February 25, 2002
10:31 AM   Subscribe

Dean Kamen does a lecture from his Ginger. Compelling broadband video clip from the recent Harvard Cyberposium (official site), where the man on the two-wheeled scooter talks about physics, Enron, dot-bust and everything - while trundling around on his machine. Paradigm-busting moment of realisation: he looks disabled, like he can't actually walk. Seems like John Hockenberry's dream - "When you think disability, think zeitgeist" - is coming true.
posted by theplayethic (18 comments total)
I'm telling you, that segway needs to sound like this (3meg quicktime). I can't believe he gave his talk while riding that thing around.
posted by tomplus2 at 11:10 AM on February 25, 2002

Hmmm...looks cool, but I can't open it in IE explorer. Do I need something besides quicktime or windows media virus?
posted by mecran01 at 12:36 PM on February 25, 2002

He also talks about work on a Stirling engine, which sounds like it will probably be much more revolutionally than the Segway. Kamen sounds like a smart guy who isn't in "the biz" in order to make a bunch of money (although he enjoys owning fancy cars). I wish him all the best with his stuff, it's refreshing to hear his point-of-view instead of a bunch of stuffed-suits blathering on about some business plan that is ultimately full-of-shiz. Viva Kamen!
posted by almostcool at 12:36 PM on February 25, 2002

Hmmm...looks cool, but I can't open it in IE explorer. Do I need something besides quicktime or windows media virus?

You need the Real/RealOne Player . . .

Great talk. Cool to see the engine revealed.
posted by donovan at 12:50 PM on February 25, 2002

"If we can't do something intelligent with all this technology, then what's the point?"

Sums it up really, nice talk.
posted by Duug at 2:03 PM on February 25, 2002

who isn't in "the biz" in order to make a bunch of money (although he enjoys owning fancy cars)

And a helicopter. And a private airplane. And a private island (country, even, if we are to take Bush Sr.'s word for it). Something tells me he IS in it to make a bunch of money. And that's great!
posted by dagny at 2:21 PM on February 25, 2002

Nice talk, and I liked the fact that he didn't have to keep referring to his notes.
posted by riffola at 2:45 PM on February 25, 2002

Most overlooked link of the day. Thanks theplayethic! If I'd seen this speech in grade seven, I wonder if I would have picked a different path in life. For all Kamen's frustration and pessimism, I was left encouraged. The Stirling Engine was particularly cool.
posted by Yogurt at 3:43 PM on February 25, 2002

Yeah, he is somewhat pessimistic. And the use of the Segway was completely gratuitious... still want one, though. Great speech. Thanks, theplayethic.
posted by crunchland at 6:48 PM on February 25, 2002

Hrm. Ok, the segway is dorky, but I so want one :)

I wish you could get one that folded like a razor, though.
posted by delmoi at 7:28 PM on February 25, 2002

hey i saw a doc on that robot competition the other day. that's cool dean kamen started it!

i also thought it was cool how he focused a lot on business ethics. like to him business is totally integrated into an organizational structure geared towards creating products that add value to society, which he saw in terms of efficiency and productivity improvements he could make through technology innovations.

it kind of reminded me of this quote by peter drucker: "The customer is the foundation of a business and keeps it in existence. Because its purpose is to create a customer, any business has two – and only these two – basic functions: marketing and innovation."

like i think he needs to get bill gates or someone to license the technology from him :)
posted by kliuless at 9:46 PM on February 25, 2002

Marvellous speech, great link. The Stirling engine inspires me, and I glad there are people who describe themselves, as Kamen does, as "rabidly pro-business" who are saying the sort of rational, ethical things that he is, and that other people are listening.

Thanks for the link, theplayethic!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:01 PM on February 25, 2002

I watched the whole hour, without even noticing the time.

And I agree it is nice to see an engineer speak about possibilities, instead of a suit selling me something.

I also liked the idea that the Stirling engine's application would be a good water purifier(400 watts produces 13 gallons per hour). Original, and applied to a real problem. Good talk.
posted by dglynn at 11:28 PM on February 25, 2002

Actually he does own his own country. He bought an island off of Connecticut and seceded from America. A couple of other interesting points: Ben and Jerry are the Joint Chiefs of Ice Cream and he has his own currency. Only one bill has been printed. It has the value of pi. As such, it is impossible to make exact change. I truly do love this guy. (info courtesy of this Wired article. Sorry but it's the google cached version)
posted by crustbuster at 2:11 AM on February 26, 2002

I gave my machine a realaudio enema just to watch this, and it was worth it. You could tell that half the people in the audience were itching to ride that thing. Great stuff.
posted by mecran01 at 5:34 AM on February 26, 2002

This was a very good link. It's so, SO refreshing to discover someone smart, a little kooky, and fun. He's a very good, inspiring role model for children. And adults.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:20 AM on February 26, 2002

I saw Dean give a talk at the Boston Museum of Science a couple of weeks ago, and it was awesome. He gave that talk from atop a Segway as well, and talked about the future of innovation.

I stood not two feet from him (after the talk), and he didn't seem to have any trouble standing, although he is a tiny little guy (like 5'3").

My girlfriend observed that while he's a brilliant man, he's not a great public speaker. He has a very flat affect, and doesn't really make points so much as kind of ramble along. That said, what he had to talk about was fascinating.
posted by bshort at 7:56 AM on February 26, 2002

i was just thinking his approach to business meshes really well with the ideas behind factor four productivity.
posted by kliuless at 8:36 AM on February 26, 2002

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