A Day Of Broken Glass – A Life So Fragile #edcmooc


Picture this..

I wake up in the morning and stretch out on the bed, suddenly realizing that the bed has turned cold and hard. Gingerly, I run my hand over the surface and I realize there is no mattress, and with a jolt I come half-awake, and sit  upright on the bed, take a careful look around, and then look down again on the bed… it’s glass !! Can you imagine ? A bed made of the highest quality Anti-Microbial Glass that money can buy ! If I am to believe the print on the edge of the glass, it’s Multi-purpose, anti-bacterial, Anti-viral, Anti-fungal, Anti-Disease… What else ?? I ask myself ? Anti Rest, Anti-Sleep ??? The list of the anti- qualities is endless. Wow !

As I step down from the bed, I hear a crunching sound and pull my foot back in panic. What did I step on ? I bend down to carefully examine the transparent glass – now broken – object. A hand-held Display Glass ! A Thin & Lightweight, Damage Resistant, 3D Projection ready display glass ! Now where in earth did that come from and what was it doing on the floor? Still wondering and still half-asleep, I take a step forward, but stop immediately as a shooting pain runs through the sole of my foot, I sit down again, and examine the foot, only to find a thin sliver of glass sticking out from the sole. Carefully, I pull it out, and stepping away carefully from the glass shards lying on the floor, I walk towards my bathroom, then I stop and stare in horror. Whatever happened to the bathroom wall ?

Why am I able to see my bathtub from my bedroom ? Last I remember, I had a nice wall there, but it’s gone. Slowly, still in a daze, I walk towards the wash basin with a sudden urge to wash my face, so that I could come awake fully and make some sense out of all this. Just when I think  I am close to the wash-basin, something smashes hard into my face and stops me in my tracks. Yelping in pain, I step back, holding my forehead that feels as if it has just been hammered, and my nose… my nose feels broken. Tears of pain roll slowly down my face as I try to gather my wits… what had I walked into ? Why can’t I see it ? I take a step forward again and reach out to where the wall had been and touch something cold… glass !!! No wonder I didn’t see it. A Wall-Format Display Glass – Durable, Seamless, Wall-size coverage, touch sensitive glass that now stands in place of the wall that used be there till yesterday. A glass so crystal clear that it is almost invisible. Now where did this come from ?

Slowly I walk around inspecting it, till I find the glass door and push it open, and finally reach the wash basin and splash some water on my face. My nose hurts like hell, and the throbbing in my forehead refuses to abate. But splashing the water on my face does have a calming effect on me. I grip the wash basin and steady myself and stand there for a while, and try to make some sense out of all this. Then take a look around once again. Still unable to comprehend anything, I decide that the best way to sort this out is to have a shower, so I quickly step under the shower and let the cold water hit me, which quickly brings me to my senses. For a few minutes I just stand there and let water therapy work towards bringing me back to normal. Thereafter, feeling much fresher, I step away from the the shower, quickly dry myself, and then take another look around… yep. The wall’s gone and the glass is there. No mistaking that now.

Resigned to my fate, I step out of the bathroom and back into my bedroom again. I walk towards my wardrobe and stop in shock again. Glass !! A glass wardrobe with a glass touch-screen on the side asking me what I would like to wear… Bizarre ! Reaching tentatively, I play around with the screen and viola ! Out pop the articles I have selected, and still in awe, I get dressed to go to work. I walk to my bedside table to pick up my laptop, only to discover that it’s gone. Gone ! My lifeline is missing ! Help !! In panic, I look around wildly, and suddenly notice that on the small writing table in the corner of the bedroom, there is something emitting strange lights. With a feeling of growing horror, I walk towards it and look down. It is a hand-held glass plate… similar to the one I had stepped on when I got out of the bed earlier, but larger in size. A message is glowing on the screen, telling me that it is my new hand-held device and replaces my laptop. Replaces my laptop ? How can anything replace my laptop, I find myself muttering. Resigned to my fate, I pick it up and put it in my briefcase.

As I lock the house and walk towards the car, I can’t but help having the uneasy feeling that all is not right, and I may be in for more rude shocks. Still uneasy, I unlock the car and get in, and stare in shock. The entire dashboard as I remember it is gone, and in its place is a glass dashboard ! The car’s music system console is flashing with different coloured lights, and the windscreen glass too appears to be new and shiny… almost invisible. With an eerie feeling, I start the car and drive to work.

As I drive, I look around and realize with a sinking feeling that most of the familiar buildings have disappeared, and in their place, there are these new ultra-modern glass structures, bright and shiny. Unreal. Almost as if I’m watching a movie about the future world. I reach the place where my office is supposed to be and this time I am not surprised to find that the building has been replaced with a glass structure. With unsteady steps, I climb the stairs and reach the main door – now a glass one – and even before I reach it, it slides open. I enter, feeling dazed and disoriented, and come face to face with a giant glass screen from which the face of my boss is staring down and me and I hear him say “You’re late !” Too dumbstruck to speak, I just mumble something and stagger towards where my office used to be, and find it replaced by a clear glass cubicle, with another fancy screen – presumably a replacement for my desktop – sitting on the desk. Feeling week in the knees, I plop down on the chair and loosen my tie, staring at the new glass screen in front of me. A colleague appears by my side and asks me if I’m ok. I look up at him with glazed, sorry, glassy eyes. “Let me get you a glass of water” he says, looking concerned.

