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I presented at TEDx Creative Coast 5 Ideas for the 21st Century.  I will share the video as soon as it is available. In the meantime check out the Cliff Notes and slides on http://aliveschools.org.

Picture taken by Mark & Marie Finnern.

 

TED’s tag line is Ideas worth spreading. The Open Mike Future Salon’s tag line is Ideas worth further exploring. The format is the following: You present your idea for 5 minutes. It’s OK if your idea isn’t fully formed yet, present your current state. The next 5 minutes the audience asked questions or gives comments that may move your idea forward. If the conversation is really active, we add another 5 minutes to that exploration. You may walk away from the Future Salon with a handfull of new ideas or venues to explore. This is why I can’t wait to share my idea of letting our children solve real world problems with you:

Imagine a world where every classroom in every school is solving real-world problems and sharing their solutions.  Let’s apply Google’s “20% time” to schools!  Each Friday, students focus on solving a practical problem they choose.  Children create a budget, build a team, publicly brainstorm solutions, set milestones, track their progress Wikipedia-style and present their solution to the whole school at the end of the year. Award bonus points to teams who engage contributors beyond the classroom. Teaching students to initiate, collaborate, and adapt will prepare them to thrive in our ever-changing world.

Can’t wait to hear your comments and suggestions to these ideas. There will be 5 minute sessions around Empowering Women through Technology; World Peace; From Great Potential to Not-So-Great Results; … Please share your idea too that you are convinced will influence our lives in the future. After all this Thursday is the 1st of March Future Day. Fill out this form or come and sign up on the white board that evening. We meet 6pm at SAP Labs in Palo Alto 3410 Hillview Avenue. More details on the Future Salon web page. See you all there.

 

Just came back from the energizing brainstorming session around creating a Maker/Hacker space in Savannah. Another great event organized by Jake and his team of the Creative Coast. Thanks.

The energy in the room was high and the wish list got longer and longer.

The audience was diverse from teenagers to retirees with sparkle in their eyes eager to tinker and try out new things.

The 30K question is, will there be enough people that understand the benefit and shell out the monthly fee to make if thrive and be self-funding?

I am convinced it will be, if we ensure the following: Continue reading »

 

Join Metacurrency's Nourishing Flows retreat Jan 19-26 in Germany

What motivates me to run Future Salons is the hope to find parameters for a future that works for all.

This is something that our current socio-economic system, free market capitalism, is clearly not delivering. US poverty rate went up from 11.3% in 2000 to 15.1% in 2010.

Any criticism of our current system in many circles automatically puts a person in the Communist camp. Look it was tried in the Soviet Union and it didn’t work. 

Yes, Soviet style Communism didn’t work; but when that system came crashing down capitalism didn’t win, it just survived.

Francis Fukuyama even wrote a book declaring The End of History as parliamentary democracy and capitalism were the only dominant systems going forward. It was plain hubris and a lens on our collective failure to imagine alternatives.

A system that accepts that 10%+ of its population live in poverty, even in one of the richest nations of the world, is not acceptable.

The financial crisis of 2008 is further proof that the current system is not working for us, the 99% majority. Is it broken beyond repair?

In search of alternatives, I found Arthur Brock and the folks at The MetaCurrency Project. They not only envision a new model of wealth but are actively working on developing and implementing it.

I caught up with them in New York at their NextNet Collabathon. Art really opened up my eyes for how limited our view on money truly is. So I sat down with him and we taped the following interview which is an introduction to the big picture of Wealth a Living Systems Model.

Enjoy!

