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Opinion: Sea shanties written for the digital age


A lot of us have spent more time than ever in front of screens these past, oh, 22 months. And some us have had to cry for help occasionally.

Information technology workers may be today's seafarers over oceans of encoded information. Vital, but often anonymous voices. Essential, but often unseen.

We thought people might better appreciate those who defend our databases and keep our VPNs vibrant if we set their trials and triumphs to music. Like sailors with their sea shanties.

SoScott Simons, the Los Angeles musician, and I came up with a few songs to give voice to the digital derring-do of IT workers:

Oh, the call came in about 9:16
Is this IT? Help. I need you
It tried to log on on me machine
And there's nothing but dark all o'er my screen

Reboot says I!
But I canna reply
Til ye filled out form A-1-5!
Tis' on our site
But nothing works!
I canna help you connect
unless you connect
Pull down the menu and hit select!

Or a shanty about how IT workers have to sail into the stiff winds of something like an Extensible Authentication Protocol:

How do you handle an Authentication Protocol
Extensible Authentication Protocol
How do you handle Authentication Protocol
Early in the morning!

Kick this to our Level 3 Technician
Kick this to our Level 3 Technician
We'll kick this to our Level 3 Technician
After you fill out the ticket!

And a ballad of valor IT workers might sing to recall sailing in search of a safe port — to connect:

There once was a unit tried to FTP
But didn't have authenticated ISP
The screen went dark. The mouse dinna click.
Into deep sleep it dipped
Soon may the TCP/IP arrive!
To bring us RJ45s!
One day when the hard boot is done
We'll take our leave and go ...

I'm not sure what they're talking about. But don't those songs get your blood going? Sea shanties for IT workers, a Simon and Simons production.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.

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