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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Actions speak louder than words

13 March 2019

I've written a few columns about the (apparent) decline in geekiness and the sad way people seem to be uninterested in the technology that powers the world around us.

We have STEM/STEAM programs that are out there trying to excite young folks but I haven't seen much that is focused at older groups. Perhaps we expect that once you reach a certain age "you'll go find this stuff out for yourself"?

Well I'm wondering if it might be worthwhile creating some online material with a view to exciting and incentivising people to take a closer look at the tech they use and to gather at least a little understanding of what's going on under the covers of their favourite devices.

Yeah... I'm tired of talking about what we could do or should do to "brighten up" the average kid or man in the street. I think it's about time I actually started DOING something to make a positive difference.

As people who probably have a better understanding of tech than most folk, I'd really love to hear from Aardvark's readers as to what you think would be a good way to go about this.

On my YouTube channels I've done a bit of "Electronics 101" type stuff but this has been kind of ad-hoc and doesn't follow any rhythm or schedule. That's not particularly conducive to engagement with the general populace -- so I'm thinking of something different.

I'm contemplating making some videos (with higher than usual production values) in which I'll take an every-day piece of technology and strip it back to its basic elements for the purposes of explaining how it works.

Maybe it'll be something as simple as an electric kettle -- maybe it'll be something as complex as a smartphone.

Each video will look at what the device does and how it does it. I'll also focus on how knowing more about the workings of the device might give people a better user-experience or allow them to make more effective use of it. There's also the opportunity to include a few quick reviews of such products, comparing the different ways manufacturers have approached the problems involved in creating cost-effective, functional products.

Through these videos I'm hoping that not only can I educate people on a wide range of science and engineering subjects but also do it in a way that piques their curiosity and allows them to see that this stuff doesn't have to be boring at all.

Yeah, it's a pretty lofty goal but educating people and trying to make them interested in the world around them is a process I find intensely interesting and rewarding so, even if nobody else found this stuff to be any good, at least I'd have had a jolly good time.

The goal would be to turn this stuff into something that fascinates, a bit like the Connections TV series, a program that many people found so engaging that it was almost addictive -- even if you weren't really a science/tech geek.

Right now this is just at concept-stage so if you (dear reader) have any ideas at all which you think could help solidify that concept or contribute to its direction, please wade in (boots and all) with your input.

Am I going to be completely wasting my time -- or might this be one real-world, practical strategy for getting at least a very tiny group of people a little more excited about the tech they use every day?

Would it be possible to make a series of videos that are entertaining enough to be watched by those who might not even be interested in the goals of this project -- but who, as a side-effect of being entertained, might just learn something and perhaps even find that the fires of curiosity have been ignited within them?

Yay or Nay... let me know what you think. Is it time to actually get off my fat chuff and *do* something rather than just stand around complaining about the status-quo?

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