I was in New York last week on vacation, having too much fun to blog. But I did use technology (my Blackberry of course for email, phone and web browsing, and my laptop with high-speed wireless internet from Verizon) and I thought about it a lot. What technology do I wish I had while on vacation?
First, a bit about our vacation.
The first two days, my wife and I visited Niagara Falls (reading the Wikipedia article about it while overlooking the Canadian falls was awesome), the Sacred Grove (where Joseph Smith saw his first vision), the Grandin Press building in Palmyra (where the Book of Mormon was first printed in 1829-1830), and the Hill Cumorah (where Joseph found the gold plates from which he translated the Book of Mormon.)
I like visiting religious history sites. In 1998 we visited Jerusalem and many holy sites where Jesus lived and taught, and I have been to many other LDS Church history sites in Utah, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, California, Nevada, and Wyoming, but until this trip I had never visited the Smith Farm in Palmyra where the young Joseph Smith began having religious experiences which has shaped the beliefs and values of millions of people ever since, including about 25 of my ancestors who found “Mormonism” in different lands (England, Norway, Denmark, etc.) and embraced it. I am a 5th or 6th generation Mormon and have many ancestors who converted from different faiths and emigrated to the United States and more specifically, who came to Utah in the 1840s, 50s, and 60s.
So the places where prayers were answered and revelations were given and meetings were held and books were printed all have deep significance for me and my family.
For such a trip as this, I wish I had a device (a next generation blackberry or GPS-enabled iPod) that connected me to a vast historical archive of geocoded text, audio and video content. For example, while on the Smith farm, I would have liked listening to clips from lectures by historians such as Truman Madsen or Susan Black about Joseph Smith’s early life and experiences. While at the Grandin Press building, I would have liked to have been able to choose from dozens of audio or video clips from lectures about printing technology in the early 19th century, or seen excerpts from the journals and letters of some of the first few hundred people to read a copy of the Book of Mormon. Local newspapers at the time started calling it the “Gold Bible” and the Book has been misunderstood every since (even though more than 100 million copies of it have been printed and Doubleday became the first major national publisher to issue a version of it last year.)
There is no question that this book has had a huge impact on the lives of millions of people. So would it be too much to ask to have a location-based service tied into my mobile device that gives me the option of learning about the people who brought the book into existence and the early reactions to it?
Next, we spent 6 days in Manhattan, caught seven Broadway shows, and had the time of our life. While in New York, we learned to take the subway (I like the little refillable Metro cards — no more tokens!) and to get around pretty well.
We love New York City. Just four months after 9/11 my wife and I had to visit Ground Zero and pay our respects to the victims of that attack and the heroes and rescuers whom we had admired so much from a distance. We haven’t been back together since.
This time, the subway took us right to the spot between the twin towers. We spent a few hours walking around, reading the Port Authority panels that tell the story of that fateful day, and looking at hundreds of pieces of art from the children of those who were killed in the World Trade Center attack.
Already it is impossible for us to comprehend what really happened there, only five years ago. Our impression was that as the cleanup and rebuilding proceeds, it will be all too easy for all of us to forget that day, and for visitors to not have any visual concept of the massive scope of the destruction.
At Pearl Harbor you’ve got a permanent memorial built over the sunken USS Arizona, a solemn reminder of the horrors of that day. We need something similar at the World Trade Center site to help us all remember.
On the east side of the site, there is a newly built mall, and on the second floor, large glass windows overlooking the site. We listened as a tour guide pointed out where the towers had been and which direction that planes had come from, and at what speed, and how destruction the building collapses had been. His words really took us back in time so that we could relive the horror of that day. Without a guide, though, it would really be hard to relive history.
As I looked through the huge glass windows, trying to remember what the buildings looked like, I wished that there could be some kind of etching on the glass, or some kind of digital overlay onto the glass, perhaps even animated, so that I could see what the skyline had looked like and so that I could visualize the events of that day.
If we had time, I would have liked to have watched the new Oliver Stone movie World Trade Center at the theater that is next to the World Trade Center site. Watching the film is reportedly a very moving experience. To watch it at the actual location would be even more impactful.
Our vacation included August 6th, which is the anniversary of the US bombing of Hiroshima, and we watched a documentary film in our hotel room about the great destruction and horror of the first two atomic bombs. We will never forget some of the interviews of the survivors. Again, it is impossible to comprehend something this destructive and awful. When we toured the United Nations, we saw some damaged artifacts from Hiroshima.
