Bringing Us Together Enabled by Technology

I just listened to Eric Whitacre conduct a choir where physically present voices were in the moment enhanced by 32 voices from 32 countries creating a cacophony of wonderful sounds that emotively, powerfully, illustrated how artists have inspired scientists to work with engineers to create something that really has the power to united us.

Composer and conductor Eric Whitacre has inspired millions by bringing together “virtual choirs,” singers from many countries spliced together on video. In the above link, for the first time ever, he creates the experience in real time, as 32 singers from around the world Skype in to join an onstage choir (assembled from three local colleges) for an epic performance of Whitacre’s “Cloudburst,” based on a poem by Octavio Paz.

When I left IBM in 1985 to set up Decision Engineers it was with the dream of applying emerging technology to combine software engineering with decision support systems to significantly improve productivity. It was an idea ahead of its time and I quickly realised (before I went broke) that technology then available could automate skill development and improve decision making falling short of reengineering decision making processes but that change in focus kept me in business for 23 years.

Our initial strategies aimed to put a classroom on a disc and automate away the teacher. It was a flawed strategy. It did take us too long to realise by focusing on improving, embellishing, enhancing human endeavor increasing the productivity of the learner, the teacher the curriculum developer we would bring people together rather than split them apart.

It was this epiphany that made me realise that by working with the creators of content, the artists and by bringing them together with scientists (psychologists, anthropologists, physicists, mathematicians etc) to remove the barriers confronting new ways of delivering learning and education that we were able to create the projects that engineers could build. It took collaboration and entrepreneurship to build a better way of doing things. It was critical to have artists challenging the scientists who in turn inspired the engineers to build what hadn’t been built before.

So listen to Eric’s choir and picture the clouds rolling down into your valley. Hear all the animals who share your valley take a breath and wait for that crash of thunder with all these voices from 32 countries creating a wonderful symbol of unity. Join with all those around you to embrace the tools our collective intelligence has created to build a better world for you and I and all our community to enjoy.