Activities You Can Organize

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What can local Polymath Societies do? Here is a list of possible activities.

(1) Make your own internet television production. Find out how here.

(2) Learn to program in Java. Make cool programs that can either stand alone or run on the web on your own web site.

(3) Form a science fair discussion group. You can make a polymath web page to discuss science fair ideas. Here are a couple of links:

Science Hobbyist
Bizarre Stuff You Can Make in Your Kitchen
Weird Science -- Dave Barry

(4) Help create free web sites for non-computer people. Show them how to gain access using a public library computer. You need to set them up with a free email account first, as an email address is required to set up a web page. A popular one is See Net Freebies for list of many free e-mail and web page hosts. You may significantly boost the local economy and even lower the crime rate. You may get in the newspaper or even on TV.

(5) Set up a physical web server and provide free web sites to members. Setting one up using the Apache Web Server is an interesting and educational project for kids. Exploring new operating systems, such as Linux, is what youth has time for, or creating the next one. This will cost you some money for a permanent internet connection, but you could raise this from the small businesses you help make web pages for.

(6) Provide mentor and tutor services. The best way to learn is to teach others. Mentors can be contacted via the internet and also on a local community level. The idea is to bridge the generational gap to provide encouragement to young polymaths, many of whom have no real local models or anyone they can talk to on an intellectual level. Afraid you can't answer the questions? No worry. Our Arts and Science Forums have all the answers.

(7) Organize field trips to book stores, having raised money for everyone to buy something. Book ownership is essential to polymath self-identity. Libraries are nice but they teach a short term attachment to books. Also, a book that is free is not so highly valued, and not so completely read. The atmosphere of the book store is vastly superior to that of the public library. For polymaths, reading in a book store is the meaning of life. Today there are a lot of big book stores, and some have coffee shops where you can get together for your Polymath Society Chapter meetings (great excuse to get your mom to take you to the bookstore).

(8) Establish local Polymath Resource Centers in existing non-profit organizations. You could put books, computers, and art materials there for people to use. Members can provide instruction and hold meetings at such centers. There are many existing facilities that are under-utilized for lack of staff ad interest. The main problem in organizing is people not money (don't waste time trying to raise it--it will come if you are really doing something). Focus on energizing people, organizing people to do things. This is probably the best educational experience you could. It will give you confidence and be useful to you throughout your life. Where do you get the computers? A lot of large companies have old computers in storage and like to give them away for tax purposes. Visit you local computer stores too. As my cousin in NY used to say, "As long as you have a mouth, you won't get lost."

(9) Organize a polymath chess club. A polymath chess club is different from an ordinary chess club in that polymaths play several different kinds of chess and the game of "go" simultaneously. In NYC I had a lot of fun setting up my Chinese chess board in the park in Chinatown and taking on the old men, who I would otherwise not have been able to communicate with. Get to know some Chinese university students who can teach you and download the software from the Chinese Chess Home Page for practice.

(10) Run a computer lab, or extend its hours for member use and meetings. Bill Gates and friends got started in their own polymath society, now called Microsoft, by hanging out in computer centers, begging or borrowing whatever computer time they could. What we have on our desks today is so incredibly better than what they had to work with. The opportunities for making new things is just incredible! Unfortunately, the distraction of playing with what already exists is also high. There are plenty of people who only surf and never write. The point is not to just learn to use existing software but to be creative on our own, to make new things. Polymaths make new things.

(11) Hold lectures and/or meetings that are totally not concerned with organization and bureaucracy. Never waste your time in long meetings unless you are learning something at the same time. Detailed organization is better carried out by committee, by delegated responsibility for a particular area.

(12) Disseminate information on local resources available, like how to get computer access, e-mail, and web pages, even if you do not own a computer. For example, many libraries, universities, and computer clubs offer such resources. Most resources are under-utilized because the people who would benefit do not know about them. One of the best web based free e-mail providers is Also see Making Your Web Page.

(13) Engage in scientific, socially minded, and entrepreneurial activities, interfacing with other information age businesses and programs of intellectual advancement. Encourage members to participate in such advanced programs.

(14) Make reproductions of famous art works and sell them to raise money. See some of the early efforts of Monsieur Lacey. It is both fun and educational. Renoir said that one learns to paint in the museums.

Renoir: On the Terrace
Renoir: Girl Wiping Her Feet
Degas: Blue Dancers
(15) Make an/or enter contests. Make a web page on a contest topic.

Rube Goldberg Machine Contest

(16) Organize your own software company. Learn about how to develop and market software. There is always room for more software. because nine out of the programs are still a waste of time and money. An easy way to start is as a developer for an existing software technology. You only need to talk the company into donating a development kit to your Polymath Society Chapter, not impossible because it doesn't really cost them anything. It is in their own advertising and software standards interest. Also contact local software companies for assistance and possible internships for members. They can help you get development kits for free. You can also get a lot of free stuff on the web. Always check out the limits of what is free first. You don't want to pay for something (and spend time on it) only to find out that a better technology was available for free. There is a trend towards free information as an advertising vehicle. This is part of the dynamic of the modern (market driven) information age. Some people also give sotware away to spread their ideas. Got a message (or a medium) for the world. The best way to publish it is a a good piece of freeware. Be good though. It's "gotta be good." An example of a very successful freeware (now shareware) medium is IRC chat.

A Theory of Software