I love history, but it scares me too. It scares me so many millions of people, including innocent civilians, have been killed in past wars. It scares me that nations can become so polarized and so hateful. It scares me that leaders of nations can shield their citizens from opposing points of view and that intolerance and hatred can be so easily be fired up among the uninformed masses.
I want to be hopeful about the future. I want to be hopeful that technology and freedom of information will make future generations less likely than past ones to engage in all-out warfare. But I worry that language barriers, cultural differences, foreign policy disagreements, and religious and political polarization will lead to more wars and greater destruction than ever before.
Perhaps one reason I like religious history sites so much is that they are so peaceful and so hopeful, not necessarily because they hold out hope for the world we know, but they remind us of an eternal world to come. They remind me that we are both physical and spiritual beings, and that heaven and earth do sometimes meet–that great religious experiences are possible for those who seek God. They hold out the promise that regardless of what happens in this world, that each of us is a child of God, an immortal being who is on earth to see if we can walk by faith and still show love to our Creator by believing in Him and obeying His will. And if we do, we can hope for a much better world in the life to come.
My ancestors thought so. And I’m sticking with them.
So now, here’s a question for my readers.
What technology have you enjoyed most while vacationing? And what historical sites do you appreciate the most?
About a month ago I was reminded that many famous people in history are overlooked these days in our public discourse. The best ideas from the past are often ignored. Our modern culture doesn’t integrate them into our media, and even some history textbooks devote more space to celebrities like Madonna than to important leaders like George Washington. Sex sells. History doesn’t.
So I decided that maybe hundreds or thousands of historic figures should become bloggers, or that someone should start blogging on their behalf, using their own words.
So Blake Snow (who blogs for Weblogs, Inc. and is over our Provo Labs blogging networks) set about to make this happen. And in the past month we have found editors for more than two dozen historical blogs. Our concept is to say what they would say if there were still with us, if they were observing current events and participating in current debates.
We ask the blog editors to be faithful to their original words and intent. We aren’t trying to spin their opinions to prove our own points. But, whether our editors are faithful or not, the fact is we will see more great ideas from history coming into the blogosphere where the ideas and opinions can be discussed and debated. I think this new history blogger network will be a great contribution to the blogosphere.
You can become a history blogger by visiting Worldhistory.com and clicking on the bloggers wanted link.
Or check out some of the history blogs that have already launched:
Abraham Lincoln Blog
George F Kennan Blog
John Locke Blog
Queen Elizabeth Blog
Benjamin Franklin Blog
Charles Darwin Blog
Franklin D. Roosevelt Blog
H. G. Wells Blog
John F. Kennedy Blog
Joshua A. Norton Blog
Martin Luther King Blog
Robert Browning Blog
Thomas Paine Blog
Thomas Jefferson Blog
Woodrow Wilson Blog
* denotes pending content
So what do you think of this idea? And how well are the blog editors doing so far? Are they being true to the historic figures they are blogging for?
Which figures in history would you like to see blogs for? And which would you like to add to your blog roll?
We welcome your feedback!
MarketingVOX is the best daily summary of news affecting internet marketing. Every internet entrepreneur and online marketer needs to keep up with all the news that MarketingVOX reports. Their classification/tagging system is incredibly helpful. I love this site.
And today, I was surprised and pleased to see that MarketingVOX devoted the most prominent space on its web site to the Declaration of Independence. I invite you to read the Declaration of Independence it in its entirety today and to thank God for the brave men and women who built this great nation — The United States of America.
Our founders were not shy about acknowledge a supreme Creator who endowed all men with unalienable rights, including Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. In the Declaration, the Creator is also referred to as “Nature’s God,” and “the Supreme Judge of the world.” The founders relied on the protection of divine Providence as they sought independence from Great Britain and as they began their awesome experiment in self-government.
This is a remarkable document. It concludes as follows:
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
I express gratitude to God on this Fourth of July and to the founders of this nation for my freedom.
Dr. Stephen R. Covey reminded us in his recent patriotic fireside address (Sunday, July 2nd) that the Constitution of the United States is the oldest living constitution on earth and that 95% of subsequent constitutions have been patterned after it.
