Extending Human Vision was Arthur C.
Pillsbury's mission as he made and showed the first nature movies on
the porch of his studio in Yosemite in 1909. The remainder of his
life was spent providing the means for ordinary people see further
into places beyond natural human vision. Refusing to patent any of
these cameras, the circuit panorama, the lapse-time, the microscopic
motion picture, the X-Ray Motion Picture or the Underwater Motion
Picture, he left them as a source we could use.
It worked. Today we expect to see
newly discovered insights through technology. What we see, we
understand. We don't need theories when reality is available. The
Twentieth Century has provided examples in countless ways. The
further we see, the more we know and can choose for ourselves.
Pillsbury grew up seeing how people and
our world were impacted by lack of the understanding which arose from
systemic abuse of power and unbridled greed. The descendant of
families dedicated to enacting social justice, Pillsbury was directly
aware of both where there had been progress and of those areas
As a small boy he attended the
graduation of his mother, Dr. Harriet Foster Pillsbury, from the
Women's Infirmary of New York in 1880. A feminist, he lived in a
world hostile to women. He visited the family homestead in Sandown,
New Hampshire, where his grandfather, Benjamin L. Pillsbury and his
wife, Mary Sargent Pillsbury, ran the first coeducational high school
in their part of New Hampshire and provided a stop on the Underground
Railroad. He grew up reading the works of Emerson and Thoreau, who
were friends of his grandparents.
After the family moved in California in
1883 He witnessed the ongoing destruction of California's environment
and, during college, the lack of innovation and objective thinking
in an academia too often funded by the greedy who held the power of
gate keeping, constricting and directing our future.
During the San Francisco Earthquake and
Fire he bore witness to the devastation accompanying corrupt
government as people died through abuse of the power. He recorded the
imperial direction of American policy with the White Fleet in 1908
and watched as corporate interests began directly using government to
achieve their ends as they used rhetoric designed to evoke trust in
the vast majority of Americans who failed to see the bigger picture.
What we see today has deep roots in
Pillsbury believed seeing was the road
to community, respect for the individual, and freedom.
What could one man do to turn back the
rising tide of greed? He called it the Knowledge Commons. Today we
say, Open Source. Knowledge shared enriches all of us. When we can
see other people, and all other forms of life, we empathize, sensing
our essential sameness, and are moved to love and protect.
, a short video less than six minutes in length, is
his story, not all of it, but a beginning. Please take a few minutes
and watch it.