it's been 11 months to the day since i departed nyc, and have been told a friend has departed to another world. last night, shortly before midnight, ellen rafel became an eternal angel. in the photo above, her hand is to the left and erwin's, her husband, is on the right.
this past month's journey has been intense and an emotional roller coaster. up and down and around my heart has swung. while the month of may started in a fog of romance and trudged up to the peak of heartbreak, down into the valleys of birthdays, and onto a few loops de loops of two new jobs. now, i can see the tracks race off into the distance.
while i'll spare you the lovey dovey personal stuff - let me tell you about ellen's & erwin's birthday. since 1999, i've known Gideon Rafel-Frankel, their loving son. as the years passed, gid would always invite me to their family functions... from summers on cape cod, to weekends in NYC (when i wasn't living here), birthdays, passover, holidays, parties and the like... through all of the events, i was a witness to one of the best damn relationships i've ever seen...
now separated only by physical space, the memory of erwin and ellen and the care they demonstrated for their sons, themselves and all their friends and family has left an indelible mark on my soul. the passion she demonstrated was recognized when over 100 people jammed themselves into a tiny two bedroom penthouse apartment on the upper-west side to celebrate her last birthday.
as we sang and embraced her life, i knew ellen's glorious soul wouldn't be around too much longer. as we said our goodbyes, it became apparent to me that this family had impacted me more than most. with lessons from own family, erwin's tenacity as a refuge and ellen's love as a social worker, i set forth to see the beauty of all we can touch.
along this journey i have found something that is indescribable. something i can never articulate in words, photos nor movies. on six continents, i found this thing buried in every person who open their mouths, families, and hearts... never could i have imagined that the world is filled with so many loving people.
while i haven't been diligaent in writing about the lessions i've learned, since my return i have lived every moment knowing that my passion to make this a better planet is unexcable. the love we can share with each other is something that should never be taken for granted. the opportunities we have to change everything around us is real.
sunday, when i stand with her family and countless other souls who have been touched by her love, i know she will be with us as an eternal lesson that peace and hope are the only two things we need. you don't need to be famous, you don't need to be anyone of any material goods - just love everyone - love the unescapable and work to make it better. well all else fails, be at peace.
ellen, thank you for being one of my teachers.
over the past few weeks i've gotten a few requests for an updated list of my gadgets. for the seven months that i was on the road, i ended up ditching one wardrobe and most of my socks. now i'm down to two pairs of the following - pants, long sleeve undershirts, underwear - three t-shirts, button up shirts - six pairs of socks - one beanie - one dinner coat (spray painted) and a hoodie. as for my computer gear, it really didn't change until the fifth month when i was in ohio at my parents place and conveniently ran out of hard drive space.
over all, there is one gadget that ruled the school more than any other.... my urban assault two liter camelpak. while they no longer manufacture the two models i took with me, i wish camelpak would focus on the "urban warrior" (aka the geek who carries a laptop, camera, paper notebooks, batteries, compact still camera, pens, tripod, voice recorded, etc.). according to their website, the closest thing to what i have is "the wingman." it can cary a laptop, and a paltry half liter of water. camelpak also happens to have a wide array of "tactical" backpacks that seem to have a few more of the bennies (ie features) on my ruck (ie backpacks).
now onto the geeky gear that require electricity.
- Sony HVR-A1U, it's an hdv camcorder with two XLR inputs.
- Sony 37mm Wide angle lens which was on the camera 95% of the time.
- Sony DVCAM DigitalMaster tapes (10 Qty), Sony HDV tapes (30 Qty) & MiniDV tapes (15 Qty) - while i started out with the super expensive DVCAM tapes, i quickly moved HDV tapes with 85 mins. when they ran out, so did my money. then, i was forced to purchase MiniDV tapes (or have people buy them for me - thanks roland!)... while, the quality is subjective. i haven't had a problem YET!!! we'll see what happens in a few months.
- Sony NP-QM71D (high capacity battery, 1 Qty)
- Leica D-Lux 3 w/ 2 gig SD card, digital still camera and emergency/backup video snaggle-toother.
