I am reading the biography of Steve Jobs right now and among other things it has taught me a very important thing, something which is quite relevant and necessary in today’s day and age. I consider myself a humanities person which I earlier believed was the opposite of being a science person, and it still holds true in my case. The level of scientific curiosity which is required of any person pursuing this field was lacking in me. I never felt the need to go out of my way to look up the latest scientific developments, and my school projects were hackneyed, much to the disappointment of my teachers. Sometimes I didn’t even bother to finish those projects.
No doubt, I owe all my comforts to science, but I don’t believe I can contribute anything in this field. I fared considerably well in the years I studied this subject but there are people far more capable and fitting than me, and I will leave them to pursue careers in this field. I sometimes even wonder how I survived all these years without failing once. But now that I have opted out of this subject, I have begun to change my perception about science. All of this, just because of one single book.
The science people consider the humanities people a bit inferior to them, lacking in the basic knowledge required for progress. At the same time, those into humanities believe that the science geeks lack the basic aesthetic senses that govern the world: they don’t appreciate art and design. What I learnt from the book is that greatness is achieved only by the confluence of these two( seemingly)conflicting fields.
These days, writing or art isn’t limited to the basic tools like pens and paints and brushes. All work is computerised… well, most of it is. Books are typed in a word document and then printed by mechanised printing presses. There is photoshop and flash to create art and animation. Even reading this post has been enabled by the advent of the internet age. Clearly, science has helped the humanities lot. And what did science receive in return for her services? The designing of new gadgets to making advertisements for the same is the work of these humanities people. These people turn the scientific jargon into the language of commoners and make products presentable and attractive to the public.
These activities, however, are restricted to the specialists. A writer writes using the word processor that the technician developed. A photographer clicks a picture using the camera that the specialist made. But neither the writer nor the photographer develops the tools s/he is making use of. Only a few people consider themselves the children of both these fields. One such person was Steve Jobs.
I still haven’t finished reading the book, but I have inferred the following: to Jobs, perfection was what mattered the most in a product, and that perfection was brought out by the concerted efforts of the product developers and the designers. I don’t own any Apple products to certify this but it is unanimously held to be true that they are as beautiful in their design as they are innovative. The book described him as a perfectionist – an intolerable one at that – and he would haggle over the internal structure of the products, their layout, the exact shade of colour they would be available in, besides the various applications and softwares it would provide. Even Pixar was the brainchild of Jobs and a few other visionaries, and it was his idea to use the existing computer softwares to create fast, 3D animation,and the first result of that venture was Toy Story.
Now, I won’t continue praising Steve Jobs because this post isn’t meant to be about him. But the basic idea which I wanted to convey is that both science and humanities are interdependent, and many a times, the most successful products are those which emerge with help from both.