Tuesday, March 25, 2008

We Think.

I'll have to come back later to talk more about the overarching awesomeness of this animation created to promote Charles Leadbeater's (here he is at TED in 2005) new book We-Think. It's just extremely right on and captures the essence of why I am so energized by what all of this convergence and connectivity is all about as well as anything I've seen. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

TED meets IDEO

So, my favorite gathering of the year, TED, recently wrapped up in Monterey, California. I shortly thereafter, I came across a widget developed by IDEO in conjunction with the event to help encourage users to think about the "big questions" that we face as a society. With all of the buzz surrounding widgets these days, it seems like a perfect match--an innovative, big think agency developing for a conference that exists solely to promote big thoughts and ideas and help them come to fruition.

Unfortunately, the widget falls desperately short in the same way so many do--by failing to think any deeper than the rousing strategy of "hey, we should make a widget for that!" In effect, the result is another piece of cybertrash--a download with great promise that immediately disappoints and then gets deleted.

Mentality surrounding widgets, and all communication for that matter, deserves a fundamental shift. These digital tools are only relevant if they provide a benefit for the end user. Does incorporating this widget improve the lives or efficiencies of anyone?

The only functionality it allows is that you can submit a "big question" that could potentially be shared with the world, just like today's gem seen above. Instead, this could easily be posing great questions and aggregating powerful responses--truly starting a global conversation in the spirit of both TED and IDEO. At the very least, it could serve as a personal log of my individual thoughts on questions by allowing me to enter in each day's response and catalog it, creating a sort of mini-journal of gut reactions to "big questions".

If, for some reason, you'd like to try it out for yourself, download it here.

There is so much more that can be done. There are bigger ideas that can actually make a difference.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Dave Eggers at TED: Transform a Community

Each year, TED awards it's top prize to three individuals who are truly committed to changing the world. A part of the award is the opportunity to state the one wish that the winner would like to see granted to an audience of people who may, very well, help it come true. One of this year's winners is Dave Eggers, a man who has created a tutoring center in his neighborhood that is making a huge impact. Oh, its also a shop for pirate sundries.

The creativity and compassion throughout his presentation is spectacular. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pinata Abuse

I'm not sure if you've ever been involved in a party featuring a pinata. The last one that I was a part of was a 3rd birthday party. Those kids got down on that poor thing in savage fashion. Later, the cake met a similar demise. For whatever reason, the appearance of a pinata seems to bring raw aggression out of even the sweetest toddler.

Playing off of that theme of malicious battery, Skittles just released this video. It made me laugh. I thought you might enjoy it, too.

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Perfect Argument for Net Neutrality

An oversimplified explanation of Net Neutrality might go something like this: the major telecom companies want to determine how much bandwidth can be used by whom, when, and to which sites. In effect, they'd like to be able to decide which sites you can use their bandwidth visiting and they'd also like to give preferential access to certain groups and corporate clients (whom you're probably not in). Others of us think it might be best if the Internet remains open to all and information-neutral, granting the same access to everyone and every site.

Thus far, I've stayed out of it. I guess because in my happy little mind, it's such a fantastically obvious issue that it hardly warrants all that much discussion. I tend to remain foolishly naive and forget that these days, even the most obvious issues fail to be easily resolved in the best interest of the people.

Last week, the FCC held a meeting at Harvard University designed for concerned citizens to voice their opinions concerning the issue. Comcast, New England's largest provider of broadband Internet coverage, decided do their part to diffuse the potentially heated debate by attempting to fill the entire venue with their own employees and better yet, paid seat-holders. In so doing, they succeeded in:
  1. keeping out the actual concerned citizenry for whom the event was created (more than 100 were turned away because all of the seats were filled)
  2. really cheesing off John Kerry
  3. providing a ridiculous slam-dunk example of EXACTLY what they hope to do by squashing Net Neutrality--taking away the voice of the people to protect their own self-interests
And so, I thank you Comcast for reminding me that important matters are at hand and I certainly shouldn't sit back and assume it will all work out as it should. Most importantly, thanks for making it so easy to paint the picture of what this means and why this matters. Comcast, AT&T, and the other telecom providers who oppose Net Neutrality want to crowd you out and decide when and where you are free to see or say what matters to you.

Honestly, I wouldn't have been able to come up with a better real-world illustration as to what net neutrality is all about. As stated by John Kerry, who is working to pass legislation that will protect an open Internet, "If the other side will use their money to restrict public access to a public meeting, how can we feel confident they won't use their power to restrict voices in the virtual world?"

Clearly, we can't and we shouldn't.

Go here to Save the Internet.