Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Zombies and robots running the world.

Nope, it's not something out of a cheap and old horror flick. It's not the Matrix 4 (god knows we wouldn't be able to stand something like that!). It's yours truly once again failing miserably at attempting to make a catchy but totally overblown analogy of a title.

Kathy Sierra is one of my personal heroes, for two reasons. The first being she proved me wrong when I said women just couldn't code. I'm sorry girls, not a sexist, just haven't met a kick ass chick coder yet. Second, she's funny, but eloquent; informative, but intuitive. I can't really explain it in detail. She just makes learning easy. And while we're on the subject, she recently had a post that has a lot with what i want to talk about today.

Enough with the long introduction and the mystery. It's simple, education. We are being taught geometry, calculus, literature, history, biology, ... The list goes on and on, but we are not taught the basic thing that we actually need. No one ever cared to teach us how to think.

We have techniques on how to take notes and exams. We are experts in the utilization new technologies applied to cheating on tests. We skim through text looking for the next answer in our questionnaire, but we aren't actually absorbing any knowledge. We jump to the next number in a word problem to fill in the blanks in the expected formula, calculate the answer and close our books in a hurry. We memorize formulas, theorems and rules, but we never bother to try to have a basic understanding of why the particular phenomenon happens.

The biggest problem of all is that no one is interested in taking it to the next step. Everyone is in a hurry to finish studying/working, so they can... sit down and do nothing. Every time some one asks for my help on some academic or technical issue, I try (if it's within my grasp) to explain the why's and the how's. Most of the time, they aren't interested, they just want the shortest path to the answer which will complete the homework, pass the test, or make their application run. Why is it so hard to spark interest or curiosity in a young mind these days? It gets to a point where it's depressing. More so when people who have become accustomed to "the system" and this becomes their way of life.

In my humble and unexperienced opinion, the people that exceed in life are the ones that did not grow up on the system, or found a way to work around it. You need spark, innovation, curiosity, insight. You just will not get that by being systematic. Yes, Matrix 2 and 3 sucked, but the first one is an absolute classic. Sadly most of the guys hooked on the system haven't yet realized that it's just a big analogy of life, from different religious, philosophical and technical stand points. In the movie, Laurence Fishburn, in his role of Morpheus, says:

I've seen an agent punch through a concrete wall. Men have emptied entire clips at them and hit nothing but air, yet their strength and their speed are still based in a world that is built on rules. Because of that, they will never be as strong or as fast as you can be.

How does this analogy translate to real life? Even I may not know, but I choose to interpret it in the following way: When you have the ability to adjust to your circumstances, to improvise, to go with you insight, when your gut does more than rumbling you have "it". And "it" is what separates you from the rest of the pack. "it" is not visible on a resume, you can't get a diploma or certification, can't be passed down. "it" can only be awakened in you. When you have it, you surpass the agents, in the sense that you are no longer bound by the rules the matrix imposes on you.

Have you ever seen something good, and then something great? Something that satisfied your needs, and then something else you just had to have? Something you would say "hey that's cool", and then something else would make you say "oh my f***ing god!". Ummm.... yeaaaah. What ever it is in your life that fills in those blanks, the difference between the first and second element is probably "it".

We need a generation of creative and insightful people if we are to make a difference. We have all this information, technology and resources at our hands. More than ever before in the history of man kind. If you look at it from this perspective, we are the luckiest dudes in all of existence! Yet we go through the same motions every day. Anybody else notice something slightly wrong with this picture? And not "find the 5 differences in the two pictures" wrong. I'm talking Picasso painting wrong! (I'm sorry, I have no appreciation for art, please shoot me).

I'll end this post with another quote from The Matrix. This is the last lines Keanu Reeves says on the phone before he soars into the air at the end of the movie. No analysis, no interpretation of it's literal meaning. Think about it, and throw it into the one sided discussion where ever you'd like.
I know you're out there. I can feel you now. I know that you're afraid... you're afraid of us. You're afraid of change. I don't know the future. I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it's going to begin. I'm going to hang up this phone, and then I'm going to show these people what you don't want them to see. I'm going to show them a world without you. A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.

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