curiosity app specifics

is school enough as it is?

math & money - app

is it too much?

public ed & tests - app

[app/chip update ideas – shorter working page]

Imagine we decide it’s legal to think for ourselves. Imagine we decide to disrupt ourselves. Instead of school as we now know it, we follow intrinsic whimsy by crowdsourcing & facilitating curiosity. The start up of you.

To ground the inevitable and encouraged chaos? Perhaps we create an app available for free on the device of your choice.

app – a designated space for people to talk to themselves.

And then all that talking/typing/texting [presence sensing (Scharmer)] becomes data to create a trail, a mesh network, of intentions/passions/connections. This mesh is then used for ongoing connections, and perhaps even a new type of credentialing. [more on intent (Searls), than on present, honest signals idcubed (Pentland)]

A or linkedin – ish – but via passion/intention.  if… like tags are found within say 10 nodes from the center, then…. connect these people (or ideas/things even) via [text #, some notification – perhaps]

original prototype was to have the app walk you through detox… option of just talking or picking from notice, dream, connect, do – are you doing what matters

but we’re thinking simplicity is of a better order.. so perhaps we just ask – what are you curious about – [perhaps curiosities are more actionable – and we’re thinking the gathering for action is the placebo effect we are after. the jump start.]


So what do we need – for this app aspect of the quiet revolution?

wifi: web access via phone, ipad, laptop, html – wifi bank?

device: low cost/google/raspberry pi/olpc – recycles?

app: perhaps offered as a gift from google or facebook, useable on any device

and then..

spaces: meet up and decide/do what you can’t not do.

people: .. who can’t not do that same thing.

stuff: .. needed to do that thing


devices and such via Gregory’s vision.



Joe & Miguel

•Joe, age 15, uses the free wifi from the wifi bank and his free recycled cell, he texts one morning:

I notice we waste water every time it rains. The public sprinklers keep running. I would love to fix that.

•Miguel, age 72, a retired teacher, uses his laptop and types that afternoon:

I noticed the sprinklers in the city run when it’s raining, I’m imagining saving tons of taxpayers money & water by fixing that, I want to connect to city people or whoever to figure out what can be done

•That evening, Joe and Miguel receive each other’s text #, with the topic that connected them, other numbers if others mentioned the same/similar, and possibly a suggested location for meeting up.
•Joe, would already have a mentor/facilitator (#1 be known by someone), but it may have initially been by appointment (ie: if everyone in our district was freed right now, 1:8 ratio, so we’d connect 8 kids to one adult just to get rolling). Joe & Miguel could hit it off and Miguel could become Joe’s person, or they could just fix the sprinkler problem and that would be it.
•Depending on how things turn out.. one of the nodes on Joe’s future mesh network could be the company he started for sprinkler systems, or that he got into programming from this initial venture.

Julia & Vicki & Tom

•Julia, age 12, uses a donated/recycled laptop and the donated wifi from wifi bank, to voice record the following before she goes to bed:

I noticed a lot of my friends’ parents have cancer. They keep talking about early detection. I asked my mom and she said if you find out early on, the cancer can usually be cured, but that not enough people find out early. I also watched a video of a 17 year old that wrote a recipe to cure cancer and is now working at Stanford. I’m dreaming about finding ways to improve early detection. I want to connect to people who are experts at this and see what I can learn from them.

•Vicki, age 25, uses her iphone and texts while waiting at the doctor’s office:

I just found out my mom has cancer. They told her they didn’t find it soon enough and that it’s spreading too fast. I’ve got to research myself, find out some other answers for her.

•Tom, age 7, uses his mom’s ipad and his family’s wifi access, to record the following:

My mom has been doing this healing stuff my whole life. I’ve never believed in it before. But she started doing it with me, because I have/had asthma, and now I don’t have it anymore. I’m really interested in seeing if it can help people with cancer.

•The app connects them in similar fashion as Joe & Miguel.
•The mesh network created for each of these could have one small node representing their intense curiosity and that’s it. Or, it could be the start of an offshoot node, as they advance into the study of health and medicine. Either way, this cancer node could be detected by the app in a couple weeks by someone else talking to themselves about the same things and then they all receive notification of another potential connection.


•George, now age 8, using donated device and wifi, talks daily about (you fill in the blank: building a treehouse, soccer, dancing, music). Everyone is sure he is doing nothing, that he will get behind (at math, … you fill in the blank), but we just let him keep talking and connecting. George ends up connecting to some amazing community people that help him (you fill in the blank: build a treehouse, build a soccer field or just play, learn to dance or play the piano or sing). Being known by someone sets George free and he starts to believe he can do anything.
•George, now age 18, has a mesh network from the last 10 years, filled with all the amazing thinking and doing and connections he made. George knows what he wants to do next, and the last 3 years of his mesh network shows how he has prepared himself. Even better, because George has learned how to learn in the process of following his curiosity, he can handle anything he sets his mind to. Future employer, college admission, angel investor, et al, can access a more authentic and humane documentation of this if they so desire. Perhaps, the beginning of the intention economy (Searl).
•Or better yet, perhaps George’s city is now so healthy and alive, that that is enough of a recommendation for him to get in places, if he so desires.

