it's 7.30 am. the sun's rays are blasting through the window, prashant's domestic help is clanging away in the kitchen making tea, and i find my self singing "it's the end of the world" by R.E.M.
wim wenders' until the end of the world and R.E.M.'s it's the end of the world as we know it (and i feel fine) have captivated my soul since my youth.
after yesterday's adventure in the wastelands of future hubbub, i arrived in mumbai. under the cover of darkness, i quietly roamed the halls of the international terminal.
greeted by a plainclothes custom's agent and without any questions, my passport was stamped and i walked into india. within 10 mins my bags were on a stroller and i was strolling into the humid night.
while my original plans were to spend the night in the terminal, things changed very quickly. on the day of my departure from cairo, former CiviCRM stunt man and current Drupaller, Yashesh Bhatia emailed me emphatically saying i should visit mumbai. upon telling him that i was just passing through, he told me that he would be at the airport dropping off his father and that he would be waiting for me.
in the hot sticky air, my bags and i stumbled out into the public waiting area squinting for a glimpse of a face i have only seen via email. tired, alone and without a working SIM, i quickly worked my way to get change and make a phone call.
after a bit of belligerence from a guy selling water, a young man wearing a hotel uniform pulled out his cell phone and offered to call yashesh. within a matter of minutes, chaos turned into peace. all of sudden, yashesh's friend/coworker (who's name escapes me at this moment) turned out of the crowed and ushered me to meet yashesh, his wife and three year old son.
driving though the crowed streets of mumbai, we talked about our geek history, the last 24 hours of travel, my time with the guys and gals of opencraft and my sadness leaving them. upon arrival at the Bhatia's family home, i was greeted by handshakes, a seat, a plate and a home cooked meal from heaven.
at 4.45 in the morning, yashesh and i drove to the airport. after a mad dash through the airport, i found myself watching the sunrise above the clouds.
busted flat in baton rouge, and heading for the trains. feeling nearly faded as my jeans...
- me and bobby mcgee
well i'm pretty much screwed today.
i arrived in U.A.E. with full expectation of the arab digital hub to be bustling. turbans, burkas and other head covering struggling to stay on their owner as Dubai's internet super highway turns each mobile into a sandstorm.
on the contrary, i find myself in Sharjah's airport filled with dust. jack hammers and chemical cleaners peel back years of neglect. while wifi is abundant (albeit expensive), power outlets are a premium. if you finally find one not taped over, one must fight a construction worker or fellow traveler desperately trying to charge their mobile, PSP or archos.
as for the first class/business lounge... i was already dejected and escorted out. the lady had it in for me when she peered through her eyeshadow caked arabic eyelids. then there was the fact i was not a first class ticket holder nor do i "look" as if i was on business. through her broken english and calling for "the" boss, our ten minute interlude concluded with me, my laptop, and my funky power plug walking out in disgust. honestly, i was on my best behavior!
with hard drive and powerstrip in hand, my rapidly depleting battery will soon sauce my mental anguish. as i hammer out these last few words, my soul is enveloped by AC/DC's "highway to hell", a chorus of a fifty screaming children, a few jack hammers, and a sole floor buffer.
with a bit of tung and cheek, joe strummer sung the following immortal words...
"Number 1, You have the right not to be killed...
... Number 2, You have the right to food money...
... Number 3, You have the right to free speech as long as you're not dumb enough to actually try it."
as last night's waning hours worked their fury into a insatiable quest for entertainment, i found my self immersed in "seize the time" and thinking about my conversations with mardini, alaa, amr and nora.
back in nyc, i would have read their stories on global voices and thought of their story to be a novel use of social technology. after visiting them, hearing them, watching them with friends and conversing with a room full of geeks, i no longer viewed them as just a story. i no longer saw novelty, but the reality we are locked in a long struggle.
this struggle is not just about technology, but providing localized technology... without adequate translation, a computer, iphone, ipod, etc is no different than a hammer. (this will be addressed in a video interview... but hopefully you can understand that english internet superpower is not the "end all be all" of intellectual prowess... then again the hole-in-the-wall project would disagree with me.)
