When I was thirteen, the Internet was fresh and new (at least in my life). I was fortunate enough to attend a school in which there were two technology visionaries who insured that we had the latest in terms of computers.
I spent many hours in the computer lab, outside of my "Future Information Systems" classes, browsing the Internet, building web sites, chatting with and learning from people all over the world. A whole universe had opened up to me inside of this gleaming Macintosh LC. I was determined to do something neat with my new found world. I never got around to a applying my skills into a speciality like coding or networking because all of it was interesting, and I could jump around to anything that interested me on a whim, picking up just enough of each topic to apply it to whatever fancy struck.
When I was fourteen, I thought it would be neat to have a website where someone could list their problems and other people could respond with the solution to the problem. In my delusions of grandeur of teenager-hood, I imagined that it would blossom into the website to solve every problem in the world. Well, clearly, I never made the website that saved the world, but I do find it funny that the idea never died. When building BuildingBeyond.Me, the same feelings from when I was a teenager arose. Let's solve the world's problems with the technology that allows us access to all of the information that we need to fix everything. Wow, the delusions of grandeur are still there.
Clearly, the problem is not simply access to information. Perhaps the problem is that in order to solve our problems we need the inspiration to spark the motivation to start the identification which gives us the dedication to begin the curation of the creation of the solution. Sorry, I just had to say that because it was too much fun not to. 👽
In a recent podcast episode of Roderick on the Line, Merlin Mann and John Roderick discuss the availability of information and the prevailing thought many years ago that if humanity only had access to all information, humanity would solve all of its problems. Now that we have the Internet, we do have access to all of humanity's information. Are we using it to solve all the world's problems or are we using it to play FarmVille and poke our friends?
No, surely we are not wasting our lives online. Surely we are gleaning information which is making our lives more fulfilled. Surely. Surely. Don't call me Shirley, and don't assume I'm getting to a point either.
In Future Problem Solving, a competition that I was a part of between fifth and sixth grade, we were presented with a scenario of some events that occurred at some point in the future. One of the scenarios we were presented with involved virtual reality and the possibility that in the future, people would become so engrossed in virtual worlds that they would lose touch with reality. In some ways, I think we have reached that point with our constant attention being paid to handheld screens. What happens when we have full immersion technology like in The Matrix to take us, body and mind, into other realms?
At the moment, we don't have wide sweeping, public access to full immersion technology, but maybe someday we will. We're not going to solve that problem right now. Right now, let's just take one simple problem and apply some problem solving to it.
One scenario -> what's the problem? -> what are the possible solutions? -> what is the best solution out of the possible solutions? -> what are the steps required to implement the solution? -> take the first step.
Now, if I could only practice what I preach... 🙈☺️