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Archive for October, 2012|Monthly archive page

Building Block #3: The Collective Mind

In Building Blocks, Decision-Making, Innovation, Politics, Problem-Solving, Program Launch, Resolving Disputes, Software, Taking Action, Technology, The Collective Mind on October 29, 2012 at 3:08 am

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The world is now severely splintered into binary camps: Republicans and Democrats, the haves and the have-nots (money, education, computer literacy, and more), globalists and nationalists, pro-life and pro-choice, …  The list goes on and on.  The media and hardcore advocates seem to denounce any form of a middle ground.  The chasm between opponents grows even further with the spread of propaganda by extremists.

No human being can accomplish anything if filled with indecision.  As a society, humans are torn by indecision—often called gridlock in political circles.

Behind the scenes, however, open-minded people work fervently to narrow the gaps, in order to bring our collective mind to some resolution.

The problem is that the available tools are primitive.  With traditional web sites, outrageous claims draw large numbers of people, and the voices of reason go unnoticed.

Major breakthroughs will happen in rapid succession when tools allow people to quietly problem-solve together without publicly showing weakness by making apparent concessions.  The key is for individuals to work towards their personal goals without all the labels that the media and extremists insist on applying.  Collectively, all opposing camps will be achieving their most important goals.

America 2029 is developing these advanced tools for building the quiet collective mind.

Imagine a world… where the wealthy and the economically disadvantaged consistently get ahead together, … where those who have not can offer significant value to those who have, … where America triumphs by helping the world, … where abortions are reduced by respecting the rights of women, … where every obstacle turns into a new opportunity!

This is not just a poetic John Lennon-style imagining.  It is the logical consequence of developing the right technologies.  The America 2029 program is not about changing politics.  However, just as Twitter and cell phones have transformed oppressive regimes by getting the word out, America 2029 will create a domino effect that will ultimately make traditional politics obsolete.  Political posturing will disappear just as surely as the telegraph machine—not because of any law or lobbying, but because the incentive for political posturing will be gone.  We are approaching a crossroads in history.

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Building Block #2: Protocols and Standards

In Building Blocks, Communication, Education, Innovation, Learning, Program Launch, Software, Standards and Protocols, Technology on October 20, 2012 at 5:14 pm

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Many companies are reluctant to agree to protocols and standards, instead striving for competitive advantage by standing out from all the competitors.  Certainly it’s good to offer something “extra,” but in today’s rapidly changing world, customers want to know what they can count on.  Will your device, software, or approach work with other devices, software, or approaches, now and in the future?

Protocols and standards remove uncertainty and accelerate the pace of change.  Perhaps your company would rather slow things down.  If you do, it will be at a cost.

Protocols and standards are a valuable building block for handling all the inevitable changes occurring.  Not implementing protocols slows down the rate at which you solve problems.  It does not slow down the rate at which problems occur!

Remember to use as many protocols and standards as possible, as building blocks on your next major project.  If protocols and standards don’t exist, work with industry leaders to create them.  Tell the industry leaders this message: Creating protocols and standards makes you a leader; waiting for others to create them makes you a follower.  One way or the other, talk up protocols and standards, and get as much consensus as possible.  Make it clear you’re working on behalf of your customers, to deliver what they need.

The following protocols and standards will create major breakthroughs in commerce:

  • Broad adoption of many OASIS standards, like OASIS DITA.
  • A wide range of standardized mobile apps for students to learn and use in the real world.
  • High-level application tools for end users to design and run their own applications, in the same way that they now use spreadsheets and simple database queries.
  • An XML extension and HTML adaptations to permit smart TVs to classify and broadcast Internet content, creating “unlimited channels.”
  • Any protocol or standard where U.S. companies in an industry agree to come together and collectively win their share of the global market.

Building Block #1: Memes

In Building Blocks, Communication, Innovation, Learning, Program Launch, Technology on October 15, 2012 at 3:32 am

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The concept of a meme—“an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture” (Merriam-Webster, 2012; in other words, something that “goes viral”)—has been around since 1976, coined by British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins (Dawkins, 1989, p. 192).  Not surprisingly, the concept of memes has gone viral, with students everywhere passing pictorial memes from the popular meme websites.  At the moment, though, everybody sending and receiving memes has no idea of their true power.

Pictures with text are an ideal form for a meme, although single-word and short-phrase concept titles also work well, like evolution, the Green Movement, diversity, and so on.  Just saying one of these phrases—in a positive way—lets you belong to a vast global movement.

Memes are driving forces in society.  Richard Dawkins created the term to explain sociological evolution.  To date, however, I don’t believe that anyone has tried to engineer social forces using memes—until now.

  • What if memes could be used as a universal communicator throughout the world?
  • Even within a nation, jargon creates language barriers.  A common meme-based vocabulary of words, phrases, and images, however, could break down those barriers.
  • Memes let you think across disciplines.  You don’t have to understand the underlying engine for an idea to refer to it.  You can talk about the Green Movement without even understanding its major components and ideals.  For example, you can speak about getting the Green Movement and advocates of diversity together to create a new global Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.  Memes let you think “big picture.”

Let us consider how memes might work as a social engineering force.

The ubiquitous smiley face has become overused (that’s a hazard of something that goes viral), yet most people still translate the image as “Have a nice day!”  Of course it also connotes happiness.  For that matter, emoticons and icons everywhere become universally recognized.

Consider the following statement:

If people around the world could agree to a simple formula like this, it would go viral, and millions of people could work together, independent of their mother nations, and their respective laws.  Naturally, the words would be translated by a translator into respective languages.  Once someone learns this meme, however, they can recognize it on a website regardless of the language.  What’s more, people of different languages can then carry on a simple dialog to agree (or disagree) on other principles based on other memes.

