published Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Tech reaches beyond things we hold in our hands


by Donnie Jenkins

When most people think of technology, they tend to limit their consideration to computer issues, MP3 players and other devices. Sometimes it’s good to ponder on just how much technology now invades every aspect of our lives, not just the obvious ones.

I was recently watching several videos on one of my favorite online technical watering holes, ted.com. This site is a gold mine for anyone interested in technology’s effects on society and personal growth. The speakers featured there are varied and very diverse, and I never fail to be entertained and educated when I go there.

I was reminded of the old saying “A weed is a flower that’s out of place” while watching a video by Ken Robinson. He is the author of several books on creativity, including the excellent “Out of Our Minds: Learning To Be Creative.”

In this video he tells the story of a schoolgirl who is doing poorly in her studies and can’t seem to adapt to the requirements of the educational system. The child acts dejected and seems very unhappy.

The little girl’s mother takes her to a specialist and proceeds to explain her problem. All the while the child is fidgeting and can’t sit still, seemingly illustrating what the mother is saying.

When the mother is finished, the specialist asks to leave the room to talk to the mother alone. As they depart, he turns on the radio for the child. He then takes the mother into another room where they can observe the child’s behavior while they are gone.

The mother is amazed to see her daughter become animated and happy as she dances and moves to the music. Bear in mind that this is a child who acted indifferent and generally miserable only moments before.

The therapist then gave his diagnosis in three words: “She’s a dancer. Take her to a dance school, and give her an outlet for her energy and her inner drive.”

She was a dancer, indeed. This child was Gillian Lynne, who became a famous director and choreographer. She has worked with such greats as Andrew Lloyd Webber in several of his productions.

Now, it’s interesting that I am telling you a story I discovered through the technology of the Internet and online video. The story I’m telling you was made possible by the creation and perfection of radio technology by men such as Lee De Forest and especially Edwin Howard Armstrong. I first learned about these men through the technology of television via a PBS documentary called “Empire of the Air.”

Finally, consider how fortunate the little girl was to have a healer who had the insight to use a piece of technology like radio to discover her true problem and its solution.

I think this is important to ponder as we get deeper into an automated technical existence. Social networks, location services and other similar technologies are great, but it’s easy to get lost in any system that runs on its own steam, so to speak. We’re all dancers in a way, having some sort of inner thrust, and from time to time we should take a look at the flow of our lives to be sure that we benefit from the technology we use and that we are not used by it.

E-mail Donnie Jenkins at donniejenkins@yahoo.com.

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