Designing Innovation Networks on Life’s Origins and Evolution

Highly innovative organizations face a constant challenge to process a flood of good ideas, both generated by employees and submitted from outside. In the wake of Google’s Tenth Birthday Competition, this talk describes how innovation networks apply principles found in life’s origins and evolution to “processing innovation.” Debates about how novelty emerged in the origin of life and its evolution toward complexity demand revising assumptions that we’ve taken for granted. Steven Jay Gould said that “Darwinism” misrepresents Darwin.

A more complete interpretation of Darwin’s theory of evolution could inspire new problem-solving methods with a range of practical applications, from multi-agent systems able to learn and improve their performance to cross-disciplinary decision support systems designed to address environmental sustainability challenges. Objective. To discuss nine principles of innovation networks and the problem-solving method they support.

A very interesting talk! It also reminded loosely about some of the ideas discussed in Swarm Creativity.

Why PHP Won

An excellent article by Eric Reis over on his blog in which he talks about “why PHP won” in his web application development over other (web scripting) languages:

As a language, it’s inelegant. Its object-orientation support is “much improved” – which is another way of saying it’s been horrendous for a long time. Writing unit tests or mock objects in PHP is an exercise in constant frustration. And yet I keep returning to PHP as a development platform, as have most of my fellow startup CTOs. This post is about why.

Its an interesting piece in which Eric chooses to describe PHP’s success in terms of what a new language might have to do better in order to challenge PHP’s popularity/success, in short he suggests the following:

  • Speed of iteration (a good write/test/debug cycle)
  • Better mapping of outputs to inputs
  • A similar standard library
  • A better OOP implementation

I have to confess I found myself agreeing with Eric. His piece is well worth reading!

Wolverines Archers, first shoot of 2009

Last weekend waf fairly tumultuous it began with me discovering that my kitchen had been completely flooded, and ended with me winning my first ever archery medal. I’ll be honest I was pretty upset when I discovered my kitchen was under four inches of water, fortunately my younger brother was on hand to help sort it out, as was the rest of my family, even Richard rushed over to help out when he heard what had happened. Thankfully the damage wasn’t too bad after a week or so of drying out and removing the flooring it looks like all that needs doing is to re-floor the kitchen and it should be right as rain 😉

The following morning Richard picked me up pretty earlier for out first official archery shoot of 2009. It was a special invitation only shoot hosted by our friends at Wolverines Archers near Stoke. Im guessing there were at least a hundred or so archers there, all the pegs were pretty much full. I ended up shooting in a group comprising of three compound archers and me with my HT recurve and wooden arrows. I don’t have anything against compound archers, in fact I quite enjoy shooting with them it tends to make me more competitive and consequently I concentrate more. An archer shooting with a recurve and wooden arrows is never going to keep up with a compound with carbon arrows, but the fun is actually in trying to keep up with them. Richard always says the same, that trying to keep up with them makes you focus more.

That certainly worked for me, at the end of the day I came third in my category and was awarded a bronze medal! I know a lot of the other archers in my category, you get to know everyone since its often the same crowd of people at the same events. Many of them are far more experienced than I am, so I was pretty proud – still am 😉 Everyone in the team cheered me on which was a great feeling!

Looks my next shoot is on the 8th of Feb, lets hope I do as well. As always pictures from the day are on my flickr account here.

Changing China one loan at a time

As financial institutions melt down, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about credit–who gets it, from whom, and what it means for the global economy. There are very few bright spots in today’s economic environment, but the good news is that in many parts of the world, loans of just a few hundred dollars still have the capacity to change people’s lives. Join Casey Wilson, nonprofit startup entrepreneur, to talk about her work with Wokai, the first foreign-funded microfinance organization in China. Casey will share her experiences building an organization that gives the poorest of China’s poor the financing to build businesses that lift them from poverty.

Moller’s SkyCar

This is an old TED talk but always an inspiring one. Paul Moller talks about the future of personal air travel — the marriage of autos and flight that will give us true freedom to travel off-road. He shows two things he’s working on: the Moller Skycar (a jet + car) and a passenger-friendly hovering disc.

