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Where Humanities Meet the Sciences

WOW! We are so excited about the great response to this online book club idea. If you have not gone and given us your first experience with Apple products, please do so. We are finding them so interesting. Before we get to the next discussion point, some housekeeping. If you want to keep up with new posts, and you frequent Facebook or Twitter, you can like WFU Alumni Facebook page and/or follow their Twitter feed to see when Giz and I post new items here. Otherwise, if you bookmark this page, you can always get back to it. We want to you join us as often as you feel compelled to and without regard to how far into the book you have read.

Now, on to another discussion topic. One of the things from Isaacson’s introduction that sucked me into the book was this quote from Steve Jobs on p. xix for those actually reading the print edition ;)

“Then I read something that one of my heroes, Edwin Land of Polaroid, said about the importance of people who could stand at the intersection of humanities and sciences, and I decided that’s what I wanted to do.”

This struck me in large part because I’ve been in lots of conversations lately about how we define the value of a liberal arts education like the one we provide so well at Wake Forest. It seems to me that much of our value is that we allow people to stand at these crossroads between the humanities on one side and science and technology on the other. We don’t privilege one above the other but instead see value in both and hope that our students do as well.

Jobs so clearly was at that intersection, from his fascination with calligraphy and fonts to the obsession with packaging; from his astounding eye for design to his willingness to work insane hours to get an interface right. He loved music, literature, architecture, engineering, coding, circuit boards and all of these passions existed in him simultaneously and this was, in my opinion, part of what made him so extraordinary and revolutionary. He also was attracted to these kinds of people and brought many of them to work for him at Apple and at Pixar. It is a rare person that has such a 360 degree view of the world but those kinds of people do seem to ‘dent the universe.’ I also wonder if you can really choose to stand at the intersection or if it is a more innate way of seeing the world? Does education play a role? I’m curious to hear from you all whether being ‘forced’ to take courses across all disciplines while at WFU (or elsewhere) has given you a useful perspective for your professional or personal lives. Does standing at this intersection provide true value? I think it did for Steve and for Apple in General, but want to hear from you.

Category: Discussion, Steve Jobs | Tag:

2 Responses to Where Humanities Meet the Sciences

  1. Giz Womack says:

    I was struck by how the calligraphy class Jobs audited at Reed influenced desktop publishing and introduced fonts to “regular folks”. Auditing courses, rather than following a prescriptive path, gave him the flexibility to take courses he found engaging. Where would we be if Jobs had not focused on fonts and insisted on attention to detail when including them on the Mac? I feel like my liberal arts education gave me the opportunity to explore. I certainly hope higher education can put people at that intersection of humanities and sciences, and I realize few can leverage that intersection like Jobs did!

  2. Patricia Donnelly Maciag says:

    My first experience…September 1983… I was hired by Apple Computer at the North American Sales Office on 53rd and Madison Avenue in New York City. I was assistant to Bill Coldrick, North American Sales Manager. Steve Jobs frequently visited our office to conduct meetings with Mr. Coldrick. I met Steve Jobs many times. Steve Jobs would telephone me directly to arrange for a technical support person to visit his friend Brooke Shields who was a student at Princeton University. In 1984, it was not common for college students to have use of a personal computer. Therefore, technical support was not available on college campuses. When Brooke Shields needed technical assistance, I would respond to Steve’s request by arranging a car service to to transport a person from our technical support staff from the NYC office to Princeton University.
    I remember the excitement in January 1984 when Apple rolled out the very first Macintosh. It remains a privilege to have been an employee of Apple at that moment in history. I enjoyed having an “inside” perspective while reading STEVE JOBS Biography written by Walter Isaacson.
    I chose to change careers and become a full time mom. A decision which has been extremely rewarding to me spiritually. All 3 of my children are (or soon to be) Wake Forest graduates…Steve (’08), Colleen (’09), and Emily (’12). My husband (Tom) and I could not be more proud of them!
    Since 1983, Apple computers have always been and will continue to be a part of my life. I am submitting my comments with the use of my iPad as my iPhone is ringing for my attention!

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