Wednesday, June 13, 2012

ReTornado

I have returned to Venice, and so has a Tornado that last visited my home neighborhood of Sant'Elena 42 years ago, when my sister Barbara had just turned one and I was 9 years old.

Fortunately, yesterday nobody was really hurt though there was a lot of damage along the same exact route as its predecessor of September 11, 1970, which -- tragically -- killed 36 people in S.Elena, many of whom were in a public transportation boat about to dock here.
Together with the earthquake tremors from Modena that my mother Wilma (who is turning 75 this weekend) and I myself felt a few nights ago, this was another sobering reminder of the power of nature over our short lifespans, as I watch Cino (my father) and Wilma live the sunset of theirs...
But "ape-descended life forms" as we are, we are still "so amazingly primitive that we think [cellular phones] are a pretty neat idea".  And so we go on, here at the Venice Project Center, developing the latest app for the Venice Office of UNESCO, who has sponsored the two summer interns who will be here until July 16. One couldn't ask for better help: Ben Licthner, who just graduated from Brown U. in Physics and Creative Writing, was here in the summer of 2010 producing the ubiquitous ButOne Widget, which was the precursor of InptApp that the other Venice intern, Neil Pomerleau (a senior at WPI next fall), co-authored with Wesley Ripley after they had created the world-famous VeniceNoise app for their Venice IQP last fall.
This weekend, my son Nick will be joining us and he too will assist in the UNESCO project with his translation skills, as we clean up Venipedia and launch the Public Art app that I presented at the annual meeting of the American Institute for Conservation, in Albuquerque, shortly after the six Santa Fe Project Center projects were completed this past May.

Everything is connected in the circus of life in these "uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the [milky way] galaxy".  We are just a small part of the universal network, despite the importance we may attribute to our lives and ourselves.  Cycles and re-cycles occur and re-occur, and we are often but passive spectators to forces of nature beyond our control.
Our lives are too insignificant (in the bigger scheme of things) to be lived timidly.  What's the point of that?  Might as well be bold, lest a wayward tornado or an earthquake take us out of commission before we leave our mark (however tiny) on this, "mostly harmless", and "utterly insignificant little blue-green planet" of ours.

We plan to do just that this summer, by launching our City Knowledge platform, upon which the Public Art app as well as the PreserVenice web site will be based, in connection to the thousands of Venipedia pages dedicated to the material culture of Venice.
It promises to be a majorly disruptive technology in local Government, one of the four areas that web futurist Marc Andressen has identified as ripe for revolution.
Steve and I have put in our 10,000 hours, as Malcom Gladwell points out in Outliers, and we are poised on the brink of something important, which will allow me to scratch off one item from my life-bucket of Big Projects.  Another "baretta" on my (Facebook) wall.
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