I believe scientists, alchemists, philosophers, mystics, and visionaries ask a boatload of questions.
Mahatma Gandhi said his whole life was experiments with truth. So I was toying with the idea of taking some crescent mat board (locally you can get it at University Art, Palo Alto) and really making a science fair project out of my 2007 hypothesis question.
You know, a step quirkier than the typical magazine cutout what-I-envision-want-desire collage.
In 2002 my question was "What is the meaning of my life?" (Well, I think it was more in the vein of "What the @#*%$! is this about anyway?"). In 2005 my question was "What is deathless?" I'm not to sure what my hypothesis is this for year quite yet, but hey it took me months in junior high to come up with my science fair topic. (Lucky I'm a lot quicker these days.)
"Albert Einstein once commented that the most fundamental question we can ever ask ourselves is whether or not the universe we live in is friendly or hostile. He hypothesized that your answer to that question would determine your destiny." - Wikiquote on Albert Einstein
Keep seeing interesting guiding open-ended questions crop up like: What are you optimistic about and why?
Try that one.
I click with how Robert Scoble has been answering it. It gets to the heart of why I'm really stepping back into social media again.
I was talking to Adrian Chan a few months ago and I tell him I almost got out of technology altogether back in 1994. I stayed in because this thing came along called the Internet that was connecting people to people, it wasn't just human interfacing to machine. He tells me that's why he's into social media too, because he fundamentally cares about "the social fabric of humanity." And I think we were both silent for a second after he said that.
Here's how Robert answered What are You Optimistic About?:
Lots of interesting people are talking about the Edge question: what are you optimistic about and why?
Last week I met hundreds of Americans in four cities. That experience made me much more optimistic about the future.
One guy, in particular, gave me a tour of his FEMA trailer in a poor, decimated, New Orleans neighborhood and then took me inside his stripped-out home that had been flooded eight feet deep with water and muck. He was black. I was white. Not that that matters, but in previous decades I probably wouldn’t have been invited into his home. He had an awesome attitude, despite the crap that life had dealt him. He made me optimistic once again that we can take on tough challenges and come through with a laugh, a smile, and a great joke about it all.
But, then I realized why he had a great attitude. He had friends who were helping him rebuild his house. They were working on making their neighborhood better. One stud at a time, one of them told me.
They made me optimistic that my son will see a better world than I’ve seen. One where we can figure out how to bootstrap communities out of poverty. One where we see the last vestiges of “isms” disappear. One where we help each other out — one nail at a time, if need be. - Robert Scoble, "2007 Edge Question: what are you optimistic about?"
And this snippet ties it together. Yep, porches and enough banana pudding for the block are the glue of social capital - I kid you not:
"One other thing Ed has is this infectuous love of politics and love of his local community. I didn’t really grok why so many great American politicians come out of the south until Maryam and I visited a local neighborhood party and had banana pudding on the front lawn of some guy’s house. It was like a Web 2.0 party in San Francisco, except there was a collegiality that just doesn’t happen in SF parties (they are getting too big, for one). I think it was all due to the banana pudding. Maryam and I have been craving it ever since. That stuff is like crack." - Robert Scoble, "Ed Cone, combo of politics, tech, community"
p.s. Robert, I, Anil Dash, and Chad Dickerson will be on the same panel Jan 9th speaking on 2007 Predictions for the Web (in Mountain View, CA; more info) My delicious tags in preparation include blog entries on other's predictions for the 2007 Web.
p.p.s. I'm going to New Orleans finally for my own self. I reckon around Mardi Gras. And Wyatt arrived back in Nola on Christmas Day, very very late Christmas Day, but definitely Christmas Day.
images Porch Party, Charleston 2005 by Red Grooms (American, b. 1937), gouache on paper in the Gibbes Museum