The founders of this nation and men and women who have fought to promote its goals of “liberty and justice for all” have not limited their concern to citizens of the United States of America alone. After all, the Creator endowed all men, women and children everywhere with the same unalienable rights. It is my hope on this Independence Day that people everywhere will be reminded of the importance of freedom, the price of freedom, and the great responsibility that comes with freedom. Reading the founding documents of our nation and learning about the great sacrifices made by the founders fills me with profound respect and gratitude, and makes me want to find a way to “go and do likewise.”
Filed under: Government and Technology, History, Philanthropy
I noticed two interesting articles in the NY Times today. The juxtaposition made me think.
One article says up to $2 billion in taxpayers money has been wasted in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It gives several examples of how money has been misspent.
When the government steps in to manage any program, especially when it tries to do it quickly (in response to the public demand for relief!), I think it is inevitable that fraud and corruption and mismanagement will result in squandered funds. The government is simply not as efficient as the private sector. And when waste and fraud happen, everyone blames everyone else. (Except no one will blame the public for demanding the Katrina funding in the first place.)
Contrast this with the personal responsibility that Bill Gates will be taking for the $31 billion donated by Warren Buffett to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. One of the goals of the Foundation is to find cures for the 20 leading diseases in the world. Gates will be leaving Microsoft in 2008. Imagine the good he and Melinda can do with $61 billion. Imagine how carefully they will invest these funds and measure the impact that their investments are making.
The Times reported how seriously Bill Gates is taking this donation from Buffett.
Later in the exchange, which was in front of 200 philanthropy executives, scientists, students and a few reporters, Mr. Gates got in his own reflection on the partnership. “It’s scary,” he said. “If I make a mistake with my own money, it isn’t as big as making a mistake with Warren’s money.”
If Worldhistory.com had an editorial page (we don’t yet) and could highlight the most important news stories, the ones that will make it into tomorrow’s history books, I would wager that the Bill Gates retirement story and the Warren Buffett $31 billion donation will be key factors in some future textbook’s chapter on how the world’s major diseases were eradicated. This is an incredibly exciting story! I can’t wait to watch it unfold.
I applaud Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates for these bold moves and I wish them well in their new focus on philanthropy. I’m especially excited that Melinda Gates mentioned microcredit in her discussion of the Foundation’s goals, since it is such a promising approach to alleviating poverty in the developing world.
Have you ever wondered what Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Jefferson might say if they were alive today?
Some of the great, wise leaders of the past are slowly being forgotten as their words get overshadowed by the proliferation of words in books, magazines and web sites, and as popular culture renders these figures less than heroic or overlooks them entirely.
I have believed for a long time that unless we learn lessons from history that we will find ourselves repeating mistakes of the past and end up in difficulties from which it may be impossible to escape. I actually think civilization is at risk for a lot of reasons, from the low birth rate in Europe (as pointed out in the book “The Death of the West” based on United Nations forecasts), to the addictions to gambling, pornography, and drugs that are becoming more prevalent, and the resulting breakdown of traditional families and family values, to the huge national debt and the looming economic problems that may occur when the ratio of workers to retired falls to 2:1 or even lower. (In 1950 there were 16 workers for every retiree receiving social security benefits.)
In the 2005 Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting, Charlie Munger opined that “we are at or near the apex of a great civilization.” Coming from one of the smartest investors in world history, this is something to pay attention to.
Most of all, the hatred towards the United States and all it stands for in many regions around the world may lead to another “war to end all wars.” This time the outcome may be far worse because of the weaponry that may be used.
I think we are a target for hatred because of our prosperity and also because of misguided foreign policies, in some cases going back decades. We have too often been a bully. At other times we have been weak because of entangling alliances which make it difficult to take a stand.
But more than all of this, I believe the U. S. helps generates the most hatred for our nation and our way of life by by producing content that celebrates violence, sex, and wealth and broadcasting it without any restraint or sensitivity to societies all over the world (including poor nations and highly religious nations), thus creating both jealousy (for our prosperity) and hatred towards us for attacking the values that they hold most dear.
After watching some movies and TV shows, which glamorize evil, it’s no surprise that some fundamental religious societies think of the U. S. as the Great Satan.
