The toys of today, the tools of tomorrow

At the end of a brief history of human communication, Dave Gray of XPLANE gets to what he sees as the future of communications: visual communications.

Today, we are free once more. Paradoxically, now that everything has been reduced to zeros and ones, our only limit is our imagination. What’s interesting is that we continue to constrain ourselves to the grid, even when it is no longer necessary. The conventions of printing, which once liberated ideas by making them mass-producible, have now become a prison.

So what’s next? Watch the kids. In the 1970s we started playing video games, and although we didn’t know it at the time, we were learning how to interact with digital technologies. We were learning the hand-eye coordination skills we would need to operate the computers of the 1980s.

The toys of today are the tools of tomorrow: blogging, podcasting, photosharing, videoblogging – these are all early indicators. People are making their own movies and publishing their ideas to the world. With every passing year the technology gets cheaper and easier to use.

As Dave alludes to, we all learn how to use tools when we are young, by playing with them as toys. How many of you had toy trucks and played at construction. How about “play” carpenters? (I’m a guy, so please excuse the boy bias.) Using the “toys” of today is much the same, with one key difference being that the “toys” that kids play with are often the very same “tools” that adults use. (No plastic saw blades here!) This obviously presents some dangers, and how kids play with their digital “toys” needs to be watched, but it makes the process of gaining literacy go that much faster.

So next time someone asks you why you’re “playing around with those toys”, or why you let your kids spend so much time on the computer or playing (or designing!) video games, just tell them you’re not “playing”, you’re learning how to use the tools you’ll need to be successful tomorrow.

The importance of rehearsal

I learned the importance of rehearsal while in the military: Plan an operation, try it out, refine the plan. Last night I mentioned to some friends how I use rehearsal in my day-to-day life: Preparing for a presentation, walking through the steps of a plan, practicing a process. Especially when it is something important.

In Not my fault Guv…, Dave Snowden highlights the value of rehearsal on a larger scale:

I find it difficult to believe (well maybe I don’t) that after producing a major engineering project on time and budget, a combination of BA and BAA could combine to mess up the opening day of Terminal 5 at Heathrow. Delays at the staff carpark are in part to blame! People failed to unload bags fast enough, the queues were too long. Hi guys, ever heard of rehearsal? Simulation software?

Of course, the really sad part is how poorly BA and BAA responded when everything went to hell. Which, of course, Dave discusses as well. Check it out.