Connections . . . Now We’re Talking


I received the following email response to the meatballs post from a friend, an MIT guy and among the most intellectually curious people I know:

Read your post on the meatballs, and it reminded me of James Burke’s television series, Connections — now available on YouTube. A friend just sent the link, and I’ve been savoring each minute of them. I bet you’d enjoy them as well:

He was right.  And here it is for you too.
 
And here are the links to the remaining episodes:
 
This does reinforce an existing point of quiet joy that I have had for a long time – the miracle that is electricity in my home, the quiet contributions of engineers that make it possible – again, without any particular care for my well-being.  So today, in the same way that we shake hands with soldiers and thank them for what they do for us, seek out an electrical engineer and thank him or her for what they do.
 
To my MIT friend, and to the rest of you for that matter, I encourage you to share your feedback in the comments.
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2 Responses to Connections . . . Now We’re Talking

  1. Sean O'Brien says:

    You second point, people interconnectedness, has been on my mind lately. Importantly, it can be made more general. Society progresses as more people specialize and cooperate, and regresses as we become more self-reliant. This is a fairly new idea for me. I have known about the power of specialization for years, but did not think through it’s implications. For many years I have been an emotional prisoner to the meme that is self- reliance.

    This important principle is laid out marvelously in Ridley’s Rational Optimist, on which I am working on a post.

  2. Dan says:

    Oh by the way, those five links are only for the first episode, each episode being 50 minutes long. And there are nine more delicious episodes in the entire series, through which Burke relates, for example, mercantilism to development of the compass to the discovery of static electricity to the study of weather to development of the cloud chamber to development of the atomic bomb.

    Just a few lessons from this series:
    * The inventor hall of fame is just made up of people who added a couple “killer features” to existing technology.

    * A natural fallout to the first point: technology flourishes as people grow more connected and diminishes as people grow isolated. (If you’ve ever read _The Tipping Point_, you can pick out some of the connectors, mavens, and salesmen as Burke introduces the tech. allstars.)

    * Technology development does not occur in a vacuum; it is deeply tied to social, economic, and political context.

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