Musings on books, technology, entrepreneurship, nonprofits and umm.. everything else …

Archive for February, 2012

Mindfulness, Being Present and “Lost”

Friday gave me the unique opportunity to listen to and experience Jon Kabat-Zinn first-hand. For those that don’t know who he is, his Wikipedia page gives a quick summary here. As a Board member of Mindful Schools, I had the privilege to attend this fundraiser for the organization and listen to Kabat-Zinn speak about mindfulness and its role in elementary education.

Stress is part and parcel of modern-day life. This post does not intend to wax eloquent on meditation and its benefits on stress reduction. That is something for each of us to experience and believe. Mindfulness as a term is a more appropriate term for the practice of being present, without any of the spiritual or religious connotations that accompany a word like meditation. What I found striking in his presentation, was how sensitive a teacher needs to be, to act as a true enabler of education in a classroom full of children waiting to soak in information and learn. As Jon says, before an orchestra all the instruments get tuned for a short while, and exactly like that, it makes sense to tune the different minds that came from different contexts so they can focus on the symphony of learning that they need to participate in.

Mindful Schools is accomplishing this symphony in a unique and commendable way across the Bay area, in schools in Oakland and Richmond and other local school districts. They also have adult training programs and travel outside of the region to train others. This talk was attended by educators associated with the organization, parents and students.

Another discovery for me that night, was the poem “Lost” by David Wagoner. In a few beautiful lines of verse, he throws into question conventional wisdom on what it means to be Lost. I got the same sense of connection to nature from his words as I did when I first encountered Dickinson 16 yeas ago, though their styles are so vastly different.

I came back from the event making mental notes to read more about mindfulness and its impact, as well as to read more verse by Wagoner.


Pinning hopes on Pinterest and wannabes

Recently, one startup that has been getting a lot of press is Pinterest. With good reason. Seems like a great interface and interaction model to visually summarize people’s interests and have others respond to it. Quora has curated boards for questions for example, but not visual and not quite the same interaction model or ease of use as Pinterest. This also seems like a reductionist, almost logical culmination of blogs from Blogger, to WordPress to Tumblr/Posterous, to Pinterest. Along the way a few paths diverged towards self-organizing Q&A forums such as Quora and micro-communication platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. And I’m sure there are another dozen that I missed.

But all of these are still public fora where what you “pin” is effectively in the public space. If one wishes to share links within a collaborative group of people, what are the options available? A quick searching around on the Internets did not yield much success. What would be ideal is something where the content tagging is as simple as pinning into a collaborative board, and content consumption is restricted to a group and is as easy as an RSS feed or an auto-curated FlipBoard-like visual interface.

Any products out there that meet the need? And oh, did I mention I’d like for it to be free too 🙂 ?