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Hajo Neis, “Battle for Life and Beauty of the Earth: Urban Architecture and (Re)Generative Process” (web video) | April 14, 2014 | U. Oregon July 1, 2015

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Hajo Neis, co-author with Christopher Alexander on his 2012 book, lectured on experiences not only with the Eishin Campus in Japan in 1985, but also other works.
Hajo Neis

In this lecture Neis will report about the recently published book ‘Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth’ by Christopher Alexander, Hans Joachim Neis and Maggie Alexander, in which the authors present “a revolutionary vision for the human environment: in coming eras, the environment will be conceived, designed, made, and widely understood as a necessary part of our emotional and social life.” But the book also addresses a major problem in the production of today’s human environment, or the kind of problems you can encounter when you try to implement essential principles for a human and beautiful architecture in large-scale projects. The book can best be understood as an excellent example of the fascinating interplay between theory and practice, between thinking and making, with a deep concern for human life and the environment, and a battle worth fighting. Neis will show several more projects closely related to the book and its main topic and theme and the University of Oregon.

Below is some of the text from the slides.

[06:40] “Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth”, Urban Architecture and Re(Generative) Process, by Hajo Neis, Ph.D., Contents

  • Part A
    • 1. Urban Architecture – Portland
    • 2. BOOK: Battle for Life and Beauty of the Earth
    • 3. (Urban) Theory Part 1:  Generative Design Patterns and Pattern Language
    • 4. Project 1:  Eugene Campus (Agate and Amazon)
    • 5. Project 2:  Portland Campus – White Stag
    • 6. Project 3:  Eishin Campus – Tokyo
    • 7. Project 4:  Frankfurt Hoechst I
    • 8. Project 5:  Julian Inn – San Jose
  • Part B
    • (Urban) Theory Part II:  Dynamic Generative Process
    • 10. San Francisco Waterfront Project – Transbay Terminal
    • 11 Project 6:  Frankfurt Hoescht II
    • 12. Project 7: New University of Oregon Portland
    • 13. Project 8: Guasare New Town, Venezuela
    • 14. Project 9: Emoto Apartment Building – Tokyo
    • 15. Conclusion-Outlook:  Theory Part III Generative Code
    • Thank you

[9:33] Architect Prof. Christopher Alexander, Winner of the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture 2014

[10:46] Beauty, Sustainability, Social Justice, Urban Life

[11:21] Battle, p. 2

  • “The purpose of all architecture, the purpose of its spatial-geometric organization, is to provide opportunities for life-giving situations. The central issue of architecture, and its central purpose, is to create those configurations and social situations, which provide encouragement and support for life-giving comfort and profound satisfaction — sometimes excitement — so that one experiences life as worth living.  When this purpose is forgotten or abandoned, then there is indeed no architecture to speak of.”

[13:31] Battle cover jacket

  • “Achieving this vision will require an intensive lengthy global Battle between two production systems, System-B, the dominant production system today, seeks to profit from development and produce structures, through unfeeling mechanical procedures that destroy opportunities for joy and human satisfaction.  System-A, the alternative, allows meaning to be built-up progressively by benign, modest steps in the careful nurturing of our physical world.”

[14:40] Review – A Pattern of Abuse

[17:42] Why did it take so many years to finish the book Battle?

[19:39] “The Ordinary Way” – Early book title, 1983

  • Contents
  • Introduction
  • 1. The contact
  • 2. The pattern language
  • 3. The site plan
  • 4. The << handwriting illegible >>
  • 5. Materials of construction
  • 6. Design of buildings
  • 7. Breaking ground
  • 8. The construction process
  • 9. First years in use

[20:14]  First pages of the book “The Ordinary Way”, 1983

  • The new Eishin university is a university entirely dedicated to the problem of the community and local autonomy.
  • It is founded on the simple belief that one great period of human society just ended, and that another is just beginning.
  • What they may call the modern age began at about the end of the fifteenth century.  We believe that is has ended about 1980, and that the last part of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, an entirely new age will be created.
  • A new age, in which new methods of production, and new human relationships will form the basis of society, is now about to begin.  One of the central ideas in the formation of this new age is the idea of local autonomy and local control.
  • This idea may be summarized in the German work “Gemeinschaft“.  It is also summarized by the old meaning of the Russian “soviet” even though this word even though this word has been entirely destroyed by its connection with 20th century Russian communism, and is described by some degree by the English word community.  All these concepts refer to a type of human group, in which personal relations and personal identification of people within the society form the basic interaction and also most important for the definition of the individual self.
  • However, the concept of Gemeinschaft is defined more succinctly by the inner idea of the world which people carry with them, and by the fundamental motive which guides these actions.
  • In brief, a Gemeinschaft is formed by a group of people whose actions large or small are guided by one simple principle: the idea that every act must somehow increase wholeness.
  • This single idea, applied to ethics, architecture, personal acts, family relations, political economy.  In short, to absolutely all actions and event which take place in a human society.
  • When this principle does form the basis for personal actions, this is entirely different from the situation which existed for the last five hundred years in the so called modern age.  In this recent period, actions have instead been guided by a variety of other motives, including money, efficiency, social justice and military power.  Even democracy, powerful as it may be as an idea, with its fundamental search for justice and equality, actually it fails entirely to provide the underlying motive which we may call wholeness.
  • In the same way, all forms of modern socialism, though searching for something better, have so far failed to grasp this need to see motives and human life, in an entirely different framework.

[22:58] CES List of Books since 1965

[24:24] The Eishin Highschool and College Campus in Tokyo – Japan 1984- Present

[25:46] Unpublished Chapter:  24.  Large Scale Building Production, Unification of the Human System and the Physical System

  • Published Chapter
  • 23. Elements are Being Created at the Same Time that the Whole is Being Created
  • 24. Following the Golden Glow

[28:59] Organic Tradition California – West Coast CES and HNA

  • With small and medium size buildings and projects we can create the kind of timeless quality of beauty and life relatively easily.
  • When it comes to larger projects, we can encounter a lot of problems and also opposition to the production of life and beauty.
  • We started a research project with the question:  Kinds of Production that can generate life and beauty in the world

[30:22]  PUARL

  • Portland Urban Architecture Research Laboratory http://puarl.uoregon.edu/, Hajo Neis, Director
  • Pattern Urban Architecture Research Laboratory

[32:17] Principles of Overall Pattern Language Approach

  • Meta-Principles
    • Wholeness
    • Growing Whiole
    • Wholeness and Sustainability
    • Wholeness in the Structure of the City
    • The City as a Growing Whole
    • Generative and Regenerative Processes
  • Primary Principles
    • Organic Order
    • Piecemeal Growth
    • Participation
    • Patterns and Pattern Languages
    • Structure Preserving Transformations
    • Adaptation
    • Formations of Centers and Fields of Centers
    • Formation of Larger Wholes
    • Formation of Positive Urban Open Space
    • Application of Geometric Properties
    • Application of Color Properties
    • Generative Design and Building Sequences
    • Integrated Design and Construction (Creative Production)
  • Other Principles and Techniques
    • Diagnosis and Coordination
    • Working Directly with the Building or Urban Area
    • Starting out with the Site
    • Primary Responsibility to the Building
    • Innovation through Building
    • etc.

[34.04] Portland Urban Architecture Research Laboratory PUARL:

  • PUARL Fields of Research and Investigation: Wholeness and Sustainability
    • BATTLE for the Life and Beauty of the Earth
  • Urban Morpholoogy and Urban Patterns
    • Portland Urban Atlas Project
    • Innovation City – Ruhr/Essen
  • Urban Building Typologies and Building Patterns
    • City of Tigard Downtown Vision and Improvement Project
    • Green Urban Campus – Essen
  • Design, Urban Process and Generative Process
    • University of Oregon Portland User and Pattern Design Process
  • Urban Ecology and Urban Landscapes, Patterns
    • City of Tigard Urban Corridor Project
    • Eco-Pattern Districts and Neighborhoods
  • Sustainable Downtown Growth
    • The Dalles
    • OT/CT/JT (with CIU)
  • (Re)generative Process and Design
    • Tsunami Evacuation and Wayfinding, Coastal Oregon
    • Workshop in Fukushima, Japan
    • Arthur Hotel Portland
  • Quality of Structure and Process
    • Wellness Project
  • Next Projects
    • Patterns and Sustainability/Streets
    • Creation Production for a Living World (with CES)

[37:49] Generative and Regenerative Urban Architecture and Urban Design

  • Theory, Part 1, Generative Design
  • Design Process at the University of Oregon, Pattern Language

[38:05]Regenerative Design and (Re)Generative Design

  • Regenerative Design
    • Regenerative design is a process oriented systems theory based approach to design. The term “regenerative” describes processes that restore, renew, or revitalize their own sources of energy and materials, creating sustainable systems that integrate the needs of society with the integrity of nature.  The basis is derived from systems ecology.
    • Source:  1. Jon Tilman Lyle: Regenerative Design for Sustainable Development.
  • (Re)Generative Design
    • Generative or (re)generative design is an applied for of generative science that tries to understand and conceptualize the world and its complex structure as a generative or (re)generative process.
    • Generative design attempts to formulate limited parameters, principles, and rules that interact with each other to create richness of life and behavior, and endless variation of form, shape and place.  Here generative and (re)generative design are closely related in terms of rules and principles.
    • Source:  2. Christopher Alexander: The Nature of Order (Wholeness Extending Transformation)
    • Source:  3. William McDonough and Michael Baumgart: From Cradle to Cradle.  Walter R. Stahel (From Cradle to Cradle).  Key words:  Permaculture, Biophilia, Sustainability, Environmentalism, Resilience, Complexity.

