Friday, October 14, 2005

Insytes and The Noble Pursuit

With so many companies emerging that have the same focus as I had intended to do with Insytes, I thought it might be a good time to start sharing my vision of what the opportunity is and how I see things evolving. Especially since I keep telling my friends that it is a bigger economic disruption than the introduction of the personal computer. In terms of its social impact, it is even bigger. These thoughts are not the complete picture (that is going to take a book). Rather it is a first attempt to share some of my personal Insytes on a vision for the future and what we need to do to get there. This is a further extension of the essay I wrote in 2002 called The Noble Pursuit and is cross posted there.

Finally, if I have not disclaimed this enough, it it is only a draft – a starting point for discussion. This piece is being shared as is, incomplete and unedited, with the express intention of requiring further editing and research. It was written in the course of 3 hours of stream of consciousness typing. Your criticism, advice, suggestions and contributions are certainly encouraged. Perhaps this can even go into a Wiki so that it can be edited by everyone and made the better for it.


The Knowledge Economy will be powered by a global, interconnected computer system that provides structure to the information, with contextual connections made by human input. The best functions of the computer are in processing linear connections between bits of data while the human brain excels at recognizing contextual patterns. By merging the best aspects of both the human mind and the CPU, we can achieve the most comprehensive contextual knowledge engine possible. No, we are not talking Cyborgs here - we are looking at a need for all humanity to gather knowledge and information in the pursuit of truth with the goal of establishing trust between all peoples of the planet. This is just one aspect of what is needed to bring about a lasting peace that will lead to shared prosperity for a broader swath of the global population.

We face so many problems today and the limitations of traditional broadcast media have prevented the majority of the population from ascertaining truth. But the nature of the Internet provides us with the mechanisms and means to correct this problem. As more and more people participate in the conversations that interest them and on which they have experience, the closer we will be to the solutions. Personally, I believe that the knowledge exists out there somewhere to solve most of the problems we as a society face. They may be in someone’s basement, in the drawer of a consultant, in someone’s mind, or just waiting for someone to discover it within the culmination of a life’s work. But they surely exist.

Unfortunately, for one reason or another, many of the solutions never saw the light of day, many others were struck down by politics (business and governmental) and many others were attempted but failed due to an untold number of reasons. As Tony Robbins is fond of saying, “Past failures are not indicative of future results.” Another primary reason for prior failures is that the pieces were not connected properly for the particular situation they were trying to address. Perhaps a key element of knowledge, fact, or insight was missing. An equally large piece of the puzzle is in regards to how we as humans treat other humans from within the traditional command and control power structures. Good people have been beat down, taking their brilliant ideas with them. Because most people were never taught how to argue for or against an idea, they instead choose to demean the messenger. This has lasting effects that are often reinforced to the point of instilling a sense of helplessness, such that people simply have given up on being able to make a difference.

Therefore the first step in making the world whole and fixing our problems is to deepen the sense of possibilities, to instill the power of belief in self and to help people connect with their higher purpose. With “mother earth’ conceivably trying to shake us off the planet as a dog might try to get rid of fleas, and the unsustainable power structures failing from cronyism, incestuousness and deceit, I can only hope that now is the time that the silent majority stands up to let their voices be heard. That people around the world begin to get inspired to connect with their passion and find their true calling to give the world the unique gift that lies within each of them. We have suffered through the pains of leaders we can not trust, media conglomerates that color the news rather than report it and with too many of those in control rewriting history to suit their own needs, much as King James did when it was his turn to rewrite the Bible.

I'm mad as hell and I am not going to take it any more.

Repeat after me -

I'm mad as hell and I am not going to take it any more.

It is time for the people of the world to rise up together and be heard. But we are not talking about revolution, at least not here in the US and other democratic systems of government. The revolution we need can totally come from within the system itself as it was designed, if we simply PARTICPATE. By freeing ourselves from the shackles of our own pre-conceived notions of what is and what is not possible, the world can truly be whatever we want it to be. We each play a very important role that is unique to each individual with a few base requirements – share what you know, provide insights from your experiences and contribute in whatever way you can. We can do anything we set our mind’s to, so why not focus on something big and wonderful.

