The liberal arts have gotten a bad rep. As the joke goes, “What’s the most important question that Philosophy majors need to learn to ask?” Answer: “Would you like fries with that?”. This isn’t the best trend for society.
Conventional wisdom, especially in light of the startup culture that has overtaken the world, is that hard skills like programming and engineering will rule the day. Pres. Obama has been pushing STEM education initiatives and schools are now being evaluated on the quality of their computer science classes. Nowhere is this enthusiasm felt more than in the tech investing world. We prize technical CEOs who can “talk dirty” in the language of code. We want the visionaries who can both spot seismic technology shifts and also understand the underlying science.
So far so good. Yet this blog, ostensibly about the EdTech world, Venture Capital / Private Equity, and the intersection of technology and finance more broadly, goes out of its way to incorporate the humanities. Why do I post thoughts on books that I’ve read? Especially when these books never directly pertain to the tech or finance worlds?
There were two remarkable events generated in the Twitterverse in the last few years. The first is #BloomsdayBurst, the live tweeting of James Joyce’s Ulysses on Bloomsday (June 16) 2011. The second, more recently, is #Beow100, the efforts of a Stanford medievalist, Elaine Treharne, compressing Beowulf into 100 tweets for her course on the various manifestations of the work. The remarkable outputs of both #BloomsdayBurst and #Beow100 offer insight into Twitter’s potential as an educational technology – far, far beyond the view that even the most Twitter-philic teachers have of it as a “cool” way to communicate with students.