Darwin’s Stickers

February 10, 2015

For the past year, I have been working closely with Jad Abumrad and the team at RadioLab on a fascinating story about Facebook, entitled “The Trust Engineers“.

The story centers on the work of Arturo Bejar, who is one of the technical leaders at the company, and a team of engineers, product developers and external social scientists who collectively operate under the banner of the Compassion Research Group. Together, this team is studying how our ancient human capacities for conflict, compassion, respect, trust, and empathy are expressed by people on Facebook; based on these findings, they’re reworking the service’s interface to encourage more humane relationships among its 1.3 billion users.

In addition to exploring our digital relationships and emotions, the Facebook story also touches on the ways in which our online lives are continuously experimented upon; the new ways social scientists are exploring ancient questions with ‘big data’; and the ethical considerations that such inquiries inevitably raise. Social media is changing social science, and at Facebook, we caught a glimpse of its future.

For space and flow reasons, one particularly intriguing example of this work didn’t get an in-depth airing in the radio piece, and I thought I’d relate it here more fully.

The story actually begins all the way back in 1859, with the publication of Charles Darwin’s landmark treatise, On the Origin on Species. In that book, Darwin famously lays out the argument that species evolve over the course of generations, through the process of natural selection. At the time, most scientists, not to mention most people, were creationists who believed that the great diversity of Life was part of a natural and unchanging order, over which God had given us dominion. Accordingly, Darwin left the natural conclusion of his argument – that human beings evolved via the same mechanism as all other species – largely unstated. (Except, for a single, telling line at end of the book: “light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history.”)

Darwin didn’t publish his own fuller views on human evolution until more than a decade later, with two works that came in rapid succession, The Descent of Man (in 1871) and The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (in 1872).

In first of these books, Darwin argued, to no one’s surprise, that human beings did indeed evolve from a common hominid ancestor. In the second book, however, he presented an argument not just about the origins of our species, but of our psyches.

His argument spoke to what was, both in Darwin’s time and our own, a commonly held view: that our emotional life – marked by feelings like grief, envy, tenderness, love, guilt, pride, and affirmation – is uniquely human. If our emotions are unprecedented, so the thinking went, then we must be, too.

To debunk this idea, Darwin presented a detailed taxonomy of forty distinct emotions, ranging from “high spirits” such as joy, to the “low” spirits” such as despair, and concluded with the more complex emotions such as shame. Then he painstakingly documented how these emotional expressions have consistent physiological roots. Everywhere, people use the same thirty muscles in our faces to pull our lips up into a smile, knit our forehead into a frown, distort our cheeks into a grimace of psychic pain, bow our heads in supplication, and tilt our necks to signal puzzlement.

Innate experssions from Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals
(CC source: Wikimedia)

Darwin argued that these emotional expressions are not just universal across cultures, but have their roots in purposeful, and similar, animal behaviors across many mammalian species. A Chimpanzee uses similar muscle groups to purse its lips as we do, and often for the same reasons. We’re not as different – or as special – as we might suppose.

Chimpanzee pursing its lips in The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals
(CC source: Wikimedia)

With this argument, Darwin helped advance the field of evolutionary psychology and usher forth the robust scientific study of emotional experience.  His basic thesis has been elaborated, refined, studied and debated ever since.

Researchers subsequently confirmed that human beings in both Western and non-Western societies can indeed consistently recognize a core subset of Darwin’s facial expressions. In 1967, psychologist Paul Ekman, perhaps the most well known contemporary figure in emotions research, went so far as to show these expressions to an isolated community in Papua New Guinea, who had never seen modern movies or television. They were able to identify the expressions without difficulty. Other studies have shown that our autonomic nervous system responds in consistent ways when we see Darwinian expressions of emotion – further evidence that they’re hard-wired into our biology.

Yet critics point out that both the subjective experiences and physical expressions associated with supposedly ‘basic’ emotions can vary widely even within a category. One person might stutter when enraged, while another lets loose an eloquent stream of epithets; one person might blush with quiet pride at an accomplishment, while another roars like an NFL star in the endzone.

To critics, this variability suggests that emotions are as much cultural signals as they are biological ones. To stereotype for a moment (for rhetorical purposes only – no letters, please!): is the Southern Italian, who wildly gesticulates with his hands as he talks, really using the same innate, emotional vocabulary as the famously stoic Swede? Is the facially impassive, but verbally expressive Japanese businessman really wired the same way as the ironic Brooklyn hipster? Doesn’t this variety suggest that our emotional lives are substantially, if not entirely, a matter of culture?

