Category Archives: cool stuff

Building a Creative Ecology

Let’s say that you want to do more creative stuff. And let’s assume for now that you have the time, financial resources and inspiration.

What more do you need?  I would label that “what more do I need” stuff as supplies. Supplies could include space to do your work, physical things like paint or pens and paper, as well as the supplies that enable you to upgrade your skills. Finally, it includes a community of persons with whom you can share what you do.

I lump these all together because that is how a person who is inspired to do new stuff feels the experience. And it helps that person if all of these supplies are available through a single space.

As far as I know, we don’t have very many spaces like that now. But we are moving in that direction. Etsy made it easier for creative folks to connect with audiences. And Etsy is taking another step by launching “Etsy Studio”. Fred Wilson writes about Etsy Studio today.

Think of it as one more step towards a tight-knit creative ecology. We need lots more in all of our communities, virtual and real.

Very cool!

The New Meaning of the word “Knowledge”

In the old days, knowledge was

… the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.

We now realize that this is an artificial construct. We now know that “subjects” are a man-made construct. And while we can master a subject, as defined by the current state of the art in that area, this will not necessarily give us better knowledge of the universe.

To see that, check out Feynman on modeling


In other words, there are times when data confirm two different models of reality. Neither can be said to be wrong at that stage.

Machine learning is taking this idea a step further. Machines can find patterns in data that go way beyond human capacity to understand based on models. And the machines are indifferent to the models that we use to understand data.

So we have a new paradigm.

As long as our computer models instantiated our own ideas, we could preserve the illusion that the world works the way our knowledge —and our models — do. Once computers started to make their own models, and those models surpassed our mental capacity, we lost that comforting assumption. Our machines have made obvious our epistemological limitations, and by providing a corrective, have revealed a truth about the universe.

The world didn’t happen to be designed, by God or by coincidence, to be knowable by human brains. The nature of the world is closer to the way our network of computers and sensors represent it than how the human mind perceives it. Now that machines are acting independently, we are losing the illusion that the world just happens to be simple enough for us wee creatures to comprehend.

It has taken a network of machines that we ourselves created to let us see that we are the aliens

Errr … did you get that?

What Google Found Out at Burning Man

Google at burning man? Yes!

It turns out that Google’s founders are strong believers in what has become known as “group flow”.  Group flow happens when teams unite around a goal and create amazing stuff. In that time, they overcome their individual limitations. They morph into something better.

And burning man brings this out in people.

So Larry and Sergei went there to find their CEO.

And this is what happened.


Here We Go with Flying Cars Again!

Over the last several decades, there has been a steady stream of news that folks have developed a flying car. It is easy to understand why we get this news.  Flying to another city from your driveway? No problem. Traffic jams? A thing of the past.

But creating a flying car has been much more difficult than expected. Cars and planes are just too different. But … we are getting much closer to making planes that individuals can own and operate. In other words, you might be able to fly to a far away destination from your driveway sooner than you might think.

This article from Wired about the “Lilium” shows the latest thinking.  It comes with a very cool video! A vertical take and landing two-seater vehicle that they say can fly 200 miles in an hour.

Very cool!

BTW, if you are interested in some of the more practical details about how flying cars might affect city life, CityLabs has taken a look at this.

A Platform for Ethereum Apps?

Ethereum is a crypto-currency, like bitcoin.Having said that, ethereum and bitcoin are very different types of crypto-currencies. Bitcoin is just a currency. It was designed to be basic and simple. Ethereum was designed to do a lot more.  Ameer Rosic wrote this from Huffo a while back

The first thing about Ethereum is that it is not just a digital currency. It is a blockchain-based platform with many aspects. It features smart contracts, the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) and it uses its currency called ether for peer-to-peer contracts.

Smart contracts?

Ethereum’s smart contracts use blockchain stored applications for contract negotiation and facilitation. The benefit of these contracts is that the blockchain provides a decentralized way to verify and enforce them. The decentralized aspect makes it incredibly difficult for fraud or censorship. Ethereum’s smart contracts aim to provide greater security than traditional contracts and bring down the associated costs.

Perhaps you start to get the idea. In order for smart contracts to come into general use, ethereum needs developers to start creating various types. That is why ehtereum would benefit from a platform that would profile the various types of smart contracts, and other tools, that use ethereum.

Or at least that is what the firm coinbase thinks. They have released a new app that can be downloaded to your smartphone that provides just this type of platform. It is called “token”. As Fred Wilson writes

Token … its a mobile browser for Ethereum apps. But it is also a messenger (based on the Signal Protocol from Whisper Systems) and an Ethereum wallet.

What is the potential? Fred writes

The goals of the Token project are to:

  1. Provide financial services to the ~2B people in the developing world who have a cell phone, but don’t have access to a bank account.
  2. Make it dramatically easier for people to build and use Ethereum applications.
  3. Shift digital currency from being just a speculative investment to being a payment network for useful goods and services.

In other words, Token will hopefully become the place where developers showcase what you can do with ethereum.

Stay tuned! This is interesting.

BTW, if you are among the many who do not see why the decentralized services that blockchain enables (like ethereum), check out this post by Al Wenger. We are not just talking about digital currency.

A Great Story about the Future of Estonia … Coming Up!

I am very, very interested in the future. Not just in the abstract. I am especially interested din the future of Estonia.

We are a tiny country with no huge natural resources to get rich from (like oil, gas, etc.). Nor do we have a huge population that we can exploit (like China). Our future depends entirely on our ability to get the most out of our tiny population. To put people in positions where they can offer huge value added.

This is not the usual model that nations follow. To the contrary, most nations follow a utilitarian model, where the most rewards go to the few who produce. The hell with the rest.

So how would the Estonian model look? One dimension is how we treat young people. How we can give young people the tools that they need to succeed. Not just give them a standard education, but to light a fuse under them to go far in life.

We have a programme in the words to get that game going.  The initial test will come to fruition this May.

I will not say more about it now. But stay tuned! I am very excited!

Kickstarter as Facilitator

Kickstarter is getting a lot of projects funded that would not have been funded before. That is great in itself, as we get a broaera rray of new stuff that we might not have seen before.

But that is not all that is going on. Kickstarter also opens the door for new types of relationships between folks with ideas, folks who like ideas and want to back the, and users (clients). And this new set of relationships opens up new possibilities as well.

Here is one example. Kickstarter has an insider view of what types of projects are in the pipeline and how people react to those projects. This gives Kickstarter an informed view of which types of projects we might want or need more of. That is just what Kickstarter is doing — advertising for certain types of projects to do Kickstarters. 

And this is just the beginning.  I expect to see a lot more input to the platform from people who WANT certain types of projects. And when it is clear that wants can be filled, this will empower users to demand more and better things.

Facilitation is the future, get with it!