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Sketchbook: Computers. What are they good for?

Updated: Jan 16, 2020

Being born in the 21st century and growing up in the heart of the Silicon Valley I couldn’t imagine a world without instant communication, screens, or interactive media. Of course, it’s for me to realize the consequences of the technology since in many ways this technological age that we live in now has been so revolutionary.

In terms of art, I fully support the use of technology. As Red Burns expressed, new technologies can give anyone a voice to express themselves (“Red-In Her Own Words”). She wanted to push how far people [her students] could take technology and create new forms of interactions. I have never considered myself a “traditional artist” because I can’t draw or paint conventionally, so, media has always played a role in my artistic journey. I’m excited about being able to explore new technologies and learn how to mold them to communicate my ideas. I remember taking years of art classes, but there’s never a breakthrough for me; I couldn’t draw the image in my head and that frustrated the creative within me. I eventually stumbled upon a brilliant mentor who didn’t teach me how to use paint brush or draw figures, but rather revealed to me that any medium could be transformed into a work of art.

I have never experimented with coding and never imagined I would be going into a STEM program in school. While nervous and feeling quite out of my comfort zone, I go back to what my mentor taught me: a new medium just introduces a plethora of new opportunities. But these opportunities do not exist only within art; Anyone with this knowledge of computer technology holds some amount of power.

However, just as Anil Dash expressed in “It’s More Than Just ‘Teach Kids to Code’”, it’s critical we don’t raise a whole generation of coders because that won’t solve society’s problems. Instead, everyone should have “tech literacy” and be able to apply that to various industries. Spreading that knowledge would allow for a vast amount of industries to grow rather than just the tech industry (large corporations).

Dash’s idea also reminded me of my home community. In the Silicon Valley, as expected, most parents are engineers or computer programmers. And so what does every kid growing up here want to become? The same as their parents. In my eyes, my highschool was largely a breeding ground for computer scientists and the likes. It was frustrating to the few of us at school who didn’t want to be a part of this STEM race; where could we express our creativity and where could our creativity be successful? So while we must be careful of technologies effects, we should allow for technology and computation to be widely used so that more people, including artists, can be empowered.

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