- Shure SM58 wired microphone and 10 foot XLR cable. serriously, i had no clue why in the hell i purchased this mic, but it was a totally clutch machine in loud environments (aka airplanes, bars - ie thailand).
- Audio-Technica Pro70 wired lapel mike w/ a 15 foot XLR cable. this was loaned to me from patrick from microcinema. for interviews, i found it better than the shotgun mic on the a A1U.
- a 4 foot tripod - $20 bucks, it's still broken, and i still use it.
- a mini tripod - awesome for night photography and/or desktop videography.
- Apple MacBook named tyrone. he was pimped out with 2 gigs of memory and 150gb hard drive - Mailplane, iLife 07 and then 08 in Nov, iPhoto Buddy (to help people transfer photos to CD or DVD) NeoOffice, Pathfinder, ChronoSync, TextWrangler, Adium, Skype, Quicksilver, Pando, Audio Hijack Pro, Colloquy, iPhoto Export for Flickr, Final Cut HD Express (upgraded to Express 4 in Nov), OmniFocus, Ecto, 10.5 in November and a much of other apps...
- Incase laptop case
- LaCie hard drive, 7200rpm 200gb (F.A. Porsche model) - this hard drive was a pain to carry. combined weight and bulk (with extra power brick) made it a shear pain in the ass to work.
- OWC Mercury On-The-Go FireWire 800/400 + USB 2.0 2.5' (qty 2) - in november, these drives replaced the LaCie hard drive. without a doubt, the smaller size and bus power proved to be worth their weight in gold!
- 60 Gig - 4th gen iPod Photo - a back up of my iTunes music and podcasts.
- 8 Gig - 2nd gen iPod Nano - Audio Entertainment - i wanted something that i could always keep me company...
- pepto-bismol tablets so you don't get pepto-bismal! seriously, it's a gadget of modern medicine. take it with you!!! you can thank me later.
- two universal power prong adapters from kensington - this is another one of those musts... it had adapters for every country but india's funky UK, but not styled prongs. too boot, it came with a USB adapter that allowed me to charge my cellphone or ipod. totally clutch!
- one US 8 outlet power strip from staples - yeah, they tell you not to use an american power strip, but it worked for me. i've been told from people who bring 220 volt power strips to countries with 110 volts that they don't work so well.
- cell phone - Treo 650 Unlocked - without a doubt, this was an absolute life saver. if you're traveling and find yourself meeting up with people,
- Zoom H4 audio recorder w/ 1gig SD card - to be honest, i really didn't use this all that much. while there are many things i could have done with it... it traveled the world with a bunch of dead AA batteries.
- AA rechargeable batteries and adapter that shane (beachwalks with rox's partner) gave me while i was in hawaii. i used them a few times, but the charger died a month later.
- an 18 month moleskin planner. paper is so much better than plastic.
- three moleskin notebooks. see above, paper is better than plastic.
- extra macbook battery and power supply - around november my laptop could no longer hold a charge. since my macbook was 16 months out of warrantee and i didn't have apple care, my father was gracious enough to lay down $200 bucks and bail my ass out.
- apple's in the ear headphones, sony's cheap ass ear buds, and apple's white ipod headphones.
- a woman's sleeping bag.
- pack lock. it's one of those wire netting things that enable to lock your ruck. i only used it once... then again i spent as much time in hostels/hotels as i did in people's homes. i could have used it more, but found the world to be more trusting than most. i was lucky!
ok, now that i look back on the past seven months and i see a about a ba-gillion and one things that i could have done different... but in the end, i'm am more happy now than i ever could have thought. i am at peace with my self and more importantly, i am at peace knowing we have much work ahead.
for those who are planning a similar exploration, i'll warn you... the hardest part of traveling the world is finding balance. it is one thing to absorb, and then there is another to complete work. yes, i do mean work. don't get me wrong, shlepping has it's payoffs but sometimes you'll find it hard to leave the safe confines of an apartment for yet another drive, walk, or exploration of the environment...