And, if that’s the case, why should it matter that everyone in the world can associate a smile with happiness, if people in your particular society don’t actually make a habit of smiling when they’re happy?

Here, we return to Facebook, and to the work of the Compassion Research Group. One of its leading members is the Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner, who co-directs that university’s aptly-named Greater Good Science Center. A former student and colleague of Ekman, Keltner’s research explores the roots of human goodness, particularly compassion, awe, love, and beauty, and how they are communicated through means of gestures, touch and expression.

During their work together, Arturo Bejar approached Keltner with an intriguing proposition: would he be interested in using what had been gleaned in the scientific study of emotions to design a ‘sticker pack’ for Facebook?

Stickers are widely-used animated icons (often of the human face or common objects) used to add expressiveness to otherwise bland text chats – think of them as more sophisticated versions of emoticons, like the “:-)”smiley face that some of us embed in our emails. Here was a chance to use Darwin’s insights to enhance the emotional content the online communications of millions of people around the world.

So Keltner turned to Matt Jones, an animator at Pixar Studios (yes, that Pixar) and gave him the job of designing 51 animated faces, mostly derived from Darwin’s original emotional taxonomy. The full list included admiration, affirmation, anger, anxiety, astonishment, awe, boredom, confusion, contemplation, contempt, contentment, coyness, curiosity, desire, determination, devotion, disagreement, disgust, embarrassment, enthusiasm, fear, gratitude, grief, guilt, happiness, high spirits, horror, ill temperment, indignant, interest, joy, laughter, love, maternal love, negation, obstinateness, pain, perplexity, pride, rage, relief, resignation, romantic love, sadness, shame, sneering, sulkiness, surprise, sympathy, terror, and weakness.

Early studies for Matt Jones’ Darwinian Facebook stickers.
(Source: Dacher Keltner)

To succeed online, Jones’ sticker designs would have to consistently communicate these emotions without benefit of a label, and in very different parts of the world. End-users would have to be able to look at the sticker for ‘happiness’ or ‘maternal love’ and identify it as such. To ensure the stickers performed as expected, Keltner and his colleagues took Jones’s prototype designs and independently tested them with research subjects in two very different societies: the United States and China.

Overall, both the Chinese and American subjects had roughly the same accuracy, correctly identifying 42 of the 51 distinct emotions presented. Cultural differences did appear: the Chinese were better able to recognize negative emotions, while the Americans were better able to identify positive ones. Yet Jones’ designs universally communicated the most extensively-researched emotions like anger, disgust, fear, sadness, surprise, and happiness, as well as more recently-studied ones like embarrassment, pride, desire, and love – and even a few emotions that hadn’t been studied before, like contemplation, coyness, astonishment, boredom, and perplexity.

With these results in hand, Keltner and his colleagues turned Jones’ now-tested illustrations over to Facebook’s designers, who used the best performing ones to create a new sticker pack called Finch, named after the finches Darwin had famously encountered in the Galapagos Islands. Finch contains sixteen cross-culturally tested animations of emotions based on Jones’ original designs.

Final versions of the Finch stickers
(Source: Dacher Keltner)

As the stickers were made available on Facebook, downloaded and then used in chats by millions of users around the world, the Compassion Research team could now look at how they were being used – not by specific users, but in the aggregate. How much ‘love’ was being expressed with the stickers in each country? Or ‘anger’? Or ‘sympathy’? Did different cultures vary in terms of the types of emotional stickers they use? Over time, the researchers realized they could use such analysis to take the emotional temperature of a sizeable portion of the planet.

Clear patterns emerged in the data. Italians, South Africans, Russians and Brazilians had ‘Cultures of Love’ – sending lots of amorous stickers. The U.S. and Canada were similar in most of their usage patterns – though the Canadians were vastly more ‘sympathetic’, while the Americans were ‘sadder’. And the use of ‘deadpan’ stickers predominated across North Africa and the Middle East.

Cultures of Sadness – geographical distribution of the use of the ‘sad’ Finch sticker on Facebook (Source: Dacher Keltner)

The picture got even more interesting when the researchers correlated the usage of the Finch stickers with other social indicators. Countries that expressed the most ‘awe’ online gave more to charity offline. And countries that expressed the most ‘happiness’ were not actually the happiest in real life. Instead, it was the countries that used the widest array of stickers that that did better on various measures of societal health, well-being – even longevity. “It’s not about being the happiest,” Keltner told me, “it’s about being the most emotionally diverse.”

