June 01, 2011
Why I Surrender To Tears on Airplanes & Why You Should Find Your Own…..
I write this after watching a movie on a long American Airlines flight. It’s not the first time I had cried after watching a movie on an airplane. It’s also not the first time I noticed that I cried after watching a movie on an airplane. The first few times I figured it was just the movie choice….that random movie choice, which brought on the tears. After many years of observing that I somehow ended up having a good cry after any movie I watched on an airplane, it started to settle in that the tears were a unique occurrence. Related to airplanes? Or, travel?
During my last cross-country flight, I realized it wasn’t related to airplanes or travel specifically, but it was related to reflection after leaving a place, something I have always had time to do while moving from A to B.
When I’m leaving a place, even if its one I’ve been to dozens of times before, there’s always a reflection point…..a particular conversation, a new way of seeing a friend’s life I hadn’t seen before, the repetition of patterns from a conference I had been to ten times, a speaker I heard say the same thing in the past, and yet it resonated differently on the last round. And on and on and on.
The physical journey mapped with the emotion of someone else’s life journey in a movie, is a reminder of life as it is in that moment. Nothing more, nothing less…..
Alas, we are all growing older, wiser and simpler at the same time on this long life journey which we all share.
Sure, a lot of airline movies tend to be dramas or comedies rather than action flicks, but don’t almost all of them have a love story, even if it’s not one between two humans? A love story with a passion can be just as derailing and challenging, whether it’s Kevin Costner’s battle with choosing between love and baseball or Gweneth Paltrow choosing between music and fame or love and life itself.
When a movie is well written, it brings you into the plot as if you’re in the script yourself. You resonate with a character and if it’s not their personality you connect with, it’s the pain they’re feeling.
A good story always has some pain in it, largely because getting through the pain is what makes us grow into something better, bigger, stronger than we were before. Someone once said, “God only gives us as much pain as we can handle in order to learn the lesson.” Whether it’s a God who dishes the lessons out to us, the universe herself or a mishmash of happenstances and people who fall into our path, showing up as both teachers and students, life (and our journey in it) is definitely not a random accident.
Movies, like really good writing, force me to reflect on all of it as I migrate between two worlds. A movie doesn’t necessarily have to have amazing writing to invoke emotion in the way a good novel does. It does need tons of “human moments” and the ability of the actors to bring you into their world as if you are in the storyline yourself.
Whenever I leave a destination, I start to reflect on what I just left, almost immediately. In New York, it always happens the moment I jump into the cab on my way to the airport, in other cities, it may not hit until I’m on the plane and in others, perhaps not until I’m smack in the middle of a movie. The reflection isn’t just about the drama and pain that is happening in the movie, it’s a reflection on everything I just left and everything I am about to embark on, sometimes for the first time and sometimes, into a world where I’m on autopilot.
What happens if there’s no movie? I reflect anyway, and often I write, but the tears don’t always come like they do after a good airplane movie. A well known CEO friend of mine used to talk to me about “walkabouts,” which is an Australian phrase that refers to going off somewhere to clear your head and get back in touch with your heart. (in so many words).
Years later, I not only understand “walkabouts” but need to take them. The in between state – the airplane – brings me to a reflection point where I begin to contemplate a “walkabout” even if it doesn’t bring me into one.
It’s a way of being present….yes, in the middle of a movie. Unlike anywhere else I watch a good movie, I’m aware of everything around me. I’m aware of the person I’m sitting next to whether or not I started a dialogue with them. (Refer to my blog post: Not Just in Aging......)
In sharing an intimate space with them for anywhere from 2 hours to 12, I feel as I’m now part of one of their life chapters just as they are mine, whether or not they’re aware of it or not.
Maybe I’m over-thinking a simple plane journey, and even if that’s the case, who cares if the experience brings me to reflection points, tears and being present. I want as many experiences and moments in my life which are present and sometimes they come naturally (bring me red rock, Cape Point or any ocean or lake), and sometimes I have to pinch myself or meditate to go there.
Being present with someone is one of the greatest gifts you can give them, even if its with yourself. Being present with yourself btw almost always turns into a gift for someone else because for the time you are truly present, that openness creates a door for someone else to enter, even if its for one beautiful moment.
As for others on your path, I’ve noticed that my exchanges are pretty random and in that randomness, I find that I always talk to exactly who I’m supposed to talk to at the time.
The other two things I’m reminded over and over again is that randomness often creates magic moments worth cherishing and there are no accidents on this long journey we call life.
Sometimes when people see me cry, they assume I’m watching a movie about death or a sad love affair if they’re not watching the same movie as me. Other times, they just glance out of the corner of their eye quietly, perhaps wondering why I might be shedding a tear. Even if I am tearing up over something sad or cruel or painful, it’s always a good shed. The clearing through tearing brings on a birth of new ideas and ways of looking at the world, not unlike a new skin which grows back after the old skin sheds from too many hours in the sun.
