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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Responses from the Future

What a lot of cool conversations I have had as a result of my last post.

First cool thing: I was out with a friend who is an iphone adept. This is the person who sort of lobbied for me to get an iphone, and finally convinced me to get one by showing me the birding app possibilities. Not a birder, but someone knows how to connect with my buttons. We were walking in a park, and I stopped to listen to a bird, whose song I could not recognize. I was saying how someone thought I had been describing a birding app that worked like Shazam: you let it hear the bird, and it identifies it. That would be WAY cool, but sadly I know of no such app. I had only been talking about the birding app having recordings that you can play to identify or even call birds. Cool enough.  "Why don't you just record this one?" this friend said. "Doh!" I said.  I never thought of holding out the phone to record a birdsong, and then playing it next to my birdsong identification CDs. What an awesome idea! What an opportunity missed that day! (Bonus: you can save recordings to Evernote (see my sidebar to check out this super cool shareware program with an on-line+mobile app. I could put them right in my Evernote nature journal. OMG.) (Also: feel free to develop such an app, or to tell me about one if it exists.)

Second cool thing: a visual artist and teacher that I am friends with told me she loves dance and music more even than visual art. She also told me she plays tennis HARD. Then my thoughts came around to the practice of art as a kinetic activity, too. I love the idea of "the gesture of the artist", and consider it one way of defining something as art. Of course, as she pointed out, ballet is an archaic form (like opera). She proposed Cirque du Soleil as the newest form of dance. What a provocative thought that was! I had had vague thoughts in that general area, like about figure skating, but never actually managed to define it so clearly. It makes perfect sense. Cirque has taken out many of the circus-y parts, and kept the physical parts and the music. Some related thoughts: there is a continuum of athletic activity that runs from dance to, shall we say, football. In my view, anything where there is a judgment of artistic merit - leave it outside competition. Scores or times are the hallmarks of the athletic activities suitable for competition; artistic merit is for the arts - all about personal response. So despite an identical level of athletic demand on the body, I think gymnastics and figure skating do not belong in the Olympics any more than ballet does. To come back to the starting point, figure skating is hugely popular in a way ballet is not - really it is another new dance form, too.  More thought required. (PS I am interested in the current, but I love the archaic.)

Third cool thing: I have been thinking about how my friends act as a digest for the internet, previewing content, and sending me the most interesting stuff. So much better than me trolling around for hours getting tangled in the marginally interesting, and then one of my friends sent me this link to Seth Godin's blog entry "Are you an Elite?" Now here's a guy who understands me, and my friends, and my blog-readers. We just have fun exploring ideas and technology and information and culture, and we love to share that, and just as Seth says, there is a remarkable modern ability for us to access each other and all that stuff we love. The other point he makes that strikes me as key is this:

"The challenge of our time may be to build organizations and platforms that  engage and coordinate the elites, wherever they are. After all, this is where change and productivity come from."

Selfishly, I want organizations to build platforms that engage me, (hello iphone) but I also want that for my kids to enjoy and for the happy future of humankind on planet earth.

He also wrote a blog post about post-secondary education and what it means now and going forward, an article we have discussed in our family quite a bit, called THE COMING MELT-DOWN IN HIGHER EDUCATION which is a very clear statement of something I worry about for when my children get there. Here is the key point he gets to on this:

"The solutions are obvious... there are tons of ways to get a cheap, liberal education, one that exposes you to the world, permits you to have significant interactions with people who matter and to learn to make a difference... "

Read: allows them to access organizations with platforms that engage them as elites. He refers his readers on to a book: DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education by Anya Kamenetz. This is a book to get on for the Kindle reader app on my iphone, for sure. Yours too? If you  haven't read it already, it is also time for you to read A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink. You can search my blog for my review of the book, or use the hot link under Links to Writers in my sidebar. Seth Godin and Anya Kamenetz are there now too.

Now the marigold wonders nervously:
What about the negative side of the technology that allows us to live in the future? That calls for another post.

1 comment:

  1. Someone suggested I would enjoy the Beatles album Love, with music of the Beatles remixed for Cirque du Soleil, without knowing I was thinking about Cirque's place in the firmament of art. The music is wonderful and the remixes are so tasteful. Now I just have to figure out a way to see the show.