“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
This is actually the close to a recent article (“Tech community, are we MTV or TED?”) written by Francisco Dao and published in the Innovations section of The Washington Post. Being a literary kind of guy, I am often tempted to begin with a quote when discussing matters of import. So since this is my blog, that’s how we’re gonna roll.
I like to keep up with technology – if only for the reason that one must pay minimal attention if one is interested in making a simple (simple?) phone call these days. And while I’m not particularly interested in why “so many great developers spending their time trying to create products specifically designed to addict and help us waste our time?” or “whether members of the technology community have lost the ambition to build lasting companies that contribute to productivity instead of another “flavor of the month” social media application” I am aware of how this postulation speaks to the present human condition.
Dao makes the point that the basic business model “seems to be: Get a TechCrunch writeup, make a lot of noise, cash out quickly and maybe linger on as a pseudo tech celebrity.”
I see it as pretty much the model for success in the world today. Too simplistic? Perhaps. It bothers me, however, that fast-food “reality” TV is seemingly taking over the air waves; that there is no space program anymore; that news is really not news; that the number of kids graduating from college with zero background in critical thinking and expectations of a wide open job market is legion; that this country doesn’t really “make” anything anymore (except noise); that…OK, I’m ranting a little.
Dao encourages our technical community to take a second look at our perceptions of ourselves as exception and deserving of the mantle of intellectual superiority.” He further issues a challenge to “think more independently, to question our aspirations and to reexamine our heroes.” Bottom line: He concludes that the “current bubble we face isn’t driven by valuation or funding but by our acceptance of mediocrity.”
I think the hero thing is key. The world is not an easy place to live in right now. Well, Duuuhhh. Question your choice of heroes – and look for the ones that do more than make noise or make waves or make the scene. Look for the ones that actually make a sacrifice, make a difference, take a stand. Don’t be fooled by the social proof saviours or the weeping platitude brokers or the down-with-reason ragers.
Embrace reason. Substance. Sustainability. And HEROIC vision.