Perceived Practicality

On reading Morozov’s article on solutionism, some thoughts I have recently had were reflected. When I look at some of the projects I do at CMU, I often feel that they do not actually solve any real problems and the solutions they give to the problems even when they are not necessarily real, are superficial solutions which lack depth.

Everything is a timeline when it comes to projects, we have one week to come up with a solution to a problem we need to find in a day of what is called field work in which we are expected to empathize and identify problems people are having. The projects tend to be short, with deliverables and responsive to “needs.” This is similar to how I think projects in industry work, you need to make money fast so you go out, find a problem and come up with some brilliant app idea to solve it and then you launch it and things get better in the World.

This is practical, you don’t spend years thinking and getting at the real underlying problems that would have an important impact in our lives. But practical often feels incomplete and superficial. Depth of thought and identifying what is worth solving and how requires time and this is not practical because it does not deliver quickly and does not satisfy the immediate need to fix something that is perceived to be broken with some scotch tape.

What is the alternative to perceived practicality and can we make it practical not because practical is better but because practical seems to be necessary?

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