My sun is my PC and mobile device, and being tethered to them bring me into the most unpresent part of my life – the Internet. When I’m there, I’m reacting to noise, even if I AM learning something new along the way. OR, meeting someone new in a Twitter exchange. Knowledge and productivity are great things and while they are not separate from being present, I find my brain either has room for one or the other and when my brain is overworking, my heart takes a back seat. (Read Nicholas Carr’s What the Internet Is Doing To Our Brains and a blog post I wrote called: Hey Digital Maven, How Okay Are You With Silence?).
Having a cry as a way of reflecting on what I just left and what I’m ‘going to’ isn’t a replacement for a good “walkabout” and frankly I think we should all take them, whatever a “walkabout” is for you.
A “walkabout” isn’t necessarily the kind of activity that puts you into your zone, which may be your passion -- skiing, photography, cooking or whatever. A “walkabout” takes you to a quiet place where you’re not going anything at all but connecting to the earth below your feet and the sky above your head.
Here, you’re in a place of silence where you are not only “being” present but you’re “aware of being present” with who and what you just left and where you’re going. Along the way, you’re grateful -- it’s hard not to be grateful when you’re truly in this state btw – and every motion, every thought, every move you make is free flowing. In other words, there’s no resistance, there’s no struggle, there’s no pain, there’s no head, because heart is driving every step of the way. Heart is ruling thought and Heart is making every decision. (Read Eckhart Tolle).
The airplane movie for me is merely a trigger point in the middle of the noise, in between my “walkabouts,” and in between two very distinct worlds, which remind me I haven’t been grateful enough, I’ve lost perspective or gained some, or I haven’t spent enough quality time with people who matter.
It’s almost never about the movie; it’s about a human connection which is brought to the foreground in the movie and it moves from the screen to my minds eye….and then to my heart.
It’s about the fact that I am in fact in “motion” between two places, two cultures, two ways of thinking, two lifestyles, two memories, sometimes an old life versus one which replaced it, sometimes the other way around. So bring on the tears I say. Bring ‘em on for whatever purpose they serve along that long journey we call life.
After all, isn’t it always when we’re in that in between state when we have the most to give ourselves and others in our path? When we’re in a vulnerable beautiful state where the heart drives, not our heads? (Read Pema Chodron - she’s one of my favorites).
Whenever you find out what your trigger points are, you know, the ones that bring on the tears, purposely plant them in your life if they don’t happen naturally. And, more importantly, interject them with “walkabouts.”
While “walkabouts” don’t have to include nature, it’s a good idea even if nature isn’t a primary “go to” for you. Nature and paying attention to it rewards you in ways words can never describe. It IS where we all began and honoring nature will bring you back to your source, that source which will take you on a rollercoaster ride you’ll never want to get off. Trust me. The world really does surrender to a quiet mind.
May 29, 2011
Justin Bieber Documentary Surreal At Times, But Surprisingly Good
If you’re over 25, chances are your heart isn’t beating wildly every time you hear the name Justin Bieber, yet for millions of kids – mostly girls – this teenage sensation is a heartthrob. Watching it brought back memories to my own teenage sensations; unlike other girls, I didn’t have Lief Garrett and Bobby Benson plastered on my ceiling, but they were likely scattered on the wall in between photos of nature and fashion.
I’m not quite sure I ever shared the same pitter patter for teenage rockstars although I did melt at Michael Jackson, but it had to do with his dancing and ability to steal a stage with movement, motion and passion more than it had to do with a dream of marrying him one day. His voice had a way of melting you too – then and throughout his life.
Throughout the Justin Bieber documentary, we heard again and again how many girls wanted and in some cases, expected to marry him one day. Scooter Braun discovered him on YouTube in 2008 at age 12 from a series of videos he had posted and flew him down to Atlanta for a week long “conversation.”
Mix dedicated visits to radio stations and high schools around the country with social networking and four years later, Justin managed to sell out of Madison Times Square faster than any star with as much experience in history.
A great marketing decision by someone, a tradition was created where Justin sings One Less Lonely Girl at each concert to a girl in the audience – on stage, while giving her attention including a dozen red roses. The other smart marketing move is handing out free tickets to families for each tour he does. A great marketing idea by Snoop Dog as shared in the movie was having Justin grow his hair long, pony tail them up or braid them. He says, “it’s one more thing he can use in his toolbox.” I couldn’t help but laugh, because he’s spot on.
May 22, 2011
Not Just in Aging that the World Surrenders to a Silent Mind
It was on a flight from Las Vegas to San Francisco, a flight I had made countless times over the years, when I had a deja vu moment about aging. As I glanced over to the woman to my right, I suddenly remembered all the times I had watched the older women in my life as a child and felt as far removed from them then as I do now from a 15 year old male skateboarder from Detroit.
On that flight, a surreal feeling swept over me...as if I was her or could have been a dear friend of hers in a previous life. The moment was short lived but vibrant and incredibly real, and it made me incessantly aware of aging and this precious thing called human life.
She was probably 70 or so, the woman was a petit, short Asian woman with beautiful silver hair, strands of black scattered throughout as the only remnants left of her middle age life. Her skin was glowing despite her obvious fatigue and you could tell she was once a stunner in that way you can about some people; there's a certainty, a quiet sauciness, and a knowing smile that suggests a life fully lived. She was wearing faded jeans, classy gold earrings with just a touch of ruby red and a Victorian blue button up top with a crocheted back that barely covered her neck, just enough to add a sweet balance of feminine energy to her other otherwise masuline aura despite her small frame.
