Alex, I have to disagree with you on this one. The form of handwriting, for example, has evolved over time. Personally I find using the computer, for writing and drawing, more effective. It is easier to put thoughts down and to work with those thoughts. Learning to write, with pen (pencil) and paper is not difficult. If you took someone who grew up typing and forced them to learn to write, it would not be a problem.
Now, my background includes taking all the drawing classes in high school and then finishing with pre-engineering. My brother did the same, but went the architecture route (and is now a professional architect). Fortunately, I learned to do some programming in that pre-engineering class. When I got to university, I was doing some statistical analyses, including the graphs, by hand. It took me a week. This went well, but the professor pointed out that the next time there would be at least one order of magnitude more data. I got to learn real programming skills which helped me with my career. I got to do many very interesting things.
Now, my father, who had the title Engineering Technician at a government electronics lab, started out as a draftsman. His handwriting was beautiful. Even later in life when we got him and electric pencil, so that he could write on metal, it was beautiful. Even he learned over time that the computer was needed to make progress.
I see in my sons the ability to do both. The younger one, who is a senior in high school, is taking AP Computer Science (mainly Java programming). He also works with 3D CAD software. This is a tool that really gives him a heads up on the skills he will need in University and work. He is very creative.
I believe tools like computers, software, paper and pencil allow us to capture creative ideas. Creativity, to me, is an activity where imagination is inspired by the world and using various media one can express it. Some individuals are not inspire, therefore lacking creativity. I remember taking a Creativity class at Chrysler to help find new automotive solutions using out of the box techniques for creative problem solving. The tools I mentioned previously allow us to extend our imagination rapidly and to explore them in a new creative ways.
This is a great topic and one that preoccupies my thoughts often. I recently had a girls' night out with my daughter and we went to a local paint studio. The idea is to choose something you would want to paint. You are supplied canvas, paints, and helpful tips by wandering instructors while you sip on a glass of wine (my daughter is legal drinking age) and create with reckless abandon (the catch phrase of the studio). By the end of 2-3 hours you have an artistic creation that you can take home with you. I never knew I could have so much fun behind a paintbrush. We were urged to experiment and try out our ideas (if you don't like it - you can simply paint over it). I also discovered wells of creativity that I didn't know existed...
The other day I saw an advertisement for a paint app that came with a brush that you could use on the surface of your tablet. No muss, no fuss, and in comparison to the real thing...no fun. I think in some ways, technology does restrict creativity and limits our imaginations to a computer screen - and that is a shame. You can't feel the textures of the paint as you blow it dry with a hair dryer or recreate strokes using multiple brush sizes in your hand as you search for just the right effect. Selecting brush tips on the computer screen doesn't compare.
I have used photoshop for years and illustrator as well - I understand and appreciate the use of technology in media arts - but sometimes you just gotta get messy!
It's nice hear how creating without the use of technology still exists. I still use a notebook to capture ideas for embedded designs and electronic projects by writing text and hand-drawn pictures. The idea of using pencil to paper allows me to truly be connected with my thoughts and I can be as creative with these tools as well. The best creative ideas have been captured by doodling on the back of a napkin.
The use of a computer is both liberating and restrictive, as far as recording what our creativity produces. On the one side, cad programs allow me to create some design and be certain that the dimensions are in a close to correct proportion. (That is important for me as my freehand sketching does not usually have good proportioning.) But on the other side I find that many writing programs are limited inn what they provide, seeming to ask "why would you do that" on a lot of occasions. The more powerful the word processor the worse that seems to be, with "Word" being the worst offender.
But if the concern is just about the use of language in creativity, rather thanb the creation of images by arranging the text, then a computer can be a great value by allowing the stringing of words together without needing to be distracted by forming each charater. Towards that end, spelling correction, or better yet, the notification of spelling errors, can allow the production of documents that are at least technically correct, regardless of their content. So a child can produce beautiful poetry or prose and those reading it will not need to struggle with figuring out what the text is spelling. This reduction of the burde of deciphering poor handwriting is a worthwhile contribution, even as the use of technology reduces the use of longhand script. That has always seemed to be a burden in that after children learn the alphabet and how to read it, they are tasked with learning a second alphabet composed of characters with the same name but different appearances.
So the answer is that technology does both restrict and enable.
The English mandate for computer programming is an interesting one although it has the problem that the preferred languages in industry change more quickly than the 10-12 years to complete a primary and secondary education. Example: I learned line-based FORTRAN which is nearly worthless now compared to the object-oriented C, Java, Ruby and a thousand other names I don't recognize let alone be able to use. Software writing is the job of only a few for a reason as it requires a lifelong dedication to just stay abreast of what is going on. Teaching everyone to plan tasks, flowchart, manage resources and reason a problem into a working solution is probably the best use of a programming class.
Another interesting picture of how technology fails to evolve uniformly over the populace is looking for useful technical apps on the App Store. They are FEW and far between. Most apps are simplistic little time-wasters that amuse the public not educate them or assist them with important tasks. Cracking whips, flinging birds at blocks, making bodily function noises on command, are all readily available, but try to find an app that calculates heat transfer, solves compounding interest or balances a circuit, and you'll hunt for a while.
