By keeping lots of brain cells buzzing, Google seemed to be making people smarter. But as Small was careful to point out, more brain activity is not necessarily better brain activity. The real revelation was how quickly and extensively Internet use reroutes people’s neural pathways. “The current explosion of digital technology not only is changing the way we live and communicate,” Small concluded, “but is rapidly and profoundly altering our brains.”
Everyone knows that attention span has been dwindling, but this article really strikes home and shows what we are dealing with. A must read for all teachers and those who want to impart knowledge and skills to the world wide future generation.
Must admit, haven’t been blogging for a while as I am getting into the Twitter/Facebook thing. So many things to do, so little time. However, I am still researching into the worldwide future and I came upon this awesome concept vehicle highlighted in Wired’s Autoblog: the Nissan Land Glider at http://www.wired.com/autopia/2009/10/nissan-land-glider/. Between this and the Leaf, hmmmm, Nissan might be the company to watch!
Here on the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon, it is heartbreaking to watch the scenes of the Apollo astronauts bouncing or riding across the lunar landscape, to know that we came and went and went no further.
To think human kind was able to motivate hundreds of thousands of people to take those dramatic steps, to reach the pinnacle of human achievement, to develop such amazing technology in such a short span of time, only to stop dead in our tracks and walk away. It is a shame, and to the generations of young people who did not have the benefits of continuing inspiration to dream and to accomplish dramatic things…it is something that needs to be addressed.
Consider first principals: that to solve the issues of environment and food production and housing and health, young people need to be encouraged to pursue scientific and technological and engineering careers. There is only a few motivational paths that can spark the intense interest to “dream the incredible, do the impossible”:
1. War. Great technological leaps, but certainly not useful in the long run.
2. Altruism (solving cancer, feeding the world, solving the environmental crises). Certainly laudable, but the problems are multi-generational, quite intractable and while it attracts individuals who can chip away at the problems, it is difficult to focus the masses to create the technological spark.
3. Go where no one has gone before. The hard focus that can lead to so many unexpected paths, products and services. By setting the impossible goal, by creating the WOW project, people will be motivated to be innovative and creative and risk taking. Going to the moon was not about the science, it was about the engineering and problem solving. Read the Chariots for Apollo or the story of the 1986 Voyager aircraft round-the-world tip to get a sense of what that means.
I don’t intend to wax nostalgic about the “good ol’ days”, nor do I intend to belittle the incredible disruptive technological advancements of the past 40 years, but I think the young people of today need a WOW project that will give them the incentive to “reach for the stars”. ‘Be all that you can be’ should be astronaut, not soldier.
Mars is a laudable goal for sure, but may be too far away in time. The moon beckons, and it will eventually lead to the inevitable evolution of humankind…Mars and beyond. A colony on the moon may be the answer to developing a wide raft of valuable technology in the medical, food production, energy production, communications and materials engineering fields, as well as more we can’t yet imagine.
The best and the brightest need an attractor to focus on solving the world’s problems, and that is accomplished through grand adventure. The world wide future need a WOW! project.
Consider this: what powered the 1960’s Apollo spacecraft? Hydrogen fuel cells.
Well, it has been a while since I last posted. The spring always brings a ramp up of work related activity, bumps most other tasks aside. Tine for spring cleaning, including my brain!
Anyway, I’m taking another direction, returning to teaching after 10 years at a consultant at the school board level. A whole new kind of stress, but as a teacher of communications technology, I will be back in the action of keeping up to date with the latest technologies, and helping the next gen to understand their opportunities in the new age we live in.
Brings me to an awesome development I just saw from the people at Google, the empire that never seems to sleep! Google Wave will replace everything we have been doing to now…email, blogging, twittering, IM, photo albums, you name it.
Long video, (1 hour -20min) but I have seen the future and it is exhilarating. Remember the time we were all hearing about modeless software? Maybe this is it, eh?
Dear Mr. President;
Congratulations on this fine day for being sworn in as the leader of the most powerful nation on earth. Your speech today was outstanding. I never thought I would say this but today I wish I was American. You have come to this point to bring hope for a brighter future not only for the people you politically represent, but also for the people of the world.
