One of my favorite stories about Einstein is that he was being interviewed, and at the end the reporter said, "If I have any follow-up questions, can I call you?" And Einstein went over to the bookcase and looked up his phone number [in a phone book] and gave it to the reporter. And the reporter said, "You're the smartest man in the 20th century -- how do you not know your own phone number?" And he said, "Vy fill my mind with such useless information if I know vere I can find it?" Was that why he was able to come up with the theory of relativity -- he wasn't filling his mind with useless information?
You illustrate evolution in your film with "The Rise of Man" series of drawings, but yours ends with man sitting at a computer! What's the next stage?
The next stage is that we're combining each other's minds. The potential of global brainpower -- if we can only not have global ADD also!
Throughout history, the most innovation occurs in cities because more people from different perspectives bump up against each other and new ideas come out. So suddenly [there is] this global framework for global perspectives around our problems.
Right now we're very much in the social stage of the Web. The next phase, which we're just starting, is the collaborative phase. Gather around problems and share insights.
At the University of Washington, scientists had been trying to figure out the way [an enzyme that allowed AIDS to reproduce] folded, and they couldn't solve it. They put it on the Internet and made it into a game and these gamers from all over the world solved it in [three weeks]. Imagine if you had the brainpower of the world.
What is exciting about humanity has always been our ability to collaborate, and suddenly we have this new way to do it.
You did a video send-up of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl":
"I see the best minds of my
generation distracted by
texting, emailing, tweeting,
dragging their cursors
through Google links
at dawn " Why?
"Connected" was taking very long to make and [for a] national day of unplugging, they asked me to do a poem to begin the event. My husband and I whipped it out. After spending 41/2 years on the feature, it was very fun to blast that [video] out.
You had Apple's Lisa computer before most people knew what a computer was. It makes me think how big a role women play in the tech world.
Oh yeah -- women are all about the Web. The Web is all about relationships, and women are all about relationships. They own it! It is playing to our strengths.
This interview was edited and excerpted from a longer taped transcript. Interview archive: latimes.com/pattasks.