Then What character sketches

characters, references, and character references


Meet the cast of Then What?

What a bunch of characters

So, what's the point of the Digital Age? Thanks to digital technology, everyone gets to tell their story. Not just everyone who owns a TV station or a printing press or a radio transmitter. Everyone. And thanks to the Internet, there is an international stage to play them on. The era of the ubiquitous electronic soap box has arrived.

Digital technology also lets everyone tell their story in their own way: with words, music, video, sounds, pictures...whatever. The communication collage is the new international and interpersonal language. Multiple intelligences are not just pedagogical pathways for students and educators - they are the communication channels of the real world.

So, I decided to write a story - a novel - rather than another tome. Tomes are those things that university professors write so they can go to cocktail parties and say, "Hey, I saw your book." Stories, on the other hand, actually have a chance of being read and remembered. They engage us emotionally as well as intellectually, and stick to our psychic ribs long after the story is over. May Then What? stick to yours.

Above all, Then What? is a story about (and is dedicated to) teachers who change lives. During the story, the hero, William Tell, meets six teachers, each of whom changes his life in profound and often fun ways. This site provides character descriptions of each of them. Without further adieu, let's meet the cast.

William Tell

Not that William Tell

Protagonist, antagonist, and just plain agonist...a victim of premature angst and over-achieving educational gurus... he became everything every pundit said our kids should become: a self-motivated lifelong learner, a technologically savvy creative problem solver, and a competitive team player who ignored his inner voice in order to justify everything in terms of the bottom line...

At the tender age of 16 William entered the "real world of work and learning" as a network engineer at a Fortune 500 company, forsaking formal schooling and becoming another escapee from normal life and traditional education...

It all sounded great, but as the story of Then What? opens, we meet William at 22 years old, angry his youth was sacrificed to a cause he did not understand, and disappointed he was forever typecast as a "techie" when what he really wanted to be was a "teachie"...School was all about "school to work" but what he wanted was "school to heart"...The story of Then What? is the story of his struggle to leave the data farm and enter the city of real learning, real teaching, real connectivity...

Says William: "Time may be money but they differ in one important aspect: you can always make more money, but you can't make more time..."

Says William: "How come you never see the headline, PSYCHIC WINS LOTTERY?"


Rhymes with "Speedo" or "PlayDough" depending on where you live

William Tell's main mentor, a wealthy mendicant who is fulfilled but needy, who is smelly but has a nose for wisdom... he guides William through a spiritual journey, teaching him the lessons of life using technology as a metaphor...Credo understands McLuhan better than anyone, and lets everyone know it...

Credo is half human, half magic. He can slow down time, stop it altogether, and let William run through possible realities that might have happened had he changed one, seemingly insignificant decision somewhere along the way (e.g., Hellmans or Miracle whip?). He helps William answer the question -- "Then What?" and prepare for the "Big Day" when he meets "The Committee"...

Says Credo: "Beware of pain you get used to..."

Says Credo "Life is school house earth. Class is always in session and the only way to get a passing grade is to die without regret..."

Mr. Big

Big hat, big smile, really big ideas

The exalted one who sees the very big picture from his flying lawn chair while sipping on a cool drink... he understands that technology creates two people out of each of us: the far-sighted philosopher who sits on the great ledge of objectivity and the near-sighted philosophee who lives in the here-and-now of immediate pain and pleasure... According to Mr. Big, free will is the clay from which we mold ourselves, therefore a good attitude is everyone's best insurance for a good life...He shows William how to live in the great rolling present that connects the past and future and develop helps William develop his peripheral vision, without which he will be able to see only the trees and miss the entire forest...It is Mr. Big's job to make sure that William sees both people and humanity...

Says Mr. Big: "All technology is an amplifier...and what happens when you give a bad guitar player a bigger amplifier? Ouch!"

Says Mr. Big: "Technology -- we love to hate it, and hate to love it. It splits us right down the middle, makes two people out of each one of us, and then pits one against the other. 'Stinks, doesn't it? You'd swear it was a design flaw in nature, like the fact that everything we like to eat is bad for us...I mean, whose idea was THAT?"


Maybe she's a gal, maybe she's a him...

The digitally altered, androgenous personality on the other side of the digital looking glass whom William experiences only through his computer screen...Kim Dayly is a Ph.D., a researcher, pollster, and probabilogist. She is a number dancer who correlates statistics and intuition.

She is also a heavily processed persona who possesses a voice that massages the info-overloaded soul and sprinkles screen-weary eyes with pixel magic...She challenges William to grow up, find his own strength and inner wisdom, and to start looking within himself for the cause of his problems. And love...she teaches William about love...

Says Kim: "We'd die without our filters, don't you think? After all, what's makeup, or a fancy haircut, or an inflated sense of self-importance? They're all filters...don't you think?"

Says Kim: "According to my research, fully 82% of relationships that lasted more than 20 years (in which respondents said they were still happy and still loved their partner) cited friendship as the number one factor contributing to their longevity. The other 18% cited things like separate vacations, sharing the same computer platform, and the fact that it never occurred to them to be unhappy..."

Edwina Tech

Ed Tech - she teaches William how to teach

A master teacher and empath extraordinaire...she is a life-long learner, an optimist by nature, and a stickler for correct grammar...She is the voice of decency, guilt, and enlightened grandmotherliness...And she reminds William of his 2nd grade teacher who taught him how to love spelling, dinosaurs, and life...

Edwina Tech is a universal foot soldier in the war against mediocrity in education who teaches William how to become a real teacher, how to fall in love with his students' learning rather than with his teaching, and how to move others from ignorance to knowledge while having loads of fun in the process...

Says Ms. Tech: "The science of teaching is knowing a number of different teaching methodologies. The art is knowing when to use which..."

Says Ms. Tech: "If you don't love learning yourself, then please, do the students of the world a favor: don't teach."

Willamina "Billy" Pulpit

The high priestess of the Grand Church of Networking

The woman with the plan who thunders as she speaks...she is the great networker who makes the connections among us all -- between heaven and earth, between mind and heart, between the typies who run the computers and techies who make the computers run... Despite her psychic firepower and multi-dimensional intuition, Willamina Pulpit has the common sense to create any cathedral of the mind that you will relate to just to get you to "go to church," in the very largest and deepest sense of the phrase...She hears the yearnings of the data class, and believes from the very depths of her soul that networking can unite the planet and save the human race from being a victim of its own ethnocentricism and spiritual myopia...

Sayeth Rev. Pulpit: "Whatever you believe, that's who you are..."

Sayeth Rev. Pulpit: "Whatever deity runs spaceship earth is at least as large as all of us, plays no favorites, and wishes no part of creation any harm...praise be to networking and the good it can do!"


Insight plus a whole lot of attitude

Art has a problem...YOU and all yer freakin' technology! ...he is a disturbing lie through which we see the truth, an early warning system, and a beacon of perception that pierces the fog of an uncertain future to help us see what lies ahead...Above all, Art is just a royal pain in the keister. Talk about attitude -- geesh!

It is his job to deconstruct the technological world and reconstruct it as a mirror in which we see our techological cleverness for what it is: a shallow attempt to hide from spiritual truth and our own lack of community. He is irrascible, in your face, unrelenting, and will never forgive the world for forcing him to forgo the simple paintbrush and easel he loves for the "digibunk and data schlock" art tools of his day......but kids love him.

Says Art: "Either we use the technology to make art, or the technology will make art out of us..."

Says Art: "Catch 77: Do it just because you can whether you need to or not. God, I hate technology..."