Welcome to The CITE -- a blog on Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education, created by Mark Nelson and now part of the Publications Department of the National Association of College Stores. CITE is a pun with multiple meanings - referring to cite as in citation, something people reference; site as in location, website, or place people go to; and sight as in foresight or looking ahead to what is coming. Comments, discussion, feedback and ideas are welcome.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Ray Kurzweil piece

There was an interesting piece in the NY Times this week on Ray Kurzweil. Many of you have probably had the opportunity to see Ray present, or may have read his book, The Singularity is Near. He was the keynote at our Innovate conference last year. I have seen him present a few times in the past couple years and he is always fascinating -- even if the presentation itself changes little. You can see a streaming video version of his presentation through the TED videos, taken from his TED presentation in 2005. (The TED Videos are a great and interesting resource for ideas, by the way, if you have not checked them out, you should. Some of them are really fantastic).

Anyway, Ray's message is a very relevant one to those of use awaiting the future of digital books, or digital textbooks. The concept of exponential growth and adoption patterns of technology are both interesting and significant. Ray's predictive models in this area are among some of the best contrbutions to our understanding of technological innovation, in my opinion. I was at another event back in February, where the question was "how long until our iPod moment arrives?" That is a question I have brought up in this blog before. Kurzweil's law of accelerating returns suggests that it might be closer than we think. The concept can be best summarized in a phrase from Rich McDaniels' -- long time thought leader within the college store industry. I once heard him quip that "Sometimes it takes a long time for change to happen quickly." Essentially -- technological change starts out slowly, but once it takes off, it takes off far faster than anyone anticipates. It is sometimes a hard message to take in, but it is certainly one worth thinking about for a while. Consider it your strategic thought problem of the week.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I read Fantastic Voyage, The Age of Spiritual Machines and The Singularity is Near, and they changed my life. I even found some of his lectures on Itunes and I find myself impatiently awaiting his next book.

Recently read another incredible book that I can't recommend highly enough, especially to all of you who also love Ray Kurzweil's work. The book is ""My Stroke of Insight"" by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. I had heard Dr Taylor's talk on the TED dot com site and I have to say, it changed my world. It's spreading virally all over the internet and the book is now a NYTimes Bestseller, so I'm not the only one, but it is the most amazing talk, and the most impactful book I've read in years. (Dr T also was named to Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People and Oprah had her on her Soul Series last month and I hear they're making a movie about her story so you may already have heard of her)
If you haven't heard Dr Taylor's TEDTalk, that's an absolute must. The book is more and deeper and better, but start with the video (it's 18 minutes). Basically, her story is that she was a 37 yr old Harvard brain scientist who had a massive stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain. Because of her knowledge of how the brain works, and thanks to her amazingly loving and kind mother, she eventually fully recovered (and that part of the book detailing how she did it is inspirational).

There's a lot of learning and magic in the book, but the reason I so highly recommend My Stroke of Insight to this discussion, is because we have powerfully intelligent left brains that are rational, logical, sequential and grounded in detail and time, and then we have our kinesthetic right brains, where we experience intuition and peace and euphoria. Now that Kurzweil has got us taking all those vitamins and living our best ""Fantastic Voyage"" , the absolute necessity is that we read My Stroke of Insight and learn from Dr Taylor how to achieve balance between our right and left brains. Enjoy!