Bunker Roy’s TED talk – The Barefoot Movement – models this credentialing via your community, how well are the people around you doing.

Deb Roy’s TED talk – The Birth of a Word – models the idea of tech helping us get back to us, it models our vision of a collaboratory space – and tech-infusing conversation so we can listen more deeply.

Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk – The Danger of a Single Story – models the need for conversation, being known by someone.


high level concept

The main aspiration of the app is to get people talking to themselves.

The main function of the app is to then use that aloud thinking as data to:

•Create (or help co-create) an ongoing mesh network for the individual.
•Facilitate initial (& perhaps ongoing) connections within a community.

The main benefits of the app:

•As people are freed up (ie: from the compulsory aspect of public ed), the initial chaos can be grounded by tech’s ability to facilitate and connect mounds of data.
•People will be connected within a community in order to do (create/discuss/learn about/etc) things that matter to them.

While the app can facilitate people learning how to learn, (people pick – not sure) we do believe that people, w/o any prep or training, will sustain this ongoing connectedness. People are doing good and amazing things all over. People have amazing capabilities. Cognitive surplus (Shirky) abounds. Learning/curiosity are natural (Mitra). People do however, need time & space to connect per choice. And perhaps this grounding of chaos during this initial freedom.

so say

•a person wakes up, (or does it at night, whenever)
•does this self-reflection, via this app, what they are noticing, what they are dreaming about, who/what they want to connect, what they want to do, if they are doing what matters


•by noon they get 5 text #’s back, people in their community with similar thinking
•they choose where and when to meet up
•they get the stuff done that matters to them, in a day/week/month/year
•their tech/self/mentor-automated mesh network leaves a trail of their thinking/doing/connecting.
how will we make the app?

Just by us locally –  ?  If so, team, design/engineering/ project manager

[road narrows, armory, kirill, lab people, …]

Or work both virtually and locally, a team here connected to experts from all over

[pentland, scharmer, anderson, michalski, …]

Or offer selves as alpha and beta test site, to someone like google or facebook or or codeforamerica or techstars or.. ?



How do we get people?

In our district alone, there are 15,000 students, 2000+ adults in school buildings 7 hours a day. Many are there only because it’s compulsory. If we redefine public ed to be: #1 be known by someone #2 talk to your self every day, we think we will find several players.

Whoa, 15,000 even.. you think one app can ground that chaos?

Yes we do. We’re thinking that’s what tech really wants to do, get us back to us. We think we are more capable of this at this point in time, because of what the web can do, what a network means, and what we’ve already seen with tech – take in huge amounts of data and facilitate that in ways we choose. [ie: Everest: – is currently the closest example of our dream app, but the phone service, and google, et al, have been using tech for this.. just not always/generally per our choice.

However, we don’t really think it’s about an app or tech. The focus of being known by someone is at the core of what it means to be human. We can go way back in history, or scan the globe to see people practicing that. We see the app as a temporary jolt back to the natural. So say we divide our district out, it’s about 1 adult to 8 kids. Here’s a vision (see the pod starting at 2 min in) of what the current school buildings (or any space) could become to facilitate that at the onset.

How do we get people to talk to the app everyday?

Again, take the 17,000 ish people in school buildings 7 hours a day, that now have permission to play, ie: this app is their ticket out the door, we think people will start talking to themselves. [And with reference to last question, the group each person belongs to would encourage that daily, at least in the beginning.]

And maybe we can’t get people to talk to the app everyday. Maybe this doesn’t work. That’s what we want to know. This is a prototype of an idea. We’ve gyrated through different experiments over the last four years (me-videos, google doc, video recording), ways to journal or log thinking. This may not work, it’s just our next best idea. We would love to get feedback, especially on what might work better.

What if people just go through the motions of talking to themselves?

Say someone says they notice a fly on the wall, every day. Over time they could get bored, which is fine, we’ve found boredom to be a first step to detox. They could see that we are connecting them to entomologists and start wondering what might happen if they talk about what matters. They could (appear to) do nothing, which is fine, we believe there is never nothing going on. We believe that the world could change if people would start talking to themselves, at whatever level, and that the greater risk, is anything that keeps them from that.

How do we fund it?

I have started a kickstarter project to potentially fund this or at least kick it off.

For tech – they do need a prototype, not just a rendering. Their site reads:

Looks like you’re building a Design or Technology project. Cool!

Kickstarter requires additional information from projects in these categories so that backers can make informed decisions about the projects they support. To launch, you must include:

Who you are. Projects are about people. Let backers know who you are, especially your experience and background. The project video, project bio, and project description are good places to highlight this.

