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SomaSimple - A Liquid Network

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  • SomaSimple - A Liquid Network

    I’ve devoted a few shorts posts to Steven Johnson’s new book, Where Good Ideas Come From to the blog posts in Range of Motion (find them under the titles The adjacent possible – parts I - III) but today I grew convinced that this book and its supposition deserves its own thread. This happened after a started listening to the version while reading ahead as I could.

    It’s an interesting experience, reading and then listening to the same words. Ideas begin to connect, and that’s precisely what Johnson explains.

    Much of what I write in the next few weeks comes directly from Johnson so please remember that. I will place as much as possible in quotes and I’d suggest you also watch his latest TED presentation as well.

    More soon.
    Barrett L. Dorko

  • #2
    The problem with the cafes I haunt, is I insulate myself with a computer and a hot chocolate and work alone. The only interaction I usually have if any is in the line up. I was thinking, would in not be cool if one of the chains had a screen like they use for their HD advertising. Or a sandwich board: "I NEED HELP WITH..." and people could go sit in a group and network on a free computer. Nothing creates social lubrication like a puzzle left out on the table.

    If I could start my own place here are some names.

    Idea Cafe
    Coffee Link
    Cafe Connectome
    Neural Cafe
    Agora Net Cafe
    TED Cafe
    Mind Works Coffee House
    Mind Works Cafe (apparently not in use)
    Coffee Muse

    The point is, SomaSimple is a ganglion in a network who's axons terminate all over the world. Twitter etc. is like glia. A lot of important ideas are crunched here but we need more connections.
    Last edited by Karen L; 24-10-2010, 09:38 PM.


    • #3

      Without having to make that sort of investment you could consider starting something along the line of a Science Cafe. There are also Philosophy Cafes and I'm probably any sort of cafe you care to organize. I've been trying to get one started locally but it's turned out to be more difficult than I thought it would be.

      SS is often a virtual Therapy Cafe.

      p.s. I just learned that Top Gear got its start in a pub.
      Last edited by Jon Newman; 25-10-2010, 03:29 AM.
      "I did a small amount of web-based research, and what I found is disturbing"--Bob Morris


      • #4
        The Nature of the Platform

        I’m going to get right to it: It isn’t the subject you’re discussing that engenders connection and completion of ideas; it’s the nature of the platform in which you choose to discuss them.

        A good idea isn’t truly described in a story as a “eureka moment,” but as the end result of slow nurturance within something preserved and cultivated over time. In such a place connections to other thoughts are made, discarded, made again, reinforced and, finally, conclusions are drawn.

        The nature of such a place might be likened to a large palace with doors that open freely into every adjacent room. Once explored and understood, another room will appear. If we’ve the courage, we’ll step through the threshold into another and then another, each “room” revealing additional ideas built upon the foundation of the palace.

        That foundation had better be unshakable.

        Now, consider the platform within which most discussions about manual care and pain take place in the therapy community. To me, they don’t resemble a freely accessible palace but, rather, a fortress. There’s a thread about that here.

        Please take a look at it, and then we’ll move on.
        Barrett L. Dorko


        • #5
          Just a reminder

          The most exciting words in scientific discovery are not, “Eureka! I’ve found it!” but rather, “That’s funny…"

          Isaac Asimov
          Barrett L. Dorko


          • #6
            Barrett you have posted recently the Chris Anderson TED Talk on Crowd Accelerated Innovation and in this thread which might be summarized as Spaces Optimal for Inspiration. Brick and mortal edifices of education have their place as spaces for inspiration as do the virtual networks that can facilitate linking of ideas. The only thing SomaSimple doesn't do at this point to be a space like TED Talks is we don't have video. We freely exchange ideas and material to advance learning, inspire and develop innovative solutions.

            You are about to embark on live teaching again and your platform will become a metaphoric place for inspiration. Perhaps we should all be thinking about how we make space for inspiration in ourselves and for others.



            • #7
              The commonplace book

              Johnson writes about the commonplace book, a device used to keep track of our thoughts and those of others. The philosopher John Locke developed an intricate but effective system for ordering the information each contained, and he died in 1704, so this sort of thing has been around for a while.

              I went to my bookshelves and found that I have six of these in various forms all stacked together. In the past I have referred to them when looking for a connection to some current reading.

              Do you have any?

              Is SomaSimple a modern version of this?

              Do you see where I’m going with this?
              Barrett L. Dorko


              • #8
                Building a palace

                When speaking of the adjacent possible, Johnson likens what we know to be true to a room within which we are comfortable. There are doors exiting to other rooms that may be opened so that you can see what's, well, adjacent. Getting from where you are to another room is easy enough, but I get the sense that doors only open once your current location is well understood.

                Note that the phrase is adjacent possible, not adjacent probable. .

                Here's what Johnson says:

                (The next room) is not an infinite space, or a totally open playing field...Only certain changes are possible. (But) keep opening new doors and eventually you'll have built a palace.
                Barrett L. Dorko


                • #9
                  Palace vs. Fortress

                  The question is how to push your brain toward those more creative networks. The answer, as it happens, is delightfully fractal: to make your mind more innovative you have to place it inside environments that share that same network signature: networks of ideas or people that mimic the neural networks of a mind exploring the adjacent possible.

                  Steven Johnson
                  SomaSimple is a palace. Its distinction from the fortresses built by others is, to me, obvious. A palace uses its guard primarily to welcome visitors. Here the moderators are vigilant for behaviors that will detract from our stated purpose and that’s well-documented and explained.

                  The guard at a fortress is designed primarily to keep others out.

                  Once within a palace you can move about freely, ask questions of the guide, admire or criticize the handiwork you see, offer suggestions for redecoration or ask for clarification if you feel confused.

                  A fortress? Not so much.
                  Last edited by Barrett Dorko; 28-10-2010, 11:59 PM.
                  Barrett L. Dorko


                  • #10
                    The Bridge

                    Many people live in our palace, and all are free to move about and examine each room.

                    But there’s a conference room closed to all but a few who reside here, and I’m one of them. The Bridge is open to moderators only and there we can speak of our mission and its progress openly. There I can swear.

                    We’ve organized intervention in that room, proposed and set up new forums and talked about how new interviewees might be invited to participate.

                    The door to this room doesn’t have a lock, you just need a password and anyone has the potential to enter eventually. It’s the nature of your passion and your demonstration of generous responsibility that lets you in.

                    I’d like to think that there’s a line forming.
                    Barrett L. Dorko


                    • #11

                      I used to think that nociception was necessary for a painful complaint. In fact, I’m pretty sure I used to teach that. Now I know better.

                      Being me, I’ve connected my current conclusion to a line from the movie Fiddler on the Roof. Prior to singing If I Were A Rich Man, Tevia says, “I realize of course, it’s no shame to be poor. But it’s no great honor either.”

                      I’ll mutate that a bit:

                      Nociception is neither necessary nor sufficient to lead to an output of pain, but it can certainly help.
                      Not everyone here may sense the connection, and fewer still understand it, but that’s okay. The individuality my brain displays includes a fascination with movies I can’t resist. It’s my way of seeing the world around me and an important aspect of a personality variant I’ve come to appreciate and embrace.

                      Repeatedly, Johnson makes the point that innovation grows when ideas are completed and when connections are made in a variety of ways that are unexpected, not foreseen; serendipitous.

                      More about that soon.
                      Last edited by Barrett Dorko; 30-10-2010, 10:26 PM.
                      Barrett L. Dorko


                      • #12
                        Back in the 80's, I was fond of a science show called connections. Never read the book though. They would track the development of canned food to Napoleon etc., the guy not the pastry. They did it by using, (you guessed it), connections.


                        • #13
                          In 1996, James Burke, the mind behind The Connections TV series wrote in The Pinball Effect:

                          No person acts without causing change on the web. Each one of us has an effect, somewhere, somewhen. Everybody contributes to the process. In some way, everything we do makes history, because we are history.
                          I happen to have the book. Now I should probably read it.
                          Barrett L. Dorko


                          • #14
                            You can get a flavor for Connections on YouTube

                            "I did a small amount of web-based research, and what I found is disturbing"--Bob Morris


                            • #15
                              Moleskine notebook

                              There’s a sort of companion text to Johnson’s book out there, Hamlet’s Blackberry by William Powers.

                              Here Powers writes of how much satisfying writing down seemingly random thoughts, favorite quotes and ideas that need germination can be. There’s nothing new about this, and the title of the book refers to pocket-sized device used by Shakespeare’s character.

                              This seems to be a smaller version of the commonplace book, and it was erasable. It has surfaced again.

                              We assume that new technologies will always make obsolete those that performed a similar function in the past, but it doesn’t always work that way. In fact, new devices often make the subtle power of something closer to tradition more evident. The hinged door is a wonderful example. You don’t see any on The Jetsons.

                              What are the “moleskine notebooks” in therapy today?
                              Barrett L. Dorko