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Pournelle gets it right – again!

August 18, 2008
It's sad...

It's sad...

Jerry Pournelle gets it right again, as usual: “…a new generation seems to have grown up : one that doesn’t understand high technology even though it uses it.” Link

Dr. Pournelle was referring to those in government (including NASA), and even to high school teachers, who do not understand what it takes to develop new technologies – in this case, primarily space access. If you’ve not read his Strategy of Technology, you should, it was written years ago for a Cold War audience but things haven’t changed as much as I wish they had.

I said some years ago that the “older folks”  – in this case teachers like me – who still thought that high school kids were more computer-savvy than we were wrong. They have better eye-hand coordination, for certain. They spend hours and hours honing those skills. However, computers don’t take a lot of time to learn any more, and most kids don’t want to spend that kind of time anyway – not when the games are a-callin’. They may spend a lot of time with computers and other computer-like devices, but they do not spend that time working with traditional computer applications.

Some of those kids have grown up. Many adults now just know that things “work,” and don’t know why. That’s OK if you’re a normal person with a microwave oven – you shouldn’t have to be able to repair it. That’s pretty dangerous stuff.  But those in positions of power and influence need to understand what an investment in R&D is all about, and why we need it, and we have many in Congress, in NASA, and in education who don’t seem to get it.

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