Dr. Charles F. Urbanowicz/Professor of Anthropology
California State University, Chico
Chico, California 95929-0400
(530-898-6220 [Office]; 530-898-6192 [Dept.] FAX: 530-898-6824)
home page: http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban
5 May 2000 
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© [All Rights Reserved.] © For the City of Chico Fire Department Workshop (Chico, California) and whose mission statement is "To provide the highest quality fire, rescue, and emergency services to the Chico community in a caring and professional manner."
INTRODUCTION: VIDEOTAPE & TRANSPARENCIES
TECHNOLOGY: YESTERDAY / TODAY / TOMORROW?
WORKING TODAY / TOMORROW
CONCLUSIONS & PS
This presentation draws upon specific ideas & information made in earlier papers (listed immediately below in reverse chronological order) yet it does incorporate some new ideas & information for the current audience/reader.
INTRODUCTION: VIDEOTAPE & TRANSPARENCIES
"The paradox of efficiency means that as the web tightens it grows more vulnerable to small disturbances--disruptions and delays that can cascade through the system for days [or forever!]." James Gleick, 1999, Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything (NY: Pantheon Books), page 223.
Life is a series of "building blocks" and to quote from James Burke:
"You are what you know. ...Today we live according to the latest version of how the universe functions. This view affects our behaviour and thought, just as previous versions affected those who lived with them. ...At any time in the past, people have held a view of the way the universe works which was for them similarly definitive, whether it was based on myths or research. And at any time, that view they held was sooner or later altered by changes in the body of knowledge" [stress added]. James Burke, 1985, The Day The Universe Changed (Little Brown), page 9.
For those in the audience, and readers of this paper, I ask you to consider where you were and who you were (and how old you were) in February 1986 and consider the changes in 14 years; in Time magazine of February 10, 1986, a full-page advertisement appeared which stated (in part) the following:
"IT'S SO FAST, YOU'LL FLY THROUGH YOUR WORK. Introducing the NCR PC6. Whoosh! That's information up on the new NCR PC6. The PC6 is NCR's most powerful personal computer yet. It's powered by the advanced Intel 8088-2 microprocessor. So you can process information nearly twice as fast as the PC XT. At that rate, you can load programs faster. Recall files in an instant. Calculate in a flash. And get home earlier. The PC6 stores a lot, too--up to 40MB of hard disk space, or about 7,575 single-spaced typewritten pages. Of course the PC 6 is compatable--running over 10,000 business software programs. In fact, a special switch lets you operate at either 8 MHz or 4.77 MHz, allowing you to run software that some other high performance PCs, like the PC AT, can't run. And, just in case, you can get a built-in streaming tape back-up system to guard against accidental erasures, disk damage, or coffee spills. The NCR PC6. To see it, fly on down to your NCR dealer today [stress added]."
Whoosh! Fourteen years later in March 2000, please consider the following:
"Intel Ships Fast Chip, Catches Up With AMD. Driven by their intensifying competition for bragging rights in PC processor speed, both Intel and Advanced Micro Devices this week began shipping 1-gigahertz chips, well ahead of their previously announced schedule. ... A gigahertz is 1,000 megahertz, or 1 billion cycles per second. The more cycles per second, the faster a microprocessor can chew through its assigned tasks. The actual speed users experience on real-life tasks, however, depends on a variety of factors, including other aspects of a chip's design, the performance of other PC components and, increasingly, the speed of the machine's Internet connection--not to mention the users typing and thinking speeds [stress added]." Henry Norr, 2000, San Francisco Chronicle, Thursday, March 9, page B1.
TECHNOLOGY: YESTERDAY / TODAY / TOMORROW?