[40:54] Re(Generative Process: Generative Architecture and Urban Design

  • 1. Pattern Languages (since ~1970)
  • 2. Generative (Design and Building) Processes and Sequences (since ~1990)
  • 3. Generative Urban Code (since ~2005)
  • Interdisciplinary Process

[41:42] 10 Large Scale Regional/Urban Patterns

  • World
    • 1. Independent Regions
  • Region
    • 2. The Distribution of Towns
    • 3. City Country Fingers
    • 4. Agricultural Valleys
    • 5. Lace of Country Streets
    • 6. Country Towns
    • 7. The Countryside
  • City
    • 8. Mosaic of Subcultures
    • 9. Scattered Work
    • 10. Magic of the City

[45:14] Composition of a Pattern from the Book:  A Pattern Language (Looped Local Roads)

  • Archetypes – Phenotypes
  • **
  • Pattern Title
  • An Illustration
  • Hyperlinks
  • Definition of the Problem
  • Main Text
  • Solution Proposals
  • Solution Sketch
  • Hyperlinks

[47:58]  [network map around 40. Old People Everywhere]

[48:43] Pattern Languages as Generative Systems and Processes

[49:30] Application of Patterns and Pattern Languages

  • Three Examples of University Campi
  • 1. The University of Oregon Eugene Campus Plan 1974-Present
  • 2. The University of Oregon Portland Urban Campus 2008-Present
  • 3. The Eishin Highschool and College Campus in Tokyo – Japan 1984 – Present

[50:58] University of Oregon – Design Procedures

  • Patterns from the book A Pattern Language
  • Patterns specifically developed for the Oregon Campus Plan

[51:57] University of Oregon, Campus Plan, May 31, 2005

[52:24] University Science Complex, Charles Moore

[52:30] Matthew Knight Arena

[52:33] John E Jaqua Academic Center for Student Athletes

[52:38] Erb Memorial Union, Creating a New Center of Campus

[53:17] Eugene Kiln Shelter – University of Oregon, Stephen Duff

[54:16] Agate Housing Project Eugene – CES + T&E

[56:56] Three apartment Archetypes – twenty Phenotypes

[1:01:20] The Amazon Village – 340 housing units

[1:01:31] White Stag Urban Facilities – University of Oregon, Project 2

[1:02:28] University of Oregon, Portland: Current, New and Considered sites

[1:02:42] University of Oregon – Desing Procedures

  • New Portland Patterns:
  • Abundant Natural Light
  • An Atrium for Architecture and Allied Arts
  • Prominent Main Entry
  • A Street Presence
  • Galleries, Event Rooms, and a Cafe
  • Studios as Social Classrooms
  • Generous Hallways and Lobbies

[1:05:41] WSB – LEED Gold Certified http://design.uoregon.edu/wsb/stories.html

[1:06:16] Revitalizing a historical urban neighborhood with catalyst projects: OCOM Oregon College of Medicine as latest development 2013

[1:07:29[ Mercy Corps, OT CT JT

[1:08:05] Julian Inn Shelter for the Homeless, SF Bay Area, San Jose

  • Project 5:  Generative design and Creative Production
  • The Real Meaning of Construction

[1:08:39] Patterns

  • 1. Entrance Transition
  • 2. Living Courtyard
  • 3. Communal Dining
  • 4. Private Sleeping stall
  • 5. Entrance Fountain
  • 6. Thick walls and benches at bottom of buildings

[1:10:41] CES Builder’s yard, Martinez

[1:16:55] Battle, p. 476  END


Full abstract

A lecture by Hajo Neis, Associate Professor of Architecture, University of Oregon

“The purpose of all architecture, the purpose of its spatial-geometric organization, is to provide opportunities for life-giving situations. The central issue of architecture, and its central purpose, is to create those configurations and social situations, which provide encouragement and support for life-giving comfort and profound satisfaction — sometimes excitement — so that one experiences life as worth living. When this purpose is forgotten or abandoned, then there is indeed no architecture to speak of.” C. Alexander, H. Neis, M. Alexander. Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth. Oxford University Press. N.Y. November 2012, p. 2

Dr. Hajo Neis is an architect and urban designer with more than 35 years of professional experience and projects internationally. From his early days in the Frankfurt School of Philosophy and, at the same time, working in his father’s modernist architecture office, Neis was intrigued by the critical relationship between theory and practice. This focus sharpened considerably in his still ongoing cooperation with Chris Alexander, in theoretical practical projects, and educational work from 1990-2000 at the University of California, the Center for Environmental Structure (CES) in Berkeley, and his own office HNA. In 2006, Neis founded the Portland Architecture Research Laboratory (PUARL), at the UO, where he continues to explore and expand this work though urban research as well as practical and experimental projects.

In this lecture Neis will report about the recently published book ‘Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth’ by Christopher Alexander, Hans Joachim Neis and Maggie Alexander, in which the authors present “a revolutionary vision for the human environment: in coming eras, the environment will be conceived, designed, made, and widely understood as a necessary part of our emotional and social life.” But the book also addresses a major problem in the production of today’s human environment, or the kind of problems you can encounter when you try to implement essential principles for a human and beautiful architecture in large-scale projects. The book can best be understood as an excellent example of the fascinating interplay between theory and practice, between thinking and making, with a deep concern for human life and the environment, and a battle worth fighting. Neis will show several more projects closely related to the book and its main topic and theme and the University of Oregon.

The Art of the Really Long View (MP3 audio) | Peter Schwartz | Dec. 12, 2003 | Long Now Foundation February 3, 2015

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Better futures, says Peter Schwartz, means creating and having more options for the future, leaving the future better than we found it.

Peter Schwartz

[06:50] How do you take the really long view? What do have to do if you really want to take the long view seriously? And, so, I set out to try and rethink about the ways that I approach the future, if one takes a much longer time frame seriously. Centuries. Millenia, maybe, rather than than a decade or two or three or four.

[7:20] So, I’m going to try to set out some notions about how one approaches that problem. What do you think about, and why. How do you do it, and what do you do about it, as a result?

[07:30] I take, as a kind of fundamental premise, that the future exists, but it exists in our mind. The future that actually is, is the future that we believe, about the future. What’s going to happen tomorrow? Maybe someday, physics will discover that the future is actually exists out there, and you could travel there in time. It not too hard for me to imagine that the past actually exists. But, in fact, the past is no more substantial than the future. It exists at the moment, only in our mind. It’s irretrievably gone. That moment, a few seconds ago, it’s gone. The future hasn’t happened, yet. So both the past and future are there in our minds, and we act only in the present, based in part on our experiences of that now imaginary past, and that future that has yet to come to be.

[08:20] So all of this is really, in the end, about the present. It’s about what we draw from the past, and what we imagine about the future, and how that influences what we do, right now. That’s what this is really all about.

[08:35] I ask the question then: so, why bother? Why bother thinking about all of this? At the most mundane level, the world can be a better place or a worse place in the future. Put most simply, that’s the bottom line of it. We want to make a better future. But what do we mean by better, first of all?

[08:50] First of all, in the personal sense, the level of the individual, at least in two ways. A better material life, and the usual sorts of things: health, security, comfort, pleasure, the kinds of things that money can buy, to some extent, as it were. And then a better inner life, if you will: purpose, community, sense of belonging, intimacy, all of those things that make a person feel like life is worth living. And so, it is the combination of those things, and a personal sense.

[09:20] But better isn’t enough if it’s just, “life is pretty good for me, but screw the rest”. That’s obviously not what we mean. What we also mean it’s better in social sense, in a much larger sense.

[09:30] Here, I mean one idea above all else, over the long run, as opposed to in the world immediately at hand, and that is, better means having more options for the future, creating more options for the future. Put most simply, it is leaving the future as good or better than we found it. It’s about leaving the future, preferably, better than we found it. And this is where, a lot of what now follows, comes from, because we may actually be failing at this task.

[10:00] Our forefathers … my parents, gave me a great future. In the future that I inherited was really fabulous. And I’m not at all convinced that the future I’m passing on to my son is a great future. And I think that’s what we’re worried about. You know, there have been other generations that have screwed up. The generation that probably created, and then settled World War I, they deserve a lot of blame for what happened over the next several decades, in Weimar, depression, World War II, and fascism and all of that kind of stuff. They blew it. They left a pretty bad future behind them. We’re at risk of doing the same thing, of not leaving a better future for our children.

[10:45] So, then, the next question is: if that’s really what you’re trying to accomplish, can you really do anything about it? Does what we do actually matter? Does human fate actually matter? We had a little seminar last night of some of the sponsors of this series, and some of the Long Now people. Danny Hillis put it very well. He said: “We might as well do something about the future, because it’s the only thing that we can do anything about”. At the most mundane level, that is absolutely true.

[11:15] Now, whether we can do anything about the future really depends upon what our view of history is. How we understand how and why the world happens as it does. And here, in part, it’s how long is your now, and on how big is your here. That’s part of what one wants to take into account. And, as I said earlier, it really is, in my case tonight, centuries, maybe even a few millenia, not decades.

[11:45] How many of you are old Whole Earth geeks? Some of you may remember the name Dick Raymond. Dick was the founder of something called the Portola Institute in the 1960s. It was the first institutional home for the Whole Earth Catalog. And Dick said something very wise. He said, and this was a while ago, he said “If it doesn’t take 50 years, it isn’t worth doing”. And more recently, he’s been saying if it isn’t going to take 200 years, it isn’t worth doing. I think that that’s actually a very important idea, because it takes one’s ego out of it. Somebody just brought me a great idea for changing the world, and they said “We’ve got to do it right now. This has to be done right now. This is the moment it’s got to be done”. There’s only one reason that this is the moment that it’s got to be done. It’s his moment. His now is very short. Very short. The things that really matter take a long time.

[12:40] As far as whether human agency actually makes a difference, one of the kinds of acts of history that I enjoy is virtual history. Ask the question: what if it had been different? There’s a British historian, Niall Ferguson — very conservative … controversial and conservative — [who] wrote the book Empire, arguing why the British Empire was good thing, and why we ought to have an empire but we’re lousy at it. So, you Americans can’t do empires, is his hypothesis. But he wrote an earlier book, called The Pity of War.

[13:10] In The Pity of War, he asks a very interesting question. What would have happened if Britain had not entered World War I? He basically comes the conclusion — interestingly enough, and whether you agree with him or not is another question — but it begins to address the question of human agency. And that is, he says, suppose they hadn’t entered the war? Well, what would have happened? Well, Germany probably would have won and unified Europe, in an EU — maybe a German-speaking EU, but an EU 50 years earlier. The Brits would have kept their empire. Six hundred thousand young British men — creative energies and talents — would have been applied to the further fruits of British society. Britain would not have been empoverished. No Weimar, no depression, no fascists, no holocaust, no Hitler, et cetera, et cetera.