These are intriguing correlations – and so far, they’re just that. We have to be careful not to over-extrapolate, or conflate the measure of the thing for the thing being measured. Clicking on a sticker to express a belly laugh is not quite the same thing as having an actual belly laugh. And while there are now more Facebook users than Catholics worldwide, there are still more people who’ve never been online than have ever been on Facebook. (One wonders how their inclusion would skew the data.)

Still, this is clearly the beginning of a unprecedented social science revolution, one that will reveal previously impossible assessments of the global psyche, and perhaps shift the dialogue about the relationship between nature and culture. And one wonders what else might consistently correlate with our global emotional weathermap. The stock market, maybe? Or social revolution? Or world peace?

How does that make you feel?



When Cleantech meets Cryptocurrency

February 9, 2015

During periods of relative calm, objective observation of the world is hard enough; foresight, even harder. During times of great change, clarity can be impossible.

Yet occasionally an encounter will reveal, sometimes just for a moment, the usually invisible systems and activities that comprise the global order – the “emergent now” that pulses just out of view. And it’s usually stranger than we would have otherwise imagined.

I had just such a moment recently in Iceland, where I had a chance to sit down with several of the country’s leading clean-tech and data center experts.

Iceland famously generates vast amounts of ultra-green electricity – about seventeen terawatt hours’ worth every year. Twenty five percent of this capacity is geothermal in origin, and the rest comes from hydrothermal, making Iceland’s one of the cleanest economies in the world. This abundance has attracted energy-intensive industries (including highly controversial aluminum smelters) as well as clean-tech startups like Carbon Recycling, a company that fuses waste CO2 and hydrogen to produce “synthetic methanol”, which is exported to the Netherlands and blended with gasoline. Electricity is so cheap in Iceland (about a third of the cost in the U.S) plans are even being developed to export it to Europe via undersea cable.

Perhaps the buzziest of the industries that have been borne of Iceland’s energy independence is the green datacenter sector. The business pitch, made by local players like Verne Global, and Advania, is simple: in Iceland, data centers are cheaper to run from an electrical perspective and cheaper to cool from a geographical perspective – a double win.

Iceland’s remoteness makes it an inappropriate choice for certain datacenter applications like high-frequency Wall Street trading, where milliseconds matter and the computers have to be as close to the action as possible. But for slower applications, where cost and computing matter more than connectivity, Iceland is ideal.

One such “perfect” application is Bitcoin mining, and the country’s datacenters have attracted a lot of it. A year ago, the NYTimes’ Nathaniel Popper profiled Emmanuel Abiodun, a British entrepreneur who has established a multimillion-dollar bitcoin-mining operation called CloudHashing within a major Icelandic datacenter; Cloudhashing leases its specializing mining equipment to others.

This is presumably a tougher sell now that Bitcoins are worth closer to $200 apiece rather than the almost $1200 they commanded in late 2013. Even so, the lower cost of electricity in Iceland makes it possible to run these machines more efficiently, and presumably, make Bitcoin mining profitable at lower costs than elsewhere.

As I was preparing for my own walking tour of one of these ultra-secure facilities (the head of security pleasantly marched me through no less than nine physical security systems) one local tech-sector leader told me that most of the customers for these Bitcoin mining contracts are Chinese, and that, at its peak, demand was so high that an astounding eight percent of all Bitcoin mining worldwide was thought to be happening in Iceland.

Let’s take a moment to visualize and appreciate the resulting set of connected facts:

On an island in the North Atlantic, leagues below the surface, subterranean veins of liquid rock well upward through primordial vents, whereupon they make contact with equally ancient aquifers, producing steam that is artfully siphoned off and passed through turbines, which, when spun up, produce bountiful, carbon-free electricity.

This great stream of benign electrons – a true social good if ever there was one – is then passed onward, by means of cables, to some of the most esoteric, purpose-built computers ever assembled. These machines patiently wade through a truly psyche-shattering number of useless calculations, each one a discarded digital lottery ticket. Ever-more rarely, one of them strikes algorithmic gold. In an instant, the winning computation is transmuted into units of cryptocurrency, and on the other side of the planet, a Chinese hedge fund collects a small reward.

