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Culture Life & Philosophy

Still ignorant, not stupid

A lot of people get dumber after college. It’s not entirely their fault. A job takes up all their time. Besides spending time with family and friends and doing chores — getting on with the business of living — a lot of free time is spent on staring at lite brites for entertainment.

“We think we understand the rules when we become adults but what we really experience is a narrowing of the imagination.”

David Lynch, Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity

Experience makes us wiser but not smarter

As we age, we’re able to resolve practical matters with less effort. But therein lies a skewed perception.

We accidentally interpret how things usually go as facts rather than acknowledging that’ that’s how the world works now. Change is constant, the possibilities infinite.

An educated person should never stop learning. They should revel in their ignorance, not as an excuse to know less but as a means of staying interested in understanding more.

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Life & Philosophy

Seeking ignorance amid uncertainty

Curiosity is a powerful tool. It makes us question our surroundings and compels us to ask why things work the way they do. It kicks the mind into exploration.

But the addition of courage takes curiosity a step further; it tries to fill the void through hands-on experimentation. These small tests are fuel for failure in disguise as they convert ignorance into knowledge.

The greater challenge, therefore, is the audacity to continue guessing. Even when something gets discovered, it opens up a whole new can of ignorance.

It’s what I don’t know that stimulates me.

Toni Morrison, 1983

The learning never stops if the asking never stops. The more we know, the more we desire to know.

gif via Francis Amisola

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Life & Philosophy Tech

The loose gate of attention

Attention works like a loose gate. We can’t always control what information sneaks in, nor can we parse the data so it makes sense coming out.

We grind away at the information life throws at us, some of it tangible and worthwhile but most it nonsense.

Like a Google search, the stuff worth keeping is like finding a needle in a haystack. When we discover something of value, it sticks. We share the knowledge with others, recasting it as our own.

Yet, our minds remain terrible aggregators. Who’s in charge, the thinker or the thought?

It’s impossible to unhear and unsee things — conversations, teacher’s lessons, tweets — without getting sucked into the commercialization of attention. The public sphere promotes mindless chatter, so rationalization sinks to the bottom.

The race to become synchronized with the mainstream prevents the interrogation of ideas. The noisy flood of information buffers thought until finally, the chaos settles to the bottom. And pieces of clarity return, unstuck from the confident idiots.

Categories
Culture Productivity & Work

The design of the classroom from 1750 to today

The design of the classroom from 1750 to today
The design of the classroom from 1750 to today
The design of the classroom from 1750 to today
The design of the classroom from 1750 to today
The design of the classroom from 1750 to today
The design of the classroom from 1750 to today

The design of the classroom is a technology, and you can interpret that in a lot of different ways. Architects can make that look more, and less, typical. But the point is the instruction, the interaction in the classroom, not that it looks more like a circle or more like a square or whatever else.

The Design of Childhood: How the Material World Shapes Independent Kids by Alexandra Lange 

(via NPR)

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Culture Tech

Connecting tiny pieces of information

Connecting tiny pieces of information

The internet was made for aggregation. The abundance of information is impossible to swallow. So we pluck the highlights, the most useful stems.

If we gather all the data from our environment, we don’t have to do all the work. We puzzle it out ourselves.

Collecting artifacts online is a social experiment, a peer to peer network of bytes of genius. Unfortunately, knowledge can also be used to propagandize rather than do good. There are no limits to floating ideas that can become instantly contagious, like lighting a match.

But suppose cognitive bias does more to spread the plurality of ideas so we can make disparate connections, such as peanut butter and chocolate. The internet is more than just a copy-paste machine.

gif via US National Archives

Categories
Life & Philosophy

Prime the pump of knowlege

Curiosity doesn’t come out of nowhere. It is instilled through tidbits of knowledge. No kid’s going to pick up crayons and draw without first seeing how they’re used. #gif #creativity #art
via giphy

Curiosity doesn’t come out of nowhere. It is instilled through tidbits of knowledge. No kid’s going to pick up crayons and draw without first seeing how they’re used.

Humans need a range of information in order to prime the interested pump. After an initial introduction, the rest is up to them to follow up on gathering more artifacts.

Everything can be made more intriguing. It is within the hunt to know more, you discover. The seeker never leaves any ignorance unturned.

Categories
Creativity Culture

Take the information you need and throw it away

In order to be creative, we need curiosity first. #amwriting #gif

There it was, knocking at the door of imagination and begging us to take it for a walk.

The mistake we all make is assuming we have all the information we already need. After all, Google spits up all the answers.

But just because every grade school has an art class doesn’t ensure that the students will be creative.

In order to be creative, we need curiosity first.

When we’re not chasing absolutes, grades, or even the pennies, raw interest accumulates on behalf of what’s alien.

gif via hellotrythis

Categories
Creativity Tech

This professor describes the future educated person

Dear digital denizens, please rest easy.

That so-called ‘internet addiction’ you have is an evolution of what humans have been doing along — curating, collecting, and sharing. We just do it with more often with the assistance of our screens.

According to professor Kenneth Goldsmith at the University of Pennsylvania, “an educated person in the future will be a curious person who collects better artifacts. The ability to call up and use facts is the new education. How to tap them, how to use them.”

Professor Goldsmith named his course “Wasting Time on the Internet”– an incentive that gets his students to sign up. However, it has the opposite effect. Instead of screen-staring, his students are more likely to create and collaborate.

“They became more creative with each other. They say we’re less social; I think people on the web are being social all the time. They say we’re not reading; I think we’re reading all the time, just online.”

The web is the world’s biggest copy-paste machine. On top of this, Google is our second brain. The fear is that humans will lose their ability to think. However, what happens instead is that we allow more ideas to have sex. Remixing ideas is what Maria Popova of Brainpickings often refers to as “combinatorial creativity.”

“When a D.J. brings a laptop full of music samples to a club he doesn’t play an instrument, but we don’t argue that he isn’t doing something creative in mixing those sounds to create his own effect. In the online world the only thing you’re the master of is your collection, your archive, and how you use it, how you remix it. We become digital archivists, collecting and cataloging things. I find it exciting.”

It turns out that wasting time on the Internet could be productive rather than harmful. To think the Internet also means the end of books and face to face communication is also an exaggeration. Of course, like any tool, it depends on what you are using the Internet for — playing games is not the same as sharing research and new ideas.

What’s your opinion on learning in the Internet age? Tweet at me.