Archive | July, 2011
Sunday, 17 July 2011

My travels to Edinburgh, Long Beach and Seattle all in one night and the synchronocity that brought me there

Tonight I read an article on BBC News about how the internet is changing our memory.  Researchers say that the internet acts as a “transactive memory” that we rely on to remember for us.  This particular study illustrates how our brains have adapted to the technologies around us.  We no longer need to remember the content, we just need to remember how to access it and where it is stored.  This, mind the pun, is mind blowing.

Think about the implications:

  1. Endless data: When online, we have access to a vast bounty of data and know-how that has accumulated over time, and will keep growing as long as there are bits and bytes flowing through the veins of the internet. Data is limited only by the questions we seek to Google.
  2. Framing knowledge:  Because there is so much data out there, the web sites and apps that win will be the ones that package data and know-how into real knowledge, inspire ideas, encourage exploration and learning.  The internet as an extension of our memory is fine, but where it is most powerful is an internet that works alongside our very human brains as a catalyst for wisdom.
  3. Connectors will dominate:  The last part of the equation is us.  Our ability to connect the dots, make sense of the relationships that lay beneath the surface and understand the synchronicity in all things will be the key differentiator in this new world order.  Nothing stands alone, everything is connected, even if they seem discrete.

Let’s explore this state of connected being, here is a replay of tonight

  • Scanning BBC News app for interesting news.  Stumble upon article.  Read article. 
  • Brain notes: Hmmm…interesting
  • Playing with new smart phone and cruising for free apps.  Come across TED Air.  
  • Brain says: have always liked TED, especially their tag line “ideas worth sharing”. Clever.
  • Surfing TED talks.
  • Brain says: ah huh! The article on BBC news talks about internet as an extension of memory.  Can I extend my brain with TED?
  • Watch first talk. Transported to Edinburgh where Tim Harford talks about “Trial, error and the God complex“.  Marmite, vitamin B12, WW2, Unilever’s struggle to create a nozzle to make detergent powder, evolution.  Key takeaway is that trial and error the basis of everything we know, and randomness cannot be contained, we just have to find ways to make better mistakes.
  • Brain logs: Fail fast is good.
  • Watch second talk, Maajid Nawaz: A global culture to fight extremism.  Fascinating idea that democracy needs to be promoted just like extremism is promoted.  Brilliant equation…social movement = idea + narrative + symbols + leader.  
  • Brain contemplates: How can we apply that equation to other things?
  • Watch third talk.  Matt Cutts in Long Beach talks about trying something new for 30 days.  Premise is a Morgan Spurlock experiment to change your life by doing something that you’ve always wanted to do over 30 days.  Key takeaway is that period of time is just long enough to make an incremental difference in behavior, leading to lasting change.
  • Brain asks: Is it possible therefore to change the world in 30 days? Perhaps apply the social movement equation and fail fast?
  • Watch forth talk.  Seattle TED conference where Patricia Kuhl talks about “The linguistic genius of babies“.  Incredible experiments that discovered that babies, in the first 6 months, statistically log the key sounds of the language that is spoken around and to them.  This forms the basis for picking up the language of the culture to which they belong.  The really interesting thing is that babies do not log sounds that are delivered via audio or video channels.  They only seem to learn from people speaking to them, in person, face to face.  
  • Brain thinks: Exposure to as many languages, spoken in person, within the first 6 months is crucial.
  • Brain asks: Maybe changing the world means having a 30 day dialog with people, face to face, (literally)  in a language that they understand?
  • Watch fifth talk.  Back to Long Beach, California where cookbook author Nathan Myhrvold talks about “Cooking as never seen before“.  This guy has put together an amazing cook book which is the intersection of food science and incredible photography and design.  He shows cross sections of food in the very act of being cooked.  This means cutting pots, BBQs, ovens and even woks in half and photographing the cooking process.
  • Brain wonders: What if you could bisect a 30 day social movement and watch the dialog bake, then learn by trial and error how to change the world for the better?

Finally, we come full circle. At 3.33am the dots are connected.  Synchronicity through random surfing of the extended memory of the internet has added one more piece of knowledge to our collective wisdom. This blog post.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Weekend at the Lake House Compound

Our friends N + C have a lake house near the Delaware River in Pennsylvania, and they foolishly invited us over again for long weekend.

Beautiful lake with boats

A lake with a view


The “compound”, as it is affectionately known, sits in one of the gated communities that line the shores of a cluster of lakes made millions of years ago as glaciers carved their way back toward the Arctic Circle.  It is far enough away from the urban populace that you could easily start a religious cult that worships pre-Cambrian single cell gelatinous blobs, if that was to your liking.

Thank goodness cult like behavior is not really their thing.  Rather, it has been a weekend indulging in other more delightful past times.

Firstly, the Amazon Kindle.  The best invention since those clever Chinese people hammered together the printing press. You know that technology has managed to weld itself inseparably into our lives when out of the five of us here this weekend, four of us have Kindles.  (English Hubby is the odd one out, but in his defense he does have an iPad with the Kindle app). You would be better off waving a red flag in front of a raging bull than dare try to pry a Kindle out of our eager hands.

Four Kindles on a coffee table

Kindle mania


Secondly, this weekend has been an ode to food porn where every meal has been dexterously planned (organic produce, coop shopping and seasonal delights), skillfully prepared and consumed with a furor of uncontrollable passion, followed by a wide grinned guilt that throws caution to the diet winds.

Pie crust dough on a pastry board

A beautiful marriage of flour, butter, shortening, sugar, salt and ice water


Rolling pin on pie crust dough

Rolling with the times


Strawberry and rhubarb filling in the pie

Filling out


Delicious strawberry and rhubarb pie

Delicious strawberry and rhubarb pie…with tasty lattice top


We’ve been thoroughly spoilt by a menu that features that infamous man toy, the BBQ.  There is something primal about flame grilled Jerk chicken, rib eye steak and grilled salmon.

Jerk chicken and vegetable kabobs on a BBQ

Lunch being BBQ’d to perfection


Homemade coleslaw on a table full of food

Mind blowing coleslaw


Chicken bones on an empty plate

Satisfaction guaranteed


Not even a severe thunderstorm could dampen the cooking festivities.

Man BBQing in the rain

Man versus wild – nothing can keep him away the BBQ


Finally, being at the lake house is like stepping into the Tardis where you are transported back to a place in space and time where board games are still played, ice tea is served, lovers go for evening paddles on the lake, strawberry and rhubarb pies are made entirely from scratch and hours on end are dedicated to the sport of napping and reading (on the Kindle of course!).

Cleaning out the paddle boat

English Hubby and C draining the paddle boat


I can’t think of anything better than a weekend of delectable food, fabulous friends and lakeside fun. Wouldn’t you agree, dear reader?