Tag Archives: innovation

#WHDemoDay and #ADAinitiative — Oh, the Irony


Welcome to Demo Day at the White House! (Megan Smith, the First US Chief Technology Officer) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxGrDsuwCFk

“It’s a tradition in the tech community to show off amazing things that people have built. … All Americans do this. All American are capable of this. And it’s a big part of our future, and it’s always been a big part of our past.”

Yesterday was a landmark day in diversity and inclusion.

Yesterday saw the first ever White House Demo Day (#WHDemoDay), for women and minority entrepreneurs and innovators to ‘pitch’ their ideas to President Obama.

Yesterday saw the end of the ADA Initiative, “a feminist organization. We strive to serve the interests and needs of women in open technology and culture who are at the intersection of multiple forms of oppression, including disabled women, women of color, LBTQ women, and women from around the world.” (Ada Initiative, About Us)

How enormously ironic to see the closing of the one with the opening of the other, and both with such closely related missions. I can only hope that this first White House Demo Day proves to be one of many, and that the effort continues to embrace and support diversity as essential to American creativity and innovation.

White House Demo Day

The White House Demo Day had demonstrations to illustrate the diversity of people contributing to the innovation that helps strengthen the American economy. Most of the companies presenting had at least one woman founder or co-founder. Almost as many of the companies presenting had a founder that is a person of color or who shows ethnic or cultural diversity. The two companies represented by white men were (1) military, and (2) a winner of the XPRIZE. There were a few wonderful presenters from Michigan, including Ann-Marie Sastry of the University of Michigan Ann Arbor talking about her innovations in batteries and power storage. Products presented included new search engines based on cognitive models, medical innovations in cancer / HIV / aging / asthma, parenting tools, strategies for empowering patients, creative ways to repay student loans, several on converting ‘waste’ to profit, and much more. There was even Zoobean, who partner with libraries to recommend books and apps based on children’s preferences.

White House Demo Day

Part of what made this so wonderful (and why I wish I’d heard about it sooner) was the move to encourage parallel events across the country. I wish we’d done this here! Here are some tweets about the high points.

Read about the presenters here. Listen to the pitches here.


President Obama Hosts the First-Ever White House Demo Day https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKsxHS5vptM

White House Demo Day: https://www.whitehouse.gov/demo-day

Ada Initiative

“When the Ada Initiative was founded in 2011, the environment for women in open technology and culture was extremely hostile. Conference anti-harassment policies were rare outside of certain areas in fandom, and viewed as extremist attempts to muzzle free speech. Pornography in slides was a regular feature at many conferences in these areas, as were physical and sexual assault. Most open tech/culture communities didn’t have an understanding of basic feminist concepts like consent, tone policing, and intersectional oppression.” https://adainitiative.org/2015/08/announcing-the-shutdown-of-the-ada-initiative/

The Ada Initiative began by trying to change the world for women in STEM and tech. They stopped, but not without having made change, and not without leaving a permanent legacy. You’ll see tributes and comments below to testify to this, but you’ll also see links to some of the content they made open source and Creative Commons in order to help perpetuate their work, as well as work from some of their partners who carry on the good message and work. By the way, their open source toolkits are absolutely incredible and well worth downloading.

HOWTO design a code of conduct for your community https://adainitiative.org/2014/02/howto-design-a-code-of-conduct-for-your-community/
Code of conduct evaluations http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Code_of_conduct_evaluations

Announcing the ADA Camp Toolkit: https://adainitiative.org/2015/07/add-a-little-bit-of-adacamp-to-your-event-announcing-the-adacamp-toolkit/

ADACamp Toolkit: https://adacamp.org/
– Inclusive event catering: https://adacamp.org/adacamp-toolkit/inclusive-event-catering/
– Providing conference childcare: https://adacamp.org/adacamp-toolkit/childcare/
– Quiet room: https://adacamp.org/adacamp-toolkit/quiet-room/
– Supporting d/Deaf and hard of hearing people at an unconference: https://adacamp.org/adacamp-toolkit/supporting-deaf-people/

#ADA25! Tech + Touch + Targets: Part Two, “Our New Technology”

#ADA25 Amtrak New Accessible Technology #a11y

To continue the series on “what I did for #ADA25,” I’d like to talk about the very exciting event here in town last week, in which Ann Arbor sets the stage for a national high speed rail system, and access for persons with disability is at the core of making this possible.

#ADA25 Amtrak New Accessible Technology #a11y

AMTRAK

The event was the ribbon cutting for the new disability-accessible platform at the Ann Arbor Amtrak station.

“New disability-accessible platform opens at Ann Arbor Amtrak station” http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2015/07/new_disability_platform_opens.html

The event started out with the mayor, Chris Taylor, describing the importance of the University of Michigan Health System and hospitals in providing advanced health care to the residents of the State of Michigan, and how critical accessible rail transport is for supporting this.

Lt. Governor Brian Calley noted, “Acceptance & awareness are important, but inclusion is a game changer.”

Richard Bernstein, Judge of the Michigan Supreme Court, waxed eloquent, clearly joyful and delighted with this innovation. You can hear his full remarks on Soundcloud.

Joe McHugh (Amtrak’s Senior Vice President) described this as “the flagship of our new technology,” continuing with the vision and possibilities that would come from this.

Joe really meant technology, too! The new boarding platform is retractable, and extends toward the train when in use. The Amtrak press release describes it as “The platform mechanically extends toward the train, bridging the gap created when a level-boarding platform is needed. This next generation of passenger-focused technology will allow America’s Railroad® to deliver a modern passenger railroad that is accessible to all.” That wasn’t the limit of the tech, either. In addition to designing the platform, the interactive portions of the tech, they also had to design manual tech to support the process in case of problems with the automated portions or for situations that require special extra support.

