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The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  333 ratings  ·  54 reviews
One of the nation's leading venture capitalists offers surprising revelations on who is going to be leading innovation in the years to come

Scott Hartley first heard the terms fuzzy and techie while studying political science at Stanford University. If you majored in the humanities or social sciences, you were a fuzzy. If you majored in the computer sciences, you were a tec
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 25th 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Aug 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Hartley provides an interesting but ultimately, I think, fatally flawed analysis.

For one thing, on one axis almost everyone he examines is male, and along another axis almost everyone he examines is either entrepreneurial or academic. Women and anyone who's not in a financial position to be entrepreneurial or in an educational position to be academic get pretty short shrift. The working class are dealt with as statistics, when they're considered at all.

And in dealing with the statistics Hartley
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
I believe the intended message of this book is important: The liberal arts are essential to our individual and collective well-being, and we need them to save us from reckless tech-mania. Two examples intrigued me: One is "Time Well Spent," an effort by a successful techie to make our tech tools serve our human goals, rather than just make us addled tech-addicts. Another is the Center for Livable Media, which also wants to change design approaches so that our tools "allow people to make choices ...more
The underlying tension the book explores is whether or not the liberal arts degrees have any value in our technological days and future.

But that's just the same as asking if it has any value in our Agricultural Age or our Industrial Age.

Furthermore, he seems to put liberal arts under these more functional work elements. In this way, the liberal arts is here to serve technology.

But this is not what the liberal arts is in essence. The value of the liberal arts is and never has been based upon it
Aug 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: library-loan
As someone who holds a liberal arts degree, yet works in tech, I was interested in reading this. Many of the examples the author uses are entrepreneurs, but that doesn't mean skills learned in the liberal arts cannot be applied in other facets of tech. There is much to be said for being a well-rounded person, with diverse skills and interests. Skills can be learned, and very few fields/jobs will remain stagnant over the long term. People who can adapt quickly and learn new things and work well w ...more
Jun 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a good read. For those of us who've considered ourselves techies, this is a good encouragement to learn more about the 'fuzzy' side of work and life.

For those who consider themselves 'fuzzies', this book is a great encouragement to boost their techie skills.

Buddy Scalera
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Great concept for a long article or conference presentation, but was not effective as a book.

Long, meandering chapters that didn't seem to support the core concept for the book. The introduction and first chapter started off well, but the book lost focus in the case studies.

The author is a good writer and should write a tightly focused follow-up book.
Prachi Paranjpye
May 30, 2019 rated it liked it
A book for everyone who has taken up humanities. It helps build perspective and motivates to learn data and statistics.
Bev Simpson
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the book. I like the premise that the world of jobs is not all about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) which is getting a lot of airtime right now. Even as they are emerging in a highly technologized world, most jobs require a high degree of Arts knowledge (See teamwork and Emotional Intelligence literature, for example). Hence the importance of STEAM, not just STEM. The Arts and Design are important in all jobs and never more so than now. The Classics, History and all that ...more
Sep 19, 2017 rated it did not like it
As someone who straddles fuzzy and techie roles daily, I thought this would be 350 pages of telling me what I want to hear. Instead I was entirely underwhelmed. Too often, his entire argument boiled down to "fuzzies can be smart too" and his evidence is primarily anecdotal. It's pretty easy to posit that not all fuzzies are stupid and destined for failure -- it would have been much more useful and interesting to evaluate what the ratio of fuzzy to techie will or should be and why.