But, under the banner of Freedom of Speech, which we rightly enjoy in this country, our media producers seem to utterly disregard the impact of their creative works on young minds and old in the Middle East and elsewhere, who come away with an image of America that is completely distorted. And it’s one that is easy to despise. Too bad the Andy Griffith show doesn’t get watched worldwide. Instead it’s Dallas, Baywatch, and every other pirated R-rated movie that young people can get their hands on. I was told that the first satellite TV broadcast in Afghanistan after the Taliban fell was something from MTV.
(It’s ironic that so many Hollywood producers and actors speak out against our foreign policies without acknowleding that their content leads to inaccurate stereotypes of the ugly American and all kinds of misperception about what kind of people we are.)
I’ve met many people from foreign countries who knew almost nothing about the United States except what they saw on television. They discovered that people in this country (at least in middle America) are totally different from what they had anticipated.
I’ve wanted to team up with Michael Medved or someone and publish a book about how the media we produce and distribute worldwide helps creates the anti-American hatred that threatens our civilization.
Okay, so what does this have to do with famous bloggers from history?
Well, one way to export a more favorable view of the United States and its original values is to proliferate the writings of all our greatest leaders and thinkers.
So Worldhistory.com is going to be recruiting bloggers who will each adopt a great historic figure and start blogging each day about what that person would say if he or she were alive today. We will start blogs for many of the founding fathers and early presidents, supreme court leaders, congressional leaders, as well as leading business figures, inventors, scientists, educators, and religious leaders.
Our bloggers won’t make stuff up. Instead, they will find current events or topics that are in the news, and then they will find actual quotes from the writings or speeches of the historic figure and try to find one or more statements that sheds light on the contemporary issue. And we won’t be limiting our history blogger network to American historical figures. Worldhistory.com is about world history, and the great ideas from thinkers and leaders all over the world are sorely needed to help us achieve balance, tolerance, and a sustainable future for our civilization.
We will provide bloggers with access to electronic libraries and search engines that will make it easy to find any quote and blog it.
Blake Snow will be organizing this new blogger network, so if you are interested, please contact him at blake “AT” griffio.com.
Oh, and the bloggers will keep the majority of the advertising revenue that they can generate from AdSense or other ads. We’ll host the blogs and promote them on our other sites, including worldhistory.com.
But it’s not the money, it’s the cause that really matters the most. It is really important, in my view, for all of us to ocassionally remember what Abraham Lincoln, or Winston Churchill or Mother Theresa might say if they were with us today.
I just noticed ZDNet is recruiting a lot of new bloggers and they are promising to pay for consistent quality writing.
Also, this post about Doug Engelbart is really fascinating. I got my start in the computer industry in 1988 when my brother Curt hired me at Folio. He had been attending hypertext conferences for a few years and I read all transcripts from those conferences and so I became familiar with the pioneers in this space, including Engelbart. (This is also where I first became acquainted with Jakob Nielsen, now a world renowed web usability expert. He was big in the hypertext world.) So I’m interested in following the new Hyperscope project that has NSF funding and a blog to go along with it.
It’s been a long time since I have noticed so many historic events in a single day.
I’m watching the State of the Union address on my PVR. President George W. Bush started by mentioning the passing of Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., the great civil rights leader. The newspapers today announced the retirement of Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, after more than 18 years of service. And Justice Samuel Alito was confirmed to the Supreme Court by a vote of 58-42, after weeks of bitter debate. Under the leadership of Chief Justice Roberts, the Supreme Court may make its most conservative turn in years, and the consequences may last for decades into the future.
Whenever I watch history in the making, I feel a bit of pain that our Worldhistory.com web site is not keeping up with all the news and history. But this will change soon. Our new web site (yes, it’s “coming soon!”) will have more quality content, a better search experience, and will attract more users. If we can empower our users to tag important news and historical documents, then we can begin to accomplish our mission of delivering the most important history content to users all over the world.
We’ve discussed making journalists (including bloggers!) our primary target market, since they have press deadlines and need to quickly find the background to every day’s news headlines. If we can provide a valuable service to journalists and bloggers, we think we’ll get a great deal of exposure and even more traffic.
I’m anxious to get a WordPress plug-in that will enable me to automatically link to history content on Worldhistory.com whenever I blog about people, places, companies, topics, etc. If it is useful enough, perhaps we can get thousands of bloggers using such a tool to enhance their posts.
