Archive for January, 2007

Have you see the SXSWi logo this year? It looks like a lightning bolt and now I know why! I’ve just returned from the SXSWi Southwestern Connections party at the Beauty Bar. I’m still buzzing from the creative energy that flowed freely tonight.

In SXSWi style, I wandered around the room and introduce myself to people I didn’t know. This is how I connected with a Burner named Sparky. Sparky took me on a magic carpet ride through his personal discovery of Burning Man. It was an amazing journey that took my breath away.

He drew pictures with words in my mind. For a moment, I closed my eyes and I imagined that I was at Burning Man 2000, seeing the faces of man, the ribcage junglegym and the burning heart(h).

I was in awe…at how much his experience of Burning Man harmonized with my vision for museums and the principles of Web 2.0 that make my heart beat faster. His words still echo in my head

  • radical self-expression
  • radical inclusion
  • gifting society

The magic of SXSWi has begun.

Have you heard about the latest research in technology that enables a person who is blind to see with their tongue? The device is called a brainport and it consists of cameras that send electrical impulses to the tongue. A person using the device can learn to interpret the impulses on their tongue as images.

You’ve got to see it (or is that lick it) to believe it. Technology May Give Blind a Touch of Sight.

How delicious is that?

I get impatient when the wheels of change move too slowly. That is why I maintain a URL outside my work space. Ahhhh…the relief of being able to go to my own URL and just do it. What is “It”? “It” might be:

  • making my site xhtml 1.0 strict
  • upgrading to the latest version of PHP in less than 30 minutes when I want to
  • installing an open source application and using it immediately
  • saying exactly what I think

And rather than these actions just being personally satisfying…I’ve found over and over again, that a “just do it” successfully implemented in my own space spurs change within my workspace. Not always…but often.

At this very moment, I’m reading a fascinating article by Andrew McAfee entitled “Enterprise 2.0: The Dawn of Emergent Collaboration“. Highlighter in hand…I’m marking my favorite passages. And I can’t resist sharing this one about the value of informal rollout of new technology.

You see, I ‘ve been begging for blogs for all students, faculty and staff at UT since 2005. And while some progress has been made…we still don’t have it. One of the many hurdles is the perceived need to write a policy to handle inappropriate content that could be created on blogs. (deep sigh) Why? Why do we think we have to write a damn policy just for blogs? Blogs aren’t any different than free speech on the west mall. Blogs aren’t any different than the free webspace we have for all students, faculty and staff.

So, I really resonated with this line in the article about wikis and blogs in organizations:

“…explicit policies about hate speech and harassment were unnecessary. Any (one) familiar with the organization’s culture and norms would already know that such content was forbidden, regardless of medium.”

I’ll keep begging for blogs and wikis for all at UT until they become a reality…because I believe they are a critical piece of the knowledge puzzle. Blogs and wikis bring out the storyteller in all of us, making it easier to discover what others are thinking. Everyone (yes, everyone) has something to contribute whether it is a comment, a fact, an insight, an edit, a link, a tag or knowledge.

My dear friend, Meesh, and I went to Robert Frost’s Farm in Derry, New Hampshire on December 31st. It was midday and a blanket of fresh snow covered the ground. Being there was like walking through poetry. It was so peaceful. I could feel the presence of Robert Frost in those snowy woods.

I loved the way the snow laid on the stone wall. This poem was written in reference to this very stone wall.

excerpt from Mending Wall

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.

And while I could have spent all day at Frost’s farm…Walden Pond beckoned.

We watched the sun set on Walden Pond and understood why Thoreau chose this as his retreat. His words echoed in my head as I walked in his footsteps:

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could learn what it had to teach, and not when I die, discover that I had not lived.” – Henry Thoreau

Later that evening we toasted in the new year with champagne, chocolate covered strawberries and the words of Robert Frost and Henry Thoreau. I can’t think of a better way to spend New Year’s Eve.