victorthecook: (Default)
They're already here, and they're writing for news magazines. Today I read another of those scare articles (are we raising etc.) somewhere or other. It doesn't actually matter where -- more will come along if you wait a bit. If you're in a hurry, you can find previous years' (decades', centuries') editions with no trouble.

This particular author was harping on children being unable to empty ice cube trays and use dial telephones. Frankly, if they can't, it means that widespread use of automatic icemakers and pushbutton phones has (finally) made this knowledge obsolete. Yay human progress. But just as I don't judge people by their ability to drive a curricle, I can't be bothered by this.

If there's a global icemaker shortage, people will adjust easily. Meanwhile, these ephemera of popular culture can join mule-packing and the use of reel-to-reel audio tape as niche or novelty material. Get over yourselves, pundits. Meanwhile, these kids can use not only their phone, but yours, to do things you could do yourself if you weren't hand-wringing over where the dial went. In other words, they're picking up information that's useful now, not what was essential in 1950. Or cutting edge in 1910.

The fundamental erroneous assumption that the authors of these screeds make is that everything they learned as children should of course be learned by everyone, forever. Given the rate of increase in human knowledge, this is impossible -- and indeed, counterproductive. If you think that knowing who Bessie Smith was is vital knowledge, you're accepting that something else has to go missing -- Abigail Adams? Jonas Salk? If you want people to memorize the multiplication tables through 25x25, it's legitimate for people to ask why they should still bother.

After all, even your phone has a calculator in it. You do know how to use it, right?

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victorthecook

June 2011

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