A friend and former colleague posted the meme above, and I found it funny, but also disturbing. “Put down your phone and learn something” could only be said by someone my age or older. It posits a false dichotomy, living as we do in a time when one can much more easily pick up one’s phone and learn something.
But Pokemon Go does seem like it could translate naturally into a taxonomy app, or a birdwatching app, or a scavenger hunt app, or an architectural sites of the world app. Apps and perhaps even games, focusing less on interacting with imaginary characters visible only on your phone, and more on spotting what is present in the world around you, sharing it, and tagging it, in ways that are collaborative and both earn you points and connect you with people.
And what would happen if there were extra points to be earned in Pokemon Go if you actually notice what is written on the inscription at the base of a statue, and not only the Pokemon hiding behind it? Or what would happen if some special Pokemon could be set free to wander about a children’s hospital by the staff, but only after the person who came looking for them took time to read to a patient or volunteer in some other way?
How do we get more people to pick up their phones and learn something?