2007/12/05

Geek Breakfast

Had breakfast today with three interesting geeks.

With as much as these guys do with computers and the internet and high tech stuff, one would tend to think they were computer science majors in college, or at least some type of science, math or engineering field.

Not the case. One was a music major. One did philosophy and art. The other was in performing arts.

That says a lot about where high tech, and technology in general, is going. No longer is "tech" the sole domain of STEM people (science, technology, engineering, math). Tech is something that more and more is just a part of everyday life.

Take a survey of people you know who are under 25 years old. Ask how many have a land line telephone. Ask them whether they spend more time reading their news on paper or from a computer screen. Ask them if they use the printed phonebook yellow pages to find a local business. Find out whether they get all their music on CD at the local music store. Cell phones and portable music players are transitioning from being technology items to being fashion accessories or just part of a person's wardrobe.

It's interesting to see the impact of non-STEM people on the technology world. The emphasis in some cases is shifting from how many features can we give something to how can we design it so people are more likely to use all the features. How can we design websites so people can easily find all the information that's on the website. How should we shape technology so everyone can and will use it, instead of just the geeks who know how to write the software and build the hardware.

This isn't to say it's not important to have hard-core geeks who understand coding and advancing new technological discoveries and standing on the shoulders of giants. We still need to figure out how to build things one atom at a time. But as we learn how to connect 26 atoms to make molecules, and connect 200 molecules to build larger parts and use 3D printers to make objects we can hold in our hands and use, we also need to have philosophy, art, music and performing arts people involved to make sure that those atoms, molecules and objects are worthwhile and useful to society. We should make those objects because people want them, because someone will buy them, and because they make the world a better place, not just because we can make them...

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