The conversations at Newsfoo afforded both the chance to delve deeper into topics and ideas with very sharp-minded people, and to reflect a little bit on a meta level on what all this ceaseless inquiry and activity means. Listening in particular to discussions about sustainability, business models and revenue generation, it made me think of Sir Isaac Newton.
Most of us think of Newton as a mathematician, a physicist, an astronomer, striking out into new territories of shared, incremental, testable knowledge, whereas Newton spent the greater part of his time on studying and writing about the Bible (.doc), alchemy, and the occult – elite, hidden, controversial (as a Christian, he is widely held to have been an Arian). He studied, for example, alchemical motifs like the Greene Lyon, and helped to sponsor an expedition in search of dragons in the Swiss Alps. Gravitation was, in a way, a side-project – something he came up with in his 20% time.
Some of the discussions (in many, many settings – not specifically at Newsfoo) about how to pay for journalism feel to me at times more akin to a theological, doctrinal conversation about waning belief-systems than one intent on discovering the intrinsic natural forces that surround and govern our work. That’s undoubtedly more due to my own limitations than the problems of the conversation, but I think it’s worth asking those wiser than I am:
What’s our Greene Lyon? And what’s the 20% time project that becomes gravity?
This rather lengthy post was my first maladroit assay, yesterday.