Gregory Bateson (1904-1980), an anthropologist of some note (and once a Trustee of the University of California System), wrote that the "unit of survival [or adaptation I add] is organism plus environment" [stress added] (Steps To An Ecology of Mind, 1972, page 483) and this phrase has stuck with me for more than a quarter-of-a-century. I strongly argue that if we, as individuals (and as a collective), are to survive we must (a) be aware of and (b) adapt to the ever-changing electronic world around. I am also interested in Charles Darwin (1809-1882) and as he once wrote, borrowing from the eminent sociologist Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), there is such a thing as "survival of the fittest" and as an anthropologist looking at education and technology, I find (and often see) an organic (and clearly Darwinian) metaphor applied to changes in education, and (as stated above) "you ain't seen nothing yet!" Incidentally, in his quote, Bateson went on to write about the human mind:
"The unit of survival [or adaptation] is organism plus environment. We are learning by bitter experience that the organism which destroys its environment destroys itself. If, now, we correct the Darwinian unit of survival to include the environment and the interaction between organism and environment, a very strange and surprising identity emerges: the unit of survival turns out to be identical with the unit of mind" [italics in original; stress added]." Gregory Bateson [1904-1980], 1972, Steps To An Ecology of Mind (NY: Ballantine Books), page 483.
WORKING TODAY / TOMORROW
To the earlier cited words of James Burke I add the following: you are also what you don't know! Your ignorance (as well as mine) contributes to (y)our actions and attitudes about the things we do know about. Universities must change because K-12 education is changing: in 1999 some 13,064 Senior High Schools in this country had network connections, up from 12,853 network connections in 1998, which was up from 9,565 network connections in 1997 (The World Almanac and Book of Facts, 2000 edition, page 247). This same network "growth rate" is evident for the Elementary Schools and Junior High Schools over the same time period and MODEM-usage and CD-ROM usage in K-12 schools is also (understandably) increasing. (Please see http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/K12Visuals98.htm for some earlier information.)
"The average person now changes jobs 8.6 times between the ages of 18 and 32, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Such upheavals in the labor market have forced colleges to adapt....[stress added]." Emily Bazar, 1999, Number of Students Over 40 Soaring At College Campuses. The Sacramento Bee, August 24, 1999, pages 1 and page A10, page 1.
In a chapter entitled "American Higher Education at the Dawn of a New Millennium" (in John S. Brubacher and Willis Rudy's 1997 publication entitled Higher Education in Transition: A History of American Colleges and Universities, pages 412-422), the authors cite the 1989 words of the then President of Harvard University, Derek Bok: "media are mere vehicles that deliver instruction but do not influence student achievement any more than the truck that delivers our groceries causes changes in our nutrition [page 416]" (citing The Christian Science Monitor, February 17, 1989, page 13). While that may have been true in 1989, the "truck" that delivers information to our K-12 schools has greatly changed and the media are now well beyond "mere vehicles" and the "diet" of K-12 education and information that our potential students receive via television and the World Wide Web (and higher education) has changed and is constantly changing. Just as K-12 schools will change so will institutions of higher education change:
"Colleges will not, of course, disappear--but over time they will be dramatically altered in nature as students and professors adopt cyberspace as their primary window into the laboratory of life. The distinctions between academic and applied research will become blurred as academic and commercial researchers begin to tap into the same sources of information and exchange in cyberspace [stress added]." (David B. Whittle, 1997, Cyberspace: The Human Dimension, page 217)
"Dramatic" changes will come about because the very environment of the next ten-to-twenty years will be radically altered as a result of the electronic revolution upon us. Although I remain positive, please consider the 1996 words of Winn Schwartau, a cyberspace expert:
"Colleges and universities will be replaced with a higher educational database that provides personally tailored interactive instruction and testing [stress added]." Winn Schwartau, 1996, Information Warfare: Cyberterrorism: Protecting Your Personal Security in the Electronic Age (NY: Thunder's Mouth Press), page 660.