This is how the world works now: the geophysical system connects to the computational system, which links to the financial system, which shapes the geopolitical system, and round and round we go. Speculators from an ascendant, and nominally Communist 21st-century world power quietly leverage the entrepreneurial efforts of a citizen from a former 19th-century world power, to harness a market opportunity made possible by the unique ecological properties of an independent small state. These dependencies-at-a-distance make for strange bedfellows, for sure, but their larger consequences are not as neatly categorized: in times of relative stability, such interdependence likely improves resilience and reduces risk; in periods of complicated change, such connections likely amplify fragility and disruption.

There is also a lesson here about what happens when a resource is made cheaply and abundantly: namely, people feel comfortable “wasting” it. In the dark winters of centuries’ past, whole Icelandic families might huddle around a small fire for warmth. Now, the heat of a single rack of Bitcoin-mining computers, performing many billions of calculations a second, make it warm to the touch.


Norwegian Slow

June 13, 2014

On a trip to Oslo this spring, I was introduced to a fascinating, genuinely countercultural phenomenon: “Slow TV“, in which mundane events, some lasting days, are broadcast in their entirety, unedited and in real-time.

Slow TV got its start in Norway in 2009, when the Norwegian state broadcaster NRK televised a six-and-a-half-hour train ride from Oslo to Bergen (available in its entirety here). To almost everyone’s surprise, more than one in five people in the country tuned in for at least some of it.

That success was followed in 2011 by a five-day long piece of footage of a ship making its way up the Norwegian coastline (available in full here).  Then twelve hours of watching a log burn. Then eighteen hours of salmon swimming upstream. Recently, NRK broadcast a 9-hour “National Knitting Evening“, which featured a team trying, paradoxically, to beat a world speed record in taking wool “from sheep to sweater” – a record held by the Australians. The Norwegians failed in their attempt – but in a country of four million people, 1.3 million of them watched at least four hours of a broadcast which included four hours of discussion and eight and half hours of “long, quiet sequences of knitting and spinning”. (A two-hour excerpt is available here.) This was followed by The Piip-Show, a three-month experiment in which you could follow the lives of birds in a feeder internally decorated to look like a coffee bar. Slow TV has even inspired at least one parody – a local radio station streamed real-time footage of an abandoned porcelain toilet left by the side of the road, though in a violation of the form, it remained there for less than an hour and half before being picked up.

Why on Earth would any of this succeed? The Norwegians who told me about the Slow TV movement expressed considerable pride in its existence. One woman in her 20’s told me, “Everything moves so fast now, going slow is the new punk.” Another told me that the absence of a narrative allowed her to look – really look – at what she was seeing on the screen – and to notice details she would have otherwise missed. And middle-aged man told me he found the broadcasts comforting, and that he and his mother had watched a bit together, talking about life while the train’s gentle rumbling filled her small parlor, then fell into an easy silence for a bit, while looking out the virtual window – in other words, what people on trains actually do.

Image: Detail, View from a Train #3,

Taking the Pulse of the Planet

March 9, 2014

If you could take a picture of the whole world every day, what could you see?

It’s a simple question, with a fantastical, almost childlike premise. Now, a remarkable startup, Planet Labs, is working to answer it.

The brainchild of three visionary ex-NASA scientists and technologists (Will Marshall, Robbie Schingler, and Chris Boshuizen), PlanetLabs is launching the largest constellation of Earth-observing satellites in history. It has just deployed its first ‘flock’ of 28 such devices, each the size of a shoebox, from the International Space Station. Together, these microsatellites will deliver a composite picture of most of planet Earth, at a 3-to-5-meter/pixel resolution. With the vagaries of weather, a complete picture of the planet, sans-clouds, will emerge every few weeks. (The average image in Google Earth, by comparison, is 36 months old.)

The first ‘flock’ of Planet Labs satellites being released into orbit at the ISS.

Up till now, getting your hands on up-to-date, high resolution imagery of any particular location from space has been a time consuming and expensive proposition, one largely reserved for big military, governmental and commercial customers.  The focus was at the very high-end of spatial resolution (sub meter per pixel). In a classic example of Schumpeterian disruptive innovation, however, Planet Labs will now provide slightly lower-resolution, but much more frequent and accessible imagery to a much larger pool of constituencies and customers.

