Interesting Times

Thanks to Tony for setting this up for me!

There is an ancient Chinese proverb that goes “May you live in interesting times”

I spend a lot of time reading on the Internet . I also spend time reading articles I have printed from the Internet . I used to run out and buy a book whenever I wanted to learn something new. Now I just google it (yes I’m a google addict) and start distilling the piles of information down to the details that I need. This changing from books to Internet has been a slow process for me and don’t get me wrong, I still need my books. I can’t sleep at night without reading first. But now when I want to know the weather forecast, the latest news, the definition of a word, the author of a quote and a myriad of other things, I turn to the computer first. Recently I discovered blogs and now I find that reading, an activity I always found relaxing, has become another source of stress. What if my favorite blogger posts something important and I miss it?

Now with the advent of so many web-based applications, we can read, write, keep our contacts, calendars, and links, listen to music, and create spreadsheets and presentations, all online. The design of web sites has become an art form. There are communities on-line which for my generation totally re-defines the word community just by their existence.

I like the idea of instant information access. Working in the public school system, I see the web-based applications as a wonderful equalizer for students and teachers to accomplish tasks without worrying about software compatibility. This article for example, is being written on ZOHO Writer and will be posted later to a blog. I have been watching to see which applications will survive on their own and which will be snatched up by larger companies, and how these applications will be used. With some creativity, the possibilities are remarkable for education, for small business, and for the individual. I think it will also be interesting to see how these changes affect our long-term use of the Internet. Will my grandchildren still carry schoolbooks in a backpack?

The new web accessibility standards make the Internet easier for folks with disabilities to accomplish their online tasks and with many smaller towns looking into citywide wi-fi and public libraries providing Internet access more people will be able to utilize information and applications. Will we keep up with these developments in the public school system by providing information and training to our students and teachers on the availability and use of all these new things?

The Internet used to be about looking up information and email. Now instead of just a reference or communication tool, we can interact constantly by writing our own blogs, creating documents online and making them public, participating in wiki’s, and subscribing to news services that allow us to vote for the stories we think are most relevant and in doing so causing them to migrate to the front page. We no longer are just bystanders, we are actually creating the Internet as we interact. Contemplating the implications of that are enough to make me believe that we do live in interesting times!