Her face was weathered, not terribly so, but like her glow, certainty and smile, her face and hands exuded a lifetime of stories, over decades of experiences, far far beyond Las Vegas or San Francisco.
My deja vu moment came moments after a visit to the airplane lou where I observed my own weathered skin from years of sun exposure including the most recent trip in an open convertible where the hot desert sun beat on my skin, adding more aging spots which will someday tell a long story, or a series of them, just like the silver-haired neighbor to my right.
Although I was more than 30 years her junior, I felt as if this woman, whose coiled sleeping body next to me, was a kindred spirit somehow, despite the fact that we had yet to exchange a word.
Part of the desert trip included exploring rock ruins, flora and engravings, the latter of which told some of our ancestor's stories during a time that not only knew no computer, but knew no pen, paper or even a primitive chalkboard. I couldn't get enough of the hot Utah sun largely because the sun had become such a foreign oddity as I had somehow become more accustomised to hanging out with words on a screen as Google's Chrome churns them out tab after tab.
Despite the fact that I had "inked" my face up with pure white zink from Australia, the sun took its toll, not just on my face but on every inch of my body except for the six inches which were covered by scarves and shawls.
In the mirror that afternoon, seeing the weathered results of miles of sun and wind, brought back a memory of my South African host sister and I basking in the African sun as teenagers one hot summer afternoon in Durban. We were coated with baby oil as were our neighbors and their neighbors and so on. My host mother would bring out iced tea (roibos) with mint on the hour to make sure we were hydrated and their rotweiler would bark every time she opened the door. White as snow, she came out glaring through the sun to find us spread out on the grass in her 1950s-style apron with printed pansies in oranges and reds. She would shudder as my grandfather would at the amount of time we spent unprotected under the far too close to the equator sky. Like our neighbors, and their neighbors and so on.
As the memories flooded my head, I looked back at my silver-haired friend, who opened one eye on this occasion, just enough to add a small but tired smile as a way to acknowledge my gaze. At the end of the flight, we exchanged one short sentence as we all queued up like cattle waiting our turn to exit the plane.
I felt so connected to this woman I knew nothing about for some reason and yet......an older short, silver-haired Asian woman with gold earrings next to an American auburn haired, blue eyed woman nearly half her age and yet the almost silent exchange was as if.....as if, we had met before in a far away place, in a previous life, at a time when time had no meaning.
When time has no meaning, aging has no meaning. Later, I read an excerpt called Late Ripeness by Czeslaw Milosz that went something like this:
like ships, together with their sorrow.
And the countries, cities, gardens, the bays of seas
assigned to my brush came closer,
ready now to be described better than they were before.
It made me think of her, the woman whose name I never learned, nor whose origin I will ever know. Yet when time has no meaning and aging has no meaning, I understand how things in an aging mind might just be ready to describe things better than they were before, and as the brush does in fact come closer, we also appreciate the preciousness of the journey we're on, have more gratitude for what we are becoming and who we encounter along the way.
We also become okay with the silence that blesses us along the way. Just when we think the silence is a "negative" as it reminds us that we are in fact getting older, we realize that it is in fact a gift, the biggest gift we'll ever receive in our lifetimes, for when we live our lives from this place, we are more open, more vulnerable, more authentic and more pure. How appropriate to end with one of my favorite quotes: "The whole world surrenders to a quiet mind."
May 17, 2011
FutureMed: Healthcare & Medicine Migrate From Linear Growth to Exponential Growth
I just finished attending a mind blowing event called FutureMed, the medical arm if you like, of Singularity University, which was founded by Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil. Director, curator and chair of the program is Daniel Kraft, who together with a dedicated team, brought in some of the smartest creators and thinkers in medicine and healthcare for the 5 day long program.
Ask yourself: what is the impact that exponential technologies will have on medicine and healthcare? What was your initial response? Whether you're a scientist, physician, venture capitalist or biomed executive, the answers are profound because of the fast rate technology is developing, improving and having a direct impact on the "well-being" of our lives.
What's unique about the event is not just the content, which is deep and thought provoking and brings in insights from the top in their fields, but the structure of the event itself. Imagine a combination of panels, lectures and field trips with demos, workshops and breakout sessions all under one roof with only 70 or so attendees.
In other words, the intimacy of the event creates an environment where not only do you have an opportunity to have your answers questioned (and challenged) directly, but you have quality time with the speakers and technology creators, so you can more effectively understand what lies ahead -- and then act upon it. It also means that attendees are vetted, so not only is the speaker line-up phenomenal, but the attendees themselves have a host of honors, accolades and accomplishments, all of which result in an environment where the brightest minds can come together to learn, create and grow. A community is formed in which like-minds in medicine and healthcare can accomplish more together than they can alone in their respective fields. (Below is Peter Diamandis and Daniel Kraft in the first session of Day One).
