Stories: complex plots unfolding around questions of who we are, where we’re from, and where we’re going—all of which makes us ask, and then what happened?
Steven Boyd Saum
14 Dec 2013
Once upon a time there was a piece of land by a creek in the Cherokee Strip of what’s now the state of Oklahoma and there was a man named Charlie and he had a horse. The land was good and the horse was fast, and when the shot rang out beginning the rush for those wishing to claim a piece of the strip, Charlie rode hard for that land he wanted. He staked his claim and he built a dugout room, and later he and his wife raised a family and a house and a sturdy barn: something to
bequeath future generations. But things didn’t quite turn out the way Charlie planned. There was the Great Depression and a conniving tenant and a banker with a mortgage, and Charlie discovered, to his dismay, that he no longer owned that land.
That’s not the ending—but let’s pause there for a moment and note that there’s an echo of something familiar about the story, yes? In this case, it’s one told by Michael S. Malone ’75, MBA ’77 in Charlie’s Place, a tale of family and home. Who we are, where we’re from, where we’re going are answers that Malone has been offering for years in true stories in print (ink runs in his veins, he professes) and film (recently as part of the PBS series The American Experience) and digital text about the people and ideas and contagious energy of the Silicon Valley and the spirit of entrepreneurship. There’s an idea, an invention—and then what happened?
Here’s one thing: As we were working on the story in this mag about mathematician George Mohlerand an algorithm that uses crime data in a way that shows not just where felonies and misdemeanors have been perpetrated but where the police should look next, our 25-year veteran photographer Charles Barry (that’s right: a quarter century telling Santa Clara’s story in pictures) and I spent the afternoon with John Shepard of the Santa Cruz P.D. The department’s work with predictive policing and how it’s a part of the community are elements that attracted Shepard to the force; he came with years’ experience with the sheriff’s office. As we were headed up Front Street, we passed another officer in training driving her cruiser the other way. Shepard noted casually that, for the new officer, there never will have been a time without predictive policing.
That just might be a story about changing the way we see the world. It’s certainly a story with a complex plot unfolding, with conflict and many things at stake, all of which makes us ask: And then what happened?
Keep the faith,
Steven Boyd Saum