albert postma

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Truth be Told

I was just reading a bit about Che Guevara, the Cuban rebel. I am somewhat intrigued by the man...more because my friend from home finds him fascinating than because I do. This summer, he bought The Che Handbook, which is mainly pictures and snippets of Guevara's life. It was an interesting read, though I admit I never got all the way through it. To be honest, I got a bit bored of a book that was full of random quotes amidst stories of his life with the general focus of raising our dear friend Che to the realm of sainthood.
Either way, this quote caught my eye in the article aptly named, "The Real Che" by Anthony Daniels.

The latest and propagandistically most powerful product of the Guevara cult is a film of Guevara’s Motorcycle Diaries by the Brazilian director Walter Salles. It relies for its effect upon the fact that audiences will all know a minimum about Guevara: for example, that he was a social revolutionary who died in the jungles of Bolivia, and never made a penny for himself. But they will otherwise know little of his actual opinions or actions, and will not have read his tedious and inflexibly dogmatic speeches and writings. It is as if someone were to make a film about Adolf Hitler by portraying him as a vegetarian who loved animals and was against unemployment. This would be true, but again would be rather beside the point(my emphasis added).

And how he ends the article...

In presenting Guevara as a romantic figure, generous and compassionate rather than ruthlessly priggish and self-centered, and by suggesting that he has anything to teach us other than negatively, the director is guilty of mendacity of a very high order. The film is an exercise in moral frivolity and exhibitionism, self-congratulation, of course, opportunism. It should sell as well as Guevara T-shirts.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Technological Non-Creativity

Has the introduction of computer technology in the workforce caused overall job losses or job gains? Many people initially believe that with rapid automization and subsequent loss of need for human workers has caused a strong decline in jobs available. In many ways this is true. Just look at the number of bank tellers or human telephone operators today versus 20 years ago.
On the other hand, with a massive influx of computers and automation, and whole other level of industry has developed. We have the engineers, service technicians, support staff, and whole armies of programmers. Certainly this equals things out.
It numbers. What if we are to think of job losses and gains, though, in terms of the work we do, not the numbers of people working. There is a difference between the jobs, and one of the big ones is creativity.

Who in this is allowed to excercise their creativity? Back in the day, people were skilled at making a product from start to finish. They needed the be able to identify a design and turn it into a tangible object. In our society - not simply in a factory - creativity is left to the professionals. In a factory, there is a highly trained engineer or team of engineers who design a robot or a production line, or the whole factory itself. They deal with the problems and teach others how to use the machine. The average worker on the floor is one who simply uses the machine for its purpose. They are paid to work, not to be involved.
Or what about a new car. No longer can the average Joe Mechanic identify and fix a problem; due to the hefty computer system on board, the vehicle must be taken into a mechanic with a diagnostics computer to tell you exactly what is wrong and how to fix it.
We buy desks even if it is just three slabs of wood nailed together because we either don't know how to build or can't bother to take the time.
We are not trained to be creative but to enjoy the creativity of others.

Can we blame this solely on computer technology? I haven't quite come up with an answer on this, but my initial reaction is, "No", after all, isn't there always a plethora of areas to blame when a problem arises. I do believe, though, that computer technology has more to blame then we tend to give it. After all, it is not neutral.