“Why the humanities matter”

Here’s an excerpt of an interview first published in The Straits Times dated May 20 with practice Associate Professor Ian Macduff, 61. He teaches negotiation, conflict resolution, and ethics and social responsibility at the Singapore Management University (SMU).

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Marriage

LOOKING through Facebook, I spot a trend that many people in my age bracket are facing – the marrieds. They’re blooming everywhere, those mightily big hints of marriage.

Every other day, there’s a different piece of news. Just the other day, my friend posted a picture of some showroom flat, I suppose. Since he’s a year younger, I assume he is lining up for the flat, along with his wife-to-be.

Today, it’s a link to another friend’s honeymoon photos. I’m not close to this friend but it doesn’t stop me from browsing her photos. After all, if you upload your life online, you must have wanted someone to see this right? The same goes for this blog.

As I flip through the photos, my mind’s arrested by their looks.

They’re on their honeymoon but their facial expressions seem rather…sad.

They’re taking pictures for the sake of taking it. Going through the motion.

Are the photos on Facebook all like that? Taken and uploaded just to prove that you were there. And nothing more.

On mobile

Posting from my blackberry while on commute to work. Will this change anything?

Give back the pen and paper

SOMETIMES I think my life is shortened dramatically, not from the things that are supposed to harm myself (one thinks of smoking, carcinogenic foods, soda, masturbating which kills kittens by the way) but from things that are supposed to help me.

Things like technology.

My Blackberry gave me tonnes of trouble today as I suffered to reinstall operating system after operating system, in the vain hope of finding one that was not too bloated (they eat up the limited memory my Bold has) and possesses East Asian capability. I need the latter to read and write Chinese characters.

My carrier’s OS provides Chinese capability but because the world is run by fools on Olympus who think you cannot have your cake and eat it too, the OS is a terribly bloated sloth. After installation, I end up with only 20MB of memory.

That’s like a smartphone which cannot MMS. Or multitask.

Oh wait, there’s one for that too.

I cannot understand why iPhones, the best multimedia products in the world, cannot multitask or MMS. Do we have a name for such smartphones? Was Apple releasing subpar products just to earn more money in a kind of “soft launch” way. On a brighter note, I don’t seem to recall the users grumbling about memory.

And on the very same day when my Blackberry was acting like a poisonous fruit, my workstation happened to give up its soul too. Except for the fact that I slave away in a somewhat online company, I would have laughed.

I told a colleague or two that if this goes on any longer, I’ll turn into a Luddite. Scrape the pictures that should accompany words. Scrape the multimedia elements. Scrape the short-attention spans. Scrape the informality.

That’s why wherever I go, I carry a pen and a writing pad with me, regardless of my Blackberry.

It’s time to turn back the clock and return to the age of words, pencils and paper, landlines, grandmother’s underwear and what-nots.