Brainteaser “Guess the Time”

Hello again!

I hope you had good time over the holidays and any Easter eggs sugar rush is starting to wear off. As the weather these past few days here in Leicester was as glorious as it always is on Bank Holidays, i.e. overcast and rainy, I seem to not have done much apart from reading and eating. So, with the choice to report on these two activities, I will be briefing you on the reading, starting with a little brain-teaser. Below I have listed the features of a computer operating environment – can you guess when this environment dates from? Is it a description of a promising future start-up, which a bunch of clever IT wizzard kids hope to attract venture capital to and repeat the success of Facebook? Or is it out there now, competing with Windows, Firefox, Facebook, Illuminate and the rest? Advertising how ingeniously and innovatively it integrates features facilitating collaboration, social networking, cloud computing and hypermedia publishing? Or, is it a blast from the past? Read and try to guess:

The NLS features:

  • 2-dimensional display editing
  • in-file object addressing, linking
  • hypermedia
  • outline processing
  • flexible view control
  • multiple windows
  • cross-file editing
  • integrated hypermedia email
  • hypermedia publishing
  • shared-screen teleconferencing
  • computer-aided meetings
  • context-sensitive help
  • distributed client-server architecture
  • universal “user interface” front-end module
  • multi-tool integration
  • protocols for virtual terminals
  • remote procedure call protocols
  • compilable “Command Meta Language”

Ready with your estimates? Check your guess here:

What does this example bring to a discussion of the future? The future of technology, the future of technology-enhanced learning and the future of learning? Let’s discuss… Next time I will tell you more about the system described above and a challenging conference that we attended with some BDRA colleagues in Oxford, called The Shock of the Old.

Sandra Romenska, BDRA

15th April 2009


I had a ‘significant’ birthday this week (you know, one with a 0 at the end), and I’d asked for ‘rocks’ as presents. They are just wonderful: an Amethyst (apparently my ‘birth’ stone), a stone from the garden of a house I lived in the 1970s, a piece of meteorite, some lava (no longer molten) and a chip from the Berlin wall…so much history in my hand!

For example, one colleague’s dad explained some rocks from Uruguay as part of basalt ‘bubbles’. His explanation begins…”the story begins a few million years ago, at the end of the Jurassic, and beginning of the Cretaceous era”. Wow. By comparison, I’m not so old after all!

Rocks help me to consider that I’m but a moment in the great flow of history and the future.  Consequently I feel better when a piece of technology annoys me…after all the World Wide Web is but 16 years old and barely crawling. We live in such interesting and powerful times…  the systems thinker and philosopher Laszlo believes we’re at a critical point in history where the future of the world can go ‘either way’ – towards much further disruption of many kinds or towards ecological and social stability.

And who better than educators in higher education to take on creating the future? The raw material that arrives in waves on our campuses year on year will become the ripples of the 21st Century to make or break, create or respond to future trends and directions.  Which rocks will roll and which sink for millions of years?

Gilly Salmon


The Chaos Point: The World at the Crossroads

by Ervin Laszlo .  “Einstein told us that we cannot solve the significant problems we face at the same level of thinking at which we were when we created them” 

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