#ADA25 Amtrak New Accessible Technology #a11y

As with all ribbon-cutting events, the actual story started long long before. Or stories, I should say. This event sprang from the intersection of many stories, many people’s experiences. There are the local folk who fought for a better way to take the train, and helped make people aware of the reasons why it should start HERE. There were wheelchair passengers who complained about being put on a jack, hoisted into mid-air, and left dangling in the rain while the station staff try to get the logistics sorted out. There were the Amtrak staff who helped people with luggage, moms with strollers, elderly folk climbing the narrow stairs into or out of the Amtrak cars.

The story that resonated most powerfully with me was told by Richard Devylder, the U.S. DOT’s Senior Advisor for Accessible Transportation.

#ADA25 Amtrak New Accessible Technology #a11y

Richard was born without arms or legs. The combination of his experience, his intelligence, his connections with the community of persons with disabilities all help to inform his position and influence change. And when the opportunity presents itself, he absolutely will go for the brass ring.

That’s kind of what happened one day a few years ago. Richard described a room full of transportation higher ups. He asked, “Well, do you want to see high speed rail in the United States?” Yes, yes, yes, they all did. The next thing Richard said? “Then you have to find a way to let people like me board the train in less than 15 minutes.” BOOM.

That was one story. He had another good one. Richard described one day when he was trying to get on the train, and a ramp had been set up to allow him to board. But he couldn’t even get on the ramp because it was so crowded with people. Elderly with walkers. Parents with strollers. People with heavy rolling bags of luggage. Part of him thought, “Hey, why are all these people blocking my ramp?” Immediately he realized it is because all of them also needed a ramp, and the one provided for him was the only one there. BOOM #2!

We need ramps for boarding trains absolutely as much as we need curb cuts. The next ADA25 story I’ll be telling is about a group of people in virtual worlds. They were pretty impressed when I told them about this new Amtrak platform. Then they asked, “But why did it take 25 years? And why is there only ONE in the entire United States?” More on that in the next post.

The actual ribbon cutting, with Gary Talbot as the honored local person who pushed the hardest to make this happen.

And then people could board!

#ADA25 Amtrak New Accessible Technology #a11y
#ADA25 Amtrak New Accessible Technology #a11y


Updated to include Gary Talbot’s name.

White House Champions and the Dream of Personalized, Precision Medicine (#WHChamps)

White House Champions of Change - Precision Medicine #WHChamps

A couple weeks ago, I had just started a blogpost on the White House Precision Medicine Initiative, when I heard that within the HOUR there would be an update from the White House on this very topic, livestreamed! I scrambled, livetweeted, and this is no longer the post I had planned to write, but a rather different one, that has taken a good bit more time than what I had planned. The ‘update’ on the Precision Medicine Initiative turned out to be a White House Champions event. I had not previously heard of the White House Champions, but it turns out this is a wonderful series of events that have been going on through Obama’s Presidency honoring community innovators in a wide range of topics & issues where America has needed innovation:
AIDS/HIV,
campuses,
citizen science,
crowdfunding,
disaster preparedness,
domestic violence,
education (several of these events for different challenges),
food security,
LGBT,
libraries and museums,
NASA,
open government,
open science,
Parkinson’s disease,
public health and prevention,
science equality for women and persons with disabilities,
suicide prevention,
tech innovation and inclusion,
veterans (several of these events for different challenges),
youth homelessness,
youth violence,
and much, much, MUCH more! My mind is just ringing with all that I’ve missed, and all the wonderful creative innovators I don’t yet know about. How did I miss all of this?

At least I didn’t miss the Precision Medicine event! Here are the honorees, and the treasures they have shared with us, in a very small terse form.

Marcia Boyle (MB’s blogpost about the Immune Deficiency Foundation (IDF). Find them on Twitter at @MarciaIDF and @IDFCommunity)

Hugh Campos (HC’s blogpost about data liberation. Find him on Twitter @HugoOC)

Elizabeth Gross Cohn (EGC’s blogpost on the Adelphi University Center for Health Innovation, their Communities of Harlem Health Revival, and their interactive graphic novel. Find her on Twitter at @Chi_Cohn)

Amy Gleason (AG’s blogpost about CareSync. Find her on Twitter at @ThePatientsSide)

Amanda Haddock (AH’s blogpost about Dragon Master Foundation. Find them on Twitter at @AmandaHaddock and @DragonMasterFdn)

Emily Kramer-Golinkoff (EKG’s blogpost about Emily’s Entourage. Find them on Twitter at @emilykg1 and @EmsEntourage4CF)

Howard Look (HL’s blogpost about Tidepool. Find them on Twitter at @HowardLook and @Tidepool_org)

Dorothy Reed (DR’s blogpost about Sisters Network of Central New Jersey (SNCNJ). Find SNCNJ on Twitter at @sistercentral)

Anish Sebastian (AS’s blogpost about Babyscripts. Find him on Twitter at @ASebastian87 and @Babyscripts)

Here is the best Storify I’ve found of the #WHChamps event, by E. Keeley Moore.

It’s amazing that there were over 1000 tweets per minute at the peaK. Here is the Symplur archive of all the event’s tweets:

Symplur: Healthcare Hashtag Project: #WHChamps http://embed.symplur.com/twitter/transcript?hashtag=WHChamps&fdate=07%2F08%2F2015&shour=05&smin=25&tdate=07%2F09%2F2015&thour=00&tmin=00

Did you miss it and want to see it? The entire hour-long event was recorded and is available in the White House Youtube channel.

