"Infrastructure" Reveals and Celebrates the Often Unnoticed Engineered Environment
January 22, 2006
With "Infrastructure: A Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape," Brian Hayes brings to public attention the essential underpinnings of the modern world. Like the air we breathe, and the water we drink, the technological structures Hayes documents in "Infrastructure" are easily taken for granted. Yet without these engineered structures and transports, civil life as we know it could not be sustained.
The the story of water, from the water we drink, to the water we flush, can be found in "Waterworks," the second chapter of this field guide to the industrial wilds. The guide takes us to places often set in remote locales, surrounded by chain link fences. We go inside plants filled with mysterious machines that few non-engineers could comprehend without this expert guide to show where to look and explain what we’re seeing. Hayes helps us see the beauty and art in the common and unglamorous, such as the sludge digesters in Deer Island, MA.
Hayes spent 12 years crossing America, photographing and gathering the stories of our industrial landscape. The book contains more than 700 hundred photos, taken from afar--from the air and from the roadside--and close up and inside the structures and machines built to work so well that we seldom give them a thought. Hayes compliments his pictures with a narrative that helps the reader appreciate both the industrial history and the engineering behind the visual revelations his camera sets before us.
Hayes received support for his project from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which helps fund efforts to promote public understanding of technology. A senior writer for American Scientist, Hayes talks about his book in an interview at American Scientist Online. In the interview, he says he grew up in the era of Sputnik and expected to become a scientist or engineer. But "somewhere along the way," he says, "I neglected to collect a university education, or even a high school diploma. Lacking those credentials, I found it a good deal easier to get a job as a writer…" After a brief period working as a news writer, he joined Scientific American, "a splendid place to learn both science and writing," he says.
Hayes takes us on a grand tour of our dams, mines, power plants, refineries, waterworks, highways, railways, electrical grids, waste and recycling facilities, shipping, aviation, bridges, tunnels and communication systems. It’s great introduction for the uninitiated into the engineered world, and for the engineers who build and maintain them, it’s a long overdue acknowledgment of the works they create and sustain.
A Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape
By Brian Hayes
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
536 pages, $49.95 ($32.97 on Amazon)
Why Do I Do This Web Site?
January 05, 2006
The holidays are over and I am back in the office. This break must have been really good because I have forgotten how to do the little things, where to save a file, what to update next on the site, you know that sort of stuff. Things that no one else but you notice.
I took two weeks off, a long time for me. One of the things I like most about taking a holiday, besides the obvious fun with friends and family, is to gather my thoughts about where I have been and what I want to do next. Also, to figure out, of all the things humming around me, what's important and what needs my time.
One thought that crosses my mind is "Why am I doing this web site, Water and Wastewater.com". We are going into our 8th year now, over 250 newsletters published, 1,000 articles in the News Center, over 3,400 posts on the Help Forum, it just keeps adding up. I think to myself, "Does this do any good for anyone?".
Well I got my answer today in an email from a man named Jack Lee from China. Jack is a M&D Manager for a company, Tian Jin Jie Li Xing M&E Co., Ltd. I tried looking up his company on Google, but the there was no web site for the company, just a listing in another directory, a Chinese company directory. From the listing and the photo, Jack is involved with process instrumentation. (See Jack's smiling face above)
Jack writes to me in his email, "Thanks for your updated newsletter everyday. Happy new year!"
Ah, Jack is why I spend so much time and effort on Water and Wastewater.com. He loves the weekly newsletter, he most likely spends time on the web site and Jack could even be a member of the Help Forum. Well I hope so, because I will spend 30-40 mins trying to find his forum profile, and add a mini-version of his photo to his profile for everyone to see!
Eight years and a simple email breezes through my email box, brightening my day. Thanks Jack Lee and for that matter, thanks to all the "Jack Lee's" out there who visit and use our web site.
Happy New Year to you too!
Water and Wastewater.com