The Virgin, The Dynamo, and The Server

I’ve been taking online courses from MOOC Coursera for the past 3 years, and one of the course now I’m taking is The History of Modern World from 1760-2013

It is a very interesting course since it gives me the Global Perspective of how the World Works in different ages. It uses the Situation-Problem-Solution framework in explaining things and I think it nail things pretty well.

One of the course videos which I would like to share is when the Lecturer, Dr. Philip Zelikow explains about 2 different object which symbolize both Traditional and Modern World. The Virgin for the Traditional World, and Dynamo for the Modern World.

It uses The Virgin for the Traditional World since at that time, Europe, which is the dawn of the world at that time, have a very religious-based society. When you go to any Catholic Church in Europe, the images of The Virgin, which is Virgin Mary. The Virgin symbolizes Purity, Fragility, Pristine Devotion, Innocence, and so on. The very image of it symbolizes Traditional World which is very simple, humble, and at the same time not a world progressing vehemently. Their sole goal is to append the betterment of their society by their Religion co-habituously.

It uses Dynamo for the Modern World, since that time, before WWII, the World is so much around Industry and its innovative power to transform society. Dynamo is a spinning object moved about by electricity and magnetism so it can generate energy to feed the masses. It is impersonal. It is productive. It is invasive. It both feeds and consume society in their hunger for progress. Compared to The Virgin, The Dynamo symbolize The World’s spinning, uncontrolled progress for progress’s sake.

As for the third, I think the symbol for the Post-Modern World we are living now is a Server, whatever type it is you may think. Blade, Rack, Cloud, etc. It is indeed not as exclusive as previous objects are, it is in fact more proletarian. Let me illustrate it in next paragraphs.

This is the age in which population explodes greatly and the World is so much enhanced both in its size and problem through WWW. People use the Web extensively even to the point of excess, since none of it can be enough to fulfill man’s desire. it is a World Wider than our own World. It is a Jungle unregulated.

A Server, though not as mechanically spinning as a Dynamo, serves hundreds of thousands of people silently. It is  Personally Impersonal unlike The Virgin as hundreds of thousands of people in the World cram their information there. It generates “Flow” like Dynamo and it huddles people inside like The Virgin. Not to mention its speed in processing queries scales hundreds more than a Dynamo.

Ordinary peoples simply can’t live without any bits of their personal / professional life stored there. Blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Path, Businesses, or anything you can think of.

In this age, distances are both shortened and extended greatly. People become more and more individualistic and more secluded in their digital life which they can alter and change according to their image; which as we know might not reflect their real world.

What is your Solution is this Post-Modern World; a Personally Impersonal, IT-centered World?

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Seikilos – an Ancient Greek Epitaph

“While you are living,

be lighthearted;

have no grief,

life is only too short

and time takes its toll.”

This is a very short and yet very contemplative ancient Greek song, based on an Epitaph which reminds us to make the best use of our time while living. Don’t let yourself fall on to negative emotions which spoils up your time. Don’t wait for the miracle. Be the miracle!

Our life, no matter how great it is, is simply a vapor in the face of time. Both Alexander and Caesar end up being buried in the same good soil of the earth. So what of you?

P.S: You can listen to the recording here, with different song lyrics but same meaning (minor translation differences).