Friday, October 28, 2005

The secret of a true visionary

An article in the Wall Street Journal today pointed out that the human mind tends to put a positive spin on everything that happens. Any time we are disappointed, we justify it to ourselves by repositioning the event so that it turns out to be what we wanted all along. Perhaos this is just as well. So while Thoreau might have believed that "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation," that is probably not true. Other research has shown that people tend to be equally happy over their lives independently of events. A lottery win or a major disability will over time even out so that people return to their previous level of happiness (or unhappiness).

H.G. Wells talked about "all human progress coming from unreasonable men" - people who do not accept received wisdom, are not satisfied by the status quo. However, the unreasonable man person may not be an unhappy one. The challenge is to give free rein to dissatisfaction without becoming unhappy. In fact the true visionary and change agent is excited by the prospect of something new.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Can people keep up with technology?

There is a widening divide between what C.P. Snow called "the two cultures." There are people who feel empowered by technology. They are excited by the possibilities which technology promises. This includes not only computers, but networks, bio-engineering, automotive advances, logistics improvements and manufacturing systems re-invention. I see intelligent, educated people who can barely use email, develop a PowerPoint presentation, carry out a Google search, or use Photoshop to improve a photo they took.

On the one hand there are people who rely on blogs and use more often than they use a phonebook. On the other, there are people who write out emails for their assistants to send, and then read the printed out replies they get. Each has its risks. The technological enthusiasts are narrowly focused, and the technologically blind lose control of their lives.

Sadly, even among younger people, I meet some who will not use technology as the powerful tool it is. I suspect this may continue as technolgy moves ever faster.