A. Background / Motivation for the site

Preamble (pre-ramble?)
I love to listen to podcasts on my long annoying commute into work. Most of my podcasts subscriptions are video game related. I enjoyed podcasts so much, I actually started recording short segments ("OCD gamer segment on ddocast). Audacity is the audio software I use. It is free and easy to use - once it is installed. Be warned if you want to export your audio to an MP3 file it gets difficult. It appears that audacity hasn't paid (?) for a license to make the mp3s, so you have to get a dll (lame_enc.dll) file from someone else. Hopefully they have good instructions on how to install this thing.

I searched on optics podcasts hoping to find a relaxed and social one, but I came up short. There are physics lessons but that didn't satisfy me. I started to wonder: could I do one....

First Quarter 2011 Friend and coworker encouragement
My company hired a social media, marketing dude. Very creative guy. If you don't beleive me, go here and watch this hilarious youtube video. He looks 5'6' in the video. When I met Todd, the first thing out of my mouth, was "holy crap you're tall". The guy is like 6'4". My boss wanted Todd to video my intro optics course that I teach to application engineers. Todd suggests that I do short (4 minute) videos where I critique optics articles and do it in a humorous way. I still want audio casts. Can I synthesize all three ideas? I would prefer to draw people in with information. I pitch the idea and Todd encourages me to do this on my own. Our company would provide more support if I get a lot of web hits. I realize, I don't really care about how many hits I get. I had a vision in my mind for what I want. This was born out of what I would consume if someone else had created it. I decided that I needed a social hub for all these crazy ideas.

Optics realm is born.

6-3-11 Scratching my head about the internet
Someone submitted a jotform entry with a false email. At least I think it was a false alias.... Richard something or other. Anyways they reference optics2001.com which is a fee based site. $11 for 6 month or $20 per year. 822 subscribers from the US, 787 from around the world. Total subscribers is 2234. So they make about $45K/yr. I am very shocked. Based on the links, I believe they are Tucson based. >9000 documents. I am very curios about the quality of their web. Unfortunately I refuse to pay their subscription fee to find out. Also they are copyrighted, so I don't want to come close to infringing on their content.

Still scratching my head about the internet. I can get free youtube videos on java programing. Yet for optics I have to pay SPIE, OSA or optics2001. SPIE will publish my stuff and when a customer wants my report I have to tell them to pay ~$15 for the article and it won't be out for another month to a year. My vision for this site is free access to optics.

8-1-11 Open source research
My companies owner has me reading "Drive" by Dan Pink which talks about intrinsic versus extrinsic motivators. It re-enforces my belief that good research ,engineering and education is open source and not held by fancy smancy institutions created before the advent of email and the internet. Of course this can be taken too far. I don't believe the law should be broken, rather all future academic work should be open source and not pay to view. I think that mode is outdated and the extrinsic motivation (motivation 2.0 in "Drive" parlance) is actually degrading the quality of research and education in our society. Why should I publish an optical engineering article with SPIE? If I get a customer who is interested in my research I have to tell them to download the article for $10 or $15 dollars and wait a month or twelve till the non-profit organization decides to actually publish the paper. Why don't I just publish here and give my customer and those interested a web link?

8-22-11 Pop Sci is pushing a new approach to education
I was reading Pop Sci during a camping trip this weekend and they had a great article about a need for free / online education, which supports my motivation for this site. They did point out that college is great because we are social creatures and we tend to enjoy learning better in groups as opposed to sitting behind a computer. I couldn't find the exact article online but I did find this entry about MIT. Very Cool!!! It is a very years old. Here is another initiative they have... an open call for web innovation to teach younger students. Too bad optics isn't in there:)