Lehrer spent much of August writing about the affair, trying to figure out where it had all gone wrong. He came to the conclusion that he’d stretched himself too thin. His excuses fall along those lines: He told Seife that his plagiarized blog post was a rough draft he’d posted by mistake. And his latest explanation for those fabricated Dylan quotes is that he had written them into his book proposal and forgotten to fix them later. Even by his own account, then, the writing wasn’t his top priority.
The lectures, though, were increasingly important. Lehrer gave between 30 and 40 talks in 2010, all while meeting constant deadlines, starting a family, and buying a home in the Hollywood Hills. It was more than just a time suck; it was a new way of orienting his work. Lehrer was the first of the Millennials to follow his elders into the dubious promised land of the convention hall, where the book, blog, TED talk, and article are merely delivery systems for a core commodity, the Insight.
The Insight is less of an idea than a conceit, a bit of alchemy that transforms minor studies into news, data into magic. Once the Insight is in place—Blink, Nudge, Free, The World Is Flat—the data becomes scaffolding. It can go in the book, along with any caveats, but it’s secondary. The purpose is not to substantiate but to enchant.
The next big idea? The end of big ideas. See:
(I could swear Wired had a similar column from the editor a couple months ago, but it doesn’t seem to be online and I toss my print editions out after I read them)
Technovelgy has an impressive timeline listing the introduction of various concepts in science fiction. Here’s a taste:
1634 Weightlessness (Kepler) (from Somnium (The Dream) by Johannes Kepler)
1638 Weightlessness (Godwin) - first discovery of concept (from The Man in the Moone by Francis Godwin)
1657 Moon Machine - very early description (from A Voyage to the Moon by Cyrano de Bergerac)
1726 Bio-Energy - produce electricity from organic material (from Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift)
1726 Laputa - a floating island (from Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift)
1726 Knowledge Engine - machine-made expertise (from Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift)
1726 Geometric Modeling - eighteenth century NURBS (from Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift)
1828 Stage Balloon (from The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century by Henry Loudon)
1828 Steam-Propelled Moving Houses (from The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century by Henry Loudon)
1828 Barrels of Air (from The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century by Henry Loudon)
1828 Mail-Post Letter-Ball (from The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century by Henry Loudon)
1866 Paper Steel (from Robur-the-Conqueror by Jules Verne)
(via Boing Boing)
Here are the ideas that were submitted to BrainSwarm in the first week. Remember, if you if you don’t submit an idea you can still comment and vote on ideas.
And here’s one idea that’s in progress: Seattle Eso Zone 2011.
Technoccult BrainSwarm is a brand new experimental project. It’s an idea management system for practically any idea.
Idea management is usually used by corporations looking for customer feedback (Dell’s IdeaStorm and My Starbucks Idea are two examples), or by governments looking for ideas from citizens (such as the White House Open Government Dialogue).
BrainSwarm is a different sort of idea site. It’s not dedicated to generating ideas for any particular government or company. It’s a place for any sort of idea. I hope it can be a launchpad for projects. By posting an idea to BrainSwarm, you can get feedback on an idea, and either find collaborators or just share it and hope someone else picks the idea up.
It’s powered by IdeaScale, which I think is mostly used by government sites. It has a points system, comments and some basic social media integration. If this takes off, I’d be willing to upgrade to a professional account with more features, or possibly work on creating some custom software. Right now I just want to see where this goes.
Anyone thinking what I’m thinking?