Making sense of it all. Probably requires a Watson computer.

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Even though I’m loaded with gadgets: iPhone, iPod, iPad, mini Samsung projector, Apple TV, MacBook Pro, 23″ HD monitor, Jambox – and these are the items on my desk presently – I read the NY Times and scan the local paper every morning. News on a tablet or my iPad conveys information to me faster and allows me to compare the coverage of a story as I can easily explore what NPR or BBC or Reuters may say of the same event. I prefer the Times in the morning because of the visual juxtaposition of stories. I’m a comparer and a connector (ugh! labels), but it’s true. It’s the positive benefit of what my affliction was labeled in the 60s as “often can’t sit still.” Challenging to me is to connect thoughtfully the headlines and nature of the often shocking evidence of these reports. This morning the connections come easy.

IBM’s Watson computer wins the Jeopardy Challenge versus two human champions. There may be some W-2 life left in us yet as the mighty machine could not identify the name of the major Chicago Airport, you know, the busiest one in the world. Take that, Terminator! Concurrently, spontaneous and orchestrated protests occur in Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and even Iran as their unemployed youth and disenfranchised poor seek access to fundamental social opportunities.

Our soldiers in Afghanistan have actual real-time access to family and friends via Skype, Facebook, Twitter et al – note to self that the country is at war – while the Texas and the Wisconsin legislatures propose “Big Budget Cuts.” Well, gunner, what are we fighting for? And what are we heading home to at the end of this tour? might be legitimate questions from the soldiers. Or maybe they’re using social media to figure-out when the coast is clear to come home?!

Photo courtesy of Colorado River Rafting Company

We live in an amazing, dynamic and potent time. If you believe in the constructive value of Chaotic Friction, then you’re feeling pretty good right now. Doesn’t it feel like a raft ride down the rapids and maybe headed over a fall of some height? What should we yearn for? Control? Return to a past? Getting off the bus at the next stop? My preference is a collective sense that we’re all in this together and everywhere.