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to my dear friend istanbul

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dear istanbul,

seeing how i'm addressing a city of 10 million, i'll keep this brief.

on 7 july 2007, i started a seven month global journey to explore the intersection humanity and technology at 12.15 on 1 aug, i will land and embark on a seven day journey in turkey. while i'm not sure if all of that time will be spent in istanbul, i'm sure that a good portion will.

i would love to meetup, grab a drink and chat about your couchsurfing adventures, mind blowing open source projects, or artistic creations. if you get a chance, i hope you send me a message so we can chat!

cheers!
noel

day 21/22's pain

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what do you warn you about in amsterdam? the damn trolly tracks... it also didn't help that we had been bar hopping and my vision was impaired by many of the city's wonderful creatures.

after 30 mins of decompression, andy and i walked back to his humble abode. in the morning, i found a wonderful assortment of nicks, scrapes, and nearly severed thumb.

day 21's pain

day 22's pain

my left arm...
banged up knuckle

day 21.1 hello amsterdam

back in 2002, my first "real" European city was amsterdam. for a weekend, i walked indulged in the sinful pleasures of the coffee shops and galked at the red light district.

five years later, i'm back to stay with tech maven andy smith, aka termmie, and nadya peek, profile the kids at RoomWare DevHuis and to see why so many designers, artists, and mavens are flocking to this city in droves.

day 21. thank you dries & Karlijn

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last night, i had the wonderful opportunity to dine with Dries Buytaert, founder of the drupal project. after a brief introduction to antwerp, we headed to his house where i had the lovely opportunity to meet and chat with Karlijn, Dries' lovely wife and a very expecting mother.

as we talked about life and our history growing up in rural communities, we delved deep into the concept of a world that can never forget. more frightening, we discussed society as producers of content and waxed about no longer having the ability to protect our intellectual property and privacy.

divided by corporations and government, the world that surrounds us is no longer free. monitored by corporation through our consumption, capitalized by our social networks, analyzed though our credit cards and buying clubs, and tracked by CCTV cameras, the modern world is facing a fundamental battle for freedom.

while one my say that google's "do no evil" policy is great, but it also brings back the concept of benevolent dictators. with no opportunity to click "remove" and with less opportunities for successful alternatives, we blindly produce content for corporations to thrive. from flickr, myspace, and google (just to name a few)... none of these companies would exist without our explicit consent.

as users, we also live in a world that can never forget. from the way-back-machine to search engine algorithms, our online identity is forever locked in locations we can not access. traded as a commodity, our identity is no longer human.

what are our options? ultimate transparency or fascism?

regardless, we are looking at world without privacy, and at worse a world with fractured identities.

as we move forward, how do we tell corporations that we want them to respect us as equals?

day 20. sleep the most valuble currency

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words can not describe the thanks i have for the hosts who have blessed me with their homes...

as i discovered on day 18, pushing hard moving from country to country at an early morning hour, not sleeping and eating sporadically doesn't bode well for mental acuteness. actually, it's a recipe for disaster. no really, it was a total disaster.

speaking of disasters, my ipod nano stopped behaving and i was forced to do a factory restore. in many ways, i was looking forward to this moment. now, i am now left with a handful of albums stored on my hard drive and ambient train contemplation.

first, let me say thank you to all of my hosts. if the rest of the trip allows me to cross paths with exceptional characters like these, then i think the world isn't too far off kilter.

in paris and out of the blue, Aurélien Tabard came to my rescue. he gave me keys to his uncle's vacant apartment, and aurélien's hospitality didn't stop there. as he cooked dinner on the first night, we discussed our displeasure of the current political march to the right and the inability for the left to act coheranetly.

though our personal history, we compared notes on activism and our frustration working within the confines of political systems. both of us agreed that the bickering has to stop and activists must diversify their work.

we both recognized the opportunities that lie within technology. if we are unable to capitalize on building a digital world as free as our physical world, we are doomed to confinement. as aurélien introduced me to his phd thesis, we analyzed the opportunities that exist in integrating technology with our day to day actions. we both agreed that our future should not compete with our day to day, but should enhance our day to day.