A functional prototype. Projects in the back-of-a-napkin or 3D-rendering phase are too early to raise funds on Kickstarter. Have a prototype? Showcase it in your project video and with images in the project description.

A clear plan. How and where will you be making your project? Share the details on how you will complete it. This must be established prior to launch.

We hope to have this in use this fall. The more expertise and/or sharing and/or backing we can get, the sooner we can prototype. We’ve had rough estimates of 300,000 to 500,000 and 3 months.

And we do have this listed in funding via our collaboratory doc – which is written with the idea we would get 20 mill-ish of no strings attached moneys.

How do we keep people safe?

Anyone participating and not already in the public ed system, would have gone through the district’s volunteer screening. These spaces would be within school buildings and/or designated meet up spaces downtown (ie: maker space, writing lab, video/graphic/photo lab, pi lab, etc.) so they would already be populated with other volunteers and/or district employees.

I must add, I don’t see the app as special or even long lasting. I see it simply as a means to bump us out of the classroom and out of the curriculum, without people freaking out about the danger of randomness. I don’t think I even see the app as facilitating our learning how to learn for very long. I do believe that is natural.. if we just stop all the busy-ness, and start talking to ourselves, listening.

I guess I’m thinking if the fear of people dying from the randomness is alleviated, for even just a short period of time, just long enough to see the capabilities of people, we will be blown away and sold out to the naturalness of it. We will be ready to risk more. Every day. For it.

In fact, I think we will realize what a risk we have been taking everyday for many years now, in not encouraging people to think for themselves, to connect per choice. So ironically, I see the app as a means for us to get out of an incredibly unsafe environment. The human spirit is at great risk. No?

It appears all these connections will be from like-minded thinking, what about the possibilities of connecting adjacent or random thinking?

The app is simply to jumpstart connections. We’re thinking people will be blown away by the like-minded thinkers/experts in our own town, and that will allure them to continue talking. If we get people who can also program randomness into the app, super. That is where magic happens.

We do have a local event, via our homeless collective, in November, that is seeking the same goal: being known by someone.  We’re thinking the timing is perfect to play out, face to face and random connections, just to see where they lead.

Do you have an executive summary?

Am working on a short version statement/summary in doc form. Any one want to help with that?.. : )

How can I help?

Offer insight, connect us to people, help with funding (kickstarter when we launch) or donations (recycled devices, donated bandwidth). Help us prototype when we have a prototype app. Help us offer up examples of individual mesh networks, (like i am doing on the brain via Jerry’s brain) by starting today to create your own mesh on whatever works for you. Maybe you already have one and you could send a link. ( grazie guys.


resources/people/ideas/things that already exist:


•kosta – started – palomar5 – wifi bank
•gregory hill – st louis – wifi poverty-stricken – the disruption dept
•pentland – sociometer – honest signals
•scharmer –theory u –
•optimizely – dan siroker from google, seth bannon – amicus

already exist that might be of help

•hourschool – alex pappas and ruby ku
•insta grok – kirill kireyev
•project m – marc obrien (pie lab) & john bielenberg
•i wish this was
•code academy
• – ish – to facilitate ongoing gatherings

instigator collective – more links to connections/ideas

live links here


gregory – 7 tools to build apps

Jodhbir –

G couros – possible webs – visuals


A few questions:

1. How about an analog option to the digital app (some examples included in the inspiration list below)?

2. How about pushing the user away from the app as much as possible? Send them to an interesting Twitter account (from a set of curated feeds) or push them to another app for recording thoughts, collecting bookmarks, taking pictures, etc.?

3. How about having the user co-create the app by reconfiguring it in some way or another (adjusting the font, the color, the order, the start page, etc.) or by actually constructing it on their own (not exactly sure how that would work with the digital, but I’ve been sitting on an ide for giving people a candy tin (like Altoids) and having them add things to it like a library card, a museum pass, a tiny compass, a map, a little notebook, a personal totem a la Inception, etc.)?

From Rob – live links here

And some inspiration for further steps, examples of some of the above (almost all of which, if digital, is free):

1. Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt’s “Oblique Strategy Cards”

2. IDEO’s Method Cards

3. Drift Deck

4. SuperBetter

5. A variety of Situationist-inspired and related apps:

Serendipitor and




Wanderlust Stories

Situationist App  [Banned :( ]


6. Even though I know you already know it and have it, Keri Smith’s How to Be an Explorer of the World:

7. Animal Superpowers


Thanks to the brilliance, expertise, passion and love coming from Michael & co

We would love feedback:

what intrigued you about using iguata?

what did you want to be able to do, but weren’t?

what could this do for you over time?

please email feedback to me:

or Michael:

my feedback

and perhaps – a clearer vision of what we’re thinking the app might do