Monday, January 31, 2011

What's The Time?

What’s the time?  What a simple question for us today.  I would venture a guess that almost any person you meet on an average day carries with them at least one device to tell them the time.  That could be a watch, a cell phone, a smart phone, … an astrolabe?
I had never heard of an “astrolabe” before watching the TedTalk on Tuesday.  What an interesting instrument!  If you think about it, it’s kind of like a miniature computer.  On my dashboard, on my laptop, I have a widgit to tell me the weather and a widgit to tell me the time.  I bet I could find a widgit to tell me what the sky looks like on any given night.  The astrolabe is essentially a dashboard with a few less options and a lot more work involved. 
Today we are so concerned about the fastest and most convenient ways to do EVERYTHING!  All of the things that I could work out using an astrolabe can literally be found at the push of a button.  What we miss in using the astrolabe is exactly what Tom Wujec says, we loose a sense of the sky and how we connect to the world.  Just think about it, instead of studying the sky to find our answer to the question of time and many other aspects of time, we just stare at a computer screen.  To put it simply, we are looking down rather than looking up. 
What if all electronics were shut down and technology was brought to a halt?  Which of us would have the sense to figure out what time of day it is?  Even a general idea of morning or evening?  Does the average person know whether the sun rises in the north?  South?  West?  East? 
I feel as though our modern conveniences distract us from the world around us.  Where would we be without our watches, computers and cell phones?

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