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Comment: Re:Artificial Limits? (Score 1) 293

I absolutely agree, as I elaborate on in this response. What particularly jumps out to me is how they predict technological change but totally miss social change ("The housewife of the future will do her chores with the press of a button." Students: "What's a housewife?")

Comment: Re:Back To The Future II (Score 1) 293

I'd show them Back To The Future II - especially appropriate since the future they are visiting is 2015. As our world resembles 1985+smartphones more than the 2015 depicted in the film, it could help temper expectations and demonstrate that no matter what predictions one makes, (and let's face it, nothing in BTTF2 aside from flying cars was really that crazy to believe we would have in 25 years), the only thing certain is uncertainty. Obviously it's a fictional film and was not serious futurist prediction, but it would make the point and give something a little lighter to engage the students.

Agreed (although there will still be a half a year left for hoverboards to be invented). See my fuller response.

Comment: Re:"A Logic Named Joe" (Score 1) 293

If you're going to talk about how our literature predicts the future, it's worth taking a look at how past literature predicted us..

Absolutely, that was always part of my plan, although I find it more illuminating to share the stories/articles that were wildly wrong, to teach students a healthy skepticism. I'll check out "A Logic Named Joe" in any case.

Comment: Response from original poster (Score 2) 293

First, thank you, everyone, for the feedback. There are some wonderful stories that I recognize and others that I look forward to reading.

Second, because the solicited essays and fiction will only be a small part of the course, I will have to rely on short stories (including novellas) instead of entire novels. That is part of what makes it hard to research. It's much easier to find out about novels, which have more readers and are better publicized than short stories, especially recent ones that have not yet been widely reprinted.

Third, to those of you who think I am being too lazy to do my research myself, gathering information is part of the research process, and I'd be remiss in not making use of the hive mind if it has useful information that I might not. I would much rather be called a negligent teacher than to be one. Academics study one another's reading lists and syllabi all the time. Believe me, plenty of work remains in deciding what material to include, how present it, etc.

Fourth, thank you for letting me know the history of the word "futurism". The sense I used it ("concern with events and trends of the future or which anticipate the future") is the first one in some dictionaries and is widely used at kurzweilai.net, The Foresight Institute, and other sites I have used, but I will certainly let my students know that some people prefer the word "futurology". For those who are interested, here's a Google n-gram view of "futurism", "futurist", and "futurology".

Fifth, some commenters suggested using primary sources and biography. Agreed. I was already planning to include Turing's Computing Machinery and Intelligence, Vannevar Bush's As We May Think, and the stories of Khan Academy, Iqbal Quadir, Sugata Mitra, and others.

Sixth, it was also suggested that I look at past predictions of the future. Also agreed. I assembled such a reading list for a previous course. It hadn't occurred to me to include in my question what I didn't need, because I'd already assembled it, but I see now that it would be helpful.

Thank you again for the suggestions and even for the criticisms. Soliciting opinions from Slashdot is always a story in itself.

+ - Ask Slashdot: What essays and short stories should be in a course on futurism? 4

Submitted by Ellen Spertus
Ellen Spertus (31819) writes "I'll be teaching an interdisciplinary college course on how technology is changing the world and how students can influence that change. In addition to teaching the students how to create apps, I'd like for us to read and discuss short stories and essays about how the future (next 40 years) might play out. For example, we'll read excerpts from David Brin's Transparent Society and Ray Kurzweil's The Singularity is Near. I'm also considering excerpts of Cory Doctorow's Homeland and Neil Stephenson's Diamond Age. What other suggestions do Slashdotters have?"

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