Transmitting Knowledge: Two Views

Theodor H. Nelson, “No More Teachers’ Dirty Looks” (1970)

We can now build computer-based presentational wonderlands, where a student (or other user) may browse and ramble through a vast variety of writings, pictures and apparitions in magical space, as well as rich data structures and facilities for twiddling them.

“Face to Face: Alan Kay Still Waiting for the Revolution” (2003)

It’s like missing the difference between music and instruments. You can put a piano in every classroom, but that won’t give you a developed music culture, because the music culture is embodied in people.

On the other hand, if you have a musician who is a teacher, then you don’t need musical instruments, because the kids can sing and dance. But if you don’t have a teacher who is a carrier of music, then all efforts to do music in the classroom will fail—because existing teachers who are not musicians will decide to teach the C Major scale and see what the bell curve is on that.

The important thing here is that the music is not in the piano. And knowledge and edification is not in the computer. The computer is simply an instrument whose music is ideas….

So computers are actually irrelevant at this level of discussion—they are just musical instruments. The real question is this: What is the prospect of turning every elementary school teacher in America into a musician? That’s what we’re talking about here. Afterward we can worry about the instruments.


One Comment on “Transmitting Knowledge: Two Views”


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