The technology entrepreneur

UNDERSTANDING SCIENCE, ARTS AND TECHNOLOGY

The Science Vs Arts Debate


Choosing between science and arts is every Indian middle class family’s nightmare. The whole family goes into a frenzy when they realize their beloved son, whom they envisioned as a computer engineer in the US, decides to pursue movies. Many kids are not allowed to pursue their passion and forced to take harder options for better or worse.

My tryst with science, arts and technology

Personally for me, it wasn’t tough at all since I had no clue what to do. Some of us, a lucky breed, are pushed into technology for no reason whatsoever. We become risk takers because there is no other option. What did I learn about technology from college? Not much.But no complaints! I was able to meet some really cool people and end up doing 2 technology startups with them.

My first startup was about creating the world’s largest offline search engine. Yes, a Google on SMS. So we designed an algorithm to get information from the internet a deliver it to the user as an SMS. We called it SMSGyan (Gyan means knowledge in Hindi). We identified good knowledge and information sources in the web and hit these sources whenever a user asked a question. At its peak time, we have witnessed a traffic of 10 Million SMS per day!

My second and current startup started, more ambitiously, wanting to be a platform for artists. It wasn’t as if I was a musician or good at drawing. I just know to play the guitar a little and I hated drawing. Most of my drawing assignments in college where done by others. I am just a huge fan of limitless creativity in general and believe that for “creativity” to thrive in a culture, artists should be doing really well and having a great time!

We rented a 200 year old building and converted it into a creative hub, hosting artists and art lovers for weekly programs. It quickly gained popularity as Kochi’s first music venue and a hip joint. The location was perfect, since Fort Kochi and Mattancherry witness a lot of traveling artists. It is also the place of India’s first Biennale, an international arts festival. The whole town is full of old Dutch and Portuguese architecture. There came a time when we were reduced to only 5 people to manage everything! With the smallest staff, we went through a phase of the most-packed-events we ever managed! One day, during the performance of a German band DonRaja, we witnessed 200 people! The lead singer in the band just got married and he had his group of 60 “friends and family” adding to the already crowded tourists and local music lovers. Imagine this in our cafe that was all about that intimacy of artists and people, to be more precise 60!

I remember saying “ I know its hot and tight and jam packed, but we may not get a moment like this again. Look around you… so many people from different backgrounds… connected for the love of arts and music… partying with a beautiful 3 piece German band.. at a 200 year old Dutch building in …Mattancherry… India! So we better have fun!” And that explains my affection toward creativity and the things it can do!

That night at the Springr

To put it all out, embracing uncertainty and enrolling myself in college to pursue technology was not the worst. Whether it was building software or serving italian sodas during a music show, these experiences have given me a deep insight into science, technology and arts. I believe to understand technology, we need to understand science and arts better. The age old debate — Science Vs Arts — is — the least to say and for added emphasis with an English accent…RUBBISH!

Decoding SCIENCE, ARTS and TECHNOLOGY

Dictionary meaning — Science means the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. Everything about that definition is organized, systematic, analytic and left brained.

Dictionary meaning — Arts means the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. Everything about this is heart centric, expressive, what people connect instantly with and right brained.

Interpreting the above definitions, we should be able to safely say that Science is the study and Arts is the application.

Einstein had once said “The greatest scientists are artists as well”. In my words — Every science has an art to it and every art has a science to it. Technology is defined as the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes. Technology comes from a Greek word ‘Teknik’ which means “useful arts”. It is a very, very old word and does not only mean computers and mobiles.
Imagine Science and Arts falling in love and making a baby. That baby is technology.

Technology, since a very long time, has been associated with change at a large level. Whenever some scientific exploration has been designed for people and has helped people to lead a better life, we have acknowledged that life changing event as “technology”. Whether it is the invention of fire, wheel, steam engine, computers, mobiles or robots.

Role of the technology entrepreneur

It means technology entrepreneur cannot choose between science and arts. He/She has to get the best from both worlds. Its the technology entrepreneur’s job to look into the deepest scientific knowledges to find solutions to problems. And it is his/her job to understand people and make sure the solution reaches everyone who needs it. You can invent the most kick ass machine in the world, but it does not make sense if people can’t use it. The mix of science and arts gives the technology entrepreneur the analytical mind to learn and a creative mind to keep putting the learning to practical uses.

For a simple understanding, in an imaginary scenario, when the scientist is inventing the cure for cancer and the artist is performing to create awareness about cancer, the technology entrepreneur’s job here is making new ways for the treatment and awareness to reach more people, better and faster! I believe that is why we are seeing a shift from the generations’ role models from artists and scientists like Einstein, John Lennon, Shakespeare to the more recent Steve Jobs, Elon Musk types.

So my humble message to to all technology entrepreneurs, including myself, Buckle up! You are the Einstein, Newton, Marie Curie, John Lennon… the world is looking for. You are responsible to make life better for people and give them change. And you can do that by unlocking both the scientist and artist in you.

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