• Goto NetFuture main page
  •                                  NETFUTURE
                        Technology and Human Responsibility
    Issue #107     A Publication of The Nature Institute          June 1, 2000
              Editor:  Stephen L. Talbott (stevet@netfuture.org)
                      On the Web: http://www.netfuture.org/
         You may redistribute this newsletter for noncommercial purposes.
    NetFuture is a reader-supported publication.
    Editor's Note
    Quotes and Provocations
       Mark Pesce's Earth Toy
       How to Put Distance between Your Child and School
    An Education That Transcends Information (Carol Cole)
       An interview with the founder of the Sophia Project
    Brief Comments on the Carol Cole Interview (Stephen L. Talbott)
       We can understand technology only by attending to other things
       Free Trade and Ethics (John Pierce)
    About this newsletter
                                  EDITOR'S NOTE
    Due to speaking engagements, a death in the family, and some other serious
    complications, I have accumulated about a month's backlog of unanswered
    email.  For the duration of the summer I expect to be mostly unresponsive
    to email.  For important business, call me during the afternoons (eastern
    time) at 518-672-0116 or send a fax to 518-672-4270.
    Goto table of contents
                             QUOTES AND PROVOCATIONS
    Mark Pesce's Earth Toy
    At the "PlaNetwork: Global Ecology and Information Technology" conference
    in San Francisco last month, I was dismayed to hear Mark Pesce offer a
    downright noxious vision of the future of education.
    Pesce, who was co-developer of the Virtual Reality Markup Language, wants
    to raise little children with an "earth toy" -- an educational globe that
    he referred to as an e-Arth.  This large sphere would be a kind of display
    terminal connected to "millions of possible global data sets".  By
    touching the sphere and manipulating a few simple controls, the child
    would be able to zoom in on any location he chose, gaining information
    about weather, peoples, geography, botany, zoology, economic activity,
    languages, and so on.
       With such a toy, a child would be able to absection [sic] the dense
       reality of the world into sensual, tangible forms, investing them with
       an immediacy and reality that would make explicit the implicit
       relations of culture, nature and ecology.  This is the kind of
       experiential learning which will result in changed patterns of
    Pesce headlined his talk with the statements,
       Change the minds of children.
       Get them while they're young.
    He then presented a picture of an infant, who, he said, knows almost
    nothing about the surrounding world.  How will this infant grow up to be a