Convergences

Everything is connected to everything else. Sometimes, the connections are non-trivial. Often they are fundamental, sometimes exploitable, and now and then very potent sources of debate and discussion. I’ve come to think that a measure of sanity is the degree to which one limits a sense of connection when taking in new information. For instance, I was lambasted by a fellow blogger a few months ago when he insisted that there were connections … of influence, of a pecuniary nature, at least … between me and a major Big Science institution which caused me to say things that he thought I should not say. My refusals to back down from his assertions that I was wrong were proof that I was being paid off. That sort of over-belief in connections is the raw material of conspiracy theory. It can be amusing. Usually, it is merely distracting but sometimes it is just plain annoying.

The point is, understanding, managing, and exploiting connections is not a skill inborn for our species. It requires talent in that area, and some training.

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a person who understands a class of connections between science, politics, society, law, and that emergent property of government and institutions in general we know of as “policy.” You know Sheril from her blogging at Science Blogs in the past, and more recently, on Discover.com (The Intersection … intersection of connections, we assume) but she left the Intersection a couple of months ago. And now (well, actually, yesterday) we have the announcement that she has started a new blog at Wired called “Convergence” …

…where everything is connected.

Convergence is a forum to explore all sorts of topics, but the primary focus will be the interdisciplinary nature of understanding our world. For example, if we aspire to protect biodiversity, we must address social issues. Boosting fisheries requires economics. Tackling our tremendous energy problem involves a great deal of policy. That’s what this blog is all about: people, science, decision-making, and more. It’s where seemingly unrelated fields overlap, boundaries blur, and practical solutions are sought.*

Like most people, I originally got interested in Sheril (who wrote this book) because of her ground breaking work with the Sea Cucumber. More recently, thought, we’ve had a few (far too few) opportunities to conspire in bloggy activities having to do with things like the plight of women in war-torn ‘third world’ countries. I look forward to seeing the kinds of connections Sheril makes at Convergence.

Go have a look.

Comments

  1. #1 Alan
    May 19, 2011

    I used to enjoy a column in SciAm called “connections”, my favorite article showed that the maximum practical diameter of the space shuttle’s booster rockets was limited to 2X the width of a horse’s arse.

  2. #2 Jeff Sherry
    May 19, 2011

    It has been a quite a while since I visited the Intersection. I didn’t realize C. Mooney was doing a solo.

  3. #3 DuWayne
    May 19, 2011

    Too bloody cool…

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    May 19, 2011

    Alan, did you ever see the TV series on which the SciAm column was based? (There were two runs at it … “Connections” and “Return of Connections” or “Connections II” or something)

  5. #5 Alan
    May 20, 2011

    Greg, yes they were both done by the same guy but I thought the column came first, probably because I read it before seeing the TV series. Didn’t see the second series, I might be wrong but I don’t think it was aired here in Oz.

  6. #6 Birger Johansson
    May 20, 2011

    Connections… Charles “Eschaton” Stross wrote his first Laundry novel a few years back, the one with a Nazi enclave on an airless world in an alternate reality.
    A few years ago, the Finns started working on a film called “Iron Sky”…. yes, that one (cool music, Rammstein I think). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drtTGRjHH9s&feature=related
    Cause and effect? Is the script writer a Stross fan?

    As for pseudoconnections, do not get me started on the “morphic resonance” drivel of the 1990s :-)

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