My Thoughts about Reading in the Future

For summaries, notes, and further reflection on each of the individual readings, see these pages.
This page is going to be a space for me to synthesize and process the ideas from all three. These thoughts are not really related to the concepts of User Testing, rather I just wanted a space to write my ideas down.

Each of these authors seemed to be optimistic and enthusiastic about the contributions technology would make on our future with the exception maybe of Mcluhan. Both Bush and LaFarge claim these new technologies can enhance our capabilities and bring us into an even deeper understanding of what it means to be human. What I gathered from Mcluhan's essay was that the technology itself was carrying us along into new landscapes that we couldn't have achieved on our own, but we were blind tourists to this beautiful new land we'd discovered.

When I read older writing, especially the classics, I am always amazed at how the themes remain universal and relevant. I'm also frequently amazed at how accurately writers of the past predicted the future. Bush and Mcluhan stunned me with their predictions. Bush's memex foretold the implementation of hypertext in modern writing. He envisioned wikipedia when he wrote, "Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready-made with a mesh of associative trails running through them..."(124). When Mcluhan wrote about people participating in their own audience, I thought of vlogs and youtubers and other social media.

Seeing how accurate they were about the future, makes me want to read current scientists and engineers' writings to find out their predictions for the future. I'm interested in the ways technology is shaping our lives. My teacher friends and I frequently joke around (to hide our deep, nightmarish fear) about the year that robots take over our jobs. I found an article that discusses the infiltration of technology into our job force, but this author too, puts a very positive spin on what I've thought of as doom and gloom.
|"A World Without Work" by Derek Thompson. In this article, Thompson points out the likely future scenario of having several workers displaced by machines within the next couple of decades. Thompson interviews and reads several experts in the areas of economy and social life to get their take on what this future economy would look like and what it would mean for humanity - Americans more specifically because so much of our identity is formed by our work.

What he finds is a lot of optimistic people who think that by re-shaping the labor force, people will have more freedom to pursue their passions. This is especially good news for writers, artisans, musicians, and all creative folk. I've had some teacher friends who share a similarly optimistic view. They don't believe that software can replace teachers altogether, but they welcome the idea that software might be able to teach their students some of the more menial tasks, freeing the teacher to spend more time developing the creative and fostering the student's unique talents.

The big question on everyone's mind if machines take over jobs is where does the money come from? If more people have less work, how do we get paid? The experts didn't seem to have an answer for this other than that our economy and our culture would have to undergo quite a significant shift. From what I got out of it, they were predicting a leaner standard of living than what many working and professional class families experience now. They painted a rosy picture that what we enjoy now in leisure and luxuries would be replaced by the rewards of community, and the enjoyment of making something with your own hands. I agree that a shift of priorities from the material to the communal and spiritual would in the end behoove us all, the journey down that path sounds miserable.
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