Tuesday, June 26, 2007

This will happen

Got back from England Sunday night. A few delays. Finally met my wife about 3 hours later than scheduled. I've yet to see my luggage. Sounds like it was expected to arrive at the airport last night. Hopefully I'll see it this evening on my doorstep. It's well-traveled at least.

The conference and radio segment went well. It was quite a charge for me. The first time I got to speak at a plenary session of a conference. Several participants noted that they had read my publications; one even said he was honored to meet me. And I rubbed shoulders (and had dinner) with others whose works I've read over the years, without feeling intimidated by them.

Now, I'm working to get settled back into a routine. Saturday we head to visit family in the Chicago/Milwaukee area for about a week. Next few weeks, I'll be prepping my courses for the fall. I need to select a text for one of the courses. The other one (an intro course for non-majors) uses the same text (newer edition) that I used when I taught the course at a community college 1998-2000. That prep should be a piece of cake. And the first should be fun and interesting to prepare, even if it will prove more effort.

Meantime, I'm continuing my research. I met an entrepreneur on the plane, who runs a firm that could well prove interested in one of the products I'm working on. He gave me a sense of what he's using today, and its cost, indicating that he'd be ready to jump if I could provide my product at a comparable cost. 2-3 years I think. But it's good to get started researching the market.

I need to put together a business plan. Importantly, I need to settle on one or two main projects that will be my initial focus. I'll need to know what the market looks like, what sorts of contracts I might be able to expect, how much they'll be worth, how enduring. I'll need to be armed with this information when I start talking to Venture Capitalists (or loan officers). They're going to want to know that I've done my homework, and that my proposed product is viable.

I called a patent law office today, and left a message for one of the partners. I'm ready to set up an initial consultation. Before I start talking details with VCs or with individuals or companies that might partner with me, I want to make sure that my ideas are protected.

This is very exciting! I know this will work. I know that it's worthwhile. See, a good part of the motivation is that everyday technology is moving ahead. It's unstoppable. There is a question however about its trajectory. Specifically, how we as people interact with technology. There are essentially two paths: first, that we will continue to accommodate machines, that we will modify our behaviors to be recognizable and comprehensible to machines; the second is that machines will learn to become more like us, and to understand us more as we are.

Scary perhaps, but I have confidence that technologies of this sort will necessarily move slowly enough, allowing us to time to re-acclimate. It's this second path that I'm working on, defining one particular tributary along the route to build out my domain. I can't say this was what I had in mind when I entered graduate school, the second time, to get my PhD. But I can say that this current heading is not an aberration. It is true to who I am, to my interests, to my strengths. I'm enjoying the ride.

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