Thursday, January 10, 2008


By now, reading this, it's readily apparent how avid I am about our young people's destinies and the future role of interactive communicative technologies. There is another devotion I must share. I am passionate about Vermont. Though not born here, in my adulthood I've grown up here. The opportunity to move to my mother state of New York was presented two years ago. Even as excellent opportunities called out, there is an essential quality to this state that I could not abandon. 

What a state it is. One can look out one's window and see such natural beauty! The air clean and pure, space unfolds, and our forests beckon, and then there are Vermont's people! Some will say stoic, stubborn, taciturn New Englanders but in Vermont you need not look far for warmth and ingenuity. When disaster strikes; stuck in a snow bank, a forest falls around you, or to coach your child in softball, they are there—hard working, supportive, with few words but a warm handshake or a tractor if need be.

Yet there is more to Vermonters, whether born to or chosen by the place. They are self-reliant, innovative, passionate about the world in which they live. Ready to go against the grain if need be. I have been lucky to know these people. People like John Cohn, a top researcher at IBM who is working with our students to support an IBM initiative around engaging young people through games to the sciences and technology. Or people like game developer Chris Hancock.

Chris, recently moved to Vermont, is creating a serious game business—Tertl Studos LLC. He is known industry-wide for creating the premier game in the educational space for science and math, "Zoombinis". Chris and John define the Vermont lifestyle. How many top engineers do you know voluntarily work promoting science education—and have fun while doing so? How many game developers that heat by wood? Or live a short walk from the capital building?

Which brings me to today. Greg Morgan and I parked in Chris's driveway to visit the capital for Governor Douglas's State of the State address. Once inside the capital I photographed a lovely painting that captures the Vermont spirit—independent, loyal, with a heart and sometimes a life given for our society. Also I was compelled to speak to the youngest Vermonters there.

There was Tyler a young artist sketching the proceedings. He draws daily realizing continual observation and practice develops his skills. There were the young pages who were chosen based on their written essays. They were using cell phones to photograph each other, digitally recording their big moment. They were all giggles and charm but when the proceedings began—all business. They define our future. They are why I was here. Their direction is what this distinguished assembly of legislators determines daily.

Today a keystone event occurred for emergent media and the future of this independent state. Governor Jim Douglas in his address proposed investing in a pilot project to be managed by the Emergent Media Center in collaboration with Champlain's B.Y.O.Biz and Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies. The goal to grow student created businesses in the serious games and emergent media space. To quote:
"Now with one eye to the future, and one on the bottom line, we must strike the right balance of protecting key government sevices while making smart investments for the years ahead...
...To further inspire investments in technology, I’m proposing we invest a quarter-million dollars in two pilot projects—a partnership with Champlain College and the University of Vermont’s Center for Emerging Technologies to provide grants to start-up businesses that are developing cutting edge software; and an e-communities grant program to enable more local internet content, discussion forums, wikis and blogs."
Governor Douglas's proposal is an exciting opportunity aligned with the Emergent Media Center's mission.  Through the collaboration with B.Y.O.Biz and VCET, we can continue to lay a solid base to launch new, future-defining Vermont businesses. Businesses begun by our students. Businesses that have at their core use of emergent media, in formats yet to be defined such as serious games, blogs, wikis, and social networking, to share the Vermont vision of the future. One built on hard-work, neighborliness, innovation and concern for our world.  I believe—actually, I strongly believe—that Vermont with its mix of creative artists and technological innovation is the perfect place for these businesses to thrive. 
Businesses that our young pages will wish to be part of, to build and to create. They will have the opportunity to share a Vermont-inspired vision of networked community with our world. Let's dance to that.


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Ann DeMarle said...

Thank you for your comment!