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When in doubt… watch SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN

May 22, 2013, 7:55 pm

It has been an exhaustive academic year. This summer I am applying “energy management” techniques in order to be more effective. I’ve been way off balance this year. Some people make New Year’s Resolutions– for me it is Summer Resolutions.

I’ve been watching a string of dark movies lately (Argo, Django, Zero Dark) and a friend recommended I change it up with Singin’ In The Rain. I’ll admit that this movie was nowhere near my watch list: I don’t do musicals! But I watched and enjoyed it.

There is a pivotal moment in the film when a group of actors, producers, and others from the silent film era first encounter a talking picture.

 

  • First there is doubt:  “that’s not possible”
  • Then skepticism: “it’s a toy”
  • Then anger: “it’s vulgar”
  • Then fear: “aww, but will they ever use it?”
  • And finally denial: “it will never amount to a thing”

 

This scene resonated with me in conjunction with the numerous academics that are dismissive of emerging technologies like Google Glass, 3D Printing, and eBook Readers.

I know that some people want to be snarky contrarians, but that seems like such a sad life. I can understand fear. And I can understand uncertainty: how would I use it? But to be completely dismissive without any firsthand experience is unfortunate.

Google Glass might not be the life-change experience that it is hyped to be—but what if it is? Regardless, wearable computing will evolve. Glass is making it possible for others to attract grants and venture capital, and to further build out this technology category. And it isn’t new; Google is just making it popular—like Apple and personal computers.

Maker Spaces might not be for everyone, but some libraries are having success and experiencing demand for these knowledge-generation services. I’ve had numerous engineering and architecture students ask for this service. I met with an instructor this week who is seeking to change curriculum based on 3D printing capabilities.

 

Many of the tools we’ll need in the future have not been invented yet. I’ll admit that I tend to be more of an early adopter rather than a laggard, but these emerging technologies, in a historical sense, are really just prototypes. Our questions should along the lines of “how do we make them better” or “what does this enable me to do that I couldn’t do before?”

Of course there are people who criticize and people who create. That will never change. You might not like a new technology but to be oblivious that a shift is occurring is just unfortunate.

The comedic figure in Singin’ In The Rain pipes in at the end of the scene, after everyone else dismisses “talking pictures” as something that will never catch on, and remarks: “that’s what they said about the horseless carriage” I’ll leave it at that for now, but I do recommend this book: The Master Switch: the rise and fall of information empires

Note: here is a link to the direct clip URL

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