disturbing news from Minnesota.
within the past 24 hours, i've gotten word that my friends, the glassbeed collective, were detained and their equipment subsequently confiscated. as the story has trickled in from multiple phone calls, txt messages and emails. my other citizen journalism friends, the uptake, were there to capture the first press conference detailing the illegal actions taken by the Minneapolis Police Department.
the glassbeed collective is known around the world for documenting police brutality. over the past month, one of their videos was wrongly removed from youtube on a false copyright claim. they have also published a video of a cyclist being assaulted by an NYPD officer in Times Square. last week, they published another video of a brutal arrest in WIlliamsburg, Brooklyn. you can find more links within this Gothamist Article.
for those of you wondering if i'm sad about getting deported, i'm not. i'm happy to have my freedom and highlight the plight the media faces covering the olympics. since my return, i've now seen the mainstream media use aliased emails, code words for sensitive topics, and rely on anonymous internet drop boxes for posting timely stories. it's unbelievable that even olympic reporters must use spy-vs-spy tactics to file their stories.
in my video from t^2 not only do you see a protest, but at the tail end i was able to capture the assault of CBC's beijing correspondent. not only was he attacked, but his passport was pick-pocketed.
a shortened version of the events
within the past 24 we're hearing about an ITN reporter "arrested" with another group of Free Tibet protesters (though the chinese don't consider being led away being arrested). John Ray, "a fully accredited China correspondent", was detained for 20 mins and sustained minor injuries. below is the video, and i'm sure this will not be the last western journalist assaulted for covering protests in China.
as my path wondered through southeast asia, i found myself on the other-side of the world where the US dollar is the all mighty. for less that $6.00 USD you'd can be served a mountain of food fit for a king. little did i know that for less that $2.00 USD, my friend huixian and i would eat lavishly for two days...
if huixian and i ate at her house every day, we'd spend less than $15 USD a week. that's less than $15.00 USD a week ON FOOD!!!!
i know it's hard to understand how we can make a difference in someone's lives at the other end of the world, but those "help a christian child" TV spots aren't that far fetched. "for dollars a day you, can change someone's life..." except in this "advertisement" we're not talking about a newly "saved" cambodian pip. we're talking about a "no political or religious agenda; we work directly with village chiefs and school principals to target their communities’ most pressing needs. Gradually, we’ve hired and mentored fifty-seven Cambodians who’ve assumed all leadership positions.” - Nancy Woodward Hendrie from the sharing foundation in the mount holyoke alumnae quarterly
THAT'S RIGHT! a grassroots empowerment organization needs your help. if you donate $10.00 USD and believe it or not, WE can turn it into $50,000!!!
just imagine how much $50,000 will go in cambodia?!?!
luck of seven contributor and global non-profit rockstar beth kantor has asked me to ask for your help. over the next 40 hours, we need to win the "giving challenge." we need to get the most unique donations over the next day or so and we can collectively turn our $10 bucks into $50,000!!!
if you're into the social media chain letter thing, there's a participant wiki on how you can help... the first three are the most important...
1. Volunteer to write at least one blog between today and January 31, 2008 about this and ask your readers to contribute the minimum amount.
2. Put the widget on your blog on the side bar (it is easy to cut and paste)
3. Consider donating $10 to campaign!
there are a few things that get me miffed about society - one of them is the concept of sustainable consumption. and for the past seven months, i've constantly thought about my foot print. oh sure i've taken planes, trains and automobiles and find myself considering the purchase of carbon credits... time and time again, i know i've taken my fare share of dead dinosaurs. too boot, i've used plastic bags, purchased things made of Styrofoam and consumed inorganically substances that will duly destroy the planet in a smattering of centuries. nonetheless, i've been mentally wrestling with the issue of consumption. for the past seven months, i've consumed less than i have ever consumed. honestly, it feels a bit weird.... all of this is beside the point of me writing this longwinded trite, hippopotamus prose.
over the past week, i've had a bit of time to rifle through some old issues of adbusters. if you're a neo-liberal hippy hipster like me, without a doubt you've picked up this Vancouver based mag, torpedoed though the articles in ecstasy exclaiming "i will never consume again" while your chuck taylor's wrap your feet and ben davis wipe your behind.
after taking note of the questionable eco-friendly paper quality, i stumbled upon adbusters #73 (september/october 2007) issue. smack dab in the center of their social commentary, i found a letter from paul cooper on the subject of branding blackspot shoes. it's a short and notable letter. paul's oration foretells the expansion of "blackspot" as a brand.
according to Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island a "blackspot" is given to a pirate as a verdict of guilt. in this case, "blackspot" is the name of the three year old shoe brand (youtube video). (does anyone else see the self deprecating irony of putting on a pair of blackspots? by wearing the shoes one extolls the virtue of hiprococy - "as an activist, i am also a slave to fashion and a slave to brands.")
so back to the shoes... after building the concept, signing deals to outsource construction and selling 25,000 pairs of shoes, adbusters wants to diversify the brand by building alternative centers of mass market consumption. from starbucks to mcdonalds, mr. cooper sees blackspot as the "go-to" brand of alternative conception. (somewhere deep inside of my peon brain, i'm having a hard time rectifying the fact that adbusters is comparing itself to the "evil" demons of mcd and starbucks while seeking to compete with them on the global market.)
there are four reasons why i am writing this article. each one is based around the essential attributes of blackspot's brand that according to paul, "this time the rule of the game have changed."
