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The places you will go

Photograph of Carl V. Page.

When we watch children at play it is easy to begin to imagine their future. We envision great things and limitless potential. Sadly, as adults, we don’t always recognize or embrace the same potential in our peers or ourselves.

This week I had the opportunity to see a mobile application a group of talented Michigan State University undergraduates and their professor are designing to provide pedestrian campus navigation alternatives for people with blind or low vision disabilities.

As we talked about icons, interfaces, and features our attention was brought to a series of photos hanging on the wall of the room in which we were meeting. One in particular, was of Carl V. Page who taught at the university from 1967 until his death in 1996.

Dr. Page had a talent for “coming up with new approaches to problems.” A memorial web page dedicated to Dr. Page features a quote from a colleague who said, Page was “a wonderful presence in the college of engineering.” No doubt, Dr. Page made lasting contributions that can be seen in the culture of creativity demonstrated by those in MSU’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering today.

One other detail that came up in our conversation was that Dr. Page had a son who used to hang out with his father at the office in the late 1970s. I suspect that we all stood there for a moment and imagined a young boy laughing and playing in the hall just outside our meeting room. Dr. Page’s son Larry went on to be the co-founder of Google in 1998.

Sadly Dr. Page, who died in 1996, didn’t survive long enough to see all of the places his son would go. Though, it kind of made me smile to think that everyone (a young boy, me, you, a student, or professor) has the potential for greatness and that sometimes we don’t even know that we are walking and working in places where our heroes and legends were playing and learning before they made history.

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