Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

11 JANUARY, 2012

The Future Belongs to the Curious: A Manifesto for Curiosity

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From my friends at Skillshare, who are out to revolutionize the paradigms of learning, comes this beautiful manifesto for the transformative power of curiosity — something very much at the heart of Brain Pickings.

We are all lifelong learners, from day one to twenty-thousand-and-one, and that’s why we keep exploring, wondering and discovering, yearning and learning, reaching with more than just our hands… The future belongs to the curious.”

I bet legendary physicist Richard Feynman would approve. (See also these 5 manifestos for the creative life.)

Ready to have your curiosity tickled? Explore Skillshare’s countless courses on everything from color theory to 3D printing to living rent-free in NYC.

For more on the future of curiosity and learning, see these 7 essential books on education.

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06 JANUARY, 2012

The Dawn of the Microprocessor and the Birth of Venture Capital

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“Announcing a new era of integrated electronics.”

From the Santa Clara Valley Historical Association, the same folks who brought us the secret of life from Steve Jobs in 46 seconds, comes this short documentary segment on the birth of the microprocessor and the dawn of the venture capital industry in Silicon Valley in the 1970s, featuring interviews with Steve Jobs, microprocessor inventor Marcian Edward “Ted” Hoff, and other trailblazing entrepreneurs.

We had nothing to lose, and we had everything to gain. And we figured even if we crash and burn, and lose everything, the experience will have been worth ten time the cost.” ~ Steve Jobs

The excerpt comes from the 1998 PBS documentary Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, produced by the Institute for History of Technology the narrated by Walter Cronkite, which was subsequently adapted into a book of the same name.

A notable piece of tech-history ephemera makes a cameo in the film — the 1971 Intel ad announcing the very first commercial microprocessor:

For a related treat, don’t miss this charming minimalist 8-bit animation about the titans of Silicon Valley.

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Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.

30 DECEMBER, 2011

Marshall McLuhan on New Forms and Old Assumptions (1960)

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What the golden age of television has to do with human nature and today’s Internet intellectuals.

It seems fitting that we conclude the year that marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of iconic media theorist Marshall McLuhan with one of his timeless and remarkably timely observations, which in just 30 seconds manages to capture in 1960 a folly of human nature that rings all the more true in 2011 as we trek forward into this constantly evolving media landscape.

When any new form comes into the foreground of things, we naturally look at it through the old stereos. We can’t help that. This is normal, and we’re still trying to see how will our previous forms of political and educational patterns persist under television. We’re just trying to fit the old things into the new form, instead of asking what is the new form going to do to all the assumptions we had before.”

The segment comes from the tribute site Marshall McLuhan Speaks, originally featured here in July. (Though, it warrants noting, the lack of embedding capability for their footage is particularly ironic in light of McLuhan’s words above.) It is also adapted in Understanding Me: Lectures and Interviews, edited by McLuhan’s daughter and with a foreword by Tom Wolfe offering a 21st-century perspective on McLuhan’s life and work. (To be supplemented with Douglas Coupland’s fantastic Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work!.)

What McLuhan gets at, of course, could also be said not only of media but also of media theory itself, especially today. As Internet scholar Evgeny Morozov writes in The New Republic:

Our Internet intellectuals lack the intellectual ambition, and the basic erudition, to connect their thinking with earlier traditions of social and technological criticism. They desperately need to believe that their every thought is unprecedented. Sometimes it seems as if intellectual life doesn’t really thrill them at all. They never stoop to the lowly task of producing expansive and expository essays, where they could develop their ideas at length, by means of argument and learning, and fully engage with their critics. Instead they blog, and tweet, and consult, and give conference talks—modes of discourse that are mostly impervious to serious critique.”

(Thanks, Kristen.)

So, where does this leave us as we round out McLuhan’s centennial? With more questions than answers, no doubt, but the questions about the future of information abundance, the future of journalism, and the future of the Internet might be a good place to start.

Thanks, Bob

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Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.