Future of Money – Futurists’ Twitter Chat Thursday 4:00-5:00 EST #apf #futrchat #futureofmoney

The Association of Professional Futurists (APF) is hosting its second twitter chat on Thursday, November 18, 2010 from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. EST. Use these hashtags: #apf #futrchat. 

Venessa Miemis  will join us as an invited guest  to share thoughts from  her recentSIBOS  keynote presentation and FOM research.

   

The Future of Money 

Beyond the currency arguments between nations, another more fundamental debate brews. You could say that it’s the difference between people who trust the traditional banking system and those that believe there’s a better way based on transparency, open data, and social bonds.   

Venessa Miemis ,Gabriel Shalom , and Jay Cousins developed a short film,“The Future of Money,”  for the recentSIBOS conference  in Amsterdam. In a series of interviews, Gen Y’s say why they feel distrust or a disconnection with the current system and what they see emerging in the social currency space.  

Updates 

On twitter, you can find tweets by searching for #futureofmoney. Here’s some recent posts pertaining to SIBOS.

  • Venessa believes that traditional financiers and Gen Y’s areliving in different worlds.   Her proposals and concerns: 
    1. Intelligent investing opportunities likeGroupon  local deals but for investing.
    2. Real-time data visualizations for money management likemint.com .
    3. Social network analysis for co-production opportunities that helps visualize network connections
    4. Local currency projects such asMetacurrency .com
  • Gabriel Shalom  comments on responses to the film andthe future of the FOM .
  • Chris Skinner , a financial expert and co-founder of Shaping Tomorrow website, attended Sibos and executive produced the video. He wroteblog responses  to Venessa’s ideas and added a number of other points.

And here’s a few developments since SIBOS.

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What do you think?

I’m watching to see what people believe about money. We all use it and by necessity, we each manage it for ourselves and/or for businesses. Is there anything more emotional than the power of currency? And how do you define currency? Economic, social, environmental, political, cultural?

What is money? What does it do and what does it mean? Are you worried about the future of money? Or is it all roses ahead? What drivers could plague money, and cause drastic change? Are we at or nearing a turning point? Is there a significant, fundamental gap between financial experts and us, the regular people? If so, is the gap in communications, worldviews or something else? Is the distinction or gap useful or an us against them battle? Will it be useful in the future?

I wonder if we will see a range of ideas, conflicts of opinions, or will we agree quite readily on the future of money. What, do you believe, are the big issues for money by 2020? Or by 2030? Is it social/community, trust, transparency, or are other lumps or gems on the horizon?

Please Join Us – an open tweet chat

You are welcome to join the APF #futrchat and say what you believe will be the future of money. At our premier chat last month on the future of education, an intensive hour flew by and the results gave a snapshot of many varied perspectives and experiences, like a speed scan or survey.

As we did last month, Jennifer Jarratt will pitch provocative questions and I will cajole, contribute, coax, and retweet the saltiest items. You can do the same, add links (if they pertain and are not promotional ads), and teach, inform, persuade, thrill, or terrify us about the future of money.

What do you think will be the future of money?

Image: Organic Grapefruit onThe Value of a Dollar Project by Jonathan Blaustein

21st Century Cities and Architecture Need Possibilianism #sustainability #poptech

 

Have you heard of PopTech? Some say it’s TED for brainiacs, arguably more cutting edge, always looking for emerging thinkers. Andrew Zolli, lead curator, attended the same Futures Studies masters program in Houston I did (and where I teach), although our paths unfortunately never crossed.

PopTech is posting the best videos now; here’s one worth watching.   

   

Cowboy up or geek out?

The annual PopTech event was held in Camden, Maine last week. Neuroscientist and fiction writer David Eagleman gave one of those rare “don’t miss” talks about a notion he’s devised called: Possibilianism. Rather than simply “anything goes,” he says that science allows for any possibility that can be proven using the scientific method. In other words, we need to think of many alternative hypotheses and then apply the tools.

Approach ideas with an open mind. Rather than firmly committing to a single answer or “cowboy up” with a certain solution, we engage in active exploration. For the largest questions in the universe like dark matter and how the brain works, we don’t even have any good answers yet. So we need to “geek-out” until we have the needed data. Be comfortable to multiple possibilities. That’s what he means by possibilianism.

In short: Praise uncertainty.

I think it’s very clear that we made mistakes on cities and building design. We use too much energy, overheated the planet, and created cities of haves and have-nots where some parts are nearly unlivable and others are sadly ugly, lacking beauty or lovability. Plus sitting all day at work and in cars makes us unhealthy. That’s not to say all cities or all parts of cities fit this image but let’s face it, it’s enough that we need to make some serious changes.

