Some simple declarative statements. Portland really is nicer than everywhere (wearing rose colored glasses in the City of Roses.) It is possible to enjoy travel by not using a plane (especially when blogging from a train.) Tiny houses aren’t just cute, they’re comfortable (which I can say with confidence after spending a few nights in one.) The best meals can come from a cart (BBQ ribs = burp.) A lot of those lessons occurred because of a museum conference convening in Portland that brought in people from around the world (including me) representing museums from around the world (including HCLE), and a different culture for me (museum folk don’t dress in bland). And apparently, Portland makes the simple declarative statement that all of the conventional solutions and declarations can be made AND being more inclusive means being more sustainable which means using AND not OR. Maybe they can change their address to Portland AND, or their name to PortlAND.
For the last few days I’ve been on familiar ground, a business trip to a conference. Such trips were common in my engineering career, and it was fun and familiar to register, wear the name tag, and start wandering around trying to figure out the program, the exhibits, and the networking. As the Project Director for HCLE, I attended the Museums and the Web conference. See, they were smart enough to use AND instead of or. Digital technology is changing museums and those who recognize the shift came together to talk together. Those familiar with my work in self-publishing know my refrain, which I’ll now extend. Digital technology allowed independent movies to revolutionize Hollywood, garage bands to challenge record labels, ebooks to shock publishing houses – and evidently, things like wikipedia to encroach on curated museum exhibits. For some visitors, why read a hundred words on a plaque when a quick search can lead them to a description that is as deep or as shallow as they prefer? (Even though it may be inaccurate.) The museum experience is changing.
I was there for an even more radical change: implementing a Virtual Museum for the History of Computing in Learning and Education. The majority of our material is documents, images, and software. Go digital and skip the cost of maintaining a building, while also making something accessible worldwide for much less. Many of the exhibitors had great solutions, if we had physical artifacts. Well, yes, we do, but we hope we won’t. We’ll scan, then upload the data and distribute the documents.
Conferences are great opportunities to change perspectives. Before the first session, a gentleman from Qatar unknowingly inspired me to think broader. HCLE is saving what happened to education and learning as computers became part of the classroom, but our focus has been on the US. Every nation and language has had this experience. Some cultures haven’t, the Amish probably aren’t the only ones; but HCLE could add other languages AND other cultures. Other conversations encouraged me to think about not just the 70s and 80s but AND the ongoing efforts. MOOCs happen. (Massively Open Online Classes)
For more about the conference, check out the twitter feed for #MW2013 and @HCLEMuseum and the eventual blog post, because you know I’ll post.
The world in transition needs ANDs. That was evident at the conference, because there were many points of view, but it is also evident in many other aspects of life, and that was evident in Portland.
Portland, the city of great food, beer, hotels, art, et al. AND one of the best meals was from a cart that my host overlooked because there were so many other options. AND I had a host because I decided to stay in a Tiny House instead of a hotel. Portland has welcomed tiny houses enough to spawn at least one business (Portland Alternative Dwellings – PAD houses). They may only be about 120 square feet, but they are far more comfortable than a hotel. AND there are art museums and galleries AND there is plenty of public art, both official and unofficial. Portland has styles. Note the plural. AND it was a bit confusing trying to figure out how to get around because there were so many good transit options: bus AND trolley AND something that looked like a train – AND they were busy. If I lived there I’d include walking AND bicycling. I got the impression that Portland knows that solutions are necessary AND knows that they can’t know everything, so they let people add another AND to the list of options.
Writers and wordsmiths may be grinding their teeth because no one is doing all of those things. Many of my sentences should have been used ORs. But, no one can pick every option; some are mutually exclusive. The people get to pick from ORs. Portland, however, is defined by the fact that the city has this AND that AND the other thing AND the what in the world is that? If you don’t like what you see, look around and you’ll find what you want.
The last evening at the conference was at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). For two hours they opened the doors and let us play and wander and wonder – with beer, that I didn’t drink. There were too many interesting people AND too many intriguing displays AND too little time. OMSI is evidently inclusive. We (HCLE) perused their newsletter files searching for computer references, which meant also seeing everything else they were involved in for the last few decades. Maybe their diversity has stabilized them and helped them adapt to trends early and in small increments rather than rushing to catch up later.
HCLE is about people who found a trend early and helped the rest of us adapt. OMSI is part of that story, and of course part of many larger stories too. As a society, we are witnessing change. These few days have convinced me that we will do more than sustain, AND can thrive if we are more inclusive with ideas and people.
AND I grin when I realize that I realized that in a place that is tied to OR.