I’ve blogged before about my vision for worldhistory.com, but this time things are different. Provo Labs has set aside a significant amount of seed capital, we’ve got people for development, content acquisition, and partnerships.
This is the Best CES I’ve ever attended. I’m blown away by how rapidly technology is changing everything I’ve ever known about media, both mass media and my own content.
We are entering a world where anyone can produce audio and video programming and actually get it into the hands of consumers on any device.
This has been true for PCs for a few years now as content companies, authors, artists, and publishers can get their content online easily, and web users can find it. For 10 years I have carefully watched scores of online content companies, analyzed what they were developing and how they were marketing it. I used what I learned to help build MyFamily.com and Ancestry.com.
But today that same content will begin to be easily accessible on all kinds of mobile devices and most importantly, for the first time, on televisions in living rooms.
As a columnist for Connect Magazine, I’ve been able to attend hard-to-get-into keynotes from Paul Otellini, CEO of Intel and Terry Semel, CEO of Yahoo. Later today I will hear Larry Page, co-founder of Google.
Here are some of the big announcements:
1. Intel announced yesterday a new PC platform called Viiv (pronounced “vive”, like the Shampoo I used this morning). This tiny PC is built on Intel’s Core Duo processors will sit in your living room and connect to your large screen TV. And what will you watch? In the early decades of TV we watched whatever the 3 major networks played. More recently we’ve become accustomed to having dozens of channels delivered via cable or satellite. But Intel is teaming up with AOL Time Warner, Yahoo, and others to provide a totally different TV experience.
But in the new Viiv world any consumer will have remote control access not just to a few dozen channels but 14,000 TV episodes from 300 TV series for FREE, offered by AOL Time Warner via Viiv.
Consumers will also have access to at least 1,000 movies on demand and 1-2 million songs, under new subscription models. Morgan Freeman, famous actor and founder of ClickStar, announced yesterday a simultaneous in theater/in home world premiere of a new Hollywood film, later this year. Tom Hanks and Danny Devito, among others, were there to support Intel’s efforts to provide distribution to any film maker, putting creative control of future films in the hands of producers and directors. With the Viiv distribution channel, indies should thrive.
The last time TV changed for me was a few years ago when I got a DVR. This let me easily record any program and watch it at my convenience. TV time shifting is wonderful. My DVR is my favorite consumer electronics device of all time. (Second only to the 300 CD jukebox that I bought many years ago.) I’m not counting my Blackberry because that is for business.
But Intel’s announcement yesterday is a far more dramatic change than what Tivo has done. Intel will forever change television as we know it. Our living rooms will be powered by Viiv PCs that allow us to access millions of songs, thousands of movies, and all the TV programming of the past, on demand, plus any user generated content or other content off the internet, including photos, audio, and streaming video.
2. Yahoo today announced Yahoo Go and Yahoo Go TV. They invited all device manufacturers to partner with them (since they said they have no interest in doing hardware) . They showed how easy it will be to access your Yahoo mail, photos, music, and video on your cell phone and on your TV.
In fact, they demonstrated taking a picture on a Nokia camera phone, which automatically uploads to Yahoo Photos, and within minutes is viewable on your My Yahoo on your Intel Viiv powered TV.
The seamless syncing (or synching) of content on your three screens, your PC, TV and mobile phone, are really here for the first time.
My biggest complaint about my Blackberry is that I read 80-90% of my email on the Blackberry, but then I go online to Yahoo Mail and have to re-read the same email, and online it can’t tell if I’ve read the email message on the PDA or not. This makes my email life impossible. Some emails always drop through the cracks for me.
Phil Burns thinks the new MS CE based Treo would solve this problem. But Yahoo clearly is solving it too.
And my biggest complaint about digital cameras is remembering to get photos online so that I can save them and share them esaily with others. Cingular apparently tells Yahoo that billions of cell phone photos are trapped on phones where people never get them off.
But Yahoo fixes this. Then they also demoed how to use your phone to go online to Yahoo photos and pull down photos (whether taken by your phone or by your digital camera and uploaded previously) and look at them on your phone.
So perhaps our synchronizing problems across devices is really going to be solved. That is huge. But more importantly, the access to all the world’s mass and personal media on all of these same devices is even more important.
For years I attended Comdex and was impressed at how the technology industry enhanced human productivity. Phil Burns says the book “Natural Born Cyborgs” basically says we are all augmenting our human capabilities with technology. But a few years back Comdex started dying and all the computer hardware and software companies seemed to want to turn into consumer electronics companies.
HP two years ago hardly mentioned productivity. It was all about media.
Intel is now the future of television. The CEO ended his speech by saying that the “new normal” is a “rising baseline of fun” that is “brought to life by the human imagination.”
It seems like the main players in the computer industry are now all about entertainment.
This troubles me. The idea that the average american spends 247 minutes per day watching TV and only 50 minutes online really bothers me.
The availability of all the world’s entertainment content 24/7 on any device in our homes or in our hands leads me to believe that future generations all over the world will spend more and more of their time seeking entertainment. As if that is what life is all about.
Every year 150 m people get a mobile phone for the first time every year, 100 million get PCs. Most of the world have TVs. As these devices become Yahoo Go enabled and as Intel Viiv (with its 100 OEMs and a price point as low as $900) replaces traditional TVs, the whole world will have access to millions of hours of programming.
What does this mean for words? What will be the future of books? How well will words fare in a world that is filled with entertaining audio and video everywhere?
What does this mean for the future of health? In the US we’re setting obesity records and getting diabetes and Alzheimers in record numbers. Will future generations be couch potatoes
What does it mean for family life? More and more youth these days have multiple portable devices and wear earphones constantly. When they also have access to millions of hours of audio and video programming wherever they are, how will that change their attitudes towards their parents, siblings, and others?
I’m far from being a Luddite. But I am increasingly concerned about how the new focus on technology and entertainment will affect the world in the coming decades.
Bill Joy thinks the world will end in grey goo, with nano or biotech gone bad.
My concern is that no one will notice because they’ll be so engrossed in listening to some of the 10,000 songs on their iPod or watching all the episodes of “Welcome Back, Kotter.”
Neal Postman worried about the death of public discourse in the age of television. His book “Amusing Ourselves to Death” offers a very thoughtful warning. He suggested that those of us in the modern world could not sit through the Lincoln Douglass debates (which were several hours long) because all we can handle is small sound bytes.
What happens to logic, reason, conversation, and the human experience when media consumption fills almost every waking hour of every day. (I think many people are averaging 8-12 hours a day already.)
I’m not wringing my hands in despair; I’m just wondering myself as I contemplate the sweeping changes that I am seeing here at CES and trying to foresee where the world is heading.
I’ve blogged previously about Peter Drucker stating that the decreasing in population is the developed world is the biggest issue facing western civilization.
I wonder if we continue to be more and more entertainment by mass media which will now be portable–what will that do to family life? What will that do to hard work and sacrifice?
Will a larger number of us be contented to drink beer and watch satellite television for 7 hours a day in trailer parks, caring little for anything else?
I saw that lifestyle first hand while serving as a missionary in North Carolina 20 years ago. I couldn’t comprehend it. I visited hundreds of homes and wondered why anyone would choose to live like that.
But I think a new modern version of that will be simply escaping from the traditional work of education, hard work, sacrifice and responsibility into a constantly connected mobile world filled with entertaining media. In other words, we won’t need the beer and trailer, but we’ll achieve just about as much in our lives as those who do. It will just be a more portable and more social version of it.
I already know that most high school students know almost nothing about history. Jay Leno has proven that over and over again with his hilarious man-on-the-street interviews.
But the more content entices millions of youth to escape into the attractive world of modern portable entertainment, where millions of hours of content are luring them, what will happen to education? How many teens will read and study and ponder the Federalist Papers, to understand the cost of freedom, and why we should limit government?
I think a deadly 1-2 punch happens when youth stop reading books and start living an Always On lifestyle — where they all know the lyrics to every popular rap song, but no one can quote even a few lines from the Gettysburg address.
Google Print has the potential to change this. The Open Content Alliance too.
But the question is, how will we get any youth to care, when they have their cell phone and their video-enabled iPod, and their Viiv TV and high-def and a large plasma screen, and access to millions of songs and ten thousand movies?
Will the world end in Grey Goo or will we all amuse ourselves to death watching music videos by the Goo Goo Dolls on our Viiv TV?
It’s hard to think about anything these days but the thousands of
people who perished in the hurricane and floods and the 1.5 million
people who have been displaced whose lives are permanently disrupted.