now combine that with a active campaign seeking out an angle for good content. if you're like me, after seven months you'll find it quite hard to fit the world inside of a camera, and after having a forest gump running moment, you realize that you're tired of running and you just stop... it gets even harder when you've run out of money, the weather is shitty and you are stuck in houston, tx.
two weeks have passed since the official end of my journey and i find myself at the tail end of my illness, not the subtle illness of a chest cold and/or parisian flu... but at the end of some monumental aliment that took me to the end of the darkened tunnel of love and was rescued through the hospitality of normality.
so for the last two weeks i've been a smooth rock, skipping first from houston, then into NYC - i had to reconnect with my bestest peeps/sleep in my bed, but like a good skip, they sent me sailing across the pond for yet another home coming...
many years ago when i concocted this crazy idea, i drunkly called up my airline miles and planned a little adventure to a small little city in switzerland. with the little money i had, i purchased a conference ticket and then scouted out ways to stay for free... at the advice of a friend, i found couchsurfing.com and a little technology convergence titled LIFT.
three years later, i'm on LIFT's main stage spewing my crazy idea of my global journey, hugging the world, meeting new friends and still couchsurfing.
now, for the past week and a half i've been in paris bouncing from a friend's couch (the ex-girlfriend who sent me on this journey), picking up the parisian bug, aka the illness (and when i mean illness i mean the desire to live here and i also mean a serious cold), then bouncing into the lovely arms of Dr Miggy whom i met in houston (and was making her first international voyage), and back on to my friend's couch.
during this time (that being the seven months on the road) i've languished in writing, detailing photos, and videos......and i'm just now realizing that only a third of the story is public. luckily, now that the trip is over i don't have to worry about new content, i just have to find a job and series of NYC couches to hold me off for a month... (more to come later)
so now that this journey is physically ending, i'm not gonna worry too much about NEW content. NOW the focus starts on the stories yet to be told... the 50 some odd hours of video a massed. the hundreds of pages scribbled here and there. the thousands of over exposed / underexposed photos that tell more about the people than the places... frankly, the more i think about it, the more it excites me. i now get to relive the journey from the lenses of my self, i now can be the spectator of the adventure i took, and you get to join me!
so seeing how i still haven't found an employer, i can take the liberty to say that i'm going to follow my heart and relaunch this project and look for funding on using following framework... on 07/07/08, i'll reboot the vlog and start all over again giving you weekly episodic content that combines what happened "a year ago" and what's happening now with the movie / book / luck of seven strategic framework (btw, i'm going to crystallize the seven topics into a new cagey / guru need not apply / corporate physiotherapy / "hey look, the geeks at the front of the classroom have social skilz and we're going to harvest an evolution" / < insert your witty t-shirt catch phrase here>)... so in a year's time frame (marchish 2008) all of this should parlay itself into the release of a documentary film...
just so you don't think that this is your uncle's wacky disneyland adventure where you're force fed sugar and told to sit still, this documentary will feature many "call outs" for content... for example, i want a really cool hand drawing video (a-la, make mag's weekend projects / four eyed monster) that sketches the world and colors the continents as i bounced or special effects, etc, etc, etc... in other words, a number of tasks that allow you to help fill-in the kernels of content that i can't pay to produce, nor know how....
long story short, the story is just beginning... below i've selected a few photos that since i last uploaded photos on my last day in ushuaia.
honest dealings with yourself and others. (it's harder than you think)
tipping / gifts are valued in every situation.
wait a min, others are slow to react.
take one step beyond.
beauty is everywhere.
drink lots of water.
make funny faces at kids.
forget hand shakes, hug.
you only need two pairs of underwear.
repeat bad jokes.
learn bad words in other languages.
nap when you can.
always cary earplugs.
in every language, learn to say thank you.
always cary pen and paper.
embrace flip flops (aka thongs or slippers).
always have a camera.
pack lightly. no, lighter.
get your vitamins
pick your friend's nose or learn to trust your friend's nose.
watch one sunrise & sunset a month.
there is an awesome pair of pink safety glasses in Vancouver.
sell your friends, but never for money. don't worry, they come back.
call your parents.
trolly tracks + bicycle + amsterdam = danger will robinson!
enjoy sleep deprivation.
find a rainbow and follow it. if you don't see a rainbow, make one up.
