Thursday, December 10, 2009

More PKL Talk

I coined Portland Knowledge Lab upon my return from London, where I got a tour of the London Knowledge Lab and gave a talk.

In that talk, I underlined the work I'd been doing for the Hillsboro Police Department through Saturday Academy, bringing a hopeful, less distopian future within reach of area youth.

The Sesame Street for adults meme was always central, an archive for collecting recyclable segments that'd feed a studious demographic, wanting to gain insights. The Intel-sponsored segments on chip fab would include peaks inside the plant, a few talking heads. There'd also be plenty on NAND and NOR gates, the kind of stuff Intel sponsored at OMSI, maybe does to this day.

Youtube has already provided a lot of infrastructure, as have the other streaming and archiving services. However, editing together shows with a theme, finding the right people, conjuring the right effects, takes management and creative vision, lots of overview. Who does Portland already have, that might coordinate this initiative?

ISEPP has long envisioned storing up videos on a server. Something like PKL could accept some of the edited segments, some gems, and mix these with content pouring in from other sources. Sponsors connecting their brands to this effort will be perceived as providing Portlanders with more opportunities to participate in building our technological civilization. Tourists will be amazed at the quality of our educational web sites and TV shows.

Glenn reminded me this morning that the civilian house icon of two walls, a floor, and a pitched roof, is likewise a five-edged affair, a pentagon. I guess that's why he was the NSA cryptographer guy: he sees patterns everywhere, and sometimes decodes them. Having Glenn for a math teacher would be like reading a non-fiction version of Neal Stephenson's Cyptonomicon.

Portland has a lot of artists and animation houses. The collection will be eclectic and "toony" (lots of cartoons). I'm hoping my Oregon Curriculum Network will be tapped, on the basis of a strong track record, for some of the material. I've got those hypertoons on Youtube, a genre still begging for more concerted development. Our Digital Math curriculum is brimming with timely and tastefully developed information and skills.

I've been casting about for sponsors overseas as well, hoping to make this a cosmopolitan effort.

Beyond having some intellectual capital, I'm not in a position to deep pocket the thing.

What's maybe kept me more off-line than I should be is my commitment to all this newfangled Bucky stuff. "If his approach were important we'd have learned of it by now" is the kind of chicken-egg thing I'm confronting. Probably only television has the power to turn things around and that's supposedly controlled by "the corporations" (or "the Grunch" as Fuller called our potentially philanthropic supranationals).

You'll note that math mavens tend to find positive things to say about Fuller and his work -- it's just there's no going into any detail about just what that work was, beyond his inventing a tear-drop shaped car, some rowing needles, and a house on a pole.

The concentric hierarchy is alluded to in the museum exhibits, but rarely gets the kind of crystal clear write-up I've been providing. There's some kind of cultural barrier to allowing this thinking a place in the sun. There's probably one simple word for it: nationalism.

What's the difference between nationalism and patriotism? That's for another post, but we're in the ballpark of allegiances and loyalties (like in Afghanistan). Nationalists are more willing to coast on past glories I think, are more in a mood to squander heritage than cultivate it. Patriots are closer to prophets, more likely to say the "wrong thing" and play a dissenting clown role (more like the court jester).

Certainly I'm on the side of boosting Portland's living standards by prototyping new lifestyles, thereby ending homelessness. Companies wanting to showcase new civilian tech should be invited to test market in our neck of the woods. Advertising should mean more than indulging in nostalgic imagery around unsustainable, unaffordable palaces, amidst fake cop and doctor shows that have nothing to do with building community. Kill your TV before it kills you?