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August 7, 2021

The need for art

The deeper I get into research on the future of personal computing, the more convinced I become of the need for art in society.

Great tech amplifies human capability.

But it amplifies everything — the good, and the bad. We’ve seen this play out for years.

On the other hand, great art (such as music) causes us to introspect, understand, and empathize. It’s biased towards amplifying the best of humanity.

One more contrast:

Software depreciates, art appreciates.

A book or a record, for example, appreciates with time; it becomes more valuable, not less. It does not require constant maintenance and upkeep just to keep it from dipping below some bar of quality. Once the book is printed, it might exist for hundreds of years. Same with a movie: generations after yours might enjoy it. But software? Code written today may be obselete in just a few years, even with ongoing maintenance.

This isn’t to discredit software or building it — it’s what I do for a living! Software allows us to do some wonderful things. But it’s important in my own practice to understand the true impact of the things we build. These contrasts beg for some questions that haven’t been asked nearly enough in building some of the software used globally today.

Curious to hear your thoughts.

Also: Are you a Mail Pilot user? Big news is ahead. Next week on Tuesday August 10, check our Slack or Twitter for the first in a series of things I have to share.

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