New myths about technology | Pt. 2: The Greedy Bird

Here at TU Delft, we worship progress. With technology as our magic tool, we will make the world a better place. The TU Delft found a role model for this story in Greek hero Prometheus. The man who stole the fire from the great Gods and gave it to mankind. And to the logo of this University.

This is the myth of technology. The hands on, can-do, problem-solving story of Delft engineers and designers. No challenge is too big to be overcome by our community of saviors. But is that the only story about technology we can tell?
In the dark days before Christmas, a group of students gathered in TU Delft’s library for pizza, drinks and mythology. Under guidance of mythologist Hugo Koning (Leiden University),  they explored the full story of Prometheus & Pandora (click here for the recording) and created new mythologies about technology.  Here is Part I of the results. Brace yourselves.

The Greedy Bird

A long, long time ago, in a land named Kakophonia, a group of birds lived together in harmony. A true paradise it was; among swaying greenery the birds, all smart, witty and creative in their own unique way, spent their days lightly twittering & chattering.

All of them soothed the trees, flowers and each other with the most splendid melodious songs and sounds. Except for one little bluebird, who hopped through the branches in silence. Bad fortune was upon him, as he was born with a lack of voice. Not a song, not a chirp, not even a screech he could push out of his beak.

A disgrace he was to the name and fame of the Kakophonian clan. So, to defend their honour, the other golden-hoofered birds had no option but shut the bluebird out. They mocked, insulted and laughed at him constantly. He always had to do with withered leftover worms for supper and was always the last to be chosen as a team mate for the traditional game of beakball. His life was one of loneliness, hardship and misery.

Up until the Great Goddess of Equality let her eyes scan the forest of Kakophonia and discovered the injustice. Stunned, she decided to grant the silent bluebird the light of technology. With the gift to invent machinery and equipment, the bluebird would be able to stand up for himself and the balance of fairness in the world would be restored.

The mute bird soon got the hang of it. He invented a worm searcher to provide for his own meals, a mechanical beak that made every ball hit the goal. More and more he created. Shiny, cutting-edge, geeky, but far beyond what was needed to keep up with the others. Yet, he never had enough and kept all his creations to himself, causing jealousy within his singing brothers. Again, chaos and conflict ruled in Kakophonia.

Furious and upset, the Goddess of Equality, took action again. She chose to enlighten the singing birds with technological skills as well, but on one condition. Alone, nothing remarkable could be created. They were only able to succeed if they would work together. Soon enough, they took their chance. The voiced birds created a beautiful golden cage and filled it with the most advanced technological gadgets. They lured the bluebird in and locked him up.

In disillusion, the Goddess of Equality retreated in a far corner of the spirit world. For that day marked the beginning of an endless circle of locking and liberating. The silent bluebird, still the only one able to operate alone, would always find a way to escape his prison. The singers would always respond by developing a new, more sophisticated one.

Of course, so it goes, a game loses its bling after a while. More and more, the birds get bored playing cat and mouse. The bluebird finds himself free to serve himself again. And the others decide to follow its example. Kakophonia’s singing community fell apart into different clans. All designing stuff for their own good only. Frequently at the cost of other clans. Chaos and conflict it was again. And that, dear friends, is how Greed came into the world.

Stay tuned. Next week, the last myth will be unleashed.