[14:05] Really bad choice to go into World War I, wasn’t it? Well, of course, at that moment, one didn’t see it that way. But it does say something about human choice, and how one frames the problem, how one frames the context, and what it means in the long run. I’m not arguing that he’s right, I am simply arguing that it raises fundamental questions about some of kinds of the long term choices that we make.

[14:25] Now, I would say that the history of the last millennium — and certainly, at least probably the last 10,000 years — suggest that what people do matters. By and large, we’ve made progress. Just think about: would you like to go to a dentist, 100 years ago? You could answer that one pretty quick. On the other hand, think about this: my bet is you’d much prefer to go a dentist 100 years from now, too, than today. Human progress, I think, is very real. It’s very real. It’s been true for the last 10,000 years. It’s been true for the last 1,000 years. It’s probably been true for the last 100 years. Now, we’re beginning to question many elements of that, but, by and large, more people live better today than have ever lived well in human history. Literally, several billion people, despite the fact that several billion people live in desperate poverty, several billion people living reasonable well.

A theory of long term dynamics can come from a theory of history.

[17:45] What we going to do tonight is not scenario planning. But most of the ways of looking at the future have something in common. This is true for the kind of work that I do, as well. Every time you look at the future, you what to figure out, what is the question? What are you trying to answer? A very simple idea. What are the long term forces, and how do they interact? What are the big uncertainties? How do these forces play out, in light of these uncertainties? What might all of that might mean, and what should I do, as a result of that?

[18:10] So, in this particular context, what we need is a theory of long-term dynamics. Why do things happen the way they do? Some way to play those out, and validate those theories. You need some kind of sense of what the consequences of all that are. And then, what should I do, as a result?

[18:30] So, I’m actually going to try to go through that tonight, and try to answer some of those questions. What is the way of thinking about the long term future? How might all that play out, and what should we do?

[18:40] So, first of all, theory of history. I get a lot of my sense of dynamics … I read a lot of history and science. Those are the two things I like to read. I see history as a long run struggle — in which humanity is involved in this constant struggle — to create human systems that help us avoid killing each other too much — sometimes, it’s not a bad idea; exceeding the ecological carrying capacity, we’ve got to avoid doing that; we have to give meaning to life; and enabling us to do great things.

[19:15] Those are the struggle. Don’t kill each other too much. Learn to live within your ecological capacities. Give meaning to human life. And be able to do really cool things: build cathedrals, go to the moon, do great art, et cetera.

[19:30] Now, my hypothesis is not novel. It’s the very obvious one, that over the long run, it is powerful, and sometimes even good, ideas that have been humanity’s most powerful weapon in this never-ending struggle. Now that’s not a new idea. Lots of people have argued that. Hegel, et cetera, in philosophy, and many others, that really human progress is really about the progress of ideas. Ideas about nature, how nature works. Ideas about how societies ought to be organized. And about the nature of human beings, and lots more.

[20:00] So, it’s really about the history of ideas. If you think back, historically, we have lots of examples from history. Imagine the first guys doing cave painting, and mixing pigments. It’s one thing when you take a slab of rough chalk and you spear it on the wall. But there’s someday, one day, said if I take this ochre and this hematite, and this charcoal and some chalk, and I mix it together, I can do cool painting on the cave. [….] Think about the act of sitting there, 14,000-15,000 years ago — we were mining ochre for pigments, 42,000 years ago in Africa — that somebody there was sitting there mixing pigments and putting art on the wall.

[20:50] The first counting device is 37,000 years ago. The first tool is 40,000 to 50,000 years ago. We got stone block buildings 10,000 years ago, in Persia and India. Bow and arrow about the same time. Agriculture in Asia about the same time. The plough is happening about then. Domestic sheep in Iraq, about that time, 8700 B.C.

[21:20] Now all of that, interestingly enough, by the way, is of course triggered by global warming. Global warming is the beginning of civilization, and maybe the end of civilization. It may be the end of civilization, but it’s also the beginning of civilization. It’s coming out of the ice age, being able to settle down, create agriculture, create cities and villages, and so on, for the first time, instead of fleeing the glaciers all of the time. Before that, we were living in a very volatile climate. So, in fact, global warming triggered modern civilization.

[21:45] Around 5,000 B.C. we got our first cities. […] Writing … about 3500 B.C. […]

[21:50] The wheel, 3000, in Mesopotamia. Afterlife in Egypt comes along about the same time. Hammerabi comes up with, basically, the written code of conduct in Babylon in 1790 B.C. Monotheism, one of the interesting inventions. […]

[22:15] Then, of course, there are these great ideas that vanish. The Minoans. [….] You can have great ideas and bad luck, which is what happened to the Minoans.

[22:45] In this sense, as well, some ideas matter a lot, in what we imagine in the history. Cosmology actually matters in the long run. In the geocentric universe, you did one set of things. Suddenly, when the sun is at the center, and you’re going around the sun, you start answering those questions differently. You imagine different possibilities. The future looks very different. [….]

[23:35] Another list of these kinds of ideas, which is suggestive, is in a new book by Charles Murray, Human Accomplishments. I don’t really like the book. It’s basically a statistical defence of dead white European males, why they are the source of most good ideas. Not surprising, coming from Charles Murray. But, his list of interesting ideas is interesting. And this is part of the list. I’ll give you the rest.

[24:00] From the arts: artistic realism, linear perspective, artistic abstraction, polyphony, drama, the novel, meditation, logics, ethics, Arabic numerals, the mathematical proof, the calibration of uncertainty — I really like that one, statistics — the secular observation of nature, and the scientific method. Now, all of these, he called meta-inventions, because they liberate other inventions. They enable people to do more with them. They are not static inventions as such.

[24:30] So, this is part of what we’re talking about when we talk about the evolution of ideas. Now, in the realm of ideas, I want to talk about what we actually think about, not instinctual behaviors. So, the divinely endowed king, versus the top dog in the tribe. The guy who got there because he was bigger and meaner than everybody else, as opposed to the king who inherited his mantle from his father, who inherited from the gods, and there’s a whole story about. So, it’s that kind of difference. Agriculture versus hunting and gathering. So, I plant these seeds, and that thing grows, as opposed to, oh, that red thing on the tree is really cool. It’s a different model. It’s that actual cognitive thought process, self-aware developmental process, which is what I mean by the realm of ideas.

[25:25] We’re interested in two classes of ideas, powerful ideas and good ideas. And they’re not necessarily the same. Powerful ideas persist and spread, over centuries. That’s one of their important characteristics. They take hold. They’re infectious. Sometimes, these powerful ideas cooperate with other ideas, and sometimes they compete, successfully or not, with other ideas. Science and technology mostly cooperate. New scientific principles create new ways of discovering new science. So, you learn about optics, you make telescopes, you discover astronomy, and so on. They feed on each other.

[26:00] In that world, religion is simply the object of cultural anthropology. But science and religion mostly compete. In that world, science lives inside a much bigger box that it cannot explain, called religion. Very different views on the nature of both of these, and their relationship, depending on which way you approach it.

[26:20] Now, in powerful ideas, we’re also interested in evolutionarily powerful ideas. These increase options, and they have to be many and diverse. So, if we really want a lot of powerful ideas, we need lots of them. We want evolution. There’s can’t be just one set of ideas, and they need to be highly competitive. Now, we also need to protect options we already have, as well as to create new ones.

[26:45] But it’s important to realize that powerful ideas are not necessarily good ideas. Indeed, very bad ideas can be very powerful. Consider them a type of collective hallucination, if you will. France and 9/11, just to take bad example, for a lot of French. Many of you will know about a book that is very popular in France that explains 9/11 in very different terms. Kathleen will remember the dinner we had with a very dear friend, a prominent French businessman, well-educated, travels the world, speaks English fluently, written several books, vice-chairman of one of France’s largest companies. A man of enormous sophistication, married to a Korean wife at the time. We were having dinner, and he says, “You don’t really think that a plane flew into the Pentagon, do you?” “What do you mean, Robert?” “Well, of course, it was the CIA. They sent a cruise missile. This was actually an internal war inside the CIA and the Defense Department. That’s what really happened. You Americans are under a profound delusion that this was the Arabs. They couldn’t have done this”. This is a man of profound intelligence. This is a bad idea. A very powerful bad idea.

[27:55] The culture of victimization in the Arab world. The final solution. Maoism during the Cultural Revolution. Colonialism. Bad.

[28:05] Now, colonialism tells you something about some bad ideas change. One could have argued — I wouldn’t, but some would — that colonialism was a good idea for a while, but how did it end? It ended when we delegitimated the idea. We stopped believing in it. Somewhere in the 1930s, colonialism went from being a legitimate institution by which governments could organize the world, to no longer being legitimate. And people stopped defending colonialism. It only became a matter of how quickly and what means you decolonialized. The idea became delegitimated. And that’s what happens to ideas. Powerful ideas become legitimate, “oh, yeah, it was the CIA that attacked the building” in France, or they become delegitimated, as in colonialism, for example.

[28:55] By the way, a good target for delegitimating right now is intelligent design. Put that one on the list. Another bad idea.

[29:05] Good ideas, on the other hand, improve the lot of the human hosts that host these ideas, in terms of better, I mean all of the things I said earlier about better. And what we’re trying to do is increase the good options, and help humans host adapt over the long run. That’s really what it’s about. And good ideas are affirmed over the long time. They reveal reality. They’re not a hallucination. Reality ultimately conforms to the ideas, or vice-versa. But they ain’t the kind of collective hallucination.

[29:30] For a good idea, it also has to be powerful. So you need powerful good ideas. Examples are science, art, law. These are all powerful good ideas.

[29:45] Now, if that’s the case, so, where do good ideas come from? Why and how do good ideas develop? Well, obviously for one thing, they come from the ideas before them. We’re sitting on a big mountain of ideas. We don’t have to worry about where the original idea was. The ur-ideas somewhere x thousands of years ago. In the past, someone had an idea. We’re beyond that point. We don’t have to worry about that. But the path dependency of ideas is important, that is, the sequence of development of ideas. You can’t get to molecular biology, until you’ve had biology and chemistry, as it were. You need both to create molecular biology.

