Event Video, Featured, In Memoriam, Tech Community, Technology, Uncategorized

Douglas Engelbart and The Future, Now

© Mike Gebhardt / drnormal, All Rights Reserved

© Mike Gebhardt / drnormal, All Rights Reserved

The Future (intentionally capitalized) is important. It’s as important to us as food, water and shelter and is made from our dreams and desires to create a prosperous life for ourselves. It exists in the earliest cave art, religion, science, literature, education- because we visualize and desire to bend the inevitable Time, to our own will. It’s the heart of creativity and who we are and we should pay reverence to it as amazing and somewhat mystical because it transcends needs of The Now, pointing a compass to a destination- a collective idea- traveled by like minded people. The Future is both large and complex, and small and personal.

Douglas Engelbart was a special man who actually lived in The Future. Not just in his dreams- Engelbart manufactured The Future for himself and for all of us. I can trivialize his biography simply as “inventor of the mouse” or you can read more about him here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Engelbart  I think his memory is best served if you watch and listen to a man who invented The Future right here, on this blog, in these embededd videos, on this Internet. All of this existed in 1968, just not in that collective Now.

I’m concerned about The Future. Mainly because a person who thinks about these things everyday has pointed out that The Now seems to taking over more thought time in our consciousnesses which is confusing to me, since we have every bit of information, technology, and tool at our disposal to create The Future on a grand scale. I never imagined Instagramming my lunch to post on Facebook when I was a kid watching Star Trek on rerun television. I imagined we’d cure disease, eliminate poverty, bigotry and war, double our lifespans, and travel the stars exploring strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations. I think we can still do these things and they’re easier than we think. What we need is a collective dream- a grand challenge much like “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth”. We haven’t even done that in over 40 years!

I think we should tackle the problem of Time. We’re slaves to this fundamental thing that we still don’t understand well. Matter on the other hand, is becoming very clear to us- how it exists, where it exists- but we need a detailed understanding of Time if we are to grow into The Future next. We have it inside us. We can do it individually by starting small, making every thought have a future component to it, but we must begin to dream again of The Future here in The Now.

 

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journalism, Media, Tech Community

Media: Somebody Actually Made Money in Podcasting – Congratulations!

Just when I thought November would quietly putter along, it’s been quite a news month. Avoiding the obvious, in the local media market the financial woes and mismanagement of Portland Community Media, the community access cable studio and network caught my eye a few weeks ago. Over the years, community access television and PCM specifically has provided the deep technical resources and broadcast network to small-time producers of political, cultural, religious, educational, alternative, vile, artistic and just plain weird shows whose only common thread was a legal requirement of local cable franchises to support the communities they do business in by providing the resource to citizen producers without prejudice over content. They were the real free speech factories. Yes, I said were.

Several years ago I was looking for an outlet for my video production side projects and PCM was the leading option at the time until a co-worker showed me his first generation iPod and introduced me to the word podcast. “Why the hell would I produce anything for such a limited audience? Content for a very privileged few who carried around a little white music player? No thank you!” Well I soon got religion and started to consume podcasts that were the primer for what the medium, and the new social media were all about. I was hooked. Not only because the social web was a new hack on old broadcast ideas, but simply that the production-cost barriers to entry were minute. Anyone can podcast!

And so we did.

 

And he did too, and the world changed a little bit. Well, at least the world of Portland, Oregon beginning in 2009. Robert Wagner began his no-holds-barred Portland Sucks daily podcast as a labor of love, birthed as many shows had from the loins of his blog of the same name. And it was good. Instantly better with dependable co-host Sabrina Miller. Better than any censored morning radio show in the market that plays too many mattress ads and payola music. It turned out that he was so good at this podcast thing, he launched his own live streaming internet radio podcast network with multiple daily and weekly shows as pdx.fm and later rebranded as cascadia.fm. The network was so good that he attracted top notch radio talent like Cort and Fatboy to continue their popular show post KUFO. For three years my mornings were filled with live cascadia.fm programming, often streaming to my iPhone during my morning commute- just like listening to “real” radio that magically didn’t suck. To think that Robert was the technologist behind the station, its executive producer, webmaster and designer, CEO, audio engineer and the star talent is a little mind boggling because he somehow was able to do all those things exceedingly well and survive it. I can’t think of anyone in media that has done all that by themselves at his level of quality. No one.

But now it’s all come to an end. It’s a bittersweet end for sure, and even if I can continue to download new podcast episodes I’ll still miss the shows live stream every morning. I’ll miss the chatbox derailing, or often in the case of Cort and Fatboy guiding the stream of consciousness humor through to the coda of the show. What’s the good news, then? Cascadia is going out on a high note. Robert sold the internet network as an encore to the final bow of one of the coolest media experiments Portland has seen. He made money podcasting!

Like he said he would.

And in a way it proves a point that this scalability of current media models can and will thrive and you don’t need to justify your multi-million dollars of bad fiscal management on a poor economy with the excuse of serving the public interest. The public interest is being served quite well over here without you: http://www.livestream.com/occupyptown and the many fine programs on cascadia.fm have been serving us thoughtful entertainment for the last three years without donations or pledge drives. It all just sort of works. That is, if you’re smart, hard working and have confidence in what you are good at. That’s Robert’s formula.

So congratulations to you Robert Wagner and thanks for having made cascadia.fm a destination of quality programming. I’ll miss it, but I’m also happy knowing you were rewarded for all your hard work. You deserve it, man!

Mike

 

More with Robert about media:

Panel at Digital Journalism Camp

Webvisions Panel on Future of Podcasting

Strange Love Live 2009

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