Video notes:

  • 1:12 Current systems of sharing values are  inadequate to accurately measure value
  • 1:25 Current economy is based on scarcity and optimized to continue scarcity which is not sustainable with wrong feedback mechanisms that don’t allow to make better decisions
  • 2:30 Better meaning and root for Currency is current-see: Seeing the flow of value. Symbol systems that we create so we can mange currents of value, the flow of value.
  • 3:20 Money as small corner of overall value flow.
  • 3:35 Speculative tradable wealth even smaler part of value, like a cancer needs to be cut out. [One suggestion not in the video: Tobin tax?]
  • 5:05 Artificial scarcity of current system
  • 7:01 Explanation of different levels of living system wealth
  • 7:30 To be alive you need a view on all of these levels. All levels need to be
  • 9:30 Level 1 parts of the system, can be divided.
  • 10:30 Properties
  • <11:00 food gets delivered ;-) Smellavition unfortunately not invented yet>
  • 11:30 Level 2: Properties of the system like blood type.
  • 13:10 Level 3: Performance of a system. Ability to run a miracle mile.
  • 13:30 Scarcely not applicable for Level 2 and 3
  • 15:00 We treat everything as fungible
  • 16:00 Performance systems: Miracle Mile
  • 17:00 Level 4: Relationship system. Example: Organic
  • 18:02 Level 5: Evolutionary Capacity. Example: Pace maker. Adapt and change the system behavior. Feedback loop.
  • 19:55 Evolutionary Capacity is correlated to the systems capacity to information handling capability.
  • 21:54 Meta Currency as underlying system platform to create many competing currencies with the survival of the fittest.
  • 24:00 Goal of Meta Currency project is to make it as easy to recognize value as easily as formalizing a new sentence.
  • 28:00 How far are we in developing that platform?
    Prototype is ready.
  • More details: http://metacurrency.org http://newcurrencyfrontiers.com http://artbrock.com/ where you can find the below graphic
  • 29:00 College degree is a reputation currency. Every credential is a currency.
  • 30:30 Data Flowspace Brainstorming Workspace
 

Check out Will Richardson’s TEDxNY talk. He points out how our school system is broken. It is built for a time long past.

Will quotes Eric Hoffer:

In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.

Our kids go to schools that train them for a world that has expired. The following ideas may help this situation:

Let children tackle real-world problems

On the first week of every school year the class agrees on what problem to tackle. The remainder of the year is spent on solving the chosen problem, documenting possible solutions as well as identifying dead ends. Along the way the students track and document their progress and outcome. Ideally the whole process is shard publicly for the world to benefit from the solution as well as the process.

Problems can exist anywhere on the spectrum of micro to macro (i.e. school-related, city-wide, county, state, nation, the world, even).  Bonus points are given to students who are capable of engaging people beyond the classroom in solving their group’s chosen problem.

At the end of the year each class shares their team’s solution to the problem they tackled. These results are communicated in front of all students, parents, faculty and if possible the receiver of the solution during a presentation day.

The students are graded on how well their solution solves the problem they selected to tackle at the beginning of the school year.

Focus is put on how well they documented and shared their solution so that others who would like to solve a similar problem can easily learn from their progress.

The ‘spectacular failure’ is celebrated. These are the projects where the students who reached for the stars, put enormous effort into pursuing their goal but missed it in the end.

The role of the teacher would change, standing in the front of a class ‘teaching’ would be the exception. Coaching and guiding students would be the teacher’s main task:  Help selecting the right size problem to solve, helping them develop the skills needed to solve it, offer alternative opportunities when they are stuck. Wouldn’t this be more fulfilling for the teachers too?

How early can we start using such a system? We can do this kind of teaching even with students who are not yet old enough to read or write. I believe it would motivate kids to read, to be able to feel through their own solutions guided by the help of the teacher/coach when necessary.

By using this education process, we could quickly hone the following skills in high demand in the world we are living: working in groups, getting quickly up-to-speed on a new subject, project management and presentation skills, how to negotiate, creativity, brainstorming, and hitting a deadline for instance.

I didn’t hate school, I struggled a lot as my dyslexia made me suffer during language classes, but looking back I would say that I was a mostly passive consumer in the classroom.

The type of school I describe above would have made a world of difference to me. I am envious of that Mark Finnern living in a parallel Universe, the one that took full advantage of the opportunities a real-world problem solving school would have presented to me.

We have the physical buildings for such a school, the schools our children go to. They may not be perfectly equipped for this new way of learning yet, but that could be one of the problems the kids tackle first.

