Yes, yet another blog. Why this one? Why another one?
Maybe the envy had been germinating for a long time, but I can point precisely at the time of the decision: it was this summer, when my wife and I were driving from Paris to the South of France, to pick up the kids on holidays at my parents’ home. We drove past the Garabit viaduct, a railroad arch bridge built at the end of the 19th Century in the Massif Central. We stopped to enjoy the view on the valley and the bridge. There, the highway company had set up an exhibition about the bridge, with some photographies and explanations on the genesis and construction.
The viaduct originated from the desire of the government to build a railway across the mountainous regions of the Cantal. The engineer of bridges and roads for the region, Léon Boyer, pushed for a direct crossing of the river, as opposed to a less direct route (round or down the valley). He made the design by getting inspiration from the bridge previously built by the Eiffel company over the Douro river in Portugal. At this time, all-metal bridges where high-tech, and few companies had the expertise to build them. Only a lightweight and open design could allow the wind to blow right through it. Boyer made his own the concepts and ideas from the Douro bridge, which allowed him to propose the government a very cost efficient track for the railway with a realistic project. Ultimately, his design was adopted and the Eiffel company got the contract for building this magnificent bridge. The viaduct was built, improving on the Douro bridge design, and it is still there and still used and admired – a magnificent piece of engineering.
Why a blog then? My job is in IT consulting and we work in an environment as high-tech today as all-metal construction was at the end of the 19th Century. We have today SOA, REST, Google, Java, PHP and folks, but we still are not really mature in terms of doing correctly, effectively the right thing for satisfying our users’ needs – which IT should be all about. We too frequently take twists round the valley, or down, or build bridges which fall down with the first wind or the first passenger train. Léon Boyer and Eiffel were able to bring value to the community through innovation thanks to cooperation and free exchange of concepts and ideas. We need today freedom for ideas to navigate, and then maybe the flow of ideas will permit powerful concepts to emerge and arm us. I want here a space for expressing ideas from my experiences, for contributing to the global flow – may they navigate freely, be grabbed, improved and put to good use!