Dorthea and Realizing Plans

Dorthea has released a new video here:

and she has a few more questions for us:

1. What can you do to see your plan realized by 2036?
2. Is our future course correctable?


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Dorthea Back Online and Thinking About Humanity

It looks like Dorthea is okay, but she has some thoughts for our teams in Bloomington 2011:

It seems as though she is asking for us to think about two things:

  1. How is humanity defined by our actions?
  2. What kinds of behavior and communication patterns have developed in your groups?

How is humanity defined by our actions?

Philosophers and theologians have debated the nature of humanity and reality for millenia. Do we exist because we think? Is there an essential “human” nature? Is “human” a socially constructed idea? Whatever you believe, i would like to suggest that for now we try on the simple but profound glasses of Forrest Gump, who suggested that “Stupid is as stupid does” or the similarly simple but profound lenses of Jimmie Dodd and Doreen, who suggest that “Beauty is as beauty does.” (i know there are more high-minded versions of this concept, but i thought it would be entertaining to use these)

In other words, humans are what we do. And extending that to the premise of this game, humans might be not only the things we do today, but also what those things we do cause in the future. Assuming for a moment that this is true, what does that mean for us today? Right now?

What kinds of behavior and communication patterns have developed?

Communication is critical to getting things done with other people. Take it away and the ability to get things done goes with it. Improve it, and the ability of two, ten, hundreds or thousands of people to create better outcomes improves too.

Most often, communication patterns emerge out of people’s everyday interactions, as they develop their own norms for how to work together. Occasionally we solidify these norms into spoken or written rules. What are some of the effective or ineffective patterns that you have seen emerging in your teams?

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Things Have Changed?!

We aren’t sure what has happened, but the transmission Dorthea we found from Dorthea today is very different from her previous ones. Here it is:

To help her out, we should probably explore two big questions:

  1. What events of the past 24 hours might have happened that are having big negative effects on Dorthea in 2036?
  2. What might your groups be doing differently to help achieve your goal of creating an Ignite talk that will help to change that future?

On the first question, Inna Kouper sent the following thoughts for us to post here. Could the fact that this is starting to take effect today be affecting Dorthea in 2036?

The following news a couple of days ago made me (Inna) think about our
relationship to others and the environment again: As
part of the Obama Administration’s comprehensive plan to address
rising gas prices, DOE and USDA announced that $47 million will be
given to support the production of biofuels and bioenergy. This will
help reduce U.S. oil imports, support rural America, create clean
energy jobs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
I won’t say for sure that this will have the negative impact, but I’d
really like to know whether we can be so sure about the positive
impact. For example, biofuel research and production requires huge
areas of land devoted to that. Basically, we’ll need lots of corn and
other crops. How will this affect everything else in the environment?
TIME magazine seems to think that the impact might be negative
How can we as citizens make our informed decisions about this issue?

On the second question, i (Christian) would point out that the TTB teams are starting to use some innovative ways to work toward our shared goal of improving the future. One team, for example, has created a Twitter list for their team, so that all of their communications show up in one place. Other teams have been using photos on Foursquare as a way of communicating. Despite this progress, though, we clearly need to start focusing our efforts. You may need to start some group critical thinking with your group about the one or two things that might get Dorthea out of whatever situation she is in. There may be many causes, of course, but the sooner your groups can find one cause to address and lay a plan for acting on it, the better off Dorthea will probably be. Remember that the purpose of your Ignite talks on Thursday will be to argue for this plan of action.

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Sunday Questions From Dorothea

Dorothea, our collaborator from Bloomington 2036, has sent a video message every day now for the past 3 days. Another showed up this morning. There appears to be a small glitch in the video, but you should be able to make out what she is saying:

She seems to be asking two big questions of us about our proposed plans for nudging the future of Bloomington in a positive direction:

  1. What resources are needed to sustain your plan for 25 years?
  2. How do you match your passion to what others need from you?

