Careers and Dreams

Software - The Mind's Best Friend
Software Engineers. Programmers. Coders. Hackers. Nerds. Geeks. Not all of these are pretty images to some people. Young people, especially young American women, are avoiding the field of programming in huge numbers. It's almost like a plague - if I touch programming I can't be a normal person, can't have a healthy social life.

Others disagree - the joy of programming opens up a whole new world to us. And it's not for the money - it's more than that. For me, I was first captivated by the seemingly limitless possibilities. What if a machine could be taught to make inferences and decisions, but far faster than a human mind could ever perform the same thoughts? Could that machine discover things that were beyond the reach of an unaided human mind? Could it create new music, paintings, discoveries, medical diagnoses that were previously beyond our reach?

Now, the computer means something very different to me. Now, the human mind and spirit is the mystery with limitless possibilities. Now, the computer and the internet present the potential to bring humans minds and spirits together in new ways, transcending old boundries of distance and culture.

What does programming mean to you? What would you tell people who have never shared the excitement?

Science - the Pleasure of Finding Things Out
Social misfits come in all varieties, but one of the least understood is the scientist and science lover. Who cares? Most of it has nothing to do with my life. Recently deceased physicist Richard P. Feynman characterized it best in the title of his book, "The Pleasure of Finding Things Out". It's nothing more complicated than the joy of a child finding frogs in muddy stream beds. Or the excitement in the immersion of a mystery thriller. Once I ask the question "why?", I simply can't rest until I discover the answer. And to the skilled, enlightened scientist, the journey is as rewarding as the destination.

Those of you who have a special passion for some part of science - come here and share it! It's simply unfair to keep all that excitement to yourself, and thousands of people could have their lives transformed by the focus and purpose that comes with the journey.

Invention - Imagine, then Create it
As a child, I was captivated by the story of Thomas Edison - the great inventor of the electric light bulb, among other things. I told my father that I wanted to be an inventor, and my father (an aerospace engineer) assured me that the day of the inventor is gone, and new ideas require large teams to turn into reality.

Today, my father is far wiser and would probably give a different answer. First, he would be happy that I wanted to be an inventor - just like him. Simply put:

engineer = inventor

While a scientist discovers how nature works, an engineer discovers how to apply that knowledge to create something new - something that didn't exist before. In his career, my father did exactly that - he invented new designs to build better aircraft, satellites, and systems to put those technologies to best use. He build things that had never been built before, and in his way, changed the nature of the world we live in. To be sure, he worked with teams, wrote memos, and banged up against beaurocrats, but that did not detract from the creative process of invention that happens in some small way in the life of every engineer.

Today, we have Genetic Engineering and other powerful technologies in the hands of a wider and wider base of inventors. Social commentator raise the spector of a soul-less technocrats manipulating our lives in increasingly menacing and incidious ways. Worse yet, they just don't think we have a life! Is this the nature of the modern inventor?

No - it is more basic. If I can imagine it, can I make it into something that is real? That wasn't there before? Can I build this sandcastle? Ultimately, we do it for the sheer joy of building.

Come share your passion for invention - and perhaps show others that there is more to the geek engineer than just a bad haircut. That there is more to engineering than being a tool of the corporate powers.

Journalism
Recently journalism is getting a bad reputation. Journalists are accused of parroting the common wisdom of other journalists, of being lazy in not researching both sides of a story, or in slanting a story to promote their personal agendas.

Yet, inquiring minds still need to know. Understanding the world around you, including the social and political structures that control it, is critical to give people the freedom to control their own destinys. Journalism is the highest calling in pursuit of liberty and the common welfare. Come here and join other journalists to find support for what you know is a nobel profession, and share resources to build your own careers and insights.