A cynic, by nature, must take a pessimistic view of events. In the last few articles I have attempted to take such a view of the internet. I do not dislike telecommunications but I do fear the ‘new is better’, ‘more is better’ view that seems to be developed around the internet. It seems to have found a niche in our societal desire for ‘infotainment’ There is nothing particularly wrong with this approach but it does provide some limitations to what we can use the internet for. No one would suggest showing daytime television talk shows, or prime time ‘real life’ dramas in the school classroom. Yet the goal of bringing internet into the schools is accepted with little discussion and no real plan on how to use it.
Those that choose to bring internet into their homes face similar problems. The reliance on it as an information source has some major problems. The use of it as an entertainment source is fine but individually isolating. While we create a global communtiy through electronic telecommunications are we neglecting our local community. If so, at what cost. If not, then what are we trying to create in our ‘global village’. I profess no answers, and probably more questions than most, but the questions need to be asked.
I think the first field will be the classroom for the answering of these questions. The classroom is where society chooses to inculcate its young in knowledge, tradition, customs, and expectations. The application of the internet in that environment will shape how the future of the internet will shape our society.
Is the internet to be an information source?
Is the information to be a solely commercial domain?
Is the internet to be an entertainment source?
Can the internet be all of these?
In a system where physical seperations do not exist the need to find mental seperators are critical. Without these information, entertainment, and comercial enterprise would merge into a vast blur.
Bill Kempthorne (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Math/Physics teacher at Mountain Secondary in Langley, B.C. He has a soon to be published thesis on Computers in the Grade Eight to Ten classroom and a semi-regular contributor to user group newsletters and similar publications. Electronic rebutals are accepted in the manner offered at the above address.
The view expressed here should be treated as the sole opinion of the writer except were specific quotations or references are cited. Permission to reproduce for individual educational use is granted, all other rights reserved WAK&CO ©1995