provide us with a great deal of information, however, will this lead us to being better informed. Probably not, as the downside is that much of the information is unreliable and pure garbage!

One of the hypes we are all bombarded with daily is that we should blindly trust modern technology and put all of our eggs in one basket. This is all great until the basket breaks, as we become increasingly dependent on software that sometimes is filled with bugs or where we have fragile and brittle technology. No doubt, all of this has created much of the insecurity we feel today in our modern world.

The second part of the book takes a look at the constancy of change in a broad spectrum of areas-popular culture, health and safety, fear and anxiety, personal technologies, and business. We are provided with an excellent survey of the history of technology that is illustrated with stories from thousands of years of human advance proving to us that technological change is not unique to our day.

FutureHype: The Myths Of Technology Change immerses readers with a challenging study wherein technology is to be considered neither good, nor bad nor neutral. As Seidensticker states: “a technology isn’t inherently good or bad, but it will have an impact.” It is the impact that is important, as it will have a good side and a bad side.

Bob Seidensticker has spent twenty-five years in the technology industry and he holds thirteen software patents. His broad experience is quite in evidence with his insightful and compelling study, as he alerts his readers to the dangers of technology infatuation. He also cautions us that we should never lose sight of the myths that surround technology and the unexpected ways it evolves and affects our lives, while at the same time examining its downsides. As he concludes his book, he leaves us with a very important warning, “don’t be bullied into buying a particular technology because a vendor, an advertisement, or your nephew you tells you to.” Ask yourself if the product is right for you?

History of Educational Technology

There is no written evidence which can tell us exactly who has coined the phrase educational technology. Different educationists, scientists and philosophers at different time intervals have put forwarded different definitions of Educational Technology. Educational technology is a multifaceted and integrated process involving people, procedure, ideas, devices, and organization, where technology from different fields of science is borrowed as per the need and requirement of education for implementing, evaluating, and managing solutions to those problems involved in all aspects of human learning.

Educational technology, broadly speaking, has passed through five stages.

The first stage of educational technology is coupled with the use of aids like charts, maps, symbols, models, specimens and concrete materials. The term educational technology was used as synonyms to audio-visual aids.

The second stage of educational technology is associated with the ‘electronic revolution’ with the introduction and establishment of sophisticated hardware and software. Use of various audio-visual aids like projector, magic lanterns, tape-recorder, radio and television brought a revolutionary change in the educational scenario. Accordingly, educational technology concept was taken in terms of these sophisticated instruments and equipments for effective presentation of instructional materials.

The third stage of educational technology is linked with the development of mass media which in turn led to ‘communication revolution’ for instructional purposes. Computer-assisted Instruction (CAI) used for education since 1950s also became popular during this era.

The fourth stage of educational technology is discernible by the individualized process of instruction. The invention of programmed learning and programmed instruction provided a new dimension to educational technology. A system of self-learning based on self-instructional materials and teaching machines emerged.

The latest concept of educational technology is influenced by the concept of system engineering or system approach which focuses on language laboratories, teaching machines, programmed instruction, multimedia technologies and the use of the computer in instruction. According to it, educational technology is a systematic way of designing, carrying out and evaluating the total process of teaching and learning in terms of specific objectives based on research.

Educational technology during the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age

Educational technology, despite the uncertainty of the origin of the term, can be traced back to the time of the three-age system periodization of human prehistory; namely the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age.

Duringthe Stone Age, ignition of fire by rubbing stones, manufacture of various handmade weapon and utensils from stones and clothing practice were some of the simple technological developments of utmost importance. A fraction of Stone Age people developed ocean-worthy outrigger canoe ship technology to migrate from one place to another across the Ocean, by which they developed their first informal education of knowledge of the ocean currents, weather conditions, sailing practice, astronavigation, and star maps. During the later Stone Age period (Neolithic period),for agricultural practice, polished stone tools were made from a variety of hard rocks largely by digging underground tunnels, which can be considered as the first steps in mining technology. The polished axes were so effective that even after appearance of bronze and iron; people used it for clearing forest and the establishment of crop farming.

Although Stone Age cultures left no written records, but archaeological evidences proved their shift from nomadic life to agricultural settlement. Ancient tools conserved in different museums, cave paintings like Altamira Cave in Spain, and other prehistoric art, such as the Venus of Willendorf, Mother Goddess from Laussel, France etc. are some of the evidences in favour of their cultures.