humanity has many faces. a majority of them are pleasant. (i am fortunate to see these faces across the globe - from the cairo subway to the streets of the bronx.) when it comes to the minority, this struggle works it way to be a battle over power. my visit to the pyramids reinfoced this fact.
through my eyes, i see this struggle to be a struggle over basic human rights. in the USA, we are "fortunate" to be "born" with "inalienable rights." incredibly, 40 years ago "the great experiment" failed in providing these rights to it's citizens. now at the dawn of the 21st century, through the use of digital technology, we have a unique opportunity to shape the way "inalienable rights" are passed along to the rest of the world.
without trying to be radical, a basic civics lesson will tell you "politics is war without bloodshed - and war is a continuation of politics, with bloodshed." huey p. newton & bobby seale built the black panther party to be THE vessel for the american black community to fight oppression, racism and murder and provide "Land, Bread, Housing, Education, Clothing, Justice And Peace." despite the fact their organization was criminalized and persecuted, the black panther party died to bring justice for all poor americans. (btw, did you know they created the "free breakfast for children program" and popularized medical research in sickle-cell disease?)
forty years later, the world continues to face these same problems. most of the people whom i've interviewed all see the same thing.
the technology we have at our disposal is not just a simple vessel of entertainment. our modern technology is a complex beast that crashes through the gates of oppression and gives us an opportunity to make the world a better place.
sadly and on a too frequent basis, i see many of us blinded by the shiny side of the iphone, the hue of a garment or worse the insatiable consumption for "sustainable consumption." yet, one can not separate the quest of basic human rights as the pit of peach. all of these issues are wrapped up on the third planet from the sun.
by creating "a bill of rights for users of the social web" it's great to see that smarr, canter, scoble and arrington hopping on the same chariot many political technologist championed last year through the integration proclamation. while i support both, i see these intellectual statements as one thing, and can't stop thinking of bertolt brecht and kurt weill's song "what keeps mankind alive"
You gentlemen who think you have a mission
To purge us of the seven deadly sins
Should first sort out the basic food position
Then start your preaching, that’s where it begins
You lot who preach restraint and watch your waist as well
Should learn, for once, the way the world is run
However much you twist or whatever lies that you tell
Food is the first thing, morals follow on
So first make sure that those who are now starving
Get proper helpings when we all start carving
What keeps mankind alive?
What keeps mankind alive?
The fact that millions are daily tortured
Stifled, punished, silenced and oppressed
Mankind can keep alive thanks to its brilliance
In keeping its humanity repressed
And for once you must try not to shriek the facts
Mankind is kept alive by bestial acts
Technorati Tags: a bill of rights for users of the social web, activists, bertoit brecht, integration proclamation, joseph smarr, kurt weill, marc canter, michael arrington, open social web, robert scoble
(this is an email you will soon receive if you had subscribed to my email list... if you haven't, you need to do so ASAP...) click < http://groups.google.com/group/luckofseven >
hi, do you remember me?
i have wonderful news! today marks 60 days on the road...
AND with less than 30 days of cash left in my pocket, google has acquired me! YES, THAT'S RIGHT I AM PART OF THE GOOGLEZONE! after a long series of negotiations, prodding and more importantly, chasing google's tail... (ha, and you thought i was moving around to interview people... WRONG!). google decided that i'm worthy every penny to have an all expensed trip on them.
when i land in new delhi, i will be awash in google paraphalina (Hawaiian shirt, "high" performance underwear, fishing pants, camelpak and cheese cloth. the cheese cloth was a special request.) also, they have decided to out fit me with the most state of the art satalite/webcam system. i will soon be wired up like justin.tv streaking my naked ass from continent to continent reporting on open culture.
oh wait, was that another one of my fanciful dreams? the webcam, google clothing and cheese cloth are not true. almost being out of cash and hitting the two month mark are on spot.
in all honesty, i was sick and tired of having $30 USD enslaved from my bank account. so this message is the first message from the new luck of seven google group. you can invite friends and reply directly to me... this new and improved email list promises to be a digested version of noel's insanity, sanity, and twits...