1. customer = participant, the passive consumer becomes an active participant in shaping the social enterprises of the future.
2. grassroots capitalism, people support the efforts of small-scale entrepreneurs to capture market share from faceless megacorporations.
3. open-source, anyone can brand or co-brand their products or service with the blackspot, joining a loose alliance of thousands of other indie blackspotters.
4. jiu-jitsu marketing, blackspotters will go head-to-head with the dominate companies in the industry, using the power of the world's biggest brands to drive their success.
while i genuinely think that blackspot is onto a good thing, i don't see these rules as earth shattering. they represent nothing more than the long standing fight between small business and big business.
#1 speaks about a passive consumer becoming active. yet, if you are like the millions of americans who care about the bottom line, we just want the cheapest product we can afford. i'm not an idiot (despite by bad grammar and poor spelling) i know economic theory states we must consume to exist. yet, since the dawn of towns and cities, convenience and passivity are the #1 and #2 creature comforts of humanity. nothing in this theory states why i should give a damn.
#2 is nothing more than telling people to buy local. as we move into cities, most items are produced globally. we sit with a painful realization that the world we live within is unsustainable. my ipod, my notebook, my pen, my shoes, my clothing... everything i own was not made in the city of it's acquisition. ok, most of the food i try to buy is local... but in the long run, telling people to purchase localy is not going to change the fact that north americans consume %80 of the world's resources.
#3 is novel in the sense that i can place a "blackspot" product into an advertisement and then do a bit of cross promotion. then again, the more i think about it, the more i come to understand that this is called marketing and branding. maybe #3 speaks concept that in the near future, service providers must join forces and marginalize our individual brands to compete against faceless megacorperations.
#4 is flat out about "marketing." but when i think about going "head-to-head" with megacorperations, i only see the concept of the "anti" brand. in other words, the "blackspot" brand says, "you are a smart, educated consumer. you like brands and love fashion. you know that i am not like them. instead of doing more with less, BUY ME!"
the only thing me thinks is a "revolution," is the fact that adbusters is changing.
if a company really wants to change the way the world works, let's not "sell out" or "buy in." let us find a new way to do business. yet, the more i think about how we can move swiftly into the future, i see that adbusters' alternatives are the only way to "safely consume" in hedonist material world.
as my mental tumblers roll, my mind is still locked into the concept that nothing has changed. if blackspot seeks to radically change the face of consumption, shouldn't they listen to Rev. Billy and the church of stop shopping or better yet, take a page of their own campaigns and educate the consumer and reduce the world's consumption?
ps - the more i touch an iphone, the more i want one. :P
Locations: Ahmedabad, India
Tags: citizen journalism, video volunteers, DRISHTI Media, Arts & Human Rights , stalin k, jessica mayberry, kavita das gupta, siddharth chadha, community media, participatory culture
Music: leaving you behind, Hermann & Kleine
About: the journey into understanding participatory culture doesn't start with digital technology. the study of participatory culture should arise from the understanding that one shoe doesn't fit all. since my time in ahmedabad, i've come to see drishti and video volunteers as the premier example of interactivity between online/offline, between old media/new media, between bitching and getting things done. the prime directive should not exist on earth. if we truly care about a participatory society, we must embrace tools as forms of technology and work hard to impart their use among all.
i hope you check out more of video volunteers work.
click on the better looking bloke for more pictures of my time in cali
after waiting 30 mins for something that would never happen to me, a woman and child sit down to join a male companion. somewhere in the halls luck, these two blonds have been blessed by unforeseen travel god. alone to my right, i see an old man with worn out blue jeans, with his shoes off and hat pulled over his eyes - i see the physical reflection of my tired sole.
as the skybus, banks north over the valley, i watch the western american desert skirt bye. off in the distance, i see andrews air force base, home to america's first astronauts. behind me, the couple and infant banter about nothing important - yet, everything his said in such serious tones. while there is an artifical serious natiture to the conversation - the two are idiots. from the rationalization for taking two separate cars to the airport, to the mother's ordeal in finding a parking spot, to his instance on telling her where she went wrong, to the baby crying, to the mother talking about how she's so sorry for delaying the flight 30 mins... i hear nothing but a relaxed worry free life style.
to embark on this journey is intersting. in San Fran, chris messina and tara hunt demanded a "refund" and gave me flack for many things.
first, she questions the value of this trip and the outcome of the project.
second, i criticized for not being honest for advertising myself is the #1 beneficiary of this project.
third, she questioned why i'm "the chosen one" and not someone else who is "better connected."
fourth, they inquired about my finances and wondered why i didn't seek out corporate underwriting.
finally, if the first few questions wasn't enough, they questioned the my integrity.
in the end, when i questioned how much of my content they had reviewed... they said "very little."
