Technology: My Fickle Friend

I’ve been writing about technology for a couple of years now. The money is trickling in, but I’d still rather write about it than sit at a desk as a Tier 2 implementation engineer. I never went through the rigors of study to be a top engineer, and I rode the wave of technical innovation, but now it seems that connectivity has become a commodity and most network engineers have been put out to pasture. Why build a network from scratch when you can create a virtual one with a few clicks of the mouse?

After all these years, I find technology a fickle friend. She’s fine when there’s a new infrastructure to roll out, but once it’s going any college grad can do the work for a lot less. Nowadays I’m happy just being a user and hoping she gives me no trouble.

I’m reading Hemingway’s memoir “A Moveable Feast”. He quit journalism to write stories and wrote about how hungry he became. An advantage of fiction — as opposed to dry technology journalism — is that the author can include the quirks of his own personality. He tells a friend in the book, “I know. I can write them. But nobody will buy them. There is no money coming in since I quit journalism.”

Well, I quit technology. But to quit technology journalism would be a clear sign that I’m fed up with her and want something more. A technology career can be a cumbersome life for a creative soul.

The Arts of Civilization

We have been blessed with the craft of writing, as well as the other arts. The ancient Sumerian god Enki allegedly allowed the gifts of civilized life to pass down to mankind. The story of Inanna and Enki tells how the young goddess and the great god of wisdom were having beer together, and she somehow convinced him to give the arts to the human race during the period erased from history because of 35 lines of missing text.

When the story resumes, old Enki proclaims, “In the name of my power, in the name of my abzu, I will give them to holy Inanna….” She received “the craft of the carpenter, the craft of the coppersmith, the craft of the scribe, the craft of the smith, the craft of the leather-worker, the craft of the fuller, the craft of the builder, the craft of the reed-worker.”

Inanna gets into the Boat of Heaven and eventually makes her way to the people below. Someone proclaims in the last section, “You have brought with you strife, you have brought with you triumph, you have brought with you counselling, you have brought with you comforting, you have brought with you judging, you have brought with you decision-making.”

Eventually Nidaba became the goddess of writing. The ancient Sumerian text The Dream of Gudea says:

The woman holding the gold stylus and studying a clay tablet on which the starry heaven was depicted—that is Nidaba, the goddess of writing, who directs you to build the house in accordance with the holy stars.

So we’re all civilized now. We have been endowed with gifts from on high. It is up to us to make something of them.

Nidaba, the goddess of writing

Finding Purpose in the Writing Profession

Money isn’t everything.  When I tell people that, I imagine what goes through their heads. There he goes again, this impractical dreamer. Perhaps they’re right. But I like to think that there is some justification for my fantastic visions.

As a telecommunications professional, I have worked with many of the biggest firms in the world. I would sit at a desk and perform network configuration, monitoring, and maintenance tasks sent to me from on high. I am happy that I have had a part in connecting people through technology, and I have been a part of the industry since the 1990s.  I am still involved, writing about cutting edge technologies for Techopedia and other clients.

But I look for something more. My readings take me back thousands of years. I study ancient religions and cultures, and I study at the feet of Greek philosophers. I hope for a chance to make my own contribution to the world, whether through fiction or non-fiction writings. I feel that is both my passion and my mission.

Performing music for elder care residents has been a vocation of mine. I enjoy bringing them back to the times of their youth, stirring up memories of the songs they grew up with. I also feel a sense of mission in this endeavor.

Finding the right combination of activities to achieve purpose has been a life-long struggle. Some activities seem to pull me from what I should be doing. Chasing money to the neglect of passionately serving others has sometimes been frustrating.

There is a sweet spot somewhere. I keep trying to find it.

Published in History Magazine!

I’m happy to report that my article has been published this month in History Magazine. (It was originally scheduled for Dec/Jan). The article is about Ada Lovelace, the computing pioneer who worked with Charles Babbage and wrote about his Analytical Engine in 1842. This article is about Ada’s relationship with her father, Lord Byron.  Click here read about Ada’s accomplishments in my Techopedia article.

Here is the cover of this month’s History Magazine. You can order it online. If you see it somewhere on a newstand or in a library, please let me know. Click on the image to see the table of contents.

Reflections on the New Year

The New Year is upon me, ready to fall on my head.

I have immersed myself in reading over the past year. The matters that are important to me have to do with the ultimate questions of life. I managed to read all of Plato in 2016, and lately I have been studying ancient near eastern religions. I am very interested in the roots of western thought.

I would like to write about these things. Sometimes I think I should have been an academic. But the great thinkers I have been studying were not all linked to the institutions of their day. Heraclitus, Socrates, Jesus – they refused to fit into the mold that society tried to impose upon them.

I am not about seeking position, wealth, or status. I am in search of truth, beauty, understanding, order. But the world wants money, and you have to pay the piper. It all seems incongruent with higher values.

Maybe I should give in and play the game. Greed. Avarice. Materialism. Ah, the choices we make.