Finding a Mentor

In retrospect, it would have been better for me to look for a single program that offered my interdisciplinary interest, but I was anxious to get back in to an educational setting with little to no money. In fact, I actually got paid to go to school in California since I didn’t have any other real income.

It didn’t take me much to know that if I wanted to go on a track of higher education in the science field that I will need to put in lab time and have a mentor that could guide me in the right direction. Additionally, I needed some professors to vouch for why I would be a good candidate for some PhD program.

Time to buckle down, right?!

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Back to School

After a bit of a hiatus from formal education, I figured it was time to establish some formal credentials, especially if I was going to pursue some combinational field of Computer Science and Psychology–perhaps neuroscience, or artificial intelligence. I was not clear on that decision at the time and figured I would just earn degrees in both if I could.

Although I am not the biggest fan of the way the formal educational system is structured today (I resonate with the criticism and solutions from one, Dr. Ken Robinson), I realize that it is not reality to be considered a serious scientist without formal training and a terminal degree.

Therefore I enrolled into City College of San Francisco to obtain degrees in Computer Science and Behavioral Science.

 

The Social Animal

Ginger Campbell’s Brain Science podcast is enlightening with so many good interviews with neuroscientist and psychologist; however, there was an interview by Social Psychologist Carol Tavris that stuck out to me. Her clear description of the mind and behavior with a particular emphasis on the field of Social Psychology was a breathe of fresh air.

While Tavris in her own right is fascinating (again, I love the passion), it was the work of her collaborator, the renown Social Psychologist Elliot Aronson, that drew me closer to the study of the human mind and behavior. Tavris and Aronson co-authored the book Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me), which I enjoyed. This book pointed me in the direction of Aronson’s autobiography and the prominent textbook The Social Animal. 

This was the beginning phase of my self-study of psychology, and while the direct study of art and technology were on hold, I used it to inform my work of the human mind. In fact, the science of human psychology has been more of a complement to other things I have been working on.

My Friend–Podcasts

With this newfound excitement about human creativity, I ventured into doing a self-study of the science of human psychology. Not really knowing where to look in to outside of a university setting, I happen upon a great invention–the podcast.

One of the very first podcast I ever subscribed to was Ginger Campbell’s BrainScience podcast. This was a good introduction to the world of neuroscience and I often appreciate the passion someone expresses with their field of expertise. Of course, this podcast opened me up to other podcasts and books which I will discuss next week.

The Mind-Brain paradox

The science of human psychology is fascinating to me. It has been the glue to bring my two passions of art and technology together. There is a myriad of literature that specifies the neurological implications of the two hemispheres of the brain. The debate between the “art side” and the “mathematical/logical side” is beyond the scope of this blog.

From as far back as Plato and Aristotle, there are equally as many discussions on the question of the mind and brain, i.e., whether they are two distinct entities or are semantically interchangeable.

Without drawing any conclusions here, I have embraced the paradox with joy, provoking me to look into the overall creative process.

The Psychology of Traveling

A bit confused and overwhelmed to say the least, so I took a break from the grind and thought it would be best to travel and expose myself to other parts of the world. This by far was the most important shift in my life. I needed to contemplate the meaning of life and discover my own concept of true happiness.

Experiencing different cultures and witnessing the beauty of how other people think, create, and communicate, provoked me to develop a love for the human mind. That naturally moved me to study human psychology.

Switching Majors Again…kind of

Now I was literally and figuratively working on the other side of campus and tried my best to engage in the hard core technical culture of Computer Science–staying up late with classmates working on programming, problem sets, and algorithms. In addition to presenting at conferences, joining clubs, and landing lucrative internships. Unfortunately, yet again, I felt something was missing.

I needed some visual and cultural aestheticism which was difficult to find in Computer Science at the time. I went back to Visual Arts with an emphasis on Graphic Design…but, I kept my Computer Science as a major, thereby having a double major.

Whoa! C.P. Snow’s insightful work was starting to be validated.

Switching Majors

When I first entered college I registered as a Fine Arts major. Beyond all the negative doubts that outside influence bombarded me with for majoring in “arts”, I personally felt that something was missing. My thinking at the time was, if I was going to be investing so much time and money on education, I wanted to be intellectually challenged. Not that I don’t love the liberal arts, but give me something with hard logic, scientific validations, and future financial stability. I immediately changed my major to Computer Science.

Speaking of Art and Technology…

The theme of this blog is Art and Technology and I intend to paint broad strokes of how I have utilized this. I have taken this subject up because of the recent books I have read in the last two months: Steve Jobs and The Innovators. Both written by Walter Isaacson. He elaborates on this very theme of Art (Humanities, etc.) and Technology in such an eloquent way, that it lead me to pick up a pencil and pad again to regain my sketching work. This resonated with me on many levels, having me reflect on the paradox that the British scientist and novelist C.P. Snow discusses in his The Two Cultures book. More on that later.

Art & Technology

In addition to seeing my father sketch, I was surrounded by two things — books and computers. He gained System Engineering skills from his time in the Navy, and I would watch and help him tinker around with dozens of computers in our basement. Although I was most passionate about the arts, I had a subconsciously deep affinity towards technology. Those passions style persist.