after all was said and i felt the ticking time bomb of two hours wasted, it was obvious Tara did not feel comfortable in my company. in return, i did not feel comfortable in their company. while i've always questioned their motives, my conversations with many other fansicsicans put a big olde spotlight on two humans whom are very much stuck in a bubble that will eventually burst.
we mutually agreed to a continuing conversation, but for now they would not support, endorse, nor would Tara participate in an interview. granted, chris said he would be available the morning of my departure, it was obviously an inconvenient time for two conflicting parties.
as i have always stated, this trip is about exploration. there are many ideas that must be explored. there are many ideas that must be tested and retested. there is no science to humanity. we are ever evolving creatures of awesome intellect. if we stop thinking, we stop exploring and therefore we stop expanding.
this journey is about exploration - physically and philospholicy. while i've changed the world has not.
as i grow, i see a light that very few understand. don't get me wrong, we can all think globally, and i don't mean this in a houtey-toitey... to me the world has a defined constitution; now i find my works taking on a new meaning. for example, when i landed in LA, my host, gregory whitescarver, and his pal callen immediately whisked me off to a party where i was introduced to LA's brightest.
after curtailing the use of lighter fluid on wet wood, some dark haired, light eyed, red coated ginger sat down next to me. she thanked me for kicking up the fire and started asking the usual assortment of questions - "who are you, what do you do, etc.." two seconds later her bloke arrived. sitting next to her, he proceeded to ask the same obnoxious question...
she interrupts, "he's been around the world!"
"oh, i too've been around the world... i've been to mexico, jamacia, (insert a few of western europe countries and one or two eastern europen countries)... ok, it's really not 'around the world' but i know what the world is like... well, not really africa nor asia, but i know the world." retorts the bloke.
shocked by her bf's blatant display of idiocy - with out a word, she stands up, turns around, picks up his left hand, and yanks him off the couch. with a slight handwave, they descend into the depths of the dance floor.
yeah, so where was i? oh yeah, exploration. so there's nothing wrong with how one explores the world, but for me the meaning of 'going around the world' is an interesting one. it was funny to hear chris and tara exclaim their new media exploration while other's have no other recourse than to explore or die. out of the countless conversations i had in LA, meeting Zadi and Steve from Jetset was amazing!
their support for my trip has been bewildering, from nowhere i was friend'd on every social network imaginable. then after my departure arrived the message, "oh, btw we want to do a segment on you." honored, excited, tired, out of money and stuck inside due to a gnarly sewage stankin thunderstorm - i found my self recording a message from delhi with no electricity and no internet, . almost a month later, out popped one of the most beautiful segment's i'd ever seen... check it out!
fast forward two and a half months later and several thousand km, i found myself sitting in a beverly hills coffee/tea house sipping on some raspberries and honey.
my head was down when they walked through the door, but my body knew they were here. i jumped up just as zadi started to lift her arms. standing on my tippy-toes, i hugged steve and promptly lost my balance. over ornate tea, a bowl of soup, and dainty coffee, we battered a the conversation back and forth.
well they asked questions, and i answered them...
as we moved from tea house to their dining room table, a conversation seemed to endless... maybe it was my long winded prose or short winded epics. a warm fuzzy feeling draped my body.
for the second half of the conversation, i asked them a slew of questions. while most of it was captured on tape, i found myself in total awe of this loving new media power duo. every other story was an epic in exploration. inquisitive and impatient they took imaginative ideas and instigated solutions.
it was great to hear how they met as teenagers in NYC and moved to explore ideas through the bubbles of innovation. in 2004, they finally settled on an idea for an internet children's show. after producing a few episodes, they discovered the show didn't quite represent what they were looking to capture. through exploration they evolved from "the jetset show" to "jetset" to "epic-fu" - through each iteration came personal and professional growth.
three years after venturing into the unknown, the two are still working countless hours revolutionizing how we watch video... to steve and zadi, the power to be nimble and experiment is one code of our online ecosystem.
tuesday morning, i was kicked awake by my buddy, gregory. tuesday was my opportunity to experience LA finest natual attraction, rush hour.
from silver lake to santa monica, i had no clue when i'd arrive at my destination. if i ran into the ocean, i'd gone to far. my friends told me an hour drive and i calculated a wee bit more than that. with tyrone, my macbook, feeding me directions, i promptly found my self smack dab in the middle of the world's worst nightmare. surround by angry-half-awake drivers, i navigated gregory's ford focus through the eastern canyons of hollywood.
when i finally in venice, a hardy cup of java was placed into my hands. with a bit of cream and a spoonful of shggar, julian bleecker and i entered into a long early morning conversation.
wrapped in the pleasantries of a cross-contental individuals, julian and i chatted about new york and i started talking about the nature of code... i backhandishly said, "if you know how to code, you you can partisipate."
julian asked, "what is code?"
in the tangible nature of things, code is something we humans do in our normal day to day... in the past, it was called protocol. hell, i still know people who attended "finishing" school. in the military, there is a strict code of conduct. in science, in international affairs, in programming, in modern social edicate... there's a million and one protocols to follow...
when it comes down to code in our modern peer-to-peer society... "what is code?" (maybe i've lost my cuthness, but there was a time when i aspired to have the finest of all things. then again, i was a starving college freshman. back then, i was a pretentious little punk.)
