Saturday, April 03, 2010

iPad, ease of use, intuitive technology, easy and why?

What happens when we make things easy for our children? I was told recently of a parent who said, "My husband and I don't ask our son to do anything he doesn't want to do." That would be a fine strategy if for some reason the son was inspired by an overwhelming internal force to push and test his own limits by taking on demanding physical and intellectual challenges. One might hope that could be true. Otherwise, one might be literally frightened for what might come.

I have been reading about the wonderful new iPad, which places the world at your fingertips. Real fingertips, but not exactly the real world.

If you have been watching the relentless march of consumer electronics, the idea behind every introduction of each new device is that it makes things easier. Apple Computer is the world's leader in the design of products whose use is both easy and intuitive. I use a mac desktop computer for all my computing because when the computer became an obvious necessity for business, the mac was the easiest for a non-geek artist type to master.

So here I am typing on my mac and sharing it with you. There is a place for this technology stuff. But can it displace the need we have to do difficult things? Accomplishing difficult, challenging tasks are the building blocks of real self-confidence and genuine self-esteem. Are we doing anything to prepare our children for an uncertain future when we fail to offer them difficult challenges, and when we refuse to ask them to do things they just don't want to do?

Last night I watched another episode of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. It continues to be compelling and interesting television. In last night's show, Jamie Oliver enlisted a small group of troubled teens to prepare a dinner for their parents, a group of celebrities and local politicians. It was an extreme challenge that the kids met through hard work. One thing one would note about last night's program was the sincere pride the teen cooks felt from their preparation of food. No surprise. It was honest work and they earned it.

What is it about parents that make them think that they are doing their children some kind of great favor by making things easy for their kids?


  1. I teach a class in computer drafting........But even though the computer is faster, I find myself still going back to my T-square and drafting table when at home in my shop....somehow it feels better....
    Does that make me an old bugger?
    I liked your comments on technology.

  2. I have a friend who designs small amusement parks and occasional commercial entries. He does all his drafting hand and pencil to paper and since he doesn't have a copier large enough to duplicate his drawings, he would go to the University of Arkansas where they have a rather significant architecture program. The students gather around to look at his drawings since they've never seen anything like them in their lives.

    Pencil to paper drawings and sketches have a power to them, an expression of emotion, perhaps, that is hard to duplicate with a computer. I guess we are old buggers if you mean by that, that we've done a few things the hard way instead of always accepting the easy way out.

  3. A friend, Anthony B. Robinson, in a book called Common Grace, has written an essay on technology in which he compares the threshold for creating music by turning on a CD to that needed to learn to play the violin. He notes that sometimes the higher threshold gives us greater reward in terms of relationships, character, personal development, or contribution to our community. Technology has the implicit values of convenience, ease, accessibility, and speed, which is not always bad. It can be very useful. But as we become accustomed to these, he argues, we become less tolerant of inconvenience and activities that demand discipline, or patience or resolve. This seems to be affecting our view of marriage, raising children, developing proficiency in a craft or profession, and the entire political process.

    I appreciate so much of what you say on this blog and just wanted to add the thoughts of a kindred spirit.