In short – Missed Opportunities

This quote from Martin Luther King Jr. came up in reading for one of my Education courses today:

we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

Too bad we’ve only gone in the wrong direction here. If anything we’ve become more thing-oriented since King’s assassination in 1968. The financial crisis perhaps gave us the best opportunity for such a shift in society but it now seems that the largest concern to arise from that was “When can I go back to buying as much stuff as I used to?” If only everyone gave some serious consideration to what they were buying and expending their time on.

Up to Nothing

A similar thing happens when you have clearly defined tasks that lack purpose.

Go back to work and think about your average day. How often are you not clear what you’re doing? How often is the goal of the next 30 minutes completely undefined? Yes, you’ve suffered through meetings where there was no clear agenda and you felt like you were wasting your time, but that’s still a known quantity — I’m currently in the poorly run meeting scenario. Been there, done that.

What happens when there is no meeting, no burning task, no one in your office? You wander, you surf the web, you stare at that calendar on the wall and think, “Why do we have leap years again? I forget.” And then you feel bad. I should be working. I should be doing something. They’re not paying me to reverse engineer leap years. I have things to do.

The Season of Stuff

Words of wisdom:

Just try to remember that there are plenty of ways to deal with this stuff. You can pledge to get rid of an amount of stuff equal to the amount you receive. You can let those who love you know that you do not want more stuff but want something less tangible instead (breakfast in bed, money for a favorite charity, etc.). Ask for specific stuff you really truly need that will add years of value to your life on a daily basis… and stuff. The point is, control the stuff. Don’t let the stuff control you.

My case for moving beyond a printed senior thesis

Traditionally, and to my knowledge exclusively, Politics majors at Whitman College writing their senior thesis have been required to present the finished product as a nicely printed, double spaced, hard copy. This copy is turned in to your thesis readers but most likely never moves beyond those readers and the student’s close family and friends. If you complete Honors the thesis is archived in the Penrose Library but still does not move beyond the Whitman community. I’m proposing something different for my senior thesis on web communication technologies and political participation.

I propose to take advantage of the technologies that are the focus of my thesis. I aim to craft a special section of this site for the project and to present the content online and more importantly, online only. Continue reading My case for moving beyond a printed senior thesis

Are Too Many Students Going to College?

There’s an interesting discussion in an article at the Chronicle of Higher Education addressing the question of whether too many students are going to college. Bryan Caplan responds to one of the questions with:

College attendance, in my view, is usually a drain on our economy and society. Encouraging talented people to spend many years in wasteful status contests deprives the economy of millions of man-years of output. If this were really an “investment,” of course, it might be worth it. But I see little connection between the skills that students acquire in college and the skills theyll need later in life.

Bingo! Somebody just hit the nail on the head. What better rationale for a complete rethinking and redefinition of higher education than the above statement. The whole article is worth a read.

Join the people who can say, “I love doing this”

Another post from the consistently insightful Seth Godin:

Not only do I notice more fabulous, but it sure seems as though the creators of it are more engaged, dedicated and yes, joyful, than I can remember. If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do work that matters, this is it. You cant say, “but I need to make a fortune instead,” because thats not happening right now. So you might as well join the people who can say, “I love doing this.”