Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Science Pub

Given last week was such a hoot, I almost tripped over myself getting here this time, with Tara. Lew Scholl called from The Bagdad, already seated. We all partook of McMenamins fare, and waited for our three Oregon-based innovators to be interviewed. Glenn joined us at the beginning, but stayed on his schedule.

Eric Dishman, the sociologist with Intel was going over familiar ground, describing what Ron Braithwaite had packaged for a Canadian audience: CareWheels (which, somewhat counterintuitively, is about less car use, not more).

The goal is to disrupt over-reliance on hospitals as the default primary care site. You could have more neighborhoods with more facilities.

Imagine a small cath lab right near the Jiffy Lube. Not that far fetched...

OK, maybe not a cath lab, unless you have an OR for backup -- but now we're talking micro-hospital. Other clinical facilities, certainly. Lets rezone the suburbs to make some of those houses serve more community functions, not just talking about funeral homes or houses of worship. Yes to hydroponics and plantagon type solutions. No to clogging the arterials with commuter clot "rush hours" (such an ironic term).

Given the average age is drifting older, if not wiser (maybe wiser), the goal is to make those dwelling units finally get smarter and take better care of us. The funny thing is, for our houses to get smarter, we have to as well. Our level of public discourse has to budge up from where it's at, under the iron fist of an Idiocracy.

Yes, we've been hearing about this "peace dividend" for years, I realize. But politicians, as a class, seem to ever self-organize to block any advance towards the public increasing its smarts (such as by learning Civics, having voting machines to play with in the high schools).

Yet local inhabitants (occupants) still seem to think there's some reason for hope, despite the "lets get a war on" morons and their profit-taking. The 1% are among the least imaginative sometimes.

The Wieden + Kennedy guy, Iain Tait (one of the mad men) is something of a videogame-aholic. He'd turned his time in the Cyber Detox camp (like they have in Korea -- no screens of any kind) into a learning experience, discovering his thinking could keep up with his fingers when he had to hand write, versus use a keyboard. Usually his fingers would type on ahead, faster than his thinking. Slowing down was a fun experience -- worth getting back to now and then.

He wouldn't be without his computers though, not for long.

And he still thinks games are more engaging than say, commercials. Where else do you get 40 hours of sustained attention, in a frenetic / ADD-ridden / multi-tasking world?

He sounds like one of my Coffee Shops Networks avatars. Why hire him away when you've got such talent already on the job? Open source business plans kick into high gear without forcing anyone to drop everything.

Ward Cunningham was somewhat elusive about what he's working on, but it sounds like a DVCS for wikis. Mercurial meets MePedia or something like that, where the integrity of an individual's point of view is not so disrupted or trammeled upon as everyone scrambles to "control" the content.

This alternative picture sounds closer to my earlier ideas about hypertext (pre 1990s), where you'd be able to load "links according to Linus Pauling" and traverse exhibits in just his particular network.

Authors, like angels, could take you by the hand and lead you through the web, almost as though no other authors existed -- at least while you let them hold you.

Scholars would slide between authors rather smoothly sometimes, comparing and contrasting, meanwhile leaving their own webs (scenario maps, audit trails).

I used to auto-generate papers about this stuff and share them with the then leadership behind the Library of Congress (seemed like a logical step... if one were president (badaboom... laugh track)).

Now I'm not sure how much all this dovetails with Ward's thinking, but at least we're agreed that there's more than one way to imagine hypertext. Project Xanadu is yet another model.

The Bagdad audience was enthusiastic and worked hard to concentrate. We were one collective furrowed brow, thinking furiously, a Rodin sculpture. Sam Hill helped us become a thinking town. We're avid readers.

The conversations amongst the panelists, eventually extending to include whoever wanted to grab a microphone, were somewhat metaphysical in the sense of ephemeral. We were in the clouds much of the time.

Yet the problems were real enough: a family member has Alzheimer's and current "solutions" suck when it comes to care giving.

The civilian sector is way under-served, given technologies in the wings, and we all know it. With intelligent gaming / simulation, we can think / imagine our way into a future where we simply take a lot better care of ourselves.

Why not?

And hypertext will keep helping us get there, help us with dreamweaving.