As man advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all the members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races. If, indeed, such men are separated from him by great differences in appearance or habits, experience unfortunately shews us how long it is, before we look at them as our fellow-creatures…The very idea of humanity, as far as I could observe, was new to most of the Gauchos of the Pampas. This virtue, one of the noblest with which man is endowed, seems to arise incidentally from our sympathies becoming more tender and more widely diffused, until they are extended to all sentient beings. As soon as this virtue is honoured and practised by some few men, it spreads through instruction and example to the young, and eventually becomes incorporated in public opinion. – Charles Darwin
I go by a field where once
I cultivated a few poor crops.
It is now covered with young trees,
for the forest that belongs here
has come back and reclaimed its own.
And I think of all the effort
I have wasted and all the time,
and of how much joy I took
in that failed work and how much
it taught me. For in so failing
I learned something of my place,
something of myself, and now
I welcome back the trees.
My friend Richard Thieme gives the closing keynote address at the 2011 ECOMM conference in San Francisco. In this talk, he artfully summarizes and integrates the “meta-themes” presented during the prior three days of the show.
ECOMM, a 400-person invite-only conference, explores the dissolving boundaries of Telecom, IT and media industries. The balance of power between producers and consumers is shifting and the economics of “value creation” is being transformed. These shifts are being enabled by the “communications industry” itself, accelerating myriad new forms of dynamic interaction and defining a new epoch.
The result is that new uncontested spaces for innovation are emerging. How we relate to the world around us, and the connectedness of humanity are all at stake. Richard, a former Episcopal priest, global security authority, and one of the deepest multi-disciplinary thinkers I know, masterfully summarizes a larger picture of emerging interactivity, modularity, and fluidity. His juxtaposition of techno-fascism vs. human empathy is stunning (29:15 – 33:00).
“People often describe me as a futurist. But I’m not a futurist. The future is an artificial construct local to individual cultures. What I try to do is describe the present. But so many people live in the past that, to them, I sound like a futurist.” – Richard Thieme
For decades, I’ve heard of people using standing desks. More recently, I discovered “walking desks” — a marriage of treadmill and workstation.
I love to walk, and I also love to work (when work = passion). But no way going to spend $5,000 on a Steelcase Walkstation Desk. So I decided to build my own. I’ve been using my new walking workstation for about three weeks and couldn’t be happier. My goal is to walk at least 20 miles each week, so that in roughly 4 years (I’m often out of the office) I will have walked 3072 miles to my virtual destination at the Cape Cod seashore. I’m keeping a log (scroll down), and will try to update this blog post with significant milestones.
UPDATE NOV 2015:I completed my goal! A bit more than 3,000 walking miles. Have now started a new goal: walking from the northern top of Alaska to the bottom tip of South America, around 10,000 miles. At my average pace, it would take more than 10 years, so I’ll need to up my weekly goal to at least 25 miles.
Total cost of my walking desk is $500. I’ve included some photos below. Here’s a list of materials:
Treadmill: Merit 725T Plus ($430, delivered). ADDED 15 DEC 2014: The Merit has pretty much worn itself out. It starts to smell really bad after about 2 miles. I’ve replaced the motor, the control board, and the tread, but it’s pooped out. End-of-life. For the price, it’s brought good service for about $10/mo. That’s respectable. I’ve just ordered a Weslo R5.2 from Amazon.
Desktop: 48″ x 18″ Smooth Laminate Countertop ($35)
The desktop is easily adjustable up or down in 1 inch increments via the shelf support system. I wall-mounted a video display at eye-level in front of the walking desk. Keyboard and mouse (trackball) are wireless Logitech K350 & M570.
My sitting desk is immediately behind the walking desk, behind the R/D lab wall. Logitech’s Unifying Receiver allows me to run duplicate trackballs and keyboards on a single PC, and a passive splitter-combiner lets me to run two monitors from the same video card. So now I have a walking desk and a sitting desk sharing the same PC. Nice.
How does it perform? The desktop is very stable and allows me to walk at a reasonable pace while typing on the keyboard, writing, talking on phone, or viewing the video monitor. In fact, I’m writing this blog post from my walking desk at 3.0 MPH. If I need to do critical trackball work (e/m design, schematic entry, etc.) I sometimes need to reduce my speed to something around 2.0 MPH. If walking speeds exceed 3.5MPH, the desktop starts to pick up sympathetic vibrations from the treadmill.
Excellent TEDTalk by Rebecca MacKinnon on keeping the Internet free from corporate and political sub-interests. MacKinnon argues that the Magna Carta was a breakthrough in limiting the power of kings, followed by a radical experiment called “consent of the governed” in America’s founding. She argues convincingly that it’s time for a third paradigm shift she calls Consent of the Networked.
She shows how no country is immune from using its policing powers to stifle speech it considers inappropriate to its “national interests.” She extends her arguments to U.S. corporations which effectively gate-keep today’s Internet (Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc.).
Without certain essential unalienable virtual freedoms, the Internet becomes a tool of control rather than a tool of liberation from control. MacKinnon has given a powerful, prophetic TEDTalk. Humanity moving forward will be shaped largely by our degree of freedom in virtuality.
Just back from a month long “living Western history” trip. Dan finished a year of AP World History, so good timing. We started with the birth of democracy (ancient Greece circa 500BC) and explored forward 2000 years to the Renaissance (Florence circa 1500AD). We also included Minoan and Mycenaean history (Crete, etc.).
Our connection gave us a day in London with a stop at Abbey Road studios:
There is a smile of love,
And there is a smile of deceit;
And there is a smile of smiles,
In which these two smiles meet.
(And there is a frown of hate,
And there is a frown of disdain;
And there is a frown of frowns
Which you strive to forget in vain,
For it sticks in the heart’s deep core,
And it sticks in the deep backbone.)
And no smile that ever was smiled,
But only one smile alone.
That betwixt the cradle and grave
It only once smiled can be.
But when it once is smiled
There’s an end to all misery.
– William Blake
Considered mad by contemporaries for his idiosyncratic views, Blake is held in high regard by later critics for his expressiveness and creativity, and for the philosophical and mystical undercurrents within his work. His paintings and poetry have been characterised as part of both the Romantic movement and “Pre-Romantic”, for its large appearance in the 18th century. Reverent of the Bible but hostile to the Church of England – indeed, to all forms of organised religion – Blake was influenced by the ideals and ambitions of the French and American revolutions, as well as by such thinkers as Jakob BÃ¶hme and Emanuel Swedenborg.
Despite these known influences, the singularity of Blake’s work makes him difficult to classify. The 19th century scholar William Rossetti characterised Blake as a “glorious luminary,” and as “a man not forestalled by predecessors, nor to be classed with contemporaries, nor to be replaced by known or readily surmisable successors.”
Are you a repressed creative genius? My friend Carl’s new book, So, You’re a Creative Genius… Now What?, has just been released by Michael Wiese Publishing, the #1 resource for filmmakers, screenwriters, producers, and directors.The book is a fast-read, with a steady stream of useful, concise ideas to unleash your latent creativity. Buy it!