Related link: http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/schwartz0504.asp
A good “Hey Martha” from MIT’s Technology Review magazine
(the URL is above)
>pangyric on Inventors (such as MIT graduates, I suppose the theory is) and why they are Important (and should be given more prestige, budgets, etc.):
“Visual representations preoccupy Jacobsen to such an extent that he says he has virtually no recollection of nonvisual data, such as dates.”
My former bosses’ boss, Y. T. Lee also has strong visual ability: he said he only won
his Nobel Prize because his father was an artist.
His father had taught him to draw objects from any perspective, and it was this skill that enabled Lee to
draw the instruments needed for his experiments accurately enough that they could be built. He said that with computers now, anyone could make the technical drawings.
Of course, I am sure he was being modest; but his point
was that people (especially non-Westerners such as his
Taiwanese audience) should not be daunted by the brilliance of the West or others, but concentrate on working with their particular strengths to the best of their abilities.
I am hopeless at numbers too: usually I cannot remember more that 4 or five digits. Should I write myself off or fret if other, more numerate, friends get perplexed? Of course not. Fortunately, one or two digits are all that most of us really need in our daily lives :-)
But I have two nephews with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), so the issue of how we can give different people a seat at the table fascinates me. We really know very little: for example,
what user interfaces are good for people with AS?
If AS is just a “very
>male brain” (good with order and systems, not so good with figuring out other people, though note that the
theory does not say that a man should or will have a “male” brain and that a women should or will have a “female” brain )
what does this say about standard user interfaces:
do we need a range of different interaction types? Could this help explain why the link button and breadcrumb bar snuck into popularity: some people find “touch me if you want me” GUIs more congenial than “Subject Verb” interaction?
The Technology Review article is also interesting from another
point of view: if there is a correlation between
owning highly-cited patents that yield marketable products and outperforming the S&P 500, then does that mean that
the lion’s share of patents actually contribute little or nothing to their owners’ prospects? Furthermore, if citation is important to company performance and eventually to company valuation, how much disinterest can we ascribe to a magazine like MIT’s Technology Review, which frequently publicizes MIT technology and technologists?
Why do I
>cavil so? Well, the MIT Technology Review page says how
we need to spark the fire of invention, yet it ignores
the most prominant modern form of invention:
the collaborative, unpatented invention that
takes place in standards committees. SGML and its derivatives HTML and XML are prime examples; the world is awash with standards organizations inventing. The model (for software interfaces) nowadays is that while an individual may have Edison’s 1%
>inspiration it is
a group, often ultimately a standards working group,
that has the %99
>perspiration. While I don’t want to say
that the WWW is more important than exeskeletons for
>teleportation, collaborative invention by standards groups
should not be off-the-radar in an article about the
importance of inventors.
Indeed, perhaps the rise of the WWW will promote
collaborative, unpatented invention more, by empowering
dipsersed and fraternal perspirers to connect with
each other and with your self-sufficient, solitary visionaries.