[30:25] So, the history of ideas is a long one. And we’re going to come back to that to what we think we should be doing.

[30:30] Now, another source of big ideas is the problems to be solved. So, where did the moon go, when it disappeared? Why did that tree grow? How are babies made? Why should I protect those other people? We ask ourselves lots of questions over human history. And that’s where a lot of ideas come from. [….]

[30:10] Another important source of big ideas is new tools. You couldn’t do astronomy until you had a telescope. Or microbiology, until you had a microscope. But tools can be conceptual. Einstein needed modern mathematics to do general relativity. [….] So, the new instruments, conceptual and physical, give us new ways of developing ideas.

[32:00] And, here, I’m not going to say too much more about this going into the future. We’re going to be pretty confident about going into the future. On, well into the future, our conceptual tools will become ever so more sophisticated, mathematics more complex, more subtle, higher dimensionality, and so on. And our instruments, things like microscopes and telescopes, and so on, cameras, will enable us to see much further. [….]

[33:00] And then, of course, the final source of great ideas is the eureka moment of an individual. Whoa, what a big idea. And a wonderful book, if you haven’t read it, is Einstein’s Clocks and Poincare’s Maps by Peter Gallison ….

Can we deal with some of the big issues?

[43:45] Another big issue that we have to solve is citizenship and governance in mega-society. I really enjoyed the San Francisco mayoral election. [….] It was democracy at a scale that people could really relate, to their communities, to their choices. There was a meaningful sense of democratic participation. Gosh, it’s really hard in America, to feel that at a national scale. And essentially impossible, so far, to feel that at a global scale. How do you create real global citizens? How do you create institutions at a global scale? When we created the constitution, it was 3 million people, 13 colonies. Europe might be a more interesting example. Here, they’re creating a new system of governance with 500 million people, very highly developed, and on a continent where they’re used to killing each other in very large numbers, for most of the last couple of centuries. And really, the European Union is about peace and war, not about economics. That’s what most Americans don’t realize. It’s about the French not killing the Germans, and vice versa. [….] But we haven’t developed those type of mechanisms at a global level, and that’s one of the really big problems. How do you develop that? How do you build countries? And how to you fix broken ones? [….] We don’t know how to do that. Another big problem.

[45:55] I think that one of the really big ones, for the long run, is that we need an equivalent of the rule of law for human relationships to ecosystems. We developed the rule of law to organize and constrain relations amongst people. Law defines and ensures our basic rights, tells us what are human rights are, it prevents the strong from dominating the weak, it embodies a sense of fairness. It embodies a view of the human condition, divinely endowed rights, for example. [….] Law is about breaking the tyranny of arbitrary power. And right now, our relationship to ecosystems is arbitrary. In that sense, we don’t have a theory of law, an underpinning of relationship to those ecosystems. Sustainability may be the objective, but we don’t know what that really means, except for increasing options. Maybe the evangelicals for the environment have the right answer, it’s thou shalt not destroy God’s creation. That’s a kind of statement of law, if you believe in God. And if you believe in that, that could be a kind of relationship. Maybe they’ve got the right answer.

[47:45] But history tells us that conflicts arise among people for three reasons, fundamentally: honor, fear and interest. It’s about honor, it’s about fear, it’s about interest. You want to read about it? Donald Kagen’s book On the Origins of War gets into this plight. The rules of law in a conventional deal, sets deals with the first and third. We can deal with honor, we can deal with interests. We respect the law. But fear, fear is really about exceeding our carrying capacity, not having enough. Not having enough. And a wonderful book that Stewart Brand just turned me onto, and everybody at GBN, is called Constant Battles, by Stephen Leblanc. And it’s about the history of exceeding our carrying capacity and going to war, as a result. And that has been the normal human condition.

[48:30] So, I’m not worried about the near term. I think that we can deal with a lot of our short term problems with technology. But it’s the really long run, where we need a fundamental new sense of an equivalent of the set of law, the rule of law. And this, I consider one of the great intellectual problems that we need to address. That the idea, the really big idea, that we need, that we don’t have.

[49:50] I think another interesting one, is knowledge organization and access. We’re just learning so much. [….]

[On Soundcloud, downloadable MP3 audio]

[Intro at Seminars on Long Term Thinking]

Peter Schwartz, considered by many to be the world’s leading futurist, will be trying out new ideas in public in a talk titled, “The Art of the Really Long View.” He’ll be talking about ways to engage the next several hundred years.

The Long Now, now (MP3 audio) | Brian Eno, Danny Hillis | January 21, 2014 | Long Now Foundation February 3, 2015

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The difference between long term thinking and long term planning was articulated by Danny Hillis, with Brian Eno and Stewart Brand.

Brian Eno, Danny Hillis

[61:40 Danny Hillis] Maybe the one thing I’ve learned about long term thinking is the difference between long term planning and long term thinking.

[Stewart Brand] Yeah, say more about that. My sense is that we learned that at Yucca Mountain.

[Danny Hillis] Yeah. Yucca Mountain is a good example. I guess that I really don’t believe in long term planning, which is trying to take a long distance out and control the future for a while. Many of our attempts to look at, nuclear waste, for example, are things where we try to control the future for 10,000 years. In some sense, Yucca Mountain is sold as that. But Yucca Mountain, I actually think, is a pretty good idea, because everything is just sitting there in a can, and within a 100 years, people will go in to get them, to mine for …. It’s reversible. So, it’s really just a 100 year solution that gives you a lot of options for what to do in 100 years.

[Stewart Brand] By the way, it’s a lot more politically tractable, to say we’re just going to park it here for 100 years.

[Danny Hillis] Indeed, where we’re heading, by default, of less-good idea [and dear] solutions is the idea of options is much more valuable than making real long term plans.

[Brian Eno] The resistance there, is that people feel less secure with long term plans. And people don’t feel we’ll always be improvising, which is something that we’ve come to accept, more and more.

[Stewart Brand] The hacker ethic was to trying to make everyone into a hacker.

[On Soundcloud, downloadable MP3 audio] [Video on fora.tv]

[Intro at Seminars about Long Term Thinking]

Brian Eno delivered the first SALT talk exactly ten years ago. He gave The Long Now Foundation its name, contributed in no end of artistic and financial ways, and designed the chimes for the 10,000-year Clock. Danny Hillis instigated and co-founded Long Now and designed its series of Clocks, culminating currently in the 500-foot one being built inside a west Texas mountain. In the course of their collaboration, Eno and Hillis became fast friends.

Thousands of years pass a decade at a time. The idea and works of Long Now have been active for two decades (1/500th of 10,000 years). Between the conception and initial delivery of a deep idea, much transpires. If the idea resonates with people, it gains a life of its own. Allies assemble, and shape things. Public engagement shapes things. Funding or its absence shapes things. Refinements of the idea emerge, branch off, and thrive or don’t. Initial questions metastasize into potent new questions.

Over time, the promotion of “long-term thinking” begins to acquire a bit of its own long term to conjure with. Eno and Hillis have spent 20 years thinking about long-term thinking and building art for it, with ever increasing fascination. What gets them about it?

[Summary at Seminars about Long Term Thinking]

The Origins of Jams at IBM (MP3 audio) | Mike Wing | May 20, 2005 | For Immediate Release January 15, 2015

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Could an intranet could be used for culture change? Mike Wing says jams captured best practices from individuals on clever ways to get work done and create value, despite organizational complexity in a global enterprise.

Mike Wing

[27:15] The moment, that, probably without us being exactly conscious of it, that the jams actually probably were conceived, was the moment in 1999 when we saw this research from HR. Human Resources at IBM does a lot of internal research. It always has. They used to do a global employee survey every year. Now, it’s actually done every 2 months, a smaller target population, but by the end of the year, you wind up with the same sort of statistical validity. It’s always asked a range of questions about the company, whether it’s about compensation, or benefits, or job satisfaction. If you were offered a comparable job at another company, would you go? Do you understand the company strategy? Do you think that the company is investing properly to achieve that? A range of things. One of the questions was always about communications. People were asked, in the last 12 months, what have been the best, most useful, credible, reliable sources of information about the company? Anybody who has been in internal communications before, have seen this kind of research for decades. IBC, PRSA, the AMA, the big companies do this. People are offered a range of alternatives, of channels, from formal communications channels — like publications or executive letters, or e-mails or annual reports, or meetings, or web sites. Before the web, we talked about the VM system — on the one hand. There are a couple of informal channels, on the other. Manager and coworker. Anyone who has looked at this research, as all of us have, know that, invariably, the formal channels may shift a bit from year to year. The particular company or the technology may change. However, the basic pattern of that research has been pretty inviolable. People prefer informal channels to formal, usually by a factor of 2 or 3. That had always been the case at IBM, even given VM.

[29:35] What happened in 1999 was that intranet jumped up to pass manager. Nobody had ever seen this. We thought that maybe they had run the numbers wrong. We asked them to rerun them. No, they were right. It kept going, to the point, today, where the intranet is rated higher than managers and coworkers combined. This was non-trivial.

[30:00] This suggested to us, a whole different — we’d always known that we wanted to use the intranet for culture change, and were very conscious about doing so, especially in the editorial. (We can talk about that, if time permits). It wasn’t easy — often it takes two steps forward and one step back to really push — to present how the company was doing, accurately, on the intranet. At the end of the day, we succeeded, pretty well in that.

[30:40] This gave us an epiphany, about the level at which this space could function — the cultural and emotional levels at which it could function. I would say that the jams were probably born out of that.

[30:55] Having said that — I know that that sounds rather grandiose — the truth is that the original World Jam was certainly done to extend that, to leverage that, but it also had a very pragmatic core, which was best practice capture. This is an advanced company, and we all bump our shins against all kinds of problems, on a regular basis. It doesn’t matter how often you reorganize — centralize or decentralize — or introduce new policies. There are certain things that are just intractable in an organization as big and diverse and complex as IBM. It’s old, and there’s much legacy, and there’s as much variety of different kinds of experiences and disciplines. You’re never going to reorganize your way out of that.

[31:50] But individuals can come up — you’re never going to get the perfect system — but individuals can come up with clever, intelligent, common sense working ways to get work done and produce value, in spite of that complexity. We wanted to try to share that.