Challenging the status quo is never easy but if through a combination of persistence, trial and error and really smart, caring and passionate thinkers who want to make a difference, things can change, particularly as you begin to see validation after validation for your thinking (and actions) along the way. In other words, linear thinking "be gone."
As CNET described the environment for participants, "For attendees, who range from executives in the medical field to practicing doctors to entrepreneurs looking for the next area to invest in, and who come from countries all over the world, FutureMed gives access to talks on topics as diverse as personalized medicine; the future of pharma; patient engagement; regenerative medicine; neuromedicine; synthetic biology; the future of medical education; global health and the hospital of the future; and more."
Ray Kurzweil and XPrize founder Peter Diamandis kicked things off with the notion that advances in healthcare and medicine have migrated from linear growth to exponential growth. As recapped so well in the MedGadget summary which you'll find me referencing a number of times because their coverage of the event was so extensive: "One fascinating insight from Ray’s talk was that these exponentially growing advances are often the combination of many different paradigms that grow and develop in a sigmoidal fashion. The exponential growth of computational power per dollar, for instance, is driven by say, vaccum tubes, which start slow, progress extremely rapidly, and then level off, only to be replaced by transistors, which did the same thing until integrated circuits came into the picture. Collectively, even though each of these technological paradigms hit a wall at some point, they were replaced by another advance that allowed the final outcome of computational power to continue to scale exponentially. In proof of this, Ray showed us what seemed to be an exponentially increasing number of charts that demonstrated exponential technological growth."
Another message we heard from many of the speakers, is how low the costs are going, from sensors that we wear and can self diagnose to the world of 3D printing, which using both plastics and metals, doesn't cost more to use.
In addition to 3D printing, Dan Barry talked about one of his favorite topics: robots.
There's no question; robots are getting smarter and smarter. Through sensors, robots are learning how to put objects in the right location and in the right spots within that location, i.e., product placement into a particular location on a particular shelf. "We want to move up the ladder even further," says Barry. "We want robots to not just organize but to sense, throw and manipulate."
Robot's dexterity is improving and their movement is getting more and more fluid. A robot’s hands can correspond to a human’s movements.
Dan gave a useful example of the impact on a human body when they do a space walk. He says, "it takes 4 hours just to get the nitrogen out of our system, but you can do a space walk with a robot through virtual reality and get the job done a lot faster."
He also brought up the social and ethical implications of people who may choose robots as their companions rather than human beings. In the future, robots will become true companions for people who are lonely, have lost their loved ones or generally just want companionship. Hmmm. Not sure about companionship (for me that is), but I definitely get the value of robots in eldercare and have already seen amazing advancements coming out of Willow Garage, where their PR2s are being trained to put dishes away, set the table and clean among other things.
On the Data Driven Healthcare panel, Stanford University's Dan Riskin talked about the convergence of devices. Says Riskin, "We’re able to take these platforms, such as an iPhone or a computer system, pull together valuable information and make it really useful. We’re seeing an innovation shift to mature platforms."
As for devices and technology, medical intervention will become an app. In fact, it's already starting to happen. Apps will be prescribed just like medication, i.e, welldoc shows a decrease in diabetics problems (a 4 fold benefit from an app than using medications alone).
We also heard about a perspective on the fundamental flaws of the RCT, which included things like the long term nature of it (often a decade to change care), the high expense (not affordable without support), the fact that it can be biased (selected based on drug and device firms) and lastly, that they're poorly generalizable. It’s just not working and ineffective.
Other apps are able to extract words/language that a patient uses and put them into a matrix to show how these words relate to each other, i.e., fever, nausea, chest tightness. The power of analytics is helping the doctor make a diagnosis by structuring a record so that he/she has more data and beyond that, some actual “meaning” within that data.
An example that was given was a test they did with a small group of patients who got re-admitted into the hospital. They did an analysis and discovered what contributed to people being re-admitted to the hospital and more importantly, why. The results helped with quality improvement and flow of data.
A force behind eLegs is Iceland-born Eythor Bender from Berkeley Bionics. They augment humans with wearable, artificially intelligent bionic devices called exoskeletons. Below is a young man demonstrating it to the FutureMed audience, showing how flexible and dynamic his world has become using their technology. Since visuals (and patient feedback) is most powerful, check out their YouTube channel for stories and use cases and their eLegs FAQ for the hows and whys. All I can say is: inspiring. There are no words for the rest.
Healthtap founder Ron Gutman pushed the need to unite consumers and physicians in personal health – both the data and the conversation. In other words, get physicians into the game and allow them to particate in the conversation so they can access this data in real time and better help their patients. The two step approach involves creating an infrastructure, then getting the physicians to engage with the data so its always up to-date and therefore relevant. It’s essentially a database that combines data, conversations, and personalization around the patient so the physician can be more effective in their care and decisions.
Sutha Kamal talked about feedback loops, which was a constant theme throughout the program. If I (a patient), can access data in real time through a wearable sensor and make sense of that data, then I can help my doctor better understand what is happening with my health over time. Feedback loops provoke action. (also refer to the beginning of my TEDxSV post where Wired's Chris Anderson talks about the same thing citing examples).
