The Entrepreneurial Free Agent and Dejobbed Small Business R&D Lab
In The Brand You 50, Tom Peters says you are only as cool as the collection of radical dudes and dudettes you hang with. Having Mike Moshell in our Circle of Friends jacks our Peters' WOW Network Quotient way up the cool scale.
Mike is Director of the CREAT Digital Media Program and Chief Scientist of the Visual Systems Laboratory of the Institute for Simulation and Training, both at the University of Central Florida. Mike's a way cool and thoughtful dude. We are fortunate to have him as a member of the Sohodojo Advisory Board.
Mike's beautiful and inspiring piece begins with a reflection from Pynchon's latest historical novel before drifting into his reflection:
"Does Brittania, when she sleeps, dream? Is America her dream? - in which all that cannot pass in the metropolitan Wakefulness is allowed Expression away in the restless Slumber of these Provinces, and on West-ward, wherever 'tis not yet mapp'd, nor written down, nor even by the majority of Mankind, seen, - serving as a very Rubbish-Tip for subjunctive Hopes, for all that may yet be true- Earthly Paradise, Fountain of Youth, Realms of Prester John, Christ's Kingdom, every thing behind the sunset, safe till the next Territory to the West be seen and recorded, measur'd and tied in, back into the Net-Work of Points already known, that slowly triangulates its Way into the Continent, changing all from subjunctive to declarative, reducing Possibilities to Simplicities that serve the ends of Governments - winning away from the realm of the Sacred, its Borderlands one by one, and assuming them unto the bare mortal World that is our home, and our Dispair."
Manifesto - Version 2 - Michael Moshell, 9 July 99
At the Galactic Museum there is an outdoor exhibit called The Art of Homing. Visitors walk along a high, narrow ridge. The sky is clear and a gentle wind blows. The valleys on either side are vignettes of worlds. Our guide is speaking:
"Here we have a city from Frater Magnus. The streets were neat, there was not much crime, the arts were wonderfully supported. In this world, the elite central government made all the plans. They believed that if you get the big things right, the small things will work out. They destroyed their country's ecosystem, and died six hundred years ago."
The inscription on the exhibit read: The heroic people could not heal themselves.
"On the right is Angeli Perdi. This culture had great promise; its government was founded on feedback. If something didn't work, its people voted and spent money on a different solution. But the people voted for easy, simple, entertaining things. A happy colony of ants seeking sugar cannot drive a space-ship. They destroyed their planet's ecosystem, and died five hundred years ago."
The inscription read: Six hundred channels of cable, and nothing to watch.
A young visitor asked the guide: "So what's the secret? Do intelligent species always destroy themselves?"
The guide was silent for a moment, then said:
The only telescopes we have that see that far
To build bridges that will not fall and kill you, use mathematics.
The young visitor tugged on the guide's sleeve. "What's this dusty old thing over here?"
"Oh, that's a silly world - a place called Academia. They taught their children rigid rituals called SPECIALTIES. Their engineers could not write even simple poems, and their painters felt contempt for those who knew calculus. Their writers had never worked together with musicians!
Can you imagine such a strange little world? They explained themselves by saying 'but we don't have time for all that extra stuff. We have to be the best at what we do. The future depends on it!'
You can have flute players, trombones, drums for thunder
At the gate, as the visitors thanked the guide, the young one asked the guide one last question. "Where can I go to learn, in this way? I want to have wide eyes."
The guide looked seriously at the expectant face. "It's twice as hard and four times as far, my friend. You must be as good as the Specialists in their crafts, and love them and respect them. They are your allies, and they need you but they may not know it. They will respect your craft, if you can do what they can do. But they will be astonished at your work, if you have wide eyes.
Go to the edges of things. Ask to meet the teacher whom the others laugh at. If the labs are shabby but the students are excited, that's a good sign. If the students grab your arm and say 'look at this!' you're getting warmer. If you ask the students where they learned something and they say 'there is no course about this, so we...' then you have found the place.
Read everything. Learn everything. We aren't extinct yet."