[32:10] The jams …. The first one was in May 2001, it was called World Jam. We didn’t have any idea of what to expect. We wound up getting 52,000 people participating, which was great.

[32:20] The kinds of topics we dealt with ranged. The core of these events are asynchronous, threaded discussions. In World Jam, originally we had 10 fora. We came to the conclusion that that’s too much, so we’ve tended to have 4, 5 or 6 for subsequent jams.

[32:45] The topics ranged from things like, “it’s not just the CIO, anymore”, because the old IBM largely dealt with CIOs, that’s who made IT buying decisions. The IBM that exists today — our business model — means that we’re engaging with line of business executives, or chief marketing officers, or CEOs. It’s a very different conversation to talk to a Chief Marketing Officer about who the company’s competition is, and what its competitive strategies, than to talk to a CIO about speeds and feeds. We needed to get better than that. Hence, eventually the company’s acquisition of PriceWaterhouseCoopers Consulting. That was an example of a topic that we teed up, because we wanted to try to get best practices on how people got to reach line of business executives and develop relationships with them.

[33:35] There were other more transformational type topics, like, how do you successfully promote a new or less favourable idea or venture in this place. Another set of topics was more personal or social, like, how can we retain our more valued employees, or how should I work on work-life balance.

[33:55] We’ve done, altogether, six of these big ones, of which Values Jam was the fifth. We did another one, towards the end of 2004, which was taking the values, which we developed — a lot of people reacted to those values very positively, but said, correctly, that the company wasn’t close to actually living them. That’s true. We all agree that it’s great to have a platform of common aspiration, but then the question of how do you make them real. So we did a jam to try to tease out what you could actually do, to implement, to make these things part of an operational reality, both at the daily level of an individual employee, and more at the policy level. We got out of that, an overwhelming participation in that jam.

[34:55] One of the interesting things about all of these these jams is the level of hosting. If you’re familiar with one of the rules of thumb of online fora, there used to be one hoster for every (what used to be called) lurkers. In this last one, World Jam 2004, there were 56,000 participants from 32,000 posts. Just off the charts from the level of active participation. We distilled that down to 191 ideas, which we had a rating week, about 3 weeks after the jam, and got the ideas that most of the people of the company regarded as most promising. The top 30, each has an executive sponsor and a whole project team devoted to it. Those are in the process of being implemented, now.

Interview segment time points are available to index the nearly one hour interview.

[MP3 audio]

“A Conversation with Mike Wing, IBM’s Vice President Strategic Communications” | Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson | May 2005 | For Immediate Release at http://forimmediaterelease.biz/index.php/weblog/interview_mike_wing_ibm_may_20_2005/

“alphaWorks 10” (web video) | Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Rod Smith, Gina Poole | Oct. 4, 2006 January 14, 2015

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Rod Smith, VP, Emerging Technologies-SWG, Gina Poole, VP, Innovation and University Relations, and Irving Wladawsky-Berger, VP, Technical Strategy and Innovation, talk about alphaWorks celebrating ten years of ushering in emerging technologies that have helped shape the technology landscape. And, as alphaWorks embarks on another decade of introducing emerging technology, they introduce alphaWorks Services: online delivery of emerging software services from IBM research and development labs.

[00:13 IWB]: In 1996, we had organized the Internet division, and I was talking to John Patrick, who was the head of our internet technology organization. And John was thinking about it and he said, well, maybe what we need is to put out alpha versions of our stuff out there. Maybe what we need is alphaWorks.

[00:46 RS]: It was about this thought that the internet was a very disruptive technology. It was also about broader collaboration. How can we get the innovation out into the broader communities, helping other communities impact IBM? So, how do you do that? And you know it was a cultural change not only for us, but also as the industry changed.

[01:14 IWB]: In 96-97, if you were a stodgy old company that didn’t move quickly, people said you’re a stodgy old company. And we didn’t want to be told that we were a stodgy old company. We also wanted to also move quickly. And alphaWorks let us have our cake and eat it, too.

[01:32 GP]: alphaWorks is a treasure trove of really cool emerging technologies. But it’s also a window into all of the exciting projects that are going on across IBM’s industry leading research and development teams. alphaWorks has really been a strong supporter and a strong catalyst
for driving open standards for driving open source, for driving a lot of these emerging technologies.

[02:01 IWB]: It totally transformed the way we looked at getting our technologies and products to the marketplace. It let us be agile, in a way that we weren’t before, and the market was more and more demanding.

[02:18 RS]: If you look on alphaWorks there’s 250 emerging technologies today. There’s 165,000 visitors per month that come to read, and understand, and download. The downloads are at 25,000 per month.

[02:31 GP]: alphaWorks is incredibly popular with university faculty and students, because it really is a great learning tool and things like some of our fun games that we’ve had on alphaWorks for many years — robo code, code invaders, you know — again is another great learning tool that makes learning these technologies both interesting and fun.

[02:50 IWB]: I’m expecting that alphaWorks will keep us young. That it will keep us moving fast. It will keep us in tune with the marketplace. It will lead us keep innovating where it counts.

[03:02 RS]: I think that alphaWorks, going forward, is working towards how we look at that area of creating living applications, that people can deploy and change, and share with their community, with their business constituents as they go forward.

[03:23 IWB]: So we need alphaWorks and its capabilities more than ever, given the way the world of technology going.

See also a transcript of “Three critical players in alphaWorks history reflect on IBM’s highly regarded early adopter program” | Scott Laningham interviews Irving Wladasky-Berger, Rod Smith and Gina Poole | developerWorks Interviews | September 5, 2006 at http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/podcast/dwi/cm-int091206.txt .

“Journalism as a service” (web video) | Jeff Jarvis | Dec. 11, 2014 | David Weinberger interview December 17, 2014

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Journalism is not manufacturing content, says @jeffjarvis, but instead is a service. Social journalism then becomes a new degree program in the age of the Internet. Interviewed by @dweinberger.

[00:00 Jeff Jarvis] When I started writing — I look at new relationships, new forms and new models for news — I started with forms. That’s what we do. We are encased in this form, and we know the formula is just to tap that. And I quickly realized — well, not so quickly — that that was all wrong

[00:25] In fact, what the Internet changes is our relationship with the public we serve. And then this forced me to think about what the proper relationship is, for journalists to the public. And we tend to think that it’s manufacturing a product called content, that we think you should honor and buy, and encases all of our value. That’s a legacy of mass media. Treating everyone the same because we had to make a product to serve everyone and everyone the same.

[00:50] The Internet obviously changes that. We now see the opportunity to serve people as individuals. That’s what made me think journalism, properly conceived, is a service. A service, properly defined, accomplishes things for people. If I’m going to accomplish something for you, then I’m going to have to know what your needs are, before I can pretend that I can meet them. This means I have to know you as an individual, or as a member of a community, and no longer a mass. Quoting Raymond Williams: “there are no masses, only ways of seeing people as masses”.

[01:20] If I see you as an individual, if I want to serve you as an individual, I have to know you as an individual, before I can get to know your needs. Once I got there, that changed … that tore it all apart.

[…]

[03:25 David Weinberger] Would you recommend that a newspaper first look at the services that we have traditionally wanted from them, and/or look at the services that are part of their capabilities of things they can do … or is that just the wrong way of fighting it?

[03:40] We have to deconstruct more than that. It forces us to deconstruct journalism school as well. When I gave this relationship schpiel, my dean — Sarah Barlett — called my bluff, and said … “Okay, what if you’re right, that journalism becomes about relationships. Are we teaching those skills in depth in a journalism school?” I thought about it, and said, “no”. She said, “how about a new degree?”, in some strange degree we’ll call social journalism.

[04:00] The first skill of this degree is to listen to communities. It is to understanding the community, what binds the community. What needs and interests bind this community? How do they define themselves, and then how do they define their needs? Only when you know that, can you start to believe that you can help them meet their needs. Then you say, what can I bring to meet those needs? That may be a wide range of different things. Will articles, and stories and news and information meet those needs? In some cases they will. But in some cases, it will be tools, it will be bringing people together to meet each other, it will be organizing like a community (pace Barack Obama). It will be educating them. It will be convening them. There’s all kinds of things that we can do or have done, that we can indeed bring to bear again, but probably not in the form that we have.

See also “Content vs. service”, What now for News? Part II | Jeff Jarvis | Medium at http://medium.com/whither-news/content-vs-service-ddbb432ab77

… if we are not in the content business, what business are we in? Consider journalism as a service. Content is that which fills something. Service is that which accomplishes something. To be a service, news must be concerned with outcomes rather than products. What should journalism’s result be? That seems obvious: better informed individuals and a better-informed society. But who’s to define “informed” and who’s to measure success: journalists or citizens? Journalists believe informing the public is their job and that it is the role of editors to decide what the public ought to know. Let’s put aside that rather paternalistic attitude toward the public we serve, for if we do not believe in the will of the public to be informed, then we might as well give up on democracy, free markets, and the ideals of education, not to mention journalism. I am confident that there will continue to be a market demand for the information a society needs to function. That must be an article of faith if we are to hold out hope to sustain journalism.

Jeff Jarvis

“Earth Week Lecture” | Joel Salatin | April 27, 2012 | Colorado College July 11, 2014

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Feeding grain to pigs and chickens, says @JoelSalatin, is ecologically wasteful. On homesteads, pigs foraged and chickens ate kitchen scraps. Herbivore-based cultures relied on nature rather than performing the work of tillage.

[24:30] In the future, we will, of necessity, begin abandoning the petroleum-based, chemically-based, program and will return with our cool infrastructure. We will return to a real-time, carbon-based system.

Now this drove also the whole animal approach. So we talked about herbivores. Grain was way too expensive to feed to an herbivore. I mean, you couldn’t even feed it to an omnivore. So what did you feed to omnivores, pigs and chickens and things?

The reason that all cultures — their dietary base — was either herbivore based — which includes dairy (includes yaks and camels) — herbivore-based or seafood-based — was because those were the only two nutrient-dense dietary basics that could be produced without tillage.

In a day that you had to follow the ox with a stick, tillage was too laborious to be the backbone of anything.

So, in the future, we’re going to revert to that. We’re going to go back to that basis. You want to really eat ecologically? Forget eating chickens or pork. Eat grass-based herbivores. Water buffalo. Llama. Cow. Yak. Whatever. Zebra. Elk. Venison. Groundhog. Gopher. Herbivore!