Think about it: What else could we have done?

We need a heavy dose of possibilianism.

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Here’s a wild thought: What would happen if tomorrow you woke up and your car was gone? Your neighbors’ cars and the pickup trucks were missing too. There were no taxis, only large-haul trucks and delivery vehicles too busy to carry passengers. Boom, you were caught with your feet and an old bike as transportation. What would you do?

I bet you would call into work and say you couldn’t make it. You would cancel all other appointments and walk your kids to school. Soon you would be taking the bus or rail and walking or riding your bike for shorter trips. Delivery trucks would replenish your kitchen pantry.

Over time, you would become physically fit, your wallet would be a little thicker with cash, and you would know people that share your routes. Plus, since transportation emits 28% of greenhouse gases, cities would immediately experience an impressive leap in sustainability. 

Cars are so deeply embedded it’s truly a challenge to imagine car-free lives, isn’t it?!

Car-fee cities

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We don’t start completely from scratch. Several urban theories and their flagship examples lead the way on car restrictions, specifically,

CarFree Cities, New urbanism, Eco-towns in UK, and to some degree, the Slow City Movement

Many sections of cities and islands, most famously Venice Italy, are fully pedestrian.

  • Freiburg Germany (pictured) reclaimed the center of the city for pedestrian uses.
  • Curitiba Brazil created one of the most efficient networks of buses (BRT) in the world.
  • Bogota Colombia employed a combination of BRT, bike paths, and pedestrians-first policies.

A few new towns will be zero carbon, reduced-car developments for environmental purposes.


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No doubt, we will not go gently into that good night of car-free cities. Too much has been invested, particularly in America and in perimeter development globally, China being the most eager recent adopter. Cars have the obvious benefits of convenience and security, and have long been status symbols (now not having a car shows status among some groups).

Plus, honestly, given an open road, cars are a blast! Dont all addictions begin with pleasure?

Two options – with and without cars – is bogus!

If we’ve learned one thing from the crazy world we live in, it’s that choices are not black and white, either/or; they are both/and. An entire constellation of possibilities waits for our imagination to ignite.

My car-free fantasy is a game of “what if,” a thought experiment played to its extreme. Imagine the possibilities, what would that option solve and what would it destroy?

That’s where possibilianism leaps in.

If you were designing a brand new city for you and your loved ones or making radical changes to your city, what would you choose? How would you create vibrant, thrilling, beautiful places to live? What would be your criteria? How many options can you imagine?

How would that new place be better than how you live now? How do you envision your better life? And how can you bring some of those possibilities into your real life?

Think about it: Are you a possibilian?

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Related lists: “Green cities: Where to travel green” compiles 6 lists of top green cities.

Images:EPA Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Sector;Freiburg Germany;Tongzhou China,Tjibaou Cultural Center in Noumea, New Caladonia by Renzo Piano Workshop

 

Balancing Optimism, Waste, and the Newly Improved American Dream #letsblogoff

The current #letsblogoff asks: Is there a reason to be optimistic?

I have heard it said: be personally optimistic and globally pessimistic. I get that. My best life is still ahead of me and my familys working through these tough times. That makes me personally optimistic.

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Global situations strike me as less rosy. In the mid 1970s, Linus Pauling told me and my eager college-mates ten ways people might destroy the planet. Whoa, we were shocked! He started with nuclear weapons. Then I recall over-population, hunger, water, trash – really? Death by waste?

I had never thought like this. It sounded epic. And I took it to heart. From that day forward, I understood the fact that we live in catastrophic times. Disasters seem to occur with increasing frequency.  

How to stay optimistic despite constant threats? To me, that’s the heart of it.

American Dreamers!

What times were worse than the Great Depression? Financial woes at all levels, joblessness, shanty towns, even the weather pitched in with the Dust Bowl. That’s when we invented the idea of the American Dream. We needed a strong dose of optimism.

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Actually, the American Dream contains two parts, moral and material. We believe that all men are created equal, our moral thread of egalitarianism. And we believe that anyone can win big, from rags to riches, the Horatio Algiers story. We love the underdog, success through hard work and thrift, the puritan work ethic.

The American Dream embraces opportunity and reshaped America as a nation of hopes and dreams. It is after all, the first country to make “the pursuit of happiness” a constitutional right.

Most importantly, the American Dream seeded the largest middle class in history. After nearly 80 years, it’s essentially a national motto.

American Nightmares 

Over decades of growth and prosperity, we narrowed the definition to “keeping up with the Jones.” A new home, new car, new tech, trips to Disney World. More things, more consumer debt, boom. The Dream becomes Buy Stuff. No Way.