A few thoughts…

Resources and Sustaining Plans

As individuals, as groups, cities and even as countries, we humans are pretty good at coming up with ideas, but not always great at carrying those ideas to fruition. In some cases it is due to a lack of planning ahead to allocate financial, time, physical or other types of resources. In other cases it is because we have difficulty foregoing short-term benefits for longer term ones–something studied in the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, which tested children’s abilities to avoid eating one marshmallow for a period of time in order to get a second marshmallow later.  There are many things that help us to do this better, like creating collective rules and norms to guide behavior, maintaining stronger shared visions for how our actions today affect tomorrow’s future, and creating trust between people who are working toward common goals.

What sort of things do you think we can do in Bloomington today to ensure that our plans for tomorrow are sustained long enough to have the desired effect? Related to this, what can we also do to make sure we don’t sustain efforts that are not having the desired effect?

Matching Passions

Matching our passions and skills to what other people need in a situation is not easy. It requires a great deal of self-knowledge and other-knowledge. First i have to know what I am passionate about or what skills i possess. I then have to know what others really need. There are many ways of knowing. For the last hundred years (at least), we have privileged more scientific ways of knowing, which focus on observable evidence. To scientifically know my passions, i might look to an expert to study my patterns of behavior, administer personality tests, skill assessments. To know other people’s needs, i might look at statistical accounts of current needs in my community. But there are other (and i would suggest equally important) ways of knowing myself and others, like self-reflection, community engagement, artistic expression, etc.

What are some of the different practical ways that we can consistently match people’s passions and skills with the needs of others in Bloomington in the next 25 years?

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More Questions From Dorothea

Dorthea Nie, our collaborator from the future, released yet another video:

In it, she poses two more questions:

  1. Where can you go to find cutting-edge ideas that could lead to major change?
  2. How do you prefer to get new information?

We think these are important for us to think about in both the short and long term.

Inna Kouper sent us the following responses to these questions:

Where can you go to find cutting-edge ideas that could lead to major change?

I’d say start with yourself. Often we think that it’s other people’s
job to come up with ideas and offer us solutions. But each one of us
has ideas, we just don’t have time to develop them. Believe in
yourself, turn your imagination on and start changing the world today
:) Some other places I like to check often: offline – MCPL (stacks and
bulletin boards), online –

How do you prefer to get new information?

I try to get information from as many sources as possible. Via email
I’m subscribed to many listservs of interest (related to language,
technology, culture, internet, etc.) I use google reader to subscribe
to blogs, news services, journals, podcasts, etc. My google buzz and
facebook feeds are other great sources of information. Twitter.
StumbleUpon is a way to get to things that I may not find otherwise.
And wikipedia, of course, when i need to learn about something i don’t

What about you? How would you answer these questions?

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Questions from Dorthea

Dorthea Nie, our eyes and ears in the future, released another video this morning (or whatever that translates to in her experience):

In it, she poses two big questions:

  1. What are we doing as a society that might create problems in 2036?
  2. What motivates you to become involved in shaping the future?

These are interesting things to think about, in any time period.

Some thoughts …

What we are doing that creates future problems

From my perspective, time seems to operate a bit like Leonard in Memento. What we remember about the past is decided by what we choose to record in the moment. I look at the recent misquoting of Mark Twain and Martin Luther King, Jr. as a recent, little example of how much our history is like a game of “telephone.” We trust what we see, pausing sometimes to critique our sources, and then pass along information with our own context and understanding. I've been re-reading Larry Gonik's great Cartoon History of the Universe series. On more than one occasion, what we know as history is merely the luck of the victor. Entire civilizations have been disappeared over time through omissions or destruction.

I wonder if part of our problems 25 years from now is going to be tied to both what we are discussing now and how we go about recording it. What does the world of 2036 think about things like President Obama's birth certificate and whether Osama bin Laden is indeed dead? Shouldn't our focus be on shared goals and how our daily living can support those goals?