[26:15] So what about the pigs and chickens? What were they? Their role, historically, was always as a fringe recycler. The pig was always on the outskirts. George Washington, he was so meticulous in his recording keeping in Mount Vernon. He always lamented the pigs, because they could never get them all rounded up at the same time. They could go out once in the fall and round them up. They would always have a few stuck back in the brush that they couldn’t find. They lived in the woods. They lived on chestnuts and acorns. They ate around the edges. In the das before refrigeration, they ate the whey from butter and cheese making. They ate the skim milk. Until 20 years ago, nobody drank skim milk. Skim milk wasn’t even worth drinking. You took the cream off, and you poured the skim milk out for the pigs.

[27:15] And then the chickens were always right up next to the kitchen in the homestead. Why? Because they got all the kitchen scraps. We didn’t have garbage disposals and landfills, and a garbage truck that came and picked up the trash and took it away. So something had to recycle that. All that kitchen scraps. Blemished fruit from the orchard. Blemished vegetables from the garden. Soured milk. Clabber that went bad. It went into the chickens. They were the ultimate recycler. And that’s what fed the poultry and the pork, because grain was too expensive to feed them. We needed all of the grain to bake bread and feed people. And people didn’t eat very much of that, either.

[28:00] Suddenly, now, here we are with this cheap grain thing. We have segregated all of these beautiful, integrated, carbon chains, local chains, these energy flows, all these historically normal energy flows. Now, fifty percent of the human-edible food in the world never gets eaten by humans. It never gets eaten by humans. Ninety-nine percent of it gets landfilled. Then we give greenie awards for somebody the is clever enough to put a pipe in there to get the methane so that we can drive all of the equipment to the landfull. No, no, no. We want want is all of that salvaged, blemished spoiled food, and combine it to the animals that are right there. We want to combine it. We want to integrate it.

[29:10] If we want to be ecological, what we would do is not go to a kitchen waste composting program. We would get a couple of chickens, and bring them into our apartment. They don’t take any more room than the aquarium, or the parakeet cage. One average dog produces more poop than eleven chickens. So we feed them the kitchen scraps. They eat those, and give us eggs. Now we don’t have to have any factory eggs than need to eat grain.

This excerpt was from a lecture given at Colorado College, sponsored by two student groups: EnAct (environmental and social awareness through research, education and action), and the Carnivore Club (promoting social awareness of the benefits and pleasures of meat).Joel Salatin

In celebration of Colorado College Earth Week, Joel Salatin, a self-described environmentalist capitalist farmer, will come to lecture. Salatin owns Polyface Farm, where he describes his innovative farming techniques as “in the redemption business: healing the land, healing the food, healing the economy, and healing the culture.” He was profiled in Michael Pollan’s book, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and has authored several books including “Folks, This Ain’t Normal,” “Holy Cows and Hog Heaven,” and “The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer.”

[MP3 audio]

“CC Earth Week Presents: Joel Salatin” | April 27, 2012 | Colorado College at http://www.coloradocollege.edu/events/2012-04-27-cc-earth-week-presents-joel-salatin

“The Systems View of Life” (web video) |Fritjof Capra | Schumacher College | May 7, 2014 June 17, 2014

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Launch of textbook by Fritjof Capra, collecting 40 years of writings with additions by coauthor Pier Luigi Luisi.  The lecture shows precise language about the science of systems, with clear references tying together research strands.  Mature systems thinkers will be reminded of concepts that they know but may not be immediately salient to their current endeavours.  Novice systems thinkers may appreciate the easy pace of the speech, with linkages to other concepts and figures in the systems community.

The Systems View of Life (Cover)

My forthcoming book is the realization of a dream I have had for many years. It is a multidisciplinary textbook, coauthored with my friend and colleague Pier Luigi Luisi, Professor of Biology at the University of Rome, and to be published by Cambridge University Press in April 2014.

In this book, titled The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision, we present a coherent systemic framework that integrates four dimensions of life: the biological, the cognitive, the social, and the ecological dimension; and we discuss the philosophical, social, and political implications of this unifying vision.

To write this book, I went through all my previous books, collected the relevant passages, updated and modified them as appropriate for an undergraduate textbook, and added many new passages in collaboration with my coauthor. So, for me this book is a summary of my work as a writer over the past forty years.

We believe that it will be critical for present and future generations of young students and researchers to understand the new systemic conception of life and its implications for a broad range of professions — from economics, management, and politics, to medicine, psychology, and law. In addition, the book will be useful for undergraduate students in the life sciences and the humanities.

The book offers a broad sweep through the history of ideas and across scientific disciplines. Beginning with the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution, the historical account includes the evolution of Cartesian mechanism from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries, the rise of systems thinking, the development of complexity theory, recent discoveries at the forefront of biology, the emergence of the systems view of life at the turn of this century, and its economic, ecological, political, and spiritual implications.

http://www.fritjofcapra.net/blog.html#textbook

A talk given at Schumacher College (UK), Dartington on May 7th 2014.

The great challenge of our time is to build and nurture sustainable communities, designed in such a manner that their ways of life, physical structures, and technologies do not interfere with nature’s inherent ability to sustain life. To do so, requires a new ecological understanding of life, as well as a new kind of “systemic” thinking.

In this lecture, Fritjof Capra describes that such a new understanding of life in terms of complexity, networks, and patterns of organization, has recently emerged at the forefront of science. He will emphasize, in particular, the new conception of the nature of mind and consciousness, which is one of the most radical philosophical implications of the systemic understanding of life; and the urgency of this new understanding for dealing with our global ecological crisis and protecting the continuation and flourishing of life on Earth.

Fritjof Capra was speaking as part of his short course running at Schumacher College.

I heard Fritjof Capra speak in person, at the ISSS 2006 Sonoma meeting.

Why Architecture is needed even in Agile? (MP3 audio) | Jim Coplien | January 2011 | Business901 May 14, 2014

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Scrum came out of lean and predates agile, says @jcoplien.

[29:30] Everyone thinks that Scrum came out of Agile. Now wait a minute, let’s stop this for a second, because Scrum has been around since 1993 and the Agile manifesto was 2001. How did Scrum come out of Agile? It’s really the other way around. Or, even better, they both came out of Lean. Lean is a funny word that gets associated with different labels. …. [They’re] all very, very much in the same cauldron and the same genre of harking back to the original Toyota principles of Lean, whereas Agile is really kind of off somewhere else.

Scrum, as I said, comes from this paper by Takeuchi and Nonaka in “Harvard Business Review” called the “New New Product Development Game” where Takeuchi and Nonaka looked at practices at Honda, at Canon, at NEC, and a lot of other contemporary Japanese corporations — this was about 1984 — most of whom had learned their techniques by some consultants who’d come over from Toyota and taught them the Lean principles.

That’s where Jeff Sutherland got the ideas for Scrum, and that was one of the main influences on Scrum. Some of my research in Bell Labs was another one of the influences on Scrum. In particular, things like stand-up meetings come out of the stuff we did at Bell Laboratories. Then Jeff added incremental development, iterative development, and time boxing. But most of it comes from Lean, absolutely. So if you look at the planning, doing, reflecting, this Kaizen notion, the cycles that we get out of Lean; this is what Scrum is about, absolutely.

Lean may have predispositions in Japanese culture that are uncommon amongst westerners.

[27:00] Joe Dager: What makes Scrum hard to do?

Jim Coplien: Because it’s a discipline. It’s very simple. I mean, it says you cannot work any overtime. So, you know, management cannot come near the end of the release and say, “Well, you need to put in some extra hours here in order to make our commitments.” The other thing that makes it hard is that it runs against some of the prevailing values of industry. Industry says, “We believe that we can commit an arbitrary amount of work to a fixed team and an arbitrary schedule. Well, OK, we know we can’t, but we’ll make it work by adding more people or by adding overtime or by trimming the fat,” which means let’s cut quality here and there.

Scrum is uncompromising. It says, “Well, what we deliver, we’re going to deliver with the promised quality. If we can’t deliver it, then we won’t deliver. We’re going to make it visible. The fact that we make that visible shows that, well, there’s a problem in our process. We estimated wrong. We overcommitted and we need to learn to do better next time.” People hate this notion of failure.

One of the key aspects of Lean that I think the Western world doesn’t understand. In Lean, we keep saying Kaizen, Kaizen, Kaizen. Get better and better and better. Well, you go to the Japanese and they say, “There is no Kaizen without Hansei.” Probably the closest interpretation of the word “Hansei” in English, would be repentance. It’s this deep sense of shame and apology and deep regret for not having built a process that allowed you to meet your commitment. When you fail to meet your commitment, the first step in Kaizen is Hansei, and you don’t see many American managers going around doing Hansei. You certainly don’t see proud nerd software engineers going around doing Hansei.

Scrum is always focused on this Kaizen mind of being able to get better and better and better, and it takes a lot of humility. I think that’s what makes it hard. It takes humility, and the humility takes a high degree of trust between individuals. People have to be allowed to fail so they can learn. I haven’t been in three companies in the past 10 years that had enough trust to do what the Japanese are doing in Kaizen and Lean.

Why Architecture is needed even in Agile? | Jim Coplien | January 2011 | Business901 at http://business901.com/blog1/why-architecture-is-needed-even-in-agile/.

[MP3 audio]

Joe Dager subsequently provided a transcript of the interview.

Business901

Coplien on Agile, Lean and Architecutre | Jim Coplien | January 2011 | Business901 at http://business901.com/blog1/coplien-on-agile-lean-and-architecture/

Introduction to NodeJS (web video) | Ryan Dahl | May 5, 2010 | YUI Theater May 9, 2014

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Why node.js? Blocking and non-blocking input/output is explained for novices by the Ryan Dahl, the original node.js author. There’s a clear analogy of taking a sheet of paper out of your desk, versus having to go to Los Angeles for it.

Ryan Dahl: Introduction to Node.js at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-sc73Y-zQA.