We have the bright kids that would love to solve real world problems and we definitely have enough real-world problems to solve.

If we really want it, we could start this next school year.

P.S. Thanks Gali Kling-Schneider for encouraging me to blog more on finnern.com when we met in Madrid this month.

 

Cross posted at the Future Salon.

Just learned from Joseph Mornin that Lawrence Lessig will be speaking this week at several venues in the Bay Area. He’ll talk about his new book, Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress—and a Plan to Stop It, and he’ll sign copies after each talk.

Here’s the schedule:

  • Monday 10/24 · Santa Clara · 6:30 PM · Details
  • Tuesday 10/25 · San Francisco · 7:30 PM · Details
  • Wednesday 10/16 · Berkeley · 7:30 PM · Details

You may be able to get him in Berkeley today.

In a list of my top candidates to present at a Future Salon he would be in the top 5 and it almost happened earlier this year when the limit on campaign financing by corporations was eliminated by the supreme court. We were planning to do a Future Salon around that theme of corporate personhood, but his travel plans changed so it never happened.

The bummer is, that none of the above talks are webcasted, even though it would be really interesting to hear what Lawrence has to say about the Occupy Wall Street movement.

A couple of searches later, here is what he has to say:

Digging a bit deeper another clip of Lawrence Lessig addressing Occupy Wall Street, where you can also hear the human megaphone in action:


Lawrence is also a PowerPoint Ninja and doesn’t disappoint this time around. Check out a recording of his Lost Republic Book Tour talk:

Great background to our current crisis. Check it out.

He also got asked the following:

Do you Know which party of the 2 wants to perpetuat the influence of money in campains.

I don’t know more about Buddy Roemer, but isn’t it frustrating that the one candidate that is trying to take money out of politics is deemed unable to win. I like his URL http://freetolead.com If he wins with small donations, he would be free from corporate interests to lead real change.

 

The other week, or actually it was the other month, I joined Refresh Savannah, a monthly gathering of people who are interested in positive change. Their guest of the day was  Christian Kruse, the director responsible for Savannah’s Public Library, as well as the county library system.

I love libraries. They are great resources and gathering places for local communities. Savannah Public Library was the first one on the East Coast to have an electronic check out system, and they have now just added two new libraries, as in physical buildings, in the last years.

One of the most telling statistics from Kruse was that they were expecting the readership in the main library to go down by 50% once they opened the two new branches. But it turns out the new sites mostly attract new readers; and the main library readership decreased only by 20%, and some of this loss can be attributed to SCAD expansion taking away some of their parking spots.

The pressing question is — given the double whammy of budget cuts and e-readers — how will the library of the future stay relevant?

The educated fans of the public library that vote and influence city politics are the first ones to get e-readers and are thus less connected to their local library as they don’t frequent them anymore. What can we do about that?

My first suggestion was to add a tools library which consists of items such as saws, drills and lawn movers. Like you check out books, you can check out tools on a need basis. Kruse said that the libraries at the county-level are working on something like this. Love that.

My primary suggestion was to focus on the community aspect by giving local people access to space to get together, share ideas, and create. We were told they are doing that, however, they don’t have the resources to accommodate all the requests. Therefore they don’t want to lock down the spaces for one group every week at the same time. They want other groups to have a say in how to split up scarce resources. Good, but not ideal.

Then it dawned on me, that they could retool some of the space, that will get freed up by the library moving to digital media. My favorite place to be can be created: a local Maker/Hackerspace for people that want to tinker and be together with other folks that like to tinker too.

Continue reading »

 

Just learned that Sal Kahn the amazing force behind the Kahn Academy is visiting SAP Labs in Palo Alto soon. Check out his TED talk. His winning formula has the potential to fundamentally change the way we educate our children as well as ourselves.

This is one of the few moments, where I would love to be back in the Bay Area to be part of the session. I would ask him one question:

When is he going to adopt the TEDx model, and allow external content?

