Friday, 1 May 2009

Back to the future.

I have a real soft spot for chancing across things written about technological change prior to, say, the 1960s or 1970s. I dont mean things like "we'll all be living on the moon, wearing reflective suits!" but asides made in academic texts about the state of affairs then, that take on a whole new meaning when you realise the Internet was just around the corner. Take this for example, from Clarke, M. L. (1959), “Classical Education in Britain 1500-1900”, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p. 175-6.

We have moved still further from the Ancient World. In literature and the arts we have seen a startling break with tradition, and above all the technological revolution which we are witnessing is transforming our lives and insensibly affecting our outlook, encouraging us to live in the present, judging everything by the standard of technical efficiency and assuming that the latest is always the best. Descartes compared the study of antiquity to foreign travel; it was useful, he said, to know something of the manners of different nations, but when too much time was spent in travelling, men became strangers to their own country ‘and the overcurious in the customs of the past are generally ignorant of those of the present’. Today, there is very little danger of living in the past...


Simon Mahony said...

yep - I liked that too. A very appropriate quote to start with particularly considering the date. Thanks also for the other bib you added on Classics education.

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