day 16. hello paris

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in the same fashion as i entered london, i depart for paris.

tired, hungry, sleep deprived and eager to find out what's next. comically, this time i have a pair of very wet underwear that has yet to dry from my last night laundry at 2 am.

though unlike london, i have now transitioned into the unknown. today, marks the longest i've traveled independently from any friends or family.

day 13. on my way to london

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despite the fact i left berlin 45 mins late i was still abel to catch a train that seemed to be on the right time table to brussles. exhausted from sleeping on a hard bench, i geefully boarded what appeared to be my first class train.

little did i know that the wonderfully plush seats, smell of fresh coffee and abundant power outlets would not be my train. in a vain attempt to save 15 euro, i gladly said i would take local trains from klone to brussels... i should have known better. i really should have known better.

after pay 60 euro for a meal i didn't want to regurgitate, an electrical outlet i couldn't part with and a train i couldn't disembark, i tag, flagged and prepared for the next few days in the United Kingdom.

on my last journey, i was heading home from a salzburg seminar and had just paid 250 euro for a stupid belt knife to be confiscated in munich. before that, august of 2002. the US had just invaded Afghanistan, and the world was ripe in solidarity. young and inexperienced, i traveled to from boston to the Isle of Wight for a "little" scooter rally, spent a new days in london and also visited amsterdam.

five years later things are significantly different. now there is no home. now there is no warm bed waiting for me on the other side of the pond. now my world blessed a few days jammed packed with interviews, workshops, meetups and naps.

i'm really looking forward to being back in london to kick out the jams with...
- Joey Baxter, fellow coworking enthusiast.
- Alex Deschamps-Sonsino, fellow Lift 06 attendant and one of the organizers of Hardcore Hardware Hacking Weekend.

- Riccardo Cambiassi London barcamper, techie and fellow Lift 07 attendant.
- Steve Purkiss, Lo7 contributor and techie who's going to take me to Ecademy meetup.

- see the launch of the Mongol Rally and profile team Mr. Dinosaur from williamsburg, nyc and fellow spyten dyuvel regulars.
- and in brighton, profile tactical tech and tech rider, dirk slater.

somewhere with in that mix, i need to edit some video and desperately need to wash three pairs of socks. while in berlin, i was going to purchase flip-flops, but with my extra special train ticket behind me... i think i'll pass... that's unless i find a shoe store that's willing sponsor my feet! ;)

day 19. running around paris

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ugh, in an early morning with a sour left foot, i attempted to visit the indian embassy. after running around looking for a photobooth, i stood inline for 15 mins. realizing a huge error, i departed in frustration.

why? i have no to paperwork stating where i'll be going, whom i'll be visiting and worse, i have no definitive exit plans...

in angst, i limped off to meetup with my host, Aurélien Tabard and his merry crew of classmates. after a brief introduction, i ferociously devoured email and tagged photos for flickr.

around 16h30, i realized that i was running desperately late for paris couchsurfing's rondeviuz. after slapping some high fives, i departed for a little tour of the latin quarter and XXX.

upon arrival, i found a lovely handmade flag and a few folks wearing couchsurfing t-shirts. as we meandered the winding streets, i introduced my self to many.

one of the first couchsurfers i ran across was heather smith, an american and a recent graduate of a social working school in Arkansas. standing at 5'4" with long brown hair and freckles, this american had a backpack full of snacks and tall bottle of rum punch. as we meandered, we talked the past two months, her trip to algeria and our trips around europe.

when the couchsurfers finally stopped at some snappy bar, heather and i departed to find a $3 bottle of wine and sit next to the seine. across the river bank, a man wailed in his saxophone. as the day turned to dusk, we mooned passing tourist boats and fended off passing drunks.

as the clock chimed 23h30, teetering on the river banks we drunkenly gathering our belongings to catch the last train that would part us in opposite directions.

day 11, 12. berlin

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tonight, i leave berlin. in it's simple beauty, this city is just amazing. while i can't point to a single moment in time, i really like berlin.

