Our Penultimate Crew: Bonabeau, Cham, Hall, and Larson

I am again grateful for the eloquent, varied, carefully wrought and illustrated, and -- as I look back on them as a whole -- strikingly humane perspectives we have heard this past week. To give just an example or two from each of the week's guests:

From Piero Garau in Rome, suggestions on why Italy was troubled on its 150th birthday and what might make it feel better, plus this tribute to an international legacy that has enriched Rome's architecture; from Shelley Hayduk in LA, several suggestions on how we all might feel better about the onslaught of digital over-stimulation, plus what technology lets us know, and makes us know, about ourselves; from Sam Roggeveen in Sydney, tough love for Americans about our diminished world status, plus the secret reward for conservatives of embracing the UN; and from Guy Raz in Washington, the joys and challenges of being a stay-at-home dad who happens also to run a radio show. Plus, from Parker Donham in Nova Scotia, insights on many life fronts, including one that, if you missed it in the wee hours last night, I very much hope you will go back to read (and view -- you will not forget this). Sincere thanks to them all.

We have two more rotations left in this, the inaugural guest-blogger era for our site. When it is all over I will find some appropriate way to express thanks to the diverse participants as a group. For now, I turn the stage over to another four voices. Please welcome:


Eric Bonabeau, originally from France and now of Santa Fe, NM, a mathematician and physicist who is the founder and chairman of the Icosystem company. If I tried to get too specific about what Icosystem does, I would no doubt trip over a detail. For now I'll leave it at saying that Eric's recent professional life has involved various aspects of artificial intelligence and predictive analysis. At an "isn't that cute!!" level, this includes his renowned "Ominous Panda" image-generating system (right) plus an addictive baby-naming system, Nymbler. He also is responsible for the Infomous idea-visualizing device you see on the Atlantic's home page. We met years ago, when he was working on "Swarm Intelligence" concepts at the Santa Fe institute and I introduced him to the late Michael Crichton, who had cited his writings in Prey. I expect we'll hear from him about how we can (begin to) make sense of an overly info-packed world.

James Cham, of Silicon Valley, was introduced here several weeks ago but has had to postpone his actual blogging until now. He is a principal with Trinity Ventures, a venture capital firm in Menlo Park, Ca. He previously was part of Bessemer Venture Partners and is generally in the middle of the culture of high-tech startups that we all hope will improve our lives. That's how he's known to the world. He's additionally known to me for having taken time years ago to set up an early pre-Atlantic version of this site. I expect he will be describing the nature of start-up culture now, whether we're in another tech bubble, and related topics.

Glenna Hall, originally from New Jersey, now lives in the the (incredibly beautiful) San Juan Islands northwest of Seattle. (Hey, nothing against Santa Fe or Silicon Valley.) Like many people who have appeared here in previous weeks, she has had a lot of different roles over the years. She has been a political scientist, a researcher at an organization funded by the CIA, an editor, a private-practice lawyer, and for a dozen years a judge. She has retired from the bench but is still a mediator -- and an active pilot and a software buff. I came to know of her though a software-fanatics forum on, gasp, Compuserve, back at technology's dawn. Her topics could range from the state of the courts to the state of aviation, with other subjects in between. And:

Christina Larson. Last week, there was no China person in the rotation! Thus I am all the more pleased to introduce Christina Larson, who was traveled extensively in China and Southeast Asia and written often about environmental issues there, including in this recent post here on the Atlantic's site. She is originally from Atlanta, is now based mainly in Washington, and has experience with a number of great journalistic and policy institutions, including the New America Foundation and the fabled Washington Monthly magazine. Her reporting from Asia has mainly been bottom-up, covering the local organizers, administrators, researchers, and plain citizens who have tried to address Asia's environmental emergencies. I expect that we will hear some of these personal views of China and its environs.

Thanks to this past week's crew, and welcome to the new group.