Neolithic Revolution of Stone Age resulted into the appearance of Bronze Age with development of agriculture, animal domestication, and the adoption of permanent settlements. For these practices Bronze Age people further developed metal smelting, with copper and later bronze, an alloy of tin and copper, being the materials of their choice.

The Iron Age people replaced bronze and developed the knowledge of iron smelting technology to lower the cost of living since iron utensils were stronger and cheaper than bronze equivalents. In many Eurasian cultures, the Iron Age was the last period before the development of written scripts.

Educational technology during the period of Ancient civilizations

According to Paul Saettler, 2004, Educational technology can be traced back to the time when tribal priests systematized bodies of knowledge and ancient cultures invented pictographs or sign writing to record and transmit information. In every stage of human civilization, one can find an instructional technique or set of procedures intended to implement a particular culture which were also supported by number of investigations and evidences. The more advanced the culture, the more complex became the technology of instruction designed to reflect particular ways of individual and social behaviour intended to run an educated society. Over centuries, each significant shift in educational values, goals or objectives led to diverse technologies of instruction.

The greatest advances in technology and engineering came with the rise of the ancient civilizations. These advances stimulated and educated other societies in the world to adopt new ways of living and governance.

The Indus Valley Civilization was an early Bronze Age civilization which was located in the northwestern region of the Indian Subcontinent. The civilization was primarily flourished around the Indus River basin of the Indus and the Punjab region, extending upto the Ghaggar-Hakra River valley and the Ganges-Yamuna Doab, (most of the part is under today’s Pakistan and the western states of modern-day India as well as some part of the civilization extending upto southeastern Afghanistan, and the easternmost part of Balochistan, Iran).

There is a long term controversy to be sure about the language that the Harappan people spoke. It is assumed that their writing was at least seems to be or a pictographic script. The script appears to have had about 400 basic signs, with lots of variations. People write their script with the direction generally from right to left. Most of the writing was found on seals and sealings which were probably used in trade and official & administrative work.

Harappan people had the knowledge of the measuring tools of length, mass, and time. They were the first in the world to develop a system of uniform weights and measures.

In a study carried out by P. N. Rao et al. in 2009, published in Science, computer scientists found that the Indus script’s pattern is closer to that of spoken words, which supported the proposed hypothesis that it codes for an as-yet-unknown language.

According to the Chinese Civilization, some of the major techno-offerings from China include paper, early seismological detectors, toilet paper, matches, iron plough, the multi-tube seed drill, the suspension bridge, the wheelbarrow, the parachute, natural gas as fuel, the magnetic compass, the raised-relief map, the blast furnace, the propeller, the crossbow, the South Pointing Chariot, and gun powder. With the invent of paper they have given their first step towards developments of educational technology by further culturing different handmade products of paper as means of visual aids.

Ancient Egyptian language was at one point one of the longest surviving and used languages in the world. Their script was made up of pictures of the real things like birds, animals, different tools, etc. These pictures are popularly called hieroglyph. Their language was made up of above 500 hieroglyphs which are known as hieroglyphics. On the stone monuments or tombs which were discovered and rescued latter on provides the evidence of existence of many forms of artistic hieroglyphics in ancient Egypt.

Educational technology during Medieval and Modern Period

Paper and the pulp papermaking process which was developed in China during the early 2nd century AD, was carried to the Middle East and was spread to Mediterranean by the Muslim conquests. Evidences support that a paper mill was also established in Sicily in the 12th century. The discovery of spinning wheel increased the productivity of thread making process to a great extent and when Lynn White added the spinning wheel with increasing supply of rags, this led to the production of cheap paper, which was a prime factor in the development of printing technology.

The invention of the printing press was taken place in approximately 1450 AD, by Johannes Gutenburg, a German inventor. The invention of printing press was a prime developmental factor in the history of educational technology to convey the instruction as per the need of the complex and advanced-technology cultured society.

In the pre-industrial phases, while industry was simply the handwork at artisan level, the instructional processes were relied heavily upon simple things like the slate, the horn book, the blackboard, and chalk. It was limited to a single text book with a few illustrations. Educational technology was considered synonymous to simple aids like charts and pictures.

