Horizon Report 2012

Here’s some brief thoughts about the Horizon Report 2012:

1. First of all, I’m peeved that I have to login, even as a guest, to download a PDF of the report. Either give it away free, or don’t. You can gather most information about location from your server logs – don’t force me to create an account. If I recall correctly, I didn’t have to do that previously, although I might’ve been sent the Horizon report or a download link. Either way, I had to create an account to do this, and while I understand fully that I probably had an account (otherwise gathering a ton of NMC reminders, which I don’t recall previous to this year either), I don’t remember which e-mail is tied, nor what the password might be.

2. The report is well, underwhelming. Mobile is imminent? Yeah, two years ago. I would think that mobile is such a broad scoped term that the NMC could’ve broken it down into five subcategories, and discussed just their component uses in greater depth than the overview provided. For instance, I personally think that location based education is five years down the line – although some higher education institutions are probably much further away than that. I can easily see apps developed that provide campus based information (we’ve seen some institutions augment campus tours with QR codes and apps that deliver different content based on the app’s location on campus) but not a lot for learning. A midway point would be a card catalog system based on location in the library, telling the student that the books in this area of shelving deal with “American history” or “population control”.

3. Learning Analytics being two to three years away? I fall back on one thing with this prediction – administrations like numbers and when one can quantify things, typically they get adopted quicker than technologies that have less to do with bottom-line results. Unsurprisingly, I was glad to see the west coast of Canada very prominently represented in this area.

4. Gesture based computing may be a trend in consumer based gaming (and not very successful there) I would think that it’s more likely that Second Life sees a revitalization than we see gesture based computing make a big splash in education. I would be glad to be wrong, my carpal tunnel would appreciate it.

Victorian post-Cyberpunk

I think the popular perception that we’re a lot like the Victorians is in large part correct. One way is that we’re all constantly in a state of ongoing t­echnoshock, without really being aware of it—it’s just become where we live. The Victorians were the first people to experience that, and I think it made them crazy in new ways. We’re still riding that wave of craziness. We’ve gotten so used to emergent technologies that we get anxious if we haven’t had one in a while.

William Gibson, interviewed by the Paris Review

It’s interesting to look back and see the development of technology, and see how reaction mirrors to modern day attitudes – we see a lot of hand wringing about social skills (kids these days don’t have any!) and writing skills. What we often fail to notice is that a lot of these criticisms were also laid at the feet of television, radio, recorded music, books and other technologies. This is a constant refrain from those critical of media in general, and usually amounts to nothing. The criticisms of violence on television dating back to the 50’s? Well it turns out that exposure to violent imagery can make one more aggressive, but humans are complex creatures and to draw cause and effect type conclusions are not useful and usually are misleading. So does that mean that 50 years of “violent” programming the sum total is a resounding “meh”? Who is to say that increased aggressive behaviour is a direct response to the widening social gap and promise of  “you’ll be lucky to be as well off as your parents” that the current and subsequent generations will live under? The will to survive is a primal one after all.

So it’s interesting to note when people predict whether a new technology will make another one obsolete (radio, television, land line telephones) it rarely happens – the same occurs with social issues. There will be some decline in social graces, but for the most part, people will behave, co-operate when it benefits them (and sometimes when it doesn’t) and things won’t change that much. Hindsight’s a wonderful thing isn’t it?