Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Improbable World

You can find a lot written about Neil Postman's Technopoly. It is not my intent to open a debate about this work here. I am however interested in Chapter 4 of this book here - where he talks about technology and its role in creating "The Improbable World."[@more@]

Each year I update a PowerPoint slide in my lecture on how technology is impacting our notion of literacy. This slide has a list of things on it and I ask students to tell me which one of these things is NOT possible today. The list has things on it like:

  • robots doing spinal research
  • GPS systems implanted in human beings
  • drinking glass that know when you need another drink
  • fish that turn color when certain toxics are present
  • head transplants


The point of the list of course is to make the point with students that it is becoming harder and harder to know what is possible and what is hooey. Even very educated people today can be convinced things are possible that are not. For example, on any given day visit the NewScientist web site and read a few of the articles they have posted. What does it mean to live in a world that is more and more improbable?

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