Shifting perspectives through other people's eyes

Joey Piziali is a San Francisco artist who runs the Ping Pong Gallery in Potrero Hill.  I often swing by his place on the way home from the train station to see what weird stuff he has on display and to peak into a different world for a moment. 

Last week I stopped by after wrestling with some of the ideas from Jon Udell's talk at Yahoo! hoping an alternate viewpoint could put my thoughts into perspective.  I asked Joey what he thought about the concept of lenses using examples like Squidoo and Megite.  Without having to explain feeds or OPML or anything about the underlying Web concepts, he chimed in with a reference to "Art and Physics", a book by Leonard Shlain

The book is apparently about the breakthroughs that happen in art and physics prior to man's ability to verbalize a concept.  Picasso and Einstein, for example, were simultaneously investigating shifts in time and space.  Cubism offered a new language for people to understand alternate physical perspectives and time shifts in one visual composition.  Relativity opened up an alternate view on our understanding of physical location in time through a mathematical perspective.  They both defined in different ways a new dimension to our physical world without using words.

Art and physics gave us completely different vantage points for understanding something we thought we had already defined, and suddenly the realm of possibility expanded dramatically.

Similarly, many of the recent online experiences that are impacting our view of the collective mind have involved timeshifting concepts.  From feed readers to podcasting to TiVo, we are learning to understand the world along different moments in time, constantly swinging forward and backward without missing a beat.

We've also learned how to understand shifts in space.  The hyperlink was the ultimate transport device in the beginning.  Now we're learning that our minds have different kinds of mapping capabilities for understanding the physical world.

For example, Jon Udell talks about how he located a brief moment buried in a podcast segment that otherwise would have been a pain to locate again if he hadn't used a physical map to identify the place he saw when he heard the moment.  Similarly, I've been playing a particular playlist over and over on the train so that now I know where we are along the journey based on what point we're at in which track.  Without looking at my watch or the view out the window, I just know it.

So, how did Joey make the connection to "Art and Physics" from my explanation of Megite?  He understood how people can be lenses to other worlds for the rest of us.

As Umair Haque noted in his presentation on new media models (ppt), the club DJ is an interesting model for understanding what media could be online.  People learn which DJs create the best listening experience.  They learn that certain DJs can drive emotions and energy that they like.  Different DJs introduce new and interesting music they wouldn't find elsewhere. 

The best club DJs, though, are not broadcasting a premeditated string of tracks.  The best DJs build a relationship with the clubbers in realtime.  They have alternate paths for getting to musical climaxes through different track selections which are driven by how the clubbers are reacting.  The clubbers vote with their feet.  They go nuts when the music is good.  They congregate at the bar if they are waiting for the string to improve.  The DJ waits for the right moment to kick the party into high gear and also knows when to ease off.

Everybody can be a DJ on the Internet.  Everybody can apply their expertise with the things that they know and create a lens of the world for others to enjoy.  And other people can react to the view in ways that can help inform the lens itself.

Joey is my primary lens to the art world.  My brother Mitch is my primary lens to new music.  Michael Arrington is my priamry lens to new dotcom startups.  Jon Udell is my primary lens to the Semantic Web.

What I want to see are tools that can help me both pivot on those lenses easily and interact with them to help inform the lensmaker. 


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Shifting perspectives through other people's eyes