I ask myself almost every day, as I’m innundated with needless financial and societal burdens I cannot shoulder, what obligations does society have back to me? I cannot think of any.
A weird one, I know, but it has struck a chord.
The death of expertise is a rejection not only of knowledge, but of the ways in which we gain knowledge and learn about things. Fundamentally, it’s a rejection of science and rationality, which are the foundations of Western civilization itself. Yes, I said “Western civilization”: that paternalistic, racist, ethnocentric approach to knowledge that created the nuclear bomb, the Edsel, and New Coke, but which also keeps diabetics alive, lands mammoth airliners in the dark, and writes documents like the Charter of the United Nations.
The Federalist: The Death of Expertise
About a year ago, I took a class that explored a number of issues related to this very topic, and I look forward to taking a similar class next year.
Quark’s demise is truly the stuff of legend. In fact, the story reads like the fall of any empire: failed battles, growing discontent among the overtaxed masses, hungry and energized foes, hubris, greed, and… uh, CMYK PDFs. What did QuarkXPress do—or fail to do—that saw its complete dominance of desktop publishing wither in less than a decade? In short, it didn’t listen.
ars technica: How QuarkXPress became a mere afterthought in publishing
Much of what happened to Quark and Microsoft is now happening with Adobe. I am increasingly seeing criticism of Adobe’s painfully high prices for questionable updates (primitive 3D objects in Photoshop? Why?). The difference this time, however, is that there is no alternative on the horizon. If I recall correctly, InDesign was rumored for quite a while before release. Even if InDesign ended up being vaporware, the enthusiasm was palpable but Quark appeared to simply not give a shit what anyone had to say; Quark’s hubris was just astounding. Today, Adobe has deaf ears if only because they have no compelling reason to listen.
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumble puppy.
onthepathofknowledge.wordpress.com: Amusing ourselves to death
Two of my favorite books together in one. It’s like a literary peanut butter cup. I haven’t read this book, but I am going to add it to my list based on this quote alone.
The carpenter understands the value of something he works with every day, and that’s why he spends so much money on the hammer. But he also understands that value is a double-edged sword: he’s committing to the product he knows, that is reliable.
Studies in Semicolons: The Parable of the Carpenter
Replacing the subject of the punchline with other tools in which I have invested makes this parable applicable to more areas than I care to think about. Interestingly enough, Microsoft Office is not one of them.
Another great one from the aforementioned site:
“If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?”
“When a wave comes, go deep.”
“I think I’m going to need an explanation for that one.”
“There’s three things you can do when life sends a wave at you. You can run from it, but then it’s going to catch up and knock you down. You can also fall back on your ego and try to stand your ground, but then it’s still going to clobber you. Or you can use it as an opportunity to go deep, and transform yourself to match the circumstances. And that’s how you get through the wave.”
Humans of New York.
“It’s amazing how little ability we have to shape the lives of our children. You do what you can, but their personalities are predominantly formed by the times they live in, their friends, and other influences. Parenting is sort of like pulling back the lever of a pinball machine, and just letting the ball fly.”
Humans of New York.
There is a lot of great stuff on this page to read, but that quote really struck me as being very true.1
- I would offer a direct link to the quote and accompanying photo, but it appears this is a tumblr blog, which is requiring I set up an account to do so. Um, no? Great job undermining the spirit of the WWW, guys. UPDATE: Whoops. It appears that if the quote is clicked the browser goes to a dedicated page. If the “REBLOG THIS” link is clicked, then tumblr kicks in. Still, that smacks me as being bad UI/UX. This being a tumblr site is not obvious to me as a non-user of tumblr. I now see the “+ Follow Me” button, but that looks like Facebook and I don’t use that enough to make my clicking it to be useful. But, that’s just me, I guess.⤴