The Internet Connectome

Documentary filmmaker and Webby Awards founder Tiffany Shlain has a new project called Let It Ripple. Drawing from her earlier work with the film Connected, TS has combined a TED Book with a short film exploring the parallels between a child’s brain development and the development of the global brain (Internet), offering insights into the best ways to shape both. I just finished the book and viewed the film and find her work both fascinating and important. She is in fact catalyzing the work of a significant brain-trust exploring new and unexpected global connections being made at an accelerated rate. Comparisons of the Internet connectome to the rapid growth and development of a child’s brain seem a fitting metaphor. Highly recommended reading, and  


Some people will be chosen for the job, the Wednesday night poker game for the limited number of spaces available in heaven. Only so many spoons fit in one drawer your mother would say and the same is true for clothes and closets shelves and cans and let’s be honest hearts and loves. I cannot love you because I love another is a problem that sometimes gets admitted over wine in a restaurant filled with people choosing this dish over that meat choosing something that will fill the middle of their beings or leave them slavering like a cheetah who missed and pass that would you? and let’s be friends. Yes let’s drink to being friends and then we can all go on our way remembering the best part about being chosen is that you do not have to stop for anyone along the way. – Betsy  


The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect. It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others “even our enemies” is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion. We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings “even those regarded as enemies.” We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensible to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community. – From the Charter for Compassion, a TED Wish by Karen  

Greek To Me

Chris Anderson’s TED organization continues to amaze me. I just checked on my TED Talk page and see that it has been volunteer-translated into nine languages, including Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, and Portuguese. Each translator donates their time to the broader TED community (the “TED community” is anyone who contributes to, or benefits from, TED talks, blog, forums, etc.). My Greek translator is Nicholas Koutris, a former paratrooper in the Greek Special Forces and masters graduate in Economics from University of Rotterdam. Says Nicholas about TED, About TED I believe that this knowledge distribution is crucial for the development and the consciousness of the people. In ten minutes of ted presentation, you gain knowledge equivalent to hours of lectures. This is Educational acceleration, Exponential learning… you name it! That is what surprises me and makes me feel committed! Arabic translation was given by Anour Dafa-Alla, the first Sudanese to participate in the IOI — and fellow countryman and technologist, Adel Ibraham. Acceleration in learning is real. It is happening all over the planet as the microprocessor creates previously unthinkable bridges between people. Nine people (so far) have translated a talk by someone they don’t know, whom they may never meet, but in whose ideas they found enough value to invest precious time. This is a very exciting and promising time to be alive. We are interconnecting exponentially. One more thought.. Cynthia and I watched a documentary last night called As We Forgive. This movie won the Student Academy Award for its filmmaker Laura Waters, along with numerous top festival awards. Laura was interviewed recently on the Compathos site. I encourage everyone to view this deeply stirring account of raw humanity at both its most terrible and transcendent extremes. Among the most powerful and important films we’ve ever  

Teachability & Superstition

Probably not blogging journaling much for a while. Big writing assignment ahead. Will still be reading my favorite bloggers here and there. Mortimer Adler gets the last word on – for a while. On “teachability” Teachability is often confused with subservience. A person is wrongly thought to be teachable if he is passive and pliable. On the contrary, teachability is an extremely active virtue. No one is really teachable who does not freely exercise his power of independent judgment. She can be trained, perhaps, but not taught. The most teachable reader is, therefore, the most critical. He is the reader who finally responds to a book by the greatest effort to make up his own mind on the matters the author has discussed. Religious community often defines its success on conformity. Sacred texts sometimes echo this ideal to be of “one accord.” But for any community to be of “one mind” (one healthy mind) it’s essential that each individual fully engages the mind they were given ” continually wresting with paradox, forming better questions, and dreaming bigger dreams. Creative, independent thinkers assure that community bonds remain healthy and strong. Adler, who embraced Christian faith later in life, further echoes my own perceptions on religion and superstition. The prevalence and predominance of science in our culture has cured a great many of the superstitious beliefs that constituted their false religiosity. The increase of secularism and irreligion in our society does not reflect a decrease in the number of persons who are truly religious, but a decrease in the number of those who are falsely religious; that is, merely superstitious. There is no question but that science is the cure for superstition, and, if given half the chance with education, it will reduce the amount that exists. The truths of religion must [ultimately] be compatible with the truths of science and the truths of philosophy. As scientific knowledge advances, and as philosophical analysis improves, religion is progressively purified of the superstitions that accidentally attach themselves to it as parasites. That being so, it is easier in fact to be more truly religious today than ever before, precisely because of the advances that have been made in science and philosophy. That is to say, it is easier for those who will make the effort to think clearly in and about religion, not for those whose addiction to religion is nothing more than a slavish adherence to inherited superstition. Throughout the whole of the past, only a small number of men were ever truly religious. The vast majority who gave their epochs and their societies the appearance of being religious were primarily and essentially superstitious. — Mortimer  

