Monday, July 9, 2012

Small things:

Little bits of technology, and all the connections - Carlson's and Kim's death are linked by an invisible thread…

Headlines: "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" author dies of heart attack"
Headline: "Machines can't save our world / Kim family's story shows limitations of new technology" (Originally Published Online)

     What is interesting about re-examining the untimely deaths of these two individuals is that small stuff matters in very similar ways. Because it is all the small stuff that is connected to other small stuff, that when you look at all the small stuff interconnected it becomes really big important stuff. This is the basis of systems theory, it is a basic component of social dynamics, it is the basis of biological systems, it is the basis of neuro-cognitive psychology, it is the basis of social networks, and even technological networks. The invisible thread is that element or interface that we as humans provide a consciousness to connect them all with. We can operate in a world full of small stuff, manage all the small stuff, and be connected to all the small stuff. It's not that hard, it does not require sweat, and it might just save your life

     Ironically, the first article is about a guy promoting a book about holiday stress that dies of cardiac arrest on flight from one book appearance to another during the holidays. Sadly, the other article is about a guy who reviews tech gadgets that didn't have a satellite phone or portable GPS to find a way out of the wilderness and died try to find a way out.

     The second article states technology can't save our world. Well, no one machine, no one device, not one helicopter with an infrared camera can do it. But that's not what this article is about. It's about all the devices connected.

     One cell phone is useless without the infrastructure to allow it to connect to emergency service networks. One anecdote about how to pat yourself on the back will not lower your Cortisol while you spend the holidays making public appearances on different coasts.

     What is lacking is the connection these two men made. One analyzes new gadgets that make our life better, and the other analyzes new behaviors to make our life better. Yet neither made the connection in their own life to have the gadget that would have saved one and the behaviors that might
have prolonged the other.

     One can not say for certain if Mr. Kim had spent $39 rental fee for a satellite phone or purchased one for $700 dollars he would be alive. Or if he had purchased any number of GPS devices ranging from $500 & up what might have still been the outcome?

     Nor can one say for certainty if Mr. Carlson had in the last 6 months had his homosystiene levels checked, or gotten a C-reactive protein test or any number of indicators for heart disease. Or for that matter, whether a defibrillator was on board and if somebody even used it.

     What we can sketch out is this, these were 20th century men living in a 21st century world. In the 20th century we lived in a cause and effect world. Big forces caused big effects, the two world wars can be seen like chess pieces, with clear black and white sides. But we are all connected. We have multiple redundant systems and multiple virtual profiles that keep us connected. Cell phones, laptops, email, and on and on... In the 20th century newsreels fed us information, major network anchors fed us headlines, but not now...Not in the 21st century. We are the person of the year according to Newsweek...

     We are connected, we are networked, but are we aware of all the connections? This is the real issue. Can we be aware of all the small stuff we are connected to? If we can't who can help us? Who will emerge as the that begins to see all the connections to all the small stuff.

     It is not just technology and communications, but we are now looking at our biological selves as connected networks of small stuff. Digestive systems connected to endocrine systems, connected to nervous systems. Then we have the brain itself, a barely mined golden vane of separate neuron based 'small stuff' of visual, emotional, and motor networks.

     The days of matching a cough to a pill, and the removal of a dictator to democracy are over. Now we have to begin the long hard haul to put all the small stuff into the big things that happen. Welcome my 20th century friends, this is the 21st century.

     In socio-economic and political realms, the 20th Century gurus have emerged; certainly Al Gore comes to mind to complex ecological issues. And some might even point to persons like Dr Weil and Deepak Chopra as gurus in the world of health and wellness.

     Those are just the first generation of forward thinkers of the last century, yet who are going to take the place of Mr. Carlson in terms of behaviors and Mr. Kim in the world of gadgets? Hopefully, a person who sees that all the small stuff matters because all the small stuff is connected to you.