What is art? [Was Re: Hello 2015]

Michael Watson mikejw@cruzio.com
Tue, 05 Mar 2002 11:34:08 -0800

closing paragraph:
"Technical skills are less important than creative thinking," lectures
Netochka in an e-mail. "The epoch of the generalist has arrived -- again.
Any fool can program and most do. Software engineers are emotionally inept.
In today's unstable + dynamic environment they do not stand a chance." 

>There is a McLuhanism that "one's environment is invisible" --
>Marshall felt this was the reason why only artists, poets and other
>outcasts could possibly frame a balanced view of their society.  

Netochka is an on-line persona created to head a company. The article noted
that she may have been created by a group of programmers and artists. This
is Netochka's first challenge to our "evironment". Her second challenge is
that we should all think more like an artist. My sentiments exactly. The
argument between generalist/specialist is not useful since we are all
generalists sometimes and specialists others, depending on the work
environment. To be more like an artist, to increase our creative thinking,
she is saying that we need more emotional intelligence if we are to stand a
chance in "today's unstable + dynamic environment".

There is a stereotype of engineers as being emotionally stunted and like all
stereotypes there is some truth in it. Spock and 7 of 9, for you star trek
fans, are very popular characters because they are like many of us,
emotionally flat, struggling with human emotions. After many years of group
therapy dynamics I was able to form emotional bonds with like-minded
co-workers that led to more creative thinking and problem solving. If you
are emotionally attached to someone, you are less likely to be super
competitive, less likely to shoot them down purely for your own ego
gratification. Yes, artists can be egotistical too but I think in general
they are more concerned with relationships between people, with
relationships between people and their art. The REAL programmer discussion
we had a while back reminds me that so-called REAL programmers who use
undocumented cpu features and never document their code really don't give a
shit about the people that have to maintain their code. My emotional
intelligence makes me always keep my code as simple as possible and document
everything that is not self-evident.

Many programmers I have met are stuck on two emotions, neutral and anger. I
watched a hardware engineer in one therapy group struggle to feel anything
at all. I have compassion for people like that. If you are like that then
one solution would be to join a therapy group and start interacting with
people on an emotional basis.

I want to be outside the invisible environment. I want to be an outcast. I
want to see the world in new ways not just as a set of engineering
principles to follow. Netochka is challenging me to do just that. All my
questions to this list have come from that perspective.