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Introduction

The world is rapidly changing. We can now do things that were beyond the thoughts of science fiction writers only a few years ago. As computers' speed, memory, and storage space continue to increase, their capabilities will expand dramatically. Change will accelerate. New uses will proliferate. The Internet has brought the arts and sciences together with a medium that surpasses Marshall McLuhan's dreams. The Internet has brought the world together in a way no political leader could have accomplished.

TODAY

Not long ago it was common for people to ask "Why buy a computer - What can you do with a computer in the home?" Today a better question might be "What can't you do with a computer in the home?"

We have already come a long way from the time pictures could only be created on a computer by clever arrangements of text viewed from a distance. Today everyone has access to high quality graphics, video, and sound. Today voice recognition, optical character recognition, and language translation software have become viable. Today everyone has the capability to set up audio or video recording studios; publish professional quality books, magazines, or newspapers; create multimedia productions, and distribute their products to hundreds of millions of people around the world. Today you can place a call over the Internet anywhere in the world with reasonable clarity and no cost beyond the cost of the Internet connection and in some cases the cost of a local phone call for most people. Today you can set up conference calls or videoconference anywhere in the world without substantial expense. Today you can conduct business or shop over the Internet without many of the delays that confront you when you do so physically. Today you can communicate in seconds over the Internet instead of the days it takes by postal mail. You can avoid the frustrations of telephone tag and intrusions of telephone calls.

The Internet is creating a complete change in the way we communicate. As hundreds of millions of people around the world are directly connected through the Internet, the way everyone does things is changing. The effects go far beyond technology. They impact political systems, the arts, and just about every field imaginable. Direct communication between people around the world is moving everyone toward a truly global economy. Governments and special interest groups around the world find it increasingly difficult to withhold information or to provide misinformation when citizens are in direct contact with people in other countries

Written words, animation, audio, data files, video, and voice can now be used together to present information as well as to create works of art. The line between broadcast journalism and printed page journalism is disappearing. Listen to a Grammy nominated song on the any newspaper's site, print out top stories from the any radio or TV station's site, or customize your news from any source to include only the subjects you want. Better yet, go to Google, Alta Vista, or similar sites and not only read, listen to, or view the current news from thousands of news sources, but search for news items that relate to any topic you want. If it appeared in the major news services, you'll find it, even if the coverage is from a local newspaper halfway across the world. Even tabloid journalism has become useful via the Internet. The most successful tabloid on the Internet, the Drudge Report, includes direct links to many major news services, newspapers, columnists, and other news sources around the world. From that site you have access to real time unedited news feeds previously available only to newspapers and broadcasters. Nearly all newspapers, radio and television stations, and other traditional print and broadcast media have found it both necessary and useful to have an Internet presence. Most provide some information but use their web site for more details and often include direct links to coverage at the source of the particular news item. Many concerts, sporting events, and other live entertainment as well as radio stations are now broadcast directly over the Internet.

The absence of the time and space restrictions that limit traditional media allow for news providers on the Internet to make available far more news and cover stories in much greater depth than is possible with traditional media. Furthermore, the Internet allows interaction, so you can become part of each news story through your comments. You can be linked to actual sites involved in the news and many other related sites. Authors can seek public input and involvement while in the process of writing books.

This revolution in communication and information is having a more profound effect on society than the industrial revolution. Research that once took years can now be done in hours - or less. Seemingly unsolvable problems are becoming routine. Everyone has the capability to be a publisher, a broadcast network, a multimedia producer, or whatever they desire to be.

Technology has empowered every man, woman, and child in the world to be able to fully express themselves. Information is immediately available to everyone at a keystroke or the click of a mouse button. The problem is no longer how to find information, but rather how to most effectively choose what information is needed and how to use it. Imagination and creativity need to be developed. Things that were impossible yesterday may be very possible today and obsolete tomorrow.

It is already much faster to get addresses, phone numbers, and other basic frequently sought information from any location (even local) on the Internet than from printed directories, newspapers, or other printed reference material.

TOMORROW

Where do we go from here? The only limitation is the individual's imagination. Albert Einstein was right when he pointed out "Imagination is more important than knowledge." Knowledge is readily available to everyone, but imagination is what will spark the future. There is too much information available on most subjects to be able to read all of it in a lifetime. We need to know how to select the information that we need. We need to know how to use the information. We need to imagine what can be done, then locate the information that will help us bring our ideas to fruition.

Children, at all levels of school, are being trained on and with computers and have Internet access. Our children are our future and they have been given the technological tools to succeed. The focus of education will need to shift from memorization of information to how to use the information. In short, children must be taught how to think. Our future depends on it. We must get away from the system that inspired Harry Chapin's "Flowers are Red" and focus on the use of technological tools, creativity, and imagination. They need to be taught how to think and how to select and process information. There are also hundreds of other sites that can be found with a Google search for "Flowers are Red".

Non-traditional teaching methods need to be employed, such as the use of chess as a teaching tool.

Why chess? Chess teaches critical thinking. Chess enables the student to manage the resources available to us in life (such as material, space, and time). Chess develops creativity and encourages imagination. Chess has been shown to be effective as a positive alternative and a tool for prevention in society. Chess helps develop proper study habits and research techniques. Chess helps today's youth learn how to anticipate consequences of their own actions and make proper decisions. Many of the positive attributes and ideas developed by exposure to chess are carried over into all aspects of life.