The year 1873 may be considered a landmark in the early history of technology of education or audio-visual education. An exhibition was held in Vienna at international level in which an American school won the admiration of the educators for the exhibition of maps, charts, textbooks and other equipments.

Maria Montessori (1870-1952), internationally renowned child educator and the originator of Montessori Method exerted a dynamic impact on educational technology through her development of graded materials designed to provide for the proper sequencing of subject matter for each individual learner. Modern educational technology suggests many extension of Montessori’s idea of prepared child centered environment.

In1833, Charles Babbage’s design of a general purpose computing device laid the foundation of the modern computer and in 1943, the first computing machine as per hi design was constructed by International Business Machines Corporation in USA. The Computer Assisted instruction (CAI) in which the computer functions essentially as a tutor as well as the Talking Type writer was developed by O.K. Moore in 1966. Since 1974, computers are interestingly used in education in schools, colleges and universities.

In the beginning of the 19th century, there were noteworthy changes in the field of education. British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), right from its start of school broadcasts in 1920 had maintained rapid pace in making sound contribution to formal education. In the USA, by 1952, 20 states had the provision for educational broadcasting. Parallel to this time about 98% of the schools in United Kingdom were equipped with radios and there were regular daily programmes.

Sidney L. Pressey, a psychologist of Ohio state university developed a self-teaching machine called ‘Drum Tutor’ in 1920. Professor Skinner, however, in his famous article ‘Science of Learning and art of Teaching’ published in 1945 pleaded for the application of the knowledge derived from behavioral psychology to classroom procedures and suggested automated teaching devices as means of doing so.

Although the first practical use of Regular television broadcasts was in Germany in 1929 and in 1936 the Olympic Games in Berlin were broadcasted through television stations in Berlin, Open circuit television began to be used primarily for broadcasting programmes for entertainment in 1950. Since 1960, television is used for educational purposes.

In 1950, Brynmor, in England, used educational technological steps for the first time. It is to be cared that in 1960, as a result of industrial revolution in America and Russia, other countries also started progressing in the filed of educational technology. In this way, the beginning of educational technology took place in 1960 from America and Russia and now it has reached England, Europe and India.

During the time of around 1950s, new technocracy was turning it attraction to educations when there was a steep shortage of teachers in America and therefore an urgent need of educational technology was felt. Dr. Alvin C. Eurich and a little later his associate, Dr. Alexander J. Stoddard introduced mass production technology in America.

Team teaching had its origin in America in the mid of 1950’s and was first started in the year 1955 at Harvard University as a part of internship plan.

In the year 1956, Benjamin Bloom from USA introduced the taxonomy of educational objectives through his publication, “The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, The Classification of Educational Goals, Handbook I: Cognitive Domain”.

In 1961, Micro teaching technique was first adopted by Dwight W. Allen and his co-workers at Stanford University in USA.

Electronics is the main technology being developed in the beginning of 21st century. Broadband Internet access became popular and occupied almost all the important offices and educational places and even in common places in developed countries with the advantage of connecting home computers with music libraries and mobile phones.

Today’s classroom is more likely to be a technology lab, a room with rows of students using internet connected or Wi-Fi enabled laptops, palmtops, notepad, or perhaps students are attending a video conferencing or virtual classroom or may have been listening to a podcast or taking in a video lecture. Rapid technological changes in the field of educational have created new ways to teach and to learn. Technological changes also motivated the teachers to access a variety of information on a global scale via the Internet, to enhance their lessons as well as to make them competent professional in their area of concern. At the same time, students can utilize vast resources of the Internet to enrich their learning experience to cope up with changing trend of the society. Now a days students as well teachers are attending seminars, conferences, workshops at national and international level by using the multimedia techno-resources like PowerPoint and even they pursue a variety of important courses of their choice in distance mode via online learning ways. Online learning facility has opened infinite number of doors of opportunities for today’s learner to make their life happier than ever before.

Computer Technology – Is it Good Or Bad?

The 21st century has been the age of so many technological breakthroughs and advances, technologies aimed for one purpose and that is to make the lives of people better by helping them become more efficient in their work. One such technological breakthrough is computer technology.

Computer technology has grown in great proportions starting from a computer with a size that of a room to a small well-designed palm top computer. Computers nowadays have become an indispensable part of the lives of people, especially at work, at companies, businesses, schools, offices and even in homes.

