August 14, 2013

Liberal arts & Technorati

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:29 pm by chait83


Writing this blog on the auspicious Independence Day, trying to understand what freedom truly is.

This question is lingering for a long time, probably since I was a kid who ran wild errands wherever he went. Superficially it appears simple, but for me it probably it’s the very question of my existence.

Fortunately I was raised in a family and school which respected freedom of expression above all the virtues. Crisis began when I went to college. No longer could I write things the way I pleased, it had to be written in a specific format with each checkpoint carrying some weight. Back in school things were different. Writing things in creative manner was often appreciated and following status quo reflected badly on the mark sheet. Folks mugging up guides and journals could never compete with me & free spirits always posed a challenge.

The question was what is more important? Freedom of expression or status quo. In quest of the answers, I did nothing. Didn’t do well at college and lost my freedom of expression. The moral crisis became severe each year and the worst part was I could not understand what was happening. Job experience was even worse, since it had more stringent processes monitored by even more stringent process ;-). Ultimately a time came when it became unbearable. I quit the job just like that, without thinking about future and still failing to understand what the crisis actually is. Over a period of time, opensource lent me the support.

Now each day is some revelation, probably bringing me closer to the answer I had been seeking for a long time. The most amazing experience was when I gave an assignment to my interns.

They were supposed to introspect and find answers to these questions. It turned out to be quite a revealing experience for me as well. More things might unravel as we go through more iteration.

The questions asked were

  1. What is freedom of expression?
  2. What is liberal art?
  3. What does opensource mean to you?
  4. What do you want to achieve through this project?
  5. How would benefit from your project?

Every question was linked to subsequent question. The assignment started with as formality with eloquent words with no thought, similar to a school essay on “my pet” considering the fact that some of us never had a pet. They had to repeat the assignment, till something of value was extracted out of it.

Just summarizing the answers:

  1. Freedom of expression: Express oneself ourselves completely, without any inhibition.
  2. Liberal art:     A civic virtue essential for a free person to take an active part in civic life or contribute to the society.
  3. Opensource: Code which is free and written to express ourselves.
  4. To develop cognitive skill in designing, to develop solution to real world problems.
  5. My favorite one and perhaps the most candid answer. Who would benefit from this project? I would 😀 This is probably the first principle of product design. Would you use the product you designed in the first place? People who got this right are the ones who poured life into their ideas.

Later I pointed out things that essentially did not imply by above definition.

  1. Lack of purpose voids the very premise of being free.
  2. Liberal art may or may not benefit the society. Society may or may not perceive your contribution beneficial. Important aspect is your contribution.

Achieving anything of significant would essentially mean that at some point going would go tough. Passion for our profession helps us overcome the highest mountains and the deepest oceans and end of the day still keeps us fulfilled and happy.

Freedom is certainly not limited to British troops leaving Indian shores for better, but standing upright for our values we cherish from bottom of our heart.

Probably Gandhiji was already enjoying his freedom when he stood firm and said, “They shall do what they want, but they shall not have my obedience”. Freedom is certainly not stooping low on morale to garner jobs, reservation, perks. Freedom is not about being a corporate stooge for fat salary and materialist life, but probably about pursuing your heart and leading a fulfilled life.

History has witnessed that liberal art of any form, be it music, painting, drama, literature, etc. has always put civilizations on a new pedestal. History has also witnessed the dark ages when liberal art was

Over a period of time paradigms change, but the core values don’t. The paradigms of liberal art have changed, but the core values remain the same.

Not that I am Linus Torvalds, but probably someday my efforts would contribute to take human race forward.


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