from the Director's Desk

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Technology and the Historical Record

Sunday (November 20, 2005) the Raleigh News and Observer dedicated the front page of their editorial section to the question: Is technology making us dumber? The paper did not come to a conclusion, but it certainly brought up many of the usual arguments:
Cashiers can’t make change on their own . . .
Kids can’t spell . . .
Plagiarism is so easy . . .
No one can remember phone numbers any more . . .

Frankly, I believe that we do run the risk of brain atrophy if its use is not cultivated, yet my greatest concern with technology is that we seem to be losing our history. Technology morphs before our eyes, and our archiving systems have not changed with it. E-mails vanish, web sites move or disappear, entire journals and articles appear only in electronic format.

All this is symptomatic; my greatest concern is our potential inability to explore in depth our historical record. Far too often we fail to learn from our past mistakes, both as individuals and as a nation. Obviously careful documentation of centuries of historical data does not assure that we or our leaders will actually study the past as decisions are being made. But if we cannot access that past experience, if indeed those awful lessons learned are unavailable or at least unreadable, then we have little chance of survival. Truly technology will have made us dumb—and possibly extinct.

We in technology continue to wrestle with the challenge of archiving, backing-up, and storing. What solutions are you using at the LEA level to ensure that your system’s and individual schools’ records will be available and accessible into the next century? How are you instilling in your students an awareness of the value of historical preservation in this age of immediate gratification and superficial knowledge?


Blogger Ouida said...

Although not a perfect solution for archiving, the Wayback machine does have an incredible holding of past websites. I find it interesting to track the progess in web development.

January 21, 2006 9:32 AM  

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