All of education is changing yet not all "environments" are the same: for a year 2000 listing of "America's Most Wired Colleges 2000" please see http://www.zdnet.com/yil/content/college/ and for the "50 most Wired Cities and Towns" in the United States, please see; http://www.zdnet.com/yil/content/mag/0003/cities.html. For information on K-12 school on the World Wide Web please see http://web66.coled.umn.edu/ as well as www.asd.com entitled the American School Directory: Your interactive Gateway to All 108,000 K-12 Schools.
"Any teacher who can be replaced by a computer deserves to be! [stress added!]" David Smith; as cited by Mike Cooley, 1999, Human-Centered Design. In Information Design (1999), edited by Robert Jacobson (MIT Press), pages 59-81, page 73.
Changes are coming in many areas and we should be aware of them, In February 1997 The Wall Street Journal provided an interesting perspective on our future:
"A population burst unlike any since the heyday of the baby boom has entered the American system. And although its members are still children, their impact on business and society is already immense. ... The annual number of U.S. births started rising around 1980, ending the baby-bust years. In each of the years from 1989 to 1993, U.S. births exceeded four million for the first time since the early 1960s. Today there are roughly 57 million American under age 15--and more than 20 million in the peak years between four and eight. ... 'Technologically, this generation is going to make the Gen-Xers look like fuddy-duddies,' says Frank Gevorsky, a 41-year-old social historian at the Discovery Institute,a Seattle think tank. He predicts that within five years, members of Generation Y will be producing term papers with full motion video. 'They're on fast-forward,' he says. Generation Y was born into a world so different from the one their parents entered that they could be on different planets" [stress added]." Melinda Beck, 1997, Next Population Bulges Shows Its Might. The Wall Street Journal, February 3, 1997, pages B1 + B2, page B1.
Perhaps this is why I am so interested in technology: individuals, or children, from "different planets!" What an opportunity for cross-cultural research and longititudinal studies for an anthropologist interested in the impact of technology! Technology is causing (as it has in the past) changes all-over-the-world, from South America to California. Consider Time for May 8, 2000:
"Off the coast of Venezuela, three 400-ft. ships are laying down miles of high-speed fiber-optic cable capacious enough to carry 600,000 calls simultaneously. In a high mountaintown outside Cuzco, Peru, a co-op of native farmers has found a way to get more than 10 times the local price for its potato crop by selling it to a New York City organic-food store it found on the Internet [stress added]." Sandy M. Fernandez, Latin America Logs On. Time, May 8, 2000, pages B2-B4, page B2.
"It's a cliche of the digital age: Parents wonder how children so helpless in the real world can navigate the virtual world with such skill. Using computers is second nature to most kids--and with good reason, according to many neurologists. Being exposed to the wired world at early ages is effectively wiring children's brains differently, giving them an ease and comfort with computers that adults may never match. Will the new millennium see the generation gap turn into the digital divide? ... The cognitive gap is likely to continue well into the future, even as today's cyberkids become tomorrow's parents. While kids are growing up with brains well suited to the digital world of today, as adults they are likely to face the difficult task of adapting to a future where technology evolves even more rapidly--and more profoundly--than it does today [stress added]." Yocki J. Dreazen & Rachel Emma Silverman, 2000, Raised In Cyberspace. January 1, 2000, The Wall Street Journal, page R47.
Incidentally, one need not go to The Wall Street Journal or various other publications to read what I am trying to convince you about; consider, if you will, the column by Dr. Joni Samples (Glenn County Superintendent of Schools) which appeared in the Enterprise-Record/Mercury-Register of March 12, 2000:
"...I realized what a different technological life my kids live. [When I was their age] I thought the most modern of conveniences was an electric typewriter, a dishwasher, and a color TV. Today anyone without a computer is deprived. ... Their lives revolve around technology. They were born after the computer chip was perfected. They know only how to turn on appliances containing one or more chips. The students in our schools are in the same bucket. They've grown up with technology most of us only read about in science fiction novels. Our kids can expect even more. I just read an article about kids in a forth [sic.] grade class reading e-books. No textbooks were being purchased for the class this year; information comes from electronic books. ... Their world will be one of computers, video cams, web sites, and who knows what else [stress added]." Joni Samples, 2000, Mom's Memories of the ancient ways of typing. Enterprise-Record/Mercury-Register, Sunday, March 12, 2000, page 3B.
