Thursday, August 27, 2015

The world WHYd web

What is it about the world wide web that has us so enthralled? What is it about people like Vannevar Bush that holds our attention for 70 YEARS? What is is about songs like "Smells Like Teen Spirit," "Imagine," and "Stairway to Heaven" that makes them classics?

Wrong Question.

The right question is also the answer: WHY?

WHY does the world wide web have us so enthralled? WHY do people like Vannevar Bush hold our attention for 70 YEARS? WHY are songs like "Smells Like Teen Spirit," "Imagine," and "Stairway to Heaven" classics?

Simon Sinek makes the critical observation that we often spend too much time thinking about the WHATs of life. He says that psychologically, we don't ACT on WHATs.

We act on WHY's. The Question of WHY comes from our deepest selves. Its the reason that so many great leaders have been recognized at great: They don't make arguments based solely on logic. Logic focuses on the WHATs. The truly great leaders and thinkers start with a very different message: They start with WHY. And it speaks to our souls.

In his article, "As We May Think" Vannevar Bush makes predictions. That's what we get excited about now that we get to Monday Morning Quarterback his 70 year old treatise on what computers and information could be. Do you think he is the only one to have dreamed? Is he the only one who predicted the information age? Doubtful.

The magic of Bush is that he starts with WHY:
Of what lasting benefit has been man's use of science and of the new instruments which his research brought into existence? First, they have increased his control of his material environment. Thy have improved his food, his clothing, his shelter; they have increased his security and released him partly from the bondage of bare existence. They have given him increased knowledge of his own biological processes so that he has had a progressive freedom from disease and an increased span of life. They are illuminating the interactions of his physiological and psychological functions, giving the promise of an improved mental health.
Science has provided the swiftest communication between individuals; it has provided a record of ideas and has enabled man to manipulate and to make extracts from that record so that knowledge evolves and endures throughout the life of a race rather than that of an individual.
As We May Think
Vannevar Bush
July, 1945

Let's face it. Computers and the internet are just tools. 1's and 0's. Electrons moving about, following very well predicted and understood rules. Keyboards, mice, screens. These are the WHATs of a computer. The WHY is the reason that we're all glued to them. As @GardnerCampbel loves to say,

A computer is a thing that can be any other thing.

Vannevar opens his discussion of WHAT we should do with an incredibly powerful WHY. He elevates us to dream of a better world: free of disease, knowledge that evolves and endures beyond the life of an individual, being released from the bondage of bare existence!!!

Take a look at the media that matters to you. Texts, historical speeches, songs, movies, video games. Which blogs and articles get the most genuine engagement on the web? Which courses in college were most important to you? The things that matter most to us, that we allow to stick with us and shape our identities resonate with the unique WHY that resides in our souls.

Want to craft a compelling argument? Start with your WHY. Share your WHY.

Want to make a difference? Find your WHY. Act from your WHY.

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