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Guest Thinkers

How much technology is too much?

A few years ago there was a prototype appliance that merged

a refrigerator and the Internet. It had a computer

monitor in the door and the cooler was online. As I recall, the idea was to have instant access to thousands of

recipes; the online tie-in was to increase access to databases of cooking and

recipe Web sites and even notify someone who is mobile to pick up a dozen eggs

on the way home in order to have a complete set of ingredients. My memory is a bit hazier on this next one,

but I believe the same general idea was applied to a microwave oven. As far as I know, this idea never took off and

I haven’t heard about it for a few years. But I was reminded of it again this past weekend while browsing through PC Today, a freebie left in my Atlanta

hotel room. An article discussed a

service called E.V.A., an “electronic virtual assistant.” For a minimum of about $60.00 a month the

busy professional can call (or e-mail) E.V.A. and a real live person will take

a message and in turn e-mail the message to the intended recipient. This made me wonder, how much is enough? Wouldn’t it be just as easy to call the

person, or e-mail her yourself? My two

teenage daughters both bought new phones recently that have Web and e-mail

capability. As with everything in the

cellular world, these sorts of add-ons to phoning capabilities will be

ubiquitous soon enough. Why would

someone pay $60/month for a third-person party to do what either voice-mail,

e-mail, or a phone call would do? My

point is there is a time when we reach saturation with technology. More is not

always better.  I’m not a curmudgeon on

such things and I do realize that pioneers in any field are going to miss a few

before they hit a home run. In fact, I

rather like experimenting with new technology. I dived into Vista probably before it was prudent and have been updating

hardware and drivers left and right since. Of course, the flood of technology is not likely to slow. I tell my graduate students in their

educational technology for school leaders that my motto is “technology cannot

be stopped and youth will be served.” So

the question becomes, how does one separate the wheat from the chaff,

especially in a school setting? More on

that tomorrow.


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