Does Everyone Need to Understand Technology? You be the Judge

Wi-Fi Alliance logoImage via WikipediaWe don't just need tech geeks who understand technology we need doctors, lawyers, lawmakers, teachers, workers, and my goodness we need judges.

Update on July 5: I have a backchannel conversation going on with a lawyer who is helping me understand the nuances of what this judge has written. I still admit that I don't understand how radio is not radio, but what I'm learning is that the original law is written in such a way that it did not even consider that wi-fi could emerge and now we're stuck with archaic laws and trying to make modern technology work through. My intent was not to demean this particular judge or this profession. My favorite uncle is a lawyer.

A judge has just segmented radio communications in a way that has many in technology circles scratching their heads. According to the Technology & Law marketing Blog:

  This case is a fairly typical “technological convergence” case where we try to interpret technological terms in a statute in light of unanticipated technological evolution. Congress couldn't conceive of private WiFi back in 1986, so the statute doesn't fit the technology very well. Personally, in light of modern sensibilities, I think “radio” most naturally means the entire wireless spectrum. Judge Ware saw it differently and found reasons to separate out pieces of the spectrum for differential statutory application. I could see other judges reading the term more broadly on appeal.

This reminds me of when someone spoofed my email and sent over 100,000 email messages to people in my state saying “come see me here nude” (trying to defame me) back in 1996 and no one would do anything because no one understood what I was talking about. We need people of all professions to understand and work with technology.

The bottom line is that we now have laws written some time a go and judges who have to struggle with the technology to interpret those laws and we're coming up with pretty convoluted, hard to understand things that go against common sense.

How do we update? I think it starts with us as educators.We have to make sure our students understand technology so that they can go on to be lawmakers, lawyers, judges, teachers, and all professions who can help us upgrade our world (including the laws that govern us.)

Do your students understand?

The question for you as an educator is: if a student graduated from your high school would they understand what wi-fi is and how it works?

If they graduated from your college would they know this?

One who does not understand technology increasingly looks uneducated no matter their field. This includes education, my friends.

This is increasingly important if for nothing else, the nature of the blogerati who by-nature are techno-literate,  cover non technology fields like law or politics and a person makes an obvious technology bumble, they are all over it like flies on yesterday's watermelon rind.

Those who have labeled such things “geek” and put them in a box that shall only be opened by those social misfits who dare not show their face at Friday night's football game- are doing their schools, families, and friends a disservice. It is time to stop talking “geek” and just talk about things we need to know. We didn't call a person who liked to fix cars a geek when that revolution happened. They were welcomed as people who brought benefit to us all.

We also need to have people who don't think they know everything and can look for more information when they are lacking. While talking to my husband about this in the car, he said,

“A truly educated person is one who recognizes his limitations and knows when to go find answers.”


Time to stop labeling and start learning. Technology is here to stay and just going faster. It isn't that hard to understand if you take the time to look past the jargon and know that this is understandable even though it is invisible.

Update: I rarely edit posts, however, when I do I let you know. I have been talking to someone who feels that I disrespected the judge in this case in a way that was demeaning and that I did not have a full grasp on the issue. First of all, I admit that this case is a bit more confusing that it seemed to be initially from my reading. However, I also want to point out that others are much more harsh than I was on this case.

That being said, it is important that all people are treated with respect. I do think this judge spent hours and is trying to do a good job. He is working with an antiquated law. Does it mean that the law is to blame or the judge or anyone? I was once in a wreck where a lady hit me because she was playing with her poodle. My car was damaged even though it wasn't my fault. I do think that this could be one of those lose-lose circumstances. Judge Ware may be right as rain but the original law stinks and thus his interpretation which may be truer to justice still smacks of a misunderstanding of radio.

The most important thing is that I choose to be respectful here. I'm not perfect nor will I ever be. If I make a mistake, I'll work hard to correct it. I cannot guarantee that I'll agree with you nor you with me but we can disagree in a way that brings honor to the human race.

I've edited, but the point still stands: we all need to understand technology. We are living in a society that is having a struggle transitioning to a digital world and we all need to know not only how technology works but how to treat people in a respectful manner.  

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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