Maybe this task doesn’t need an electronic tool at all. Maybe it needs a piece of paper, a pencil, a pen. Maybe it needs a saw, a screwdriver, a piece of wood. Or maybe an analog tool will offer a unique perspective. Film projector, magnetic tape, chemical photography.
Looking at old tools in new ways is not a luddite’s rejection of technology. It is a neophile’s sense of wonder at what has been lost to ubiquity.
A longing for "real" books made of physical paper and glue is not just nostalgia. First of all, most modern print books are electronic, from the word processor of the author, to the digital digital printer that extrudes them. Perceiving a typical paperback as more "real" in the mistaken belief that it isn't digital is a magician's misdirection.
Of coursse there are many upsides to using a non-volitile storage information storage medium. The most obvious in an educational context is that paper books can be easily shared and legally resold. And because their use relies on light striking a physical object, there's no good means of copy protecting them from reproduction, as there is with Digital Rights Management. (This profit-restricting aspect of physical reality is known as "the analog hole")
This topic will also take a sassy turn, and look at high tech tools that use a lo-tech interface, like speech and handwriting recognition, and intuitive gesture controls. Just as most printed books are the end product of an entirely digital process, many of our ordinary-seeming analog objects are increasingly imbued with digital powers that raises our expectations of what they should be capable of. For example when a young child tries to expand a printed photo or magazine cover with their fingers, and failing, declares the object broken. It reminds us that our assumptions of what is "lo-tech" are subtly changing all the time
Resources and News:
- Silicon Valley’s $400 Juicer May Be Feeling the Squeeze - Bloomberg, 19 Apr 2017
- Are books ready for the dustbin of history? - Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, 14 Mar 2017
- How Invisible Technology Is Emerging and Why It Matters - eWeek, 26 Sep 2016
- Too much tech? An argument for keeping schools low-tech - Washington Post, 26 Aug 2014
- What the Luddites Really Fought Against - Smithsonian Magazine, Mar 2011