Why is imagination so important? Let me give one example. Our lives have been permanently changed because of a very improbable sequence of events. The first step was when Silicon Dioxide (better known as quartz, or the major component of beach sand) could be separated into Silicon and Oxygen. Most people realize the value and uses of Oxygen, but of what possible use is Silicon? Without going into the chemistry and physics of Silicon here (send feedback if you want more details), we are ready for the next step. Silicon can be purified into a very high purity single crystal state. So what? Silicon crystals are opaque, have no bright gemlike qualities, and it seemed to many that their only value was for research papers. The process to create them requires extremely high temperatures, high vacuums, and expensive equipment. That is just the kind of project that would be ridiculed by politicians as wasteful spending. Along comes step 3. It is found that such an extra-pure Silicon crystal would behave in an interesting manner if a very small controlled amount of certain impurities were to be deliberately added to the crystal. Furthermore, if a second impurity of a different type were to be added as well, it developed the ability to let electric current flow in one direction but not the other. Without going into the process details (again, send feedback if you want them), and to make a long story short, this became the simplest active electronic component, the diode. Add a third impurity and the transistor is created. Step 4 is to find a way to combine millions of extremely small transistors and other electronic components on a single tiny piece of Silicon and you have today’s microprocessors, memory, and other Integrated Circuits. Of course they need to be connected to something to be useful, which is where step 5 comes in. By this time imagination and creativity are still required, but the results appear less dramatic because the technological direction has become clear. Electronic components are not only in your computer today but in most appliances and audio/video systems in your home and office as well as your car. They are a part of everyday life, but without creativity and imagination they would simply still be grains of sand and we would still be using computers that cost millions to buy, thousands to maintain, and fill a room, while not having a fraction of the capability of your home computer. Today's children's toy game machines have far more computing power and memory than most of the multimillion dollar mainframe computers of old. Cellular phones, wireless technology, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), and their combination into single handheld devices have revolutionized communication. It is already possible to have Internet access, long distance phone capability, computer applications and data; recording and playing of video, photo, and audio; calendar, clock, calculator, notepad, and many other functions on a single pocket-size device. What's next?

As more and more people of widely varying background gain access to information that was previously available only to people in specialized fields and people who speak many languages, communication becomes extremely important.

Why is communication so important?  Wouldn't it seem that if people have these revolutionary new communication tools and have access to information worldwide in just about any jargon or language, communication should be less of a concern? Absolutely not. Communication is not effective unless it results in understanding on the most basic level. Words that mean one thing in one jargon or language may have a completely different meaning in another. True meaning often gets lost in translation, which can impede understanding. Just as we need to learn how to manage information, we literally must mutually know what we are talking about. Many marketing efforts that are very effective in one language can be ineffective, embarrassing, offensive or even disastrous in another. Basic miscommunication can occur even where translations are correct.

Communication - Words and concepts - How does matter matter?

Thousands of years ago scientific knowledge appeared to describe a much simpler universe than we know of today. Certainly that is to be expected since many tools for observation and analysis that we have today didn't exist. Early societies could only describe what they could understand from their senses.

They saw all matter (everything) as being composed of a total of four elements. The differences between them could be easily described in terms of the senses. They were Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.

Now we have the tools to recognize differences between elements that couldn't be distinguished then. Not only can we describe close to 100 naturally occurring elements but we can identify and even create elements that exist for too short a time to be seen in nature.

Current presentations, discussions, tables and charts of the elements, such as can be found in basic references such as CRC's "Handbook of Chemistry and Physics", the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry nomenclature standards (printed or online), and on sites such as that of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Science Park.info, webelements, chemicalelements.com, and many others identify well over 100 elements. The definition of "element" has seemingly not changed other than to introduce the concept that the smallest quantity of an element that retains its properties is an atom.

Both in ancient times and today, the elements are considered to be the different types of matter that are the building blocks of the universe. We can understand that in ancient times they had no real way to experience and thereby fully understand any differences between elements unless those differences could be sensed - can't we?

Suppose we had nothing but our senses to analyze what is around us. We could notice that some things normally feel solid to the touch. They may be large or small but they consistently have the same feel. They can be seen as well, but their size and shape don't seem to change without a cause. We call them "solid". We could notice that some things have no apparent size or shape but can be smelled, tasted, or sometimes seen. We can't feel them and often only know about them indirectly. We refer to them as "gases". We could notice that some things glow and can easily be seen. They can usually be felt but are hard to describe in terms of size or shape. We call them "plasma". We could notice that some things may change shape but they can be seen and felt. We call them "liquid". We describe these distinctions as "states of matter".

Wait a moment! The ancients made the same observations thousands of years ago. A good example of what we call "solid" is the ground we walk on. They called it "earth". A good example of what we call a "gas" is the air we breathe. They called it "air". A good example of what we call "plasma" is an open flame. They called it "fire". A good example of what we call "liquid" is a lake or a river, or a stream, or an ocean. They called it "water".

The ancients recognized the same four states of matter that we recognize.

Some argue that the ancients only found four elements, but we have identified nearly 120 and point to the seemingly unchanged definition of "element" to measure the progress that we have made in recognizing different elements.

Science Park.info, which is an excellent user-friendly popular site for science information, takes it a step farther and points out "In ancient times, people believed that all matter is a variation of earth, air, fire and water. Until early 20th century people believed that the basic building block of matter is an atom, visualized as a sphere. Nowadays, we know that atoms are made of even more fundamental entities."

Actually we have come full circle. The basic fact is that we only recognize the same four "elements" that the ancients did, but we call them "states of matter". That is an example of why we need to be very careful to communicate basic ideas rather than words, and verify that everyone is speaking the same language.

No Problem CS plans a Communication Services page in the future.

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Last updated 06/12/2003 Rev 7.1