after a bit of discussion, we concluded (not that it was our only topic of discussion) that code in it's many forms is what rules all elements of society. code it self is slowly maturing and evolving. too boot, the barrier to entry is increasing decreasing (can someone say, "get up to get down?!?!")
in our second major topic, we talking about well roundedness. what makes up an "undisciplined" or "multi-disciplined" individual. is it about learning a bunch of trades in secondary and post-secondary school? is it about learning about society, interactivity and opportunity?
julian has three rules - read, write, build - with those three things i can't argue against!
all across this great planet, i have seen people who participate in open sourced programs - from a hug to the desktop - the world is predicated on helping the person on the other end of the line... amazingly, the line that encircles the globe is built on kindness.
on the drive back to gregory's place, i found old footsteps in santa monica. driving up and down the pacific cost highway, my mind wondered off the horizon to my friends in asia. i not only wondered what they were doing but i wondered how their feedback loop operates. i wondered if our "online code" was enough. lord knows, that my friends (or so called friends) whom i've met through assorted conferences make up a bulk of the people whom i trust. in turn, i hope these people have taken an ear to what i've said and digested it back into their lives... i wondered if i some how needed to create a roving band of merrymakers to tear down the insular nature of america... then it hit me... well something hit, i think it might have been a seagull pissed i was in his parking spot, but something hard did hit my head... i realized that on this rock. that's exactly what i'm doing...
painfully, i ended up thinking of those folks who's hands i have shuck but have fallen limp. i know 95% of the hands i've shook'n have fallen limp. i know this because, i too have fallen limp to thousands of people whom i've met. it's genuinely pains me that i can't get to know everyone on this planet.
amazingly, i was able to sit down with one of those hands that didn't fall limp. while politics is one of my loves, tony katz and i are able to sit down, share a plate of chips and see a world where the little guy plays a bigger role than the man behind the curtain. both of us agreed, that that the world operates on the back of the little guy. it's time that the rest of us understand that it's up to us to make the world different.
from this journey, i've wondered quite a bit of who we are and what we are doing. my time in LA has been intriguing... i found my self driving around podering the premisis that we frequently journey into the unknown. yet at the same time we see what we want to see and believe what we want to believe.
the meme of codes will developed in the forth coming multi-plant-um audio novel narrated by william shatner. contribute $11.11 and reserve you space in line ;)
(click on your fav gender for more pictures from vangroovy.)
like a jewel in a crown, vancouver sits atop north america's granola coast. this glisting gem hold the sparkle of many a geeks eye - a political party that incorporates FLOSS into it's charter, an organic network of evangelists building an 802.11b mesh network to blanket the city, a drupal/barcamp revolutionary, a computer recycling organization which harvests discarded computers for environmentally friendly recycling and helps homeless people connect to the internet... as if that wasn't enough, vangroovy is home to the worlds most popular citizen journalism news site - nowpublic.com
my friends, that's just the beginning... i wasn't able to meetup with workspace (one of the original coworking locations) nor the countless other drupal nor linux geeks who inhabit canada's most temperate climate. oh and did i forget to mention that vancouver had a very "healthy" merry-jane community? not that i'm into it, but the vangroovyites seem to be proud. combine the fact that the restaurants are delicious, the night life / arts community thriving, there's abundant coffee strong and a growing culture of brew pubs... vangroovy got's a groovy thing going on...
it's not like all of this fell into place. each one of the individuals whom i met spent years working with others to building their ideal city. the city isn't perfect. there's quite a bit of homelessness, drug abuse, displacement of affordable housing and gentrification.
through each of my interviews, everyone paraphrased the same statement "we're here, we're not moving away and we want to make a difference."
on my last day in adelaide, i was honored to be picked up by Janet Hawtin (an early supporter of this project) and her partner. then to be driven into "the hills" for a series of interviews with a group of geeks from IT share. without janet's support, i wouldn't have been introduced to the wonderful group of geeks who volunteer endlessly building computers for no/low income citizens of the adelaide metro area. no words can express my thanks for her selflessness, introductions and coordination of schedules on my brief stay.
(when you get a chance, check out a card game she's created to explain creative commons. btw, it's GPL'ed for you to rework. apparently beth kantor has recompiled a different configuration.)
as for today's interviews, whew! for two hours, i fired off a series of questions interrogating five members of IT share. limited in time because i started my day late (happy birthday jo and kt!!!), i found myself interviewing geeks who have built an international computer recycling project.
headquartered in the lion's club of bridgewater, IT share meets on a weekly basis to teach others how to build, use, and repair computers. then, these systems are either donated or sold at a low cost to residents of the adelaide metro area.
just recently, IT share, through the help of santos and the australian government, sent a container filled with computers to a hospital in the capitol of timor. armed with F/OSS, the IT Share team deployed over 30 computers, built the hospital's first computer network, connected the network to the internet and educated a team of geeks...
thank you gang! it was a pleasure to meet all of you, talk about your projects and hear how you're hard work is paying off...
yesterday (day 99), i kicked around adelaide, interviewing artists, and gallery hopping with a random acquaintance of jo's.
it really funny to think about how we're all connected. when i landed on friday (day 98), i sat at jo's place of employment (a swank tea bar named "t bar") sipping coffee and wifi. after meeting jo and coordinating a limited schedule of engagements (dinner, breakfasts, birthday party), i departed to find a second hand store (i hoped to acquire a knit cap and/or light jacket - i've spent the past three months prancing in summer weather and am completely under dressed for the cold AUS spring) and find an electrical outlet/fat wifi pipe to upload episode 19 (which never happened due to a crazy WIFI setup).
nonetheless, at 4pm i returned to jo's place of employment for a quick tour of central market and adelaide. as we were walking out, jo ran into akira, an adelaide based sculpture. after a brief introduction and mutual acceptance of randomness, the three of us walked out into the city streets. after an exchange of phone numbers and promises of meeting up on saturday, the three departed ways.
back to yesterday (day 99)... after two days of not sleeping, i grabbed 12 hours of rest, woke up, took a very hot shower, donned my new skull cap, packed up my laptop, hard drive, camera, ipod, and spare batteries. not knowing what to expect, i was gearing my self to do anything.
meeting back at the T bar, akira and i departed from jo's birthday preparations and ventured into the wilderness 1.1 million call adelaide. winding through the windy streets, akira and i talked about our travels and history), how we know jo, his art, our passions, the city and adelaide's new/old tram system which was to open today (sunday, day 100). arriving at the downtown art space, we met up with two very hung over artists / directors / friends. after a bit of quite conversation sans any loud noises, i got the two to spill the beans on adelaide's premier community gallery.
then as quickly as we entered, we quietly tip-toed out of the gallery and walked thought the desolate streets of addy's seedy side of town. (honestly, it's just one street three blocks long with a handful of strip clubs, bars with "pokies" aka slot machines and an honest to god "quick-e-mart".) as the day started late, we found our self just in time to use experimental art foundation's bathroom and by happenstance to meet teri hoskin.
(now this is where it gets weird...)
teri is researching a position at the new school. the new school is located in new york. i use to live in new york (well my permeant address is still in nyc) and i use to attend events at the new school. i also looked at the new school as an undergraduate alternative, but never got further than drinking their cheap wine and cheaper cheese squares. BUT i did get a good understanding of the new school's offerings and could answers teri's question on the new school.
as the conversation progressed, we realized that the new school, new york, akira, and experimental multimedia art were not the only things we have in common. tucked away on the other side of the world (aka nyc), sits one woman whom i've emailed and never received an response. this same woman is the former boss of a one Winnie Fung, a friend and not an alternative member (aka brooklyn coworking). this same woman is good friends with houndbee's girlfriend - houndbee and i met in delhi at oss camp and he rocks audio sound scapes... amazingly, this woman is not just some random person, but the executive director of eyebeam!
how awesome is that?!?! i wonder when amanda and i will finally meet? i wonder how many more of amanda's friends will i randomly meet? i wonder if amanda could possibly be the new media artist code and i just don't get it yet...
well... it's now officially day 101 and i have to wake up at 5 am and catch a train to melbourne...
Recoded: 14 aug 2007
Locations: cairo, egypt
Tags: mobileactive, hacktivisim
Music: Recommencer (mosquitomix in G) by ditto ditto
About: through the heat and stomach pains, i found sometime to interview Noria Younis. while not originally an activist, she attend a protest where the government sexually harassed protesters and that convinced her it was time to make a difference.
it's day 77 and with the wings of mercury, i've hit 15 countries, taped 31 hours of video, and visited the only lasting ancient wonder of the world. despite my rants of trying to breaking bad habits, i am having a blast.
today, i received two refreshing emails... the first came from my mother who said "...do not misplace your faith" and the second came from an old friend who said "consider this your great adventure. don't start planning for another until you've finished this. experience this while you're living it. don't experience it in retrospect."
both emails came as a nice pleasant blow to my mental state of annoyance. maybe it's my present location that's affecting my head. the guest house where DigitalBridgeCamp is located is a former home for shell shocked WW I & II solders. it would be easy to dismiss my distraught thoughts on the ghost stories of war veterans, but my reality is that i'm trying to understand a gap that's enveloped me. i'm looking for a bridge to ride my painted pony into the 21 century.
today also contained another seminal moment. shortly after lunch, i found myself reiterating a presentation i made two days ago. with the help of a bottle of wine, some country liquor, and a good night of sleep, i sounded more like a scratchy record than fresh fruit juice. lucky for me, a few people disagreed with my viewpoint and it fired up my hungover brain cells into something tangible.
from DOTsub, rocketboom, alive in baghdad, make weekend projects, galacticast, jetset, the burg.tv - to - my name is bill, the tuxedo travelers, the yes men, not an alternative, drishti, video volunteers... i spent an hour or so talking about media and the power of making our own media.
with a camera, an idea, an internet connection and a tool kit, we can tell our own story. in the hands of underrepresented communities, the true face of the world comes into focus. just look at video volunteers and you will stare into the face of the global future.