Cultural Creatives

Toronto-based management guru Richard Florida (along with Ray, et al) has identified a Creative Class which he believes is the driving force behind most social change. In a variation on the 80-20 Rule, he argues that about 1/3 of the population drives most knowledge-based developments. He further proposes that about 1 in 3 of these creatives (roughly 10 % of any population) are the “core innovators.” Florida has his detractors, and his theory may have its weaknesses, but one thing remains true: certain types of people are more inclined to be change agents, while others are happier living within the status-quo. Call them what you will, cultural creatives are the catalyst behind most scientific and philosophical change that has occurred throughout history. But not all communities encourage the creative. Consider China’s Cultural Revolution. Artists, free-thinkers, dangerous academics ‘core creatives’ were sent off to labor camps where they could be ‘reprogrammed’ to think and act within the boundaries of acceptable political orthodoxy. Religion is another example. Let’s call it the “clergy class” the roughly 1 in 100 within religious communities who act as paid professionals. The 1% clergy class effectively sets agenda and defines the boundaries of its community. I would suggest that our inherited 1% religious models routinely suppress their 10% core creatives. My impression is that the 10%-core learns to adjust (survive?) within religious structures by not venturing too far beyond well-defined ecclesial parameters. Those who have risked beyond the boundaries frequently become casualties of the system marginalized by religious tradition. It’s also my impression that, when viewed from the pages of history, the role of religious out-grouping almost always appears somewhere on a scale between ridiculous and barbaric (think inquisitions, stake burnings, etc.). The emergence of virtual community, the virtual ecclesia, will radically change global religion in part because creatives-of-faith now have direct access to community formation. In virtuality, the 10% creative core no longer needs permission from 1% structural gatekeepers. In virtuality, ideas live and die not by their ability to further institutional mandates, but by their inherent value to the greater community. The old guards at religion’s gate are being rendered irrelevant. No longer must core creatives repress or dilute their unique gifts among spiritual community. And no longer can religious institution marginalize the creative. A virtual free-market of ideas assures that deep, generative change is underway. Tomorrow’s generations will usher in these changes organically, not as protest, but as an outgrowth of their virtually-connected lives and communities — a natural progression which reflects a spirituality of radical inclusion rather than religious out-grouping.  

Generative Rhythms

Here’s a brilliant three-minute video of Bobby McFerrin leading an audience experiment. Something profound occurs at the 45 second mark, and again around 2:00. We are ALL pre-wired with certain shared resonant qualities. Innate musical cognition is one of those qualities. While the universe may seem random at times, it is not.  Nothing on earth or beyond happens outside of a perfectly structured set of organic, natural rules. We all operate within those rules. Whether it be the pentatonic primacy of music to the soul, the centrality of love to the spirit, or the human tendency towards selfishness, pride, and narcissism ” certain universal truths are wired into our collective sentience.” If we are here for a reason, then finding, living, and growing within these generative shared rhythms, while learning to eschew naturally degenerative rhythms, seems like our shared mission. But by fear or thoughtlessness we often stop sharing. We dig ourself into a hole that differentiates ourselves from others (us and them, my tribe / your tribe, my religion, etc.). If we individually lived more in this place of shared mindfulness, those we call “enemies” might start to look strangely like family. “No matter where I’m at, every audience gets this” — Bobby McFerrin World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on  

Survival in Black Rock City

When we consume a service, we’re made passive… 50 million people may view a television program in complete isolation from each other… because many people only know a world shaped by institutions and commercial transactions, they may not even recognize the signs of a community… true community is built on the recognition of the unique ability of every member… The world is a stage, and we are all performers, not spectators… from the 2009 Survival Guide to Black Rock  

Facebook Hunter-Gatherers

Br. Paulus Terwitte, Franciscan monk and Gestalt therapist takes the stage at TED UK today (at first glance at the picture, I thought it was Steve Jobs). He reminds us that virtual technologies can never replace F2F human engagement, and that Facebook is a form of primitive hunter-gatherer behavior. In some respects, I think he’s spot on. As always, it depends on our intentionality in virtual engagement. I have a great number of thoughts, both inspired and critical, of Br Teriwtte’s TED Talk summary. But I’m out the door today to produce an orchestral recording for NPR in the Napa Valley.  So.. another time. Looking forward to viewing Br. Terwitte’s TEDTalk when it is released on video, and kudos to Chris and Bruno for inviting the meditative theologian to the TED stage. From the TED blog: …………………. Brother Paulus Terwitte takes the stage and immediately confronts the two questions he says everyone always asks. The first is, “Are you a real monk?” When he asked that, his usual reply is “Are you real?” The second is: “What do you do?” His answer to that one is, “Nothing.” He says that he does nothing because he wants to find the answer to the most important question in life, one that you can read on the first page of the Bible. We still don’t know what this question is, so he tells us that there’s a little machine used all over the world to remind us of this question — it’s the cell phone that everybody calls to say “Where are you?” And that was what God asked, “Adam, where are you?” Brother Terwitte asks, “Where are you with your thoughts and your feelings? Are you at home or all over the world?” He says that he was talking to someone the other day, when their phone rang, and the person took his mobile and walked away. It happens all the time, he notes. The phone rings, in the middle of dinner, in the middle of sharing ideas and people go away like the President is calling. Brother Terwitte says he eventually left the area after five minutes of waiting on this person, thinking he must not be so important. He says that he spends three hours of an organized, scheduled doing nothing every day at his monastery. He explains that they want to find the inner voice of their being, and that every man wants to find the inner sense of things. We all want to get the whole world in our hands, he says, and you have to decide how you (read