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Now the American Dream has been boiled down into one thing: owning a home.

If you narrow your definition to just one idea, and then it becomes more difficult, the entire idea is destroyed. In other words, the house becomes the dream becomes the country. Lose your house and you lose your sense of identity.

The American Dream is not merely home ownership. That’s a total rip-off. We lose the gist, the heart and soul of it. We are stuck on materialism without the moral thread, the hope and optimism. That’s not the dream, that’s imbalanced, a nightmare.

American Dream ReShaped

Long before the idea of the A.D., Americans deeply understood hope and equality. We had imagination. And we had confidence. I’m not willing to live without those.

So let’s imagine: What do you do with the highest GDP in the world?

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You educate everyone, you feed, clothe and house us all, and make damn sure we have health care and are not overloaded with debt. You wipe out poverty, declare a war on crime and make peace with the rest of the world.

More than that, you leave a better place for future generations, a clean and vigorous environment with bright green, livable cities. And invest continually in new ideas, inventions, innovations that improve quality of life and feeds commerce and jobs. That’s the path to long-term prosperity and opportunities.

Our dream needs to emphasize social and environmental goodover materialism and hope over hate and fear. And assume responsibility for our neighbors. We are in this together. Not just in the US, but the global community. 

It’s not just an American Dream; it’s a World Dream.

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Mahatma Gandhi said: “Your beliefs become your thoughts; your thoughts become your words; your words become your actions; your actions become your habits; your habits become your values; your values become your destiny.”

To me, that’s optimism, the belief you can make dreams into reality. 

What’s optimism for you? How do you make your dreams become reality?

Here’s some of my favorite people’s thoughts on optimism for #letsblogoff.

Images: Music video: Balance by Aceyalone; House on Milwaukee Apt Finders/Prowess R/E blog; “God Bless America” by Seward Johnson; urban farming on Time Magazine; India children by Vincent Desjardin on Flickr cc; trash by Darch Norman on Flickr cc 

 

Blog Action Day 2010: Water Is Life #water

October 15th is blog action day and this year, the topic is water.

In developing countries, water problems are linked to survival. The numbers are staggering. One billion without clean water, 1.4 million children die each year of water born diseases. Their daily lives revolve around water access. Through the efforts of many, their water opportunities are improving, although the work remains still monumental.

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On the other hand, developed countries problems are worsening.

In cities, water is almost always poorly managed. Enormous pipe systems and hard pavements move water as fast as possible, causing overflow and failures during huge rains. Meantime water supply pipes bring water right back to the same places. Terribly inefficient.

Water needs to be treated as a cycle from rain to collection to use.  

  1. Say you have peak rains of 4 or 6 or even 10 inches. Imagine how you could retain that much rain for 24 hours with rain gardens, ponds, barrels, and tanks.
  2. Encourage cities to use swales and ponds to retain water and collect it slowly rather than move it fast to piped systems.
  3. Paved surfaces need to be minimized and permeable with frequent openings, not the mindless swaths of pavement for parking. That lets the water seep into the ground slowly rather than speed to piped systems.
  4. Think of potable and gray water differently.Separately pipe gray water from clothes washing, sinks, tubs, and rainwater and use for irrigation.
  5. Plant drought resistant landscaping and crops. Only irrigate from stored rainwater.
  6. Conserve water use.  

For years, islands have managed to exist with rainwater alone; we all need to learn from them. However, they do not feed the world.

How to think about water

Water is a cycle and in terms of our use and management, it’s a system. When we change our use and collection patterns, it changes entire ecologies including water tables and lake and river levels. That in turn affects crop irrigation, transporting goods, and recreational uses. In other words, nations and regions with adequate rain, temperate climates, and arable soil have a huge competitive advantage. They can feed their people.

Depleted water tables and subsidence are among the worst problems facing cities. I worked on a Houston stormwater management project where they struggle to assess grade elevations because of subsidence, with the land dropping over a foot in areas. We are all familiar with sink holes and busted water mains; it’s a problem that will only get worse with our aging infrastructure and water abuses.

Farmers in trouble

Kansas, my home state, is part of the Ogallala Watershed, as are eight other states. It is the largest and most at-risk watershed in the world. After the infamous Depression-era Dust Bowl of the 1930s, farmers installed massive irrigation systems that fed off the deep layer Ogallala aquifer. They did it for survival. In the 1970s, warnings were dismissed regarding the hazards of continued irrigation.

What were the farmers to do? Sell their farms? Quit farming? They continue to this day to remove water at an unsustainable rate, knowing their future is finite.

