Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Technology as a story

Generally, I consider myself a technologist. I work in technology, I choose environments that have people who are excellent at it. New technologies make the world move forward. If it is shared broadly enough, it is impossible to "un-invent" a technology and thus the world has been irrevocably changed, even if just by a little bit.

However, what saddens me is when I encounter technologists with the brilliance to create new and wonderful things, but lack a sense of what is beautiful to people. Technology is most often known for being ugly and unpleasant to use, because technologists most often build technology for other technologists.

But to touch millions of people, you have to tell a story - a story that they can believe in, a story that can inspire them. Technology is a tool by which new stories can be crafted. They are not the end product unto themselves. All too often, I find engineers and researchers who are eager to build the technology without understanding the story that goes around about why people should care, why what they built can be inspiring rather than just enabling.

It is not a skill you learn at school. I have encountered people who understand this, and others who don't. I can't say that I have mastered this ability. However, I can at least respect how powerful it can be and strive to be better at it.

As an engineer, as a technologist, as a researcher, or inventor... I encourage you understand the power of stories. A story isn't merely the sequence of events in a book or film. It can be a story about you, and how your life or the lives of the people around you could be a bit different... or how the world could be different than it is today.

It is inspiring to see what a talented artist can do with the very simplest of tools. I recently came across the following video which I feel exemplifies this idea.

When you build something or design something, take a moment to imagine the stories than can be told around what you create and to share that story with others.


Jonathan B said...

I loved this, it made me cry like a little girl (I'm not saying little girls cry a lot, but you know..)

Thank you

cati said...

I can't believe she had to kill the green creature! Maybe they could have tried to become friends, or pet it, I donno but why kill it!!!!