For readers of this paper, you will note that the apparently computerized "spell checker" obviously allowed the incorrect "forth" for the correct "fourth" above! People are still needed!
On "computers" becoming more ubiquitous, you may have read about the potential of "paper computers" in the April issue of Wired (April 2000, Vol. 8.04), that-is-to-say, computers "printed" on paper and thrown away (for approximately $1.00/computer); and The Wall Street Journal of April 13, 2000 (page B1), had an article about microchips being placed in "paper smart packages" (corrugated boxes) and bar codes can eventually be eliminated from packaging (and inventory control will be much more efficient). Efficiency and speed; please consider the following:
"In a development that could help telecommunications companies keep up with the flood of Interent traffic, TRW Space & Electronics Group said it has created a telecommunications chip that can operate at a blazing 69 gigahertz. At that speed, the chip can transfer data through a fiber-optic network at 40 gigabits a second, or the equivalent of 10 software comapct disks in one second. ... it is expected to begin shipping world-wide next year [in 2000]. ... the fastest [current] silicon chip from Intel Corp. runs at 733 megahertz, or almost 100 times slower than the TRW chip, which operates at 69,000 megahertz [stress added." Dean Takahashi, 1999, TRW to Make Chip to Speed Web-Data Flow. The Wall Street Journal, December 8, 1999.
Not only speed and efficiency, but perhaps "scent" as well:
"First came scratch-and-sniff marketing. So is it any wonder that in this era of regular technology upgrades, Ellwood Ivery Jr. wants you to click and smell--or, if you're so inclinded, click and taste. Mr. Ivey's company, TriSenx, has patented a technology that uses a desktop printer-like device to produce smells based on data programmed into a Web page, essentially allowing a user to download a smell or taste from the Internet [stress added]." Anon., The Wall Street Journal, May 1, 2000, page C25a.
Change is inevitable! Minoru Arakawa, of Nintendo of America, made a statement which appeared in USA Today on June 23, 1997; discussing the activities of Nintendo (which started in the "good old days" of 1979) the following question and answer appeared:
"Q: How do those older games from the '80s compare with games for the current system, the Nintendo 64? Arakawa: It's like a university compared with elementary school. The graphics are so much better. The sound is much better. Everything is much better [stress added]." "Nintendo Plans Zelda 64 For Next Big Play" by Mike Snider, USA Today, June 23, 1997, page 10B)
"Everything is much better" and this is part of the future. With an increase in "technology" I also see an increase in leisure time activities: people will get TIRED of computers and want to relax and play more (I also have an interested in "gaming" activities); but, there will be "life-long" learning and constant learning: for students and teachers!
"Teachers Are Lagging Behind in Logging On. With more computers than ever ready to be booted up in classrooms across the country, our schools should be turning out thousands of Bill Gates clones. Not so fast. It seems half the screens are dark because the geeks who backed this rush to get computers in schools forgot one key element--training the teachers. Education Week magazine has just completed a comprehensive report on technology in schools that shows teachers don't know what to do with all that RAM. Almost 50% don't use computers at all in teaching, and only 61% percent [it is written this way in Time] use the Internet. And the educational software that's out there doesn't provide much promise: 71% of high school teachers said finding useful products is nearly impossible, and the software-savvy give materials that are usable a grade C or lower.--By Sally B. Connelly/Washington [stress added]." Time, September 27, 1999, page 26.