It has made the world smaller, but has it made our world better? It would then lead us to ask whether computer technology is good or bad. Now let us try to look at first some of the bad effects. With the advent of computers and with the internet it has become easy to access pornographic sites, children are more exposed to explicit content; some students would lose focus on their studies as they play computer games. The number of obesity cases has increased and it has been attributed to too much computer activity that led to less physical activity among a number of people.

On the other side of the coin, computers have opened a whole new world of possibilities. It is now easier to gain information on world events; you can even find a job in the internet; you can spread advocacies to a vast number of people all over the world; and most importantly it is now easier to be connected with one another even if you are on the other side of the globe.

Computer technology, just like any other material on earth has been created with a common good in mind. Just like a knife, it has been made to cut and slice food to speed up cooking time for people but it can also be used to kill people, and you cannot ban the use of knives in order to stop killing. And so you can’t blame computers for the problems it may have caused for it is the people who use them who caused the problem. It has disadvantages and advantages that must be taken into consideration.

But the problem is not computer technology itself; the problem resides on the people who use it. Computer technology is generally good for it can bring in a lot of good if it is used properly, but can do great harm if used unwisely.

People have choices on how they make use of earth’s resources, and that choice will determine how certain materials will affect people, be it good or bad.

Applying Technology in Hiring

Human contact, whether through professional networking, social connections, or by earned reputation still matters significantly and should in no way be minimized when describing the recruitment and hiring process. If anything, it’s paramount. However, another very important track to cover when developing one’s career is the one driven by existing and emerging technologies meant to streamline and optimize the employment process.

Today this ranges from online job boards advertising positions, to Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that parse resumes for HR and recruiters, and now Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning tools, designed to assess the employability of candidates. How to advantageously position yourself for these digital aides and gatekeepers needs to be a key component of a well-planned career growth strategy. Let’s take a current look at each of these technical features.

Online job boards are not very new, in short supply, or complicated. They are little more than interactive web sites that post job descriptions from employers. More recent are job search engines like Indeed and Simply Hired that rummage the internet aggregating job postings from a variety of sources.

These sites are seductive in that they give the appearance of a job store with profuse amounts of positions just ready for you to pick up while shopping. A common and ineffective ploy is to spend hours responding to jobs on the boards with the only thing generated being recruiters trying to lure you to high turnover 100% commission sales jobs. Nonetheless, working with job boards is not a complete waste of time and decent jobs can be yielded. Recommended is to spend about 10% to 20% of your job search time utilizing the boards by being careful and discriminating in what you respond to.

ATS software allows recruiters to organize vast lists of applicants and their pertinent criteria such as qualifications, employment history, degrees earned, etc., which are most useful to hiring managers when determining who to contact for interviews. For those of us trying to secure an interview we need to be mindful of preparing resumes that are keyword-rich with contextually used terms aligning our skills and knowledge with responsibilities and deliverables mentioned in job descriptions.

Therefore, given the need for an ATS-friendly resume that simultaneously is attractive for human readers the challenge is to strike a visually appealing format that won’t confuse the ATS. This can be tricky. If you want a designer resume that looks like those on a photo collection website, then forget about passing ATS muster. And with so many companies employing ATS the best strategy may be to pay homage to the many conditions needed to not be digitally rejected in a millisecond, while adding enough optics, and of course solid content, to not have your resume look like just another slice of white bread. Achieving this level of resume optimization is a necessary goal.

The latest trend, which is expected to proliferate in use and sophistication, involves the impact of AI in hiring decision making. There is a growing perception that relying on a candidate’s skills alone is not consistently producing better employees. The evolving thought is to assess personality more with the goal of finding a well rounded and compatible colleague. To this end, AI is being deployed to identify personality traits gleaned from resumes, online profiles, social media presences, video appearances, you name it. Apparently, this is seen as less biased than human observers. We shall see. (Can’t algorithms be biased too?)

At any rate, developing a consistent brand and value proposition that includes both your technical talents and your work style/interpersonal characteristics across all platforms may be wise for presenting to human and technological appraisers alike.

Being prepared for the changes and encroachment of technology into hiring decisions, and by extension career development, has become an imperative in today’s employment world.

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