White House Champions of Change – Precision Medicine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yi1Tw1narVo

DARPA: Biology IS Technology, Biology is INFORMATION Technology #DARPAbit

150225-N-CJ559-024

This is possibly the coolest (or scariest) thing I’ve seen since I become an Emerging Technologies Librarian. I wanted to blog about it a WEEK ago (which is when I made the Storify, over the weekend because I was so geeked I couldn’t wait). The reason I didn’t blog it then was because our library is moving into our renovated digs TODAY and packing took precedence. Somehow that delay just makes this even more delicious. You MUST see this!

DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is the branch of the United States government most directly and publicly associated with emerging technologies. You better bet that I pay attention to what they’re doing. I try to peek at the DARPA budget, go every so often and poke around on their site, and keep my antennae tuned for mentions of DARPA in the news. They are in the news basically all the time, so I can’t pay TOO much attention, and since in recent years they have been largely focused on robotics (a.k.a. the famous DARPA Robotics Challenge) and engineering, and I am focused on healthcare emerging tech, maybe I haven’t visited as often as I might if it was just for fun. That has changed, because DARPA is now officially into the idea of biology as technology. Check out their recent conferences on this topic: Biology is Technology!

“DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office (BTO) is bringing together leading-edge technologists, start-ups, industry, and academic researchers to look at how advances in engineering and information sciences can be used to drive biology for technological advantage.”

Oh, my, yes. Now, THIS is right on target for what I want to know about in my job. And I bet there are all kinds of grants coming around and possible partnerships that our faculty will want to explore. Here are just a few of the bits the news media picked up from these conferences: targeted antibody development and THoR (Technologies for Host Resilience); brain-computer interfaces; cortical modems & optogenetics; engineered biology and GMOs more broadly; exoskeletons; memory technologies; open data and open source; prosthetics; terraforming Mars with GMOs (and there was a LOT on this!).

Craig Venter on headless humans and predicting your exact face from your DNA

There are some topics that interested me that the news hasn’t seemed to talk about yet, at least not prominently. Aging and immortality. Biocomplexity and Crohn’s disease. Cancer. Innovative research methodologies. Microbiomics. Transplantation and organ farming. Future of scholarship. Oh, and there is SO much more. It was livestreamed, but I couldn’t free up the time to watch it, so I am trying to work through the videos now. Here, join me.

DARPAtv: Biology Is Technology (San Francisco, February 2015) https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6wMum5UsYvZnisi5VjUUjhpXoIMTSCwx

Arati Prabhakar – Director, DARPA
Fireside Chat: Sue Siegel CEO GE Ventures
Geoff Ling – Director, BTO: Fomenting Technological Revolution
Phillip Alvelda – Program Manager: Beyond Prosthetics
Dan Wattendorf – Program Manager: Outpacing Infectious Disease
Jack Newman, Amyris
Alicia Jackson – Deputy Director, BTO: Programming the Living World
Fireside Chat: George Church interviewed by George Dyson
Justin Sanchez – Program Manager: Brain-Machine Symbiosis
Matt Hepburn – Program Manager: It’s the Host not the Pathogen
Stephen Friend – Sage Bionetworks
Barry Pallotta- Program Manager: A Wild Ride
Doug Weber – Program Manager: Enabling the Body to Heal Itself
Justin Gallivan – Program Manager: Embracing Biological Complexity
Keynote Craig Venter – Founder and CEO, HLI, JCVI and SGI
Keynote Saul Griffith – Otherlab
Karl Deisseroth, Stanford University
Will Old, University of Colorado at Boulder
Michel Maharbiz, University of California, Berkeley
Eddie Chang, University of California, San Francisco
Adam Abate, University of California, Berkeley
Scott Ulrey: Doing Business With DARPA

DARPAtv: Biology is Technology (New York City) https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6wMum5UsYva5aoxvLejhB9eirt0TVD-K

Alicia Jackson – Deputy Director, BTO: Programming the Living World
Welcome to DARPA BiT from Dr. Steve Walker, Deputy Director of DARPA
Dr. Geoff Ling: Fomenting Technological Revolution, DARPA BiT
Martine Rothblatt: Keynote at DARPA BiT
Dr. Phillip Alvelda: The Future of Neural Interface, DARPA BiT
Dr. Alicia Jackson: Programming the Living World, DARPA BiT
Jack Newman: Keynote at DARPA BiT
Zach Serber: Keynote at DARPA BiT
Dr. Elizabeth Strychalski: Biocomplexity, DARPA BiT
COL Matt Hepburn: It’s the Host Not the Pathogen, DARPA BiT
Dr. Doug Weber: Neurobiology as Technology, DARPA BiT
Kevin Tracey: Keynote at DARPA BiT
Dr. Justin Sanchez: Brain-Machine Symbiosis, DARPA BiT
MAJ Chris Orlowski: Optimizing Human Performance, DARPA BiT
COL Dan Wattendorf: Rapid Health Protection for the Population, DARPA BiT
Dr. Harvey Lodish: Keynote at DARPA BiT
Dr. Justin Gallivan: Building with Biology, DARPA BiT
Dr. Barry Pallotta: A Wild Ride, DARPA BiT
Dr. Geoff Ling: Day 1 Closing Remarks, DARPA BiT
Dr. Geoff Ling: DARPA BiT Day Two Introduction
Dr. Stephen Friend: Sage Bionetworks – DARPA BiT Keynote Speaker
Dr. Paul Cohen: DARPA Program Manager, DARPA BiT Keynote Speaker
Dr. Joel Dudley: Mount Sinai School of Medicine – DARPA BiT Keynote Speaker
Dr. Peter Sorger: Harvard Medical School – DARPA BiT Keynote Speaker
John Sculley: Former CEO of Apple and Pepsi-Cola – DARPA BiT Keynote Speaker
Scott Ulrey: DARPA Contract Management Office – DARPA BiT
Dr. Geoff Ling: Day 2 Conclusion – DARPA BiT

So much good stuff! I just had to make a Storify to integrate the videos with the pics and tweets.

