Wu wei is an important tenet of that involves knowing when to act and when not to act. Another perspective to this is that “Wu Wei” means natural action – as planets revolve around the sun, they “do” this revolving, but without “doing” it; Or as trees grow, they “do”, but without “doing”. Thus knowing when (and how) to act is not knowledge in the sense that one would think “now” is the right time to do “


“, but rather just doing it, doing the natural thing.

Wu may be translated as

not have or without; Wei may be translated as do, act, serve as, govern or effort. The literal meaning of Wu Wei is “without action” and is often included in the paradox : “action without action” or “effortless doing”.


Lives online without Living online
Since my son was born, I’ve been on a 24-hour observation binge. Not a single thing that David does goes unnoticed. I love to watch him grow. And it’s the littlest changes that make me proud, happy and content.

David’s unconscious thought is what has me wrapped up in my own conscious thoughts these days. I’m fascinated by his essential being. The qualities of character that define who he is at the core. Clearly he has a lot of personality to develop — a life-long process none of us outgrows — but his ability to act without conscious thought is something I’ve noticed as an undervalued asset in others around me. Some people call it ‘instinct.’ Other call it ‘impulse’. But it’s the actions that we commit without having to think about them that tell the real story.

To help me tell David’s story, I created . It’s a place where people can start recording their lives for posterity. It allows you to write like you would in a journal, with a blank page, and share those stories with others who may be able to help you remember the details. What’s more, if you’re the type that has your videos on and your photos on and your music on and your comings and goings on , then you probably don’t have the time to stare at a blank page until the story comes out of your fingertips. Dandelife therefore also can record your unconscious actions (as it were) by archiving your feeds from those places.Sharing one’s life online is made possible by two converging trends. The first is the kind of stuff our clients are doing: making photo and video devices that are cheap, easy to use and produce high quality experiences offline. The second, participatory media (sometimes also called User-Generated Content) sites such as social networks, photo and video sharing sites and blogs like this one. The former is primarily usable

, the latter is primarily adaptable.


A good example of usability in a hardware device is the . Cheap and so easy to use that my 8-year-old niece records with it regularly. You don’t have to read the instructions. you can clearly see the instructions on the back. Big red button? Record. Stop. That’s it. While the quality of the recording may be less than the best the market has to offer, it offers something much much richer in unconscious thought. After all, with such a rapidly working device at my fingertips, as soon as the moment strikes, I am ready to record it. I’ll let Mark Twain inject an observation here:

?An autobiography that leaves out the little things and enumerates only the big ones is no proper picture of the man?s life at all; his life consists of his feelings and his interests, with here and there an incident apparently big or little to hang the feelings on.?

Mark Twain?s Autobiography, 1906

In other words, leave as little out as possible. When it comes to recording your life, no detail should be lost, no destination undone. In the past, this meant – increase the resolution. Today it means – increase its nowitude. If I have to think about it, it will slow me down. Please, don’t make me think. Otherwise, I might miss moments like this altogether:


Mashed Potatoes

Once we’ve solved the problem of recording important moments, the next step is to figure out how to deliver or share that moment. In the past – we might print a photo or share it online at a place like snapfish.com. Now, more users are putting their photos and videos on facebook and myspace first. Indeed taking a photo often has the specific destination in mind. If you want to print it, take it with an SLR, download it to your computer, adjust the levels and upload it to snapfish. If you want to share it on facebook, take it with your phone and send it now. And some places, places like Flickr, allows you to do both really well, employ a different mode of thinking. Flickr is remarkably adaptable to any use. That’s because Flickr has made itself a platform for photos of all type and for all uses. It lets users mash up the platform into their own innovative uses. They have created thier own experience around photo sharing, but do not limit the experience. Instead they offer an open API.

To bring this back full-circle, an API allows data to simply be. In the same way that a a tree grows, or the planet orbit the sun, or my son smiles when smiled at, the data in a given platform simply does was it does without thinking. Having an API allows us to tap into the power. Record the data. Display it in a new way. Compare and contrast it with other data. That’s up to the user’s needs. But before that, the elemental problem is to build a platform for data and let that data do without doing. At GAP Intelligence, we’ve embarked on a technology mission to “do” exactly that. And that’s the topic of my next post.