Speed hit a bump

I promised when the story first broke that I would continue to follow it.  I may not have to after the announcement this week that the CERN Particle Accelerator may not have been as excited as it was reported to be last September when it was said to have launched neutrinos that galloped faster than the speed of light. Turns out, the results are likely due to a faulty cable.  Talk about anti-climactic.

Albert Einstein can now rest easy, his theory of time still intact. Salman Rushdie can calm his ire over “that speedy Neutrino” turning things upside down, and my friend, Jeff, can stop wondering what will happen with the light shining from his headlights as his car travels at 60MPH.

Content challenges

Is content important?  Of course. But content is only as good as the context within which it sits.  There is a lot of focus these days on the word content, on ways to present information that is compelling, that engages the viewer or listener and (hopefully) influences their purchasing decisions.  But too often the content misses the mark.  It is weak because it doesn’t place the information in a reality that makes personal sense for the participant. Devoid of context (time and place and words and action) the information either sounds bland or condescending.

Recognize this building?

It’s the Freedom Tower rising next to the twin footprints of the decade-long vanished World Trade Center towers.  Yes, it is a crappy picture.  That’s because I took it with an iPhone through the window of an adjacent office building.  I was in NY this week visiting a client and the meeting room looked out over the WTC site.  It made me think about context though because, frankly, aside from its eventual height it doesn’t strike me as a particularly special building.  In fact, the architect who designed the building designed another that is rising in Toronto across the street from where I live and I think that one may end up being a finer  piece of architecture.  At 60 stories, it will be 50 shorter than the Freedom Tower but it will offer a graceful bow of a figure that should truly make it stand out. The Freedom Tower is fine; it will be proudly distinctive on the Manhattan skyline but if you put the building anywhere besides the WTC site, would it be as noteworthy?  I think this is why Dubai doesn’t impress me. The stupendous height and grasping for symbolism seems sad and artificial to me, as if ostentatiousness is the first and only goal.

Then this made me think of other examples where context is important in fully describing what might otherwise be a non-event, an insignificant situation, or a random anyone on the street. In this blog, I return at times to my father and I will again but this time it will be in the company of another father, my wife’s. Two physically short but towering men of character because of their decency, their optimism, the people they loved and who loved them in return. We cannot fully tell the story of an object or a person without knowing where they are from, what inspired them, who and how they touched, why they were who they were.  My two fathers are parts of who I am but it could be argued that if you had not known them you would not know the full me.

Context breathes life into content.