The Emperor’s New Tablet Computer by @ideas_factory

A cautionary tale from Julian S Wood

Once upon a time there lived a vain Emperor whose only worry in life was to impress his subjects with the extraordinary quality of his use of Technology. He spent thousands on the latest laptops and gadgets. The Emperor developed new ways to demonstrate his computers almost every day and loved to show them off to his people.

But as the years passed the Emperor’s coffers began to dry up. His beloved computers became slower and their vast memory became full. The vain Emperor became frustrated with his computers lack of speed and his lack of money.

This article was originally published in the January 2016 Edition of our UKEdMagazine

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Word of the Emperor’s frustration spread over his kingdom and beyond. Two scoundrels, named Jonny and Bill, who had heard of the Emperor’s vanity, decided to take advantage of it. They introduced themselves at the gates of the palace with a scheme in mind.

“We are two very good technology sellers and after many years of searching we have found an extraordinary method of computing that is so advanced and automated in its design that it almost completely eliminates the need for any serious creative effort on your part, thus allowing you to use technology in more amazing ways than ever before. As a matter of fact, this hardware is so good that most of what it does will appear invisible to anyone who is too stupid and incompetent to appreciate its great quality.”

The chief of the guards heard the scoundrels’ strange story and sent for the court chamberlain. The chamberlain notified the prime minister, who ran to the Emperor and disclosed the incredible news. The Emperor’s curiosity got the better of him and he decided to see the two scoundrels.

“As you are at the forefront of technological knowledge, you will, no doubt, have heard of the tablet computer, your Highness.” The Emperor nodded, for he had heard of these mystical devices, but had yet to see them for himself.

“We sell such a device, it contains a camera, a video camera, a web browser and you have access to thousands of apps – just by having the tablet computer in your hand everyone will marvel at your scientific knowledge, your subjects will be amazed by its benefits and you will look like the most technological genius in the entire world! As a matter of fact, this hardware is so good that most of what it does will appear invisible to anyone who is too stupid and incompetent to appreciate its great quality. For a bag of gold coins we will agree to sell all 30 of them to you.”

The Emperor couldn’t believe his great luck and believed every word the two scoundrels had said. In fact he was so convinced that the tablet would solve all his woes that he failed to ask quite a few very important questions.

The Emperor gave the two men a bag of gold coins in exchange for 30 tablets to use in all of his many residences and offices.

The Emperor switched the tablet on, although he didn’t have WIFI and he couldn’t connect to the internet, he didn’t know how to download apps and he couldn’t understand the camera either, but he believed what Jonny and Bill said and felt that just by holding the tablet he was a technological genius.

He called the Prime Minister in for a preview and showed him the tablet. “See Prime Minister look what a genius I am. Look at the wonderful things that are happening around me now I am holding this tablet computer!”

“That’s strange, ” thought the PM. “All I can see is a home screen and nothing else. Where is the innovative use of technology that made the Emperor so famous?”

But before querying this with the Emperor, he thought again: “If all I see is a home screen, then that means I’m stupid! Or, worse, incompetent!” If the prime minister admitted that he couldn’t see a thing, he would be discharged from his office.”

What a marvellous use of technology, Emperor,” he lied. “So amazing, it makes you look like a genius.” Encouraged by this positive response, the Emperor set about giving his new tablet computer to all Government departments and soon almost all the government’s time was spent trying to work out how to use the Emperor’s new tablet computer’s to do all their work too.

No-one could criticise the Emperor’s use of the tablet or ask for help without being accused of stupidity and risking their job. Soon most of the Government departments came to a complete standstill trying to work out how to use the tablet computers to do their work for them.

One day, a schoolchild on a work experience scheme was invited to sit in on one of the Emperor’s presentations. Bored silly by staring at the home screen and nothing else happening, aware that most of the audience was losing consciousness, he couldn’t help but remark to those around him: “Eh! He’s just showing the home screen! He has no idea how to use this tablet, in fact there isn’t even any WIFI!”

“Fool!” his supervisor snapped. “Don’t talk nonsense!” He grabbed the child and took him away. But the boy’s remark, which had been heard by practically everyone except, luckily, the Emperor, who was too busy marvelling at the home screen, was repeated over and over again until everyone cried: “He’s right, you know, he’s just showing the home screen! He has no idea how to use this tablet, in fact there isn’t even any WIFI! And you know what?

They were right.

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