John Maeda, STEAMed: Innovation not just about tech

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There is no greater integrity, no greater goal achieved, than an idea articulately expressed through something made with your hands....

Artists do research with an open-mindedness and rigorous inquiry unseen in most other disciplines, except true science. They systematically and visually survey the world of ideas, objects, and experiences for inspiration by rummaging through it with their bare hands.

Is art as important to innovation as technology?

Perhaps it's because I spent many days as a younger man working with my father, who built many, many homes as a carpenter. Perhaps it's because of my own creative and introspective personality, or because I enjoy furniture building or, lately, because I'm teaching myself to wire and code circuits to run embedded software, but it's definitely true for me that working with my hands is as important to curiosity and its outcomes as my mind. Without it, I wouldn't have half the pleasure I get from the creative process - and none of the free standing cabinets, end tables and desks I've made.

John Maeda, author of "The Laws of Simplicity," MIT grad and computer scientist, and current president of the Rhode Island School of Design, writes in SEED about the importance of made objects and art and design to the innovation process, proposing that the word "art" be added to the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) acronym making the rounds.