speaking of twitts, if you are not on twitter, you are missing out on half of the story. while the blog, photos and interviews are a curated view of my life on the road... twitter is turing out to be the background on the background. sometimes you will get a dream, quote, hallucination, fear or blundering mistake... nonetheless, i have a very witty way twitter will be employed in my thunderous Dianetics styled essay, book, movie, and broadway musical.
if you aren't "following" me, then you're not following the whole story. < http://twitter.com/noneck >
finally, let's get into the meat and potatoes of my work...
i first have to thank so many here in cairo... mardini, nora younis, khalid & his family, omar, amr, alaa & mannal, all the kids at opencraft, meramees & EGLUG... oh and how can i forget happy birthday mohamed?!?
tomorrow (wed), i depart from cairo on a two hour train to alexandria. on the overnight flight to dubai, i'll sleep. on arrival (thurs), i'm going to work on editing video. thursday evening, i'll fly to mumbai and sleep in the airport. friday morning, like linus van pelt, i'll shlep to the proper terminal and fly to new delhi. somewhere around 8 am i'll finally land back in asia...
a lot of people have asked blankly what am i doing... normally, i give them a long winded answer how i'm trying to save the world with a straw hat, beard, camera and cell phone. though, in reality, i'm meeting the world's coolest people. i'm not talking about esquire, high society, nor woman's day... i'm talking honest to god/s, hard working people who don't take smoldering piles of poop from anyone.
despite the fact it's taking me longer to edit video than originally expected, and my ADD ravaged soul has problems being a one man band, i've cranked out 13 videos (6 while on the road, 1 every 10 days... not to shabby). once i land in india, get ready to shoot whiskey and watch one or two more episodes...
in the meantime, you should check out...
13 - dries, founder of the drupal project, on the history of drupal and it's community...
< http://luckofseven.com/vlog/episode13 >
12 - christophe aguiton on future coworking software and barcamp/coworking community
< http://luckofseven.com/vlog/episode_12 >
11 - dirk slater and the tactical technology collective
< http://luckofseven.com/vlog/episode_11_brighton >
10 - two american freelancers in berlin looking at coworking
09 - the history of transitions online and their work in former soviet republics
< http://luckofseven.com/episode_9_tol >
08 - my running with the bulls
< http://luckofseven.com/episode_8_running_bulls >
07/07/07 - my goodbye speech (filmed by charles hope)
< http://luckofseven.com/good_bye_toast_blog_blip_tv >
until we meet in india!
join me on a trip around the world!
dear mr. and mrs. india,
i know it seems a bit weird to be addressing the whole country of india, but seeing how i really don't know whom or what i'll encounter, i thought it would be polite to cast a wide net. after many days wondering close to GMT, i'm hoisting my sails, setting east and heading back to asia. after 36 hours of planes, trains, taxis and airports, i will beach my self in new delhi on the september 7th.
first, let me tell you about my little project... in my mind's eye it is a little project, but on the grand scheme of things it's a very large project. i hope you can help me... for the past two months, i've been traveling around the world - departed nyc on 7.7.07, slid through europe on a bar of soap, sped through jordan & threw stones in israel (asia), and created a dust storm in egypt (africa).
in all honesty, i trying to see the world through my own lens. i'm also trying to understand the worlds we inhabit - organic (pinch yourself) and digital (poke a friend on facebook) - i'm doing this by interviewing bloggers, political activists, covering open source technology projects, events and attending a protest or two. you can see what i've seen at < http://luckofseven.com >.
so back to how you can help...
on the 8th and 9th, i have plans to attend F/OSS camp new delhi. (that's free/open source software camp, not the teethey stuff). maybe attend a couchsurfer's going away party and hopefully catch an interview or two. afterward, i'm sailing to the taj majal, and then on to bangalore before hoping a flight to thailand.
after the 8th and 9th, my timetable is as flexible as tinfoil. my visa is for three weeks, but i really should not spend more than two. while i know i should stay more and say less, i can't help to express my upmost desire to see the entire country... from north to south - east to west, i hear you have a magical place. so, let's make a date with destiny, and schedule a time to meet...