“show your soul” - from souldier
“be still peace will come to you” - old guy in boston
make your own stuff.
fake it, until you make it.
eat and drink local.
when in doubt, try it.
deodorant is cheep and readily accessible.
embrace the weather.
afternoon tea is good for you.
most cabbies will stiff you.
art unlocks more doors than butter knifes.
a smile is priceless.
“smart” people are ignorant, and “nice” people can be rude.
wealth is a mental condition.
turkish ice cream doesn't melt; pheonm phen features happy pizza, and Vancouver is known for their pot. (three things i did not try.)
you'll eat with your hands more than you think. wash your hands and face frequently. don't forget to keep your fingernails clean.
forgo the bus, there is a train that connects melbourne to sydney.
a good book gives you room to write. a better book will write on you.
give people a reason to give.
remember to look in the mirror.
embrace hair or lack of hair.
note your experiments and seek multiple results.
never trust an egyptian customs agent.
befriend the rastafarian at the end of the world.
balls and honor.
look at your footsteps, but don't measure them.
be the first to volunteer.
homeless people want youtube.
digg a fox hole.
join a kickball league.
make dinner and invite random people.
learn new games and teach them to others.
auto white balance is always wrong.
a meal will unlock more hearts than a rainbow.
there are more similarities than differences.
bring toilet paper.
learn to take cold showers.
befriend a quebecer named alex.
don't eat at an american fast food chain in cairo.
religion, practice don't preach.
open your home to strangers.
the holy trinity - happenstance, providence and shit.
outsource your news to people who don't get paid to write it.
politics, policy and pornography will take you nowhere.
religion and commerce are interchangeable
everyone needs something to build.
read, write, build. - jullian bleaker
ride a rocket-ship and tour the stars.
don't take yourself so seriously.
behind the next rock is a new friend.
love is a blind, blubbering hobo who will pass you countless times uttering not a word until one day he knocks you on your ass and gives you a key.
have a back up plan, but don't write it down.
in Argentina they love salt.
never pass up a free meal.
chastity is a virtue.
art is laborious.
embrace manual mode.
the journey starts and ends with sunrises in airports.
when it comes to religion, everyone is right and wrong.
while ignorance was found everywhere, more was found amongst my fellow north americans than anywhere else.
pop music around the world sucks.
bart simpson rules the world.
wolfs are everywhere and so are sheep.
reality is a perception lost to the eyes.
the dude abides.
Recoded: 31 December 2007
Locations: Ushuaia, Argentina
Tags: freestyle hostel, new years eve, bbq, end of the earth, antarctica, adventure, ushuaia, argentina, video diary, luck of seven
Music: highway to hell - AC/DC
About: after a hard day (see episode 38), i head back to the freestyle hostel, for a bit of R & R and one massive blowout. sorry if the last few frames are blurry, but so is my memory past 3 AM... :P
Recoded: 31 December 2007
Locations: Ushuaia, Argentina
Tags: freestyle hostel, michael mccoll, new years eve, end of the earth, antarctica, adventure, ushuaia, argentina, video diary, luck of seven
Music: no rain - blind mellon
About: so it's the last day of the year and after spending a whole day running around town banging out my sneekernet i find an email from michael mccoll stating he's found a way south. so i snag my bags and run to the docks only to find out that it's taken him 6 months to hammer out a deal.
Recoded: 19 December 2007
Locations: Ushuaia, Argentina
Tags: flickr, blogger, photohunt, traveler, end of the earth, ushuaia, argentina, video diary, luck of seven, antarctica, adventure
Music: The Pink Panther Theme - Henry Mancini
About: after being kidnapped by south american aliens and fighting off the torrential downpour of ushuaia, i found a fellow north american for a little photo hunt. for day 4, julie jira (flickr) and i kicked around town discovering the end of the world (flickr photos or slideshow).