If you have no "meaning" from the data, then essentially you have a "broken" feedback loop. Data without meaning doesn't move a patient to take the right action OR have the right conversations with their doctors and other experts. "When you get this data, that data should belong to you," says Kamal. "We want to understand the things that you would adhere to but don’t today. Feedback is personal but meaning needs to be in that personal data so you, the patient, end up doing something with the data."
Ultimately, if you think your body is a “black box,” aka poor health, you’re going to end up getting depressed because you don’t know where to start. In the future, a lot of this gathered data will end up on our phones because they're with us all the time.
Google's Roni Zeiger says, "our cell phones will become our data lens for information about our bodies. You will also be able to access information in real time about the workflow of a hospital and the wait of the line in the emergency room. The patient is at the center of information flow and decision making."
The patient has ALL of the data because they know how they feel better than anyone else does. The data transmitted from a patient's body in the not too distant future, will be used to allow physicians to look at your veins and arteries remotely on a device. Ones and zeros will be flowing back (aka the patient’s data), with analysis so the physicians can make real-time diagnostics and decisions.
It’s happening now with sleep devices and soon it will be happening from a lot of different sources. He also gave examples of smart health realted search queries like “poison control,” which immediately returns the number for the US poison control center, and “suicide,” which displays the number for the US suicide prevention hotline.
Additionally, people are putting their data online, on Twitter, Patients Like Me and in other places and asking people to mine that data in a way that will be useful for their care givers and doctors. The distinction between data and conversations are becoming blurred, and eventually they’ll go away.
Gamification is a natural example, where incentives are given for a a particular behavior. Esther asked: "Where are the HR execs in this conversation?"
There’s an increasing trend in employer benefits where companies can start to engage with employees in innovative ways that has a positive impact on their health.
On reimbursement, McCall suggested that rather than see this as a barrier, think about creative ways to compensate. She noted that “there are ways for these things to pay for themselves.”
Google's Astro Teller gave a fascinating talk about body monitoring. He asserts that body monitoring isn't really about healthcare. "It misses the point," he says. "That way of thinking derails us from understanding what body monitoring can actually become in the future. Fitness people tend to be quantitative nuts. If you drive at the group that makes the most sense, you miss all the other amazing opportunities."
He talked about major obvious opportunities in this space, such as the “patch” which is very small and very cheap. Other trends around body monitoring in the future?
Upselling new pieces of value to the same wearer by showing value and cost effectiveness. Passive monitoring will also be big, he says, because at the end of the day, people don't like to "do" a lot for their health but they do want to be healthy. Passive monitoring allows us to have sensors on our bodies, but we don’t have to think about them. He's spot on about that one.
Monitors can tell us how much time people spend on their computers, their heart beats, the "way" they use something, such as a mouse. By monitoring a "behavior" such as mouse movement, you can get an idea of visual motor quality which is often a result of sleep deprivation or early warnings of Parkinsons and Alzheimers disease.
With sensors, people often ask “what does it measure?” Teller says, "this is not the point. We want the guess/surrogate to be better than it makes the statement about and we want accuracy to be good enough that we can make a better analysis overall about your body."
He also reminded us that while we’ve spent a lot of time sequencing the human genome, we haven’t spent much time sequencing the human lifestyle. Wearable body monitoring isn’t about being quantified, reinforcing his point by saying that "Mary Jo Jane" (aka the average person) doesn’t want to be quantified.
"Wearable body monitoring is about having the right parts of the world know who you are and in what you want and need in a million little ways, in real time, and all the time."
At the end of the day, you want people/things/data to respond to what you need without you having to think about it. AND, there will literally be a million apps for that. (his prediction is 1 million+ apps by 2015).
Check out the CBS Interactive Smart Planet clip for a "short" on Dan Barry's talk. And for incredibly in-depth coverage of the entire event, check out the summaries by MedGadget by the day.
Day One Summary: Ray Kurzweil, Gabor Forgacs, Eythor Bender and more.
Day Two Summary: Eric Schadt, Esther Dyson, Kaiser's Innovation Center.
Day Three Summary: Robert Hariri, Mike West, Autodesk and more.
Day Four Summary: Andrew Hessel, Philip Low, Intuitive Surgical and more.
Day Five Summary: Erik Rasmussen, Andy Kogelnik, Brad Peterson and Goodbyes.
And let's not forget David Bolinsky and team's incredible animation.
For a mind numbing experience, check out their site for a video that will take you through the human body in the most exciting way you could ever have imagined. (it's a bit like being on a Back to Future ride). Below, a glimpse of the magic they have created for companies, healthcare institutions and hospitals.
Below is a shot from the FutureMed graduation at NASA AMES in Silicon Valley on the last night, a group shot taken during the week and one taken at an after party. And, here are some images I shot from the kick off party, which includes an overview of the program and the first day.
Disclosure: I provided some consulting to FutureMed.
