I should be dead but I'm not. My soulmate wife Timlynn should be dead, too, but she's not. Faced with the awesome responsibility and opportunity to do something special with our second chance at Life, we have dedicated ourselves to the two inter-related projects we have submitted as entries to the #Play2Learn Challenge.
<p>Three years ago I was diagnosed with advanced stage 4 cancer of the neck. I had an "unknown primary" and the prognosis was grim, so grim that before an intensive series of 35 traditional image-based radiation and chemotherapy treatments prior to expected surgery, they decided to try a "salvage" protocol of intensive induction chemotherapy. It's nickname should be "What Doesn't Kill You May Save Your Life Therapy" because that is what it did for me.
<p>For five consecutive days and nights each month for three months I was filled with chemicals so toxic that my underwear disintegrated when washed. Timlynn couldn't wipe the sweat from my brow without burning her hand. I couldn't pet our cats.
<p>I lost the ability to communicate though I could think, sort of, when I wasn't delusional or simply asleep. I reverted to a near child-like state and "circled the drain" for close to a year. I then spent the next year crawling out. All the while my "treatment buddies" were dying. Good folks with families, friends, and the best medical treatment they could get. And yet they died and I didn't.
<p>This past year has been a "Rebirth" Journey as I have struggled to come to terms with why I lived and so many of my treatment friends died. If I was to be given a second chance at Life, what would I do with the gift of more time on the flight of Spaceship Earth?
<p>I found my answer in my commitment to the creation of The Softalk Apple Project and its associated FactMiners social-game community. As "natural born" changemakers, Timlynn and I have envisioned these interrelated projects as our "Pay It Forward" celebration of being alive. We will use all our skills, experience, and natural Way of Being to implement both these projects in ways that will stimulate and enhance inter-generational storytelling and social "serious fun" game play.
<p>If your interest lies in learning more about what Timlynn and I are doing now especially in relationship to our entry in the #Play2Learn Challenge, read no further. Please scroll down to the Project Summary blocks below for links to The Softalk Apple Project and FactMiners project pages.
<p>But if you are interested in my changemaker life story that begins nearly forty years ago with an "A-ha Moment" that started a Big Idea Quest about the Small Is Good World, read on.
<h2>THE "A-HA!" I CAN REMEMBER LIKE IT WAS YESTERDAY
<p>In 1976 while at Antioch University's School for Social Action and Research in Baltimore and studying Organization Development and Communication, I developed an alternative to the traditional pyramid-shaped organizational chart. I called this the "CyberLewinesque Job Process Model" as the design combined the emerging domain of cybernetics (information system diagramming) and Kurt Lewin's psychological Field Theory. The idea was to create a job model diagram that empowered the individual to feel part of a functioning community where your actions mattered rather than being a tiny block crushed at the bottom of the pyramid. That model was part of my thesis, "Petty Innovationism: Change Agentry from a Subordinate’s Perspective – Theory and Practice."
<p>After presenting this work to my thesis mentor, the brilliant Al Engelman, he cut to the chase and said, "This is great... but it's expert-bound" by which he explained that traditional organization charts were easy and quick to draw by anyone while my process chart was complex and would require a trained expert to create a different one for each job.
<p>Crushed but undeterred, I glibly replied, "Well, that's what computers are for."
<p>To which Al quizzically shot back, "How could a computer do that?"
<p>To which I boldly replied, "I don't know, but I'll find out!"
<p>This conversation started what I now realize has been the Great Quest animating my life for the last 38 years: that is, using the power of the computer to celebrate and amplify the impact of the individual, to know your place in your community -- your ecosystem -- and to be effective being what is known here at Ashoka as a "changemaker."
<h2>THE BIG IDEA QUEST FOR THE SMALL IS GOOD WORLD
<p>This quest first took me to Control Data as a PLATO computer-based education developer where a highly customized mainframe and dumb-but-graphical terminals gave a lucky bunch of us a taste of what the Future and the Internet would be like in twenty-odd years. From there I played an active role in the dawn of the microcomputer revolution.
<p>After losing a promising start-up and heeding East Coast bankers advice to "Go, west," I made my way from Baltimore to California by way of my Softalk Softrek adventure. (You'll find Softrek adventure stories with photos in our inter-generational storytelling threads on The Softalk Apple Project website which is one of our two #Play2Learn inter-related project entries.)
<p>While still active in tech startups in southern California, I entered the doctoral program in Mathematical Social Sciences at UC Irvine where I met and married my soulmate, Timlynn Babitsky. Combining her knowledge of Japanese language and culture with my high-tech skills, we earned our way in graduate school by consulting with high-tech Japanese companies bringing a flood of consumer electronics products to the U.S. market. Our interests and values so resonated with each other that My Quest became Our Quest in pursuit of the Small Is Good World as an expression of the empowered and engaged Individual.
<p>We leveraged what would become known as "desktop publishing" skills into tech writing and development opportunities in the fledgling object technology industry -- always in search of the computers and software that would answer those haunting questions my mentor had challenged me with so many years before.
<p>I could go on and tell you the many incredible adventures we've had on Our Quest: setting up and running the North American Rural Futures Institute in Montana (www.Narfi.org); spawning the "Small Is Good World" group in Omidyar's Social Edge community and being elected to attend the 2005 Skoll World Forum; doing trailblazing support of small business supply chains as a model for rural and distressed urban economic development through our www.Sohodojo.com applied R&D lab; and so on. But the past is prelude, as they say. And I'd like you know know me and Timlynn through our work today as you imagine the impact we can have on the future.
<p>Timlynn and I hope you will find inspiration in the work we are doing, and that you will feel motivated to give us feedback and offer any assistance in moving FactMiners and The Softalk Apple Project forward.