The depletion of this aquifer is estimated to begin in the lower reaches – west Texas – in the next decade and continue into Oklahoma, Kansas and eventually the northern states. Consequently, current wheat farms live with a short life line. Their only hope is discovering crops that can live on virtually desert land.

Fighting for every last drop

Every nation moves water through infrastructure, including massive dams that re-configure entire watersheds. Future water wars may take to the sky. Geo-engineering enables changes in precipitation patterns through cloud seeding (primary tech for now, so what’s next?), generating claims of “rain stealing.”

In the western United States, water wars erupted a century ago and continue to threaten neighborliness between states. Countries suffer even greater strains due to fewer shared benefits and dependencies. Passions between Georgia, Alabama, and Florida over the Chattahoochee River basin are not likely to ignite a war; disputes in east Africa between Kenya and Ethiopia might.  

Privatized water only worsens the problem, bringing corporations into direct battle with sovereign nations and private citizens. 

What is the future?

The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas develops drought tolerant grains that self-seed much like the prairie once did. They offer one of the few glimmers of hope for these farmers and for the global populations that rely on their grains.

When we rebuild or add infrastructure, and when we develop land, we need to stop building massive stormwater systems and huge parking lots. Instead we need to think sustainably. How can we minimize run-off? How can we retain the water? How can we use water where it lands?

Most importantly, how can we use less water?

Water brings all people into a single ecosystem, perhaps the most fragile. Our behaviors in cities are linked directly to the farmers ability to grow crops. Water ignores political boundaries. Rain does not recognize urban versus rural.

The amount of fresh water doesn’t change; only our appreciation of water and behaviors do.

 

Images: Ogallala Aquifer center-pivot irrigation systems in Water Encyclopedia; Ogallala Watershed Map in theparagraph.com; Land Institute deep root prairie in National Geographic; Grey Water Retention and Use; Water landscape for World Water Day at Wayne State University; Bioswale from EPA Green Infrastructure.

 

The Future of Education: A Twitter Chat #apf #futrchat

Millau_bridge_arcticpuppy

The Association of Professional Futurists (APF) is hosting our first tweetchat.

  • Thursday October 14, 2010 from 4:00- 5:00 Eastern time, Washington DC/New York (check your time zone via world clock )
  • Topic: Future of Education
  • Hashtags: #futrchat #apf

 We welcome anyone that is interested in the future and/or education to join us.

Jennifer Jarratt  and I plan to co-host; I think Jennifer will be throwing out questions and I’ll try to spark conversations. If you have ideas for questions, please send them to either of us.

What’s a TweetChat?

For those who haven’t participated in tweetchats before, here are a couple of how-to’s by Content Maven Meryl.net (pt 1  and 2 ).

You can view the tweet chat a couple of different ways:

  • Tweetchat  is a special site just for this purpose.
  • Tweetdeck  you can search for the hashtag #futrchat which will open a column with all the tweets in a timeline.
  • Tweetgrid you can search for multiple terms: #futrchat, #apf, education, future, or any of our twitter names.

I have participated and lurked on a few chats over the past six months. What I’ve learned is:

  1. Always include the hashtags #apf #futrchat somewhere in the tweet.
  2. When you arrive, say hello and introduce yourself briefly.  
  3. Always start your response with the number of the question, Q1, Q2 and so on.
  4. If you like someone’s comment, retweet it so that others see it.
  5. Add links if appropriate, which builds value. People can read these later.
  6. Comment as often as you think of something, at least once per question.More comments are better.
  7. Ask other people direct questions if they say something that intrigues you.

We are building a community and exploring a topic. I hope in the end we have a transcript from Tweetchat to share. More importantly, I hope we learn something together.

Kids_learning_timesonline

Future of Education

A few of the futurists in APF specialize in education and plan to participate. I worked on nearly 100 education facilities as an architect and teach in higher ed.

That’s the thing about education – we all have a vested interest. Education matters. People are immersed in today’s education problems; the key here is to think long-term.

What will be our problems, our needs, our realities in 2020, 2030, or 2050?

In terms of education, are we preparing people for careers in 1990 or 2030? How do we deal with the explosion of change? Longer life spans? Who are the students? What is knowledge in 2030 or 2050? Its speedy obsolescence? New technologies? What tools, new or old? Preparing teachers? Building schools? Engaged and integrated in communities, at home, or in classrooms? Participatory action learning? Global connections? Remote teaching, remote learning? Creativity, practical vocations, science, math emphasized? If everyone learns differently, how do we build learning communities?