8 / 9 Sept - Delhi, taken by F/OSS Camp and hosted by Prashant Singh
10 / 11 Sept - Delhi, hosted by Daksh Sharma
12 / 13 Sept - Akor, open
13 / 14 Sept - open |
15 / 16 Sept - open | <- any of these dates can be compounded into one location
17 / 18 Sept - open |
19 / 20 / 21 / 22 Sept - Bangalore, open
"If your heart acquires strength, you will be able to remove blemishes from others without thinking evil of them." - mohandas k. gandhi
on the eve of celebrating two months of jostling, i thought it would be nice to turn the spotlight to someone who has enlightened my existence.
robyn byrd is cycling around france raising awareness and money for darfur. her project cycling for darfur started on the first, and there couldn't be a better time to start. from today's nytimes, it appears that the vicious cycle is rolling on.
on her journey, robyn is fundraising for Global Grassroots, a non-profit which works with woman survivors of the darfur genocide who reside in Chad's refugee camps. for 600 kilometers she is asking people to sponsor 1 cent per kilometer (aka $6 USD for the ENTIRE TRIP!!!) through her blog she will detail conversations and people she finds.
if you get a chance, donate your lunch money to a good cause... believe it or not, just a few pennies will change the world!
robyn and i have an interesting connection, last year she contacted me vis-a-vis couchsurfing. out of the blue she crossed the hudson, the east river and into my life... for a few hours we chatted and as quickly as she entered, she disappeared...
that was until we randomly met again this year... on a crowded, rain soaked roof top in manhattan, we caught up, exchanged numbers and proceeded to spend a significant amount of time together.
shortly before my departure, through some simple twist of fate, she invited me to attend an evening with bobby seale, founder of the black panter party, former political prisoner, activist and chef. after listing to bobby cautiously wade through simple questions which could have been answered in one breath - "stop talkin' & get to work"... a featherific thought attached itself to my hat, and for the next week i attempted to read seize the time.
as the seconded ticked down to my departure, i found my self running around nyc staring at unsolvable social dilemmas and cultural creeks no bridge could cross. finding myself more flustered than resolved, i tossed the book in my sack.
just this morning i pulled out seize the time. sitting in cairo, i feel more resolved than flustered. let us all put our shoulder to the wheel and push along. i wish the best to my sister robyn.
it's been four days since i replaced my macbook with the paper back "skinny legs and all." if you haven't read the book, you're in for an treat. i haven't set it down and am almost done with the adventures of spoon, can o' beans, dirty sock, stick and conch. as my laptop sat in an air conditioned server room of OpenCraft, i could only wonder the stories it told the servers and computer components.
as for my journey, it seems to be physically manifesting my mental discomfort. my stomach woes while gone one day have returned. while there are many things that i could say, i will not bother you with my torment. well...
well i will say there is there is a torment i have yet to detail... the hustle. from time to time people come up to me and say "hello." as a courteous fellow, i don't like ignoring people. hell it's hard enough ignoring pour beggars with no legs, but fully capable humans who can clearly walk and talk is another thing...
when i don my straw hat, down every street i find someone saying "hello", "where you from?", "hey, come here..." it gets to the point where the stern new yorker appears, my eyes glaze, and the desire for a baseball bat emerges.
as for the knot that is developing in my brain... despite the mini-media-hit i got last week from dries' video, i need to spread the word further. i'd like for more people to know about this project. yet, since my time connected to the internet is very limited, i need your help.
it's funny to think about this trip as a ministry, but as the kind egyptian preacher sat next to me on the train to alexandria reminded me... this is a ministry. i've dedicated my life in this mission. open societies is developing to be my spiritual work. i know to most of you this might sound crazy, but i honestly feel this trip was settled in my bones long ago.
why do i say this? well, i've always held faith in the world. i've always held faith that as the human race we can solve our own problems. and like this trip, it's not an easy journey...
for now i'll keep my head down and keep plugging away. if you haven't found a good reason to tell a friend. today is as good as any other...
1. i'm a horible speller.
