Yes, the constant arrival of information packets can be distracting or addictive, especially to people with attention deficit disorder. But distraction is not a new phenomenon. The solution is not to bemoan technology but to develop strategies of self-control, as we do with every other temptation in life.
In my conversation during the 20/20 Symposium with Matt Crowley, who works in the Manufacturing Design department at Apple, I was most interested in how he echoed Steve Job’s sentiments that technology alone wasn’t enough.
When introducing the iPad 2 Steve Job’s said, “It is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough—it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.” He seemed to being saying the best ideas and most innovative products emerge from the intersection of technology and the humanities.
When I asked Matt in what capacity the liberal arts and humanities have impacted his role as a designer, he said that it’s been essential. From his experience, you can’t design technology for people unless you understand the unique culture and history of the people you are designing something for. One needs to start out taking an anthropological approach by asking questions and observing. An anthropological perspective, combined with training in the humanities, create a synergy that isn’t possible by technological training alone.
With all the talk about the importance coding, and the decline in the arts and humanities majors, it seems vital to reiterate that one of the most iconic technology companies is a result of the convergence of technology and art. So, are there merits to learning coding? Absolutely. But your coding will be taken to new heights if it’s immersed in art history, literature, philosophy and performing arts.
A recent New York Times article provides a good overview of how flipped teaching can, if given the right framework, provide the conditions for developing mastery. The crux of the approach can be distilled down to this pedagogical switch, “In traditional schooling, time is a constant and understanding is a variable…But there is another way to look at schooling — through the lens of a method called “mastery learning,” in which the student’s understanding of a subject is a constant and time is a variable.”
The Fourth Amendment of the Bill Rights has traditionally been Americans’ constitutional protection against government spying, but, as an recent NPR article revealed, “since the 1960s and 1970s, the Supreme Court and other courts have issued a series of rulings declaring that the government does not need a search warrant to obtain your personal documents if you have already shared them with somebody else. For instance, since you allow your bank and credit card company to know what you buy, and since you let your phone company know whom you call, you can’t claim that information is private. It’s the legal version of the lesson you learned when you were 12 years old: If you don’t want everyone else to read your diary, then don’t show it to anybody.”