To be there, where the action is, when the technology is breaking. To see the barriers coming down, the opportunities opening up, and the potentials unfolding. To be a player, even if only in a bit part. To be contributing to the project, be it ever so small. To be a part of something that has never happened before.
And thats what meaning is all about. You have to be lucky to be there. You have to just happen to be in the right place at the right time. But if you are, it becomes the defining moment of your life, a precious memory that you always have with you.
The momentous times dominate the history of our civilization. But they occur for only brief periods of time and in scattered locations over the globe. And, ironically, at the time the fortunate few who are there and making it happen usually dont realize until much later what it was all about. Only later is it obvious, the magnitude of their experience and how fortunate they were to have been there. Marco Polos crew probably just signed on for a job of work. Likewise the Spanish and Portuguese adventurers of the 16th century. The builders of the industrial revolution in England were undoubtedly focused on making a few bob more. Even the early workers in the transistor industry thought far more about reliability, linearity and competing with vacuum tubes than they did about making a new way of life for people.
We have been fortunate to an unbelieveable degree in our working life time. We have seen multiple amazing developments in technology come into being. The development of the atomic bomb and the entire nuclear technology that it ushered in was an experience so traumatic in the lives of those who participated that it will take the perspective of history to put in its proper role in history. The space program that immediately followed was an adventure story pure and simple. The innovation of the computer and its insertion into the everyday life of the entire population of the globe was never predicted in any of the most far out science fiction. The computer industry produced heroes and geniuses. But we should put the dazzle of the individuals in proper perspective.
"It is not enough to be the possessor of genius--the time and the man must conjoin. An Alexander the Great born into an age of profound peace might scarce have troubled the world..."
["Diversions of Historical Thought" by John Cleveland Cotton as cited in "The Curfew Tolls" by Stephen Vincent Benet.]
From the classifieds of the San Jose Daily Bugle:
So here we are now. Computers have become commodity items. The excitement is over. They are just another part of every day life. The internet is now used by more than half the population of the country. "Where have all the flowers gone?"
The dilemma facing anyone who has tasted even the slightest nectar of technology adventure is what to do now. Are we really settling back to text book better business practices and building on what has been done? Or are there truly fundamental breakthroughs out there right now, just waiting to happen? The answer is that no one really knows. There are predictions galore and because there are so many of them, someone will just happen to be right and after the fact be labeled as brilliant
The true technology adventurer, however, has far more in common with those who signed up to sail uncharted seas and explore the unknown frontiers. Robert Service got it just right in his "The Spell of the Yukon" when he wrote "Yet it isnt the gold that Im wanting. So much as just finding the gold."
There are many opportunities out there. Genome work is now dependent on computer technology and the techniques of handling vast amounts of data. The promise of what might come of that may be the greatest technology accomplishment ever. Insertion of data processing technology into the psyche of the individual may make everything done so far with computers seem primitive. There still is the intrigue of the undiscovered out there and the life experience of being part of it is still as much of a defining moment for the individual who chooses to put himself or herself into it as it ever has been.
|Virtual_Jack is an old, retired computer programmer who feels very grateful for the opportunity he has had to touch just a bit of the atomic energy, aerospace and computer developments.|