Recoded: 16 December 2007
Locations: Ushuaia, Argentina
Tags: end of the earth, ushuaia, argentina, video diary, luck of seven, antarctica
Music: Don't Stop Believin' - Journey; Good Times, Bad Times - Led Zeppelin
About: i've made it to the end of the earth and don't have a ride to antartica. this is his first days' entry in a daily video diary documenting his stupid hitchhiking attempt.
in the days of my youth i was told what it means to be a man...
five and a half months on six continents through 19 countries - spain, ch republic, germany, belgium, UK, france, netherlands, turkey, jordan, israel, egypt, united arab emerats, india, thailand, cambodia, australia, united states, canada, and argentina...
now i've reached that age and i try to do all those things the best i can...
today, i find myself on the eve of the seventh, the last and final continent - antarctica. like most of this trip, i have no set plan of transportation. tomorrow, i will wake up just like every other day and think of a solution.
no matter how i try i find my way into the same old jam...
buried within all of us exist the ability to transcend the normality of life and do something great. to others it might seem grand, and to others extravagant, frivolous and absurd. in the end, it is up to us to make the great decision on how to proceed.
using faith and trust, tomorrow, when i wake up, i will find a solution to my most perplexing problem - how to hitchhike to antarctica.
as i sit and wait for my plane to depart buenos aries, i can't help but rekindle a situation this past week. it amplifies everything i've thought on this trip. apparently to tara hunt i am not trust worthy enough to be an admin on the coworking.info website. yeah, i know this is petty, but bare with me. i do make a good point. apparently, my ownership of the domain and admin status on the wiki doesn't amount to a hill of beans. apparently, the linking of this project on the blogroll on blog.coworking.info was unscrupulous. comically, in our conversation she sights a "community rule" where only "space owners" & "members of the trust network" can have admin access. no were on the wiki nor google group do i find any mention of such conversation... i've asked her for justification and get a different answer each time. i guess i'll just have to trust her that i'm not trust worthy.
for the past five and half months, there has only been one other incident that someone outright questioned my trust. in that situation, the howly roommate of my first hawaian host was suffering on the verge of a complete mental breakdown with issues way beyond her control and need of someone to embody the evil of her white america.
good times, bad times... you know i've had my share...
regardless of tara's or this other woman's mental health, i've placed my own mental health and faith in humanity and surfed unforseen waves of trust. i've placed my lives into countless hands and countless people have trusted me in their homes.
it will forever surprise me that about a thousand people have placed their trust in me and this exploration. i would not be here today if it wasn't for the all the contributors, hosts and guides. thank you!
if you've enjoyed the journey so far, the next three weeks will be a journey unlike any other. sitting at the bottom of the world, i will place my life into the hands of those whom i don't know. fearful i am; in humanity i trust.
lyrics in italics are from led zeppelin's good times bad times...
today, a sad note arrived in my inbox. now that i have my prepay t-mobile account, i'm pissed. txt into twitter works everywhere, but not in america... bitches.
Thanks for your email. Right now we're working on getting pre-paid service supported; at this time, most prepaid phones aren't supported, with the exception of phones using Virgin Mobile. This is because most pre-paid carriers don't support text messaging to short codes, and Twitter uses a shortcode (40404) to send and receive messages. Metro PCS may allow it in some occasions, and Tracfone should work soon, but other than that, it may take some time. Sorry about that, and thanks for your patience!
Technorati Tags: twitter
i'm just a few hours departing from the other-side of the globe, and i can't stop thinking about the mental victory i have accomplished. when i started this trip and for the first two months, i found myself struggling to leap over my own fears and jump into a different mental state. to be honest, this journey was conceived from a state of frustration. almost like a bad dream, i can feel the the veil removed.
i know i say this with a bit of pomp, but climbing around the world really does change one's perspective. yet, for some reason i want to think that i sought out to find a new world. in reality, i sought out this world with a blank slate and a big scooping of faith. when my first few steps skipped across europe, i was scared. i was really really scared. hell, i'm still scared that i won't make it back to NYC, but i have faith that i will. i have faith that regardless of the two negative commons i've received. i have faith this journey will widen the door on a dream we all hold, but find buried in the back of our storage units.