TED used to be this super exclusive conference where once a year for a horrendous amount of money people would share ideas worth sharing over a couple of days. Well the main TED conference is still that, but brilliant idea number one is that they share the recording of all their presentations. Sal Kahn is doing the same, he is where TED was 5 years ago.

TED organizers second amazing idea was, to take a step back and realize, we have a winning formula: Short presentations with no or few slides telling an inspiring story, ideally derived from their own experience.

Now let’s offer that framework to everyone who wants to bring the TED spirit to their local community. There are a few rules, to nudge folks into the framework. They call it TEDx so you know that this is an aspiring TED event, but not the original. For me TEDx is better than the mother ship, because they are local. You get to know the local talent and you bump into each other at other local events or at the farmer’s market. Very powerful.

Now Kahn Academy is also very powerful and has a winning formular/framework: Simple board, off voice and one topic covered per video.

Sal is amazingly prolific in creating these, but at the moment there is only one Sal, he is the bottleneck. For the academy to really explode, Sal should take a page from TEDx, set the framework, call it KAHNx Academy, create a couple of lessons on how to create a topic including exercises and let others try their hand.

First most of the submitted Topics will be lousy, but a simple voting/flagging system will be able to separate the good and burry the bad.

A community will develop that will help not only with the development and ratings, but also improve the process. Sal could review the ones that the community deemed excellent and give them his stamp of approval. You can review many more videos than create.

In the Contribute section of the Kahn Academy’s web site, he asks for help to translate topics, but not for the creation of one.

At least not yet, as I am convinced that this will come. If not by him, then someone else will fill that gap.

Palo Alto colleagues if you are going to his session at SAP Labs, please ask him:  When he will start to accept topics created by others?

 

Happy Labor Day. A good time to take a step back and check out Douglas Rushkoff”s Life Inc. The Movie.


@johnrobb@pixelbase (Michael) and @GregChase had a little Twitter exchange about this theme too.

Everyone’s mind right now is on creating jobs.
John posted and I retweeted:  Not sure jobs are the answer though. It just perpetuates dependency. A focus on platforms for micro-entrepreneurs is better. 3 Sep
Greg brilliant question, that hit it on the nail: Don’t teach them to fish? Teach them to dig their own pond?
Which John sees as: The basis of a resilient community parable.
I think: Your future prosperity depends on your ability to dig your own pond.
Michael commented: Focus on platforms for micro-entrepreneurs is better >> works for me, but not for everyone!
John tweeted: That is a legacy problem.
I also think that this is solvable by changing our educational focus. Schools need to be training grounds for digging ponds.
Globalization, energy and food shortage, accelerated change, automation, robotics, … are forces that will majorly influence our ability to put food on the table for us and our loved ones.
Greg’s tweet today stopped me from laughing out laud because it hit too close to home. Brilliantly shows the core of our current problem:

 

GregChaseGregChase @johnrobb @finnern Teach them to buy and sell derivitives of futures of fish they might catch if they built their own pond - #TheAmericanWay 6 hours ago


The American Way? Unfortunately the American way of people with money who are calling the shots.

Our way out of this will be via Resilient Communities, Meta CurrenciesTransition Town Movements …  In a comment to the Live Inc movie someone suggested Time Banking. Interesting idea that needs further exploring. This is the new frontier to help create a society that works for all.

 
 

Cracked an egg that I thought was hard boiled. It wasn’t. So I quickly poached it in the microwave.

It is really easy: To quickly make a poached egg in the microwave oven, you crack the egg into a small bowl that stands in a larger bowl that has some water in it.

Put the two bowls into the microwave and depending on your preference and the strength of your oven wave it for 1-2 minutes.

In my case I did 1 minute and then additional 30 seconds. Pepper and salt to taste. Yummy!

Check out the final picture. Not that you can see a big difference with a glass bowl on a white porcelain bowl, there is not a lot of contrast to the white egg.

Picture taken by Mark & Marie Finnern.

P.S. I mostly posted this because I wasn’t sure whether posting from Flickr directly to this workpress blog still works. It does, like a charm. Oh and I hope you make one of these eggs too.

© 2012 Doing My Little Part Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha