first, i'm spit polishing my thoughts for my "omega-th" dorkbot nyc presentation. tomorrow's presentation will be light hearted and quite bitch'n. from 19h00 (7pm) on, i'll be at location one fighting my fears and reminiscing about my journey around the world. afterward, i'll head over to the tank (the arts space not the drunk thing) and see my living liberally buddies, mike and his shinny new book. i hope you can attend one or both!
oh, if you're looking for photos from last friday's brooklyn coworking open house / "work at jelly" session - check day 238 photoset on flickr.
ALSO, last night i had an awesome opportunity to hang out with the UnionDocs crew for their screening of sleepwalking through the mekong. the film highlights dengue fever (the band, not the illness) mini-tour in cambodia. while the Q & A session got hot and spicy, i enjoyed seeing Pheom Phen and found myself missing the other-side of the world. if you have a chance, check out UnionDocs' documentary bodega series and if you can, try to catch dengue fever!
- other thoughts -
it is hard to believe that just seven days ago i arrived back in nyc. honestly, it's been a totally weird experience. not really knowing how things would pan out, i spent two nights on my friend's couch before moving to an undisclosed apartment in the lower east side (ps - i've been asked not to say the exact location. which i totally respect since i'm living rent free; utilities not included).
now, i feel a bit settled and find myself applying for a multitude of jobs, and exploring
first, it was the world economic forum's global fellowship program - i should stop here and explain this decision - if you don't know the controversy, let me lay out some lines... WEF is criticized for creating programs and projects that in the end hurt more people than they help. WEF is also criticized for creating a global conference - DAVOS - where many backroom conversations foster many more questions than answers. all-in-all, i feel that their work, their programs, and their general perception of life can improve.
while change is not easy, i know we can revolutionize everything we touch. using a bit of WEF's language and looking through the lens of the past seven months, i see a strategic framework that any organization can use. for-profit - not-for-profit - there is a framework for production and equality. without a doubt, i firmly believe in the opportunity to advance the seven topics through research.
also, over the past week, i've also applied to oxford university's research fellowship and Google/YouTube's Non-Profit content manager position. while i have a dwindling set of funds and want to dedicate myself to the long term cultivation of all the things i see - i have just a few short days to make some critical decisions that will impact the next few months and determine the rest of my life...
the first decision - i've decided to help Brian Conelly, from alive in baghdad, to explore the development of a video advocacy organization. this non-profit will be named "alive on earth" and will pull in the best and brightest video talent to understand the sphere of video advocacy and community journalism. ranging from curriculum, open source tools, volunteer translation and consulting - we are casting our nets and thinking about the next 10 to 15 years.
the second decision - i'm going to finally get my hack license. no, it's not some weird provincial ability to pillage bodies from nyc. a hack license will allow me to drive an NYC yellow cab. yup, i'm thinking of becoming a taxi cab driver. while there's a long list of things i have to do and i think the cost of testing, forms and junk will cost me around $1k, i'm writing out a proposal that just might score me a sponsor and get you a camera behind the front seat of a taxi cab! ;)
from dat argentinean couchsurfing party.
"Growing in numbers; Growing in speed; Can't fight the future; Can't fight what I see" - moby
there are a few things that i've been told not to do... first, don't drink too much. second, never cut your own hair. third, don't reflect until your done with the journey.
all in all, i find myself reflecting day in; day out. when you find yourself touching the world, it's kinda hard not to reflect and think about the hot sand of israel or giza, the luscious rain of mumbai and houston, the trees lined avenues of phuket and endioven, the streets of buenos aires and berlin, or the gray days of vancouver and sydney. it is hard for me to travel the world and not see the similarities.
it's super hard not to reflect when every new smiling face asks for a synopsis of what you've seen, whom you've met and what you've loved. at times it's hard to remember and at other times hard to forget everything in between the faces, scents, languages, troubled situations and figments of my imagination that seemed more real than anything you could place in front of this poor boy from the midwest.
when i left new york, i set out to embrace the world and prove or disprove the things i've seen online. i wondered if the global network of geeks were just like the network of geeks i've met in north america and europe. i wondered what sat beyond the keyboard, monitor and mouse. i wondered who would embrace the world and embrace me. on 7 july, i set out to surf the net, build a few bridges and meet my global peers.
"Efforts of lovers; Left in my mind; I sing in the reaches; We'll see what we find" - moby
as each roosts and the sun crows, i want to share with you seven things i've seen. these seven things are not the end-all, be-all, but just a start of my digestion... this list is also the start of what i'm going to call the starfish generation or generation starfish (i can't decide which sounds better)...
in the back of my mind, i want to turn this idea into a non-profit that helps build capacity for under represented communities to create their own media outlets - from workshops, unconferences, collaborative work centers, citizen journalism spaces to art, photography, stories, video, etc. - i want to focus on my attention further engaging people who share my passion of story telling while creating solutions to the world's complexities.
as i've explored before, i now see a global ecology based off the seven topics. the seven topics are open examples of a pliable solutions that can be molded to engage community and solve problems. this project (luck of seven) has shown me a unique world filled with international tribes that cut right through planet.
heath row once asked me if i see these topics as the seven new wonders of the world... and while i didn't quite understand the complexity of my own argument, i now do. when this journey started, it was an exploration of my peers and the passions we all enjoy. after five months - sleeping in homes, floors, and couches; after five months of sitting around the global dinner table; after five months of shaking hands with the internet - i now see an opportunity to organize the organizers.
every bone in my body feels the radiating wi-fi signal. located in every home, village, town, and country sits a router. together, we send and receive. together, i know we can build a feedback loop to experiment with the best and the brightest programs to revolutionize our communities to offer programs and content that know no ideological boundaries.
i have discovered that many of us are timeless, nationless, genderless, ageless, classless, homeless, and tireless. this these are the seven tenants of the starfish generation.
we consume to refute the world around us. we internalize everything we read and internationalize our thoughts.
we are globe of tribes.
slowly we are growing in numbers, we are slowly growing in pieces. frankly, no one can stop us now. we are all made of stars. (sorry, i was listing to moby...)
to be honest, i'm scared crapless to think about this passion and know that i have to do something about it... as i set out from NYC, i knew my life would change. i knew the only thing that could and would stop me would be my fears. without a doubt, every morning i wake up and fear thoughts of failure. every morning, i know if i devout the honesty of my heart i will achieve the goals set forth. your unflinching support, your trust, your kind and harsh words of critique have taken me around the world to visit our peers. without a doubt this is more than a feeling... (yeah, that's right... go find your boston vinyl and turn it up to 11! otherwise, watch this video and drool at their pimp-stashes - speaking of pimp-stash, did you know about mustaches for kids? houston's currently has a competition. why don't you?)
the midwest is a funny place. i know that every place i've gone and meet a fellow midwesterner, i've always found a feller of good company.
smack dab in regional stereotypes, the east and west look at my home state as a humble populous smack dab in between cornfields and coal mines, to the north a short congressman who's vegan and running for president and to the south, the home of makers mark.
i, on the other-hand know something a bit different. i know that ohio is home to six us presidents (that makes it second to NY to the number of US presidents)! i know ohio is home to the wright brothers, thomas edison, granville woods, charles kettering, blue jacket, and tecumseh.
i know that when the economy of the US is on the rocks, ohio has been on the rocks for a few months longer. i know that when the housing market crashes, i can find a desperate home owners in ohio. i know when ohio votes for a president, that president wins.
i know that ohio is at the heart of it all!
as my skybus descended through the clouds, i saw magnificent fields of crops and never-ending suburban sprawl. when the wheels made contact with earth, the precipitation contacting the plane was sleet. yet i new this was no cold welcoming. i walked out of a warm aircraft and flip-floped my way across a cold tarmac into one of the oldest airports in american history, port columbus international airport.
through the maze of walkways, foot paths, escalators, and ramps, i found my anxious parents, impatient brother and a very slow baggage claim. (in all honestly, the slowest baggage claim is in ahmedabad india. in a town known for their ice cream consumption to be some of the highest in the world, ahmedabad's baggage trollers are greased with sugar and grind to a halt the min any traveler has a destination with a time line.)
...back to columbus... so after a brief recapitulation of the past four months, i found myself in a new (circa 2000) lexus with an electronic navigator and heated seats. though the drizzle, i saw what i knew best, middle america. little did i know that in less than an hour i would find myself knee deep in the muddy river we call the future... surrounded by more questions than answers, i sat in the back seat, chewed on wendy's double patties jalapenoioed cheese hamburger.
slamming a frosty, gulping a dr. pepper and devouring a burger rocketed my shuga levels to another planet. with extremely high levels of fidgety uncertainty, my family and i shook off the sleet and walked into cosi's new GIGANTIC new museum.
COSI, for those of you who are not familiar with columbus, is the center of science and industry. it a commercialized name for columbus' equivalent of a natural history museum. since, ohio developed through the industrial revolution, the monicker "industry" is added for full crowed pleasing affect. too boot, many of the exhibits are underwritten by captains of industry.
in this new iteration of the COSI, WOSU (the broadcast wing ohio state university and home to central ohio's public radio) collaborated in the construction of a monstrosity community TV studio. tucked away in a building open 9 - 5, most of the center was under-utilized... well that was until, this evening when 40 some odd bloggers, tv and radio personalities, newspaper readers, citizens of the greater community, my parents, my brother and i (all daytonion carpetbaggers) got together to discuss one question - "What can we do together that we cannot do alone to make the community better using Social Media."
walking into a TV studio with a ring a chairs and a camera pointed on half of the ring scares many people. it damn near gave me a heart attack, i didn't not expect to be on camera nor did i expect such a group gear up for video documentation. despite the prevalence of camcorders, very few east coast groups have attempted video documentation of their events. too boot, if you've seen a recent picture of me, you'll know that my hobbitin height, bearded facial monstrosity and orange cap always seems to be a bit out of place. surveying the room and seeing many clean shaven folk most in "i just got out of work" attire, i was highly self conscious of a formal meeting with a structured sessions of "we want this" and "can you tell us how solve our problems."
first, up on the wall was a matrix of time slots and locations.
second, i saw a poster advertising the "law of two feet" - Law of Two Feet (also known as the Law of Mobility in settings where participants don't necessarily have the use of both feet) -- a foot of passion and a foot of responsibility -- expresses the core idea of taking responsibility for what you love. In practical terms, the law says that if you're neither contributing nor getting value where you are, use your two feet (or available form of mobility) and go somewhere where you can. It is also a reminder to stand up for your passion. (from wikipedia)
third, i saw the four principles of open space (from wikipedia)...
- Whoever comes are the right people
- Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
- Whenever it starts is the right time
- When it's over, it's over
when the facilitator started speaking, my sugga kicked into overdrive and my fidgeting exploded in excitement... i've traveled the world, and there in front of me, there in columbus, ohio, i was watching the future of news. there in front of me sat a diverse group of community members who had come together to discuss how WOSU and COSI can better serve the community.
in the buckeye state i watched the future of "broadcast" media unfold.
in nyc, i've helped organized many of these open space events, and after a serendipitous meeting of david cohn at BarCamp NYC 2, the two of us bounced many ideas off of each other to work on CopyCamp - an unconference for community journalism. (we are in the process of formulating a grander conversation on how open space conversations can improve journalism - both citizen and professional - for now join the google group and let's corral a few news agencies into thinking that this is a good idea.)
for 15 mins, the group sat around trying to understand the next two hours. as people gathered ideas for conversation, people grabbed a sheet of paper, wrote down their two cents and found a space to do discuss the topic. while i desperately wanted to chat about so many things, i wondered how much would i be perceived as a foreigner. with my bearded hobbitin status in full effect, i wrote something down and waited to see who would pose a topic that seemed more suitable. i didn't have to wait too long to get, andrew, from elephants on bicycles, to propose a topic that sounded like "the future of citizen journalism."
after over staying our allotted time, we log rolled from topic to topic... from trust, to linkage, to content, to business models, to the definition of "broadcasting"... on and on, the room tumbled in conversation from Robin Mizell, copyeditor & former newassignment.net contributor, to mike thompson, director of news and public affairs, to susan meyer director of communications and organization planning at WOSU, to tim eby, station manager of WOSU radio, some upper crust members of COSI's management, to a few guys from the barcamp ohio group... and that's just to some of the more vocal members of the group... there was conversational buy in from so many divers parties.
as we ran through the second alloted time session, many ideas splashed up at us..
- FIRST, continue exploring by hosting more open space events that invite the community to help shape the future. just remember, rome was not built overnight.
- use the COSI/WOSU facility as home base for Columbus's tech community (aka meetups, *camps, more open space events, etc).
- investigate the marriage of freelancers and independent workers within a COSI café (aka coworking). also, don't be afraid of turning to daytime events like "work at jelly" to help crystalize personal relationships. (apparently, an international network of science centers is studying how to keep them self community relevant. if anyone can send me contacts, that would be awesome!)
- open up more WOSU programing for community participation by bringing in community experts (specifically expert bloggers, and not just local ones). comically, when we were talking about "experts" or "bloggers" the criteria came from the same place... people who know their stuff and can accurately augment a show. (btw, one should note that mike thompson, director of news and public affairs already pulls in bloggers to augment his line of pundants)
- point listeners/viewers/community members in direction of online communities that feature topical conversation.
- bring in new media students as interns (aka slave labor) and have them experiment with "professional programming" (i use this term in the looses sense, please see my previous blog post.)
- don't just say it, but embrace it!
- one the shortcomings seemed to stem from the fact that no one was employed 100% to understand the intricacies of new media, community, and exploration. everyone seemed to say, "well, that sounds like a bit of this and that..." yeah, in reality it is a bit of this and that...
in the end what we discussed is nothing new. if you look at talk radio, if you look at community programming, if you look at community centers, or anything that loops community, conversation, and construction - you will find time tested models of engagement. there is nothing wrong with frailty, this is what has placed WOSU/COSI into this position. there is nothing wrong with failure. we must read, write and created or in this case listen, communicate and create. the only way traditional broadcast will survive is to find a symbiosis between a relevant/profitable business model and community - if your listeners are talking, are you listing?
hats off to WOSU and COSI, the facilitators, and community members. you took the leap of faith.... now it's a collective job to find the tussling logs will sustain the weight and carry everyone.