Jerusalem – James Fenton

Alan and Fiona gave me a copy of Being Alive for Christmas. It’s an anthology of poems dealing with many themes and written by many many different authors. It is a wonderful gift and one that I’m really enjoying 🙂

Within the covers of this book I found a poem entitled Jerusalem by James Fenton. It seemed apt to share this poem given the current crisis in Gaza.

It’s hard to watch such scenes and remain dispassionate. It’s a conflict, and indeed a place, that polarizes opinion. Yet it disturbs me that Israel as a nation seems to have forgotten that no nation in history has succeeded, through force of arms, to subjugate an entire population forever. During the second world war Hitler came to the same realization and devised his ‘Final solution to the problem of the Jews’ which culminated in one of the most barbaric and evil acts in human history – the Holocaust. Yet sixty years on we now hear of Israeli ministers talking about a their own final solution or Holocaust in Gaza. It strikes me as paradoxical that people are often doomed to become the very thing they loathe the most, we are doomed to become what we behold. I recall vividly the moment when a Jewish friend of mine told me that in her opinion

the only the thing the leaders in Israel learn’t from the holocaust was how to become Nazi’s themselves.

I recall how shocked I was at that statement, it felt wrong. It felt especially wrong that a Jewish person could make such a comparison. As I watch the news reports though, and as I listen to the rhetoric coming out of Tel Aviv – I wonder if history will prove her right?

Getting back to the poem, I think it is extremely poignant and made so by the conflicting claims the city inspires which are expressed in the poem as alternating, mutually exclusive statements – this structure is a striking metaphor in itself.

Stone cries to stone,
Heart to heart, heart to stone,
And the interrogation will not die
For there is no eternal city
And there is no pity
And there is nothing underneath the sky
No rainbow and no guarantee –
There is no covenant between your God and me.

It is superb in the air.
Suffering is everywhere
And each man wears his suffering like a skin.
My history is proud.
Mine is not allowed.
This is the cistern where all wars begin,
The laughter from the armoured car.
This is the man who won’t believe you’re what you are.

This is your fault.
This is a crusader vault.
The Brook of Kidron flows from Mea She’arim.
I will pray for you.
I will tell you what to do.
I’ll stone you. I shall break your every limb.
Oh, I am not afraid of you,
But maybe I should fear the things you make me do.

This is not Golgotha.
This is the Holy Sepulchre,
The Emperor Hadrian’s temple to a love
Which he did not much share.
Golgotha could be anywhere.
Jerusalem itself is on the move.
It leaps and leaps from hill to hill
And as it makes its way it also makes its will.

The city was sacked.
Jordan was driven back.
The pious Christians burned the Jews alive.
This is a minaret.
I’m not finished yet.
We’re waiting for reinforcements to arrive.
What was your mother’s real name?
Would it be safe today to go to Bethlehem?

This is the Garden Tomb.
No, this is the Garden Tomb.
I’m an Armenian. I am a Copt.
This is Utopia.
I came here from Ethiopia.
This hole is where the flying carpet dropped
The Prophet off to pray one night
And from here one hour later he resumed his flight.

Who packed your bag?
I packed my bag.
Where was your uncle’s mother’s sister born?
Have you ever met an Arab?
Yes, I am a scarab.
I am a worm. I am a thing of scorn.
I cry Impure from street to street
And see my degradation in the eyes I meet.

I am your enemy.
This is Gethsemane.
The broken graves look to the Temple Mount.
Tell me now, tell me when
When shall we all rise again?
Shall I be first in that great body count?
When shall the tribes be gathered in?
When, tell me, when shall the Last Things begin?

You are in error.
This is terror.
This is your banishment. This land is mine.
This is what you earn.
This is the Law of No Return.
This is the sour dough, this the sweet wine.
This is my history, this my race
And this unhappy man threw acid in my face.

Stone cries to stone,
Heart to heart, heart to stone.
These are the warrior archaeologists.
This is us and that is them.
This is Jerusalem.
These are dying men with tattooed wrists.
Do this and I’ll destroy your home.
I have destroyed your home.  You have destroyed my home.

     by James Fenton