as i've said before, i have faith in the opportunities we construct and the hope of bringing everyone along. when i look across the global horizon, i no longer see a sunset but opportunity. i see faces i don't yet know. i see a world mired in problems and misconceptions. more importantly, i see how simple ideas of inspiration can create a world of faith.
now that i've woken up, climbed out of bed and picked out the eye snot, it's time to realize i have a little over a hundred more days on the road.
i am at my halfway point.
for the past two days i've been blessed to meet some of sydney's most unique personalities. from pia who started dorkbot sydney, piers who built his own open-source content management system, emily who is organizing a one day festival of inspiration, to juan who has given out free hugs for the past three years... these four presented simple ideas to invigorate community and help grow the global grassroots.
thursday, yesterday and today, i was blessed with a unique opportunity to hang out with juan mann and charlie, his silent accomplice. when i first walked up to juan and gave him a hug, a smile grinned from ear to ear.
yesterday, i was amazed to discover that juan and charlie, like noneck, is just an assumed identity. in a world filled with assumptions, it was amazing to find juan and charlie working to break the barriers of our walled gardens. through love and faith, juan has opened his arms and now (pseudoly convinced charlie) to open their home.
embracing a world of strangers is nothing new. inviting them into their living room is something totally new. actually, juan's take on open culture is interesting. sure he knows about couchsurfing, creative commons and open source. up until he decided to open his living room it didn't really have anything to do with his day to day... now that he's embarking on a open door policy, he's opening the door to open source and open culture.
the follow is intended as a primer for juan's new vlog/blog/social media endeavor. seeing how we both want to see more community based content, i'm going to share my thoughts and let you decide on what to do next...
first, one should think about the character you want to play. are you a devil? are you an angel? are you both? do you happen to look like a super model? does it matter?!
NOPE! if you're thinking about being a real character, do it... who cares?!?! it's your show... remember, on the internet no one knows you are a dog...
now you've realized that you are a dog, you have to think about many things... the dog house, the lawn, where your dog house is located, the fancy dish bowl, the sleeping mat, the food, the collar, the flea spray (which is a must if you're traveling around the world) and most importantly... the color of your dog house. (btw, there's no real correlation between the dog metaphor and what i'm going to write so don't be looking into the deeper meaning. just remember it is a dog eat dog world. RUFF!)
the dog house / your camera and/or studio... what type of environment are you going to set up in? is it loud? do you plan on going outside? do really want to have michael jackson's 80's "beat it" poster on the wall. if you're like me... it's a yes to all of them... if you're going to be outside, think of a camera that has an external mic connection and a mechanism to hold a shot gun mic. if you've got the dog food, see if you can find a camera with an XLR input. honestly, get your hands on different camera models, and see what works for you. don't trust one blog over another.
if you are in a pinch, get a cheap camera with an external audio input and purchase the external audio input contraption. 99% of sound from built in mics SUCK. any-who, if you're going to be uploading to youtube, your video quality doesn't need to be super high def. just make sure you get good sound!
btw, since you let me sleep on your set, it's important to tell your host's not to wear white or a color that matches your couch. i'm sure 6 months from now you'll be playing with 70's special effects and will find yourself in a world of hurt when the blouse of the most recent drug addict knocks on your door and happens to match the paint. so make sure you have a color contrast, and for stage lighting you might want to invest in some dim bulbs for your midnight reading/bathroom lamp/shop light.
the color of your dog house / think of your audience. who's your community? who's your audience? how can you tap them to make a difference? are the first questions you should ask... roll the dice on the first few hours of footage. from my observation, be yourself. you're one hell of a guy and the world needs to know the awesomeness charlie gets to love...
the lawn / the community. first, don't poop willy nilly. when you "gotta go" make sure it's not dumping too hard on someone. second, make sure you try everything in your power to participate and help build up a local (sydney) vlogger community. (maybe the first should go before the second? but if you're crazy character, #1 should come before #2... shit, i now see another pun... oh, and there is another one...)