Consider the ramifications for the workplace.  Executives, industry experts, technology experts, trainers and mentors, administrative staff, salespeople, and more will be able to converse freely in memes.  Memes will serve as mantras to unite, while keeping core values front and center.

Do you see how memes will accelerate thinking and communication? If not, fasten your seatbelt.  If you thought ideas and events were happening too fast already, get ready for the meme-driven world.

Do you like this idea? Why not tell others about America 2029? The website is America2029.com.  Let’s see if the America 2029 logo can go viral!

References

Dawkins, Richard (1989). The Selfish Gene (2 ed.).  Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.Merriam-Webster (2012).  Meme.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary.  Chicago, IL: Britannica Online.  Retrieved 10 October 2012 from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/meme

Building Blocks

In Building Blocks, Communication, Innovation, Program Launch, Software, Technology on October 6, 2012 at 5:53 am

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The key to productive innovation is to identify, label, and use building blocks, rather than building from scratch.  At this point, the number of tools, standards, protocols, and other building blocks is growing at an unmanageable rate.  The key is for innovators to access this information efficiently.

Most of these building blocks are accessible only by technology gurus, with little written guidelines for application experts.  Experts in all domains should be planning how to incorporate such tools as RDF (Resource Description Framework), OASIS DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture, FOAF (Friend of a Friend), the HTML “link” element, and an entire alphabet soup of other building blocks.  These tools let developers create “smart” systems that are easier for humans to use, yet ironically, the tools themselves are not accessible to mere mortals.

As soon as CEOs and other corporate strategists can use these tools to talk to various levels of management, and have the domain managers instruct developers to use these tools within their specific domains, then the true power of these building blocks will become evident.  Right now, the building blocks are mere toys for technologists to play with.

Henry Ford took all the knowledge of the garage tinkerers and formalized it into the modern assembly line.  We are at the point in history where the world is ready for us to automate knowledge creation using these building blocks.

Waiting for Superman?

In Education, Innovation, Program Launch on October 6, 2012 at 4:26 am

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Davis Guggenheim named his movie on the plight of education Waiting for “Superman” because of the childlike hope that people seem to have that someone (some thing?) will come and fix the system.

The U.S. education system has been described as “broken,” “in crisis,” and “failing.”  These are strong words.  Apparently government officials and businesses have decided that education must get us out of our current global crisis, where Americans are reportedly unable to compete globally.

Compared to other developed nations, our test scores clearly lag.  It should be pointed out, however, that in many of those nations, individuals have highly restricted ranges of choice, and students are made to feel the stress of the nation in their performance records.

Davis Guggenheim notes that American students rank first in confidence, despite their low performance.  I would argue that confidence and optimism are probably stronger predictors of success than test scores.  All the data that I have seen strongly suggest that this is so.  Imposing the stress of our nation on the students—as other nations do—would only lower self-esteem.  It is the positive American spirit that has been the source of our innovation in the past.

I hope that the irony of the title has not escaped Guggenheim and the educational community: There is no Superman! People are waiting for the impossible to happen.  Clearly there are many social needs that education can address—and it will continue to do so.  However, just because educators are not superhuman does not mean that they have failed our nation in their duty.

Let’s check the official record, as recorded by the National Center for Education Statistics, a branch of the U.S. Department of Education.  Over the last twenty years:

  • Dropout rates are down.
  • Number of math and science courses taken are up.
  • Number of AP courses taken are up.
  • Average SAT scores are flat (math up and reading down).
  • Numbers of African American and Hispanic students getting college degrees and graduate degrees has risen dramatically in the last 10 years, suggesting that high schools are successfully preparing them.

Even the flat SAT scores are not of concern, in that there has been an increase, during this time period, in the number of students taking these tests.  As more students take the SATs, less talented students now have the opportunity to participate in the program, creating downward pressure on average scores.  This is a statistical phenomenon.  You would expect scores to be lowered during this time period, and yet they have remained flat, defying the downward pressure.

My point is this: Educators have continued to make steady progress, but not at the same rate as other developed nations, many of which place undue stress on students.  The problem is that this progress has been linear—as most human progress through history has been.

Human technology grows exponentially, but individuals learn information, day by day, in a linear fashion.  Critics are blaming educators because they and their students can’t keep pace with technology.  Teachers haven’t been able to program their students for nonlinear growth.  Yet, all throughout business, the problem is the same: Humans haven’t figured out how to grow exponentially.

Actually, students today—the Millennial generation—are better equipped than most adults to handle this exponential growth of knowledge.  It is true that they memorize fewer facts, including such basics as the fact that Canada is north of the United States.  At the same time, they can “Google” anything they want and provide you with the answers that you seek for today’s global world.

How, then, will America deal with the need for exponential growth of human talent? Neither schools nor businesses are providing this urgently needed growth.

America 2029 will be our nation’s Superman.  It will provide the breakthrough tools so that humans can process data at exponential rates.  It derives these super powers from a near-certain event that will occur in 2029, as technology continues to grow exponentially with absolute mathematical precision.

Creating America 2029

In Innovation, Program Launch on October 3, 2012 at 11:20 pm

America 2029

America 2029 is a program to stimulate the U.S. economy through a series of innovations that will culminate in a breakthrough innovation anticipated for the year 2029.

The current sluggishness in the economy was brought on by a lack of innovation.  When a big innovation like the PC or the World Wide Web comes on the market, the economy is fed by a flood of additional innovations.

Restarting the economy will be a lot easier than people think.  We just have to focus on the right innovations—innovations that people and businesses are secretly just waiting to buy.

Everyone is waiting for a breakthrough in the economy, and they know that it’s not going to come from government stimulus, whether Republican or Democratic.

America 2029: Be a part of the solution!