Thinking Better with Machines, Part II

I’ve long ago given up arguing with people who say it’s not imperative to understand the history and philosophy of network software tools in order to use modern tools effectively.

I disagree with their point of view.

Certainly their lack of historical understanding doesn’t preclude them from using modern tools, but it radically decreases the likelihood that they will understand how these new networked software tools can best be used. Isaac Asimov has the best consideration of this topic in his seminal essay “The Relativity of Wrong.”

Fortunately, their arguments don’t hinder my ability to teach, and so my students have technological philosophy foisted upon them. My students are first introduced to Vannevar Bush, who argued in 1945 that we needed technology tools that help humans Think Better with Machines.

Then they are introduced to J.C.R. Licklider, who argued that we must consider how software and hardware tools can be used to better gather data and information so that humans can do what they do best: think and make decisions. If we use technology properly, we should have more — and better — information available at our fingertips.

The second part in my student’s exploration of social networks is my presentationEverything You Think about Social Networks is Wrong.