Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

I was born 12 years before Dan Pontefract. And while I would be the first to agree with him that technology isn't perfect, I think those 12 years make all the difference in understanding the impact of new technology. We had television from my early childhood, but depended more on radio, since we only had two channels (CBC and CTV). I worked with some of the earliest computers, before they were small enough to fit inside a house. My life is neatly divided between the paper era and the digital era - and believe me, the digital era is much better.

It's not, as Pontefract claims, that technology has made us more busy. We were always busy. I'd read three newspapers a day (and in my younger years, deliver two of them; I also sold greeting cards, sorked as a hot dog vendor, and mowed lawns - work invariably involved physical labour, even for kids). My nose was always in a book, morning, noon and night (except when I was involved with newspapers). In university, I had to write my papers by hand, or (later) type them on a typewriter. And there was waiting - so much waiting - at the bank, at the store, at government offices. All of this pain has been replaced by really simple computer applications.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Mar 30, 2021 10:16 p.m.