And I made a big playlist with all of the videos so far, from all the sessions (partly because I started making this playlist before I found theirs, and because I want all of it in one place, easy for me to find).

Patricia Anderson: Playlist: DARPAbit: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEEZFNZ4nUEDTdj_dxxYLz9z7kSZH-oP1


REFERENCES (Chronological order)

2015/02

Robbin A. Miranda, William D. Casebeer, Amy M. Hein, Jack W. Judy, Eric P. Krotkov, Tracy L. Laabs, Justin E. Manzo, Kent G. Pankratz, Gill A. Pratt, Justin C. Sanchez, Douglas J. Weber, Tracey L. Wheeler, Geoffrey S.F. Lin. DARPA-funded Efforts in the Development of Novel Brain–Computer Interface Technologies. H+ Magazine February 9, 2015. http://hplusmagazine.com/2015/02/09/darpa-funded-efforts-development-novel-brain-computer-interface-technologies/

Peter Rothman. Video Friday: DARPA Prosthetics Research. H+ Magazine February 13, 2015. http://hplusmagazine.com/2015/02/13/video-friday-darpa-prosthetics-research/

Peter Rothman. Biology is Technology — DARPA is Back in the Game With A Big Vision and It Is H+. H+ Magazine February 15, 2015. http://hplusmagazine.com/2015/02/15/biology-technology-darpa-back-game-big-vision-h/

Max Plenke. These Are the 7 Ways the Government Wants to Change the Human Body for the Future. Tech.Mic June 26, 2015. http://mic.com/articles/121341/darpa-biotech-7-ways-the-government-wants-to-change-the-human-body-for-the-future

2015/04

Peter Rothman. Restoring Active Memory Replay — DARPA Seeks Super Learning and Enhanced Memory Technologies. H+ Magazine April 28, 2015. http://hplusmagazine.com/2015/04/28/restoring-active-memory-replay-darpa-seeks-super-learning-and-enhanced-memory-technologies/

Maxx Chatsko. Can DARPA Change Your Mind on Engineered Biology? The Motley Fool interviews DARPA’s Dr. Alicia Jackson from the Biological Technologies Office. The Motley Fool April 30, 2015. http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/04/30/can-darpa-change-your-mind-on-engineered-biology.aspx

2015/06

Sara Reardon. The Pentagon’s gamble on brain implants, bionic limbs and combat exoskeletons. Nature News June 10, 2015. http://www.nature.com/news/the-pentagon-s-gamble-on-brain-implants-bionic-limbs-and-combat-exoskeletons-1.17726

Lily Hay Newman. Researchers Sharing Data Was Supposed to Change Science Forever. Did It? Slate: Future Tense June 24, 2015. http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2015/06/24/darpa_s_biology_is_technology_conference_discusses_problems_with_open_source.html

Brian Wang. DARPA wants to engineer from millions of organisms and not just yeast and ecoli. Next Big Future June 25, 2015. http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/06/darpa-wants-to-engineer-from-millions.html

Carl Engelking. DARPA Is Supposedly Engineering Organisms to Make Mars Livable. Discover Magazine June 26, 2015. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2015/06/26/darpa-is-engineering-organisms-to-make-mars-livable/

Carl Tanaka. DARPA Genetically Engineering Organisms for Terraforming Mars into Livable Planet. ReliaWire June 27, 2015. http://reliawire.com/2015/06/darpa-genetically-engineering-organisms-for-terraforming-mars-into-livable-planet/

DARPA to terraform Mars with human-engineered organisms. Business Standard June 28, 2015. http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/darpa-to-terraform-mars-with-human-engineered-organisms-115062800459_1.html

La Traviata: Turning Old Pop Culture Into New Pop Culture to Fight Stigma

Pic of the day - Detroit Opera House

Only old fogies go to the opera, right? And young guys trying to impress a girl with how intelligent and posh they are. Right? And why? Because it’s booooooring, and not relevant, unless you study music. Or history. Or music history. Or the Looney Tunes. Right?

Well, do I have news for you. The Metropolitan Opera has gone international with their Live in HD series show in movie theaters, and they are including famous Tony award winning directors and Broadway actors in some of the shows. Professional opera has been trying to recruit a new audience through reaching out into new spaces, and re-interpreting shows in modern scenarios, like the Las Vega “Rat Pack” version of Rigoletto or the 50s diner version of Cosi Fan Tutti, or even the Star Trek version of “Abduction from the Seraglio.” I know of classic operas with new translations of the libretto, but they keep the same plotline and story. Of course, there are also new operas, new approaches to what is an opera, rock operas, heavy metal operas and even a country-western-horror mashup opera.

As far as I know, no one has, however, taken this as far as the Arbor Opera Theater did last week with their new interpretation of La Traviata.

La Traviata

La Traviata. Postcard image courtesy of NNDC.

“Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre, June 11-14, 2015. La Traviata, a new English adaptation created with the National Network of Depression Centers to address the stigma surrounding mental illness.”

