The Surge Series podcast from the Illinois Science and Energy Innovation Foundation, which explores the human side of energy, is back with a new episode. This installment explores the compelling question of how new technology affects gender roles, and features a discussion with a guest from DTE Energy about the utility's award-winning home energy app.
Insights, inspiration and opportunities to create a more vibrant and resilient future.
Reflecting Instead of Seeing
Smartphones were everywhere. The 2000 year-old Teotihuacan pyramids outside Mexico City were being plundered by modern day conquistadors, their pictures and selfies overrunning the once great civilization. A similar phenomenon has struck art museums as well. Visits have become more about documenting an exhibit rather than experiencing it. The obsession with recording environments that we should be experiencing knows no bounds.
Progress requires challenging boundaries. The annual Big Ears Music Festival plays at the edges where genres collide, blur, or morph into something new. My work involves many crossings: between skills, disciplines, communities, organizations, and constantly evolving priorities. Operating in a constant in-between state can be exciting, fulfilling and frustrating. It was thrilling to experience the festival performances with others equally enthusiastic for adventurous feats.
At last week's Clean Energy Trust Challenge, four companies from across the Midwest, representing diverse sectors, won a combined $1 million in early-stage funding. This is the second year of the challenge, part of a growing ecosystem of forward-looking investment in Chicago that is creating an environmentally-minded startup culture in our region.
Dizzy, Not Drunk
Balance is underappreciated. I’ve recently experienced a bout of “benign vertigo.” When it occurs, everything appears normal, just sort of tilting, drifting, as if some deep, invisible moorings have come unanchored. After a trip to the doctor and some medication, it's dissipated. But it feels like it could reoccur at any time. The condition was more psychologically disturbing than physically debilitating, with everything the same but slightly unhinged, and the cause and duration of the condition unknown at the time. Could I adapt?
I suffer my lies. One of these days, a project will arise that takes less time and effort than anticipated. Then again, if I had better predicted these factors, I might not have begun in the first place. I’m beginning to wonder, however, if this proclivity is more an innate evolutionary human trait, rather than an individual dysfunction? Challenges, whether they involve starting a new business, or addressing climate change, can be daunting if accurately summed up in advance.
Last week, a partnership of organizations released Data USA, a highly accessible treasure trove of information about cities and places across the country. Not only is it a fun (and potentially distracting) tool for geeks like me, but it also has the potential to increase our understanding of the factors that shape our social environments.