Monday, February 05, 2007

Synergetics in Afghanistan

This image of cybervans (bizmos) entering remote villages to spread good cheer and leave behind useful tools is an ancient one in NGO literature.

I say "NGO" because usually governments aren't trusted enough for such work. They're too in bed with some fanatical military and the usual schemer-dreamers, harboring fantasies of world (or at least regional) domination.

Imperial cybervan fleets would be no more than brainwashing mobiles, meaning (among other things) that the "opt out" component would be weak. The zealot teachers within them would be "imperious" rather than respectful of local traditions and willing to move on if not wanted.

That's no way to win loyalty for one's brand.

Cybervans in the USA's pilot programs, and operating on the domestic scene, are mostly like movie previewing machines. Students take a gander at some futuristic cartoons, they hope a part of some actually possible and even probable reality. Others provide medical services.

As a provider of some of these cartoons, at least in prototype, I focus on a suitably futuristic curriculum.

Sure, we still study ancient Rome, Greece, Egypt, China, India and so on. But we have our own spin, as does any age. We're less enamoured of the Qyoob (Cube) than some Renaissance Era Italians.

We also like a kind of discontinuous, geek-flavored television, learned in part from Sesame Street, with lots of cutaways to technical animations, some of which aim to cover geometry topics. Ford's commercials during Superbowl XLI were a good example of the genre.

The military re-enters the picture as providing for its own. If you've already joined a military, your kids still need an education. Whether to get brainwashed by the powers that be isn't the question. More the motto is: if it's worth doing at all, it's worth doing well.