I do agree with
Michayla (WaitingfortheSecondStar)
This book really made me feel good about my liberal arts background (and employment at a liberal arts university). So many people who work in the tech industry started in liberal arts, and this book makes an excellent case for why that should continue. I do feel that the book got a little long--Hartley probably could have simply written an article on the topic, rather than trying to pull in so many examples. So I mostly skimmed the sections that didn't interest me and focused on the parts that r ...more
Sudheendra Fadnis
May 06, 2019 rated it liked it
In our education system today, we see a clear line of demarcation between the liberal arts such as literature, history, philosophy, political science, anthropology, sociology , psychology etc and pure sciences such as physics, mathematics, biology and chemistry . But the author says that it is a false dichotomy. That's why in the Stanford school they call those who study the liberal arts as Fuzzies and those who study science as Techies. But, they are not mutually exclusive subjects. They need e ...more
Federico Carciaghi
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
"The emphasis should not be on teaching these skills exclusively, and not only on this nearer-term skills gap. Those being taught the STEM skills should also be afforded the opportunity to develop the proficiencies fostered by the liberal arts, which will make them more agile and employable workers in tomorrow's economy. [...] We should be balancing this with a liberal arts education that develops more rounded skills and wider perspectives, instilling strengths in both the technical and the fuzz ...more
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-books
This book provides an interesting perspective in looking at the current high tech-laden start-ups and businesses with a different angle. With the current exponential growth in digital technology and AI revolution as a backdrop, the author, Scott Hartley, who is a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and has worked in Google and Facebook, argues that people with a liberal arts education play an increasing important role in today's high-tech world.

One of the key themes of the book revolves around the
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing-creative
As a liberal arts major I have confirmation bias to love this book. I don't buy the argument completely, but the author does a great job arguing for the role of liberal arts grads in the high-tech world. The book was very readable - I read it in one day. The chapters on jobs and design etihcs were the best, the chapter on building a greater good wasn't so interesting.

Hartley's basic argument is that liberal arts majors have to serious hard skills mainly logic and communication. A need for user
Daren Fulwell
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have a very simplistic view of this book - I don’t think that the premise of fuzzy vs techie is really what it’s about. It’s strapline “Why the liberal arts will rule the digital world” is not even in line with the content or the conclusions.

Hartley walks through a whole load of case studies where tech is used as a tool by “fuzzies” to the greater good, and these are thought provokingly chosen. I went off on numerous tangents checking out projects from the pages of the book.

For me, the point
Angshuman Bhattacharya
A very important distinction one has to made at the early college life is to which discipline to chose. The last few decades have seen astronomical rise of technology led by the STEM students; and the natural choice for all the aspirants moved to STEM-C. However, the author has very credibly shown the contribution of liberal arts and social sciences in shaping the world. Building the human apps, that helps people achieve things, are actually designed by the liberal arts and social science majors ...more
Marianne Donovan
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: won
In "The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World" by Scott Hartley there are several short story examples of how people who are not "techies" are becoming leaders in our very tech centered world and economy. They use examples of theatre majors using their acting skills to make successful presentations to obtain funding/backers for their projects. That tech support can be bought or learned, but that even in a world that seems very technical, we need the dreamers and ...more
Wynn Netherland
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
As a liberal arts major writing software for the last twenty years, much of this book rings true. I'm certainly biased, perhaps even more so having been a part of the Ruby programming community, a hideout for "Fuzzy" people (as Hartley calls them).

The book posits the counterintuitive idea that our increasingly automated future will actually increase demand for the softer skills. As more algorithms become a part of our day-to-day lives, there will be a growing need to ensure the bots are serving
Cliff Chew
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I think this book is better than the book Sensemaking, at least in terms of its writing style. This book is also more balanced in its view, which I feel is the main reason why I feel the style of this book is more towards my taste.

This book has some good breadth in it's coverage, with several very interesting cases of the importance of fuzzy people (liberal arts people) utilizing their skill sets, being able to contribute in a world seemingly driven by techie (STEM) people.

Although this book p
Paul Burke
Apr 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Core idea is good but the book essentially is just a long list of examples of people with liberal arts backgrounds who have made important contributions to STEM dominated fields.

