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Cowboy Science

I've been thinking about this for a while. I fancy myself a scientist, which means I use the Scientific Method to figure things out. So I make a hypothesis, and try like crazy to falsify it, and at the end maybe there's some interesting not-yet-falsified ideas.

I train myself in all sorts of science, I keep real genuine article scientists as friends and compatriots. But y'know, I probably wouldn't be called a Scientist by the vast majority of people in this day and age.

So I started thinking. What is someone who does science who doesn't have impressive scientific credentials? And I came to - a Cowboy Scientist.

Cowboy Science is trying to figure out how things for practical reasons or for curiosity, not for academic or institutional prestige.

A rancher who tries to figure out what the best mix of water and grazing and movement for his cattle by takes notes, making a guess at what'll work, and testing that guess - he's doing science. But no one would call him a Scientist with a capital S.

Project Stargate: "Always On" Skype video connection between remote offices

On DROdio

UPDATES:  Stargate is Live! | Also, see SimpleGeo's Implementation

We recently expanded PointAbout from its office in Washington DC, opening a new office for AppMakr in San Francisco (as an aside - interesting personal-interest story about the move here).

One problem with geographic separation is that the people in the other office are very abstract.  You might see work coming from them in the form of code, releases, email, etc., but it's very hard for the actual people between offices to make a connection.  And that inter-personal connection is very important to us as a company, so I set out to figure out a way to solve it.

My co-founder Sean aptly named this project "Project Stargate," after the science fiction Stargate movie in which shortcut paths to the Universe are opened up through a round, glowing portal (really wanna geek out?  More details on Stargate here), so the name has stuck.

I'll be adding to this blog as we figure things out, and I'd really like to have your thoughts in the comments section below, especially if you've done any work to solve this problem (any Y Combinator startups out there working on this vexing issue?).   Just to be clear, we all have AIM, or Gtalk, or Skype call & video chat abilities - that's not the problem.  The problem is that to initiate a call or IM chat requires effort.  And while it may be a very small, minimal amount of effort, nonetheless it's effort, which means that the magical moments where someone turns to another person and says "hey, I have an idea" or "can you look at this for me" are lost.  And that's really, really significant.  Since effort is required to establish a connection, the serendipitous connections are lost.  That's what I'm trying to bring back through "Project Stargate".

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