We need more technological ’bilingualism’

Something that bugs me is the widespread, continued segregation of technology. Technology might be something you use, but rarely is it something you make or even understand.

I’m currently thinking of all the people who I WhatsApp whose eyes gloss over at the mention of encryption.

This is often reflected in organisations, with technology teams separate from the rest of us. There are obviously some exceptions. Notably companies where the product is technology. But more often there is little overlap between those that make the product (etc.) and the nerds who make it possible.

The overlap often takes the shape of particular individual(s). But we all have to become the nerds who make it all possible.

Technology is no longer something separate from the rest of our lives. If it ever was.

In newsrooms, the tech nerds are often off somewhere leaving the overlap to take the form of data or multimedia journalists. This isn’t enough. There are too many important stories, too much to miss, misunderstand or underestimate; not to mention too many productivity enhancements, for computers to just be a blunt instrument.

Anyway, all of this came to mind as I was reading an MIT Tech Review article about the launch of a new multi-disciplinary college at the University:

“The world needs bilinguals,” said MIT president Rafael Reif. In other words, the world needs engineers with a better grounding in the liberal arts, who can build more ethical products and platforms, as well as policymakers and civic leaders with a better understanding of technology to help guide responsible innovation…

…Faculty at the new college will work with other MIT departments to cross-pollinate ideas. Classes will also be designed so that technical skills, social sciences, and the humanities are bound up together within each course rather than learned separately.

I agree. But I’m not sure the solution lies in more cross-disciplinary study (although it is definitely necessary) as much as it does in employers etc. valuing people who aren’t cookie-cut candidates, who have more diverse or even tangential experience.

I’m not sure how to do that.

As always my emphasis.