Ah, now it makes sense. I bet some of you were wondering why on earth I was talking about opera, when I usually talk about healthcare and/or technology. This is why. (Well, except, I do love opera, in case you haven’t guessed.) The best operas have traditionally taken on difficult and edgy topics, challenged assumptions and cultural norms, poked ridicule at the establishment, and generally done what popular culture does best: Explore, question, and hopefully transform the present. La Traviata, when it was first written, told the story of bias against women of “ill-repute,” a.k.a. courtesans or prostitutes. The rumor is that Verdi had his own personal reasons ( special friend, perhaps) for suggesting that people should be a bit more tolerant, and trying to foster a sense of compassion to counter the stigma. This brought us La Traviata, and generations of viewers who weep at the end as the “courtesan with a heart of gold” fails to survive largely due to the classic public health indicators of low socioeconomic status and lack of access to healthcare. Stigma of all sorts is a contributing public health issue, with over twelve THOUSAND articles on the topic in MEDLINE. Almost half of those relate directly to mental health or mental illness, and the rest mostly connect tangentially, through sexual preference, victim status or survivorship, gender identity, and disease diagnosis status (HIV, cancer, leprosy, and more).

This new and revised vision of La Traviata kept the wonderful music, the names of some of the characters, and the stigma, but changed the plot and storyline and the source of the stigma. The star of the new La Traviata remains Violetta, but now Violetta suffers from mental illness. Violetta is a beautiful young woman, self-medicating in a struggle to manage her symptoms, without her friends realizing that it is an illness and could be treated. As with so many in real life who struggle to alleviate their own misery without understanding the root cause, her strategies for self-medication complicate the challenges instead of helping. Those familiar with the story of La Traviata know to expect a death scene at the end, but our Violetta dies not of tuberculosis and poverty, but misunderstanding and a drug overdose.

La Traviata Death Scene

La Traviata Death Scene, photo courtesy of Amanda Sullivan

When I first heard about this production, the vision of interpreting the story around depression and bipolar and stigma, actually partnering with the National Network of Depression Centers, I could not have been more excited. I was thrilled with the concept, and could only wait to see the show because there were no previews online! Not everyone felt the way I did. At the performance, I overheard people expressing some reluctance. Would it be the show that they loved already? How could this work? Did it really make sense to make this big of a change? At the first intermission, some were still hesitant, but by the final intermission the staunchest resistance near me had converted to, “I’m surprised! This really works!”

It did, and does succeed as a story. Arbor Opera Theater is not the Lyric or the Met. We don’t have the star performers, the grand sets, the enormous stage. Despite that, I found myself lost in the story and music. The New Orleans setting was a perfect choice for the context of the story. The sex scenes were dynamic enough to make me feel like a voyeur. Several audience members commented on the strong performance by Augustin (Drake Dantzler) as Violetta’s youthful true love. The arguments with her lover’s father, Senator Germont (Evan Brummel, who acts brilliantly as well as beautifully sculpting language with the musical notes), successfully portrayed him with rich subtlety as a villain operating from the best of intentions. People near me said, “I could have done the same thing,” and “I know parents like that.” His repentance at the end, in the dream sequence, made me wish it was not a dream. When the final scene approached, my reaction was, “Oh, no! She’s so tiny, she doesn’t have the body mass to offset the meds!” I had willingly suspended disbelief, and bought into the performance. A part of me believed that Violetta (Kacey Cardin) was the tiny, sexy, blonde woman with the big voice, tough and fragile at the same time.

La Traviata - Full Cast

La Traviata, Cast, photo courtesy of Amanda Sullivan

The actual singing soared, and for the most part the libretto succeeded in both revealing the story and supporting the singers. There were a few rough spots in the libretto that didn’t quite lay well for the voices and which were jarring to the audience, disrupting the flow of the story. Perhaps a bit of polish, a touch more lyricism, and a bit of rhyme and poetry would address that? Portions of the libretto seemed appropriate for the story, but inappropriate for the character actually singing them. I’d want to touch base with a greater variety of audience members to test out how it worked. That there were moments where the language was a distraction from the story was made evident in audience comments in the hallway. “What does that word even mean?” “Did she have to use that kind of language?” Perhaps that was just the older portion of the crowd? I’m not sure. Perhaps I’m just nitpicking.

Ultimately, I came away wishing strongly to see this performed over and over again, in many interpretations, in many theaters. I want to see this performed by the Met Opera in their Live in HD series. I want to take the train to Chicago to see it at the Lyric. I am deeply grateful to have overheard one of the cameramen at the Saturday performance say that there were plans for this La Traviata to be broadcast on Detroit Public Television in the future. I hope desperately that this means it will also be viewable online, because I want to go out to all my online healthcare communities and get people to watch it, or at least watch excerpts and highlights. I want to spread the word, and engage a much broader audience around this issue, stigma, and this story.

I also found myself asking, why don’t we do this for other important health care and social advocacy stories? Can we take what Shawn McDonald has done with La Traviata as a model to explore contemporary issues? Take classic operas, plays, perhaps Shakespeare, and more. Make them modern and relevant to a contemporary audience, give them new life, and at the same time support the important causes and issues of our day, the challenges and heartaches that shape our society. It would be a far lesser shift to perhaps have Violetta dying of cancer. Could King Lear be rewritten to explore workplace social dynamics, and the need for positive organizational dynamics? What about a new work taking David Copperfield and setting it in India or China? Could Ophelia in Hamlet be recovering from the trauma of clitoridectomy? Rewrite Figaro as casting couch dynamics in Hollywood. Would it be possible to mashup Handel’s Orlando with Virginia Woolf’s surreal Orlando to explore transgendered life? In Rigoletto, instead of being a hunchback, could Triboulet be a person with facial difference? Take L’Elisir d’Amore and rewrite it as a vaccine story. The possibilities are endless.

