Stressing Liberal Arts

Got this from the speech of Steve Jobs in Stanford University:

“Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the  difference in my life.”

Leonardo da Vinci was a great artist, inventor and scientist. Steve Jobs, a college dropped out who found the art of calligraphy interesting and has used this in developing the Mac.

Most jobs need synthesizers and there is a need to think horizontally, to use education and connect the dots, innovations sprung from the ideas of the arts and letters. We need math and science but without the artists inspiration and the foundation in the mind to look for things benign, there would be less beautiful things in life.

The challenge of the times is to make high concept and high touch products that would only come if there would be more foundation on the liberal arts.

 

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