Tinkering with Technology is Not What Moves Human Knowledge Forward
Malcolm Gladwell: It drives me crazy when people in the technological sphere inflate the importance of the kind of tinkering they do with these sort of software gadgets that they come up with.
Malcolm Gladwell has been a staff writer with The New Yorker magazine since 1996. His 1999 profile of Ron Popeil won a National Magazine Award, and in 2005 he was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People. He is the author of four books, including "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference," (2000) , "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" (2005), and "Outliers: The Story of Success" (2008) all of which were number one New York Times bestsellers. His latest book, "What the Dog Saw" (2009) is a compilation of stories published in The New Yorker.
From 1987 to 1996, he was a reporter with the Washington Post, where he covered business, science, and then served as the newspaper's New York City bureau chief. He graduated from the University of Toronto, Trinity College, with a degree in history. He was born in England, grew up in rural Ontario, and now lives in New York City.
You go to Hollywood now and you ask any head of any studio what their biggest issue is they’ll say there aren’t enough great screenwriters or there are only eight people in Hollywood who can write a funny movie or there are no great leading men. There is no great heir to Marlon Brando or Robert De Niro. Are any of those problems solvable through technology? No.
You go to MIT and you ask them what they want the most. They’ll say what we need more than anything else is some brilliant young mind to come along and re-imagine physics. Can you do that with a piece of software? No.
This is not to say that improvements in software aren’t important, but that's so tangential to the issue of what does it take to move human knowledge forward. It drives me crazy when people in the technological sphere inflate the importance of the kind of tinkering they do with these sort of software gadgets that they come up with.
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