Saturday, May 01, 2004

Who Am I? - Episode 2 - My New Business Cards...

Title - Technological Philosopher
Instead of just deleting the latest offer from Vista Print for free business cards, I went ahead with another order. I had acquired some cards awhile back, but I switched from Sprint to Cingular and my cell number has changed. (I was about 6 months too late to keep my number...)

Theoretically the cards are for my mythical consulting business, but mostly I'd like to have a handy way to get people my personal contact info., phone, e-mail, etc.

The last time I was more thinking of the business aspect of things. Although there were various labels for the fields, but I used the standard layout in my own way.

Just below
Virtuoso Systems I put the line:
Orchestrating Technology Solutions

Then these two lines:
Keeping your systems singing...
and your network humming!

I still like that idea. I may get another set with the same layout and the corrected number. (They only charge shipping. The back of the card has a small logo and link to their site.)

This time around I noticed they had a new layout with an American Flag. I thought that would be a nice motif to include the link to the Airport movie clip.

As I was filling out the web form, I came to the field for Title.

Hmmmm. That was an interesting one. For reasons that will probably never be aired here in this venue, title is a particularly sensitive subject with me. Suffice it to say that at least part of the reason I write these musings is the creative outlet has positive personal benefits. I try not to delve into totally personal issues, and hope to keep things interesting...

I thought for awhile on just how I should describe myself...

I have spent much time of late reading historical fiction. For some reason, I have been going down this different tack from my 'normal' Hard SF fare. Specifically historical fiction set in the 17th century with both the Enlightenment and the Reformation as central themes.

I suppose it all really started when, also out of character, I read the non-fiction “The Scots Invented the Modern World” in ‘preparation’ for my trip to London early last year. My wife Cathy had found it somewhere and it had sat at least half a year on the shelf. Given I had a side trip planned over my weekend there up to Edinburgh I thought it would make for nice background. Lost track of it around here somewhere and have not finished it yet, but it got me started thinking a lot about both subjects and how we are still influenced by them today.

Then I found Erik Flint’s 1632 with the follow-up 1633 where Flint teams up with David Weber. (Weber is one of my favorite Space Navy authors as well as a great set of fantasy novels.) The premise of 1632/1633 is that a good sized chunk of a West Virginia county gets SOMEHOW transported back to the 17th century in central Germany (although there really isn’t just a single Germany yet) and gets the inhabitants of said county seat embroiled in the 30 years war inside the first half-hour of arriving.

The science of how this transference is a little vague, but the suspension of dis-belief is good enough to make the skill set of the coal-mine based rural community just sufficient to make their survival plausible.

Interesting to me in many ways:

Who learns much about the 30years war in US schools?

American Democracy delivered by your local Coal Miner’s Union! I read somewhere that Flint or his family worked organizing the miners in WV.

All kinds of issues of rate of fire and historical battle tactics that are most interesting.

Real issues on survival being more than just one guy holding off an army with nothing but a 45 simi-automatic pistol and a belt load of clips. (Way to unrealistic. Instead, it’s teen-aged motorcyclists with pump shotguns and a High School cheerleader with a high-power hunting rifle and scope… ;->)

Then Neal Stephenson followed up his non-futuristic Cryptonomicon, (which already had me thinking about money and has a great scene with a huge stack of gold bars sitting in the middle of nowhere in the Philippine Jungle, an object lesson in just how non-fluid gold can be… but by the end it’s fluid alright… ;->) with the Baroque cycle.

First book: QuickSilver. The nature of markets. The nature of money. Cyphers. Who invented calculus? And Coffee Houses! Just to name a few of the many topics.

The next installment, The Confusion, is out now. (Still making my way through the first book. I have been savoring it in small doses. Plus there are a lot of ideas to digest in those small 'bites'...)

I suppose it is being 'immeresed' in these subjects (well not the coffee, at least not literally... ;->) that led me to my choice of 'Title'.

I have decided I am a Technological Philosopher.

Not in a formal academic sense. More in the tradition of the Natural Philosophers, the predecesors of modern science, who observed the Natural World, looking for patterns and meaning, I observe the Technological world.

I suppose my vocation is another similarity. It is an outgrowth of my interest in things Technological, not an end in itself. (Hooke is royal architect, re-building London, but this is not the limit of his interests. Arguably, the least of his important work.)

Like those same Natural Philosophers, I am fascinated with the way things work. And like those same men, I marvel at the wonder of it all.

And the Technological World is certainly a big mysterious place, is it not?

Let's have a look together, shall we?