I once helped someone who had lost ten tonnes of bananas. We found them!
I use the moniker ‘monkey with lego’ to help push my theme of humans with tools that are capable of building anything the imagination can conjure. The people I’m happy to call friends just call me ‘D’.
I’m 33. I was born in York, England in the 80’s and I’m part of the special generation of kids, whose parents were the first generation to learn programming and then teach their children to write computer code and silly games – basically it was an entertaining hobby to tinker about making our own toys on the screen. Then my generation was given home internet access – Suddenly we were making toys that could talk to other peoples toys..on the other side of the planet! Information sharing networks popped up – ideas and knowledge began to flow, knowledge increased, research became a new skill to learn whatever you wanted – all in the public domain… and this is when things got very interesting.
Like most professionals involved in a trade for a long time, you start collecting ideas and bake them in your mind for many years, or you come across individuals with nuggets of information to expand on these ideas. A geek is always evolving and cross-breeding different ideas – it’s a creative process and you entertain the ridiculous in order to discover something you might be the first to do. If time or money were no limit – I believe everyone has ideas to produce some pretty amazing contributions that leave permanent positive change with their skills. My passion is using technology in new ways to realise great social benefit, and at this current time I’m focused on using technology to harness the power of social systems for group-driven engines, group ideas and group data sharing – big fat slices of crowd-sized data from as many people as possible. It’s not that we don’t have the skills between us to fix most problems – it’s that we’ve not met everyone, not likely to be able to – so we need help in identifying people with compatible ideas for collaboration – standing on the shoulders of giants to build something unexpected.
My first job as a work experience student was not actually related to technology. I have explored other career interests too – which didn’t work out so well because on my first day I had an un-fortunate encounter with a white bellied spider monkey called Pepe. True story.
Despite all my focus on a digital age, computer technology and it’s potential – I’m not someone who is permanently glued to their computer or always tapping into a mobile computer device. Technology has a place, but nature is still far more interesting to me. I’m mesmerised by books like ‘the secret life of plants’ and realising that all those tree’s and animals outside our window are actually capable of communication, that whales and dolphins are more advanced than we are (See Dr John C Lilly). I find nature a far easier source of awe than technology. Time and evolution has grown and perfected the perfect operating systems and communication networks in the form of nature and natural systems. If you have a problem – go out into nature and I guarantee you’ll find a natural evolved answer to the same problem nature already solved.
Did you know bee’s in a hive dance to vote on things? There is a different dance routine for each idea put forward – When a dance move is obviously becoming the most popular – the decision that dance represented is automatically adopted as the group decision for the hive. It’s called a quorum – the minimum number of dancers to reach for it to be declared consensus and agreed in the bee law. I quite like leaderless systems and that can often get people called a variety of names and seen a bit strange, but I’ll tell you why – as seen in nature. It doesn’t guarantee the best outcome each time because of the time it takes to share knowledge of all options across a hive. What it does ensure is that it never see’s a bad outcome so its a clear winner for the benefit of the whole group. An organisational structure that see’s one member with a role of total power comes at a big risk – world war 2 is a good example. Who can ever really be qualified to decide the interests of every member? It’s an impossible job. I look to natures group decision systems within hives and colonies because group consensus is THE big challenge of the human race. It’s hard to agree between lots of people, we can’t communicate efficiently and the biggest strength and weakness of us all is our natural human emotional response – we’ve all experienced temporary logic changes degrading our communication and decision making abilities. We’ve been pretty rubbish at this whole getting along game because of the complex challenges of communication and leadership both within large tribes and between large tribes.
I was briefly involved in a communications start-up to help MP’s better manage their written letter correspondence with those they represent – it’s hard to listen to everyone and lot of time is spent by parliament members in reading letters and answering the same things. Parliament is absolutely showered with constant communication and they can’t keep on top of it – so many people raising the same issues and every person must get a reply. It was seen useful to have a system where people could see existing letters and responses to be more efficient in not duplicating enquiries – a great tool being trialled which was the idea of a Politics students to ease some workload.
I mention problems, but never without putting forward hope and solutions! It’s always been a multi-generational approach to evolve – to make tools to pass to the next generation who will use them to make even better tools. Progress is slow because communication is hard with so many people – but we’ve just hit a time when international communications and information sharing has been cracked wide open by my generation. Loosely quoting another ‘social thinker’ named David Babbs – Have you ever considered that the system we use to make laws, safeguard our health, decide foreign policy, shape education and our future has not changed since it was introduced in the 12 century? The same system from a time in history when the best option available was for the people of an area to nominate a man with a horse to ride to London to represent them? This is the best way of putting it that I have come across – but moving to the present day, can the internet and the device in my pocket offer any improvements in this representation and interaction?
Tech imagineers of our younger generations have no idea on how important they are. This new role as ‘Data Scientist’ that we’ve put together over the last few years is going to completely engage new generations who will start learning about it at school (hopefully). This will fuse discovery with imagination, creativity, technological advancement and most importantly – collaboration with others. The path ahead of them and what they are going to build is going to be more revolutionary and transformational to the betterment of the human race than anything else seen in history. They will see more change in their lifetime than any of us. Foster them, invest in them, encourage their creativity, let them research whatever they are passionate about, never punish them for challenging you but instead be sure to answer every uncomfortable question their curiosity seeks. Each generation is smarter than the last because they are standing on the shoulders of the ones before them – so just make sure their view is of unlimited potential for whatever they can imagineer. Start them early in creating and building…lego, lots of it.
If you have ideas for technology and want to share them- please contact me. If you want to provide comment or inspiration, please contact me. If you have a project and want help, please contact me – you’d be quite amazed on who knows who – and how networking in our tribe actually gets things moving pretty fast!
I can be reached by email via firstname.lastname@example.org and if you don’t get a reply, assume your e-mail never reached me, in which case please use the comment sections of this blog to get in touch!