Thursday, December 16, 2004

Do gadgets help or hinder?

Maths wizards can do instant calculations in their heads. Instant maths teacher Scott Flansberg says this is a learnable skill and his Mega Maths program can teach it to anyone. But give me a calculator and I can do the same calculations without the effort of hard thinking.

Fitness trainers invites us to work out with weights and get sweaty doing aerobics if we want to get slim and toned. But there are electric pads that you can stick on your body, which make your muscles twitch and flex, while you lie slumped on the couch watching TV - and they tone your body with no effort on your part!

In ancient Greece and Rome, they used to have competitions in memorisation - and people would commit the history of their peoples to memory, and encycopedias worth of facts, information that would take days to recite. The Sense Cam claims to be a digital diary, a personal history catcher, a virtual visual memory to capture all the days of our lives.

The question is: do gadgets weaken human ability?

If I use the Sense Cam, will my own visual memory be weakend as I come to rely on the Sense Cam more and more?

On the one hand, when someone or something takes over a task for us we become lazier regarding that task and our ability to do it will become rustier through lack of practice.

On the other hand, could the Sense Cam actually enhance my own personal visual memory and visual awareness? By capturing, isolating and framing the many moments of my day, that I can later reflect upon, is it possible that I could become more attuned to, aware of and watchful of this moment NOW? In that case, the Sense Cam would actually help enhance my own mental ability by acting as a kind of feedback tool. I could compare my own memory of an event against the actual visual images of that same event... and by seeing what I had missed out in my remembered version, next time I might be more aware of that and gradually my visual memory could improve...

Whether it would or not... aah well there lies the human dilemma. What could be versus what actually is....


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