Computers and technology and speed and "multi-tasking" and "cell phones" and satellites will be with us for a long time! (And there are still only 24 hours in a day!) There will be problems but the technology can enhance our lives; for this audience, consider not only computers but something like GPS (or the Global Positioning System). Once restricted to military uses (I also have a passing interest in satellites) GPS is virtually for everyone (for ~$100 dollars). As of May 1/2, 2000, the computers have been "tweaked" and the "distorted" signals modified and accuracy will now be in the range of 10-to-20 yards (instead of the range of 30-to-100 yards). As USA Today pointed out, in addition to the benefits of greater accuracy for general civilians, now "Police, firefighters and ambulance drivers would be able to better pinpoint people during emergencies." (Traci Watson, 2000, Lost in the USA? Improved Tool Could Help. USA Today, May 2, 2000, page 4A.)
To end this section, I would like you to consider the following (and if you were alive in 1959, where were you and how were you living?):
"It is sometimes difficult to grasp the effects of constant doubling. Suppose that in 1959, when the first transistor was printed on silicon, a patch of seaweed in the Pacific Ocean [the largest geographical feature on this planet at ~64,000,000 square miles] measured one foot across. The seaweed patch doubled in size every year just as chips have doubled their number of components. By 1964 it [the seaweed patch] would have measured 32 feet across; 1964 chips contained 32 components. By 1970 it would be 2000 feet across. By 1984 it would have choked the entire Pacific [stress added]. James Martin, 1987, Technology's Crucible, page 15.
"The Internet will not totally replace schools and universities [and libraries!], but these traditional institutions must transform themselves if they are to prepare tomorrow's students for lifelong learning." Joseph Pelton, 1996, Cyberlearning vs. the University: An Irresistible Force Meets an Immovable Object, The Futurist (Vol. 30, No. 6, December), pages 17-20, page 17.
"WEB HAS MORE THAN A BILLION PAGES: The World Wide Web now contains more than one billion unique documents, according to Inktomi and the NEC Research Institute. Nearly 55 percent of URLs end in .com. The second most popular ending is .net, with 7.82 percent, followed by .edu with 6.69 percent, .org with 1.15 percent, .gov with 1.15 percent, and .mil with 0.17 percent. Most Web documents -- 86.55 percent -- are in English. For more information see http://www.inktomi.com/webmap (Nua Internet Surveys, 8 February 2000)
"The World Wide Web, long the province of men seeking techno-gadgets, sports scores and pornography, now is drawing a nearly equal share of women users. An estimated 49 percent [~34,000,000] of Web users at the end of 1999 were women and it's forecast they will be in the majority within the next 12 months, according to a recent survey by AdRelevance, a Seattle-area research group. That marks a huge jump from just four years ago, when women accounted for just 35 percent of Internet users" [stress added]. Clint Stewart, 2000, Web Losing Gender Gap: Men Soon Online Minority. The Sacramento Bee, January 22, page 1 and page 20, page 1.
Where is this all going to go? WHO KNOWS?! The future, by definition, is "time that is to be" and no one can predict the future! We can make educated guesses, but that is all they are; and, in some respects, my "guesses" can be just as good as yours (or the "experts"), depending on how much information we internalize and seek out to make those guesses. Consider, if you will, USA Today of May 2, 2000, and the article by Lester C. Thurow (former Dean the theSloan School of Management of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Professor of Economics) entitled "Should you play the dot-com lottery?" because that is what it is: "Stock market values are roaring up and down so rapidly that anything you say is apt to be false by the time it is printed. ... Picking the big economic winners in a new industry is hard. It is a lottery with a big element of chance." (Page 17A)
Or The Wall Street Journal of the same day:
"Gauging the value of technology stocks gives investors fits. But that could be child's play next to assessing the worth of a broken-up Microsoft. Yesterday, after digesting the government's plan to split the Redmond, Wash., software concern into two separate companies, Wall Street analysis began sketching out rough valuations for the two mini-Microsofts. The upshot: They're all over the map. ... 'You can probably drive a truck through the wide range of assumpotions that would give you any number under the sun' for a valuation, says Chris Shilakes, who follows Microsoft for Merrill Lynch [stress added]." Rebecca Buckman, 2000, Figuring Worth of a Split-Up Microsoft Leaves Analysts Scattered all Over Map. The Wall Street Journal, May 2, pages C1 and C4, page C1.
