Make It New

Standing on the corner…

What it is.

What we do, ideally.

Steve Jobs got it, as did the Greeks. Technology is art. Its Greek root τέχνη (technē) referred to craft, the art of making things, both the useful and the beautiful. (Think Elgin’s pilfered marbles.)

Jobs finished his introductions to both the iPads 1 and 2 by flashing a simple slide: a street sign marking the corner of Technology Street and Liberal Arts Street. If you’ve read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs, you know that the man was more artist than technologist.

The problem is that most technology people don’t get it, at least not when it comes to such things as creating a surprising customer experience, user experience and user documentation, and technical marketing communications, which comprise the promise of a new, unexpected experience. Equally, most now teaching the Liberal Arts have an ingrained distrust of, even rage against “the machine.” Because of this abiding animus and a tendency to overcomplicate art, the Liberal Arts are dying as a useful course of study, mostly from a thousand self-inflicted cuts.

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 graphics arts) to share knowledge or to shape opinion and prompt action.

But both disciplines 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.

It is unarguable that words (logos) have value. Words & Technology is meant to be useful guide to communicating your new technology.
In that way, it is about the business of making it new.

The real advantage of this renewed marriage of technē and logos—fused by many sciences, the Internet and, most of all, by creative people—is that it returns us to where we started: to the back-and-forth conversation and sharing of space-time, ideas, knowledge and intentions to create a brave new world.*

Or, if you like folksy, think that we have returned to small-town living. The question is, what kind of town (or polis) do we want?


*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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