Saturday, March 29, 2014

Think Different

I just read about this teenager who figured out a simple and an ingenious idea to save a lot of money for the Federal government. Read about it here. Isn't this beautiful? We would have never thought about a typeface making a lot of difference and apparently it does, which is not entirely an inconceivable notion.

I keep reading about these kids doing big things in high school. They develop complicated biomedical instruments, power saving contraptions and so on which always makes me think that their parents would have helped them with it (though I might be completely wrong, in which case it is remarkable). I suppose I am deeply suspicious of kids doing mind-blowingly awesome things in high school, by themselves, having been witness to many, many Tiger Moms. That is still not that big a deal in the bigger spectrum of things, but I know how it is for reporters to blow things out of proportion, call the kid the next Steve Jobs only to put inordinate pressure on the kid to perform later in life. I remember something similar happened with an Indian kid a few months before where he created a new operating system of sorts that made the Indian media go bonkers. There was this huge thread in Reddit where they myth busted the awesomeness of this operating system.

When I was in high school, one of the Tamil Magazines opened up an application to come up with the next big public policy idea to revolutionize India. The prize was a Compaq PC which was incredibly hot at that time. I remember spending days holed up with my mother trying to brainstorm and come up with the greatest idea ever. We never did. My mother was prone to sending out essay, stories and jokes to Tamil magazines in my name. Thankfully, most of them did not get published. Some of them did, but they were mostly restricted to the realm of kitchen tips in women's magazines. At one point I had middle aged women spotting me out in weddings and telling me how good my idea for scrubbing kitchen counters with pumice stone was, which is when I put my foot down on the state of affairs. My mother sullenly took up my grandmother's name for her future publishing endeavors. Now you can understand my natural skepticism for the limitless projected potential of high school students. When I was in eighth grade, this shady article appeared in a shadier magazine that was literally titled " Flower Bouquet " on how I plan to become an IAS officer. The readership of Flower Bouquet magazine was probably a sum total of fifty people which includes the publisher, the parents of the kids who write in the magazine and the relatives who get forced by these parents to read the "featured" articles. Despite the small damage the limited viewership can wreak on kids, I think it a very presumptuous thing for parents ghost for their children and then make the child take credit. Somehow it feels that they are setting dangerous precedent about taking credit for someone else's work without a twinge of remorse.

However, what makes me happy about this typeface idea is that it is so simple and fantastic without the usual frills of transistors or gene modification or cancer curing drug. It is definitely something that a high school student could have conceived and executed by himself without parental help, which to even to me, feels very convincing and weirdly, reassuring.

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