the past three days have blessed me with an unique opportunity. not only was i able to interview three really unique individuals, but i also had the opportunity to share the house of two good friends and break bread with their new york friends.

when i departed, i was sad that my dear friends could not join me. after spending four days and three nights, i saw parts of myself i had not seen. the reflexive quality of this journey has yet to be fully understood, but knowing that a quarter an earth away reside a group of people who understand you is comforting. finding those same type of people on a random to berlin is even more comforting.

while i didn't see half of the things i should have seen as a tourist, that doesn't bother me. the time spent interviewing regine from we make money not art, dave from twittervision and travis, a budding entrapenure, couldn't have been better spent.

buried deep within the conversation with regine, dave and travis we spoke briefly about technology symbiosis, the future human cyborg, and dental care.

ok, they may seem a bit abstract, but here's the gist. long ago someone told me i was a cyborg. when you take the new oxford american dictionary "a fictional or hypothetical person whose physical abilities are extended beyond normal human limitations by mechanical elements built into the body."

then you remove "fictional or hypothetical" you can use the definition to describe someone wearing glasses, uses dialysis, takes medicine or has implants of some sort... the person we are now defining uses technology to augment their limitations.

if i asked a majority of you how you use your cell phones, 99% would say for communication. the other 1% use it for pleasure... in my mind, a cell phone, a computer, a network connection are all extensions of the human network. (editors note - yes, i know that's a cisco advertising phrase.)

that human network is alive and the connections on the digital network are also alive. too frequently to we mistake digital communications as impersonal. the advent of sony placing a camera within the confines of a laptop might have been to sell more laptops, but it eventually spurred many clones.

some may say with digital networks growing faster and ubiquitous, we have reached the dawn of a new era. i disagree, we are just moving along.

BUT at times we don't think of the consequences of this digital acceptance. my friend's at greenpeace have always made a good argument when it comes to technology. we need to be greener. we need to think about the over all consequences of the hyper connected world we participate within.

we have the power to enlighten our bad habits and explore our obscured connections. we have the power to use mechanical elements to explore the beauty of humanity and make this place better.

ok, did i really see all of that in berlin? well not really.

the long history of germany and the division between capitalists and communist was clear and present. the duality of a pacifist west and a militant east, and the subsequent rise of an east/west art war blew my mind. the fully adorned children's parks with young kids running naked and topless adults spoke of their true liberation. the formal direct language, and the cheap delicious food... all spoke to a world under construction.

what berlin presented was not another dirty megatroplis like new york, but a vision of something far better than what most americans see on a daily basis. i'm not sure who takes what for granted. in my eyes, i am ashamed to know of a pedestal where "liberty" is valued but you can't have more than 49 people assemble in one location.

oh how i could go on about the liberty of americans, but that would be self defeating right now. many more questions are festering and i'm about to be heading to a country that has more networked cameras per square mile than broadband... or something like that....

day 9, 10 - time has stopped

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on my way to berlin, i slept and noted many thoughts. now that i'm reviewing them, they don't seem to make sense. i'll eventually get back to them. for now i have other things on my mind.

the past three days in berlin, fueled by friendship from will and sue, have gotten me thinking about the unique opportunity of berlin. divide by years, their identity is very reflective of the conflict and opportunity the 21 century faces.

the wall yesterday, i went to the berlin wall. despite the fact that kids tagged freely, i found myself a pilgrim. a pilgrim to a wall of hate, oppression and fascism. the cold cement wall that baked in the sun was not a normal wall. this was a wall erected by men for the obstruction of freedom. frequently, i have found my self building similar walls, but unable to tear them down. unknowing how to free the mind, i've set out on this journey.

as day 10 has passed, i've started to see that many fears are diminishing and being replaced with opportunity. though time and perseverance, these walls are crumbling. sadly, the dreams i had of new york are also fading into a distant memory. the opportunity that lies ahead is not physical, but mental.

i now frequently wonder if neil stephenson's the diamond age contains more buried truths. more importantly, i wonder how the next 27 weeks will unfold.

