When you look at infrastructure what do you see?
My boss had just returned from a visit to Rome and was telling me about his trip. What particularly inspired him was the Trevi Fountain. As he spoke of its magic, its beauty, its romance, its glory, his eyes lit up, his voice was reverent. Not surprising you might say since tourists always rave about the Trevi Fountain. Except that he was a Hydraulics Engineer and what he was describing to me was the fountain’s hydraulics! Engineers see things differently! I have seen my brother, another engineer, stare at the luggage carousel at the airport, fascinated by the design of the metal plates that enable it to turn the corners so smoothly. As an economist, it is unlikely that I would, but for them, have ever thought of the ingenious design of the Trevi’s hydraulics or the luggage carousel, but now I cannot help but see it too. That’s the thing, once you see things through someone else’s eyes, you can never ‘un-see’ it. You are forever changed, and the richer for it.
This is important for us as infrastructure decision-makers, and it is the rationale for the collaborative structure of ‘Talking Infrastructure’. We need to be able to see through the eyes of the engineer, the economist, the scientist, the environmentalist, the planner, and… even the artist. (Our picture today is from the free photo sharing site, Flickr. To see other pictures of rust or infrastructure decay through the eyes of the artist photographer, just type in infrastructure decay.)
So our task today is to consider how many different minds we can engage.
Let us multiply our perspectives.