My Admission: I'm Illiterate

As Parag and Ayesha wrote yesterday, if today you cannot program computers, it is as though you have the skill to read, but not to write. For this reason, kids are learning programming basics early in their lives using new programs. But what about reading?


I began to learn today that electronic books sales are years behind online music vendors. I gave various e-book sites some titles and authors I have had in the back of my mind, but found only self-published accounts of this and that (all priced as though they were actual books). I had no idea so many people were self-publishing!

As Steven Pinker said late last week in his New York Times Op-Ed, "Knowledge is increasing exponentially; human brainpower and waking hours are not." And this, he says, accounts for the rise of new media and will account for its beneficial permanence in our lives. So just as we may imbue ‘literacy’ with a figurative but still very significant meaning, in this case the ability to program computers, what other bedrocks of our culture might we reinterpret? Learning? Knowledge itself?

If so, it would not be a new event: the definition of a word is often closely related to its history, and history is the course of change. Spiritual seekers and mystics are the most ready to perform" transvaluations of values," to use Nietzsche's phrase. Every intellectual and cultural revolution has given new meaning to these still timeless concepts: learning and knowledge.

Once, the human mind was relied on to carry with it some summation called knowledge, with immediate reference to a library of books organized by numerical classification system. Could it be that today’s "readers" and "writers" will be more conduits of knowledge than knowers themselves? Will experts be so called by virtue of their ability to organize and navigate the exponentially growing field of recorded information? If without programming, we are no longer able to write, then in what sense can we meaningfully read without first understanding how to navigate the vast stores of information available at our caprice?

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

What’s behind our appetite for self-destruction?

Is it "perverseness," the "death drive," or something else?

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Each new year, people vow to put an end to self-destructive habits like smoking, overeating or overspending.

Keep reading Show less

Physicists puzzled by strange numbers that could explain reality

Eight-dimensional octonions may hold the clues to solve fundamental mysteries.

Surprising Science
  • Physicists discover complex numbers called octonions that work in 8 dimensions.
  • The numbers have been found linked to fundamental forces of reality.
  • Understanding octonions can lead to a new model of physics.
Keep reading Show less

Douglas Rushkoff – It’s not the technology’s fault

It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.

Think Again Podcasts
  • It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
  • Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
Keep reading Show less