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Digital Prometheus



 

INTRODUCTION & BACKGROUND

This piece is an excerpt from a workshop I do about employment portfolios. Early in the seminar, I try to establish an awareness of the current "state of the labor market." I discuss a few of the labor market myths and the need for myth-making during tough times. To add a pinch of levity I share the two adapted myths. These myths are updates of the myth of Prometheus (below) and the story of Adam and Eve (see: Digital Eden). The stories express the love-hate relationship which defines our technology. We love the new gadgets and then later find ourselves enslaved to them. Eventually, I introduce the concept of using a portfolio in the job search and career development process. Naturally, I must address portfolios and computer technology.

I hope that these updated myths grant us a moment of detachment, a bitter-sweet pause, wherein we ponder how we got to where we are... Then we can reflect on our "condition" or what the German playwright Bertolt Brecht described as "the terror of our unceasing transformation." Perhaps in our laughter and story telling we can begin to wonder about where we're going next.

Please realize that this is an imperfect text which is used as a guide to my oral presentation. Let me beg your indulgence as I attempt to illustrate how older tales might be updated for our times.

Wow, this is some kind of segue to a joke!



PROMETHEUS AND PENELOPE

My tale begins with a visit by Prometheus's daughter Penelope. (Her father remains in the condition we last saw him, chained to the rocks by the gods he angered for stealing fire.) She asks Prometheus for advice about growing up. "What should I do with my life?"

He reveals a little known secret, "When I went up to Olympus, I had so little time. I grabbed the biggest and the brightest--FIRE! But, there is more. Go back Penelope and find the rest."

Penelope returns to the fated place and there surveys small objects, seemingly alive, staring out of the darkness with tiny red blinking eyes (or lamps). She returns, bringing with her these small black energy "rocks." Later they would be called "computer chips." Again, the Gods are angry at the intrusion. Zeus tells Penelope, "Humans are not ready for this tool. They do not yet possess the capacity for all the bits and bytes of information, which flow endlessly from these chips. You are to be banished to Cyberspace."

The cycle of technology and pain repeats itself. Penelope is condemned to wander endlessly in the giant emptiness of cyberspace. Each time she calls out for help, she is greeted by a repeating voice-mail message:
  --Press 1 if you are repentant.
  --Press 2 if you're in pain.
  --Press 3 when lost.

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