December 31 02015

Jason's Notes:

Critically speaking, a big non-profit is likely to be definitively inefficient. Large grants to large organizations are as good as small grants to small organizations. Too much overhead. non-profits don't have to be run inefficiently. You can run them business-like and achieve greater returns in a more sane manner.

Just because you are a non-profit with principles does not lend you the armor of Mother Teresa. Likely, your principles are screwing someone, and they will get you if they can.

Startups are a scourge on talented minds. Being obsessed with turning a profit, getting cash flow, these are poison for creativity. "FOCUS" is the death of creativity. In this manner, it isn't that the mind is blurred, but that putting all eggs in one basket kills cross pollination.

If the free market will/could do it on its own, stop doing it. The real innovations are those that are outside the mainstream, and thence comes significant changes to technology.

Innovative organizations can't be franchised. By their very nature they are rule-free zones. If you are asking if your crazy incubator is following the model, you've failed. There needs to be freedom of capitol, decentralization, and the older must listen to the younger.

In every way, it is play.

Nicholas Negroponte

A world of convergence

In education, Negroponte explained, there’s a fundamental distinction between "instructionism" and "constructionism." "Constructionism is learning by discovery, by doing, by making. Instructionism is learning by being told." Negroponte’s lifelong friend Seymour Papert noted early on that debugging computer code is a form of "learning about learning" and taught it to young children.

Thus in 2000 when Negroponte left the Media Lab he had founded in 1985, he set out upon the ultimate constructionist project, called "One Laptop per Child." His target is the world’s 100 million kids who are not in school because no school is available. Three million of his laptops and tablets are now loose in the world. One experiment in an Ethiopian village showed that illiterate kids can take unexplained tablets, figure them out on their own, and begin to learn to read and even program.

In the "markets versus mission" perspective, Negroponte praised working through nonprofits because they are clearer and it is easier to partner widely with people and other organizations. He added that "start-up businesses are sucking people out of big thinking. So many minds that used to think big are now thinking small because their VCs tell them to ‘focus.’"

As the world goes digital, Negroponte noted, you see pathologies of left over "atoms thinking." Thus newspapers imagine that paper is part of their essence, telecoms imagine that distance should cost more, and nations imagine that their physical boundaries matter. "Nationalism is the biggest disease on the planet," Negroponte said. "Nations have the wrong granularity. They’re too small to be global and too big to be local, and all they can think about is competing." He predicted that the world is well on the way to having one language, English.

Negroponte reflected on a recent visit to a start-up called Modern Meadow, where they print meat. "You get just the steak---no hooves and ears involved, using one percent of the water and half a percent of the land needed to get the steak from a cow." In every field we obsess on the distinction between synthetic and natural, but in a hundred years "there will be no difference between them."

--Stewart Brand