On The Reawakening Of Dreams
As I was writing the entrance test that’s part of my application to the Columbia University today, my flow was broken, nay individuated, by the third and last question in the paper: “If given one month to report on a topic, what would the topic be? How would you go about studying and reporting it, and what media would you use to garner the maximum width of audience? Ensure that you don’t exceed 500 words.”
Of course, the last line was a terrible jolt to me; since I wasn’t being allowed to use the word-count companion, I began to type slowly, deliberately, counting each word as I put it down. Looking up at the clock, I saw that I had some 30 minutes remaining before the time would be up. I stopped typing and paused to think.
What would I report on? I had known the answer to that one for some four years, “The Impact Of Languages On Society”, but I could not go beyond thewhat of it all. You see, since the time I had completely structured the dream, per se, for myself, a lot of things had changed – the answers to most, if not all, of thehows had assumed different shapes and, with them, the whys, too. For example, if I were to present any statistical data after sampling and surveying (the methods for which have not changed significantly in a long time), I would have done so with tables with a small write-up accompanying each table. Now, I’ll have the tables, yes, but they wouldn’t be the nadirs of my hypotheses. Now, I have the Google Trendalyzer – more recently, it powered the Google Zeitgeist – together with Hans Rosling‘s Gapminder. With the coming of opportunities in programming and data visualization, the gap between raw data and the intended conclusion may have changed for the better. However, by being allowed to assume multiple perspectives with unchanging ease, the width of the audience that understood the praxis grew because the solution was now compatible with all the different ways in which the problem was being perceived by different people.
With that also increased involvement: presenting problems and solutions as seemingly dissociated elements only alienates the target audience because a) they feel excluded, b) they see no valid argument, or c) both. With the coming of Gapminder, which is a sterling example towards illustrating the consequential upgrading of perspectives it heralded (and, subsequently, the Trendalyzer), initiating increased audience participation became a 2-step process. In other words, affordable.
Soon, audience-participation and audience-inclusion was everywhere, eventually but quickly transcending crowd-sourcing into cloud-networking, where proactive attempts at bettering it only made it more intuitive. It was no longer necessary that I had to have all the resources to execute my projects; I could even be so much as a singular contributor – the plurality would be derived from a global network of research groups.
What did this mean for my hows? It meant that the long hours I had vouchsafed for perfect data representation had become short minutes, and I had time now to do so many other things – perhaps even spend them coming up with new ways to garner more meaningful data and chamfering the the conclusions. With more participation easierly (yeah, that’s a made-up word, but you get the semantic drift) available, undertaking standalone projects, or even aspiring to do so, would be foolish. In other words, unaffordable.
I went on to complete my paper so quickly that the examiner was surprised. I am sure I exceeded the word-limit but a few words, but I’m not worried. I’m sure they’ll get the point.
By widening the scope of the problem to include a malleated range of parameters to understand change at one end and widening the compatibility of solutions to address a longer list of issues at the other end, technology and the latitude of human thought have reawakened my dreams to a brighter world.