Everything starts as somebody’s daydream – Larry Niven
We are the stuff of dreams. The lives of each and every one of us has been shaped by our dreams, and the dreams of our: parents, ancestors, teachers, teachers, and so many more who influence us each day. The technological electrified world we inhabit was dreamed into existence. There are no screens in nature, no digital signals. Although the structure of modern society is constructed with manufactured objects, the foundation is built upon a myriad of dreams within dreams. As Edgar Allen Poe said – All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.
Remember, the magic mirror devices we all use are tools. Just as a net can gather fish or laundry, a smartphone can be used to gather information or entertainment. Humankind has invented an uncountable number of tools which have allowed us to expand into every corner of the earth and into space. And each of these began in the imagination. The human imagination, or more precisely, my imagination was one of the reasons, my resume/CV contains an entry for “educational technologist”. Back in 1994/1995, when the World Wide Web became publicly available, I helped science teachers learn how to use it to enhance learning. I even got to work with the inventors of MOSAIC the original web browser and had a floppy disc of the first version.
So I had to imagine a lot of ways to instruct hundreds of teachers, who had barely used computers, how to access and use the Internet in their classrooms. Most of the places I taught didn’t even have a computer available, and so I dragged my own personal desktop with me. In the beginning, I would use actual paper folders to explain desktop folders and email. I explained satellite imagery, an important element of our environmental education project, using pieces of string to construct a 90 foot square. Which approximated the 30 meters resolution of the imagery we used. I had science teachers stand in the center of this square an imagine that everything inside the square was unknown to scientists. Scientists could not see it. That is why we needed their eyes and their students eyes on the ground.
Our Information Age world was not created out of thin air. It was built from ancient tools. As Isaac Newton said, If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants. My dad was one of the “giants” of my life. He was a mechanic. He worked in a gas station as a teenager. He knew the workings of every square inch of his patrol bomber in World War Two. He trained at a technical college after the war and was a top factory mechanic for decades. He is the one who taught me how to visualize a problem. First you have to imagine all the whys and eliminate them one by one. To do this you have to have knowledge. So although Pop had a wide range of hands-on knowledge he continued learning his whole life. But tragically large parts of his huge mental archive of mechanical knowledge became obsolete in his old age. In the end he couldn’t even work on his own car because of the computer chips.
Here is a unique tool my father made. The factory couldn’t ship twenty road graders because of an unknown problem with the transmission. It would cost over $75,000 to open the transmissions and fix them. Because of his mastery, my Dad was able to not only visualize the problem, but design a tool, and make the tool. He then could reach inside the transmission and “…check the side clearance of side play of the Bull Gear in cross-shaft housing…”. He was given a bonus of several hundred dollars. Because of family issues with my siblings, it is one of the few items I have from my father. I asked him for it, and he wrote down the explanation, and signed it 🙂 This treasured piece of steel reminds me of my father – great imagination and great practical knowledge.
There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamed of in your philosophy – Shakespeare
Our dreams change as we age. The dreams we dreamed in our youth give way eventually to the mature dreams of adult life and eventually, if we are lucky like my Dad, we gain wisdom in our old age. Gather the knowledge you need to construct a path towards your dreams. Spend time each day daydreaming. Never stop learning. Never stop dreaming.