Chances are, as you read this post on your laptop, you’re simultaneously checking your email and text messages on your BlackBerry, iPhone, or Droid, and you’ve got headphones on and you’re listening to music via mp3 files. You’re used to getting information when and where you want it — 24-7, any time, any place. That is, of course, there is no wifi or G3, in which case, you are likely gripped by a cold wave of anxiety that does not go away until your access is restored, which brings on another kind of anxiety — that of “digital information avalanche.”
The German philosopher Martin Heidegger wrote, quite presciently, it seems, in The Question Concerning Technology (1927), that technology changes us. We do not change technology, even though we ostensibly invented our beloved “techne” and we claim to be able to dominate it in all the ways we can’t dominate ourselves. We all know better than that, don’t we?
At any rate, Heidegger goes on to point out that technology brings forth a process of unveiling — not just the nature of the new empowerment due to technology — but also about our relation to the earth, ourselves, and Being itself.
Sometimes the revelations are not pretty. Sometimes they’re fundamentally tragic, as when accidents happen. Most of the time, though, we’re caught up in the glorious potential of what we can be, and what we are, when our innate abilities are multiplied, say, 100 or even a million times.
A case in point is education. I’m not speaking of education in the traditional sense — of something that you fill yourself up with (knowledge) or perform with (skills). No, I’m talking about an approach to life that asks you to consider yourself and your inborn abilities multiplied, say 100 or even a million times. How does that happen? The key is technology. It’s all about putting yourself in a position to obtain the kind of knowledge and skills that you nee. Think of creating a flashpoint in your mind and in your reality in which transforms you on a fundamental level. You’re transformed in as much as you’re able to envision, imagine, connect, and implement in new ways.
The technologies that transform you may be easily overlooked. The main consideration is that they bridge the gap between your potential, the knowledge base, and the place you need to be to implement it. So, let’s say you’re reading about the Marcellus shale. You’ve got experience in the Barnett shale. You’d like to get involved in the Marcellus and the Utica, but you don’t have much time. How can you jumpstart yourself? One way is to use technology to take online courses and webinars. Here’s a Marcellus e-symposium, for example. Here’s another: All Shale Gas Reservoirs Are NOT the Same. What if you’re a person who learns more by listening while looking at maps and diagrams, simply sitting in a classroom or reading a book are not effective for you? Perhaps you need a hybrid approach — you need to be able to approach the different component when and where they work for you. Above all, you want to be able to connect the information to your past experience and to your real-life goals and immediate needs.
In this case, you can find what you need at AAPG. We’ve got esymposia — a webinar that you can attend live, or view archived. We also have mp3 files / podcasts of the lecture part, and the powerpoint downloadable as a pdf. In addition, you can stream the recorded event. You can download articles and maps. You can review with questions that help you reflect and gain a deeper ability to apply what you’ve learned. You can also get in touch with others who are taking the courses and review. This is mobile learning at its best — it’s practical, informal, and suited to you and your needs.
Right now, I’m sitting in front of my laptop as I write this blog entry. I’m listening to tunes on my iPod (at this moment, a South African group, B.O.P., and their album, Zabalaza. I bought the CD in Johannesburg on my way back from Mozambique several years ago. I love the music and was happy to be able to put it in iTunes and listen to it when I need a lift.
In the meantime, I’m thinking about technology, and I’m trying to break the habit of thinking of it as a simple tool or a means to an end. Instead, I’m trying to habituate myself to the more powerful notion of it — that it profoundly changes me (I don’t change it) — and to be able to see just how it is I am profoundly altered / transformed by my contact with it. How does technology change my beliefs about myself and my baselevel adaptability? How can I weather change, uncertainty, and unwanted surprises?
Everything we do teaches us something about ourselves. Granted, many of those revelations are rather unwelcome. But, how else are we to grow?
One of the nice things about technology is that it fast-tracks us both in and out of our comfort zones. Education has the same effect. So, combining the two always has a dramatic impact — prepare to see yourself transform.
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