Dr. Michael Wensch, an inspiring teacher and cultural anthropologist, studies the effects of technology on students. I recently saw him speak at a TEDxKC event, a treat.

You are the key!

I hope you will join us! Thursday October 14, 2010 – 4:00 East coast US time. Let me know if you have any questions, here or on twitter as @urbanverse.

We plan to do these on the second Thursday of the month. Your ideas for improvements, new topics, and questions are appreciated. We may invite special guests at future chats, including some APF members.

Here’s a few education links from my delicious site.

Images: Kids learning: School Gate, The Times Online; Millau Bridge, Arctic Puppy on Flickr CC

Note to America: #Architecture and the Future Matter #design #worldexpo


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The Biosphere: A powerful statement of the future

Recently Bing featured a stunning image of Buckminster Fuller ’s design for the US Pavilion at the 1967 World’s Exposition in Montreal. When I opened it, I literally gasped; the still futuristic image seemed to float above normal terrain. The Biosphere put a new stamp on the future and epitomized the Space Age.

Fuller joined the forces of architecture, engineering, and technology to express a new way of living. And through his genius, he inspired a generation of Americans; in fact, of the world. Bravo, Mr. Fuller!

USA Pavilion for the 2010 World Expo


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Fast forward to today, the

US Pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai featured two wings in the shape of leaves, joined by a cone. What is that? The makers call it an eagle. Huh? A logo made into a building? No strong statement of design, environmentalism, or humanitarianism comes to mind.

What does it stand for? a design-numb Corporate America. (yes, some US corps understand good design; MIA here.)

This structure looks like a poor stand-in for what should have been an image of the American Dream, an architecture of the future. Where is the hope, the vision, the statement of who we are as a people or where we are going?

No one had any doubt that America led the world in innovation in 1967. If anyone is looking to us for vision or inspiration based on the 2010 American pavilion in Shanghai, they would be severely disappointed.

Has that day of 1967 passed?

If you think that the age of inspiring world expo pavilions has fizzled into the history pages, just examine the UK Seed Cathedral pavilion or the Swiss and Spanish pavilions.


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Yes, it’s true; I have a nearly delirious case of pavilion envy. Those buildings are remarkable! They not only sing the praises of the architects and the countries; they offer a glimpse of what we might experience down the road.

In other words, the reason we build these outlandish structures like the Eiffel Tower and the Space Needle is to influence and shape things yet to come. That’s the whole purpose. To shine a bright light on the path to the future. And to inspire through the power of that vision.

Come On, America

Hey Americans, if we think that this average architectural statement offers the best of the best, we should be very worried. Because boxes shaped like leaves and cones never moved anybody to dream, much less to act. That disappoints me; no, it really makes me mad. The people that built this pavilion are saying – nothing’s new, nothing special’s going to happen, it’s just more of the same. And that couldn’t be further from the truth.

We are living in one of the most enthralling, mind-numbing, exuberant times in history, a virtual windfall of daily discoveries. Yet without an urgency to design the future, to visualize the world ahead, to roll the dice on a seemingly impossible idea, we are already dead. We lose our capacity to aspire, transcend ordinary life, and stretch our imagination.


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We can do better. Look at Jeanne Gang’s

Aqua Tower, Holl’s Nelson-Atkins Museum Addition, Bohlin Cywinski’s Apple Pavilion – all capture the spirit of our future selves. While there’s no such thing as one true American architecture, these buildings clearly express visionary futures designed by exceptional American architects for forward thinking clients.

Maybe the burden of “American Pavilion” confused some literal minded deciders. “We’ll make a building like an eagle. That’s American.” Pshaw. Our standards for excellence, our design aspirations, must surely seek a higher standard.


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Architecture Futures

We need a pavilion that dares to venture beyond sure thing; explores crevices of materials and shapes never seen; surprises, no, it bamboozles us with its energy. It’s a revelation. From that moment on, our lives are changed immeasurably; we see the world through new eyes.

Next expo, let’s build architecture that matters, that transports us to the future, stretches us beyond the ordinary, and willingly risks everything to do it. In fact, that capacity to dream – unforgettable, life-changing dreams – proves we have a future. 

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Images: Biosphere on Montreal Attractions, USA Pavilion, Swiss and Spanish Pavilions on ArchDaily, Aqua Tower and Nelson-Atkins on New Yorker, Apple on Galinsky.  

Extreme Travel: Would You Visit the International Space Station? #letsblogoff

Today’s #letsblogoff asks: Where’s your slice of heaven? A group of design, architecture, and construction related folks are sharing ideas about heavenly travel spots. Here’s alist of brilliant people  that posted.  ok… four, three, two, one…

Space-station

Why Do We Travel?

