Monday, November 30, 2009

Population and Technology

In 1810, the population of the United States was just north of 7 million.

In 1910, the population of the United States was just shy of 100 million.

In 2010, the population of the United States will be greater than 300 million.

In 1810, the population of the United States per square mile was 4.3.

In 1910, the population of the United States per square mile was 26.

In 2010, the population of the United States per square mile will be at least 80.

Let's put this all into a little perspective.

There are over 270 million cellphones in use in the United States. That's almost double the number of land lines.

Now, if the average cellphone is 4 inches long, then if we set all those 270 million cellphones lying in a straight line, they'd measure out at 1,080,000,000 inches or 27,432 kilometers. That's more than half the circumference of the Earth at the equator.

And that's just the cellphones in the US. There's another 634 million in China. And 427 million in India. And Germany, Japan, Indonesia, Brazil, and Russia sport numbers well above 100 million each.

As for the Internet, there are 231 million users in the US (on a good day).

In other words, there are more than double as many folks online in the US today as there were people in the US a hundred years ago.

Now I know that these sorts of stats get cited and bandied about all the time; yet no matter how often I look at them they nonetheless give me shivers.

Because 2110 is gonna make 2010 look like 1910. And we've already produced children who will live to see that day.

What are we preparing them for?


The numbers for 1810 and 1910 come from the 1990 Census of Population and Housing, "1990 Population and Housing Unit Counts: United States", (CPH-2).


  1. Thanks for the link to the US Census bureau information. I've already passed it on to our American History teachers, and they've decided to create — create! I love it! — a unit together explaining the westward expansion in terms of census numbers. I'm so excited.

  2. I’m a newbie blogger. And I love what I’m learning right now following blogs like yours. Thank you. I’m experiencing a wild learning curve around technology and how to integrate it into my classroom. And I agree that education has to change and embrace collaborative learning through technology. I’m on board!

    But a question like “What are we preparing them for?” still stops me in my tracks. I thought all this technology discussion was about ‘how’ to prepare them. I know what I am preparing them for and it hasn’t changed for over 20 years.

    I’m preparing them to think for themselves. I want my students to question everything, especially their own actions. I want them to celebrate diversity and respect difference. I want them to be responsible for their own actions and how their actions have global effects. I want them to care for the earth and their fellow living beings. I try to prepare them to act when they see or hear injustice.

    The technology I’m avidly learning right now will definitely make my goal easier to achieve and I think more relevant and more interesting for students. These are great things! But I’ve known some amazing teachers who have achieved these goals with very little technology. Technology alone is not going to make our world a better place.

  3. It's a fact that more people watch television and get their information that way than read books. I find new technology and new ways of communication very exciting and would like to do more in this field.

    dsi r4


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