Sunday, July 15, 2007

Technology vs. Community

I was at a meeting to present the plans for the MN Planetarium project to its new owner (As part of the merger of the Minneapolis and Hennepin County Libraries, the "ownership" of the future MN Planetarium will transfer to Hennepin County).

On county commissioner suggested that there should be no large central planetarium--or even a portable planetarium but that we just provide material that can be used on computers and flat screen projection systems.

The basic idea is that with technology, everything can now be done remotely, in your own home. This seems to be ignoring some basic people issues:

  • There is a basic difference between seeing something on a planetarium sized screen and on your computer screen.

  • There is a difference in brining your kids to your home computer to see the Universe and brining them to a high-tech facility.

But most important, people are social animals. Group experiences can be more powerful than individual experiences (For example, with DVDs, Direct TV, HDTV, why do a lot of people still go to movie theaters, live concerts, live plays and art festivals?) Events that bring people together help to build communities. Bringing people together help to build bridges between different communities.

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