I am sure you know of the joy and the hopes you have wrought from all quarters of the globe. So many of us consider you the foundation of change we hoped for from the United States of America. So many are depending on you to bring about a dramatic change of direction, to make the mark of historical change that comes once in a generation, to finally usher in the 21st century we were all expecting. It is a heavy burden no doubt. I am sure you must feel the weight of the ages, as Lincoln himself must have felt as he too tried to heal the wounds of misdirection and loss of purpose. I wonder what Lincoln would say right now? I am sure he too would be impressed with the hope you represent, and would worry about the mantle of responsibility you now wear. We on the outside of America can only trust that you will have the foresight and wisdom to fulfill your destiny as the leader of a new age.
Our hopes and fears are with you to live up to the promise of becoming the first global president of the United States. In trying economic times, with the constant threat of those who will work against freedom, we truly hope that you find the courage to defeat the forces of cynicism and insularity and protectionism that have threatened the foundations of freedom and democracy for nearly a decade now. We hope you will have the courage to end the pessimistic politics of Fortress America. We hope you will have the courage to finally make America green and to work with the rest of the world to create a truly sustainable future.
Long live your words last November: “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.”
Amen, Mr. President.
The CBC, Canada’s national broadcaster, with sponsorship from Cisco has developed an interesting project called One Million Acts of Green. The idea is that people can register their act of environmental kindness or sustainability on the website to reach the goal of one million acts. The contributions in terms of greenhouse gases saved are calculated and noted. (The site currently states that 666,527 acts have saved an estimated 36,043,512 kg of green house gas to January 09 2009).
Now, while I consider things like changing to CFC bulbs or turning off the lights to be of marginal impact on a huge global problem, and pales in comparison to what countries like Germany are doing as a nation. But perhaps this challenge is an interesting take on the idea. I fear that people will soon suffer from over-saturation about talk of the environment and will soon tune out on the message (much like in the 1980s). The current economic picture may compound this effect, where considerations about the environment and economic sustainability will take a back seat to “jobs”. (Never mind that gas prices here are half of what they were earlier this year). Perhaps challenges like One Million Acts of Green will keep the fires burning so to speak, but then again, I hope it does not trivialize the problems or challenges. When it comes to educating the public, and our youth, about the necessity of the smaller footprint, we need to go big or go home.
Hopefully each citizen will consider that the best way they can make change for a sustainable future is by political action. A great example is Hermann Scheer, a German parliamentarian who has been a major force in helping Germany become a shining green economic powerhouse. The same CBC mentioned above had an eye-opening show (“The Gospel of Green” on our national investigative documentary program called the fifth estate), about Germany’s resolve to create jobs and a sustainable future by dramatically switching to renewable energy systems. A full 35% of jobs in Germany is expected to be in the renewal energy field by 2025.
When it comes to keeping people, industry and government moving forward to solutions to complex problems in energy, transportation, food production, communications and biotechnology, (the “Big Five” economic giants) I like to keep in mind Doug Hall’s three laws of marketing physics as outlined in his book: Jump Start Your Business Brain. Hall states people will stay the usual course unless something moves them off that course, (think Newton’s Laws of Motion). The Hall Three Laws are:
1. Overt benefit (must clearly state: What’s in it for me to change)
2. Real reason to believe (must clearly state why someone should believe you have a better answer)
3. Dramatic Difference (your solution must be dramatically different from previous efforts)
Simple in theory, perhaps not always implemented in practice, but it would behoove those that want to change the way our society operates is to ensure they are obeying Hall’s laws. To educate people and transform their way of life we need to make the project big, dramatic and rich in purpose. We need to clearly show that sustainable energy and food and transportation means jobs, and a future of possibilities. Most importantly, we need to show politicians and corporate decision makers a million reasons why this change is important to all of us in the worldwide future.
The real crime concerning the current economic crises, (real and media imagined), is that almost all talk of the looming environmental crises has disappeared from the political discourse. Instead of Silent Spring we have Silent Fall, (and maybe Silent Winter?) where the carbon heat death of the planet has taken the back seat to the gambling loses of the well-to-do. Greed is the new green, and we are all poorer for it.