(ed note, alive in baghdad is right now the creme de la creme of community video units. it's just so sad to watch.)
the following are just small list of organizations, projects and resources. i know my knowledge is limited. if you have any addendum, leave a comment.
video resources for social change
- witness - using video to document human rights
- global voices - a global perspective of online conversations
- drishti - an indian based video advocacy shop
- video volunteers - an exelent example of building local rural media outlets
- dot sub - translate your video into any language
- tactical tech (NGO in-a-box kits) - free tool kits
- ashoka asia
- taproot foundation's - non profit technology listing
- Ideallist.org - tools for fundraising
NGO resources to understand digital technology
- tactical tech - best practices & tool kits for change
- NPO Groups - Rider's News & Rider's Tech
- mobileactive - social engagement with mobile phones
- NTEN - nonprofit technology network
- DotOrganize's report on non-profit's and NGOs
- tech soup - tools, forums and resources
- personal democracy fourm - online political engagement
dear fellow NYC freelancer,
it's been a while since we shared the wifi-hotspot-double-mocha-frappa-whatchamacallit, exchanged tips on client management, conference hangovers and discussed the virtues of Kurt Weill and Yochai Benkler's Wealth of Networks. i'm sorry i haven't been back to that coffee shop.
i have to let you in on secret. well, it isn't really a secret, but one of those NYC underutilized facilities... last summer, beka and i banded together to create Brooklyn Coworking at Not An Alternative (NAA). we broke free from hourly coffee purchases and created a space for new york's alternative working community - a cafe-like community and collaboration space for programmers, net-artists, online organizers and independents.
about a month ago, brooklyn coworking undertook a metamorphosis, tore down some walls and is no longer limited to a cozy café environment. if you attended Glowlab's Conflux, you've seen the spaciousness!
are you tired of complaining to your cat about broken code or a bad client?
wondering what is the next wave of social software?
looking for an invigorating environment to call an "office?"
if you are in NYC on friday, 21 september, join my best friends for williamsburg's coworking open house and happy hour! i promise you an absolute delight!
you'll find all the deets on Not An Alternative's Blog.
XOXO from india,
photo courtesy of the NAA's blog post...
since my stint in U.A.E., i've found my self engulfed with The Life of Mahatma Gandhi by Louis Fischer. sure it's may seem a bit madding to jump from the 1960's armed struggle of the Black Panther party to the peaceful man of Mahatma Gandhi, but i've found it quite useful. both books have rekindled a flame long ago extinguished.
back in high school i use to volunteer at a battered woman's shelter and would devote a weekend every other month helping out at a Mormon store house packaging goods for those in need. when i graduated, i found a new world of sex, drugs, rock and roll, travel and employment. fueled by many desires, i never found time to help out those less fortunate. well, except for an annual token donation to a random charity of choice.
as my path moved from one east cost city to the next, i never forgot about the long nights cooped up on a secure floor of the YWCA in Dayton. when 2003 rolled around, i thought long and hard about my actions and decided to do something. five years later and a few thousand miles from home, i can't can not stop listing reading about the struggle for basic human rights that has plagued this planet since it's inception.
doubtful this world will ever see a day where poverty is eliminated. i can't help but to find my mind reciting the words of civil rights leaders long gone...
i too have a dream. somewhere in my head resides the acknowledgment that my past (genetic & historical) has brought me to a point where i can no longer pass by others less fortunate and not give a damn. i've thought long about our relationship with technology, progress and commerce. i've thought long about structures in society that say one thing without resolve. frankly, i can no longer think of technology without it's connotation with our soul.
we now stand at a time where consumerism is more powerful and socialism & more powerful than capitalism. yet, the tools we long for are being designed to connect us but yet somehow a good portion of society sees novelty than utility.
a camera is more powerful than a gun.
a cell phone is more powerful than a loudspeaker.
a text message is more powerful than poster.
a phone call is more powerful than chant.
we continue to struggle using these basic tools. yet, we bask in the rays of commerce while gleefully paying bills and saying "thank you" for the utility.
i can no longer see my self stepping back to a world where conversations placate our ability to change the world. frankly, i can also no longer accept a world where others determine charity, governance and media. we have the tools. we have the brains. we have the network. we need capacity and focus.
yesterday, i found myself siting with a man who embodied his name. i do not mean in any derogatory remark, but as a frank observation after spending twenty mins with one of the world's enlightened visionaries. Stalin K. started his professional career as an actor (a meme i think) and has since found himself as a leader of humanity.
about 15 years ago Stalin started making movies. 10 years ago he found himself helping build radio stations. now Stalin and his coworkers take basic consumer tools (cameras, computers and transmitters) into impoverished communities and builds local media outlets.
