[EAS] Materialistics

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Fri Jun 11 01:00:00 EDT 2004

Subject:   Materialistics

Edward Miller (former editor of the Harvard Education Letter) was to
my knowledge the first to suggest (e.g. see
<http://www.praxagora.com/stevet/netfuture/fwd/1998/1.html#1>) that
we are no longer teaching the three 'Rs (reading, 'riting,
'rithmetic), and have replaced them with the three 'Ms --
Multi-Tasking, Materialistics, and Mind Management, to meet the
challenges of the 21st century. 

As I've gotten older (in the interest of full disclosure I've just
turned 65), I've never had much skill with, or sympathy for, the
three 'Ms. Multi-tasking is a form of self-imposed attention deficit
disorder. Materialistics, in Miller's words

> Materialistics: simply put, people will have to be taught to
> distinguish between objects and actions in the material world, which
> operate under the old limitations of physics and biology, and those
> in the virtual world, which resemble real-world objects and actions
> but are limited only by the imagination of their human creators.
> Since most aspects of daily life will be lived virtually, schools
> will take students on carefully controlled field trips into the
> "material environment," that is, the real world.

Miller concludes

> The solution (to be invented in the year 2037 by the consulting firm
> Andersen, Ernst, Coopers, & Waterhouse) will be called Mind
> Management, in which children learn to monitor incoming sensory
> impressions and to filter out all those that are not immediately
> useful, in a task-oriented, value-added sense. Mind Management will
> also offer 21st-century educators another benefit: it will prove to
> be enormously effective in training children not to ask annoying or
> troubling questions about school. 

I was reminded about all this most recently by the two items below
in the last issue of the e-newsletter INNOVATION, from which I've
quoted frequently.

All best, --PJK

(from INNOVATION, 9 June 2004)

The latest GameCube release doesn't feature endless car chases or 
threatening monsters. Instead, "Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life"
celebrates  the personal fulfillment found in milking the cow,
feeding the dog, growing  crops and making a success of an abandoned
family farm. Rather than guns  and grenades, the tools at hand are
hoes and sickles, and the main  character focuses on building
lasting and satisfying relationships with  work, his wife and his
surroundings. There's no specific mission -- each  day (measured in
about 25-minute increments) is spent exploring, working  and
watching the clock. Players will need to spend about 18 hours to get
through the first year, but reviewer Jason Silverman says it "can
become  dangerously addictive, especially during the first dozen or
so hours.  That's not just true for the kiddies who are this game's
target audience:  Playing 'A Wonderful Life' encourages some deep
thinking about being a  responsible, well-rounded adult."
(Wired.com 1 Jun 2004)

Researchers at Swedish packing company SCA have developed a piano
made of  cardboard with the integrated circuits pressed onto the
paper instead of  silicon chips or circuit boards. The concept is
based on the same  technology used for paper products that change
color or include RFID tags  for inventory control. The cardboard
model features all 88 keys -- when one  is pressed down, the circuit
beneath it sends a signal to an electronic  loudspeaker, which plays
the appropriate tone. "It sounds almost like the  real thing, but it
is much cheaper -- and lighter," says Ulf Carlsson, head  of SCA's
R&D unit. The device is being used to show off the development of 
next-generation printing techniques. (AP 3 Jun 2004)

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