Asimov's 'The Fun They Had' - How much longer and how do we avoid the pitfalls?

I remember reading The Fun They Had in the 6th grade and thinking how fantastic and unreal it seemed. Having just re-read it (do it; it'll take you less than 3 minutes) I'd say Asimov was right on the money, what with all the talk of singularity and this Web 2.0 stuff. But he was off a hundred and fifty years or so in just how long it would take for computers to be in our homes 'teaching' us. Who could have seen just how quickly computers would become a part of our lives back in 1951? Even the genius Asimov thought that surely it had to be hundreds of years in the future.

That's one of the things I love about reading old science fiction. The writers knew something was coming, they just didn't know exactly what it was going to look like. So Asimov has little Margie turn in her homework in punch code. Ok. So he got the format wrong. But the implications for Margie and us as teachers remain. I love books. My house is filled with them and they are a part of me. I don't like sitting in front of a screen reading (I know, I know - the irony). I'd rather be lying on my back holding them. I remember a copy of Tarzan I had. This book was part comic, part graphic novel, and all primal testosterone. I realized later that it was one of those pulp fiction books that I'd read about. The pages were yellow and it smelled about as wild as Tarzan. His AIIIIEEEYYYYYYEEEAAAA's jolted through my hands. He would have kicked TV Tarzan's ass. You can't get that kind of funk from an old computer. I miss that book.

However, I do not miss textbooks. Are their days numbered? How much longer? How do we make sure we're involved? How do we disseminate the virtual world that is the Internet? Asimov was right, we did have fun. How do we keep doing so?

Note: I will also be posting this as a discussion as well for experiments sake.

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Tags: 2.0, Asimov, Singularity, Tarzan, The Fun They Had, Web, books, textbooks

Comment by Nancy Bosch on January 22, 2009 at 8:29am
We are finishing up a unit call The Inventive Process which culminates in Robotics--we are reading SciFi short stories including The Fun They Had. My students and I talked about teaching in the future, the "teacher" in the story looks like my family's first TV from back in the 50s--a big black box. We also talked about the Kindle and how great it would be to have downloaded textbooks--but I'm with you, I'll never give up my books.


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