Renaissance Rebirth

Something’s up and I don’t know what, but it may be an epochal change in civilization. Such a change makes me question my assumptions, including those behind my book, Dream. Invest. Live., that is the basis for this blog. Dream. Invest. Live. The Renaissance was such a change. It was unscripted, unplanned, and unexpected. People that effected those changes required courage, curiosity, or naivete. It was a creative and messy process of awakening. If it’s happening again, this change will be the same and different. That’s our nature.

Despite a week-long unplanned Computational Hiatus, my main business activity has been as Interim Project Manager for HCLE, the History of Computing in Learning and Education, a virtual museum of how computers changed education. How we learned changed. What we had to learn changed. Prior to computers, education was based on a scheduled performance where a teacher verbally delivered information, knowledge, insight, and wisdom to an audience of accepted students. Now, anyone can be a student, we can receive almost any information we want at whatever time we choose for free. The teachers may be professionals or eager volunteers who deliver their expertise to resources like wikipedia or the Khan Academy. Education is continuing to shift, and it may take another generation before the switch is complete; but imagine the courage required of those pioneers who introduced computers to the system in the era of punch cards, cassette tapes, and write-your-own software. (By the way, that’s why we’re creating the Virtual Museum, to capture those experiences and sociological changes before those memories are lost or those programs can’t be read and run. Care to join in, donate, or cheer us on? Donate enough and I’ll only have to write one last Jobs Report.)

Last night I was watching a documentary (yes, I am a geek) about the Medici called; Godfathers of the Renaissance. Episode one taught me that The Renaissance began with a change in thought based on education. People with education, money, and time began exploring monasteries for ancient texts, more as a treasure hunt than a serious pursuit. One aspect of the hunt was to be able to read what you found. Eventually, the act of reading became more of an education than a performance stunt. There was hidden, and sometimes forbidden, knowledge in those texts. It began to sink in that they’d forgotten things that the Romans knew. The one that struck me was that for hundreds of years civilization forgot how to make concrete. The more important insight was that people they’d talked about in abstract terms, The Romans, were eventually seen as real people and if The Romans could do it, why couldn’t someone in 1400? They looked to others for different points of view and actually invented perspective. The world changed.

Now that my computer is repaired and returned (thanks Gail) I naturally visited my Facebook wall to see what was happening in my friends’ lives. A video I’d shared was being shared around. It went viral long before I found it, so it wasn’t a surprise to see that it was popular. It’s a one minute video of third world people reading first world problems. “I hate it when my house is so big that I need two wireless routers.” finds a new perspective coming from a man standing in front of a house smaller than most suburban living rooms. I shared the video because I liked the way it put most complaints into perspective.

Perspective. Learning from people who many treat as abstractions. Thinking about how education and insights are reaching us in new ways. Noticing the unexpected changes wrought through the Renaissance. What changes are we amidst that go beyond quarterly reports, monthly bills, and national elections?

Over the weekend I was honored to be included in a photography project by Sue Averett called The Emanations of Love Project. I would never have nominated myself to be included, but maybe that was one of the criteria for inclusion.

One of Sue's shots I use for a new bio pic.

One of Sue’s shots I use for a new bio pic.

Sue did a wonderful job of describing her project, so I’ll point you to her site for the details. The piece that struck a chord with the evening’s line of thought was a line from her short bio of me; “A good-hearted Renaissance man, is Tom.” Pardon me as I blush, and yes, it is a mini-breakthrough for me to type such a thing about myself (but that’s another story.)  Enough others have called me a Renaissance man that I’ve jokingly considered having new business cards made. Go to my bio page to make your own assessment. But the more important introspection was, regardless of me, are we in the midst of the next Renaissance? If so, how would it be different?

The Medici supported people who went to remote places to acquire knowledge from people distanced by time. We are crowdsourcing ourselves to acquire remote knowledge from people distanced by geography, economics, and culture. Some seek obscure videos to prove they can find viral material before it’s gone viral. Others are taking that material and learning from it. The video I described above was produced by a charity that advocates for as simple a thing as fresh water. It highlights the reality of people who are normally treated as abstractions.

If this Renaissance (there will be more so maybe we should number them) is about getting past us versus them to realizing that we is global, then we’d be effecting a change greater than any seen in history. That’s heady stuff. Considering the pace of change now, this Renaissance may take decades instead of centuries.

Last night there was also a tsunami alert. Well, there was actually a magnitude eight earthquake too, but the news emphasized the tsunami because it might reach “us”. The warning wasn’t necessary. Google News said so. This morning I had to dig to find any news about the quake. Magnitude eight quakes should be major new events. But very few people were affected. They lived on islands in the South Pacific. So, evidently, it didn’t matter. Evidently, “they” didn’t matter.

My book is titled Dream. Invest. Live. because personal finance is not just about Invest. Invest. Invest. Dreaming and Living are global. Though some dream of a second router; others dream of clean water. I dream of health, emotional ease, and financial security, at the very least. (aka Live Long and Prosper) For now, the basis of the Invest part remains valid enough. But the Renaissance was funded by a revolution in finance. Another could happen again. Ask the Occupy crowd.

Economies are definitely changing. The price of energy may begin to limit travel, and travel is one of the best ways to change perspectives from abstract to real. (Check a recently published excerpt from my Scotland book.) Fortunately, the Internet has come along and provided new ways for us to learn about the rest of us. Am I a Renaissance man? Maybe, but I believe that the courageous, the curious, and even the naive who explore the world via any device may be creating a generation of Renaissance people. The show about the Medici started with the origins of the word renaissance. It basically means rebirth, which is a messy, creative, and positive event. We may be our civilization’s midwives.

About Tom Trimbath

real estate broker / consultant / entrepreneur / writer / photographer / speaker / aerospace engineer / semi-semi-retired More info at: and at my amazon author page:
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2 Responses to Renaissance Rebirth

  1. Susan Averett says:

    Wow, this is an incredibly insightful piece, Tom. It gave me lots to think about. Thank you! And thanks so much for the shout-out, too. That was lovely. What came up for me as I was reading this was that the word “invest” can have different meanings, in that we can invest in different things, in different ways. We tend to think of investing and investment as related to money, but actually, we can invest our time, love, energy, intention in anything….. Just sharing that…. not really sure if there is a specific point to this train of thought or not…. unless maybe it’s something about how important it is to invest in something that matters to you, regardless of what it is, or whether or not it matters to anyone else. We all need to invest ourselves in something in order to make a difference and keep the ol’ ball spinning… I truly appreciate your perspectives and always look forward to your posts. Thanks again!

    Sue Averett The Enchanted Studio photographic and healing arts

  2. Invest definitely has many definitions. In the book, The Millionaire Next Door, they point out that investing in yourself is one of the primary ways that the millionaire next door may have become a millionaire. That isn’t the only measure.

    Investing in yourself (or even your Self) can mean education, self-appreciation, developing self-esteem, developing talents and skills, and investing in those fragments of time called a life. That may produce a source of income.

    Of the two things we have to invest, time and money, time is the more valuable. Unfortunately, money is the basis of our economy. There is the disconnect that each of us must resolve, typically by making so much money, or trying to, that we have spare time.

    In my case, I’ve been the Millionaire Next Door, and I’ve also invested a lot of time in my personal development. Now it is time to have both simultaneously and persistently.

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