"Why?" matters

Some introductions are in order. My name is Wayne Hall. I'm by training in the information technology business -- but not in the application development side, there are some seriously talented people working there. Rather, I think about how information technology is applied to problems. Most of the big ideas in the right column are related to information technology because of that. I'll be working to expand the list.
 
My typical question: "what is the information problem here?" I take "but I thought you wrote about information technology" as a complement.
 
I've worked for many years with a group of technologists in government. They are often terribly bright people deeply affected by the process of government, which grinds high hopes down to manageable size over time with rules that long ago were separated from principle. Lets just say there is a rule for just about everything in most government institutions. If you're not aware of a rule, someone will be happy to look up the applicable rule for you. I suspect most people don't feel helped by the new information. 
 
Government bureaucratic structures used to solve an information problem when information was scarce by coordinating a big effort on behalf of big goals. Solutions worked their way down the food chain. Today, problems don't generally suffer today from a lack of information. The governmental response to Hurricane Katrina illustrated that. The biggest question on the minds of many appeared to be who reports whom rather than how can the already abundant information (horrific disaster, response needed) should be addressed. Problem not solved.
 
My favorite quote, which I can't unfortunately find, goes something like this: "if the government had responded like Walmart more lives would have been saved."
 
Today, solutions are everywhere and more often than not bubble up from below. Free to communicate, ordinary people can do extraordinary things across this thing called the Web. Innovation is happening at an accelerating clip. That's why I was initially attracted to the opportunity to edit the ideaFestival web log. It takes advantage of the Web to bring together people interested in discovering the principles underneath it all.
 
What I'm saying is that the ideaFestival believes in the ideas behind the rules. It's a process where "why?" is welcomed. Rules flow from principles.

Past participants have included Dith Pran, Photojournalist and Survivor of the Cambodian Holocaust; Sir George Martin, Beatles' Producer/Composer; and Iain Couzin of Princeton and Oxford Universities, who is exploring Swarm Theory. Participants in the 2006 Louisville Festival will likewise be innovators that don't just tinker at the edges. More on that later.

I'm glad to be aboard. I could use your help moving the dialog along. So offer your thoughts on the importance of idea and discovery and how it all can be applied to solve problems. The "why's" really do matter. More than ever.