Glass ? Did he just use the word glass ? That is the last straw. Infuriated, I spring out of my chair and grab him by the collar. “Don’t you dare to use that word !”, I tell him, as I almost choke him. Retaliating equally wildly, he punches my nose with all the strength he can muster. I lose my grip and crash to the floor, holding my nose, which has taken punishment for the second time today. I black out…

When I come to, I’m back in my bed… my soft bed, tucked comfortably under the blanket. I feel my nose, expecting it to hurt, but feel no pain. Puzzled, I sit up and look around me. The wall stares back at me. The wall ! It’s back ! And the glass wall is gone. And my laptop is sitting on the table where it normally is. I jump out of the bed with a feeling of joy. It was all a dream ! A horrible, bad dream ! Thank God for small mercies !

For those reading this post, please allow me to clarify that this dream sequence – the satire – was my reaction to this film. Make no mistake – I love technology and all things that it is capable of, but I feel that this particular film took it too far. Maybe all of this is going to be reality someday – and I shudder to think that such a day may actually come. Some of what they portrayed already exists, perhaps. But in my view, this film was dystopian in many ways. Technological determinists may, perhaps be thrilled with what this film portrays, but I am appalled. To me it was nothing short of a nightmare.

What this video is trying to portray that it is the technology that is shaping lives, changing education, and driving society – a reductionist point of view altogether. Is this what I would want my children to grow up to ? What about the joy of learning, the joy of holding a real book in our hands, and the joy of being able to pick up a pen and actually write ? That, to me, is real education, real literacy. Much as I love what technology can do, I cannot still come to grips with the fact that many of the tablet-generation, i-pad toting kids today cannot, or will not, actually write using a pen. Or the fact that when they do write, it is in the sms style. Or the fact that they love to use “technological short-cuts” for everything, and short-cuts are not always good.

The question that I find myself pondering over is, if education was to be transformed totally as portrayed in this film, would kids actually LEARN, or would life become a series of experiment for them ? Would their communication ever be the like how we know it today ? Or would they only connect with others “digitally” ? Would that not lead to a lot of psychological problems for them ? Even the concept of family bonding seems to be “glass” powered in this film, the bond between siblings, and the bond between parents and children being the technology.

Would all this not create a very “fragile” world ? Food for thought….

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11 thoughts on “A Day Of Broken Glass – A Life So Fragile #edcmooc

  1. Rajiv I totally agree..and this was a ver well written and entertaining exposition of our possible future lives .. The danger of losing our humanity is there. i hope to put some thoughts together soon about technological determinism. Thanks for this very creative and eye opening story 🙂

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    • Thanks so much, Maria, for your feedback and for re-blogging this. When I watched it, the whole thing seemed so unrealistic, and I asked myself this question… what if one day I woke up and found myself living in such a world ? I guess this article was my answer to myself on this issue.

      When I posted this on the EDCMOOC page on Facebook, someone asked me where on the spectrum do I fit… Upotia or Dystopia? My response to that was that I guess I fit somewhere in between. I love computers, I have been fascinated with them for many years, I am an advanced user, I assemble my own desktops, create my own websites. BUT I still cannot imagine letting them run my whole life. I guess in some ways I am still old-fashioned 🙂

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  2. I understand Rajuv that one can of course see both sides of the spectrum.i too work with IT- making e-learning courses and one of the things very relevant in that field is to what degree is one impacting students’ behaviour–is one affording them of a range of choices or impinging upon their autonomy. The one thing that sticks out about this EDMOOC course is its capacity to afford students of a great range of knowledge sharing tools..chaos it would seem..but not really, as the small tag #edcmooc brings usa ll into the central news space.

    I am wary of the use of technologies that would controm and and aware also of technology environments that afford a mutual shaping process between the context, the technology and the users—Heather Katuka writes about this in her Questioning Teaching and Technology Beliefs http://www.srhe.ac.uk/conference2013/abstracts/0122.pdf

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  3. I understand Rajiv that one can of course see both sides of the spectrum.i too work with IT- making e-learning courses and one of the things very relevant in that field is to what degree is one impacting students’ behaviour–is one affording them of a range of choices or impinging upon their autonomy. The one thing that sticks out about this EDMOOC course is its capacity to afford students of a great range of knowledge sharing tools..chaos it would seem..but not really, as the small tag #edcmooc brings usa ll into the central news space.

    I am wary of the use of technologies that would control and and aware also of technology environments that afford a mutual shaping process between the context, the technology and the users—Heather Katuka writes about this in her Questioning Teaching and Technology Beliefs http://www.srhe.ac.uk/conference2013/abstracts/0122.pdf

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    • Thank you Maria. I too hold views that are very similar to yours.One can either use technology judiciously, or become a prisoner to it.

      And thanks so much for the link to Heather Katuka’s article. 🙂

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    • In my view, it is both. It depends on us as individuals and as a society whether we make responsible use of it, or become slaves to it.

      Technology, as portrayed in this video is, perhaps, frightening to me. It shows a society totally dependent on technology, which make for a very fragile life.

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      • Yes I agree.. it depends how we use it. Do we use it for control or for freedom. “Envisioning Digital Europe 2030” is an excellent report of hypothetical future scenarios in a society that will embrace digital technologies..it paints 4 different possible futures where it systematically analyses possible societal, policy and research trends in the governance and policy modelling of a future digitally run Europe. Some future scenarios are bright, hopeful and enhance our freedoms, choices and possibilities, whereas other possible futures are downright grim – taking us into a kind of digital monitoring, control and indeed one could say captivity..as ict modelling is allowed..meaning we allow ict systems to make governmental, systemic decisions for u s! Such a setup would support low transparenc y- noone would know what was going on nor be informed of it. Big companies or an enlightened oligarchy would have the privilege of being the decision makers. Here is the report:
        http://ftp.jrc.es/EURdoc/JRC61593.pdf

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