Thursday, April 19, 2007


First off, I want to apologize to Brian. I don't have time to change the background now. I'll try to work on it in a bit, but I'm currently busy.

I found the word technology in a dictionary and it said that it was the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area. So if we are learning that less is more, is a step backward a technological advance?

I taught a lab during my masters' program where we looked at ventilation. We used two different devices to measure some parameters concerning the lungs. One device was a large upside down bucket looking contraption that's rim was submerged in water. As you blew into the tube, air entered the bucket and and moved a pen along a scroll of paper that was moving at a known rate. From that you could figure out how powerfully a person could exhale. (Although I described this as a bucket, it was a calibrated piece of equipment designed for this purpose, probably 50+years ago.)

The second device used to measure forced exhalation was a hand held electric gizmo that you blew into and it spun a fan that was hooked to electrical components that could translate the spinning of the fan into an exhalation rate. In the lab reports that I graded, most students said that the electronic gizmo was better because it was more precise because it gave a digital readout.

I couldn't believe it. Every piece of data we collected as a class showed that the electric thing was more variable and less precise than the older contraption. Just because something is newer, or has a digital readout, does NOT make it better. I thought it was neat how the archaic contraption could actually collect the air I exhaled and I could see the mechanics of it moving. I did not understand the electronics and it didn't work as well. I think a move to the archaic system would be a step in the right direction.

Writing papers for classes, professors often require that the papers be published in the last 10 years. Why? Was science different 15 or 50 years ago? Most scientific findings are the same as they were 50 years ago. We still use a lot of information from Galileo and other scientists from centuries ago. Newer is not better.

I am not against technological advancements. Development is good, but we need to look around and make sure that what we had before isn't better than what we have developed. Is a car really better than a horse and buggy? Is processed food really better than whole foods? Is windows Vista better than DOS? Is high definition television better than B&W? Is television better than imaginative play and meaningful conversation?

The world is a complicated place, why don't we make a technological move toward simplicity.


runbrianj said...

Hey, no problem. I don't have a blog to call my own and really have no idea if altering the page sidebar color is time-consuming or not.
To me, there's good technology and there's bad technology. It sounds like the electronic exhalation gizmo is bad technology. Likewise, my PDA is lately falling into the bad technology category too. Good technology easily does what you want it to do and it's reliable. Bad technology wants to be thrown at the wall (which is how I feel about my PDA/phone much of the time).

Emily said...

I hear yah! The biggest technological advances that effect me from day to day are annoyances because they seem to move us backward in progress. For instance, hi-fi stereo systems sound better than digital, true analog sounds better than MP3's and CD's, and old clunker cars are safer than the new fiberglass light weights.