if there's not a regular vlogger drinking session, create one. if there's not a monthly social, start one. if you don't know whom to invite, poke around metro blogger email lists on google or yahoo (if they exist), otherwise type in ("city"+video+rant) into a search engine, and then email the first gnarly video. you can also tap into the local barcamp, dorkbot or associative geek/art communities.
finally, when you get a really popular show or if you are already a young adventurous producer, investigate NING, but more importantly, check out the jetset show's mix or ask a ninja's fan club - it's pretty much hit every nail on it's head penetrating a nice solid cross pollination between show and interactivity.
(insert zadi's signature snaps here.)
the fancy dish bowl & dog food. let's say you are like juan and want to invite random people from the internet to your house. here's a tip... invite your friends to seed the show then you'll have coned the world people are really coming to your house.
more importantly, think of your friends and how their personalities can make you comfortable in front of a camera. then start recording. friends are GREAT subjects of experimentation. then, work your way up the food chain and invite random people whom you've had contact with over the past few years.
the sleeping mat, or your editing station and workflow. first, don't think you need some fancy-dancy laptop, hard drive, camera, software. i started off using a three year old powerbook, imovie and a borrowed camera. now i'm using a macbook with final cut express and a camera that is somewhat a pain in the ass to log footage.
if you are going to jump into the HD pond, it's a pain in the ass to stay afloat. to boot, finding the time to encode, edit, mix, then re-encode and upload is time consuming. just getting the hang of different editing techniques is a whole bag of wax that will make you envy Madame Tussaud. (the subconscious translation of this para - don't follow in my foot steps, by buying a camera and think it will be a simple flickr upload. it's snot, but with enough time and nasal decongestant you will become a pro!)
the food, the grub / getting your shit out there. i use blip.tv for web playback / syndication engine. what does that mean? once i've uploaded a quicktime file, i can wrap my podcast into my drupal blog and then configure (what seems like) a million and one other external connections to host my show. (por juan) then again, you have youtube connections and you shouldn't be scared in uploading your show to multiple locations... just look at the jetset show or rocketboom and see the multiple feeds they produce. it really does pay off to be diverse.
i would also advise a simple blogging engine like wordpress or blogger (if you're going to tap the google bling). BUT!!! i would highly advise that you look for a solution that wraps your blog's content and your video/audio content into the same RSS / XML feed. if it can't be done, you really shouldn't use it as your blogging engine. i know drupal can do it, but then again i know drupal can also make a vegimite and cucumber sandwich. (yes, drupal is that cool!!!)
the collar, the bling, or the communication network. social network sites, photostream, twitter, etc...
after spending three days with you AND your personality, i would go full tilt and start making your life transparent. first, it's all about wielding a bat in a china shop... don't be scared to be audacious in mobile comments (twitter) or candid photos of finefair tuna cans (flickr) and then when it comes to your blog, kick out the jams. you AND your personality are prime candidates for an MD from interweb comedical university. only you can resuscitate an exhausted web wasted world.
the flea spray, or how to keep the pests away. sadly, you invited me in and you're going to need to order some of this... :P
ok. that's all the free advice i can afford. after this, any consulting must be payed in hugs or good jokes... i'm so honored to have you as my friend!
simon slater, a fellow traveler from the UK and around america 2.0's cousin, emailed me a bunch of really good questions.
when i taught at Digital Bridge Camp, i had an opportunity to meet fellow vlogger freeman murray. though our frank discussions, we agreed that once on the road it's hard to reflect. if you have any questions, comments, ideas, concepts, feedback or suggestions - i'm always open to new ideas.
if you've been following my twitter feed, i've recently had to respond to some unjust criticism. hopefully, the critical party will allow me to publicly post my response. until then, here are my thoughts to simon's questions.
