Creativity Tech

This professor describes the future educated person

future education
Illustration by Clay Rodery

Dear digital denizens, please rest easy.

That so-called ‘internet addiction’ you have is an evolution of what humans have been doing along — curating, collecting, and sharing. We just do it with more often with the assistance of our screens.

According to professor Kenneth Goldsmith at the University of Pennsylvania, “an educated person in the future will be a curious person who collects better artifacts. The ability to call up and use facts is the new education. How to tap them, how to use them.”

Professor Goldsmith named his course “Wasting Time on the Internet”– an incentive that gets his students to sign up. However, it has the opposite effect. Instead of screen-staring, his students are more likely to create and collaborate.

“They became more creative with each other. They say we’re less social; I think people on the web are being social all the time. They say we’re not reading; I think we’re reading all the time, just online.”

The web is the world’s biggest copy-paste machine. On top of this, Google is our second brain. The fear is that humans will lose their ability to think. However, what happens instead is that we allow more ideas to have sex. Remixing ideas is what Maria Popova of Brainpickings often refers to as “combinatorial creativity.”

“When a D.J. brings a laptop full of music samples to a club he doesn’t play an instrument, but we don’t argue that he isn’t doing something creative in mixing those sounds to create his own effect. In the online world the only thing you’re the master of is your collection, your archive, and how you use it, how you remix it. We become digital archivists, collecting and cataloging things. I find it exciting.”

It turns out that wasting time on the Internet could be productive rather than harmful. To think the Internet also means the end of books and face to face communication is also an exaggeration. Of course, like any tool, it depends on what you are using the Internet for — playing games is not the same as sharing research and new ideas.

What’s your opinion on learning in the Internet age? Tweet at me.

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By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of four books.

10 replies on “This professor describes the future educated person”

I couldn’t agree more! I am a Family Nurse Practitioner. I started my bachelor’s degree in nursing back in the late 80’s and we didn’t have today’s access to the internet then, at least your general run of the mill student didn’t. I had to go to a 7 story library, look through a CARD CATALOGUE, and find the physical journal if I wanted to read a recent medical journal article. Research was done at the library and required “requesting” journals that were not physically present… No “click this link” for full text for us back then.

I completed my master’s degree in 2010. WOW!! I was in my mid 40’s with very young fellow students…. They showed me things I never knew existed… like internet software that actually does the APA formatting for your papers!! The site that checks your plagiarism risk! It makes me sick to think that these younger students will never know the torture of picking up that hernia-inducing heavy book , the APA manual and pouring over where to put the colon, the italics, the footnotes, AAAHHHHHHGGGGG!

Now I have the world of medicine at my fingertips. Yes, so do patients. But for me, that is FINE. I love a patient who cares enough to do their own research. And, I”m happy that they find me open enough to tell me what they think and learn. Dr. Google is a great starting place for people. Just don’t forget to discuss your “findings” with your medical professional before you stop taking a med you have been on for 20 years and replace it with the “new” cure, ex. eating celery sticks while walking backward three times a day. Any medical provider who dismisses a patients own research and opinions is an ego-maniac with low self-esteem… just sayin’ LOL. In fact, I am starting my own blog this week! Who would have thought? I am not a techy type, but what the heck; if other people can do it so can I. Thanks to the INTERNET, and this site, I will learn how to help many people navigate this healthcare jungle in one piece. :). Thanks!

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