Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I find spirit in hearing about innovative ventures, holding them up against the test of time. It's as if some people are gifted with concepts that enable society to move forward in time. They have windows in their minds that carry them into unexplored space. They can "see" where others cannot. I suppose this is why they're called "visionaries."

For some reason, I'm curious about watching one innovative venture, in particular, called, AOL's online newspaper with an emphasis on local. I'm curious about whether or not it will be one of those "will change the way we do news forever" ventures. Patches (as we're calling them) are literally sprouting up all over the country and our very own West Hartford Patch sprouted this past Friday (not to brag, but I've got my first-ever column there). The vision here is that Patch could go global. How exciting would that be! If North Korea decides to act up, then there's someone posted there from Patch ready to share their local perspective with the world. Too often, we send outsiders in to cover the news. It's just not the same. We really should be hearing from the local people from where the news is erupting.

Who knows though. Maybe Patch is just one more flunky attempt to manage our paper to wireless transition that will fall on its head. At some point, people will be primarily wireless. Doesn't that seem obvious? We're just not sure in which applications this will happen. Maybe it'll be a Maybe it'll be something else. Not sure how many of our young people will miss the blackened fingers from the Sunday paper like we older folks do. But change happens. And there are people in the world who can see exactly how it will happen.

Back in the early 90's, I worked for a non-governmental organization at the United Nations -- the Baha'i International Community. One of our IT guys, Thane Terrill, popped his head into my office and said, "I wish I had a lot of money. I'd put it in this thing called Yahoo. It's going to change the world."

"Yahoo? What kind of crazy thing is that? Rah rah cowboy yahoo?" I said with a twang in my voice. At this point in history, we were starting to email. We had the internet. Our server was always crashing. But Yahoo? I had no idea.

I think back on that moment when Thane, who rarely said much, dropped that tidbit of information into my lap, and how I reacted. All of my own filters associated with the word "yahoo" judged his foretelling and I stuffed the concept into a mental box called, "Well, that's crazy."

How crazy is it now, Sally? (Kicking self in head as she types in "yahoo" 500 times a day on her computer to check her emails.)

Watch those visionaries in today's world. Listen to people like Thane and just plain pay attention. You, too, could be part of the world's future versus its dying past with a mantra of "That's crazy."

The sky's not the limit.
There is so much more.

Check out