By Brian Brus
Courtesy of The Journal Record
Editor’s note: Creative Oklahoma, a nonprofit group dedicated to supporting the state’s innovative economic strengths, will host this year’s Creativity World Forum on March 31 at the Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall. Registration information is available at www.stateofcreativity.com. David King is one of the many entrepreneurs who have volunteered to help at the event.
OKLAHOMA CITY –Dave King sees data the way proto-birds once used downy temperature-regulating panels to glide and fly.
When an attribute that developed to serve one function is co-opted to for another, it’s called exaptation – evolutionists use feathers as an example of the process. Appropriately enough, King exapted the term as the name for his Oklahoma City software design company, Exaptive Inc.
King and his staff look for ways that music composition can be used to predict gene sequencing or geology can suggest trends in human history. It’s not always easy to explain such a meta-concept – rearranging ideas to build bigger ideas – but he said the end result is worth it.
For example, the company is working with the nonprofit Accelerated Cure Project to organize and cross-reference a wide range of data to find a new approach to attack multiple sclerosis. Exaptive’s results may suggest new research paths, he said.
“Data has quickly become key in every field,” he said. “The field is exploding, but it’s exploding in a million pieces with fragmented sources and technology and algorithms for analysis. The tools for visualizing results are all over the place. The Exaptive platform makes it easy to work with any data set in a lot of different ways.”
King traveled with several other Oklahomans to Belgium last year to attend the Creativity World Forum. He’s offered to organize a panel discussion and workshop when the forum is hosted in the metro area this month. He’s going to focus on something he refers to as virtual communities and co-opting technology to facilitate innovation beyond boundaries originally envisioned.
“Social networks are like virtual cities,” he said. “Exaptive is looking at how people use data and how they interconnect.”
In much the same way a friend might introduce two associates at a dinner party to discover they share business interests, Exaptive is getting data network users to shake hands across domains. Then his staff can help a client develop an online app within just a few days and broaden the social reach, bringing more participants to the party. The company provides consultants as well as licenses its tools to other data scientists.
“I wear a business tie most of the day, but I really get most excited about using technology to facilitate innovation,” he said. “The really big innovations in history are mental exaptations, where someone took something from one domain and serendipitously applied in a completely different domain.”