After the exhilaration and emotional roller coaster of watching the AOT La Traviata Saturday night, I came home and walked the dog. It was dark. The streets were empty. There was a hollowness in the silence that seemed to echo louder because of where I’d been so recently. It felt … appropriate. Let Violetta’s death, the real Violettas of our world, have meaning. Let us move from these hollow spaces to open spaces that show stigma for what it really is.

After a sad opera


Update June 18, 2015: Corrected the name of AOT from Ann Arbor Opera Theater to Arbor Opera Theater. Corrected attribution of images from NNDC to Amanda Sullivan.

Global Innovation – Hashtags of the Week (HOTW): (Week of October 20, 2014)

Cool Toys pics of the day: Engelbart Mural

Last week has been rich with ideas for innovation on Twitter, this time with a national and international flavor. Just walking through a sampler of examples from several different conversations (AMA’s Equity Chat, the bioethics Twitter collaboration with the ASBH annual conference, international open access week, and capping the list with the BBC’s World Changing Ideas Summit).


EquityChat

I was riding the train home from Iowa, having visited my very ill father and feeling a tad distraught and fragmented, then stumbled into the AMA’s Equity Chat without a clue it was even happening. It just showed up in my stream, and I joined in. What a great chat about how to shift medical education toward a more diverse and inclusive community, and how doing so will benefit society at large, small communities, marginalized groups, and ultimately everyone.


BIOETHX + ASBH14 = ASBH14 BIOETHX

Not that I haven’t seen this before, but shouldn’t EVERY major conference partner with a topically affiliated Twitter chat community during the conference to help engage a broader community in discussing the issues and pushing out important information and findings presented at the conference? We talk about translational medicine, but isn’t this a fundamental strategy for communicating core fundings to the audiences most likely to disseminate and implement them? Anyway, so the bioethics weekly chat teamed up with the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities for their annual meeting this week. I guarantee that a LOT more people noticed the conference than would have otherwise!


Open Access Week

While open access is not, right now, this year, a brand new shiny idea, it is still very much novelty historically and absolutely pivotal in promoting and supporting innovation. That was a big part of why the University of Michigan invited Jack Andraka to be the keynote speaker for our own Open Access Week events with the theme of Generation Open. These tweets are not just from Jack’s presentation, though, but also from other innovations taking place as part of OAW.


Ada Lovelace Day 2014 (ALD14)

The Equity Chat and Open Access Week both emphasize equality, diversity, and accessibility as essential components of innovation and positive change. Thus, it makes sense to also include tweets from the Ada Lovelace Day events, focused on awareness of women’s contributions to science and creating a vision of science practice that is inclusive of women and engaging to young women. And, speaking of innovation approaches, anyone else notice the incredible creativity and artistry of the efforts in this area? Wow!


World Changing Ideas Summit

I was so excited to discover the BBC’s new (hopefully annual) initiative to promote innovation and awareness of innovation: World Changing Ideas Summit. Aside from the tweets below, check out their collection of great posts and videos.


First posted at THL Blog: http://thlibrary.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/global-innovation-hashtags-of-the-week-hotw-week-of-october-20-2014/

Reverse Innovation — Hashtags of the Week (HOTW): (Week of March 31, 2014)

Ethnic Box

Reverse innovation is a concept I’ve been tracking closely recently, and which is critical in global health. The idea, in health anyway, is that we have as much to learn from developing nations as they have to learn from us. I heard a story of a visiting faculty member here from Ghana who saved a baby’s life because he knew how to manually reposition babies in the womb during delivery when there isn’t enough time to get the machines that are sometimes used here for the same purpose. That’s just one small, local example. Last week’s Twitter chat on reverse innovation brought up several others. You can find the complete chat and cited articles in this Storify:

Do low-income countries hold the key to health innovation?: https://storify.com/pfanderson/do-low-income-countries-hold-the-key-to-health-inn

Here are a few selected tweets from the chat.


First posted at THL Blog: http://wp.me/p1v84h-1UN

On My Radar: “Reverse Innovation”

Ethnic Box

“Reverse Innovation” is a concept that came across my horizon a few months ago, and for which I immediately went into high alert. This is important. I want to push today’s Twitter chat on this topic, so I’m going to keep this post very short, and hope to come back to this more soon.

Briefly, then. What first brought this to my attention was a blogpost at Biomed Central which was closely followed by an article in Smart Planet.

Reverse Innovation in Global Health Systems: Building the Global Knowledge Pool http://blogs.biomedcentral.com/bmcblog/2013/04/12/reverse-innovation-in-global-health-systems-building-the-global-knowledge-pool/

Dehydration cure from developing countries comes to U.S. hospitals http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/bulletin/dehydration-cure-from-developing-countries-comes-to-us-hospitals/27991

The basic idea of “reverse innovation” is this, as expressed through my ill-informed novice point of view. The past century or two have largely seen scitech and research and cultural innovation flow from the first world countries to the third world countries. This has resulted in unrealistic expectations and unsustainable processes which are making life harder for all of us, everywhere across the planet. In the interests of increased sustainability and the desire to create innovation that will integrate more efficiently with the broader systems of the planet, the idea is that problem-solving partnerships between first world and third world researchers can result in innovations that are both effective and sustainable, with the innovations flowing from the third world countries to the first world, thus reversing what has been the recent pattern.