Today I’ve been inspired by reading an article written 99 years ago in
the aftermath of the great San Francisco earthquake and fire. This was
the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States up until
Please read this and pass it along, if you think it can give us some hope and a new perspective.
Francisco have been destroyed by earthquake and flames. Three hundred
thousand people have been rendered homeless, and are facing, for the
moment, want and misery. The Federal Government, the States, and the
cities, newspapers, societies, and individuals are urging and
hurrying aid to the sufferers of the greatest calamity of the kind in
American history. No one is blind as to the extent of the disaster.
Yet, from every quarter comes that word of cheer and encouragement, of
sympathy and friendship, that is so helpful in times of distress, so
typical of the American character. Fortunately, says the New York
Journal, “it is certain that the spirit of ‘Forty-nine’ lives in
California to-day. The same courage that changed a wilderness into a
great State, and a strip of land by the sea’s edge into a beautiful
city, will do that work again. And from the ashes and the ruins, the
blasted hopes, the broken fortunes, there will arise another San
Francisco, more beautiful, more worthy of a brave people
Filed under: History, Intellectual Capital, My Favorite Books, My Hobbies
I have often felt that librarians are among the most underrated and underappreciated professionals in the U.S. The reference librarians that I have known over the years are among the most intelligent people I’ve met. They don’t know everything, but they usually know where to find anything–and fast!
I started a masters program in Library Science at BYU about 15 years ago, but it was short lived because my first company started taking off and needed me full time. But over the years I have spent hundreds of hours in the business and government reference section of the BYU Library. I have found many hidden treasures there. I have been richly blessed by my time in libraries.
For example, it was a librarian who first told me about Ancestry, the publishing company in Salt Lake City, which she said published 2 of the top 5 genealogy books of all time. Discovering Ancestry led to our purchase of that company a year or so later and the rest is dot com history. Many of the early databases we added to Ancestry.com were scanned from or discovered in the BYU Family History Library.
All of the content in our original CD Sourcebook of American History (which sold tens of thousands of copies) came from the BYU Library. Much of our original LDS Collectors Library content was discovered in the library.
I have gotten more new business and marketing ideas by perusing Directories In Print than any other single source. I now own the 23rd edition so I can browse it any time that I want.
Today I spent a couple of hours with two excellent series, the International Directory of Company Histories, in 68 volumes, and the Business Plans Handbook, which has 8 volumes filled with actual business plans that have been used in fundraising.
I decided that I will require every entrepreneur who asks me for free help to look through the index of the International Directory of Company Histories to find other companies in their space, to see what they can learn from the history of other companies, particularly the keys to their success.
Today I read about the founding of Altiris, a local company. I didn’t know that it was a spin of from KeyLabs, and that the former director of Novell’s SuperLabs was one of KeyLabs’ founders. I’ve know about Altiris for years, but I gained a much better understanding of the company today by reading the brief history. I bet MyFamily.com will be written about within another year or two. New volumes come out every year.
Personally, I think I’ll read every one of the several thousand company histories in the next year or two, trying to identify the key reasons why these companies became large and successful.
Sometimes it was product uniqueness, sometimes it was timing, or sales or marketing strategy. Sometimes it was luck.
I read about one Australian wine exporter who floundered for 10 years and nearly died until they qualified for a government marketing subsidy and then came up with a very obnoxious brand name (which I won’t repeat here). Now they are doing tens of millions in revenue. I read about a Canadian insurance company that succeeded for 75 years in large part because they didn’t require up front payments for policies–they had generous billing practices and therefore wrote a lot of insurance.
My goal someday is to create a Taxonomy of Business Success Tactics and to create some kind of Decision Tree software that will help entrepreneurs. If you are facing a particular challenge, I’d like to be able to retrieve a dozen or more historical examples of decisions other business people made when facing similar challenges. My system will mostly pull up full-text narrative; I’m not going to attempt to create computer generated decision paths. I think decisions must be left to your intuition–but your intuition could be informed by history.
Whether or not I ever built something that could really be useful to other entrepreneurs, I don’t know. I may just end up with a full-text knowledge base similar to my Taxonomy of Internet Marketing Tactics knowledge base that has over 200 ways to increase site traffic and conversion rate. I’ve benefitted a great deal by having this knowledge base at my finger tips for years. I just wish I could polish it up and make it available to others.