May 17, 2011 in America The Free, Client Announcements, Client Media Kudos, Conference Highlights, Events, On Education, On Health, On Innovation, On People & Life, On Robotics, On Science, On Technology, On the Future, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
May 16, 2011
TEDx Silicon Valley: Anderson, Hogg, Meier and Stein: #tedxsv
Anderson asserts that a data feedback loop can improve behavior as you see real-time stats on the consequences of your actions, whether its from a device or a non-intrustive wearable monitor. Simply by being aware of how your body is affected by your actions, you can improve your performance and lead a healthier life - emotionally and physically.
Feedback loops was a popular theme of many of the speakers, who focused on the growth of sensors which track your patterns and behavior. Bpttom line: once we see value in the feedback we receive from sensors, which continue to come down in price, we can measure everything we do. "Measurement," says Anderson, "quantifies what matters most and through that feedback loop, we can make smarter decisions."
Gamification -- on and offline -- can also be effective and is growing in popularity. Whether its points or rewards we give a child who remembers to brush his or her teeth or badges and coupons to buy things online if we cut out that donut and coffee for five days in a row, the feedback we receive through gamification is validation that we're doing something right or wrong.
Imagine a future where you're measuring nearly everything you do? Tomorrow, your thermometer can let you know when is the most efficient time to run the dishwasher, shaving money off your bill month after month. Today, you can already do quite a bit with measuring devices, right down to measuring stress levels in real time based on who you're talking to. (be prepared bosses, mother-in-laws, accountants, dentists and lawyers - stress meter readings may not be all that pretty).
Chris Hogg reinforced Anderson's message about the importance of data and measurement, particularly as it relates to better health and well being.
He pointed to his 67 year old step father who regularly drinks foul tasting tea and can see a correlation between drinking it and improved health, all of which he tracks on his iPhone.
Patrick Meier gave us a demo of something he referred to as Check-Ins with Purpose.
Country after country, he showed us a mapped location of how check-ins and smart location mapping has helped humanitarian efforts.
Forward wind to the Japanese Tsunami. They created a "crisis map" to help locate missing people, which the Japanese government and other organizations who were providing relief, could access.
The other example he used was Libya, where they created a "social media map" to improve their humanitarian efforts on the ground. Take a look at Libya Crisis Map.net.
The Libya Crisis Map platform was activated by the request of the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to the Standby Task Force (SBTF). The platform continues to be supported by volunteers.
We can be more effective at helping people than we ever have been able to do in the past with rich geo-location based services and social media tools at our fingertips. We can use Facebook to schedule and post notices, Twitter to coordinate and get the word out and YouTube to share the story in more depth. "These live maps," he says, "are like having helicopters above you so you can see exactly where people are and therefore find them that much faster."
One of the things she has learned from going through the process is to keep your ear to the ground....in other words, listen to voices from the local community. She calls the phenomena they have created, a "global tribe."
Says Lara, "My goals have migrated from how do you create systems and back ends on the ground TO how to we paint the story of this massively global and passionate tribe? The latest stats are staggering: 1,783 past events, 1,002 future events, 101 cities and 46 countries.
A handful of guidelines she has learned include the following: plan for the predictable, be prepared to invent as you learn, don’t get in the way, pave the way of your real time feedback loop, ignore the chorus, be prepared to fail (another theme of speakers), don’t think of it as a part time job, listen to the community on the ground, and follow your moral compass. She adds, "our focus is inspiration and action, not education."
She quoted an attendee who attended a TEDx in a remote area: "I was sitting on the end of the world, huge oil fields surrounded by massive dunes and nothing else, I was surrounded by really smart kids and nothing else." Indeed. That feeling is most definitely is a TED-like moment.
May 16, 2011 in America The Free, Conference Highlights, Events, On Education, On Health, On Innovation, On People & Life, On Science, On Technology, On the Future, Reflections, Social Media, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
May 02, 2011
While Urbahn May Have Broke Bin Laden Death on Twitter, it was Void of Depth & Texture
Last night, I was due to have dinner with a client in Phoenix and she texted me letting me know it would have to wait until Obama's speech to the nation - Osama bin Laden had been killed. A quick Google search brought up the news and a few minute walk brought me to a random hotel lobby where CNN was on, a handful of people muddled around waiting for him to start his 9+ minute speech.
When Obama finally came on in his polished blue jacket, white shirt and red tie with the composed and stately White House behind him, he said half way through his talk: "Justice has been done". He also gave thanks to those who successfully carried out the action that brought Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader held largely responsible for orchestrating the 9/11 attacks nearly a decade ago, to his final death.
It was said that Bin Laden was killed in "deep" Pakistan and although the details we learned through the in-depth coverage on CNN, the news first emerged on Twitter.
A media alert went out shortly before 9:45 PM EST that the President would “address the nation” at 10:30, but a few minutes (five) before the speech began, Keith Urbahn, the chief of staff for the former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, tweeted out this: “So I’m told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn.”
When I checked status of Foursquare and Twitter when I arrived at the hotel, the news of Bin Laden's death was already trending and remained trending well into the night.
Sure, Twitter is useful for breaking news, rapid fire reports (you see a fire on a city street, you can take a photo and tweet it out in real time before major news reporters from a so called "respectable" station or paper arrives), but a lot of people are still not on Twitter.