So, what does one do? There is no such things as "future shock" (a term coined by Alvin Toffler in the 1970 book of that title), but there is "ignorance" of the present (or perhaps unawareness of what is occuring right now); I enjoy the following phrase from Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore's 1967 volume entitled The Medium is the Massage (page 25): "there is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening."
"The net is so vast and is growing so rapidly that each person's experience with it can only be a tiny sample of the whole. This is one reason it is so enchanting: you just never know what you will find when you click the mouse and explore a new location. It may also contribute to the diversity of opinions about the net's value in our lives and to society in general. Each of us partakes of different Internet niches, and our experiences can leave us with markedly different views [stress added]." Patricia Wallace, 1999, The Psychology of the Internet (Cambridge University Press), page 233.
The future will be interesting and I begin ending with some words from the 1978 Physics Nobel Laureate, Arno Penzias:
"Throughout the ages, technology has helped shape the facts we humans think about. As our knowledge has increased, so have our tools and the ways we employ them. Today, technology is so complex and pervasive that it dominates much of the environment in which human beings live and work. For this reason, I feel we need a better understanding of how technology affects the ways in which we now create and explore ideas." Arno Penzias, 1989, Ideas And Information: Managing In A High-Tech World (NY: Simon & Schuster), page 179-180.
Consider the Sacramento Bee of May 3, 2000, and the article on the "Regional Transportation Management Center" for District 3 of Caltrans. Incre4ased, and bettter use of technology to monitor something like traffic is important, given the fact of "growth" in California (and future growth!):
"The center's job has become more important over the last 20 years as the number of registered vehicles in the state has increased by two-thirds to more than 25 million. Over the same time, the number of so-called 'lane miles' on freeways and state highways has grown just 16 percent" [stress added]." Bill Lindelof, Eyes And Ears of the Capital's Freeway. The Sacramento Bee, May 3, 2000, pages B1 and B4, page B4.
Technology is needed today and it will be needed tomorrow. On May 4, 2000, it was widely reported that the estimated population of California at the beginning of the year 2000 was 34,300,000, an increase of some 571,000 residents in one year. If this growth rate continues (and this was only a 1.7% increase), it is estimated that the state's population will be 58,700,000 in the year 2040. Forget, however, about 40 years into the future (and what will the City of Chico be like then?), consider the fact that if the state is increasing by "merely" ~500,000 individuals/year, this means in ten years (when I am 67 years of age) California could have a population of ~44,300,000 individuals! Technology will definitely be needed to deal with all of us at that point in time and on our demands on the environment and our demands for services.
FINALLY, consider the potential of "organic" computers:
"Tech Trends: DNA Computing High-speed processors are hardly news these days. One GHz? Yawn. The real cutting edge of technology is DNA computing. Scientists are putting DNA on chips and using genes to solve Math problems. In the near future, we may eliminate genetic diseases and, eventually, merge mind and machine." SEE: http://1.digital.cnet.com/cgi-bin1/flo?x=dAhKKmhKuowBYuhug
You ain't seen nothing yet!
PS: I am really an optimist when it comes to the human condition for as Sir Winston Churchill (1875-1965) once remarked, "I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else." More recently the wonderful Jane Goodall (born 1934) written:
"My reasons for hope are fourfold: (1) the human brain; (2) the resilience of nature; (3) the energy and enthusiasm that is found or can be found or can be kindled among young people worldwide; and (4) the indomitable human spirit [stress added]." Jane Goodall [with Phillip Berman], 1999, Reason For Hope: A Spiritual Journey (NY: Warner Books), page 233.
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