I have just been reading about wonderful new developments in technology that we will no doubt find in our stores or online sometime in the near future. These include voice and eye control and of course the continued development of augmented reality programs.
I find all of these developments exciting and can see their potential for so many aspects of our lives. I know in the future that we will be able to watch television by projection onto any wall.. no doubt we will achieve many if not al of the things that were predicted in my favourite sci-fi series of al time “Star Trek“.
I am still concerned that we are missing an important thing in all of this wonderful technological development. We are forgetting the user as the key factor in the result of the use of the technology. I was reminded about this when watching David Suchet‘s excellent documentary “People I Have Shot“. This was a documentary in which Suchet, an enthusiastic amateur photographer, went in the footsteps of his Fleet Street photographer grandfather, Jimmy Jarche.
He stated, in an early part of the documentary, that his grandfather had said to him that the most important part of the camera was not the technology, but the eye of the person behind the lens. It seems that this is the case for any form of technology. I am aware that filmmakers such as Sidney Lumet bemoaned the restrictions of the technology that he had been forced to work with when he first started his film career. The genius of many of his films though was not in the ability of the camera to create a 3D effect or some computer-simulated effect but purely in Lumet’s ability to use his eye to capture a face on film that told a powerful story (as in “Twelve Angry Men“).
I feel that we must not be seduced by the idea that technology in itself is the key to progress. It is, like the first stone that hit another stone, merely a tool, albeit a very powerful one, that can produce something very special. The person using the tool though is the key to how effective it is. In educational terms therefore we must not be carried away with technology for its own sake but emphasise that the ability of the user to produce something worthwhile is the key factor. A poem written with the technology of a simple pencil means so much if it is written by Shakespeare. I can dictate an effort at poetry to my computer..it can produce scripts in many different fonts and be broadcast instantly to the world…. it may though have little or no lasting significance.