1. Know Thyself: Search for Identity
I love the meaning of things. The moment when the supernova cloud of confusion lifts to reveal a clear cohesive flow of 'aha' moments -- clarity of vision. As someone who's drawn to the discomfort zone of things, I'm attracted to the rules of the heart, it's forever been the enigmatic puzzle for my mind to solve, in this pragmatic, planned, data driven way where THINking is king, I find it can be a bit THIN. I like to say, CONTENT is QUEEN -- CONTENT a polysemous word that adds value with more than one meaning. Ranging from happy to intellectually interesting, it can have a material meaning, be a message, or subject matter and even an amount of something in a container. And QUEEN, whether female or male, always royal and divine!
I've grown to trust my intuition as far as my memory takes me.
Growing up in the '70s, a progressively infused Australian Whitlam (Australian prime-minister) and Dunstan (Premier of South Australia) era, the place that nurtured me into adulthood, I reacted to everything, my Greek heritage, the double standard inequality of gender do's and don'ts, it occurred to me, albeit a few decades later that reacting consumes enormous amounts of energy -- and as humans we have to take care not to let the flame in our heart burn out, if we want to thrive. On the flipside, I was a sponge, soaking it all up like a sensory litmus test with an insatiable unquenchable thirst to discover what it all meant in my limited perspective. My father would talk to me in ancient Greek riddles I could hardly decipher, so it didn't matter that most of the time language was not used to communicate, the effect was that I became aware of semantics, my imagination helped crack my father's cryptic ancient utterances to decode based on co-text, context, gestures, tone of voice and facial expressions (almost always stoic), somehow making coherent sense.
I had a curiosity at a very young age, to search for my 'reason'detre,' reason for being, somehow it had to be hidden in my father's ancient wisdom, so I tried at the age of four to stowaway on a ship to Greece, and jumpstart my discovery of 'who I am.' I was raised to believe that I was the perfect child -- that was a short-lived fantasy. Following the failed attempt to stowaway, I got to be the Greek face for a multicultural Australia campaign 'care for kids' when I was eight -- perhaps this realization that we are all children from different cultures living all together, made it natural to care beyond my bubble, it was always easy for me to see this and that -- growing up bilingual and with a feeling of oneness, togetherness, celebrating our differences. Finally, I got my wish and visited my parents' homeland -- a place that gave me my first taste of freedom, a sense of who I am, and a new perspective.
This pilgrimage ended up lasting nearly two decades, a time to replenish my cultural heritage and identity. Rather than reacting and rebelling, I began to respond and be more expressive with a deeper awareness. This led to infinite realizations. Just like notes go together to form music, words go together to form comprehensible language, atoms go together to form molecules, numbers go together to form equations that can explain everything -- the fabric of my core became clear in the perfect harmony and luminous quality of the Greek landscape -- where Gods and Humans co-exist in the same playground. So many ways to interpret, define, perceive -- and at the back of my mind, what would sages, philosophers, artists, poets and scientists like Buddha, Socrates, Michelangelo, Einstein say, and would it make my future 90-year-old self, who sometimes appears rocking on my shoulder, chuckle?
2. The Harmony of things + The Internet of Things
It's only recently, I was flung from my ancient wisdom environment, into this mecca of new tech power and innovation, the San Francisco Bay area, with the colossal impact of the internet of things, enabling unprecedented acceleration, mobility of information across countries and continents, creating an unexpected, exciting, tectonic shift in reality. My comfort zone was disrupted in an entirely new way -- to say I was completely spun out is quite the understatement.
New gurus emerge, whether CEO's, visionaries, designers, disrupters, journalists, hacktivists, artists, all new establishment dreamers. They seem to attract a multitude of likeminded hopefuls, invigorated by the contagion of innovation. Talks about reimagining everything appear in conferences, people from all over the world come to join visionaries and create a 21st century renaissance -- this freedom loving dynamism is the perfect breeding ground for fresh ideas, simply by buzzing around like a bumble bee and cross-pollinating -- I'm soaking it all up.We are living at a time where the Everything of Things is at our fingertips. The mind clutters with so much. Technology is like the gift that keeps on giving, its abundance of energy - empowers to solve problems in a way we could not have possibly imagined on our own. The opportunity to make the most of technology is key to whether we end up as its slaves or masters. Journalists, intellectuals, even technology entrepreneurs whose fortunes come from it (if you ask how much technology they allow/ed their children to use, the answer is surprisingly a very limited amount), and scientists advise us to be critical. In Susan Etlinger's insightful Ted talk, What do we do with all this Big Data? Ted Talk , she recommends,
It beckons to reimagine a world where we can accomplish more things together than we could on our own. New establishment is all about a collective mindset that has disrupted the old establishment. They say the Singularity of things is near, but what does that mean, what are the implications -- what's the next step? I am holding on to my ancient wisdom for good measure, as we take off. Still, I feel privileged to exist in this technologically enhanced time -- it's taken billions of years for us to get here.
We are not passive in the way we consume technology and data. We shape the role it plays in our lives and the way we make meaning from it.
3. Ancient Wisdom + Data = Win Win!
The abundance of creative artists emerging with this new palette of expression lead the way in reimagining everything, using an unprecedented scale of outreach that paints the perfect picture of what is possible to nudge humanity forward, it dares the rest of us to go beyond our bubbles. If you look at the history of art, as technology evolves, so does art - my personal favorite is the invention of film -- how to read a film with all the elements, acting, computer graphics, imagery, scripts, sets, sound - the sky's the limit for a semanticist like me what is now doable. But it's Ted prize winner, JR's, Ted Talk , use of art to show the world its face, which has brought together unprecedented massive scale intimate portraits of human faces showcased in the most unlikely public spaces, art using technology for good. Favelas and slums now have faces, empty fields that could be potential bombing targets have faces, and walls that divide have faces. Makes me wonder, what is the face of technology, and what does it mean -- does it empower or does it paralyze? My own yardstick is to find the balance and make technology a win-win.
I turn to a story, about the time when Alexander the Great, met the philosopher and father of cynicism, Diogones. One was a king, the other content simply walking barefoot in the sunshine, sleeping in an urn and expressing his viewpoint.
When Diogenes saw the king he sat up and looked at Alexander. Alexander greeted him with something like:
Diogenes, I have heard a great deal about you. Is there anything I can do for you?
replied Diogenes. The king was very much surprised. But this answer did not make him angry. He turned to his officers with the following words:
Yes, you can step aside a little so as not to block the sunshine,
Say what you like, but if I were not Alexander, I should like to be Diogenes.
I'll sometimes ask the same of my thoughts. Step aside a little so as not to block the light! Time to unplug and enjoy the sunshine. Just as too much sun can burn and cause skin cancer, yet without it we're doomed, perhaps the way we use technology needs the same care! 'Pan metron ariston,' best to use in good measure, timeless Socratic wisdom from 2,500 years ago.