While my home is a small slice of heaven, it is just that, a slice. To see the world, I have to leave these aggregated comforts, conveniences, and familiarities. Why do it? Travel to different places opens my mind and feeds my spirit. I love architecture, cities, nature, visiting people, and new experiences. I come home with fresh insights, renewed purpose, and a greater sense of the world. Travel changes me.

To boil it down, I want to experience places that are shaping the world. Moreover, I want to see ideas most likely to change the world dramatically.

In other words, I want to see the future.

You might say that’s two dimensions of travel – space and time. We do it all the time in our travels backward – ancient Egypt, Rome, China. Boom, we see, touch, walk on the same stones and shapes someone built several millennia back. A drive through town is a bit of time travel, if you think about it. Time is jam-packed in cities.

I travel to see forward too.

The Extreme Future City

Given this brave thought experiment of “travel heaven,” I imagine: What is the ultimate future city built today? Hands down, it’s theInternational Space Station .

Here’s why.

  1. It is the ultimate act of optimism. Sixteen countries collaborated to design a place and explore new territories. When does that happen?
  2. It is the ultimate act of fear. Why would anyone leave Planet Earth for cold, cruel outer-space? Is it fair to say that we will only leave permanently if we have to?
  3. It’s the first and only place that people live off of the Earth. The first. Imagine that. How long will we say that?
  4. It’s travel on a new scale. An outpost. A place to go to the next place, other solar systems, and perhaps at some point, to find a sweet alien planet.
  5. You meet some really smart people, the ultimate brainiacs camp. In one week, I bet the bonding matches an entire lifetime of ordinary encounters. High risk survivals and overcoming fear does that.
  6. You get to float. And maybe even space walk. Enough said.

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  7. The journey itself is truly an adventure, an extreme blast off from earth. Remember your first plane flight? Surely a flight to space will be life altering.
  8. You get to see earth as a whole. The blue marble. Whew.
  9. We are creating a new way to live. Every small act is an invention.
  10. The space station is the most pure expression of a high tech tomorrow. Tell me, do you think we would ever build a space station the shape of a house?
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Will we populate the nightscape with more space stations? I bet we will. Private corporations see profit reasons to explore and inhabit outer space. Our lives revolve around space travel inventions, like satellites and microwaves. Space engineering is the last mega-physical frontier. That challenge alone will attract the Richard Bransons of the world.

Bottom line, I want to know what we do at the ISS. What do space station visitors believe? How does living on a space station change your perspective? Upon my return, assuming that I do return, how would I see Earth differently? What would I think of people and our place in the universe?

Because I think that if you see life in perspective, that’s the ultimate travel experience.

Behind Curtain Number One

If you were given ticket to the International Space Station, would you take it? Or trade it for a week in more earthly places? 

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Earth Shoes Vs. Flip Flops: Are College Grads Ever Ready? #letsblogoff

For the third #letsblogoff (my second entry in this group effort to cure the world of ills via blogging on a single topic), my twitter buds chose a meaty question: Are college grads ready for the real world? Warning: things don’t end where they start off.   

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What’s Wrong With Kids — Yesterday?

We all heard that knock right out of school – What’s wrong with kids these days? My gen heard: cut your hair, turn down that music, can’t you do something useful with your life? It’s the perennial generation gap.

Boomers, such as me, rejected the uptight establishment world of our parents. We fought their lousy Vietnam War (we typically whine about that first), made love, not war, waged sit-ins and love-ins to ban the bomb, experimented in communes, pot, psychedelics, and outdoor music bashes, and generally knew better than our elders. heh. Our rallying cry , “Never trust anyone over 30.”

Now there’s a plan with a short time horizon! So what happened to Boomers post-30? We became the establishment. Natch. Eventually, we had to take the reins and assume responsibility. That’s inevitable.

And when we did, it turns out we were better at organizing protests than truly changing the world. The generation that thought we put the R in Rebellion became (mostly) authoritative, ideological, Wall Street money makers and Big Business CEO’s.

Why in the world is that? I have an idea but first back to those new college grads,Gen Ys.

What’s Wrong With Kids – Today?

Gen Y’s, do you have a better plan? Apparently you study less, live with your parents longer, get married later, maybe have kids first, fight for gay rights, assume women’s and racial rights, rather be on American Idol than fly to the moon, and (get this!!) you can’t even support yourself.

How can you change the world when you’re still a dependent? What happened to the rebellious youth? Have you no spunk? (please hang with me on this ….)

While the Boomers and Gen Xs flattened the globe into a monster-sized playground, Gen Ys played high-speed digital games, built powerful social networks, and saw friends become stars via YouTube and reality TV. They are Digital Natives, fully connected 24/7, and seeking an Epic Win.

