There’s a widely accepted principle about technology adoption. When a new technology is introduced, people are aware of it and learn how to use it. After a while, people come to embody the practices of using it well and are no longer aware of it. It is just part of our world. We no longer notice how we ever lived without it. Some say this principle is characteristic of the computer age. However, this did not originate with computers. It has always been the case with revolutions in daily life. Those who see the revolution taking place are unlikely ever to forget it. Those who see only the effects of the revolution often don’t fully recognize and appreciate it. I call examples of this phenomenon “extraordinary ordinary things.” For me, the most undervalued extraordinary ordinary thing is the elevator. Continue reading
The Oxford Dictionaries proclaimed “post-truth” as its 2016 word of the year. It defines post-truth as an adjective “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” According to the editors, use of the term “post-truth” had increased by around 2,000 percent in 2016 compared to 2015, largely in relation to Brexit—the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union—and the United States presidential election. Continue reading
The United Kingdom was recently rocked by a furious controversy about the teaching of mathematics. Parents were enraged by a problem set in a national exam to assess the mathematical skills of 6-7 year-old children. Their complaint was the problem was just too hard for any child of this age to solve.
To me, this wasn’t the shocking part of the controversy. The real shock was that many of the parents complained that even they had difficulty Continue reading