Beatty peered at the smoke pattern he put out on the air. “Picture it. Nineteenth-century man with his horses, dogs, carts, slow motion. Then, in the twentieth century, speed up your camera. Books cut shorter. Condensations. Digests, Tabloids. Everything boils down the gag, the snap ending.”
“Snap ending.” Mildred nodded.
“Classics cut to fit fifteen-minute radio shows, then cut again to fill a two-minute book column, winding up at last as ten- or twelve- line dictionary resume. I exaggerate of course. The dictionaries were for reference. But many were those whose sole knowledge of Hamlet (you know the title certainly, Montag; it is probably only a faint rumor of a title to you, Mrs. Montag), whose sole knowledge, as I say, was a one-page digest in a book that claimed: now at last you can read all the classics; keep up with your neighbors. ([Or a show called Sons of Anarchy.] Do you see? Out of the nursery into the college and back to the nursery; there’s your intellectual for the past five centuries or more.”
Mildred arose and began to move the room, picking things up and putting them down. Beatty ignored her and continued:
“Speed up the film, Montag, quick. Click, Pic, Look, Eye, Now, Flick, Here, Uh! Bang! Smack Wallop, Bing, Bong, Boom! Digest-digests, digest-digest-digests. Politics? One column, two sentences, a headline! Then in mid-air, all vanishes! Whirl man’s mind around so fast under the pumping hands of publishers, exploiters, broadcasters that the centrifuge flings off all unnecessary, time-wasting thought!
“School is shortened, discipline relaxed, philosophies, histories, languages dropped, English and spelling gradually neglected, finally almost completely ignored. Life is immediate, the job counts, pleasure lies all about after work. Why learn anything save pressing buttons, pulling switches, fixing nuts and bolts?”
Ray Bradbury, Farenheit 451
I’m not sure what else there is to say. The edtech dream is real, it’s coming, but it is not new. Only the specifics are new, some of which are pretty amazing, but there is risk. We are still in the nursery of edtech, and there are lions in the veldt. And there are tygers. Here.
But the Harlequin was told to repent, and he did. But three minutes were lost.