2. i'm using a KDE laptop with konqueror and have to balance a mouse in one hand and a the laptop in the other. currently, i'm banging on these keys with my nose until i can find a suitable pencil to use with my mouth.
it seems that my interview with dries has made it to the front page of drupal.org - digg it. my views are starting to rise. wooot! i couldn't be happier in thinking that all of these stomach cramps are finally adding up to a hill of fava beans!
also, while i'm here in wonderful coastal town of alexandria, i have no laptop, but i do have TWITTER and JAKIU!! so don't think that i'm leaving you alone. i'm still here kicking, screaming and getting freaked out by scary hotels!
ps - many thanks to khalid and his family for showing me around town, feeding me and driving me around.
photo by templar1307
yesterday evening when i finally found some food, melisa maples twittered "listening to This American Life #339 ... if you've ever gone through a break-up, this one's for you!" ... and after a day of strange reacquaintances, i found myself cozing up to a fan, a pillow and my ipod.
long story short or maybe a long psychiatric bill cut cheep, i'm not home sick... i'm just heart broken. i know that i can't turn back and head home. regardless of that comes next, i must press on. regardless of sleepless nights filled with illusions of comfort, i am on the road.
i am on the road to see how all of our social networks, open societies and free thought, come together. from the past 53 days, i can see we are creating a world our parents could only dream. while social and economic injustice is rife, we see something different. wether out of necessity or opportunity, we press on thinking different.
btw - this american life is running a contest to remix one of the songs featured in this week's "break up" episode. check it out. it's not only heart warming, but fun!
Technorati Tags: this american life
today, i picked up my indian visa and will depart on sept 6...
while my stomach curls in cramps, today has featured a second day laying in bed, running to the bathroom and dreaming there is an alien inside my abdomen...
shortly after the drupal presentation on saturday, a large group of us headed out to the northern most island in the nile. after a few heroine turns, we arrived at what appeared to be a chain restaurant. in a rush, i ordered their club sandwich.
thinking it was safe, i inhaled the fries and three of the four sandwich bits. for no particular reason, i found my self a bit disturbed and started pulling the sandwich apart. with the "roast beef" a bit green, i feared something wrong but shrugged off any serious concern.
that was until i woke up yesterday. barely able to move with aches all over, i knew there was something hideously wrong.
yesterday, when i re-checked into the mereemes hotel, i just didn't feel physical depleted. i felt tired of all the hoping around, language barriers, and found my self missing the connivence that comes with living in one location - a kitchen, a home cooked meal, take out, my own bathroom, toilet paper...
all of sudden these things seemed to come crashing though the door...
while i tumbled into another world. loving images of my family, friends, and past lovers floated in the air. with my body shivering with a fever i haven't felt in years, my memories became ghosts, former lovers appeared to comfort me, friends dropped by to say hello, and my mom cooked me a meal.
on the verge of my second full moon away from new york. what i ment by my twitter is that i miss all the creature comforts that i knew intimately. i miss my friends. i miss jon and val's rooftop. i miss the ability to pick up the phone to call my family. i miss walking though the doors of the local pub to see old friends...
most importantly, i miss all the loves that comforted me when i was sick...
one of my most beloved conversations on technology takes place in the dead of winter. unlike SXSW where wine runs free and clothing is an optional choice, the lift conference in geneve is a lovely reminder that the best ideas are not in America.
for the past two years, the lift team has matured into a lovely curated event. combined with shift (Portugal) and reboot (Copenhagen), these three conferences rock the ideological limestone that dominates the normal technology banter.
over the past few months, lift metamorphosised from an annual conference to "a series of events gathering observers, explorers, and builders from around the world to discuss the current challenges and creative solutions presented by emerging technologies."
if you are in soul, or more importantly know friends in soul... please pass along that on 12 Sept from 16h to 18h - adam greenfield, bruce sterling and yoo suk yeon will talk about space, from real to digital.
the event is free, and without a doubt, it should be interesting!
(btw, the new lift blog is all in drupal...)
with a dirty collar, slight taint of unshoweredness, and a backlog of stories to tell, photos to upload and episodes to publish, i've arrived at opencraft with omar. regardless of the outstanding bills of the day, today will be MAGICAL. here in cairo we will talk about drupal tuning, LAMP stack, linux, apache, MySQL, PHP, and most importantly the Drupal API.