In that wider set of hands, Planet Labs’ data will enhance consumer Internet mapping services, enrich supply-chain monitoring and improve precision agriculture. It will also transform the way we approach global challenges like climate monitoring, environmental compliance, public health, and disaster recovery, to name just a few.

This isn’t just about having another tool for addressing our grand challenges, however. It’s also about changing us. Making the whole planet accessible will help us see and understand how our planet works, how others live upon it, and how we’re all connected – which is the first step toward greater stewardship, empathy and engagement.

Some of the first “Doves” being prepped for orbit.

It’s not just Planet Lab’s imagery that’s disruptive – it’s also the way the company’s “Doves” (as they call their satellites) are designed and built. The company has deeply embraced agile development thinking – adopting a rapid, iterative, modular and inexpensive approach to spacecraft design. Where a traditional spacecraft might take years to plan and build, Planet Labs can assemble Doves in a matter of weeks. This highly efficient, swarming approach to design and innovation ensures that the company can continuously upgrade and improve, in much the same way that apps and websites are. (n.b. This cinches it – if you can do Agile in space, you can do it anywhere.)

Planet Labs is not only bringing a new product, but a new ethos to space. I’m thrilled to be advising the company and working with them closely in the months to come.

Image Source: Detail, Image from Dove 2, 4-26-13, Planet Labs, Inc.

Cooking, Nursing and Making

February 13, 2014

Like millions of people across the world, I’m an enthusiastic amateur cook. I pore over cookbooks and recipes for fun, constantly scanning for opportunities to learn, experiment and build new skills.  In service to these experiments, I regularly handle potentially dangerous materials (like uncooked meat) and equally dangerous technologies (like sharpened knives and open flames), which might, if mishandled, seriously harm or even kill me. Then I put the results of these experiments into my body, and into the bodies of the people I love most in the world.

I can do all of this because cooking is one of humanity’s few truly democratized forms of practice. As an amateur cook, I don’t just have permission, but encouragement to experiment, fail and innovate – all in the service of learning and improving. Cooking places me in a dialogue with my culture, my region’s food traditions and agricultural practices, the seasons, family history, current social trends and contemporary scientific understanding, as well as with a thriving global community of cooks, who happily share all kinds of tips, tricks and techniques.

To cook in this way requires no special licensing from the government, or the taking of tests or paying of dues, or swearing to uphold a certain code of conduct. (Although it does sometimes involve swearing.) If I were ever to decide to cook professionally, the state mandates primarily that I keep a sanitary kitchen, not that achieve a certain consistent level of quality or that I prepare a set of sanctioned dishes.

In all of this, I am representative of the vast majority of the world’s cooks, only the tiniest fraction of which will ever be ‘professionals’. (Indeed, purely as a matter of statistics, it’s likely that most of the world’s best cooks are amateurs.)

The results of this system are pretty wonderful. Every day, human beings consume billions of delicious meals, prepared by themselves and others using an incredibly vast array of techniques, without incident.

Yet the results are not universally benign. Each year, some people get sick, and some even die from things cooked by themselves or others – whether from a single undercooked shrimp or from the accumulated effects of too many cheeseburgers. We tolerate these outcomes as acceptable risks – understanding them to be the cost of having a wide variety of food choices, and trusting ourselves to make them.

Not every field is so democratic – and some that were once more participatory have become intensely professionalized. Such is the case in healthcare, another ancient field where, as with cooking, people employ potentially dangerous technologies and and put things in the human body, with mostly (but not universally) good outcomes.

Healthcare is, in contrast to cooking, the hard-won realm of professionals. The government and medical bodies tightly control the license to operate. One cannot be a ‘hobbyist’ doctor, as one might have in the distant past; by and large, one must participate in the professional ecosystem of healthcare delivery or not at all.

This may seem like the appropriate and natural order of things, but it was not always thus. The professional, institutional delivery of health and medicine as we experience it today took centuries to develop, taking much of its modern form only in 19th century with the advent of professional medical associations, credentialing and licensing processes, the differentiation of specialists and general practitioners, the codification of medical ethics and the standardized delivery of care in hospitals. (Many great medical journals, such as the New England Journal of Medicine and the Lancet all date from this period; the American Medical Association was founded in 1847.)

