Posted by: John Savageau in writers, technology on
Jan 8, 2010
There is nothing more irritating or annoying to a professional soldier than to watch a movie and find technical errors. A haircut that is out of regulation, a misplaced ribbon or medal, errors in weapon nomenclature, or even unit designations and locations. A soldier knows within a millisecond when there is a technical error - and it dilutes even the best story line. Telecom and Internet industry-related professionals have the same emotion when terms, equipment, or architectures are mispresented in movies.
Then along comes an author who has either really done his homework well, had great advice, or simply knows his subject matter cold. Once the credibility is firmly established, then there is an uncanny ability to lay a story on top of that technical credibility, and keep even the most critical geek engaged.
Neal Stephenson's "Cryptonomicon" was the first novel I had read which met this strict criteria. Did a good job, because I spent most of the next year reading everything he ever wrote, and have kept up since with great stories such as "Anathem." I trust Neal Stephenson, so I am able to freely indulge in his stories without becoming tolerant of an error-prone technical structure to the story.
"Frog Soup" is an interesting concept. As a cold-blooded critter, a frog cannot easily feel the difference between hot and cold, although when cold the frog, like all cold-blooded animals, gets a bit sluggish. On the other hand, when you put a frog in a pot of water, and start to turn up the heat, the frog will not notice the gradual rise in temperature, and will be happily swimming around up till the point the frog finally succumbs and is cooked.
So we use the phrase "frog soup" as a metaphor describing how we can get ourselves into a situation through time, without ever having really been aware we were getting into a situation. This metaphor can be applied to relationships, jobs, life - almost anything where you wake up one day "cooked," without ever having suspected you were in hot water.
I've been using email since the mid 1970s, when I was first dabbling with messaging systems in the US Air Force. Even back then, I quickly established a routine for connecting to the network, and often checking to see if I had received any new messages. By the 1990s it had gotten to the point where I would actually delay other activities just to check and see if anybody had sent me an email in the past hour or so.