Mark Finnern

Asteroid on Collision Course with Earth discovered by [your name here] Space Telescope

Cosmic Fireball Falling Over ALMAAsteroids are nature’s way of asking: “How is your space program coming along.” Ed Lu

One of the best Long Now talks ever was given by Ed Lu last year in June:
Anthropocene Astronomy: Thwarting Dangerous Asteroids Begins with Finding Them

There are Asteroids hurling towards us, some of them are as big as the one that wiped out the Dinosaurs.

Apparently we have the tech to deflect an asteroid, but we don’t have the means to detect them early enough to do so.

Ed Lu calculated, that only 1/2 billion dollars are needed to bring such a telescope into space and he founded the organization to do it.

I am surprised that none of the billionaires have jumped on this once in a lifetime opportunity to save all of humanity: [More at Medium]

Wealth a Living Systems Model

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

Update: Originally posted in 2011. To open up to a different view on our wealth and what we do with it, is so important, that I am reposting it.

What motivates me to run Future Salons is the hope to find, promote and help implement patterns for a future that works for all.

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 pegs 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 a bit longer.

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.


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Real World Schools My Open Mike Future Salon Session

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.

Maker/Hacker Space best Training for Future Prosperity

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

Let School Kids Tackle Real-World Problems

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. Continue reading

Maker/Hackerspaces the Future of Public Libraries?

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.

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KAHNx Academy Please

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?