Posts Tagged ‘technology’

In Praise of Bad Ideas

June 8, 2011

A recent article by Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker, “Creation Myth,” is ostensibly about how Steve Jobs walked into Xerox’s secret lab in 1979 (in exchange for giving Xerox a crate of Apple stock) and walked out with everything he needed to re-think cutting edge technology for use (and monetization) in the real world.  It turns out that Xerox actually invented the personal computer and the mouse, but it was Jobs who realized how to take it to the people, with panache and at a price-point that lead to today’s Apple (and in some ways to this blogosphere and our virtual connection).

The part of the article that caught my attention personally was a quote of Dean Simonton, a psychologist I read closely when doing my doctoral work on creativity.  He says, “The more successes there are, the more failures there are as well.”  This is about the nature of innovation, where true innovators have hundreds of ideas… and therefore hundreds of bad ideas.  Gladwell underscores the point that creativity is messy and inefficient; a process that is difficult to manage.

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Quantum Parenting

May 25, 2011

There was a recent piece in The New Yorker, “Dream Machine:  The mind-expanding world of quantum computing,” by Rivka Galchen in which she meets with David Deutsch who she dubs the founding father of quantum computing.

Yet when it comes to quantum anything, I want to know not who’s my daddy, but rather who’s my mommy?

Deutsch, who lives eccentrically on the outskirts of Oxford, applies quantum mechanics to computing; the point being to create computers much more powerful than we have now, and with much less hardware.  The magic turns on creating quantum “bits” which are the basic placeholders for computing—a spot that can either be a one or a zero.  Based on this simple, yes/no or positive/not-positive, construct, one can do all the “magical” things we do with computers (and none of the truly magical things that make life most worth living).  In fact, if they crack the quantum code of computing, they will be able to crack the toughest, nearly impossible, math-questions that create so-called “security.”  Then those with the power will know all the money and weapons secrets, I suppose, but they still won’t have a clue about how to truly live and love.

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Singularity is forever, but it’s not for everybody?

June 14, 2010

A rather provocative article by Ashlee Vance in the New York Times, Merely Human? That’s So Yesterday, raised a host of intriguing questions.  Essentially the article is about the idea of technological “singularity” where humans and machines will, according to some, meld and then immortality (or at least dramatically extended lives) will be possible.

These ideas, being explored by the best and the brightest (at least in the realm of computer science and bio-technology), distill down, in the end, to incredibly un-modern, rather more of the same, ends:  an elite “school” in which elite connections are made to further capital ventures in a rarefied grab for power, money, control and the hubristic cockeyed quest to become God and live forever (how old school is that?  Think conquistadors, explorers and myriad seekers of fountains of youth, treasure and the like who basically annihilated native peoples everywhere they went).

Yes, technology is zooming forward but no, it will not allow us to live “forever.”  Firstly, “forever,” is a concept that rests upon the notion of its opposite—time.  Once we get past time, then there is no “forever,” there just is.  Secondly, being rather restless and childlike, I’m not sure what these boys would do with themselves if they had forever on their hands.  In fact it’s those inevitably idle robotic avatar hands that might likely become the devils playthings after all—out of sheer boredom and the angst resultant from the ego elevated above the Self (like a child who kills his parents and then panics at being an orphan).  Given how bored many people are with their short span of days, what would people actually do with immortality?  They would probably eventually meditate and learn non-action and transcend the illusion of matter altogether—yet one could do that without actually making the forever machine since… we’re already soaking in it.

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Abby Normal

June 11, 2010

I went to sleep last night with prayers for Abby Sunderland in my heart.

I awoke to learn that she is okay, and I am delighted and relieved for that.

What I wish to say today is that Abby’s situation is a perfect confluence of the opposites (the very place where the transcendent, sublime, even divine is most likely to show up).

Abby’s brother sailed around the world alone—the youngest to do it.  Abby wanted to do it too, to get the crown of youngest to sail around the world alone.  Note how many opposites this collective focal point conjures: life and death, over-protection and under-protection, bravery and fear, equipment and nature, togetherness and isolation, young and old, water and land, safety and adventure, “good” parenting and “bad” parenting, giving up and keeping on, ego and oceanic oneness.

Given that my aim is to enhance consciousness toward the benefit of the collective, my personal opinions about whether or not, as a parent, I would let my own sixteen-year-old sail around the world alone (I’m nervous for him to start driving lessons) is at least partially beside the point.

I went to sleep with images of “pitch-poling” and “submarining” in my mind’s eye—the experts conjectures of what 25 foot waves in 80 knot winds might do to cause a sailor to hit the rescue-me button (a forty foot boat flipping end over end; nose-diving straight down the face of giant waves and capsizing into 50 degree water).

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Middle School Masochism

May 27, 2010

A recent New York Times article, “Teenage Insults, Scrawled on Web, Not on Walls,” by Tamar Lewin looked at a burgeoning internet trend wherein subscribers to sites such as Formspring can get anonymous (i.e. uncensored and brutally honest… or perhaps cruelly dishonest) feedback from others, which they can then elect to delete from their private in-box or post to a public profile on themselves.  Interestingly, albeit depressingly for parents, many kids seemed all too willing to post mean things about themselves, leaving parents in dread about comments so horrible that they would get deleted, but not before leaving deep scars.

Of course middle school kids were then free to post all sorts of mean comments, everything from snarky comments about your leggings to withering critiques of breasts and teeth.

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Mind of the Colony

May 26, 2010

As parents and bloggers, we often run short on time, and so I doubt you will have opportunity to curl up with a copy of Ant Encounters:  Interaction Networks and Colony Behavior, by Deborah M. Gordon any time soon.  She is a researcher at Stanford who has spent a lot of time watching ants.

She has learned that colonies change over time; they mature and develop.  Gordon also works with the Santa Fe Institute where various branches of the sciences are collaborating in a search for human application—in the direction of us humans getting along better and evolving.

Ants are interesting to me, and one of my earliest memories is of being absolutely covered by them when digging in the dirt.  I am two years old, we have just moved to a house and I am happy and unbothered by the ants, in fact I feel serene and connected with them as we dig and hang out together at the base of a tree.  My mom then sees the state that I am in and is horrified, brushing away the ants and then carrying me to the bathtub where all these kind and lovely ants are washed away in a flood of water and mom’s disgust.

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Happy to say “Hello, Again”

May 13, 2010

I realize that today marks the one year anniversary from when I first set up this blog and clicked “publish.”  Looking back, it was May 13 of 2009 that I became “self-published.”  I am toying with the idea of self-publishing my Privilege of Parenting book, and I now look back to see the organic nature of the journey into standing for what we stand for and coming to value process above outcome or product.

It strikes me as amusing now that I routinely, even blithely, craft a post and send it out there to strike a chord, perplex, fall flat or whatever else might happen that it is as natural as any other part of my life; I have made friends in this world and dropping by your different blogs is like taking a walk down some virtual Main Street somewhere between Atticus Finch’s place and Holden Caulfied’s, sometimes stopping for a dip in Gatsby’s pool, sometimes by Norma Desmond’s… sometimes chatting with new friends across the pond altogether.  I realize that a year ago I came to the party with sweaty palms and now I’m feeling really happy that I didn’t just stay in bed with a book.

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When trees fall down

May 2, 2010

Whether or not a tree falling in a forest with no human soul to hear it makes any noise, I’m pretty sure that if that tree ends up blocking Coldwater Canyon on a beautiful Friday morning one can’t drive down Coldwater Canyon to get to work.

And so it was that on Friday I was standing still in “traffic” (which implies movement, so this was more like “parking”) along a lovely stretch of Mulholland Drive as I watched the clock on my car turn to ten a.m. (two hours after I had left on my typically thirty minute commute) blithely informing me that the therapy session to which I had failed to make it with my waiting client, the one I had asked to change, had just ended entirely without me ever showing up.

And whether falling trees do or don’t make noise, forgotten cell phones definitely do not make calls—not calls of explanation, not calls of heads up, not calls of apology—just mute and enigmatic silence regarding any excuse whatsoever as I sat contemplating the distant blue Pacific, the rogue yellow mustard growing crazy over the hillsides and the lovely purple wildflowers all just better than I at being, quietly indifferent as I sat blocked and breathing.

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Happy Birthday to a Man out of Time

March 14, 2010

“To murder my love is a crime

But will you still love

A man out of time?”

Elvis Costello (Man Out of Time)

Today is Albert Einstein’s birthday, that visionary orchid who blew the whole space-time thing open for the modern Western mind.

When we think about Einstein and E=MC2 we may think of mad professor hair and dusty chalkboards at Princeton… and of mushroom clouds over Bikini Atoll, Hiroshima Mon Amour, and Nagasaki.  For the most part, however, mainstream culture still has yet to get it—and relativity remains a nerd-world concept.

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When love means… dealing with tech support

March 8, 2010

In any relationship there will be points of contention, but I have to say that for however lame I may be in doing my share of the laundry or the dishes or the overall parenting, my hat’s way off to my wife for spending over an hour and a half on the phone last week on my behalf.

I had already spent nearly an hour myself, not to mention the several failed calls from the day before… all trying to get my email up and running after huge company A insisted that I “migrate” my email over to huge company B, which it turns out is all just one big company anyway.  The migration process, however, had caused me to be unable to access my email, which has become increasingly critical to being able to work.

During my long moments on intermittent hold, I pondered the upside of not having email—of everything simply falling through the cracks… of a return to some idyllic life that once existed before texts and cell phones and constant contact.  But then the clock ran down to time for my first client and I was looking at seven hours of back-to-back clinical hours after which the support line would be closed once again.

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