Much of this effort was spurred not only by a desire to ensure higher quality outcomes, but to suppress competition from a sea of unqualified competitors, and to normalize the interactions and expectations between doctors, specialists and patients. The highly professionalized, highly specialized and highly institutionalized model of healthcare we have to today is the product.

How well does this system innovate? It might seems strange to even ask the question, given that we’re living through a veritable Cambrian explosion of medical innovation, from personalized cancer therapies to point-of-care diagnostics.

But as wonderful as these innovations are, they represent the work of a very specific segment of the healthcare field, with an equally specific set of incentives and motivations. Innovation in today’s healthcare system is often arduous, expensive, and typically undertaken by only by a narrow set of commercial interests; not even everyone in the formal system gets to participate. Partly, this is due to the understandable (and commendable) instinct to avoid harm and quackery; partly it’s because the stakes and costs of insuring against failure are extremely high; partly it’s because new innovations arouse the natural, protective instincts of incumbent organizations and bureaucracies; and partly it’s because there’s a lot of money to be made.

In some cases – as with drug discovery and the development of very advanced technologies – the huge capital risks involved (and equally huge potential benefits to humanity) absolutely warrant this kind of outcome. But in many other circumstances, the results are less inspiring. When only a chosen few get to innovate, the results often end up just being more expensive than they have to be, not necessarily better. The problems that get addressed are often the ones that have the most significant potential for financial return, rather than the ones that solve the most acute medical needs in the most cost-effective way. Worse still, channeling innovation into a few officially sanctioned corners retards the growth and spread of innovation in the field as a whole, by discouraging a wider array of voices and perspectives.

I was thinking of all this when I watched the following video, which has been making the rounds online lately:

The video shows a small and typical example of knowledge sharing in the nursing field – how to  use the strap from an oxygen mask to remove a ring from a swollen finger. It’s exactly the kind of noncommercial sharing of technique that is perfectly commonplace in cooking; yet has become less encouraged in fields like nursing, which is, paradoxically, the field closest to the actual delivery of care.

It wasn’t always like this. A scan of the back pages of The American Journal of Nursing from the 1940s and 50s shows lots of sharing of what we might today call nursing “hacks” – clever, unconventional uses for products, and DIY, jerry-rigged devices all invented to improve patient care, and make nurses’ jobs easier.

They include innovations like “a simple wire contrivance … used to hold drainage bottles on the patient’s bed” and “an apparatus for rinsing baby bottles, designed by the nursery staff, made of several copper pipes welded together … that could rinse fifteen baby bottles at one time”.

These innovations – products of a less bureaucratic, less litigious, and, one assumes, less market-oriented time in medical innovation – are answers to problems which nurses encountered (and still encounter) every day. Now, as then, nurses are loaded with this kind of tacit knowledge and insight – hard-won observations from the trenches about what is needed and useful. Every day, working outside the limelight of the “professional” innovation discussion, they are quietly fabricating solutions to many challenges on the front lines of patient care.

The challenge is to channel and amplify all of that latent creativity to best effect. That’s just what MIT researchers Jose Gomez Marquez and Anna Young, at the Little Devices Lab are attempting to do with MakerNurse – a project that brings together nurses with the right support and tools to unlock their tacit insights and give expression to their creative solutions. (The examples already documented by the project are impressive – ranging from pediatric nebulizers to reusable tracheostomy collars.)

This is work that assumes the natural inventiveness of the nurses themselves as a starting point. Helping them take their ideas further might then mean helping them understand and use the fabricating technologies needed to develop and prototype their ideas; sometimes it might mean pairing them with professionals who can help them refine their insights; sometimes it might mean helping them find a wider audience for their solutions; and sometimes it might just mean helping them find one another.

In addition to these worthy goals, the MakerNurse project is a great example of how the Maker movement will likely grow up. Once seen mostly as the provenance of techno-hobbyists and entrepreneurs, it will smuggle not just the tools, but the ethos of distributed innovation into entire fields of human endeavor.

In the process, it will enable and ennoble professionals on the front lines and amplify their creativity and effectiveness. And it should act to keep the costs of needlessly expensive innovations in check. A healthcare system that empowers MakerNurses is one that is better designed, more humane, cheaper to deliver, with happier providers and customers, and better outcomes. So too is airline industry with MakerAirlineAttendants, and an educational system with MakerTeachers.

We need a “Maker_____”  project – and more cooks, and more kitchens – in every industry.

Image: Detail, Nurses Holiday, Kevin Lawrence Leveque