What motivates involvement in shaping the future

Motivation comes from many different sources. Sometimes, it's financial (not in this case, believe me), but often the things we do are for love, connection, and self-fulfillment. I want to live in a community that is both an extension of me and a place that challenges me to think and re-think about our own actions. I want Bloomington to be intentional and distant in their reflection, but have the ability to connect that future destination back to how we live today.

If Taming the Butterfly, with Dorthea's help, gets us a little more connected, a little more reflective, then any time spent interacting with this gaming community is worth it.

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Our Future Hacker is Persistent

For the fourth time in past several weeks, a local YouTube member has awoken to a new video in their stream, one they didn’t create. The latest was discovered by Chris Eller (@ceeller) earlier today:

Although the YouTube videos are more interesting, a number of tweets have surfaced, too, from the mysterious Dorthea Nie, hacker from the future.

I’m curious to know if Chris’s video matches some of the peculiar things we found out about the others. We’ve got a theory that we’re going to test out this week, something that could affect the way we play our game next week.

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Keep May 5th Open

Christian and I are ramping up the planning for our alternate reality game (ARG), Taming of the Butterfly. We’ve encountered a wrinkle we’re trying to iron out, but the big logistics are starting to be confirmed.

For everyone who has registered, expect an email at the end of the week outlining some details about what to expect during the week of May 5-12. The Kickoff Event for TTB will take place in the MCPL Auditorium at 7p on Thursday, May 5. During that session, the game will be explained and you’ll get a chance to meet your teammates. The other important date to reserve is the evening of Thursday, May 12, when you and your peers will be presenting at a special Ignite Bloomington event downtown.

We’ll also ask you to try to create some accounts ahead of time, to prepare for the game.

For those who have not yet registered, please do so. The more people we have involved with the game, the better the digital experience will be. If you are mostly looking for some introductions to popular Internet tools used around Bloomington, the game will be a way to practice what you learn. You’re certain to meet some new people and participate in planning the future of Bloomington at the same time.

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Stranger and Stranger

Our hacker has struck again.

At the end of last week, the Visit Bloomington group tweeted that an odd video had suddenly appeared in their YouTube account:

Hacker video #3 (courtesty Visit Bloomington)

This follows two other incidents where this person has shown up in unexpected places.

We can ignore the strangeness of the content for the time being, because there is more than enough strangeness to go around on the technical side.

I have a couple contacts in the Googleverse who did some digging for me. After first chastising me about changing passwords frequently and not using my pets names, they reported back three very striking quirks all three of the videos have in common:

  1. The videos are only partially logged. Like all good Internet services, the backend system keeps track of a lot of information about all the activity on the site, including file uploads. These particular files have triggered some of that logged data, but not all of it. According to the log files, these videos weren’t uploaded (e.g., there is no record of a temp file or timestamp for that process). Nor was there any administrator activity at the times they appeared. They just … appeared.
  2. The IP address is wonky. At present, IP addresses have four numbers delimited by dots. On June 8, there will be a world-wide test of the newer version of IP addressing, which will take the form of 8 hexadecimal numbers separated with colons. The IP addresses for these three videos don’t appear to be either of these; they are practically gibberish (hex codes separated with pipe characters). The techies aren’t clear how it made it into the database.
  3. These files can’t be deleted. It’s not from a lack of trying. Even on the server side of the site, the insider techies keep encountering an error that indicates the request cannot be fulfilled because the file doesn’t exist. However, exist it continues to do.

Taken individually, this is probably just a little annoying oddity. However, with three separate instances all exhibiting the same characteristics, there is some concern that this is something new.

If anyone else spots one of these videos showing up, please let us know. I don’t know if this is more widespread than just Bloomington, but maybe that’s a question I should ask my friends at Google.

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Another Hack

Earlier this week, local techie and future host of TEDx Bloomington, Sarah Smith-Robins, found a video on her YouTube channel that shouldn’t have been there. This is clearly the work of the same person or group that got us earlier this month.

Although we took a reflective approach last time this happens, we are also looking into why this happened. I’ve got a friend over at Google who is doing a little digital digging to see if there is a pattern. Until then, I hope Intellagirl doesn’t remove the evidence.

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