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In the age of bare hands and cast iron – Vacation Missive

July 6, 2006 - 0 Comments

The great Irish, Nobel Prize Poet Seamus Heaney is one of my favorite writers. In his newest collection, District and Circle, he reflects on the mechanism of farming, weaving it with the circular, pattern of life and even the weather and earth itself. In the opening poem of the slim, powerful collection, “The Turnip-Snedder,” he reflects:”‘This is the way God sees Life,’it said, ‘from seedling-braird to snedder,’as the handle turnedand turnip-heads were let fall and fed to the juiced-up inner blades,’this is the turnip-cycle,;as it dropped its raw sliced messbucketful by glistening bucketful.”In some ways, I am starting to see the technology cycle of the mobile industry turning, “bucketful by glistening bucketful,” across the fabic of our societies. Yesterday cellular, today Wi-Fi, and who knows, tomorrow, WiMAX, turns the handle of mobility.Juxtapose this against my visit to London last week. Walking my footsore, but always good natured little family across the amazing sites and vast flush of humanity of this most utilized of world cities, I could not help think about how technology washes across the metropolis, generation by glistening generation, to alter the lives of the city dwellers, but not necessarily changing the city itself; making a rapid snedding — if you have not got it yet, it means cutting — of people’s communications patterns. Nonetheless, if you are near Westminister, you can feel time pass in 15 minute increments. Reading Dickens Hard Times during the first part of my visit, I remembered that not every age of technology was welcome by he masses impacted by it.During the end of the trip, we motored down to Winchester, to walk the nave of the 900 year old Cathedral — built to order by William the Conquerer — strolling the monuments and carvings of saints, kings, bishops statesmen, and writers. Winchester Cathedral is one of the oldest great medieval churches in the world, home to the Winchester bible, a 12th centruy illuminated manuscript, which alone is worth the risk of driving on the other side of the road :-> It was the great technology accomplishment of its day. Jane Austen (who is interred in the Cathedral) could have dreamt up our hurried entrance at the end of the day where the organ and choir were deep into Evensong.Remember readers, we who move technology may only be lightly moved by it. In the age of bare hands and cast iron, technology, mobility are tools, for life itself. To borrow from another Irish poet will:”Cast a cold eyeOn life, on death.Horseman, pass by!”

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