A Visit with Captain Tom
GWB, FDR, HST, JFK ... and LBJ

When One Door Closes, Another Opens

I have left Intel Research Seattle to open up to new opportunities. I sent out farewell messages, and a number of people have asked for more information. I decided to post some more information on this blog, motivated in part by a desire for efficiency -- write once for multiple potential readers (a sort of pre-emptive disclosure) -- and in part by a desire for authenticity -- I've been talking about revelationary computing and the potential benefits of revealing more about our lives through digital technologies ... this gives me an opportunity to walk my talk.

When I moved from Accenture Technology Labs to Intel Research Seattle two years ago, there were many, mostly small, projects exploring ways to make ubiquitous computing a desirable future, a mission I found very appealing, given my belief that the field of ubiquitous computing [still] suffers from a dearth of compelling applications that add significant benefits to people's lives. Over the course of the past year, the lab has decided to narrow its focus to two big projects -- location-enhanced computing and activity inferencing. While I readily acknowledge the potential value of each of these projects, my work on proactive displays doesn't align very well with either of these agendas: I am more interested in computing-enhanced location(s) than location-enhanced computing, and more interested in facilitating interactions than inferring activities. Unfortunately, there was no support within the lab -- or the rest of the company -- for any further work on proactive displays, and it became clear I had to choose between my passion for this work and my affiliation with the company.

I honestly don't really know at this stage where this passion will lead me. I felt that I rushed to Intel from Accenture, due to the need to move UbiComp 2003, which I was chairing, from Chicago to Seattle and be in a position to announce that move at UbiComp 2002. I do not regret my decision, but I don't want to rush this time. Instead, I plan to carve out the time and space to more carefully consider how I can best engage my passions for proactive displays and revelationary computing, looking for ways to enhance physical communities through innovative technologies. Ultimately, I've decided that I'd rather fail spectacularly at something I truly believe in than to succeed at something that is merely of interest.

As I have become progressively more open to new paths, I've found many sources of inspiration that support me in my exploration. I want to post a selection of them here, both for my own reference, and in case they might offer any inspiration for others.

A number of quotations resonate ever more deeply with me:

"When one door closes, another opens, but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us."
-- Alexander Graham Bell

"Whatever you can do or dream, you can begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now."
-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
-- Marianne Williamson, "A Return to Love"

"So let your light so shine before men
Let your light so shine
So that they might know some kindness again
We all need help to feel fine (let's have some wine!)"
-- Stephen Schwartz, "Light of the World" (Godspell)

Several people and/or media have provided additional inspiration:

Rick Jarow's Ultimate Anti-Career Guide: "The Anti Career Books, Tapes, and Workshops are for those who believe that it is still possible to make our life into a work of art; to live and act from the most authentic part of ourselves, and to express our strongest values, energies, and talents through our work in the world."

Jarow blends together elements of the seven chakras with seven steps toward "conscious career building" -- Abundance, Feeling, Focus, Sharing, Creativity, Spirit, and Mystery -- and integrating a variety of other sources including Ram Dass, Jack Kornfield, Stephen Covey, Carl Jung, the Dalai Lama, Arnold Mindell, Ella Fitzgerald, Abraham Lincoln, Paul Hawken, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, George Patton, William Blake, Allen Ginsberg, Alice Miller, Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Melissa Everett, and Ani DiFranco. One indication of the impact of this source on my current trajectory is that I went out and bought an iPod and bought the audiobook at Audible just to be able to listen to the 9-hour course (and have listened to it four times in the past four months).

Eileen Wurst, a Reiki master and career counselor who first turned me on to Jarow

Adam Greenfield's article on "Real Value and the Nature of Work"

Hugh "Branding is Dead" McLeod's article on "How to be Creative"

Po Bronson's article on "What Should I Do With My Life?"

And, of course, I wouldn't even be able to contemplate embarking upon this transition phase without the love and support of my wife and kids, the rest of my family and dear friends, to whom I am forever grateful.

In closing, I want to return to the theme I started with in the title. As I step away, unregretfully, from one closed door, I look forward to the opportunity to stroll around, looking at other doors and opening to new possibilities.

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