pizza dinner #2 yesterday, my friends and i heading into the scowling heat for a bit of sightseeing. wandering through the streets, we parked at a flee market and then departed for another round of pizza. one thing i have discovered, the flavor of berlin's punk rock culture has not been completely lost. unlike new york, you will still find hole-in-the-wall pubs with rockin flare or a pizza shop covered in punk posters and memorabilia.

today, i awoke early to interview regine from we-make-money-not-art.com and promptly came back to my friends flat to hammer out emails and to do a bit of research.

somewhere within the mix we headed back out to the scorching sun for a bite to eat. after stumbling upon a small turkish stand, we chewed on falafel, and marauded though the heat. somewhere around 3 pm, i passed out. since prague, i've now gotten accustomed to waking up early, working, taking a nap around 1 or 2 and burning the midnight oil until 1 or 2 in the morning...

after further research, it appears there is only one visa that might cause me hassle. reluctantly, i did not make arrangements for an indian visa. i assumed that that like every other country, india makes allowances for boarder entry visas. unlike the rest, india has a very beaurcratic method. apparently, you can only arrange for visas from within your country of origin. so, despite what wikitravel states, should i really be concerned?

day 8 - now in berlin

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i've had a quick change of plans and am now in berlin visiting will from onnyturf and his wife sue.

if they don't abuse me too much, i'll give you guys an update of prague and cut some video.

if you are in the area, give me a holla!

good bye toast (from blog.blip.tv)

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a big thanks to charles hope for filming my good bye toast and bigger thanks for posting it on the blip blog!

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day 3 - heading to prague and transitions online

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just when i thought i was scott free, i decided to take a nap in pamplona's airport. like madrid, i had an hour or two to kill before the flight and i thought it would be ample time to meditate. sure enough, meditation led to a full on, hard core sleep. dreaming of oblio and his dog arrow, we wondered through the pointless forest.

right as the album ended, i woke up. nay, i jumped up. something was wrong. something was really really really wrong. no, i didn't develop a point on my head, but my watch indicated my flight should be boarding and in front of me there was no line... frantic, i grabbed my bags and bounced to security with loud verbal inquires if my plane was still here...

pamplona's airport is fairly amazing. right out of the 1950's, there is only one landing strip and two doors - one for departures and another for arrivals. in this day and modern age, they jam packed an xray machine btw the double doors. two spanish centurions stood guard as i shoved my backpack into the xray machine.

then my worst fear came true, off in the distance stood my turboprop with frantic activity to pull of my bag. in front of this horror stood an Iberia airline attendant. she said emphatically said in english, "if you want to fly, you better get your ass on that plane." in front of her, stood four super friendly national police officers who wanted to tear open my bag and quiz me on every geek toy.

after her statement, they all chuckled as if this was a ploy to make me miss my flight. with my bag barely closed, i ran down the tarmac flailing my arms and screaming, "don't leave me!!!"

pampalona - 1 once onboard, i realized this was all in vain. like every other flight, in front of me stood nine others just getting to their seat.

as soon, as my dirty cheeks sat down, my flight took off to the pointless forest.

my transfer in madrid seemed endless. departing from the same terminal as the previous days sunrise, time stopped for 24 hours. the stores, the attendants, the air, the people... it all seemed to be the same...

once on board the CSA plane, i discovered the wonderful world of sardines. surrounded by 40 spanish high school kids on their way to a track and field event, i climbed into my window seat.

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day 2 & 3 - i took a plane to spain

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first, thank you to all the new contributors! i know i haven't had an opportunity to put your names on the contributors page, but tomorrow i promise you will be listed...

departing nyc was amazing and sad. i really wanted to bring all of my friends. i would have settled on one. sitting to my left, on the laptop prohibiting iberia flight, was was a little lady from new jersey. on my right, sat two israelis who randomly met another isrealie couple. the four argued, laughed, cried and eventually settled down after some insane bollywood movie.

i would have paid $10 to curse at them in hebrew. every time someone walked by, the woman, who was standing, would bum them into me. when the fifth person walked by, i pinched her ass. ok, i know it's not kosher, but i thought she was doing it on purpose... too boot, she then moved... sorry...

