These two 2011 TEDxKC presentations from Patrick Meier and Marcin Jakubowski dramatically speak to the "radical collaboration" element of the TEDxKC theme. Each one points to the innovative possibilities when diverse people bring expertise and passion to a common cause benefiting others.

Patrick Meier - "Changing the World, One Map at a Time"

If only crowds can use the means they have to share knowledge to help others.

Only if there is a framework for them to effectively collaborate.

Patrick Meier's 2011 TEDxKC presentation is an incredible innovative story of people collaborating to contribute, organize, and map their knowledge to help others - Haiti (after the earthquake), Libya (during the uprisings), and the Horn of Africa (famine).

Using the African-based Ushahidi platform for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping, crowdsourced maps aggregate and frame on-the-ground knowledge from many parties, providing relief and governmental agencies vital maps to improve their aid efforts.

The stories Patrick Meier shared have to be watched (and I'll be adding the videos as they become available) to be fully appreciated. For instance, what started as an individual effort in Boston to map live tweets, pictures, and some video in the wake of the Haitian earthquake expanded (via Facebook) to volunteers in 49 countries who were translating updates from Haiti in an average of 10 minutes to update the collaborative map.

Meier’s story of radical collaboration, while not necessarily shared as one of explicit creativity, offers outstanding creative examples:

  • The creative genius of linking disparate ordinary elements to create something extraordinary.
  • The creative importance of providing a framework for others to participate successfully.
  • The marriage of humility and audacity in thinking creatively AND actually changing the world for the better, even if your world is half a world away.

I'm in complete awe of the innovative mapping tools, the creative ingenuity, and the collaborative spirit of caring in Patrick Meier's stories.

Marcin Jakubowski - "Civilization Starter Kit"

If only people weren’t beholden to a planned obsolescence mind-set.

Only if diverse resources collaborate to be collectively smarter, wiser, and richer.

In the shortest 2011 TEDxKC talk of the evening, TED fellow and Polish-born fusion physicist Marcin Jakubowski shared an overview of his work just an hour north of Kansas City directing Open Source Ecology in developing the Global Village Construction Set. Its objective is a set of 50 open-sourced blueprints for the most important machines that allow life to exist. These construction and farming tools can be created from scratch and form what has been called a "civilization starter kit." Essentially all the knowledge to build the machines can be captured on one DVD.

Jakubowski and the others onsite at his farm are in the midst of rapidly building prototypes for the low-cost machines (the tractor was built in 6 days). The prototype building may have been the reason for the brevity of  Jakubowskis's innovative story since he planned to head back to continue working on the "midnight shift."

Open Source Ecology Video

As with Patrick Meier's presentation, it's important to hear from Jakubowski personally to understand the passion behind the radical collaboration of ideas, technical expertise, labor, and financial support that are all part of Open Sources Ecology.

Marcin Jakubowski 2011 TEDxKC Talk

Marcin Jakubowki's approach to this effort is an excellent example of looking at objects and processes and decomposing them into analogous pieces (i.e., the interchangeability of children’s building blocks is at the heart of using interchangeable parts across the machines).

The idea of being self-sustaining in a largely agrarian setting flies in the face of the industrial revolution. Perhaps it's a vital strategy though to benefit those parts of the world struggling to function economically, providing a way to improve lifestyles. It seems the Open Source Ecology strategy is not so much about "back to the future" as "forward to our roots." – Mike Brown


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