Ryan describes his talk this way:

It is well known that event loops rather than threads are required for high-performance servers. Javascript is a language unencumbered of threads and designed specifically to be used with asynchronous evented I/O, making it an attractive means of programming server software. Node.js ties together the V8 Javascript compiler with an event loop, a thread pool for making blocking system calls, and a carefully designed HTTP parser to provide a browser-like interface to creating fast server-side software. This talk will explain Node’s design and how to get started with it.”

Cinco de NodeJS — May’s BayJax Celebrates Server-Side JavaScript with Ryan Dahl, Elijah Insua, and Dav Glass | April 27, 2010 | YUI Blog at http://www.yuiblog.com/blog/2010/04/27/cinco-de-nodejs/.

Internet users shouldn’t have to put up with slow user interfaces when the design of the application is blocked in an event loop.

YUI Theater — Ryan Dahl: “Introduction to NodeJS” (58 min.) – YUI Blog at http://www.yuiblog.com/blog/2010/05/20/video-dahl/.

Watch “IBM Design Lab – Part 2 of 2: Factoring” on YouTube February 9, 2014

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Pounding Simplicity into Wiki (video) |Ward Cunningham | April 15, 2013 | MountainWest RubyConf 2013 February 8, 2014

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Ward Cunningham describes the features in federated wiki new to the original 1994 wiki technology at the Mountain West Ruby Conference 2013.

This last year I set out to do for numbers what I had done for words, give them depth and meaning that ordinary people can depend on every day.  [….] My quest has been to make knowing and using data an everyday thing. This means the study of data must be an everyday thing too. To this end I’ve pushed visualization, I’ve pushed domain specific markups, I’ve pushed streaming measurements. But through this I’ve retained wiki’s greatest strength: the ability to create with those who we have just met and don’t yet have reason to trust. Finding trust on the modern web may be this year’s biggest accomplishment.

The Mountain West Ruby Conference 2013 was attended by Mike Farmer, who wrote a digest at http://blog.endpoint.com/2013/04/pounding-simplicity-into-wiki.html , including:

Promise

[….]. The promise of this new kind of wiki is to give numbers depth and meaning that ordinary people can depend on every day.

This means data visualization intermixed with context. For example, a weather map can show you numbers on a map to tell you temperatures. A meteorologist doesn’t just see a number, he sees the actual weather, the hot and cold, the wind or the rain, etc. Data visualizations like a wind map excel at helping users to visually see the wind in region.

To accomplish this promise, Cunningham implemented a new kind of wiki. The main difference in this new wiki is that the data is federated among several different locations on the web and then assembled in the browser. You can think of it as a traditional mashup. The wiki content is both self generated and programatically generated from data on the web or attached to the web via some device.

Process

  • 0 Story: Pages with datasets, images and paragraphs with history (versions).
  • 1 Binding: Attaches the data to different versions of the page revisions.
  • 2 Attribution: Source is dynamically generated so that it can be tracked back.
  • 3 Link Context: Links to other pages on other servers give hints to tell you where the data originates.
  • 4 Neighborhood: Click on a page that doesn’t exist (red link) server looks for similar page on other wikis in the federated network.
  • 5 Search: Global search looks in all the wikis in the federated network.

Principle

The principle behind this project is one of discovery. As the development continues, the possibilities for it increase and new thoughts and ideas are discovered. This was talked about in a talk by Bret Victor called Inventing on Principle. If you were to compare this to agile, it might look like this:

Agile Principle
velocity smallest
customer curiosity
confidence wonder

Downloadable versions are available from confreaks.

Pounding Simplicity into Wiki |Ward Cunningham | April 15, 2013 | MountainWest RubyConf 2013 at via http://www.confreaks.com/videos/2342-mwrc2013-pounding-simplicity-into-wiki.

“For Your Eyes Only” music and main title production (1981) December 25, 2013

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On “For Your Eyes Only”, music production reshaped Sheena Easton‘s Scottish Accent.  After I caught a bit of the James Bond movie on holiday television, I was intrigued to look into the song.  I found a version of Sheena Easton performing in 1982 in Live at the Palace (Hollywood) (starting around 54m32s), where her pronunciation is more Scottish.

The music style in James Bond films shifted in 1981, says Donald A. Guarisco in allmusic.com.

This film was also noticeable for replacing regular series soundtrack composer John Barry with Bill Conti, a composer best known for his work on the Rocky films. Conti keeps For Your Eyes Only‘s score full of symphonic grandeur and spy film theatrics, but also adds several new elements to update the sound to fit the early 1980s. For instance, Conti adds elements of dance and funk music to the action cues: “A Drive in the Country” and “Melina’s Revenge” both work funky bass lines, roaring electric guitar leads, and whooping synthesizer lines in with the standard orchestral elements. The modernized tone also extends to the film’s Sheena Easton theme song: it replaces the lush strings and brassy orchestrations that typically dominated Bond theme songs with a minimalist style built on synthesizers. However, Conti proves elsewhere that he could comfortably write music in the traditional vein without utilizing any electronic or pop elements:

Production of the song is credited to British record producer Christopher Neil, who had previous worked on Sheena Easton’s debut album Take My Time.  The songwriters were Bill Conti (music) and Mick Leeson (lyrics).  Production of the soundtrack is credited to Bill Conti.  In a 2012 Emmy Tv Legends interview (around 55h30m), Bill Conti said that John Barry was unavailable at development of For Your Eyes Only and recommended him to write the score.  Cubby Broccoli asked Bill Conti to come to England, for 3 months with his family, to write.

Bill Conti:  I wanted Barbra Streisand to write the lyrics to the song, and I wanted Donna Summer to sing it.  I thought I was clever.  I actually talked to Barbra , who was doing Yentl, who couldn’t — she was very busy.  And the studio suggested Sheena Easton to sing the song.  I heard a thing called “Morning Train”, that was a big hit of hers.  I said, well, maybe, she’s got a voice, maybe she doesn’t have a voice, I can’t tell.  I still wanted a big star.  Sheena was in London when I was in London, so I listened to her.  She was really good.  She’s a really good singer.  That material she sang, hit or not, was not a Dusty Springfield “Bond singer”.  I thought “Bond singer”, to this era, was a woman who could belt it out there.

Anyway, I wrote a song called “For Your Eyes Only”, because you’re obligated, when you do a Bond movie, to include the title in the song.  So my lyricist, who was Sheena’s pick, because — who do you like to work with? Fine.  Mick Leeson, he’s a very good lyricist — he ended the song “For Your Eyes Only” I would do this for you, I’d do that for you, I’d do it for your eyes only.  It’s a wonderful song.

I made an appointment with Cubby Broccoli.  I did a little demo.  I had a little cassette.  After three minutes, it ends “For Your Eyes Only”.  But I have a lunch with the guy who does the great main titles.  Maurice Binder.  Little guy.  Little guy who loved Sheena, who is a little girl.  So he put her in the main title.  But he says, at lunch, Bill, I know you guys have a problem with the main title, you have to put the thing in it.  But I really like it when the main title comes on, and the main title of the song.  It’s really “Goldfinger”, those great ones, all at the same time.  And I’m thinking, well, after 3 minutes, my song ends “For Your Eyes Only”.  I wish I could do that one.

Interviewer:  And he wanted it to start “For Your Eyes Only”.

Bill Conti:  So I called Cubby Broccoli, and said, look, cancel!  I went to the lyricist and said, look, you, this song begins “For Your Eyes Only”, and I don’t care what you do after that.  And that’s how it was.

The finalization of the lyrics and scoring would have happened in late 1980 or early 1981.  The rough cut version has different lyrics, unfinished music and graphics shown in this Rare Demo version posted by thedarksideBJ.

The final version of the main title, first showing on June 24, 1981, is now on the theatrical release on the Blu Ray disc.

To compare the final version with the rough cut, see the “Record and Record Combined Stereo” mashup by DcsabaS.

In 1982, the phrasing of the song by Sheena Easton was still close to the film version, but the reemergence of a Scottish accent appears in The Tonight Show (with Johnny Carson) performance.

By 1984, her Scottish accent shows up strongly in the Fest de Viña performance.

To triangulate dates in the early 1980s when Sheena Easton was performing, validate with the length of her hair!

The main title music could have been different.  Alternatives are cited in “For Your Ears Only” | Jude Rogers | Oct. 31, 2008 | The Guardian at http://www.theguardian.com/music/2008/oct/31/james-bond-songs .  Blondie offered a version of “For Your Eyes Only” that was released on the 1982 album “The Hunter“.  The phrase “For Your Eyes Only” shows up at 1:15 into the song, so a potential disagreement with Maurice Binder was pre-empted!

The larger context of the movie For Your Eyes Only has been captured in  “James Bond Retrospective: For Your Eyes Only (1981)” | Chris Wright | May 1, 2012 | whatculture.com at http://whatculture.com/film/james-bond-retrospective-for-your-eyes-only-1981.php

For Your Eyes Only (retrospective)

This movie is reputed to have bailed out United Artists as a company.

The film saved United Artists from financial ruin. At the time of the film’s release, the studio was still reeling from Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate (1980), a notorious $40,000,000 bomb that was about to force UA to file bankruptcy. When this film took in a worldwide gross of $194,900,000, the studio was saved and afterwards turned its focus toward blockbusters and less on personal films.

It would be the last independent 007 movie by United Artists.

Last EON Productions James Bond movie soley released by United Artists. They would merge with MGM before the release of the next Bond film, Octopussy (1983).

Interview with Pat Metheny | Bob Barker | April 24, 2013 | jazz.fm91 December 14, 2013

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Risk taking in casual sessions with peers now lacks intimacy, says @PatMetheny, since observers can make every event a world premiere by recording anywhere at any time.  Private sessions are the exception rather than the rule.  In the JazzFM91 interview, around 21:25:

Bob Barker: On the technology front, you live in New York City, arguably kind of the heartbeat of the jazz world. You’ve also been known, over your career, to be the guy that shows up somewhere and jams, pulls out a guitar, unannounced, and walks in and starts playing with musicians. Has new technology, and where you are now in your career, changed any feelings you have about that kind of casual nature you used to have with showing up and playing with people?