sunrise in madrid to be honest with you, if i would have known that my flight had two hops, one to madrid and then another to barcelona, i would have never ventured out of madrid. instead, i sat in the madrid airport and stared at the wonderful sunrise...

in barcelona, i found myself with less than two hours to jam. despite this small problem, i jammed my stuff into a locker (4.10 euro), and hopped on a bus (3.90 euro). with a lightened loaded, i failed to sneak into a museum, but purchased two postcards (1 euro). then i walked to one of the grand plazas. with the high noon heat blazing, i hopped back on the bus for a quick nap at the airport (3.90 euro).

after a short flight and a shorter nap, i finally arrived in pamplona around 5 pm. as soon as i step foot outside of the airport, i noted the chilled air and knew it would be a long cold night (1 euro).

with a full load i walked around in circles. everyone whom i asked pointed in a blank general direction. in complete frustration, i approached a cop and pleaded with him for more information. in his broken english, he told me "500 meters, church, right, square."

walking and cursing, i found "punk rock" square, aka san fransico plaza. lined with punks, broken glass, and the stench of piss, i would call this little rectangle home for the night. after depositing my bags (3.40 euro) and with 20 euros in my pocket, i was hell bent on exploring the city sans expenditure.

pampalona - 2 as the day turned to night, i walked, walked, walked and walked. tired, hungry and cold, i made the poor decision to purchase a pamplona classic. within a bagett, sat some mayo, cured ham and cheeses. for 5 euro i also got a mini-bottle of water. it was a poor desperate decision, around the corner sat a lovely cafe and for 2.50 euro, i could have had the sammach.

for two hours, i watched family after family come into the the bright red coffee shop. in toe, children aged from 2 - 5.

for two hours, i watched mothers and fathers, buy endless amount of cookies. then they would sit and the kids would shove their mouths with pure unadulterated shugga. even with ear plugs, the screaming was unbearable. little would i guess, that this screaming would only be the start of a long night.

pampalona - 6 finally, after much marching, i limped back to "punk rock" square. for about 10 mins i debated on what i should do. option one, find a bar and drink the night away. option two, get sleeping bag and watch the festival of anarchy. i took option two. i really didn't have too much money and fearful of the glass studded streets, i took refuge on a clean park bench.

as the hours ticked, my body warmed. franky, i was worried. i was worried that i would fall asleep and would then have to fend off some drunk. instead, i discovered a new job. as people walked by, they would ask if i was staying awake all night. i would say yes, and then they would ask if i could wake them up in the morning. regretfully, i didn't ask for a few extra euros and offered protection from drunks...

finally around 5:30 am, i packed up my gear and headed north to check out the runners. the light was amazing... as meandered, i discovered hundreds still packing in the booze and a few sleeping in the urine filled doorways. as i hussled, you could feel the excitement.

have you ever felt the presence of lighting? well, it's kinda like that... with bag in tow and a questionable knee, i decided not to run, but to film everyone else. working my way though the streets, i saw fear. not just fear of a bull... fear of death...

what ensued, i can't even begin to describe. the insanity of pampalona's running of the bulls is unmatched in words. the hour and a half before the run, the air warmed and death loomed. my words have no real explanation of the insanity that festered within the walls of pampalona. you'll just have to see the video... ;)

(gotta run... they are locking the doors of the school that i'm in... grammer and spelling will come later...)

check out twitter!

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while i´m kicking around for the first few days. check out my tweets from barcelona, pampalona and prague!!!

http://twitter.com/noneck

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on the luck of seven was an open-source, around the world project by noel hidalgo, a new york city based activist, organizer, barcamper and coworker.

for seven months, he traversed the globe. using a new media voodo (blog, vlog, wiki, flickr, couchsurfing, twitter, myspace, dopplr, and facebook), noneck harnessed the collective knowledge of the internet, and report on seven topics of freedom. this trip was funded by 253 people and supported, house, fed, and loved by countless others.

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