Thursday, December 02, 2010

What's an Engineer?

We've been having some spirited debate in one of the think tanks about exactly what constitutes an engineer. We're an interesting mix in that some of us are proud to call ourselves engineers, whereas others think engineering epitomizes everything that's messed up in the human psyche. A mixed bag, to say the least.

I'm asking about film-makers and whether they're engineers. The standard answer is "no" but is that more ethnic, more anthropological than anything else? Some of the Illuminati I track recommend STEAM over STEM, i.e. to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, lets add Anthropology, not to dumb it all down, but to keep it more worldly and wiser.

Game designers are also engineers, especially when we call them "simulations" ("game theory" in systems science added respectability for games, as did "language games" in philosophy, yet there's still the need among some people to find a more serious-sounding word than "game"). These "countdown to zero" games require a lot of background. "Do your homework people" -- shades of Alex Jones.

To some degree, I tout philosophy as competing with engineering, following the unoriginal assumption that competition counters excessive complacency. I champion General Systems Theory (GST) versus Economics for the same reason. When it comes to bread and butter issues, we'd be foolish to put all our eggs in just the one basket.

I'm listening to a piano serenade at the Quaker meetinghouse as I blog this. One of the FNB guys. Walker is off with her tractor bike retrieving the cooking utensils and produce from the Pink House. We both missed out on the Thanksgiving festivities. Satya shot by with his own trailer, bringing bread. He's scooting off to somewhere not far from Scappoose, via St. John's.

Deke the Geek and I met at Fred Meyers this morning for coffee. Although Portland has a reputation for being a geek capital of sorts, the print media such as Mercury, Just Out and Willamette Week are pretty weak on technicalia. The Oregonian barely even tries, nor does the Portland Tribune.

This is why Geek Out should have an instant market, especially as a free 'zine, hard to find, strategically distributed. Topics might well be retro. Figuring out how we got here and from there is what we call "lore" in the business and PDXers have no shortage of lore, nor our we confining our sources to Portland, Oregon. It's a big world out there.

I added a comment to Chris Fearnley's ruminations on Bucky Fuller and Existentialism. I'm glad he's taking the bull by the horns and actually talking about Philosophy for a change. Too many of Fuller's commentators think the only topics we care about have to do with Physics.