The same weekend of news of his death, we exhibited at the Ultimate Women's Expo in Phoenix, where we had nearly 3,000 women (and some men) stop by the booth each day. Every time I asked whether someone was on Twitter, 98% of them said no whereas a significantly larger percentage were on Facebook. And, remember that we were in Phoenix, a major American city, not a small town in the midwest.
That said, news of Osama’s death originating on Twitter from the chief of staff for the former defense secretary brings some credibility to the table is compelling (in other words, it wasn't from a 15 year old teenager).
Despite Urbahn's tweet and several other successful cases of Twitter reporting the first "news" (also note the trend and success in the world of entertainment: Charlie Sheen, Britney Spears, Jackie Chan), people still refer to more authoritative sources for things of significance. Also truth be told, Twitter can't go into depth about a story, and people want depth - the where, how, what, when and the intimate details of the WHY.
News of Osama’s death is so significant, not just because of who it is, but because there's so much emotion connected to it around 9/11 and those who have lost loved ones or been impacted directly and indirectly by those tragic attacks.
It's the in-depth emotional captures, the discussions on and offline and the impact of what his death means now and for the foreseeable future that people will want to dig their teeth into. Twitter can't provide that.
Remember while I was not a fan of Twitter in the early days, these days I am and have several accounts which I'm active on daily. Yes, daily. Even when I went deep into the desert, I had tweets queued up and tweeted in real time with photos when I had coverage. I did however leave my mobile device behind when I went into the South American Amazon......tweeting from such raw nature seemed a bit too much and I knew it would take away from the experience of being present with the beauty around me, rather than add or compliment it, which it can do in other situations.
While Twitter may continue to prove to be a useful source of breaking news moving forward, I still want depth. And, my Twitter stream is crowded despite my attempts to keep lists and streams, which work fairly well most of the time. The problem is that even well known "tweeters" with traffic and influence and some people I WANT to follow send their Foursquare check-ins to their Twitter streams or talk about their child losing their first tooth. Really? Time for quality control or perhaps a little of that Klout score needs to be taken away from that almighty Influence Number Ladder.
Below is the original speech that Obama gave the nation from the White House posted on YouTube, which give you something you could never get in 140 characters: the richness of the colors, the texture of his voice and the emotion surrounding the video, and the visuals of people parading outside the White House singing the National Anthem and carrying flags singing, waving and yes, celebrating.
April 26, 2011
Ultimate Women's Expo Hits Phoenix on April 30
The Ultimate Women’s Expo hits Phoenix next weekend, which will consist of two full days of events, giveaways and talks designed specifically for women. The conference features keynote speakers Patricia Heaton and Ricki Lake and over 550 shopping booths, along with complimentary pampering and rejuvenation for women in and outside of Arizona.
Exhibits include the very best in fashion, beauty, health, fitness, home décor, careers, financial planning, education and much more. Admission includes an amazing array of complimentary spa services, including free makeovers, haircuts, manicures, massages and facials. They'll have four stages, book signings, celebrity appearances, and cooking and design demonstrations. The Decorating Stage features renown design experts providing new ideas on home décor, while the Cooking Theatre features some of the Valley’s most talented chefs preparing the latest in new and fresh meal ideas.
Emmy Award Winning Actress, Author, Producer and bestselling author Patricia Heaton will deliver an empowering message to women on making the most of everyday and living your best life on Saturday, April 30, 2011, Susan Lucci, the vixen from All My Children, will also speak and then conduct a book signing and award winning actress, author, producer, Talk Show Host and Women’s Advocate Ricki Lake will finish off with a talk on exceeding your own expectations on Sunday, May 1, 2011.
How cool is this? They'll also have a Rejuvenation Tea Garden Lounge, which will feature over 500 trees and flowering gardens, and there within, attendees will receive free champagne, martini’s, margaritas and wine tastings throughout the weekend.
April 02, 2011
The Tohoku Kids Project Comes Out of Tragedy in Japan
After Japan’s horrific 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami, people are donating money and time, charities are thinking of creative ways to help, and countless local and international agencies are on the ground doing extraordinary work for victims in the affected regions.
Smile Kids Japan and Living Dreams have joined forces to provide specific, effective solutions through a joint venture called, Smiles & Dreams: The Tohoku Kids Project.
They will work to support children’s homes (orphanages) affected by the disaster, focusing immediately on the needs of the children who rely on them. Their first act will be to restore basic necessities, including both personal and shared items. They will replenish basic needs such as clothing, baby supplies and basic medicines and also provide homes with items that will help them rebuild a nurturing environment for the children. Through their combined networks, their organizations will directly purchase and distribute necessary items quickly and efficiently.
Their second act will be to connect children’s homes directly to professional child counselling services and also to provide them with a wide range of activities to help their children emotionally move on after the tragedy they’ve endured. Proper counselling along with activities such as trips to theme parks, camping, going to concerts, Yoga, and various other types of therapeutic activities will improve children’s outlook on their lives and future. Counselling services and activities will be funded and arranged directly through our organisations’ networks. Find out more and how to get involved.