Despite the consultants who often tell you to spend time outside of it, THERE IS NO BOX! The world around you can be whatever you want it to be. You need not be ruled by fear of failure, for as many famous people have said – “Within the realm of our failures lies the seeds to our success.” As Edison did with the 10,000 filaments he tried for his light bulb, each one that did not work did not represent failure, but rather one step closer to finding the right one, and his ultimate success. We need to adopt this thinking on a broader scale in order to sustain our society, lest the fringes get more and more frayed and the very fabric that holds it together eventually becomes unraveled.

I believe we have reached a point where we are truly ready for The Noble Pursuit to become a core principle of our ideals. I don’t have all the answers, and I certainly can not make all the arguments eloquently, but I do know that this just feels right. Being inclusive, having compassion for others, being pragmatic, eliminating fear, flattening the control centric hierarchies and embracing each other because of our differences rather that pushing one another away because of them. We need more tolerance and less anger. We also need to understand the way systems work in our world and how to leverage them to our advantage.

The knowledge we need to solve most of the world's problems exists out there today. Scientists have gathered information on things that are unfathomable to me, and perhaps 90+% of the population. Journalists, and now Bloggers, are gathering and discussing current events. They are writing the history books of the future right before our eyes - a direct accessible archive of all human knowledge and experience. People from all corners of the world are creating the ultimate, fully authoritative encyclopedia and dictionary, expanding it each day as our knowledge grows. New Media organizations are emerging everyday for every conceivable interest someone may have, and we have only begun to scratch the surface.

All of these things bode well for the future of our society, but these efforts still lack an organizing principle - a purpose for other valuable members of society to both contribute and benefit from our advancements. People still cannot trust closed organizations. Having been lied to so often by those they once trusted, many are rightfully jaded - even to the point of not being involved with the 'system'. The way to make change is by understanding the systems that were put in place. In the case of the US specifically, to understand why our country's forefathers designed the system that way. The intentions were pure, despite what many men of power have done to those ideals since. It need not be that way any more and it starts with taking action. Believe you can make a difference and you will. It may not be in exactly the same way you intended, but it will at least give you knowledge of what to do differently next time.

My strength has always been in pattern recognition and crashing disparate ideas together to create innovation. In many ways, my life has been one long BrainJam, talking with people and connecting the dots, sharing what I have learned and offering my Insytes to help people succeed. What I have learned about knowledge is that reading and talking are great, but there is no substitute for an experience – from many researchers, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the strongest method of learning comes from failure. Again, I paraphrase Tony Robbins here “people tend to celebrate their successes, but ponder their failures.”

So what is my Noble Pursuit? While still partially unclear, it feels like it should be to help create the systems necessary for its success and initiate efforts to organize the collective wisdom through driving further participation from across the spectrum of humanity. (lofty stuff, but when there is no perceivable barriers to success other than the mental constraints of others, why not?)

The system itself I had originally envisioned through my first work around The Noble Pursuit back in early 2002, which was more recently manifested through my attempts to turn these ideals into a company called Insytes. As one great leader said to me, you need not own it for it to work for you in the way that suits the world best. To this end, I am risking myself and my reputation by putting these thoughts out here into the commons, with the hope that the people who are putting out similar systems today will truly ‘get it’ beyond the need for making next quarter’s numbers.

In a system such as the one I imagine will power The Noble Pursuit and serve as a foundational element of The Knowledge Economy, the greater the inputs, the greater the relevancy and value. The greater the value, the greater the user base. A virtuous cycle with value being placed into the system and removed from the system - a perpetual motion machine of constant and never ending innovation and enlightenment.

In order for such a system’s success to be both broad and deep, the system must be open to all to take their personas, their stored artifacts, their reputation and their attention stream with them. To change services more easily than one can switch their mobile phone provider. If the system's premise is based on the collaborative efforts of the collective wisdom, then surely the economic systems it applies to its operations must also operate under these principles. It is the fundamental basis of open source - and it works.

This is not the end of the story, it is only the beginning. I know not where it ends, or what my real role will be in it. What I do know is that everyone will play a part, that everyone can make a difference and that people need to stand up and be heard rather than remaining sidelined by the 10% of extremists in our society who currently dominate the national and global discussions on such matters. This is the true power being offered by the emerging technologies being referred to as Web 2.0. It my hope that we are able to dispel the fears many people hold towards technology and that one day soon, they will look at a computer and realize it is only a tool, much like a pencil and paper – but oh what a tool it can be if everyone is empowered to use it and participate in the conversations that matter most to them.

We can make a difference, each and everyone of us. Together we can fix the problems of our world as we band together, each of engaged in The Noble Pursuit.


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