Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Singing The Strong, Light Works of Engineers

Someone reminded me recently of this stanza from Whitman's "Passage to India":


Lo, soul! seest thou not God’s purpose from the first?
The earth to be spann’d, connected by network,
The people to become brothers and sisters,
The races, neighbors, to marry and be given in marriage,
The oceans to be cross’d, the distant brought near,
The lands to be welded together.


How appropriate to our Internet-connected age. Even though Whitman was "Singing the strong, light works of engineers" of a different time, I long for this kind of celebration of the achievements of today's technologists.

Most folks fall into two camps, those who love technology for technology's sake, assuming that "novel" is always "good", and those who see at as only a destructive, disruptive force.

Technology, of course is both and neither of these things. Just as it always has been through our history, every tool can be used as a weapon. Swords and plowshares are interchangeable. That being admitted, I can't help but think that my field--that technology in general--could at least be given the benefit of the doubt by the people who so covet its products and effects everyday. We use more technology today than ever, and it's viewed with so much less awe and inspiration as it was a century ago. Where is today's Walt Whitman, singing of *our* earth-spanning network? Engineering needs a Poet. Any takers?

1 comment:

  1. Any one of a large number of Dilbert strips would be worthy "takers."

    ReplyDelete