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Ask Slashdot: Educating Kids About Older Technologies? 208

ProgramErgoSum writes "Horse carriages, vinyl records, telegraphy, black and white television are all great examples of technology that held tremendous sway decades ago and eventually faded away. Other systems such as railways and telephony are 'historical,' but have advanced into the current age, too. I think not being aware of the science behind such yesteryear technologies (or their histories) is not right. I feel it would be most beneficial to encourage kids to explore old technologies and perhaps even try simple simulations at home or school. So, what websites or videos or other sources of information would you reach out to that teaches the basics of say, telegraphy? Or, signalling in railways? Etc. etc." Do you (or do you plan to) educate your kids about any particular older technologies?
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Ask Slashdot: Educating Kids About Older Technologies?

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  • by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @01:49PM (#46067029) Homepage Journal

    Invented in Central Asia, most of it. By proto Indo-Iranian peoples, often on territory subsumed into modern China, because of historical conquests of the Mongols.

    Sinologists always have a China first and central bias - with plenty of "evidence". They always need to distort the meaning of the term "China" to do so.

    It's like claiming that Stonehenge is a feat that demonstrates the long history of English engineering prowess.

  • by TarPitt ( 217247 ) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @02:04PM (#46067111)

    Understanding the 19th century telegraph system helps understand our current global internet.

    I found "The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-Line Pioneers" a fascinating read, amazing what was done 150 years ago.

    Here is a quote from the Wikipedia article:

    The book describes to general readers how some of the uses of telegraph in commercial, military, and social communication were, in a sense, analogous to modern uses of the internet. A few rather unusual stories are related, about couples who fell in love and even married over the wires, criminals who were caught through the telegraph, and so on.

    The culture which developed between telegraph operators also had some rather unexpected affinities with the modern Internet. Both cultures made or make use of complex text coding and abbreviated language slang, both required network security experts, and both attracted criminals who used the networks to commit fraud, hack private communications, and send unwanted messages.

    We had e-commerce (code books for secure banking transaction via telegraph), hackers, and skilled technical workers with their own language and culture.

    Telegraph operators even had their own equivalent to cell-phone text message abbreviations.

  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @02:29PM (#46067267)

    But - how do you choose, and how much do you teach?

    The best way is to let your kid choose. Kids tend to be interested in things that are relevant to their own lives. I doubt if more than 1% would be interested in "the technology of horse drawn carriages". If you try to push that kind of crap on them, you are just going to sour your relationship. You can try to nudge them in a certain direction, but mostly you should let them find their own path. Anyway, I gotta go, my 10 year old daughter is teaching herself OpenGL, and she wants to ask me some questions about matrices ...

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @03:23PM (#46067579) Homepage

    Kids should get some basics on where things come from. How steel is made. How farming works. How electricity is generated and distributed. How cars are made. Where tap water comes from, and where sewerage goes. How houses are built and what's inside the walls.

    At the micro level, they should learn basic electrical circuits, basic gears and mechanical linkages, basic hand tools up to an electric drill, and basic woodworking up to building a box or birdhouse.

    Not Z80 programming.

    Infrastructure is mandatory. Nostalgia is optional.

The primary function of the design engineer is to make things difficult for the fabricator and impossible for the serviceman.