Supplementary Texts

These are texts that may be valuable to guide and to cite in course writings, in future papers, and in your dissertation. Some texts are academic, others are popular. Some are very new and others are modern classics. The science fiction books are written by today's H.G. Wells; they capture the spirit and vision of the present and near future even before it is invented. The science fiction books are valuable to help you imagine the possible ways today's technology will change our culture in profound ways, sometimes beautiful and sometimes frightening.

Vision: Futurism and Science

The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology
Ray Kurzweil, 2005
Penguin, 2006
672 pages

Ray Kurzweil has so many patents, awards and publications to his name that he is a legend in the technology and computer science world. Specifically, his field is the pattern recognition branch of artificial intelligence. He is best know now for his attempts to project current trends into the future and to seriously plan to thrive in that future. Bill Gates calls Kurzweil “the best person I know at predicting the future of artifical intelligence.” This is the best introduction to the emerging transformational GNR disciplines: genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics.

Vision: Science Fiction

Little Brother
Cory Doctorow, 2008
Tor Teen
384 pages (but they are "fast" pages)

Written for a teen-age audience, this book pulls no punches about school security (and every other kind of security). It deals with contemporary issues of privacy, censorship, abuse of power, teen hacking, surveillance, and other issues that concerm teens and adults who care about them. It was a number one best selling teen book in the "mystery" and "computer" categories. Many adults I've recommended it to have felt the impact and have recommended it to teens. One reviewer calls it a life-changing book. The book is also available as a free download in any one of 22 file formats (including pdf) at:

For the Win
Cory Doctorow, 2010
Tor Teen
480 pages (but they are "fast" pages)

Written for a teen-age audience, explores the underside of the global online game industry. It deals with contemporary issues of gaming and game teams, abuse of power, teen hacking, massively organized online activities, and other issues that concerm teens (and the adults who care about them). It is a high-tech adventure set across several nations in the very near future. Only one of the main characters is over 17 (he's no more than 25). Get inside the teen tech mind to see what can go, for better and for worse, with our technolgies today (note: school is not a part of this book just as teen gaming is not a part of school.) The book is also available as a free download in any file format (including pdf) at:

The Diamond Age, or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer
Neal Stepehnson, 1995
Bantam Spectra Paperback, 2000
512 pages

This may be the best example of a strong vision of good education in the future. Stephenson paints a picture of technology- mediated learning that is continually tailored to a little girl's needs as she grows. The learning system is aware of her environment and state-of-mind and intelligently guides her as a wise and entertaining tutor. It's an amazing vision that takes place in a world suffused with nanotechnology, intrigue and grand adventure. A Hugo Award winner for best novel. His last four novels made the New York Times Best Sellers List.

William Gibson, 1984
Ace, 1984
288 pages

This book defined the World Wide Web in people's imagination long before the Web was invented. William Gibson coined the term cyberspace in this seminal science fiction novel. This is the first novel to win the triple crown awards of science fiction: the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and the Philip K. Dick Award.

Snow Crash
Neal Stepehnson, 1992
Bantam Spectra Paperback, 2000
420 pages

This novel gave us a vision of the metaverse, a shared, immersive, virtual environment in which part of life was lived, business was transacted and crimes were committed. It defined environments like Second Life long before their founders imagined them. Another must-read science fiction novel that helps to define our present and near future.

Rainbow's End: A Novel With One Foot in the Future
Vernor Vinge
Tor Books, 2006
368 pages

Set in the year 2025 in San Diego, the book explores how technology may deeply impact every phase of everyday life. Building on today's paradigm of portable devices, wireless access, and instant messaging, Vinge shows us what our own future may hold. Education is plays an important, but secondary role to the dazzling, life-experience-changing technology. The characters are fun, too! Here's a free, online short story, Synthetic Serendipity which evolved into one chapter of Rainbow's End.

About Sci-Fi Recommendations

The texts on these pages cover a broad range of topics that may be relevant to your interests and topics. Not all texts speak to all readers. Academically, you may find references that provide a historical context for a paper or study. You may also find sources that suggest future scenarios and approaches in education and technology. Each of these books are significant works. Some are classics, some are new, thousands of people have found them to be unforgettable.

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