Ecosystem, New Work, Tech

The Future is a Roundabout

The Future Roundabout by kevin dooley, on Flickr

I have always loved roundabouts – traffic circles – or whatever name you give to those delightful road configurations that move traffic in most parts of the world except North America. I could never figure out why I liked them so much until I starting writing my book about the new intersections of science, technology, culture and the world in general.

Intersections are exciting for me because as someone once said, “… the action most worth watching is not at the center of things but where edges meet … roads, shorelines, weather fronts, international borders …”

Love it!

But the roundabout is a different kind of intersection, isn’t it?  It is fluid, it is highly evolved and most importantly it requires a skill level that lifts the driver beyond the ordinary.  We must pay attention as the interactions of the drivers are entirely mutually dependent.  It ONLY works if the rules are obeyed and people pay attention.  It is efficient and sometimes {often} messy.

It is collaborative.   A traffic LIGHT is not.  A stop sign is not. Simple binary rules – go or stop.


But a roundabout!!  Anticipate, weave, integrate, go, left check, right check, exit. Always some uncertainty about the outcome.  And the best is the first time in a complex urban roundabout (think London or Paris). Even better when driving on the opposite side of the road.

My first roundabout was in Adelaide, Australia after spending 4 hours in the Barossa wine country with a manual shift, driving on the opposite of the car and road.  It was awesome!!  That I am alive today –  we will leave that for another day.

As we think of the future where incredible intersections of all forms of human knowledge will begin to solve the really hard problems, I am thinking that it will look and feel much more like roundabouts than the traditional two-line affair.

I am paying attention!




The Era of Getting S–T Done!

I have been involved with technology for exactly 30 years this fall. My first job was a “Micro-computer Analyst” with Ultramar – a UK based Oil & Gas company.  I had the fortune to catch the absolute ground zero of the personal computing revolution; proud to have carried a screw driver and to have known how to flip dip switches on a 512K (K!) memory expansion board for an IBM AT.

Reflecting back on the years, there have been 3 great epochs:  Personal Computing, The Internet and most recently, Social/Mobile. I have been involved in all.

I am super excited to be healthy and relevant {enough} to participate in the fourth.  I call it the Getting Sh!t Done {GSD!}. The basic thesis of GSD! is that these past 30 years have simply been about “plumbing” and now it’s time to solve some really hard problems.

Machine Learning, Global Collaboration and Digital Natives meet Big Problems – Health Care, Energy, Food and Education.  Sciences begin to mesh:  Biology and medicine meets computing science meets material science.  Behavioral Sciences meets machine learning meets big data.

The GSD! era will see very smart people and new thinking applied to new and old problems with incredibly capable and accessible tools. The great new entrepreneurs will not be plumbers or the technocrats.  They will be the “Meshers” and “Collaborators” who see the adjacencies and will understand and exploit the edges of where previous silos of culture, science and technology intersect.  Think Elon Musk.

As my buddy Ken says, “Game on!”