Monday, April 11, 2011

A Major Paradigm in MY Thinking.

Jane Austin is one of my favorites to read on my Kindle.  Incredible writing with sentences going on for paragraph lengths with a complexity that at times I have to go back and re-read to remember what was the subject and the verb--or should I say what were the subjects and the verbs.  

So it should not come as a surprise for me to say as I clicked my way through a hundred or more channels on my high definition television that when I came across Pride and Prejudice I stopped for a while and watched with the sound still off.  Having my own copy of the movie I believe I could now recite many of the lines for many of the characters. So I just watched the film.

The scene was in the father's large room in the manor with his desk and books.  Oh my so many books.  Large book cases going up to the ceiling.  Books were important items in Jane Austin's time.  Indeed, the whole movie starts with Elizabeth crossing some section of land reading a book.  This was how the relatively upper class lived in the early 1800s with their manors and libraries.  One had to have a library to be viable in society.  Elizabeth does not go to school, she reads.

However, later on in the film there is a dance, a ball and major gathering of the elite and there is music.  In the balcony there is small orchestra playing for all the dancers down below.  Being an ex-musician I watched with keen eye as to how the musicians were behaving, were they really playing (they were) or acting.  And somewhere in this musings of mine, it dawned on me that there was no way to save musical ideas or performances in those days.  They could save ideas to paper and make books but they didn't have the capability in those days to save sound.  One could write the music down on paper but not save the sounds for later on.

I mused (is there such a word?) on this for a bit before resuming my channel clicking only to find Anne of Green Gables.  Ah, one of my other favorites.  Again, books were priceless and a scarce item.  Anne has to travel the snowy lanes to her friends and neighbors to borrow books promising to return them promptly.  But still no recorded sound.  And farm homes didn't have the space for a library.  

Then my thoughts returned to my Kindle. I don't need a library in my house anymore.  I can get rid of books and still keep them.....on my Kindle.  Now for this discussion let us agree that when I write Kindle it can mean iPad, the Nook, Sony's eReader or any the many other ebook readers on the market.  Which eReaders will survive in the coming marketplace I am not sure, however, the Kindle seems to have a foothold at this time.

The new Kindle (I have version number2) will hold 3500 books...more then any possible library I might have in my house.  That was the size of my small library in my first elementary school.  Thirty-five hundred books.  We now come to the question of how long will we need libraries of any sort.  I can hear the collected sigh of so many folks who love books.  I do understand.

But...then my mind switched to how we now can record and save sound.  Jane didn't have this capability but I do.  I can listen to great orchestras, marching bands in Glasgow or jazz at the Village Vanguard.  What a wonderful thing Edison did for music.  I grew up with 78 rpms records, then 45 records, and finally 33 and a third beautiful records.  It was grand.  Wait, wait, what do you mean I can have it better.  It's called the Compact Disk and it's BETTER!  Finally, we have the perfect item to record sound.  And then came the iPod.  Forty hours of recorded sound!  Can you believe it?

Then came the major change in my paradigm of thinking.  And as if on cue, a school district appears to agree with me.  They allege that kindergarten children will all need iPads of some sort.  Books and sounds will be available to any learner!  Families will not need an encyclopedia as my parents had for me during my youth.  And we will not need to share a computer as the iPad (all types) will handle that duty.

With the advent of cloud computing I can see entire libraries (collections) of material (art, music, print, maps, graphics, photographs, etc) that will be available to all who seek it.  Plato would have loved all this, just sitting there and asking questions.  

There was a philosopher who once said, "Do not live in the answers.  It is the questions that are important."  How true today.  It is the important questions that have value, not the answers.  We have the answers literally at our fingertips...we just have to figure out what the question should be.

There are some of you, gentle readers, wonder where I have been all this time. It took Jane Austin's library of books to make me realize that we now practically have the library of congress at our command.  Right now.  Amazing.  It is a changing paradigm for me.

Thanks for putting up with me.  And thanks to all those teachers who are making the children ask questions.  You're on the right track.

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