Thursday, September 17, 2009

Liberated Thinking

I recently came across the Shai Agassi's TED talk below on his project Better Place that Charlie pointed out to me a while ago. What struck me the most wasn't just the brilliance of the idea of separating the battery cost of full electric cars, but rather his ability to overcome the typical pat on the head he received from some of the countries he approached as they said "it's fascinating that the younger generation actually thinks about these things." In the talk Shai demonstrates an exceptional ability in communicating "back of the envelope" calculations that help to put things in real perspective. While there are numerous conditionals on these kinds of estimates, it really is fundamentally necessary as we begin to think about change in terms of orders of magnitude as opposed to simple linear growth.

To further this point, if you look at the comments, on May 5th a Chinese student lamented that he had to have a friend who's English was better help him understand the video and suggested they they include subtitles in other languages. On May 6th there was an acknowledgment from one of the video editors and then in just a week the option to show subtitles with a volunteer powered translation was launched. The video currently has subtitles available in six other languages.

Ideas have become viral, spreading exponentially regardless if they are good or bad ones. Our society currently seems poorly equipped for dealing with this scale of change, yet it is also necessary for the future that we've created. I'm currently in the process of writing a proposal (aside from this procrastination) on some of my own ideas on how to handle this kind of transition, but I'll need more than just the idea. I'll have to pursue it with the same passion that drives Shai and survive the inevitable pats on the head that come with the territory.