You can discover more information about reverse innovation through these resources.

JOURNAL:
Globalization and health: http://www.globalizationandhealth.com/

KEY ARTICLE:
Developed-developing country partnerships: Benefits to developed countries? http://www.globalizationandhealth.com/content/8/1/17

SOUNDBITE:

“Developing countries can generate effective solutions for today’s global health challenges.”

SPECIAL ISSUE / ARTICLE COLLECTION:
Reverse innovation in global health systems: learning from low-income countries http://www.globalizationandhealth.com/series/reverse_innovations

HASHTAGS:
– Primary
#revsinv
#reverseinnovation
– Other
#revinno
#revinnov
#innoverse

Every Day In Many Ways: Solving “Wicked Problems” at the University of Michigan

Horizon Report 2014 Trends & Challenges
Horizon Report 2014: http://www.nmc.org/publications/2014-horizon-report-higher-ed

The past couple months, the Cool Toys Conversations group has been discussing the Horizon Report, as we do every year. This year we decided the collection of technologies was perhaps not as interesting as the trends and challenges they identified (screenshot above).

Yesterday, over the lunch hour, the group became particularly interested in the wicked problem of “Keeping Education Relevant.” There was a lot of good conversation, and I unfortunately did not take notes, so I am going to trust my memory (HAH!). The gist of it was encapsulated in a couple points. David Crandall pointed out that there is a strong relationship between the so-called solvable challenges and the so-called wicked (or unsolvable) challenges, with the hint that perhaps solving the solvable challenges might actually take us a long way towards solving the unsolvable challenges. (Yes, it’s ok to giggle – that’s a lot of the same word.)

Next was the observation that “Keeping Education Relevant” is distinct from keeping learning relevant, since learning is ALWAYS relevant. So the question is less about how to keep learning relevant, but more about how to position the kind of education that happens in higher education as an active participant in the broad open amorphous space that is comprised of all those glorious online and offline social learning spaces that people love so much.

Last but not least was the interjection that, Hello! Maybe it isn’t so unsolvable after all, since so many folk here are already doing such exciting things to position us, as academics, in ways to show relevance to the public and to engage with the public. Actually, I suspect that all major universities are engaged in similar kinds of activities, and working hard to make clear the ways in which academia is not only relevant, but makes possible research and learning opportunities that benefit the broader communities and which would not be possible or practical in other types of spaces and structures.

Here are just a very FEW examples of activities around campus that are, frankly, not atypical and which illustrate ways in which we are making academia relevant here, every day, as a routine part of business.

UMSI MAKERFEST

#UMSIMakerfest !!! | #UMSIMakerfest !!!
#UMSIMakerfest !!! | #UMSIMakerfest !!!

Today, the School of Information had a Makerfest in the Union. As you can see from the poster, they had a lot of cool stuff going on, from Google Glass and Rasperry Pi to video games and cookies. Among their partners for this event were multiple community makerspaces, both the campus and local public library, individuals with special talents or resources, and of course, campus groups. Was the audience just college students? No way! Students were there, but also parents and kids, teachers, staff, community, and I don’t know who else.

#UMSIMakerfest: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rosefirerising/sets/72157642967068393

TEDXUOFM

DSC_0149 | IMG_6735
3O5A9174_Kimwall | TEDxUofM
IMG_5416 | eak.FEA.TEDxUofM.4-8-11.044.

A couple weeks ago (less, actually), the campus had our TEDx event (TEDxUofM). TEDx events are gatherings of fascinating people sharing innovative and creative ideas. They are spinoffs from the large TED organization where TED stands for Technology Entertainment and Design. My brain keeps trying to change the “E” to “Education”, since that’s what my brain associates with the TED videos, but when you think about it, “Education” and “Entertainment” are pretty closely related in many important ways.

With our local TEDxUofM event, it ALWAYS is highlighting topics that connect academia and the real world, projects that make a difference in the lives of real people, stories that touch hearts and lives. It doesn’t accomplish this by just making a forum for faculty to preach to the choir, but by giving prominence to projects by students and alumni as well, and by getting faculty to talk about their passions beyond their official job duties. In this sense it is like most other TED and TEDx events. Here, of course, the event connects the campus and the town and community. There isn’t just one TEDx event locally, but several — TEDxDetroit, TEDxUofM, TEDxEMU, TEDxSkylineHS, TEDxArb, TEDxYouth@AnnArbor, TEDxUMDearborn, and probably more I haven’t covered/discovered. TEDx events are partnerships with the community, ways to bring information out of ivory towers and into public spaces. They engage, emote, intrigue, and inspire. They foster awareness, and through awareness future collaborations.

RISK BITES

In Andrew Maynard’s recent presentation, “Should Academics Get Down and Dirty with Youtube?,” he illustrated the power of Youtube to reach the public, to educate, to inform, and to potentially inform policy and decisionmakers. This insight of his was reinforced by President Obama’s recruitment of video bloggers (vloggers) with strong reach among the youth audience in order to disseminate critical information about the Obamacare registration deadlines.

Andrew highlighted a number of influential vloggers who present content on science and research, but who are not themselves from academia, then asking what is it that they are doing that we are not? Why is it that the general public obviously have a passion for information about science, but find science information more persuasive when presented by someone who is not a scientist? What are we not doing that we should be or could be doing? These questions are what inspired him to create the Risk Bites series of science videos, in which he endeavors to position academic and heavily evidence-based science information in a public space in a way that will hopefully reach those who need the information. Here is the most recent video from that series as an example.


