Friday, September 21, 2007

'Woz'ning Education

Steve Wozniak has always been an enigma of sorts. I'm not sure why but he is so synonymous to the word 'thinking engineer'. Well, there must be a hundred thousand 'Engineers' produced in India alone these days (I'm one of them), but then we haven't seen another Wozniak, have we?

A few months back I got hold of iWoz, and was startled at the way he has written the masterpiece. The simplicity with which he has described everything would probably be understandable by even a 12 yr old.

From dreaming to build a computer and realizing the dream, Apple's story is known to all. Steve Jobs is one side of the coin, the other side is this 'thinking engineer'. I came across his interview in Convergence and found it to be quite an intriguing read. Nopes,  he doesn't talk about Jobs, he doesn't even mention Apple - rather he talks about 'Education' and talks about 'thinking'. A few quotes of his -

"We have to remember to think freely for ourselves. We need to make sure we’re asking a lot of questions and listening to everyone and not just automatically accepting the word of the day. Whenever anything sounds like you have no freedom of choice, you have to remind yourself to think for yourself.
You have to ask, “Does A cause B, or do I just think it does because everyone says it does?” If you don’t ask yourself that, you might one day read in a journal that someone proved it differently. The more you’re told you don’t have a choice in thinking, be very suspicious."

"Now another argument is that games make a kid socially withdrawn. The idea is that a “techie person” is always on a computer alone with the door shut and no one else in the room. Well, these are the kids who used to be shy at school with no one to talk to. Now, because of technology, they can go into chat rooms or onto MySpace, and they have a whole life and don’t have to be popular in real people world."woz

"If we could reverse some of the paradigms of education to let kids of different ages all participate together in a larger room, then the few human teachers would browse and help students with certain problems that somehow the computer can’t. Each person would have a computer that would be very personal and go at different rates."

And finally,

"Farmers get to vote on farm bills, the elderly get to vote on elderly bills, but students don’t get to vote on school monies. I’d love to see that change."

I especially just loved the 'research part' where he literally persuades people to ask questions, to be clear in fundamentals and force themselves to think!

If interested, you can grab the pdf version of Convergence here. Check out the Summer 2007 copy for the same.

7 comments:

Rohit Jain (felon) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rohit Jain (felon) said...

Certainly both the 'Steves' have been continously doing gr8 work, there is no doubt about that. I've been impressed by both these guys, bt wht 'iWoz' said is right. We should all start questioning things and not really accept wht is just told to us. I don't know whether we'll have such engineers again or not, but we can have it.

He's just one among us, and i suppose we can do it as wel, just that we'v gotta start thinking at his frequency, and i believe that nothing impossible, so lets just do some learning from his words and thots...

I've always told ppl to just think beyond wht's being told or wht they see...don't know how many of us have been doing it,even i myself fail to do it most of the times.. the fast world i suppose is certainly one of the reasons for the same.. 1970's when Mr. iWoz created Apple I and Apple II, i m sure he had that much of time, to sit and do research and think beyond the normal frequencies.

But paranoid, do you think we have that much time today? I suppose this is the real issue, we just can't have such engineers anymore (atleast not from india)..we get into something, and 6 mths down the line, we want to do something else, and wanna do something different... well which is unlike you,,,u mite just be another kinda Mini iWoz..

Paranoid.. said...

@Rohit
Well, its a debatable thing, but this commodity called "time" ain't everything. Its funny how I had this dicussion with a colleague of mine regarding the same!
There's another commodity which is an underdog here - 'guts' and 'following your dreams' - cliched but thats the octane that drives such vehicles towards glory!
P.S: Damn, don't refer to me as Paranoid!

Amol Agrawal said...

Well he has been an enigma all along and thanx for his snap. I never knew what he looked like. Has co-created apple but Jobs has taken all the limelight. He is much like Paul Allen prefering to keep aloof.

It looks like a good read. I agree wih his thoughts on education. Hope our teachers, policymakers who work on education read his book. Education in India sucks. Despite being an eco student whatever I know about eco is after college. No one makes you think in Indian colleges. Read this, mug this and vomit it in exams. The better the last, better the prospects.

Paranoid.. said...

@Amol
You nailed it, especially, "The better the last, better the prospects".
I'm already getting a feel of how the education system works here and its way different from India. Anyways, thats a highly debatable topic as well.
Focus on implementation and improving thought procedure - these fundamentals are indispensable.

Vinni said...

boy! Now i am really intrigued by the book. I remember seeing it on the shelf some time back. I think i should just pick it up.

Paranoid.. said...

@Vinnie
its never too late mate! :)