the First Device

What should be the ideal character and purpose of the First Device we give to our young? How would such a tool define humanity’s future approach to technology, and to our world? How would it shape and direct the mind? What kind of information should it contain? Would it be primarily audiovisual, or holographic, or a communication device? Would it be something to speed up learning in a particular direction? Would it be upgradable? How would it apply our best findings regarding early learning, developmental theory, and creativity? Should it be high-tech? Networked? A product of the dominant politics of our technology industry, or in the face of the dangers this contains, should we best conceive of this as something abstract/conceptual or analogue? 

**I suggest that the conceptual and technological challenge of developing the specifications for a First Device for our young contains fundamental questions about the future of humanity’s relationship with technology and information politics. It touches on points of exploitation in the technology/mobile device industry as well as the toy industry, while it directly involves debates around parenting, and the future of education and schooling. It urgently highlights the fact that exploitation is the norm, that it is geared towards creating consumer mentalities and dependencies, and that it begins immediately, that it targets the beginning of life. The call to think about the First Device is a call of resistance to these conditions, a call to utopian thinking that takes place in the warm glow of encountering new human life. The First Device is an intuitive utopian challenge to produce outside of market logics, and combine the tenets of the free software movement with avant-garde learning theory and eco-art-education in particular.

*In effect the default First Device, at this time. is the mother’s/parents’ mobile phone whose relationship with it provides a powerful primary paradigm. Consider the effects of its use to “quickly look something up while breastfeeding”, or something she zones out to when she’s tired, as something children must often distract her from, in order to continue developing their communication skills, as something that parents must protect from children lest they cause damage to it.

*I am inspired by the fact that the most complex, and most beautiful input our babies seek, very intently, from early on –and is abundant, fertile and fragrant, under normal or natural conditions– is a mouthful of earth.

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