February 11, 2010

A gathering of big brains in Marin County

Pt. Reyes Lighthouse Beacon

JD LasicaSpent last weekend at an annual retreat put on by a friend and consultant. This was the biggest gathering to date, with 90 of us from around the U.S. and Europe holed up in Marshall, Calif., near Point Reyes. (I mean holed up literally, given the extreme weather and the lack of Internet and cell phone access throughout.)

This was a retreat, not a conference, so I wasn’t in note-taking mode. But here are a few dozen photos I captured, and some interesting snippets. (We played by Aspen Institute rules, so we could report on comments but not attribute them without permission):

• I helped steer the most spirited discussion of the weekend, alongside author Scott Rosenberg, about the fate of news and journalism as they decouple from daily newspapers. I was surprised by the near-unanimity of the view that the kind of investigative journalism performed by news organizations like the New York Times needs to be preserved. How we get there is a story for another day.

• Coolest allusion of the weekend: to The Tralfamadorians, the creatures in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five who could see in four dimensions, including everything about a person’s past and future.

• Attendee Tom Gruber’s new iPhone app Siri launched during the retreat and shot to the No. 1 lifestyle app in the iTunes Store. I can’t wait to use it — it’s getting great reviews (NY Times) (USA Today).

• “intellectual property regimes are the exact opposite of social capital.” (I would differ.)

• “Stone Age people had more leisure time than we do.”

• When working with large corporations, “we are dinosaur whisperers.”

• Lakota saying: “If you’re riding a dead horse, get off.”

• “Skype is the only online telecommunications app that doesn’t work with anything else.” Not interoperable, not compliant with open standards.

• “Games are hacks of human behavior.”

Navi• Someone cited Josh SchachterPorter’s The Delicious Principle: Social software needs to be valuable to the very first person; it then becomes progressively more valuable.

• Interesting discussion about the symbolism of Avatar. The Hebrew word for prophet is Navee, akin to the film’s Na’vi people.

• “Today the Tea Party is holding its first convention in Tennessee with 600 people — and 1,000 reporters, amplifying the rage and pain.”

• The problem with the political climate in Washington: “It’s not about eliminating disagreements but disagreeableness.”

• “There’s an amazing self-healing quality to the Internet.”

• “Security is not just a network issue.”

• The guide at the Point Reyes Lighthouse told us the whale migration starts south in mid-December, with high season here in March through May as moms and their calves hug the coastline.

• Do ya like elephant seals?

• I captured two good video interviews, with Greg Elin about the importance of open APIs and Elliott Noss about the new raft of top-level domain names due out later this year. Will post them in the coming weeks.

• Attendee Don Norman just finished his new book “Living with Complexity,” due out in November from MIT Press.JD Lasica, founder of Socialmedia.biz, is now co-founder of the cruise discovery engine Cruiseable. See his About page, contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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