A few years ago there was a prototype appliance that merged
a refrigerator and the Internet. It had a computer
monitor in the door and the cooler was online. As I recall, the idea was to have instant access to thousands of
recipes; the online tie-in was to increase access to databases of cooking and
recipe Web sites and even notify someone who is mobile to pick up a dozen eggs
on the way home in order to have a complete set of ingredients. My memory is a bit hazier on this next one,
but I believe the same general idea was applied to a microwave oven. As far as I know, this idea never took off and
I haven’t heard about it for a few years. But I was reminded of it again this past weekend while browsing through PC Today, a freebie left in my Atlanta
hotel room. An article discussed a
service called E.V.A., an “electronic virtual assistant.” For a minimum of about $60.00 a month the
busy professional can call (or e-mail) E.V.A. and a real live person will take
a message and in turn e-mail the message to the intended recipient. This made me wonder, how much is enough? Wouldn’t it be just as easy to call the
person, or e-mail her yourself? My two
teenage daughters both bought new phones recently that have Web and e-mail
capability. As with everything in the
cellular world, these sorts of add-ons to phoning capabilities will be
ubiquitous soon enough. Why would
someone pay $60/month for a third-person party to do what either voice-mail,
e-mail, or a phone call would do? My
point is there is a time when we reach saturation with technology. More is not
always better.  I’m not a curmudgeon on
such things and I do realize that pioneers in any field are going to miss a few
before they hit a home run. In fact, I
rather like experimenting with new technology. I dived into Vista probably before it was prudent and have been updating
hardware and drivers left and right since. Of course, the flood of technology is not likely to slow. I tell my graduate students in their
educational technology for school leaders that my motto is “technology cannot
be stopped and youth will be served.” So
the question becomes, how does one separate the wheat from the chaff,
especially in a school setting? More on
that tomorrow.