Tag Archives: future

Digital Dads: Mobile Office Movable Torture Chamber

The future is a fascinating place and I’m so glad to live here.

Back when I was younger (when dinosaurs ruled the Earth and I had to walk five miles to school, uphill both ways, dodging alligators and suffering through huge snow drifts now get offa my lawn), we thought of the future as the place where the skies would be filled with flying cars and jetpacks and other astonishing bits of transportation magic.

Turns out, at least so far, a car still is recognizably a car and wouldn’t surprise anyone from the dawn of the Age of the Automobile. What has changed, though, has been the way we communicate.

We still talk, laugh and scream, but the handwritten, stamped and addressed letter is dying a slow, inevitable death except for wedding invitations and thank-you notes to older relatives, and the three broadcast networks and newspapers no longer have a monopsony on information dispersal.

Yeah, it’s another post on computers and the internet.20140623-110347-39827043.jpg

This bit of stand-back-and-be-agog-about-computers was brought on by where and how I’m producing this post. I’m not at home or an office, but am away for the day. I didn’t bring my laptop computer, either.

Instead, I brought a flat, thin rectangle of touch-sensitive glass squished full of circuits and electronics and I connected it invisibly through complicated communications protocols to a tiny self-powered keyboard. Yeah, I am writing this on a wonderful Luvvitt keyboard and my iPad mini.

I’m with Zippy the Travelin’ Boy. Being the diligent college student that he is, The Zipster is working hard on perfecting his hard-won lessons from Sleeping The Day Away 101.

So I’m taking advantage of the quiet to get a little work done.

This ability to communicate via vastly different channels to a disparate group of dudes and dudettes can make for a wonderfully convenient work aide at times.

However, when we allow this constant connection to become a chain around our ankles as opposed to a rope to lift us from the muck and mire, we allow ourselves to be dragged from the somewhat-gleaming future and down into the dreary past.

All of which goes to say that I’m about to finish this up, go grab the Big Poking Stick to awaken Zippy the Travelin’ Boy from safe distance, and then go enjoy the day with my son who’s growing up much too fast already.

Put down the computers and unplug. Go out and have a great weekend with the people you love.

Even in the future, nothing beats an in-person hug.

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The Handwriting On The Wall

The future of school looks a lot like a computer keyboard. . . but maybe it shouldn’t.

Right now, young dudes and dudettes in elementary school, middle school and high school mostly take notes by hand. Every parent knows the nightmare of not getting the right color composition book and having to rush back to Walmart with a sniffling child and rooting in vain amongst the dregs of the school supplies, knowing the color won’t be there and school starts tomorrow and why won’t he just be quiet and for the love of peter just take the green one because it really doesn’t make a difference.

*ahem* Yeah, I might have some issues there. Moving on.

So, most notes are taken with pencil and paper in grades k-12, but that might not last for long. And that could be a problem as life goes on.

While college students still take some notes with pen and paper, I’m seeing more and more computers or tablets on college student desks as they take notes to the clicking of keys and not the clicking of a ball-point pen. And that technophilia is moving down into the primary school years as well.

The future is wall-to-wall computers and our schools are changing to accommodate that. According to some recent research, that could be a big mistake.

Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words, it’s not just what we write that matters — but how.

“When we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated,” said Stanislas Dehaene, a psychologist at the Collège de France in Paris. “There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental simulation in your brain.

Which we will discuss tomorrow when I come back with a bit more about the whole handwriting versus typing debate.

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Madame Leota’s Crystal Ball Says. . .

We are all time travelers: moving into the future second by second.

Which does us absolutely no good at all as far as planning for the future goes because we can’t see the future until it’s the present and then it’s too late to change it into anything but the past.

Ugh. Time travel makes my head hurt.

Anyway, I was reminded about this issue recently when I was discussing with She Who Must Be Sleeping Because It’s Dark After All a course of action regarding our oldest dude.

The actual specifics of the discussion aren’t all that important (well, they’re important to us and certainly important to him. However, for the sake of this bit here, it’s more the results rather than the cause.), but I found myself thinking of Robert Frost.

One of my favorite poets, Robert Frost wrote about “The Road NotRobert Frost, one of America's best poets, extolled the virtue of taking the road less travelled. Taken.” In exactingly precise words of immeasurable beauty, Frost talked about how we often face choices in our lives and we can think of them as forks in the road.

We take one fork, make one choice, and that forever shapes all that is to come. Take the other fork, make the other choice, and that also forever shapes all that is to come.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

So we sat discussing our course of action and because the substance of the discussion, the nature of the choice, was so important to Sarcasmo’s future, I’ve never wished more fervently to be able to see the future.

“Are we making the right choice? Will this work out in the long run? Will this be good for him or hurt him?”

This is something we parents have to think about every single day in almost every single decision. It’s not often such a stark choice, but it is there.

Do I make him eat those zucchini slices or not? If no, am I teaching him that he will get his way when he whines? If yes, will I be teaching him that bigger people can make smaller people do things?

The more I think about it, the more debilitating it becomes until I can enter into a state of analysis paralysis. For those of you not up on your rhyming aphorisms, analysis paralysis means you start thinking about something so much that you never make an actual decision. Which is, in effect, a decision. If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

There’s an old saying in project management: There comes a time in the life of every project when you simply have to shoot the engineers and run with it.

Now, that’s not actually encouraging people to kill engineers. The issue is that engineers are never finished. They always see one more thing that can be improved upon. One more thing that needs just a little adjustment.

I like to think it’s something similar in parenting. We don’t know what we’re doing.

We don’t know how our actions today will affect the life of our child tomorrow.

All we can do is make what we think is the right decision and then work for the best outcome. Which is, in and of itself, a significantly frightening thought.

So, now that I’ve spent two days scaring the pants off you, I’ve only got one thing to say. . .

You’re not wearing any pants! Neener Neener Neener!

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