March 23, 2011
Tom McCarthy's WIN WIN Includes One of My Favorites: Paul Giamatti
We had to arrive an hour and a half before the producer, actors and director arrived. During that time, the film publicists checked you in and lined you up in a particular location at the edge of the red carpet, which was set up in an L shape that led into the theatre.
The cast included talent Paul Giamatti, most known for his stunning and humorous performance in Sideways (aka I don't drink Merlot), Amy Ryan and new to the stage Alex Schaffer who was a young boxer who tried out for a part for the first time. Tom McCarthy was the film's Director/Writer.
Below is a live broadcast interview they did the day before the premiere which I attended as an observer.
Should you see the film? Absolutely! Here's the storyline: disheartened attorney Mike Flaherty (Giamatti), who moonlights as a high school wrestling coach, stumbles across a star athlete through some questionable business dealings while trying to support his family. Just as it looks like he will get a double payday, the boy's mother shows up fresh from rehab and flat broke, threatening to derail everything. As always Giamatti brings you in for more of his quirky and funny personality regardless of what role he plays.
Here's a handful of snapshots I took at the Red Carpet Event:
Amy Ryan: warm, engaging, charming and playful
Here's a review by the Christian Science Monitor. One other note: Tom McCarthy's latest film (The Station Agent & The Visitor) was also a big fan favorite at Sundance. I had a chance to talk to him briefly and in my brief exchange, all I can say is thumbs up. Steve Levy's Wired piece that came out today is a must read. Entitled Larry Page Wants to Return Google to its Start-up Roots, it takes us back to 12 years ago when Google was first funded. Two excerpts from his piece: "Now, after a 10-year run in which Google’s revenues grew from less than $100 million to almost $30 billion, Page is finally CEO again, a role he always felt he could handle. The general public may not appreciate the magnitude of the change—to most, Page is just one of the seemingly interchangeable pair of wacky “Google guys.” But Page is sui generis and could potentially have the kind of impact Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have had. Nobody better encapsulates Google’s ambitions, its ethics, and its worldview. At the same time, Page can be eccentric, arrogant, and secretive. Under his leadership, the company will be even harder to predict." And, on what Google 'could' look like with Page back in the CEO position: "If history is any guide, Page’s idealistic impulses could result in a vaster, more sprawling company. In 2008, Google participated in an FCC auction for radio spectrum to be used for mobile broadband. By the terms of the auction, if the spectrum was sold above a certain price, the winner would have to allow other companies to run devices on their networks—something Google strongly favored but that telecom companies dearly hoped to avoid. Google executives worried that the telecoms would conspire to keep bidding below that baseline price. So the company got involved in a high-stakes game of chicken. Google would bid on the spectrum, high enough to get it over the threshold, and then bow out. It left Google potentially vulnerable; if nobody else topped its bid, the company would be stuck with a multibillion-dollar piece of spectrum that it was unequipped to exploit. “Google definitely wanted to lose,” the company’s chief economist, Hal Varian, says. To Google’s great relief, Verizon did top its bid, and the company was off the hook."
Below is the video footage I took of the cast and director getting interviewed along the Red Carpet while I largely shot stills:
March 18, 2011
Levy's WIRED Piece: Larry Page wants to Return Google to its Startup Roots
Here's a review by the Christian Science Monitor. One other note: Tom McCarthy's latest film (The Station Agent & The Visitor) was also a big fan favorite at Sundance. I had a chance to talk to him briefly and in my brief exchange, all I can say is thumbs up.
Steve Levy's Wired piece that came out today is a must read. Entitled Larry Page Wants to Return Google to its Start-up Roots, it takes us back to 12 years ago when Google was first funded.
Two excerpts from his piece:
"Now, after a 10-year run in which Google’s revenues grew from less than $100 million to almost $30 billion, Page is finally CEO again, a role he always felt he could handle. The general public may not appreciate the magnitude of the change—to most, Page is just one of the seemingly interchangeable pair of wacky “Google guys.” But Page is sui generis and could potentially have the kind of impact Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have had. Nobody better encapsulates Google’s ambitions, its ethics, and its worldview. At the same time, Page can be eccentric, arrogant, and secretive. Under his leadership, the company will be even harder to predict."
And, on what Google 'could' look like with Page back in the CEO position:
"If history is any guide, Page’s idealistic impulses could result in a vaster, more sprawling company. In 2008, Google participated in an FCC auction for radio spectrum to be used for mobile broadband. By the terms of the auction, if the spectrum was sold above a certain price, the winner would have to allow other companies to run devices on their networks—something Google strongly favored but that telecom companies dearly hoped to avoid. Google executives worried that the telecoms would conspire to keep bidding below that baseline price. So the company got involved in a high-stakes game of chicken. Google would bid on the spectrum, high enough to get it over the threshold, and then bow out. It left Google potentially vulnerable; if nobody else topped its bid, the company would be stuck with a multibillion-dollar piece of spectrum that it was unequipped to exploit. “Google definitely wanted to lose,” the company’s chief economist, Hal Varian, says. To Google’s great relief, Verizon did top its bid, and the company was off the hook."