Up side canyons of the Grand Canyon there are puddles along a stream bed completely isolated from any moving water source. The puddles are teaming with life despite the absence of any water way into the pond. Tadpoles, minnows, algae, water slugs, water striders and many types of aquatic plants saturate the pond. Each one crawling through the thick algae, swimming the perimeter or peering up tempted by what lays outside the water. The slowly evaporating pond shrinks without regard to the increasingly frantic creatures.
Evolution goes into overdrive as resources become scarce in this isolated environment. The pond creatures necessarily breed incestuously magnifying the existing genetic traits and increasing the frequency of mutations. Succeeding generations become better suited for the sunny desert pond slowly shrinking and warming.
One can imagine just before the pond is consumed by the sun, and the last creatures are baked, a storm rages upstream raising the adjacent stream enough overtake the pond and wash its inhabitants back into the mainstream. The organisms well adapted for the still warm pond are now tumbling through the cool flash flood and headed toward the big river. The former pond is now the stream bed and only the organisms adapted for the warm pond but can also survive the river will continue to reproduce and propagate genetic features.
Many remains of ponds not saved by the flood lay scattered along the stream bed. Remains of creatures adapted to the extreme but with out impact on the continuing generations. These short tendrils of evolution cut short by a high pressure system covering Arizona keeping away any potential moisture that could save the new age creatures. Survival of the fittest
These ponds of temporary life mimic the ways cultures and ideas develop in stressed environments. Some ideas flourish and adapt into a stronger form while others get caught in a vicious loop only to be killed once dumped back into the mainstream. Other, potentially great ideas are never seen by the majority only to be passed by and left baking on the dry rocks.
How can we create environments that foster fast changes to ideas that leave them stronger and ready to contribute something to the mainstream all while minimizing the risk of being dehydrated to death? The most adaptive pool I've seen so far has been noisebridge in San Francisco, an infrastructure provider for DIY projects. We can thank similar puddles like the cafe penny universities during the age of enlightenment for many of the great ideas we still learn about today.
The only related joke I've heard:
How do you kill a hipster? .................... Throw him into the mainstream.
It is no wonder that the US tax rules get more complicated every year when the most interested parties, accounting firms and the IRS, benefit from convoluted tax procedures.
Consider a proposed bill to change the tax code. The change complicates things so that more people and businesses will need accountants or tax services those companies will lobby and support the bill. Since the marginal change (% of profit) to the befitting companies is larger than it is to the companies that pay the tax law will trend toward complexity.
Said in systems theory vernacular... The feedback that increases the complexity of tax code is greater than the feedback reducing complexity. This causes the overall system to increase in complexity. It's a vicious cycle.
Attended the Makers Fair today and was blown away by the open hardware and 3d printing progress. You can build anything from replicas of your face or rocket ships. Companies now offer complete manufacturing services so that you only upload a file and everything will be built for you. The maker movement will continue to be the engine of America. Here are some pics from the event.
There was a focus on developing standardized parts that would work with many other products and uses. This contrasts the traditional proprietary approach where companies try to make their systems as incompatible as possible. You've got to love the open minds.
As seen below there were robot petting zoo's, sun cooked pop corn, bee farms, solar bike trailers laser cut furniture. Well worth the full day.
It was an odd feeling to have the wall explode next to me while I was searching for some clean boxers this morning. Made me think hard about life. Life's short and it can end in a second. Live it up.
My air mattress is still inflated!
I came across an innovation space in San Francisco when the I attended a free circuit building class. The space, Noisebridge, instantly captured me and made me wonder why are there not more of these around the country?
This issue of having space to build and create is near and dear to me after growing up in a carpenters houses with a shop filled with tools. My brother and I build everything from desks to potato guns in the shop was a perfect playground for any downtime. At Tufts University there was an innovation space until I was a Junior when the shop was converted to a graduate biology lab in some concession with the new dean of engineering. I still don't know how a university can justify replacing an innovation space open to all with a lab only used by a few.
Regardless, these spaces where ideas can wonder and hands can build are amazing. You meet interesting people and you build useful things. Most recently a small group of us started working on standardizing DC electricity (see energypond.com for our progress). Noisebridge and HackerDojo define themselves more or less as infrastructure providers for DIY projects and education. They provide access to the necessary tools, materials and space required for creative urbanites to create and hack.
I have this gut feeling that these spaces are extremely valuable to the community but have had a difficult time articulating it. When I tried to pitch the idea of creating an inovation space in wyoming to family friends the questions that always came up were what are the returns on the investment? This was a difficult question to answer because, like most investments in infrastructure, the rewards are difficult to account and not always tangible.
I do know that they strengthen the community, foster innovative minds, and accelerate human progress with by creating new useful things. How one can quantify all of this remains a mystery to me.My only hope to convince the majority that these spaces are if people get over the brain block of thinking that everything must make market sense to be worth doing. This is such a short sighted way to look at things.
So much of the economy is unnecessary. If you list the minimum items needed for an enjoyable and fulfilling life you find that a large percentage of our economy (in terms of GDP) is unnecessary. Starbucks coffee, vitamin water, cable TV, a car for every person.... the list goes on. What if one day we could only afford the essentials? Our GDP would be cut in half over night. Jobs that supported these unnecessary parts of the economy would disapear and people would have more free time. Less money but more free time. So far there is not a problem so what are we missing. Debt. Debt does not allow us to work less because it our debt load sets our minimum income requirements. If our income drops below our required debt payments and necessary expenses we enter the senario of default where by law lenders can seize assets.
Debt is the only thing preventing most people from having more free time. Until we value free time we will not solve the debt crisis. As long as the insubstantial economy continues, default will be an annomoly. However the longer we use debt to perpetuate the unnecessary economy the more inevitable the crisis becomes.
My mom told me always taught me not to rest on my laurels. I'm not sure where she learned that but it has rung true through out my life experiences. Looking in the history is educational but if you are to improve you must look forward.
Patents allow companies to rest on their laurels of restricting the use of ideas by others. This process of preventing others from building on an idea is unnatural and can not last.Someone with an idea has two options. To share the idea or to keep their idea to themselves. Regardless of the profit potential of the idea people will share their ideas.
Profits should only be assured to companies by their sheer tenacity to improve humanity not by obtaining some temporary monopoly over an idea. This age of patents is the feudal age of ideas. Freedom isn't free but it is always worth it.
This is a new blog using the web service Weebly. The last blog (wordpress) crashed after an upgrade on the Godaddy servers. This will hopefully be an experience with less technical frustration and more sharing of ideas.