Watch the demolition (unbuilding) of the Grace and Pearman Bridges (old Cooper River Bridges)

The Bridge Blog
A dialog about our new bridge and these web pages

Overview. Schools and universities are all about learning - and learning is mostlly brain training. Learning is expedited by repetition and forgetting is expedited by infrequent use of learned skills or information. Tracking the building of the Ravenel Bridge and now tracking the demolition of the Grace and Pearman Bridges bring many questions to me and help me better understand the role Google and the Internet play in just-in-time learning. I enjoy chasing my curiosity and want to identify ways to encourage younger learners to also enjoy curiosity chasing and learning.

Many young learners do not understand the importance of repetition. More important, while experienced learners understand the learning process they often do not realize the destructive effects of the forgetting process. Over the course of the bridge project, I have access to only a few experts. Rather than a liability, this has become an asset and pushed me to improve my search skills with Google. Soon, I realized that answers to questions encountered during my photo adventures were often only a Google-search away. Gene Stead, my first boss and I put these ideas together in a small essay: (see Restoring the Joy in Learning).

Google + Internet have become dependable extensions of my memory. Insights I gain from you and this project will find their way into the learning centers in our schools and universities.

Mon, 20 Mar 2006

March 20, 2006 Almost goodbye.

The Charleston Construction Photographers

Gary Eaton, Frank Starmer and Sparky Witte
The three muskateers of Charleston construction photography

One cold morning in January of 2005, I was watching some girders being erected on Line 14 (the East Bay on ramp) and up drives a car and out pops a man, tripod, camera, hard hat, safety vest - just like me. This was Gary Eaton who had been tracking the bridge longer than I had. Had I not received an email request to track the approaches, I would not have met Gary.

During the July transition from building the Ravnel Bridge to unbuilding the Grace and Pearman Bridges, I received some photos from Sparky Witte from Mt Pleasant. Another kindred spirit who was as infected as I was with a passion to understand what was happening. Suddenly, the Internet facilitated the opportunity for two new friends that helped to capture the behind the scenes story of the building and unbuilding processes. This initiated our small club of Charleston Construction Photographers (still a figment of our imagination) - who knows what will happen next?

While Gary is a real photographer (visit his Studio web site), Sparky and I were novices and eager to learn. I was very fortunate to acquire additional Internet-initatied contacts that facilitated my learning. Vince Streano from Seattle provided insights about capturing construction photos while Stephen SetteDucati from Boston and did the Big Dig at NIght provided some insights for night photography.

While the Internet is a useful communication tool, it is also a tool for social interactions. I would never have found Gary, Sparky, Vince or Stephen without the Internet's ability to publish my building and unbuilding stories and for Google to index them and make the links available to the world.

As I enter the last few days of acute loose end overload - preparing to depart for Singapore and Duke on Thursady, I am confident that our interactions will continue to develop. Nugget, one of the ironworker acrobats has some digital images for our site, Sparky and Gary will continue and I suspect others will contribute. What a wonderful time Ellen and I have had in Charleston and we shall certainly miss it. We are keeping our home and we are keeping all the warm friends that we have made - particularly Tom and Joan Bryce, our neighbors.

posted at: 10:39 | path: | permanent link to this entry

Write me:
frank.starmer at

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