"of the people, for the people, by the people" is Drishti's motto. wherever they drive, communities learn the capacity to use digital tools to tell their story and build their own media outlets. primarly working in rural communities, who barely have clean water and a doctor, Drishti empowers communities to tell their story. i only wish i could have spent more time understanding how they do it. from the few hours i had to learn, i see a well thought-out, educated team planning campaigns most political campaigns dream.
here's to you Drishti! here's to the future of technology and social media! it was an honor coming to Ahmedabad.
for Drishti to do a better job, they are constantly looking for people who understand social media to help them turn their mediocre online presence into a formative platform for good. they also need open source tools translated into local regional indian languages. while they don't mind "using" commercial software, then NEED an open source video solution.
first, let me put this post into context... my friends here in delhi (ok, it's really the National Capital Region) have welcomed me with open arms, fed me, housed me and have acted as translators and security. they have refused to accept any payment but gifts of gratuitous thanks. in my hour of depleted funds, they are finding new ways to entertain my soul through pleasant company, extend every rupee and provide countless indian history lessons.
i'm building so much dharma debt i will never forget.
thank you, Prashant, Daksh, Amit, Neha, Ashish, Abby, Naveena, Yogesh, Priyanka, Kinshuk, Kanika, Sunil...
PS - the photo is from priyanka, aka twilight fairy on flickr. you should check out her work!
speaking of rupees, remember my last post?
last night's twitter banter has netted $359.43 USD! i now have enough cash to purchase a plane ticket from mumbai to bangalore to bangkok. thank you to those who contributed! i now need $2800 USD to reach $7,777 USD. i'll tell you more about my fundraising exploits below.
btw, i think my stomach has finally succumbed to a certain level of lactose intolerance. i now find my self howling as my stomach curdles in agony demanding a refund on a meal long ago purchased. some might call it "delhi belly" but i'm fairly sure it's "dairy belly."
as for avoiding dairy in dehli, it is as futile as avoiding flies, mosquitos, over zealous drivers with their horns and the stench of raw sewage...
ok, dehi isn't that bad... so let's get to brass tax (or is it brass tacks). the past few days have been crazy. since monday, i've been in perpetual motion running all over the national capital region. (NCR is like the washington dc area, except you'll find 22 some odd million. there is also a major problem with suburban sprawl and rapid development.)
from nodia to gurgaou to new delhi to south delhi, i've seen the inside of a countless radio cabs (aka with free A/C), hailed cabs (A/C is extra), rickshaws (pedal bike where air is free and so is the BO), autorickshaws (scooter based contraptions running on CNG), a few private cars that operated as taxi cabs, and a few privately own cars.... sadly, no motorcycles nor scooters...
spending the past few nights in the out flung burros, i've been able to compare the wealth of central delhi to the poverty and squaller that is interwoven on every street, creek and alley. one can not help but see rickshaws advertising .coms sitting next to naked children.
through out all of my conversations, i seek to understand one question - "how do indians see their future..."
my friends, students whom i met, hosts, and interview subjects see two worlds - one is a digital world filled with interloping ideas of a modern digital oasis. the second contains the rest of india - 70% of the population and must not be left behind nor taken for-granted.
sunday, after two night's with Prashant Singh, i moved my stuff to daksh sharma's grandmother's house. ambiguous in schedule and sleeping locations, daksh said that his uncle would take care of me. fearful of a schedule that would conflict with mine, i patiently waited to see what was in store.
in an ironic twist of humor, i thought my third night would take me closer to central delhi. instead i found my self further away. despite the fact that daksh lives in Delhi, he and his family graciously put me into a guest house. once my distance was located on a tattered hotel map, i knew my stay would be short.
as the room cooled with a jerryrigged A/C unit in the window and two vigorous rotors attached to the ceiling, i fought to keep a million mosquitos at bay. after a million and one calls sorting out a schedule, i stood underneath a spicket spewing luke warm water and washed the one of my three sets of clothing. by the time i was done, the brownish water was black. my green nylon columbia sportswear fishing pants victoriously lasted one month without a single inkling of soap - from the streets of jerusalem, to the beach in tel aviv, the 13 hour bus ride to egypt, all the grime in cairo, and the long journey to india - these pants have armored my legs through the tick and tin.
after a dasterious night of limited REM operations, i awoke monday morning to the bell hop ring my phone 15 mins before i had scheduled my alarm. tired, confused and wondering where in the hell i left my lens cap, i stuffed my bags and turned off the air circulating apparatus installed in room 105.
upon checkout, i was greeted with a bill for 1350 rupees. dismayed on the thought i was getting scammed i franticly called daksh's uncle who's phone was turned off. after paying, sheephisly (i actually said "this is baaaaad") i climbed into a small TATA and speed off south to meet Ashish.
on monday, there were two important things i needed to do...
1. find away to purchase a super discounted ticket from sydney to hawaii.
2. prepare for a presentation at one of india's prestigious colleges' - Shri Ram College of Commerce.
with a weekend of dispatches sent to my parents. i called up my father and chatted about the trip, my ideas and my delema. after a brief discussion on solutions, he was willing to purchase my airfare from sydney to hawaii (so i can at least make it back to the USA, albeit it's the furthest state in the union) and loan me some money incase i found myself up shit creek.
comically, my old man sat in puerto rico at his parents house on a dial up connection cursing the heat, humidity and slow internet. it got even more entertaining when he forgot his paypal username and we spent two hours in an attempt to hammer a solution.
around 14h00, i found myself researching the exact cost of the next four months but found myself interrupted by a cab waiting for me outside.
let's rewind a bit, on the last day of OSS camp i sat in the small break out room with it's own separate A/C. as i wielded my magic wand looking for airfares, contacts and avenues of income, a clean cut young man walked up to me and introduced himself as kinshuk sunil. polightly he apologized for not attending my "session" on saturday, but wanted to invite me to chat with his class of MBA students. without any hesitation, i said "yes."
since shri ram is actually on the other side of delhi (ie on the north side, close to the jet engine hotel) i had to leave two hours before my little blub. despite our treck (radio cab) through dirt roads and dense traffic, my arrival was early.
with kinshuk sunil greeting me at the main gate, we walked, talked, and since the school wasn't picking up the taxi fare, he bought me a small meal. as kinshuk described my awaiting audience, i thought about what i would say... to be honest, kinshuk wanted me to talk about my observations on my seven topics of selection, but instead i knew i would end up rehashing the basis of this trip, the personal story of why i started this journey and the exploration of the space within the world.
some how i found my thoughts circling this statement "my theoretical thesis that predicated this trip is no different than its' reality."
i know it sounds a bit queer to hear but i'm going to quote the rockman (this rockman fairies from harry nilsson's the point if you don't know the story, check it)... in the album, oblio is a boy who has no point and his dog arrow is his sole companion. they both live in the land of the point where everyone has a point. according to the laws of the land, everyone in the point must have a point. after a harmless tussle with the count's son, finds himself banished to the pointless forest.
on their journey they meet a lovely cast of characters, and one of them is the pot smoking, rasta named the rockman. graciously the rockman has to set oblio straight on the term "pointless" and asks oblio, "have you ever been to paris? have you ever been to new delhi?" (now i can say i have)
oblio responds "No!"
rockman replies, "you hear what you want to hear and see what you want to see..."
...and with that oblio learns that the "pointless forest" is not pointless but filled with a billion and one points...
with that little quote echoing though my brain like the car horns on the street's of cairo, i took to the stage and spoke for an two hours. i told them about the sevens, how this trip started, i told them about hearbreak, frustration, and why i see the world in this special way.
i told them as future leaders of the world's largest democracy, they have the power to change any problem they see infront of them. tomorrow's world is at their fingertips.
as the hour moved forth and my story ended, they started to ask questions like, why focus on digital communications? why the number seven? why aren't more people traveling? why do people become "enlightened?" what do you have in your backpack?
then came my turn, i asked them about their fears, future job prospects, and more importantly how they see india.
their answers amazed me... to this group of young leaders, india is an merging superpower, but not filled with arrogance and pomp. since so much of the country resides in poverty, it is their obligation to insure that poverty in india is squelched and tradition is respected...
after a confusing exit/lockin... a small group of us made our way to the brandspankingnew delhi metro (aka subway), went through metal detectors and hopped on modern wonderment. while i was on my way, i got a txt from Abhishek Baxi (aka abby) to meet up in south delhi at a ruby tuesdays.
(food joints here in india are a bit of a bit of bewilderment. they look like your americans joints but with one striking difference... the service! the food is the same mediocre quality, english menus, uniforms etc... BUT the quality of service is astronomical. if your napkin falls, they've got it. if you need a light, they've got it. if you're about to finish your beer, drink, or water.... THEY'VE got it!)
as i sat waiting for abby to show up, i wondered how india would emerge as a superpower...
the next 24 hours would enlighten my perspective... spurred by the global network of ideas, abby found Jelly (the coworking thing i featured in episode 3) and is now looking to set up his own... after carrying on the conversation into the early hours of the morning, abby, naveena (his girlfriend) and i headed back to their apartment and i crashed on their floor.
waking later than i wanted... (ahem, thanks for all the beers!!!) i departed for my first formal interview of the trip. arranged by Dask, i found myself in an awesome conversation with Sunil Malhotra, founder president & CEO of ideafarms. we conversed about the meaning of employment, consultancy and the term "heart capital." impressively, his thoughts are no different that what many within the barcamp/coworking/freelance community have espoused.
for a while we talked about living out ideals instead of evangelizing them... (to be honest, this is something i hate, but has to be done... honestly i see my self as a modest person. i've never wanted press or notoriety, but now i'm on this oxymoronic trip and need press for money, exposure for contacts and notoriety for leverage.... ok, i really don't want notarity, i just want you to know about how the world is changing...) then, we spoke about our friends who seem notable and how our confluence of ideas can change the world...
after a very cheesy lunch (ie dairy), i headed out to meet kanika anand, a fellow couchsurfer and dreamer. we bantered, exchanged gifts whilst sipping frapps (ie more dairy). after our delightful conversation, departed south to meet up with my host, ashish and other delhi bloggers who are considering setting up an alt.art.foodie.delhi blog....
here's sort a video from the evening...
a very special thank you is sent to following who have answered the call and contributed a few bones....
Erica O'Grady, Justin Stockton, Eric Skiff, Heath Row, Lawrence Halff, Abhay Kumar, jonathan berger, nick bollweg, Jeff Ledoux, Richard Weait, Jeffrey Sass, Samuel Gluskin, Oliver Hoerold, Alexandra Deschamps, Ellen Moore, Joe Cronin, Gavin Heaton
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
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