When I sat down this morning with Amy she started reading off people who had funded entire cities worth of projects on DonorsChoose this morning. Amy has DonorsChoose in her twitter feed and we quickly figured out what was going on. I saw Fred Wilson’s post on #BestSchoolDay and we agreed to fully fund projects in a number of cities that we have connections to.
We ended up fully funding all the DonorChoose projects in Alaska, Boulder, Longmont, Brighton, Breckenridge, Richardson, and Detroit.
Some of these cities may be obvious to folks who know us. Amy grew up in Alaska and we have a house in Homer. We now live just outside of Boulder in Longmont. We have a ski place in Breckenridge (and it was the only city we could find in Summit County that had active projects.)
Brighton is a fun one for us. The wife of one of Amy’s cousin (Brie) is a teacher there. We just saw her at Amy’s mom’s funeral and talked about the amazing work she does as a teacher (she supervises / trains teachers in K – 8.) Funding everything in Brighton in honor of Brie felt good.
I grew up in Dallas and went to school in the Richardson Independent School District (RISD – Spring Creek Elementary, Westwood Junior High, and J.J. Pearce High School.) I had a number of teachers who had a meaningful impact on me and fondly remember several who became close friends as adults, especially Mrs. Wonderly. Funding all the projects in Richardson schools felt karmically good.
My partner Jason grew up in Detroit. We enthusiastically helped expand Techstars to Detroit and bought a house there for Techstars teams to live in during the program if they wanted to. We all think Detroit has the opportunity to be a great city again and Amy and I happily added it to our list of places to fund, even though we’ve never lived there.
We ended up funding around 50 projects to fully fund everything that was still active in these cities. If I’m inspired later today, I might do a few more cities so I’m open to suggestions – mostly of projects to fund that other readers of this blog have supported at some level.
So – go to DonorsChoose, fund something, and leave a link to the project in the comments and I’ll fund whatever you’ve contributed to.
I was at dinner a few weeks ago with my long time friend and first business partner Dave Jilk. We ended up talking about how difficult it is to determine signal from noise, fact from fiction, truth from bullshit, and bullshit from complete-and-total-bullshit.
I recently hit the wall with all the political stuff that was popping up everywhere. I think the thing that flipped my switch from on to off was a satirical article about Hillary Clinton and all the horrible things she had done that was being passed around by people who I think considered it to be factual. As I read through it, I imagined all the derivative articles building on the sarcasm embedded in the article and then making arguments which would be cited by others as truth because they showed up credibly somewhere.
I probably would have recovered from this in a few days if I wasn’t then confronted yesterday by a Wall Street Journal article that was sent to me with a clear set of assertions built around a statement that I knew to be factually incorrect, but I’ve seen written exactly the same way in other articles to make a specious argument.
Software should be able to solve this for us. It appears that whenever Google talks about working on ranking based on trustworthiness anti-science advocates freak out about it. If you are interested in seeing the math (and some concepts) behind this, the paper by some Google folks titled Knowledge-Based Trust: Estimating the Trustworthiness of Web Sources – while chewy – is very interesting (at least the parts I understood.)
Dave sent me a presentation he’d done on this topic for a Defrag Conference several years ago. I tossed it up on SlideShare and embedded it below.
We went back and forth on it a little more and Dave ended with a strong statement around skepticism.
“It seems like a consequence of a few drivers has caused there to be more awareness of the notion and techniques of skepticism. However, people are using it indiscriminately, i.e., just to attack the other side. It’s another form of bullshit, actually – they don’t care whether the skeptical criticism is valid, but it has some additional polemical value because it has an aura of aiming for truth. Some of the drivers of the new Skepticism are all the problems with media, climate change, and probably some other things I’m not thinking of.”
When I ponder the notion of peak oil, I pine away for the concept of peak bullshit. But, like peak oil, I suspect it is an elusive construct.
On Saturday I went to two films at the Boulder International Film Festival – Code: Debugging the Gender Gap and A Good American. Both were excellent and worth watching, but Code was special for me as its an issue I’ve been helping work on for over a decade.
