Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Millenium Project

Let us not think of our projects in 5 or 10 year increments, let us contemplate the ripple effect of our actions by centuries.

My words to frame the ideas of The Long and Now Foundation: http://www.longnow.org/

A book that they published about their ideas many years ago greatly affected how I look at the projects I do in technology or in my own life.

Unfortunately one of the worst parts of the human condition is the sense of the immediate or "now". We solve problems based on the immediate need and do not anticipate or often care about what the next generation must deal with.

Technology requires us to think of evolution. Infrastructure for any technology is a costly venture. It is a living breathing part of our campuses and our class rooms. If we fail to think about its longevity we then are replacing millions of dollars of cable, hardware and software in as little as 3 years.

Schools want to save money, but are they saving money if the technology only lasts a year?

I bought a Gateway in 1998 that worked like a champ until 2006. Tell me that that 3500 wasn't worth it? I got the high end of everything and didn't need an upgrade until the processor could no longer keep up.

That is an extreme scenario, but understand that we ask our cars to make it 15 and 20 years and plan accordingly. We don't ask our desktops to do that.

I do know that if the goal is Star Trek---then perhaps we also need to look at the principles that frame the technology of Star Trek. Is there a standard for right and wrong action? Are we recycling what we can? Are we really establishing ethical uses for the abilities we create? Some would say just let it go--grow wildly and then regulate it. City planners will tell you that it's too late after all the highways are built.

This is my thought for all of us at the New Year. Let us work together in all our technology projects with a longer goal in mind. It isn't the immediate use of a learning repository, it should be the building of the library at Alexandria. It isn't the use of a course management system, but the building of the 25th century class room we should focus on.

Happy New Years!

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