There are some interesting discussions of AI and some other good parts, but the book smacks of the author having an opinion and then just finding lots of examples to support that opinion and not much more. Also, anyone who actually reads this book is already going to be predisposed to agree with the premise (I can't ima
Susan Hartley
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book to learn a lot about techie things I did not know before. My kids are techie and this book does a great job explaining in really simple language how things like algorithms work. It's a book of stories so very capitulating. The innovators are fuzzies, or people with liberal arts backgrounds, not engineers. Surprisingly so many companies like Pinterest and YouTube and so many others are run by or founded by people with all sorts of degrees. I loved this book and the messag ...more
Jim Willse
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure the author makes his case that the kind of liberal arts education most of us know really feeds into the tech landscape. Two problems: most of the educational examples he cites aren't all that "fuzzy" -- economics, linguistics, psychology, sociology, anthropology -- and are pretty much generated from elite campuses like Stanford and MIT. That said, the central thesis makes sense -- "Our education, products and institutions should ideally all be one part fuzzy and one part techie ..." ...more
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting and thought provoking read. It really opened my eyes to how necessary it is for the humanities to work with those in the tech fields in order to better understand human/computer interactions. We can't have one or the other, tech and the humanities must grow together in order to improve our technology and then also improve our society.

I was skeptical about reading this book, as it is nonfiction and I don't generally have an interest in that kind of literature, however
Zack Rearick
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Interesting to hear a Silicon Valley venture capitalist make the case for the liberal arts. In spite of rapid technological advances and a current fixation on career-specific STEM education, "fuzzy" skill sets will remain valuable — even prized — in the digital world. Hartley gives good examples of liberal arts people taking leadership roles in techie spaces, and bouncing successfully between fuzzy and techie fields, and even blending them in emerging areas like usability, data visualization, et ...more
Eric Johnson
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good arguments here for continuing pursuit of humanities and liberal arts education and the sociological, anthropological, philosophical, and ethical skills required to successfully parse said study effectively.

We do ourselves a great disservice when assuming that "coding" is necessary to succeed in the 21st century economy. Ingenuity and innovation don't come solely from hard coding skills. They come from soft skills that are relational and humanistic. How can you solve a problem if you can't
Jo Beth
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book reminded me of Daniel H. Pink’s A Whole New Mind, which gives hope to those worried about automation taking over everyone’s jobs and leaving everybody but third worlders unemployed. No, fear not, because it’s the “fuzzy” liberal arts way of thinking that will continue to solve problems. Chapter 6, Enhancing the Ways We Learn, brought to mind YouTuber Veritasium’s “This Will Revolutionize Education,” which uses evidence to support the fact that learning is best done in a community of le ...more
Anna Dickson
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read

I may be slightly biased, being a fuzzy in tech myself, but This book does an amazing job of breaking down the benefits to having a different, and very human perspective that can ultimately help our tech grow. It also thoroughly discusses where tech may improve but not necessarily replace our jobs. A good read for anyone who needs a little inspiration to think a little differently about what they do.
Jun 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Fuzzy + Techie : My only thought is do not mix it with your corporate position since that remains leaning deeply towards the latter.
Otherwise, book has a lot of impact, for an Asian reader, it leaves a lot of ideas to have a basic grasp about, for which some additional research is required.
This is not one of those whom you could quickly skim through and put to rest. This may remain a Work IN Progress for sometime at least if you'd like to do justice to it.
Jan 30, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked the book overall but it suffers from the same annoying thing that a lot of American non-fiction books suffer from: it makes the same point over and over. Although I like all the examples he uses, at some point it is just repetition and becomes exhausting.
Still, the main point of the book is spot on!
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this before hearing Scott speak at our local college. He is a very good speaker who uses different examples than those in his book. I'm a fuzzy and at times the book was a little too techy (didn't hold my interest) so I rated it 4 stars. I did think he gave interesting stories which were positive for both fuzzies and techies.
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SCOTT HARTLEY is a venture capitalist and startup advisor. He has served as a Presidential Innovation Fellow at the White House, a partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures, and a venture partner at Metamorphic Ventures. Prior to venture capital, Hartley worked at Google, Facebook, and Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. He is a contributing author to the MIT Press book Shopping for Good, and ...more

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