The points about teaching actual compter programming is another concern that is quite different. Almost all computer users are not programmers and they have no concept of how programming might even be done. In fact, given the common shorthand term "apps", which probably is not understood to be short for "application programs". So the understanding ofeven the very basic functioning of individual programs under an operating system is gone.
The reality is that on smart phones there is no way to do things unless there is a program to do them installed. That is only a couple of steps away from the concepts described in that book, "1984", by Orwell, in which there was "goodthink" and "badthink", and even thogts were regulated.
This relates to programming because so few are able to do it. Just like engineering, very few are able to take ideas from a foggy concept to functional reality. Of course even within the engineering community most engineers have their skillsets limited to some specific areas, such as the design of ASIC devices.
The truly creative people are those who come up with the programming language like C, C++, or Visual Basic in the first place. Those people are few and far between and have the ability to think out of the box at a level not within the bounds of the people actually using the software day to day.
How about books and catalogs versus tablets and CDs? While e-books are obviously more cost-effective and CDs for catalogs make it easy to find what you are looking for - how much serendipitous findings do you miss out on because you are using an electronic venue instead of thumbing through pages and accidentally finding treasures along the way? I can't tell you how many times I stumbled across something exciting or helpful that I found inadvertently while looking for something else...I find it ironic that the computer screen loses that ability with its precision but it is just that precision that makes it a great tool. I think we are in-between times but our children don't see the value of books because they are being taught technology first. This about sums it up: commercial
Hello Nancy--I certainly agree with you but I fear the "tide of reality" is against us. A fascinating article "appeared" in our local paper two weeks ago indicating the local school board is considering e-textbooks for the very near future. The reason given was the ability to update the books on an annual basis so they remain current relative to subject matter. It apparently was a robust debate that ended with the board feeling the idea had real merit. The overriding issue was cost, repairs and lost tablets. i.e. readers. The student would have the option of buying their tablets, with text loaded, when they graduated. Believe it or not, I opted to purchase most of my textbooks used my junior and senior years in high school. Chemistry, all of my math and trig books, physics, etc., I still have and refer to. Times are changing but I still like the feel of a conventional book.
In an interview some years ago, a student asked author Elmore Leonard what tools he wrote with when he started out in the 1950's and with all the changes in technology what he writes with currently. His response; " When I started writing I used a yellow legal pad and a 5 cent Scripto pen. Now I use a yellow legal pad and a $150 Mont Blanc."
Business word processors, like Word may not be conducive to creative writing, but a little program I found called Writer's Blocks works nicely for me. It is an electronic version of the 3x5" note card that just lets you write in a blank card space without restriction, spelling or grammar nags. Then organize the cards as you see fit. Very conducive to jotting down ideas as they come when using a PC.
I started out shooting 16mm film for TV many years ago. Moving to inferior cameras and video formats as the technology developed was quite frustrating over the years, and the expense of heavy iron post production suites limited access to creative visuals to those with hefty budgets.
Now a sub $100 program on a decent desktop workstation, or even my laptop, gives access to visual creative power that a half million dollar online suite could not equal in 1980.
With the emerging generation of modestly priced raw digital cinema cameras, we have come full circle to a digital negative format that is finally surpassing the flexibility and visual quality of film in most meaningful ways, much less conventional video formats.
Personally I'm feeling very liberated by all this in a creative artistic sense. But pen and paper are still technologically superior for unrestricted access, simplicity, and permanence.
Excellent post Alex. I think creativity must come first then the technology to document and display that creativity. I know people who design using AutoCAD and Solid Works and they do a great job, but for the most part, pencil and paper start the process even if it's with a "back of the napkin". Technology should support creativity rather than restrict creativity. Thousands of hours are saved during the design process using technological methodology but the "up-front" effort requiring creativity must be the genesis.
In high school my math teachers would yell at me that I wasn't opening the text book and staring at formulas enough. Instead I was running down to the computer room and putting the formulas to work.
While not a scientific study, the students that I know who stared at the textbooks aren't doing much math nowadays. Whereas I use it all the time and although I may not be versed in some forms that I possibly should be, I have no fear of learning new math to be applied in my programs.
My stock phrase is, "I'm not a mathematician, but I use math."
An old science fiction story had a profound effect on me and I wsh I could remember its name, but the story was about a group of spacemen who land on a planet and find inhabitants surrounded by fantastic technical hardware that is rotting away. When asked, the inhabitants could not remember how to fix them, let alone remember what they were used for. The spacemen vow to stay and help the inhabitants recover their lost capabilities, but then the inhabitants display a level of technology far beyond the spacemen's understanding. Stunned, one spaceman finally figures out how they misread the situation. He started asking the other spacemen if they knew how to make bows and arrows, or make a fire without a lighter. The point being, that as you move forward, you don't have to remember everything that got you to that point.
So I may not be able to mix paints like Leonardo, but I'm able to make "paintings" without being hobbled not knowing what minerals I have to mix to get different colors.
So I am free to create without having to worry about how to make paints.
Or to use another example, I no longer have to be a mechanic to drive a car.
In his keynote address at the RAPID 2015 conference last week, Made In Space CTO Jason Dunn gave an update on how far his company and co-development partner NASA have come in their quest to bring 3D printing to the space station -- and beyond.
On Memorial Day, Americans remember the sacrifices the US armed forces have made, and continue to make, in service to the country. All of us should also consider the developments in technological capabilities and equipment over the years that contribute to the success of our military operations.
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