Monday, December 26, 2011

Charles Babbage and My Modern Life


I love this photo of Charles Babbage because he looks like the quintessential Dickens character, sitting firmly in his chair, hands clasped, mouth set against the rabble that gets on his last nerve. He actually compiled a list of 165 nuisances he encountered over an 80-day period all perpetrated by "the mob," as he called the common classes. He particularly disliked organ grinders, saying, "It is difficult to estimate the misery inflicted upon thousands of persons, and the absolute pecuniary penalty imposed upon multitudes of intellectual workers by the loss of their time, destroyed by organ-grinders and other similar nuisances."

So, basically he sat in the chambers of his Better People Societies, glared out the window and barked, "Get off my lawn!" Although, if you look closely, there is a hint of mischievous humor in his expression. It may take mischievous humor to make a list of things that annoy you.

It may also take some of that to think against the grain and dream big, and Babbage definitely dreamed big. He was also a man ahead of his time, and today is his birthday. In his honor, here is today's column for Small Town Newspaper. I realize I've skipped over quite a few steps from Babbage's original computers to the Mactop I hold in my hands today, but I think you get the point.

1 comment:

dive said...

Informative, inspiring, beautifully written and one of your funniest ever pieces, Robyn, especially read out loud. Anybody who doesn't crack up when they reach the word "kitten" has no soul and definitely not Mr.Babbage's sense of mischief.