Sunday, September 26, 2010

History made!!

Two great things to report on today. Both have to do with dreaming big!

Number one is the "first sustained flight in a human-powered, wing-flapping aircraft." You have read it in the news. There is a BBC link where you can also see the video. It is history - not in the making but made! These guys from the University of Toronto were inspired by sketches made by none other than Leonardo da Vinci. Many others have tried to make the dream happen, but these guys actually did it.

I point this out for two reasons (other than the sheer magnificence of the feat). One, if you see the video, you will be looking at a runway on a farm that is minutes down the road from where I grew up, in Tottenham Ontario. When I went to school from my grandparents' farm, I walked or rode right past this field.

The other reason is, I accomplished something no less grand this weekend. My first Internet Sabbath ever! I had the same case of nerves, no doubt, that the young aviators had! But I also had the same sense of something really neat happening, while it was on. Hopefully millions will be inspired!

"....(S)lipped the surly bonds of Earth" (John Magee, High Flight) .... Slipped the bonds of the Internet ("Every Friday we unplug the modem and we are off line at home the whole weekend. So simple, but it has revolutionized our lives." William Power). Amazing.

Look for them both in the Guiness Book of World Records! You heard it here first.

Monday, September 20, 2010

"Internet Sabbath"

An article caught my attention in July, and I saved it in my ‘Keep Near’ file. Do you see a problem here?

Anyway, the article was titled “Hamlet had a BlackBerry too”, and it was in the Toronto Star. The author, Jennifer Hunter, interviewed William Powers who wrote a book on that theme. Powers traced the history of ‘messaging’ and found that great thinkers and writers all the way back to Plato took advantage of new technology to bring ‘more efficient ways of communicating.’

With Plato, it was the alphabet itself, technology that let people move from their reliance on oral communication. For Hamlet, it was the tablet. Shakespeare gives one to Hamlet, and so it is assumed the Bard himself had one. The tablet was carried around to help people organize their day. And it could be wiped clean at night (If only!).

The problem has become that we have so much information flying around that our minds are going to be overwhelmed. Powers refers to Marshall McLuhan writings on media, and how they have created the ‘global village.’ But, he adds, McLuhan taught that we can take control of the process. And we do not have to blame our gadgets when we feel befuddled.

Control. There is a nice word.

Plato took control by going for walks. Powers has instituted a plan in his family – presumably with their agreement! – that is a variation on Plato. Every Friday night they unplug the modem and have an Internet Sabbath. “So simple, but it has revolutionized our lives.”

I know why the article caught my attention. The idea is extremely attractive.

I also know why it got buried in my ‘Keep Near’ file. I break out in a cold sweat thinking about it.

Well, I am ready to take the plunge. This Friday. I will keep you posted. Now where are those books I want to read? And aren’t there some crosswords I have saved? What about Scrabble with my wife…..?