In fact, rather than rebelling (which in the hegemonic world actually reinforces the existing system) Gen Y’s are creating a new and potentially more powerful, more vibrant, less resource-intensive world. They might actually be building a real world – ok, a hybrid real/digital world — that can be effectively balanced.

Flipflops

Are We Ready for the Age of Flip Flops?

Earth shoes were made for walking. On the earth. They were earthy and so were the Boomer hippies who favored them. Earthy things take earthy resources, energy, and machines. Our Boomer world is Big Physics.

Flip flops on the other hand, are fragile, flimsy, and made for long days at the beach or sitting on your tush rocking to tunes while you game the day away.

Thing is, in the next real world, we might game for a living. That’s right. Millennials are finding a way to turn fun into profit. Their world is Mega Pixels.

We will likely travel, shop, learn, connect, produce, and get health care primarily via computers. And according to game guru, Jane McGonigle, Institute for the Future, computer gaming is good for us. It builds community, intense concentration, and most of all, confidence that we can achieve an Epic Win.

Unlike the real world where our largest life lessons arrive in the form of defeats and exhausting resources, digital games have no limits. Plus at any given moment as a reward for exceptional performance, you can experience a monumental win. What’s more, everyone else can too. There are absolutely no shortages of possible wins. That in itself frames an entirely positive experience.

Imagine if the game world IS the real world.

While Millennials have teethed on joy sticks and cell phones, Boomers and Gen X’s are mere immigrants to digital reality. We learn these skills like a second language; they live and breathe them. Even while we create the toys, it is Gen Y’s that hyper-extend the power of the media.

Welcome, President Flip-Flop; Move Over, Boomers 

Boomers, how did we let this happen? How did the generation that supposedly was the largest, most powerful cohort ever to walk the earth allow these upstarts a way to shove us into obsolescence prematurely?

Social change experts Strauss and Howe call it the Fourth Turning. Four types of eras, or Turnings, last for 15-20 years each and cycle continuously.

  • 1st Turning, Outer-Driven Era: a new sense of community arrives.
  • 2nd Turning, Awakening Era: inner life blooms with spiritual renewal, artistic innovation.
  • 3rd Turning, Inner-Driven Era: cultural and social life fragments.
  • 4th Turning, Crisis Era: conflict reins supreme and spiritual curiosity declines.
Strausshowe_fourthturning

We entered a Crisis Era, the so-called Fourth Turning, around 2005 and it’s estimated to last until 2020 or 2025. These eras frame our worldviews and create generations with unique characteristics.

  1. Boomers, born during 1st Turning/Superpower America are idealists/prophets.
  2. Gen X’s, born during the 2nd Turning/Boom Awakening are reactive/nomads.
  3. Gen Y’s, born during the 3rd Turning/Millennium changeover are civic/heroes.
  4. The next generation, along with the Silent Generation, will experience the current 4th Turning/Crisis era during their youth, imprinting them as adaptive/artists.

In other words, when Boomers took the reins, we became moralistic (see graphic), which works for protests, but is hardly a formula for revolutionary leadership.

On the other hand, Gen Y/Millennials are truly transformative. As these civic/heroes emerge, their interest is power and they are instinctive team players. They become builders and doers.

While Boomers went looking for meaning, Millennials are meaning-makers. They share, publish, curate their own works and connect with the works of others. During emerging adulthood, “Civics develop activity oriented peer relationships, and a strong sense of generational community” (Strauss & Howe). That is exactly what this generation is doing right – collectively creating a way out of Crisis. Don’t worry, we will all play parts especially during the next decade but Gen Ys eventually will run the show.

A Powerful Coupling

Boomers and Gen Xs were stuck with a modern industrial world that needed our attention for another generation. Millennials don’t have those same interests. They have the tools and technology, and most importantly, the zeitgeist and worldviews to think and act in a brave new digital world. They will be heroes that show us a new way to trim our physical uses into a just-right fit. Plus they will enhance the real world with digital realities of unlimited potential.

The question isn’t:”Are college grads ready for the new world?” Or even, “Is the world ready for them?” We have to ask ourselves: Are we ready for the world they bring to us?

 

The young do not know to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible, and achieve it, generation after generation. Margaret Mead

 

Admittedly, there’s many ways to slice this pizza, as my brilliant twitter friends prove.

