The DEMML™ blog is about the Distributable Educational Material Markup Language™,
an XML standard being developed by Grant Sheridan Robertson.
Learn more about learning more at www.DEMML.org

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Isaac Asimov predicts DEMML (sort of)

In 1988 Bill Moyers did an interview with Isaac Asimov about his (then) recently released book, As Far as the Eye Can See. In this interview, Asimov predicted that we would all eventually be able to have computers in our homes that could connect us to vast libraries of information. The interview is up on YouTube in three parts which I have embedded here. I have also included a few notes that took while watching the videos:

Part 1:

  • 4:17 - Moyers asks, "Do you think we can educate ourselves on […]anything that strikes our fancy?"
  • 6:50 - Learning more makes us more comfortable in the universe.
  • 8:42 - We can have a revolution in learning.
  • 9:30 - If we educate children from the start into appreciating their own creativity, then we can all be creative.

Part 2:

  • 0:00 - Access to computer based education and information, and the ability to learn at one's own pace will make it so that people will enjoy learning. At school, the one-size-fits all approach makes learning not enjoyable.
  • 1:10 - Computers don't dehumanize learning. They do the opposite by creating a one-to-one relationship between information source and information consumer.

Part 3:

  • This section primarily speaks to the importance of emphasizing science and rational thought over mysticism.

Additional Thoughts:

I think it is important to note how much emphasis Asimov places on individualized learning rather than a one-size-fits-all model. He points out the problems we have in the classroom with trying to educate a room full of students, assuming that they all learn the same. While Asimov did predict the vast amount of knowledge that would be available on the Internet, he did not predict that it would also be a disadvantage. He assumed that the information would be organized like a "library," never imagining that we would be in such a rush to pile content into as many web sites as possible that we would forget to stop and organize it as it went in. This is one of the primary goals of DEMML™. While I have no plans to organize the entire internet, I do plan to organize all of the information that people will need to educate themselves about the world around them. I believe that DEMML™ will finally realize Asimov's dream.

P.S. The entire interview is also available on the PBS web site here.


This post is Copyright © 2009 by Grant Sheridan Robertson.

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