Pat Metheny: I am really sad to say this, but it’s impossible now. You can’t do that anymore, or at least you can’t do it on a casual basis. There is a way to do it, which is to accept that now we do live in a different era. But, there is no intimacy anymore. Everything you do is a world premiere, because the minute you do it, somebody somewhere could be — they may be or they may not be, but we have to assume that they probably might be — recording or filming it. You can’t just do a little thing in Rimouski anymore, and try something out. Everything you do — it doesn’t matter if you’re at the North Pole — the minute you do it, it’s everywhere. That’s going to change things.

To a certain degree, there’s an aspect to this that I also acknowledge and accept, which is that it’s an age thing. I’m old school, to the degree that I want to feel a direct connection to the people I’m performing to, and what’s happening at that momemt.

Bob Barker: Is that an age thing, Pat? Is that passé?

Pat Metheny: I’ve got a feeling it’s passé. We’ve moved into new territory,now. I also anticipate that there will be a generation of musicians who will thrive in this environment. I probably won’t be one of them, because I do represent myself in a way, much like we’re having a conversation right now. You and I are speaking, but I am aware that there is an audience of people listening. There are certain things I’m not going to say right now, and you would probably get fined, if I did. Certain words, or this or that.

Bob Barker: There are boundaries to it.

Pat Metheny: There are boundaries to it. There used to be an environment for musicians where you were boundary-free, where there were no consequences to trying this or trying that. Those days are over. We are in a world now where everything is kind of public. That fights a little bit against the idea of risk-taking, unless that’s baked in.  Unless, that’s baked in.  I anticipate it will be, with the next generation of people.

The interview begins with an introduction by Bob Barker:

Pat Metheny has been redefining the sound of jazz for close to 40 years.

He’s taken the music to places its never gone before as well as always celebrating  the history of jazz and the musicians that have come before him.

From 1976’s Bright Size Life to the recently released collaboration with John Zorn, Pat  Metheny has released countless albums as leader of the Pat Methney Group,solo recordings, duets…soundtracks….all in all Pat has multiple Gold records and 20 Grammy Awards to his name.

Constantly searching, pushing, inspiring  and educating Pat Metheny joined us at our JAZZFM91 Studios to talk about his amazing career, the Orchestrion project and more!

Interview with Pat Metheny | Bob Barker | April 24, 2013 | jazz.fm91 http://www.jazz.fm/index.php/listen-mainmenu/podcasts/8119-interview-pat-metheny.

[MP3 audio]

Bob Barker and Pat Metheny at Jazz FM91, April 24, 2013

Learning how to learn | Rodrigo Arboleda | Apr. 10 2013 | TEDxCMU November 3, 2013

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Computer programming is a way of learning to learn, says @rarboleda2, with @OLPC now releasing the XO Tablet putting Sugar on top of Android.

Rodrigo Arboleda is Chairman and CEO of One Laptop Per Child Association (OLPCA), a not-for-profit entity seeking to provide equal opportunity of access to knowledge to small children in Developing Nations and in some communities within the USA.

OLPCA’s mission focuses on socio-economic and cultural change via education, with primary interest in children of 3 years and up.

Arboleda is in charge of worldwide operational issues related to the project. More than 2,700,000 laptops have been distributed so far to children in 41 countries and in 21 languages including many indigenous languages.

Arboleda has been also a Visiting Scholar at the Media Lab of MIT, where he worked on the Digital Nations Consortium project and on the Education for Peace initiative, E4P. He has served also as a Board Member of the 2B1 Foundation, which made possible some of the projects developed at the Media Lab.

He was born in Medellin, Colombia and completed his Bachelor Degree in Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in 1965.

Learning how to learn | Rodrigo Arboleda | Apr. 10 2013 | TEDxCMU at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhEFEyD7Pc8.

An slightly longer extended talk, with a little more technology, was presented shortly afterwards at Google.

GoogleTalks features Rodrigo Arboleda | May 8, 2013 | OLPC | laptop.org at http://blog.laptop.org/2013/05/08/googletalks-features-rodrigo-arboleda

GoogleTalks features Rodrigo Arboleda

Ronald Coase | On Externalities, the Firm, and the State of Economics (MP3 audio)| May 21, 2012 | EconTalk October 28, 2013

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In Ronald Coase interview, surprised to hear the “price system is a very expensive system”, agreeing that “firms act like socialists, because it’s cheaper”. On the recording, around 27:00:

Ronald Coase

Roberts: How did you come to write that paper as an undergraduate?

Coase: I was interested in how firms actually operate. And if you start studying how firms actually operate, you find that they are not concerned with prices directly, at all.

A person who is working in a firm does what he’s told. That’s the way it operates.

Roberts: So, a firm is an island of socialism in a capitalist world.

Coase: Oh, when I was a socialist at that time, I had some influence on the items starting with the views that I now have. I was a socialist. My parents voted for the Labour Party. And one Ernest Bevin, who was General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union, which was the largest union in Britain. In those early days, I was a socialist.

And that may have had some effect in leading me to the Nature of the Firm. I don’t know. Very likely.

Roberts: So your insight was that firms act like socialists, because it’s cheaper.

Coase: That’s right.

Roberts: And it’s cheaper because it’s not free to use the price system.

Coase: It’s cheaper because the price system is a very expensive system. If you think of all of the things you have to know in order to make a bargain, it’s obvious it’s not a cheap system. In a system that avoids negotiations, it’s one that saves a lot of costs.

Roberts: So, one of the things that I love about that paper is it forces you to think about these costs, which you might not notice. It forces you to notice that some systems that you think might not work so well, actually work better than you think. But it’s hard to test those ideas, right? One of the implications of the paper is that when transaction costs are high, you’re more likely to use command-and-control, but it’s hard to measure transaction costs. It’s hard to quantify the theory. Is that correct?

Coase: Yes.

Roberts: Or is it irrelevant?

Coase: No, it’s very relevant. But the state of economics is that people don’t try to measure these, or try to study them. People try to engage in discussion and explanation without any real knowledge of what happens in the real world.

On the Econtalk page, in addition to the downloadable audio, there’s some text highlights from the talk.  Here’s the description of the interview.

Nobel Laureate Ronald Coase of the University of Chicago talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his career, the current state of economics, and the Chinese economy. Coase, born in 1910, reflects on his youth, his two great papers, “The Nature of the Firm” and “The Problem of Social Cost”. At the end of conversation he discusses his new book on China, How China Became Capitalist (co-authored with Ning Wang), and the future of the Chinese and world economies.

[MP3 audio]

Coase on Externalities, the Firm, and the State of Economics | EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty at http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2012/05/coase_on_extern.html.

Some of the content from this interview turns up on “Ronald H. Coase” | The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics | The Library of Economics and Liberty, at http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/bios/Coase.html

Mike Cohn | Prioritizing Your Product Backlog (slides + web video) October 1, 2013

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After agile estimate and agile planning, prioritizing the product backlog has a few more techniques worth watching.  Mike Cohn has a variety of techniques described in prior years, but this set of slides hasn’t been as popular as the ones on planning and estimating.  The content tends to run:

Approaches to prioritizing include:

  • Kano analysis
  • Expert opinion
  • Theme screening
  • Theme scoring
  • Relative weighting
  • Financial analysis

Kano analysis maps the presence of features against satisfaction, as:

  • Mandatory / Baseline:  must be present for users to be satisfied
  • Linear:  the more of it, the better
  • Exciters / Delighters:  Features a user doesn’t know she wants, until she sees it

The other approaches are more typical scorecarding approaches.

Here’s a slide deck dated June 8, 2010.

The Agile 2008 presentation is unfortunately not embeddable in this blog post, but viewable in a browser at http://www.infoq.com/presentations/prioritizing-your-product-backlog-mike-cohn .

A June 19, 2009 presentation from the Norwegian Developers Conference can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfcTORR2dBM

A variety of slides over many years is available on Mike Cohn’s web site at http://www.mountaingoatsoftware.com/presentations/prioritizing-your-product-backlog .

Chinese Dining Etiquette | Sept. 18, 2013 | Off the Great Wall September 22, 2013

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Chinese Dining Etiquette by @ntdOTGW explains practices commonly adopted by children regularly attending parents’ dinners, which may be unknown by others.  Entertaining 5-minute video describes how Chinese parents should have taught their children:

1. Where to sit?

  • Seat of guest of honour faces the door.
  • Next most important to right of guest of honour, and to the left of guest of honour.
  • Person paying the bill faces the guest.

2. How to order?

  • One person orders for table, sometimes with host ordering a few dishes and then asking others for additional dishes
  • Even number of dishes

3 and 4.  How to Pour Tea and Show Gratitude

  • Tea handle with right hand, top with left hand
  • Teapot top partially off signals for more water, teapot top entirely off is bad luck.
  • Verbal thank you, or tap the table with two fingers.

5. Chopsticks handling

  • Chopstick is extension to fingers, so don’t point
  • Don’t stand chopsticks upright in rice, which looks like incense in dishes left to honour the dead

6. How to Eat Your Food

  • On the lazy susan, the most senior person selects first
  • Take a small portion to ensure everyone gets some

7. How to Eat Fish

  • When whole fish is served, once one side is eaten, never flip the fish over; lift out the backbone of the fish

8.  How to Pay the Bill

  • Guests should never split the bill, as that would be ingracious, saying that the host could not afford the bill, or that the hospitality is not appreciated.
  • Guest should offer to pay the bill a few times

Chinese Dining Etiquette | Sept. 18, 2013 | Off the Great Wall at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkyE2rPac3s.

Chinese Dining Etiquette | Off the Great Wall | Youtube

Cantonese Vs. Mandarin | Aug. 25, 2013 | Off the Great Wall September 14, 2013

Posted by daviding in Talk Video Streaming, Uncategorized.
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On our family visit back to our ancestral village at Lougang (or Lowkong), the members of the collective group mostly spoke no more than two of four dialects, from the heritage Toisanese, to local standard Cantonese, the modern Mandarin, and the new world English.  This meant conversations with multiple translations from the 92-year-old grandfather down to the pre-school great grand-daughter.

“Why Use Traditional Characters? | April 23, 2013 | Learn Chinese Now September 14, 2013

Posted by daviding in Talk Video Streaming.
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The shift from traditional Chinese characters to simplified is compared to Orwell’s 1984 newspeak. Our sons who studied in Mandarin language classes at university in Beijing may have missed the deeper cultural understanding of the original ideograms.

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