  1. Amy Good (splintergirl) Amy’s Blog
  2. Nick Lovelady @cupboards    Cupboards
  3. Becky Shankle @ecomod EcoModernism
  4. Tamara Dalton DesignStudios
  5. RufusDogg @DogWalkBlog DogWalkBlog
  6. Sean Lintow  SLS Construction
  7. Bonnie Harris @WaxGirl333  Wax Marketing
  8. Richard Holschuh @concretedetail ConcreteDetail

Images: Strauss & Howe chartEarth Shoes; Flip Flops

 

Architects, Cities, and Virtual Reality at #AIA2010

Augmented_virtual_reality_lira

Thanks to the WorldViz booth, architects at the American Institute of Architects Convention in Miami can experience virtual reality through heads-on display goggles. I have extreme virtual/augmented reality envy! (thank you Lira Luis @liraluis for the twitpic!)

Virtual reality creates a whole new world – such as Second Life. Augmented reality overlays digital images and data in the real world.

We will love these functions, I think. Imagine the things you can see on your computer screen but now they will appear as overlays in real life. Eventually, the headset will be smaller, lighter. In the future, you’ll just wear glasses or contact lenses.

So don’t imagine wearing a clunky headset when you visit a job site. That  s purely 2010.

I did a presentation for London architects and engineers on augmented reality; here’s my slideshow  . Notice there’s several ways to experience augmented reality, from using mobile apps to heads-on display. There’s even rooms where the images create the sense of space, they surround and envelop you. For instance, your body actually believes going down stairs.

Yesterday, Design Observer   featured a two part article titled “Sense of Place: A World of Augmented Reality.” It’s a theoretical look at the changes AR makes to our understanding of cities.     

BTW, I have more than a passing interest.  I am researching and writing a book on social tech, architecture and cities that will feature augmented reality. Already people are using Layar and other apps to change their experiences of cities.

How soon will we be using it in our offices? Good question.

WorldViz says it’s today. Universities look to be a target market with discounted pricing. Large firms and early adopters can jump in.  

Think of VR/AR as more than a presentation tool – it’s an experience. We can involve people instead of making them spectators at our table. Truly, a technology to celebrate.

Image Credit: Lira Luis @liraluis twitpic at AIA convention

Dear Architecture Grads: What Matters Most?

Job_choices021

In my blog post last week titled “Dear Architecture Graduates: Be Ready, Relentless and Lucky,” the first item is strategy. To get a job particularly during the Great Recession, you have to first think: what matters most to me? And then act accordingly, regardless of that dreaded fear of the unknown. Bold choices bring richness you never imagined.

What are your priorities? What will you trade today to get something better later?

In hindsight, I used six factors (money/job, architecture, intern, location, firm, role) as building blocks - see the sketch. It’s more flexible in practice than it appears. I added one more- see below. Here’s how those choices looked in real life.

Hindsight History – A Very Brief Version

Right out of school, I scored my main goal - an architecture internship – by forfeiting my location. In The Kansas City Star, no architecture firms were advertising thanks to a recession. Instead, there’s an ad: “Architecture Graduate: Will work for free. Call Tom 555-5555.” Desperate times. Tom motivated me. 

At the same time, The Wall Street Journal posted an article that said western Montana had a construction boom and an architect shortage. So I hightailed it 1400 miles to Hamilton, Montana and the Bitterroot Valley.

Job 1 – Money, Architecture, Intern. First day, I landed a job. It was far from ideal. Ok, it was actually a bit strange.

Job 2 – Plus Firm, People, Role. After two months I got a job at a firm that I admired in Missoula, Montana. I got maximum responsibility working with people I admired and liked.  

The seventh factor: People You LikeIt sits between Firm You Admire and Role You Seek. Initially I thought Firm incorporated People, but realized you can like the people and not the firm. 

Job 3 – Plus Location, Minus Firm. Just as I moved home to Kansas City, another recession hit. A large EA firm that was expanding their architecture arm hired me to lead an historic rehab in Brooklyn. Great role, project, and people.    

Job 4 – Plus Firm, Minus Role. I finally landed a job at a young hip design firm, once again trading off a choice role for another priority. Back to the drawing board, literally.

I didn’t attain a great role again until I started my own firm. That is another story, brought on by, yes, a third recession. Rolling recessions shaped my life, my views – and what we built, who we are today collectively. The Great Recession is shaping yours.    

What I Learned That Might Help You

You make the best situation out of what you have, based on your priorities. That’s how it works, I think. Make some choices no one else would. Be daring. You are far more flexible early in your career, less tied to location, roles, even industry. Use it to your advantage.

During difficult times, a more detailed breakdown of your priorities may help you see value in smaller wins. Like getting any job. Or paying the bills. Always think in terms of trades.

Start today with: What matters most?