Here in Canada this fall we had completed another $100 million election for naught. The opposition Liberals, who exhibited exemplary courage with a proposed “green shift” of taxes from income to polluting behaviours, also exhibited a lack of fortitude and leadership to keep it at the forefront against a Conservative government quite lacking in any environmental initiatives. The economic meltdown silenced the green shift as the Conservatives continually hammered the electorate with the dangers of the Liberal’s “carbon tax” during tough times. The silence of the Liberals sealed the fate of green shifting taxes forever. Despite a viable model in many countries, it will be political suicide for anyone to bring it up again.
The American presidential campaign has just wrapped up as well. I don’t recall hearing many pronouncements on the environment, though Obama has all appearance of becoming the first green president. (One can only hope). But…ten billion a month on the war in Iraq. One trillion dollars to bail out the mistakes of bankers and so called stock market analysts. You won’t be hearing much about conservation, biodiversity, ecology, sustainability, carbon sequestering, pollution control or alternate energy while jobs are being “outsourced” and “Joe six pack” is going to lose his job. The world wide future has receded into the background noise, and it may be long before we ever reconnect with the immediate problems of sustainable energy, food and water and air to breathe.
Funny thing is, the answer to these environmental issues may also be the direct and most possible solutions to the recessive economy.
The so called Big Three North American auto producers may soon receive extraordinary monies from the governments of the United States and Canada to pull them out of bankruptcy. The bailout is $14 Billion in the US, $3.3 Billion in Canada. A huge amount of money to throw at companies who have mismanaged any kind of monies they already had.
The Big Three claim that the money is needed because people aren’t buying their cars because of the recession or economic downturn or whatever you want to call it. Beyond considerations that maybe people are not buying their cars because of perceived lower quality or lower fuel efficiency compared to “foreign” makes, then I think there is a better solution than giving these corporations bailout money.
The real answer is free cars.
Buy new cars for people. Use the proposed bailout money to buy cars and give them to people in need, or people whose cars are over five years old or who currently have gas guzzlers. Kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. Better the environment and keep the factories producing.
Giving money directly to the corporations won’t keep the factories going, because people still won’t be buying cars. Just where will this money go? Who will they write checks to? By using the money to buy cars directly, then you will stimulate the industry and provide the desperately needed jobs of over a million people. At the same time, you will remove some older cars off the road and replace them with more efficient new cars. I imagine $17 Billion will buy a lot of cars and will keep the factories going quite a lot longer than providing the money to sinking industries who will still be stuck with non-moving stock.
The free economy is the future. See the February Wired magazine’s article from Chris Anderson: Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business.
While we are it, use the other trillion dollars of financial bailouts to buy people houses and clothes and food instead of shelling out taxpayer money to the financial wizards who have already shown they can’t handle it. That will really stimulate the economy.
(Source unknown. Just a little levity, I don’t subscribe to the idea that the Big Three make inferior products!)
Everyone seems to be talking about billions in bailout money…for everyone from financial institutions to car manufacturers. The US is ready to dump billions…Canada, Europe, Japan, China, etc. ready to follow. Brings to mind some interesting questions…
Where is this money coming from? If this money already existed, why wasn’t it used to pump up the economy or help rebuild infrastructure in the first place? How can all these governments, crying the economic blues for so long, have all this incredible supply of money just sitting there?
If all this money is virtual, isn’t virtual money the problem in the first place?
If this money doesn’t exist, which generation is going to pay for the trillions in bailout money?
Here we have the case of giant corporations, who have paid exorbitant funds for the acquisition and retention of financial “experts”, only to be brought down to the brink by negligence or basic lack of foresight. How can we expect them to utilize the money wisely, and who do you really write the check to?
While I have not been scanning the net deeply, I have been watching the TV news and reading the odd newspaper. Seems to be some really important questions to answer, but like many instances in the recent past (like invading Iraq) we don’t have a viable “fifth estate” asking them. This does not bode well for the world wide future. The biggest question: where is the media when you need it?