I know a bit about a lot of things but I can’t really claim to be an expert on any level except in the area of stringing words together. Although I have had positions that involved technical work (audio engineer, radio ad producer, a degree of coding for web sites), I’ve only managed to keep working because of one thing: my English degree.
I’ve never been very good at explaining its value to me. Fortunately, David Brooks has in a New York Times Column: History for Dollars.
“Studying the humanities improves your ability to read and write. No matter what you do in life, you will have a huge advantage if you can read a paragraph and discern its meaning (a rarer talent than you might suppose). You will have enormous power if you are the person in the office who can write a clear and concise memo.
“Studying the humanities will give you a familiarity with the language of emotion. In an information economy, many people have the ability to produce a technical innovation: a new MP3 player. Very few people have the ability to create a great brand: the iPod. Branding involves the location and arousal of affection, and you can’t do it unless you are conversant in the language of romance.”
I’m not sure other people always see how dependent understanding our technology is on language. I tried to explain one aspect of it a while ago in Metaphors and similes: like bling for words.
Brooks’ column does a much better job of explaining the importance of such things. I recommend everyone read it.
It helps to explain why I’ve managed to keep working.