Films for Thought

At the third annual OES Tech Retreat at Rockaway Beach last weekend, we had some great conversations. We talked about curriculum determining technology needs, and the pros and cons of less powerful but more robust tools like the OLPC and the Classmate PC. We also had good discussions about how to revamp the OS X multimedia lab next year (read: $$$).

On the movie front, we saw Run Lola Run and Altered States the first night, and then One Week (1920 Buster Keaton) and The Matrix. Strangely, watching the The Matrix again did nothing for us– too old hat. The Buster Keaton film was more invigorating.

Altered StatesI was pretty surprised to see Altered States again, after seeing it when it came out in 1980. It really struck me as a “defense of the drug culture” sort of film, as if LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs would reveal a greater truth. It made me wonder if personal computers and the Internet haven’t led to a partial replacement for drug experimentation– and the goal of finding a greater truth through an altered state of awareness. (Think of game-induced states, and simply surf-induced dazes.) I remember when the The Whole Earth Catalog latched onto the early PCs as an avenue for self-education and enlightenment

We talked it out, and discovered how there are constant opportunities to alter the way our senses work. It seems as if it’s a human need, to avoid a constant clear view of what is around us. A cultural constant? It’s funny that a numerical machine that is essentially logical in design could be used so much for roughly the opposite.

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