What’s the difference between hazard and risk? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GwVTdsnN1E

ROAD SCHOLARS

Goodwill-Industries | Chateau-Chantal
Cascade-Engineering | Discussion-with-legislators

The University of Michigan Road Scholars program has been going on for DECADES. The idea was, yet again, how to make academia relevant to the communities in which we find ourselves. More than that, it was how to create bridges, connections, and partnerships between the University and the people of our state. In the Road Scholars program, faculty travel the state on a kind of pilgrimage to various communities around Michigan, developing a genuine and personal connection to the people and places, learning about the initiatives and work that is done around the state, and fostering opportunities for outreach, partnerships, mutual regard and learning.

GHANA EMERGENCY MEDICINE COLLABORATIVE
D80_35
Ghana-Michigan Conference Nov 2009 023 | Ghana-Michigan Conference Nov 2009 024
D80_30

The Ghana Emergency Medicine Collaborative is another project that has been going on for a while. These images are from an early event in 2009 which laid some of the groundwork for this collaboration between the University and medical programs in Ghana. The collaboration involves individuals from both schools going to the other country to learn more about needs, resources, and opportunities. This innovative partnership drove much of the initial development of the University’s creation of open education resources, and has proven to have a large and lasting impact far beyond the original scope of the project.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Are you here at the University of Michigan? Are you interested in a campus-wide conversation about barriers to innovation in education and what we are already doing to solve these problems? Do you know of some amazing work people are doing to help keep us relevant? Please add your thoughts in the comments.

Hashtags of the Week (HOTW): (Re-)Imagine Science Innovation (Week of July 8, 2013)

This week saw the eleventh annual international celebration of the Imagine Cup in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Imagine Cup is, in their own words, “the world’s premier student technology competition.” The main categories this year included Games, Innovation, and World Citizenship, with most of the health care concepts being presented in this latter category.

This was exciting for more reasons than that Doctor Who, I mean Matt Smith, hosted the final award celebration.

You could think of Imagine Cup as a gigantic real world game for the brightest young folk to share innovation and creativity, rub elbows with some of the smartest and most successful people on earth, and generally bootstrap invention for the next generation.

Here is the youngest competitor, 16 year old Andrey Konovalenko who came up with CamTouch, using visual feeds into a touch device to create an inexpensive portable option that could be useful for data visualization.

And here’s a project that focuses on the issue of honeybee populations world wide, based on strategies for using data analytics. Of course, this approach could have broader applications, especially in health care and public health.

While many projects focused on gaming and technology, it wasn’t unusual for the technology to be applied explicitly in ways that promote health, assist specific populations, or support health care providers and first responders.

So who won? Well, although health innovations didn’t win all the awards, they were certainly well represented.

Imagine Cup 2013 Winners

In the World Citizenship category, the winners were:

3. FoodBank Local (Australia): http://www.imaginecup.com/ic13/team/confufishroyale

2. Omni-Hearing Solution (Taiwan): http://www.imaginecup.com/ic13/team/omnihearingsolution

1! For a Better World (Portugal): http://www.imaginecup.com/ic13/team/forabetterworld

“The idea come from my secundary school with a manual test studied in a subject of laboratory, that consist in a plate test for determining blood type. This test came to me when i was thinking about a possible draft degree and though that it would be great to automate it. How is a rapid test, automated,will possible eliminate human error and in emergency situations could save lives. It was my purpose.

‘We are able to solve a problem of health, saving lives and eliminating the blood transfusion with the principles of the universal donor. With this portable prototype that eliminates travels to the laboratory, earn up time to save lives.’ – Ana Ferraz, Team For a Better World”

There were several healthcare related concepts also in the Innovation Competition.

3. SkyPACS (Thailand): http://www.imaginecup.com/ic13/team/myra

“With SkyPACS, we introduce the simplicity of diagnosis as it turn your tablet into an effective medical image visualisation with the familiar set of diagnosis tools.” – Sikana Tanupabrungsun,Team Myra

2. DORA (Slovenia): http://www.imaginecup.com/ic13/team/dora

“DORA’s goal is to become doctor’s best friend and a vital member of the surgical team. / The results of a preliminary research have shown that the usage of DORA solution would cut down economical costs up to 20%, or ~ 5500 surgeon’s hours (reference hospital UKC Maribor). With its simple use, DORA shortens the duration of surgeries and indirectly affects the environmental and economic aspects of healthcare.” – Kristjan Košic, Team DORA /

Take a closer look at this one, folk, it is really pretty interesting, but too much detail to repost here.

1. SoundSYNK (United Kingdom): http://www.imaginecup.com/ic13/team/colinked

This innovation focuses on the audio system for parties and music performances, so is not as directly relevant to this blog, however, it has implications for education and healthcare. Here is what it does.

“We hope to create a new mesh networking system between smartphones with our technology. Imagine being able to connect a stadium full of people and play music and sounds through all their smartphones at the same time! – Alex Bochenski

OK, now think, what if you could do this for a classroom? What if you could use this technology to sync audio playback devices for people with moderate hearing loss? What if you could extend this technology to sync audio playback to TTC for the deaf? Lots of potential for extending this project into spaces relevant for healthcare and education.

MORE

Website: http://www.imaginecup.com/
Blog: http://www.imaginecup.com/Main/News/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/imaginecup
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/microsoftimaginecup
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/imaginecup/


First posted at THL Blog: http://thlibrary.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/hashtags-of-the-week-hotw-re-imagine-science-innovation-week-of-july-8-2013/