Make It New

“Standing on the corner…”*

What it is.

What we do, ideally.

Steve Jobs seemed to work from a premise, as did and do many cultures. Technology is art. The Greek root τέχνη (technē) refers to craft, the art of making things, both the useful and the beautiful.  Elgin’s pilfered marbles, the Parthenon, Homer’s Odessy,  the Theban plays of Sophocles — all are τέχνη, art.

Jobs finished his introductions to both the iPads 1 and 2 by flashing a simple slide: a street sign marking the intersection of Technology and Liberal Arts. Jobs probably imagined himself as much an artist as technologist. But that doesn’t matter. They’re the same thing.

The problem is in creating a surprising, integrated experience that is useful and employs artistic devices (a good beginning, middle and end). Equally,  these talents will create the communications in the networked world.

Frise West II, 2: τέχνη! (CC)

At the same time, Greek philosophers made a clear distinction between τέχνη (technē)art of shaping things—and their conception of λόγος (logos)—the art of using discourse (including logic and graphics representations) to share knowledge or to shape opinion and prompt the right (and helpful) action.

Both arts work with codes. And they can and should work together to create technologies and to spread the good news about innovations—either to push forward knowledge or to persuade people that a particular technology is useful, exciting and has commercial value.

Both technology and words are used to make it new, a phrase buried now but useful for me.

The real advantage of joining technē and logos is that the combination returns us to where we started: to sharing of space-time, ideas, knowledge and intentions to create a “brave new world.* As knowing expands, we shrink in spacetime. We see this in the sciences, the networked, semi-automatic world and, most of all, by creative people building, winnowing bringing an ideal>idea>act into being.

To me, it is our best chance at getting things better for the most people.


*For some, this phrase may raise the somatic specter of Huxley’s Brave New World, but its source is The Tempest, Shakespeare’s last play. The words express Miranda’s amazement at having been tossed ashore on a magical island by southern seas:

How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world
That has such people in’t!

But Shakespeare is never without complexity. This hopeful voice is then tempered (and the pentameter finished) by Miranda’s father, Propsero:

‘Tis new to thee.

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