Psychology, History & Sociology

Dave Winer is a tech blogger whose blog has been on my blogroll / reading list since 10 years now. He is the co-creator of the RSS format, widely used to syndicate blogs. Dave is a rockstar for me.

His recent podcast discusses whether “Arts” subjects like Pyschology and History are practical career investments or not.

Utility of Psychology is not difficult to explain; especially to HR and Sales people.

Psychology is certainly a practical skill-based class. Like it or not you’re going to spend the rest of your life dealing with people, and being a person, so you might as well know what makes humans go.

One of my interest areas is History. How did we get to the present and what can we learn from the past in order to build our future.

History? That’s the study of macro-level psychology. Why do humans, collectively, do the crazy things we do. The most tragic thing we do, btw, is to repeat mistakes of the past. So if you think you’re not at an advantage if you understand history, it’s actually a way to get a head start on life. But only if you plan to be partly responsible for what your generation does. If all you want to do is watch TV, play video games, eat and breed, I guess you can skip history.

Business History is particularly fascinating. For example, corporation as a business entity is accepted as a natural part of our life today. But it was not that way, as recently as 150 years ago. An incredible documentary called The Corporation traces the origin of the moden corporation.

150 years ago, the business corporation was a relatively insignificant institution. Today, it is all-pervasive. Like the Church, the Monarchy and the Communist Party in other times and places, the corporation is today’s dominant institution. This documentary examines the nature, evolution, impacts, and possible futures of the modern business corporation. Initially given a narrow legal mandate, what has allowed today’s corporation to achieve such extraordinary power and influence over our lives?

Dave reminds social media junkies that there’s more to read than Facebook and Twitter status updates. But with over thousand “friends and followers” sending hazaar updates, tweets, sms – where’s the time to read meaningful long literary texts.

And it helps to have a common base of literature that we’ve all read, so we can tell each other stories and have some idea of what we’re all talking about. Maybe these days all you need to know you can get from watching YouTube videos and reading your friends Facebook updates. But if that’s what you’re into, you’re not going to be very interesting to converse with. So the people who have something to say probably won’t seek you out.

Would add Sociology to the list of must-learn subjects in college. Read The Tipping Point to appreciate why.

It would help in creating an all-round understanding of the world, if elementary knowledge of subjects like Sociology, Economics and Pyschology is provided to college students of all streams.

Categories: General Gyan

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