From useless to being in the zone

Strange morning. Looked at my hand from last night to remember what I’d written on it. Bio-Solar wallpaper. (yeah, I know, dry hands. It’s the gardening). Then I pondered my tech disruption map for a while lying on the bed and rather gave up. Tried writing a speach, but gave up on that too. Then went out in the car and bought some tulips. Came back and I’m on fire. What the heck was that about? Was it just about having a break, doing something different, giving it time or what? No idea!

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Disruptive Technology Timeline

Gonna be a good one. Will be done next month and published early January.

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Future of Water Timeline (Printable)

Here you go. Read it. Run a bath. Soak. Think.

Future Water Infographic 2017 MJ

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Future of Water (timeline)

Hot off the press with everything including the kitchen sink (what a mess of metaphors).

Tiny bit of detail from the Imperial College Tech Foresight blog here.

I’ll post a high resolution version of the map in a day or two.

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He’s not a Professor (he’s just a very naughty boy)

Lovely article here about what I do (or attempt to do). Written by possibly the most interesting person I met this year (I don’t get out that much). She’s called Ephrat and she writes something called Quartz (, which slightly reminds me of Aeon. Anyway, she was a fireball. The best 15-minute conversation of 2017.

Ephrat also sent me a fascinating article about trees. This resonated with me beacuse a 400-year old oak tree in my garden lost a limb in late September. The limb must have weighed 4-5 tonnes, but it somehow managed to land in precisely the one spot where it didn’t do any damage. It missed two cars, a garage, a wall, a greenhouse, a hedge etc. Most importanly it missed me (my office is right under it).It almost felt like the tree had decided where to place itself.

I wish I’d had more time to speak to Ephrat in San Jose. I briefly mentioned something to her that’s not a million miles off the trees using communication networks idea. Someone once came up to me after a talk and said “there’s a global gamechanger that I think you missed.” I was expecting the person to say Iran or something, but his response was far more interesting and profound. “What if we found a way to communicate with the animals…and what if they weren’t happy with us?”.

Everything just seems to circle back to Douglas Adams.

One of my seriously old books….

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Mind map

I forgot I did this. Years old.

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An answer to everything?

I’ve just been in San Jose and my head is still in bit of a spin for a number of reasons (one of which is that I essentially went for a day from London).

Anyway, on the way over I read about a UK firm (Analyse Local) offering to use satellite imagery to help councils spot small businesses that are improving their business premises ‘without permission’ and hence potentially subject to higher business rates (not exactly a high crime surely?).

Then a great piece in the San Francisco Chronicle about why tech shouldn’t be used in pre-schools. This is not the first some piece coming out of Silicon Valley that’s anti-tech in schools and rather interesting.

Chimes very much with my chapter on education in Digital Vs. Human and also with something I wrote for the Australian government recently. (Wider discussion about AI here).

Finally, how about this for a head-spinner. How about if you could take everything ever written by humankind, get a computer to read it, and provide an automated summary?

Believe it or not it’s not that hard to do and to some extent we’re doing it already with vast numbers of academic papers (computer reads them all and spits out some insights).

42 anyone?

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Roadmap of Disruptive Technologies

Disruptive Technology Dashboard

I’m doing another one despite the fact that I said I couldn’t and wouldn’t. Yes, I know you can’t read it. That’s because it’s not ready.

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Thought for the day

I’ve been re-reading In Our Own Image by George Zarkadakis (about AI). One line has really caught my attention.

“It is therefore possible that the biological mechanism of consciousness is not localised in the brain but distributed throughout the body.” Whoa!

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The benefits of being a slow reader

I’ve started doing something recently that seems to be having an interesting effect on me. It’s something I’ve started to mention to other people and they seem to be intrigued by it.

What’s the thing?

I’ve started reading old newspapers and magazines. I don’t mean really old (years old), but weeks and occasionally months old.

Why am I doing this?

It’s partly that I no longer have the time to keep up with the daily deluge of newspapers. Reading one or two daily newspapers plus half a dozen or more magazines and periodicals cover to cover every week just isn’t sustainable.

So, here’s what I’ve started doing to deal with the deluge. I’m still buying the same material (but with more of a focus on weekend editions of newspapers and monthly magazines and periodicals that have more time to analyse not just report), but I’m reading them in binge reading sessions backwards. I’m reading them a week or a month after they’ve been published.

What’s the benefit of doing this?

Reading news and analysis that’s old seems to mean that I can skim things much faster. It’s more immediately obvious what is nonsense, misjudged, ill-informed or, with 20/20 hindsight, absolute gibberish.

I can skim a whole newspaper and pick out the good bits in 60-seconds if the issue is old enough.

But this skimming must be done on paper. Skimming a newspaper or magazine is far faster on paper than scanning one online. On paper serendipity also kicks in. Online I’ve pre-selected sections that I’m theoretically interested in. On paper, I just look at the whole thing and occasionally find things that I never knew I wanted to know.

But the really key thing is that with old newspapers, periodicals and magazines I seem to see connections. The benefit of what I’m terming ‘media hindsight’ is that deep connections appear far quicker.

My mind is more relaxed too. I don’t feel as though I have to finish things fast. The pressure is somehow off.I’m also tearing things out, scribbling on them with a pen and stapling them to similar and connected ideas. Try doing that on a screen.

In short, I have more time to think and my thinking is more relaxed, less knee-jerk and more contextual. I’m even less stressed, less anxious about the state of world affairs and, dare I say it, a little bit smarter (which in my case isn’t difficult).

Every little helps as they say.

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