Some time back. Well before the first personal computer and the internet. Sigmund Freud came up with a theory about a psychological defence mechanism called projection.
It is the simple idea that we project our deepest fears and expectations onto others and in doing so we come to believe that they are the source of those fears and expectations.
I like the idea simply because it is probably the best description of our relationship with computers and the internet I have stumbled across over the years. For example whenever I read an article that suggests either Facebook, Twitter, the iPad or even just plain old data is the future of Journalism I think of projection. The same goes when Education and iPads, notebooks or the internet are mentioned in the same sentence.
Over the years I have been fortunate enough to help clients across a wide range of industries explore the innovative new strategies that they hope will allow them to make money out of information technology and the internet. In every case, without fail, I have witnessed these people project their deepest hopes and fears for the future of their business or industry onto these "dumb" boxes.
You hear it almost daily in the phrase "This is the solution to..." or "If this takes off it will..." or "This will allow me to..."
You see everybody who comes to this "dumb" technology brings to the table the emotional and intellectual baggage of their personal and workday experiences. It is the prism, the fractured mirror if you like, through which they shape their expectations and dreams for the technology.
This is why I can confidently say that the iPhone is the future of everything... and so is the web, AR/VR, 3-D Printing, Machine Learning & AI, Social Media, Blockchain, Google, Facebook and Twitter. They are the future of everything simply because they are empty vessels upon which consumers, technology gurus, journalists, management consultants and business leaders can project their deepest hopes and fears for the future.
This then is the key to success in a world of ubiquitous networked technology. To be both everything and nothing to everybody and nobody all at the same time.
The reality of course is the future of journalism is all about the people who choose to embrace the craft and dedicate their lives to shaping the profession in their own image. The same applies to advertising and the other media codes. If the generation that emerges with these new networked information tools cannot create a compelling product that consumers are willing to pay for the industry will inevitably collapse or at the very least evolve into something unrecognisable by today's standards.
The same applies to teaching and any other profession that chooses to embrace this technology. The future is shaped by the people who embrace the craft and dedicate their lives to shaping their profession in their own image. The future isn't just about the technology. The technology just the enabler . The future is all about you and how you respond to both the challenges and the opportunities the technology can help you to create.
So close your eyes for a moment and dream of a future you want to belong to and then figure out where the "dumb" box fits. Don't just let the "dumb" box shape who you are and what you want to be... otherwise you run the risk of ending up being just like that empty vessel you have projected all your hopes and fears into.