Sunday, December 20, 2009


I've been talking a lot lately with a couple of executives who are interested in ComputeSpace (if you still don't know about it, go here).

I have a problem with them.

If you listen carefully, if you read between the lines, they seem to see ComputeSpace as a collection of soft and hard assets. And if they see it that way, they see fissures where they can separate one part from another, one feature from another, one team member from another and collect the parts they consider to have the most value and write off the rest.

I suspect that's a viable approach to doing things in MBA school. But I find it disturbing.

I can say some things really simply.

ComputeSpace is all about one thing: Delivering science education to students in remote areas. Whether it's somewhere in Wyoming or somewhere in Kenya, our identity comes from doing that and how well we do that.

We're providing it through a SaaS model. That's software as a service with the emphasis, not on software but, on service.

And this is a service whose time has come. When the Internet became available to everyday users, it was hailed as a great democratizer. Well, applications like ComputeSpace help it meet that vision. As science education becomes more polarized this is a way to spread a quality of knowledge to schools no matter where they are.

If you don't believe that's an issue I should point out that I come from Gardena in Southern California's South Bay. Within an hour drive of my family home were the following institutions: Long Beach State University, L.A. Harbor College, El Camino College, Cal State U. Dominguez Hills, USC, California Science Center, California Natural History Museum, Space Park, Hughes Satellite Systems, US Space Command, L.A. Public Library, Pepperdine University, etc.

Today I live in a semi-rural part of Del Norte County. How many science or higher educational institutions are within and hour drive? 0

My entire career was shaped by proximity to these valuable institutions. I was hired at the California Science Center because I was a regular visitor and the Director of Space Education knew who I was. I joined the staff at Griffith Observatory because people knew my work from the Science Center.

How do young students get that kind of exposure here in the countryside? How do they get the confidence to want to spend there lives in the service of science if they never see it?

I don't think we want everyone in science to come from big cities. Great astronomers of the 20th century like Gerard Kuiper and Clyde Tombaugh came from small rural towns with clear night skies where they could know the night sky easily.

Don't wanna get off on a rant. But I just think that ComputeSpace's value is in achieving its goal of spreading science education effectively and efficiently around the country and, eventually, the world. Not in looking at the technologies and skill sets that comprise it and figuring how to make a buck off them in the short term.

I don't see how that kind of thinking has been a long term success in our economy in general and I know it's a failure of imagination for ComputeSpace.

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