Yesterday was, in a word, great. I know it’s a simple word, but it accurately describes how it felt to be back in the New Media Faculty Seminar at Baylor. This is a semester-long seminar that is taught at Baylor (and a variety of other universities who are linked into the conversation online and having one at their own universities) engaging faculty in readings and questions about new media. You can visit their blog to see what they are learning.
Because Gardner, the leader of the seminar, was out of town I guest taught it yesterday in his steps. It was daunting, especially since Gardner brings so much charisma and spice to the conversation about new media. In so many ways, I felt inept to facilitate a conversation in a room full of brilliant faculty, but I was encouraged by the way they engaged on the topic of if machines can augment the human intellect, as Engelbart suggested.
We discussed early work done by Doug Engelbart in his “the mother of all demos.” One question that was brought was whether machines are making us smarter or dumber. As we quickly learned, the answer is not so simple. In many ways, user interfaces for technology have become so easy that they are nearly intuitive and can be utilized by most novices. But is this getting away from the point originally intended by Engelbart and his colleagues? Do you think they envisioned the future we live in now? A world full of iPhones, iPads, and Kindles? In some ways, I do not think so. But I wonder if they would be amazed by today’s technological society or disappointed?