When I joined the National Center for Women & Information Technology board as the chair in 2005, it was a nascent organization and the issue of the small number of women in computer science, while often talked about, wasn’t well understood. Today, not only is the issue well understood, but many of the solutions are clear and being talked openly about, such as in the article At Harvey Mudd College, the Ratio of Women in Computer Science Increased from 10% to 40% in 5 Years
While there is still a ton of work to do, I asserted at a recent NCWIT board meeting that I felt we were at a tipping point and we’d start to see rapid improvement on the number of women in computer science in the next decade. Movies like Code make me optimistic that not only are we figuring out what is going on, but we are getting the word out and having some real impact on the issue.
As I sit in my hotel room in Virginia trying to fall asleep (and not succeeding), my mind has wandered to my trip here from Austin this morning and my trip home to Colorado tomorrow. During this contemplative moment, I’m fantasizing about teleportation. I would like to simply walk into a teleportation machine on this end and appear instantly in my house in Boulder. Then I’d be able to sleep in my bed tonight.
Recently, in Los Angeles, I was having dinner with Amy, Joanne Wilson, Fred Wilson, and a few of Joanne and Fred’s LA friends. Fred and I were at the end of the table and started talking about teleportation. I told him that I’d do it in a heartbeat if I had a 0.1% non-cumulative chance of losing a finger or a toe (e.g. the probability of losing a finger in each teleportation event was independent of the probability of losing a finger in the next one.)
A few days later, at the Upfront Summit, Fred did a great interview with Dan Primack, which is worth listening to in its entirety as Fred and Dan cover a ton of interesting ground. At the end (starting at 24:40), Dan asks Fred “What is the one thing you are looking for that hasn’t crossed your desk yet.”
I grinned when Fred said “teleportation.” It really would be a remarkable thing in our world and when someone shows up with a credible approach, I expect Fred and I would happily co-invest in it.
Teleportation is a mainstay of a lot of science fiction I read. As a huge Hyperion fanboy, I’ve had my mind immersed in the dynamics of farcasters, the effect of instantaneous interplanetary teleportation of the human race, and then the massive societal impact when the farcaster network abruptly stops working galaxy wide.
If you haven’t read Hyperion, pause for a second and ponder the idea of a house where every room is on a different planet. As you walk through doorways, you farcast to where the next room is located. It’s seamless – the house is one continuous entity – but each room has the properties of whatever planet it is on. And, there is no preparation to jump, as there is in BSG. It just happens.
The super awesomeness would be a portable teleportation machine that I could take with me. I go wherever I want, and then I can go from there to wherever I want. Instantly. Without having to go through TSA.
One can wish.
My special bonus is I’d see Fred a lot more often, which would make me very happy. Plus I’d be home now, instead of still in Virginia.
Yesterday, the Shrike paid me a visit in Boulder.
That’s Cooper hanging out in the backyard with his new friend.
Now, before you go all serious movie history on me, I know it looks like a predator. But it is the closest sculpture to a Shrike that I’ve been able to find. So, even if it’s a predator, I’m going to call him Shrike.
If you happen to know of an artist that has done a life size Shrike sculpture, please hook me up as now that I’ve managed to convince Amy to let me have one Shrike in my backyard, I’m pretty confident that I can get another one approved by my art procurement committee.
The movie Code: Debugging the Gender Gap is being screened at the Boulder Theater on Friday, March 4th at 10:00 am followed by a Global Town Hall at eTown at 1pm to discuss the movie. Amy and I are sponsoring the event along with NCWIT – please join in for what I expect will be an awesome documentary and lively discussion.
My friends at Oblong have been involved in some very cool new installations of their Mezzanine product in different vertical markets. They are suddenly seeing a lot of interest from hospitals and health care systems.
A recent new installation is the Mercy Virtual Care Center, which is the world’s first virtual care center.
If you are at HIMSS this week in Las Vegas, go visit Oblong at booth #10725 on the show floor and see the future of collaboration in action.