December 2014

Date:17 November 2014 Tags:, , , , , ,

Change is good. So is tradition

As only the second occupant of the editorial chair in the 12-plus years since Popular Mechanics’s South African edition was established – and having been here since Day One myself – I am acutely aware that continuity has served us well. I am not so much being given a licence to assume control of editorial direction, as being handed a baton. Because, as much as change is deemed to be a good thing, here at PM we’re big on tradition. The tradition of innovation. Of enquiring minds. Of being the first to know. Whatever else may change, those are the kinds of traditions we’ll continue to uphold.

But inevitably there will be change. Speaking of which, the new guy wears a tie. (Sometimes.) He also wears jeans. (Habitually.) As many of you know by now, he finds cars fascinating, but has a mild obsession with bicycles – and an enduring love affair with the guitar. Oh, he likes stripey shirts (whoa, tiger!) and has been known to use what the trade refers to as male grooming products. (Hey, he’s a male. And who doesn’t need pampering after that most satisfying of weekend activities, rodding the drains?)

He’s just the sort of person, in fact, who would be blown away by PM FutureTech – as were we all. You could tell, by the way that those few delegates who did leave seemed to sidle out almost reluctantly. If you missed FutureTech, you missed out.

But here’s the good – no, great – news: get ready to pencil in a date somewhere in the third quarter of next year. It’s early days, but don’t bet against FutureTech 2015 happening somewhere near you. Particularly if that somewhere is in Gauteng.

That’s a little way up the road, though. What about the here and now? Well, headlining this month’s issue, our colleagues in the USA present their annual celebration of the people and the ideas that made a significant impact on our lives in the past year. The Breakthrough Awards have endured a decade and seem set for a good while longer. Talk about tradition! Potential there for celebrating some homegrown South African breakthroughs, wouldn’t you think?

We certainly do. We have made it our business to seek out those local breakthroughs and we will continue to do that. Naturally, we realise that playing in a global arena takes more than a bright idea. On local soil, Sean Woods finds the margin between winners and also-rans in the Sasol Solar Challenge can be expressed in simple, but very ugly, numbers: 1 500 kilometres, 14 years’ experience, 7 generations of car… and a budget nearly tenfold that of the last-placed finisher. Yet simple numbers often don’t paint the full picture, as we explain in Chasing the Sun. It’s the kind of thing we do.

So… I grasp the baton. Of course, this being PM, here’s what happens next: I bore a few holes in that baton, slap on some circuitry, O-rings and audio hardware, spraypaint it red with black lettering and pronounce it the PM Soundbar. Remember, you read it here first.

– Anthony Doman