barriers to entry

I’ve been contemplating the issues of barriers to entry. Barriers that stand in the way of ideas being recognized.

Ideas, or creativity, are really important. On a low level, they might be called problem-solving skills. You know? Looking at a problem and finding ways of resolving it. Or sometimes just finding a way of re-framing it that reveals new avenues of approaching the solution.

An extremely unpronounceable author, Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi, has written a book about creativity, and how it works. He’s a psychologist, so he uses the tools of psychology to attack the issue. He likes to say that the world is dependent on creativity. Well, that’s not really over-stating the case. Here in Silicon Valley, everyone is familiar with Moore’s Law. “Moore predicted that the number of transistors per integrated circuit would double every 18 months.” In order for Moore to make that prediction, he depended on innovation and creative responses to the problems that arose in trying to get more transistors on that integrated circuit. Naturally, Moore’law had wider implications that affected other kinds of hardware, and software, and bandwidth expectations, etc.

BUT! My main point is that we KNOW we need innovation. We rely on those geniuses to come up with answers to the problems. We build it into the plan, “At this point in the time line, inspiration will strike”

And yet. The barriers to entry into the echelons of the creative contributors are very strong. It is hard for just anybody to contribute.

Part of this has to do with expectations. I’ve never been able to forget one thing I learned in a linguistics class. The professor was demonstrating how different languages have different sounds. He said that if a person’s first language does not contain a certain sound (for instance, Russian does not have the “th” sound) not only do they have difficulty pronouncing it, they can’t even hear it. If they are not expecting to hear it, they won’t. Many of my ESL students in Russia could not pronounce “th” at first, they used “s” or “f” instead.

But this is the point: if people are not expecting to hear creative contributions from a certain sector, then if or when those contributions are given, they will not be heard.

Let us leave aside the obvious problem, that the “unexpected” groups might not be given access to information about the problem to begin solving it.

As I mentioned before, there are significant barriers to entry into the “creative contributors” group. Credentials, money, ethnicity, gender, things like this bar the overwhelming majority of the world’s population from working on the world’s problems.

It’s not fair to anyone to block off potential sources of creativity. We need help to solve big problems. But it is not only that the non-contributing population should be brought up to the level of the creative contributors. The creative people, and the executors of the ideas, need to learn to hear the unexpected.

Los Altos Church of the Redeemer fire

Here’s a really amazing story.

The Los Altos Hills Church of the Redeemer, which is an Eastern Orthodox Christian church that has a large number middle eastern parishioners was burned to a rubble a few weeks ago. After examining the site, the police determined it was deliberately set. An arsonist had done this.

I have a lot of sympathy for this group, since my church is going through that stage of church growth known as ‘the building fund.’ We’re trying to get enough money to build our own church. I know that the Church of the Redeemer went through the same process, with the members of the church sacrificing and giving their money for the purpose of having a building.

But their building was burned down in one night, from an apparent act of hate. It makes me sad and frightened.

The police still have not captured the arsonist. I’m sure that the parishioners are struggling to come to terms with this tragedy and make sense of what has happened.

Well, my church, St. Innocent’s Orthodox Church of Fremont, took up a collection for that church, and we all signed a card expressing sympathy and solidarity. My godmother took it over to the church, and brings back this report:

“The church was almost totally burnt, of course, especially in the altar
area where one of the fires had been set, but Fr. Samer had managed to
salvage a few items. One was the altar gospel. It’s metal cover was
melted and twisted away, ,many pages had been burnt off, and what was
left was one charred, almost fused, lump. But there were a couple
lines of writing clearly legible on the top page of the Bible. These lines
were from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:38-41): You have heard
that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’. But I
say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you
on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if anyone would sue
you and take your coat’ let him have your cloak as well; and if any one
forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles…

Of course, the next lines would be about loving you enemy, etc.
The parishioners of Church of the Redeemer consider this a message from
God, telling them how to react to their tragedy, and comforting them.
I’ll tell you, this Bible is really a powerful and shocking sight,
reminding us how powerful, and radical, Jesus’s words were.”

I won some awards!

I just got the news yesterday that I won some awards for my writing!

I’m so pleased.

On of said awards is for “Humor and Satire”. I think that little piece is worth passing on, so stay tuned for installments of some funny stuff I have written.

ideas about conversation and communication

Looks like things are posting okay now. I’m a newbie, it’s taking me some time to figure this out.

I’ve been wokring on a study of Margaret Fuller, an early American feminist. She had a stong focus on CONVERSATION as a learning tool for women. I’m fascinated by this, and everytime i read a particularly fusty article or book I like the idea more.

With all the new technology available for transmitting information, I think that conversations could be easily preserved for use in academic settings.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a FAQ as part of a paper? It’s such a great way of communicaating information.

Perhaps there could be some authorized method of determining which questions really ARE frequently asked.

I love the idea of technology bringing clarity of communications between HUMANS.

I think it would be a great idea to assimilate new technologies to facilitate learning. So much is happening so fast, we need to keep up. And efficiency in learning might be the most important kind of efficiency for bettering society.

Welcome to Wonderblog!

[4/25/2002 7:22:46 PM | Wonder Blogger]

Welcome to WonderBlog! I’ve been meaning to start a blog for a long time, but it wasn’t until I thought of this great name that I finally had to seize the day and make it happen.

Isn’t it a great name? It sounds like some kind of hero from “The Tick.” That in and of itself makes me smile.

See? It’s already a good thing.

But even more, I want to express two ideas about “Wonder.” The first is wonder as in wonderful. So many things are wonderful. It’s a wonderful day today. It’s wonderful that blogs exists, and it’s even more wonderful that they are free! Just to name a few topics to explore, concerning the wonderfulness of everything.

Second, the idea of “wonder” as in ” I wonder…” I wonder about a lot of things. I am rabidly and insatiably curious. I wonder why, I wonder how, I wonder if…

For instance, I wonder if anyone wil be reading my blog. Perhaps they will!
Because I think that many people who are interested in computers and blog-type activities also have a strong “wonder” muscle. I know that when I wonder about something, I immediately hit the net and do a google search to find out.

For instance, yesterday I really was wondering how many people in America have graduate degrees. Percentage-wise…Google couldn’t find out…Jeeves was obtuse, as usual (he’s such a pompous ass). So I still don’t know.

BUT! What I’m trying to say is that the curious use the web. Therefore, there is a chance that curious people might find my wonderblog and read it.

Regardless, I will be writing in it, and be pleased with the shape of my own writing. Much the same way as I am pleased with the sound of my voice, when I sing along in a lovely, echoey stair-well. I don’t need anyone else to enjoy it.

Still, I would be thrilled to receive email from anyone that wants to comment on my blog as it progresses. Emails are like a piece of chocolate, I love to get them