Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Why Touch Matters

#edcmooc Wk2 A Day Made of Glass 2 & Productivity Future Vision

Both films show a Utopian world where everything seemlessly and effortlessly works. Both are a very clinical, striped down versions of reality as we know it now and how we think the future will pan out. Of course we know that in real life nothing is seemless and effortless and lets face it how many of us thought all that glass would be a nightmare to keep clean.The scene from A Day Made of Glass where the children are "mixing" paints just filled me with sadness if that is regarded as progress. Learning should be multi-sensory and messy as Eleni (fellow Moocer) pointed out.  Like others who have commented on the Coursera discussion forum there are elements of both films which would  be amazing to have; the worktops in the kitchen, the medical and car technology but there are somethings which technology cannot replace, touch being one of them.

It is interesting how technology has evolved from the typewriters on the 1860's and how touch typing has become a very useful skill to have. Will future generation begin to lose skills like touch typing as everything moves towards a woosh and a tap. A few weeks ago my oldest son had been playing on his tablet pc then came off it to read a book (real paperback). At the end of the page he tried to woosh the page over like on his tablet pc, he paused and laughed at what he'd just tried to do. I jokingly told him that what he had in his hands was a real book, with real pages that turn.

A few years ago I trained as baby massage instructor with IAIM which was a wonderful experience to share with new parents. I saw first hand how powerful the simple act of touch is between humans and that touch is fundamental to our survival as a species. Touch allows us to stay connected to one another, to feel that we are part of a meaningful relationship. Sue Gerhardt in her wonderful book Why Love Matters explores why touch is essential to the development of our social skills. Touch deprivation can cause developmental problems with the brain, depression and feelings of isolation. If I relate this back to the two films and how at a touch of a button and a woosh of screen it is possible to "stay connected" to people around the world 24/7, is this the future that we want? Is it really necessary to push forward with expanding the ways in which we "stay connected". Do I really want to be answering emails as I brush my teeth? I think we need to be careful we don't lose touch with what makes us quintessentially human.


Image: 'Brain of the Sistine Chapel'
Found on flickrcc.net

Disclaimer: Yes, there are other things which technology can't replace but this post just focuses on once aspect.

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