My January column from Mechanical Engineering magazine:
MOST OF US, BY NOW, HAVE STOPPED making overly ambitious New Year’s resolutions that are supposed to make us healthier, wealthier, and generally happier individuals. But even as we eschew this old-time ritual, we’ll admit that the dawning of a new year brings a feeling akin to that of pressing the refresh button. This first issue of 2011 reflects that.
We deliberate long and hard about the content we provide. And we reflect deeply over the role of this magazine vis-à-vis today’s burgeoning Internet that promises access to what you want at the mere touch of a screen. We take our cues on content from your ongoing feedback—readership studies, letters, phone calls, and face-to-face meetings with me and our other editors.
What we’ve heard you say is a bit of a mixed bag, which is entirely reflective of the current information age—and of our broad readership—where the proliferation of media tools such as iPads, Kindles, Nooks, mobile phones, smart phones, and other gadgets often outpaces the rate of information that you want to access. Many of you have insatiable appetites for daily information, while others crave information that puts the engineering world in perspective.
Our role is not to settle matters of personal preferences, but to reflect on thoughtful questions impacting the broad landscape of technology. The goal is to stimulate the thinking process with a kind of article that goes beyond the how of technology and gets at the why. At times, we’ll push back on traditional thinking, in the same manner that the profession is pushing forward to establish a voice on matters of global impact.
This month’s cover story, “Myth v. Fact,” for example, is a provocative and complex discussion on the intersection between energy policy and technology—the premise is that the costs of alternative technologies and the changing price of conventional energy sources will determine the ultimate success of these technologies.
We will continue to focus our discussions on the areas that ASME has identified as being critically important. Those topics include energy, workforce development, global impact and outreach—including the role of engineering in the developing world—and others. We’ll bring you access to the work of top researchers whose projects reflect the lifeblood of engineering and its impact on the world. And in a unique initiative we unveiled last month, Project Crowdsourcing, we’re enabling you to have significant input on the content of the December issue of the magazine; see page 4 for more details.
This will be an exciting year for ASME as it unveils ambitious online initiatives relating both to how you access technology information, and also to the role of engineers in helping areas of the world that need technology innovation to prosper. All the while, this magazine will bring you perspectives to ponder, to debate, and hopefully to stimulate you sufficiently in order to be heard. This is our New Year’s resolution.