Bringing On the Final Guest Crew: Allen, Friedmann, Toyama, Travierso

By James Fallows

For this, the final week of the guest-blogger era, I'm going all-out and taking the author-photo route. First some discreet little thumbcuts of the group that has performed so well in this past week. Then showier display pics for the anchor-leg crew I am about to introduce. I give you:

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Christina Larson (left) has provided enlightening analyses from her time in Asia, ranging from the complex world of the Chinese journalist to the chastening view from Mt. Everest to the comparative histories of environmentalism in China and the United States.

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Eric Bonabeau (right) has explored many aspects of the connections among technology, behavior, instinct, judgment, creativity, thought, risk-taking, and security -- for instance here and here and here.

Glenna Hall (below, with her airplane) has shared what she has learned from her experiences as a judge, a pilot, and an unwitting contract worker for the CIA. I am very glad to have heard the insights and hypotheses of this group and believe many readers feel the same way. I also had to weigh in myself on several news developments.

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Now the tenth and final crew of guest bloggers is at hand. There is no letdown in quality or range of experience, as you will see. Please welcome:








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David Allen. Yes, the David Allen (right), of Getting Things Done, the David Allen Company, and what I referred to in an Atlantic article as "The David Allen Way." Since reading his book, attending one of his seminars, and writing about his approach to life seven years ago, I have stayed in touch with him and have felt fortunate to become a friend. I've seen him perform in venues large and small -- including one two years ago, where he said he'd just gotten interested in a new system called Twitter. He has something like 1.3 million followers there now (@gtdguy). I expect that he'll tell us whatever is on his mind.
 
Julio Friedmann. Yes, the Julio Friedmann (below -- and I'll retire the "Yes, the.." joke at this point). I wrote about him several months ago in an Atlantic cover story about "clean coal" as a source of environmental hope in a dirty world. It included this picture of him at Lawrence Livermore National Labs, where he is Carbon Management Program Leader.We met in Beijing several years ago when he started telling me about projects like those I described in the article, to coordinate clean-up efforts between Chinese and American groups. He has been a university research scientist, and a researcher for Exxon and ExxonMobil. I expect that he will tell us how to think about energy and climate issues, and about the timetable and practicality of steps America and other countries can take.
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Kentaro Toyama (right), a Japanese- born, American-raised and educated computer scientist whom I first met several years ago in Bangalore, at the Microsoft research lab he had helped set up there. (I was in India to visit my son; I learned of Kentaro and his work through our mutual friend, the Atlantic's Scott Stossel.) This picture is from a 2008 NY Times story about him and his projects in India. At the time he was mainly working on technology projects meant to improve the prospects of the world's rural poor. Despite that experience, or because of it, he became skeptical of whether technology could really do much to end poverty (as he has written here). He has left Microsoft and is now at UC Berkeley writing a book on what the solutions are, if they're not technology. I expect that technology-and-life's-problems will be his theme.

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Michele Travierso (left), originally from Milan and now based in Shanghai, became a friend when my wife and I were living in Shanghai in 2006 and 2007. He juggles a variety of identities and passions. He has worked as a freelancer for the Economist, the NYT, Wired.com, and others, plus some Italian publications. He is an entrepreneur and technology project manager. And -- the way we originally got to know each other -- he is an aviation buff and glider pilot. As he puts it about these and other interests: "I have lifelong passion for skiing and flying (or more broadly put: mountains and everything that flies). I dabble with photography. I'm always torn between the craft of journalism and the art of entrepreneurship." He is based for the moment in Hong Kong on an internship for Time magazine, where "I find myself staring at the great view of the old Kai Tak runway 31 in the in the Victoria Harbour, that seems to be floating like a pontoon from the Kowloon peninsula, more than I should."

I am grateful to this past week's guests, and their predecessors, and the guests who are about to take the stage. I now turn it over to them.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/03/bringing-on-the-final-guest-crew-allen-friedmann-toyama-travierso/73064/