Toward the end of 2018 in New York City during blue sky days, several planes with red tails would catch my attention. Was this more than coincidental? I did what any curious person would do in this situation; I Googled it. The universe answered. People photograph, collect and share tail images. The phrase, “red-tail plane” yielded a loyal constituency sharing photos of the tails and planes of the entire airline industry. Each tail is captured and graphically consolidated into the wonderfully thematic digital world. As a good hint to such a strange query, this kept me going.
The desire to share observations, coupled with the capacity to do so on millions of free to the edge platforms yields a subset of individuals that have leaped from that edge to ask and answer one question. What do I want and need to know? As any economist will tell you, descriptions of the differences and links between want and need fill volumes of hard textbooks and soft, entertaining paperbacks. It is the “what to know problem” that remains at the core of the debate in a world where there is nothing you can’t add. I smiled at my little laptop.
The business of discovering how people, communities, even whole nations choose what they want and need to know begins with a curious smile. Having a helpful relationship with the world is one experience. The ability of the world to establish other relationships based on force is another, and that is where the red tail plane exists. What do you want from me? Why are you constantly in my line of sight? I solved my planes with red tails problem as we all do with an odor, I went nose blind. I don’t see red tail planes anymore. I know they are there, and I don’t see them except when they are pressed into my vision because of their failure. That is when it hit me like a slap in the face.
What if I asked a question like: How can I assure human well-being? I got ahold of Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail to hear about his experience since his work at Wired and his book. I know, it is weird to jump from “red” to “long” but I just went with the smile embedded in the switch. Chris uses the power law to focus on modern life. I learned how his real-time number driven vision of the world became future driven by playing robotics with his kids and online. He met another young person online and ended up building a drone factory with him in Tijuana. (Details). The insult and injustice of those planes invading my consciousness faded.
I discovered injustice is the opposite of poverty, not wealth. When it threatens well-being, people flee, often in high numbers. The volume of raw product drawn from the earth creates similar collisions in freeness, price, mass, and displacement. They become distortions of the culture. Chris’s experience straightened me out. He sees the importance of a north-south vision of the American continents and in his way foretold of the futility of Xenophobia slapped in our face like a wall. Then I saw it, the long tail of a 4,000 km march that began in San Pedro Sula in northern Honduras and ended along the Mexico border.
I know the why red-tail plane brought me to a 4,000 km walk through Mexico and because people like Chris Anderson already figured out a way to prevent bloodshed and make those numbers work. Sí, se puede my brothers and sisters, Sí, se puede.