1. How have you gone about finding agents of social change, and can you describe the outcome of the most notable meeting? Have you discovered any new ideas that can be shared? Have you come across any major environmental breakthroughs?
one question? looks like a three parter to me... :P finding agents of social change has been a bit easier to find than original imagined. i have a fair share of sources that i read (slashdot, globalvoices, other blogs) then i have friends and contacts who've been monitoring different conversations to provided extra input. for example, i was exchanging a few ideas on a facebook "wall-to-wall" when Mary Joyce, chimed in and sent me a list of email address, urls and phone numbers of people whom i should contact in cairo. very helpful and super timely.
the most notable meeting was with stalin k. of drishti media collective and video volunteers. through their work, a few rural villages in india have their own video news magazine. with a majority of the population "uneducated" and "illiterate", drishti and video volunteers helps organize small groups of regional villagers to create citizen video units or CVUs. these citizen video units film, edit, produce their own stories, detailing their solutions to rural problems. every month, the video is presented in regional rural villages and conversations are held discussing the subjects from jungle malaria remedies, farming tips or general news of who's doing what.
in short, the villagers create their own media. as we move from one form of entertainment to another, we too need think about our own citizen video units.
as for major environmental breakthroughs, naw... we're still screwed... i think my major breakthrough came when i went to the local markets in india and cambodia and saw that everyone uses plastic bags and plastic bottles. then when i walked the surrounding streets, i saw the same type of bags littered everywhere. if we really want to clean up our environment and change the way the world works, we need to change the way we think. connivence isn't everything.
2. During events where people from the world of vlogging and blogging come to meet and share ideas, is there a general consensus on a particular direction that the world of SNS is taking us, or are the possibilities endless?
well, it depends on whom you ask. some think it's going to augment or replace the news-reporters of tomorrow. other's think their blog is the end all be all. if you ask me, i'm tired of living in a broadcast world. if video killed the radio star, vlogs killed TV. i see the future of media in outlets like Alive in Baghdad, Video Volunteers, Jetset, The Burg.tv... well that's just to name my friends... these outfits throw debt to the wind and refuse to allow anyone else dictate their "feed"... somewhere between networked journalism and citizen journalism is the future. (see jay rosen & jeff javius for more fun)
in reality, the possibilities are endless. one has to think of the internet and the devices that connect to the network it as tools. these tools, like hammers and shovels, can be used to build or destroy anything. from complete virtual worlds to a simple connection between two people, i don't see these "things" as just tools but pathways connecting emotions. regardless of where emotions happen, they are real. the other reality is that this world can easily be flipped and everything we do can be monitor, tracked and controlled. chris messina wrote an interesting piece on "big sister" but until that day, we still have agents of power "reforming" long lasting liberties into shadows of their former self. just take a look at the past three issues of the economist where they detailed the erosion of civil liberties within britain and the united states.
wether it's a hammer, shovel or iphone, i prefer to see tools build society not destroy it. then again, anything is possible... we could be nursing a life force that will kill us one day by building the next atom bomb. as of today, science fiction has turned out to be fairly real. who knows what's next?!?!
3. Your trip aims to inform and inspire ideas among its viewers. Considering the high number of young people taking gap years before and after higher education, in what other ways do you think people can follow your example without necessarily repeating your idea? Did you have any other plans formulated before embarking on 'luck of seven'?
actually, i started this trip to educate my parents on the work that i've done. it's since then, i've found my own inspiration within the voices of everyone whom i've met. i think that the "gameboy" or "myspace" or "facebook" generation needs to see how their goods are produced... it doesn't really matter what you consume, there needs to be some type of physical connection to the items we consume from cold air conditioned shelfs.
first, i know that i'm really lucky to have the fortunate to make this voyage. as every day passes, i think about how we can change our lives to help others and make this mess a bit tidier. internal and external exploration is the key. i see the world a bit more conservative than i first thought, but also very friendly. you don't have to have a penny to be nice. dream frequently and follow your passion. if we only have one life, make sure it counts for something. if we have more than one, let them build on top of each other... last time i checked, there is only one earth but a several billion people on it... question everything, explore what you can and try to understand the rest.
did i have any plans other plans? yes, but being the first lawyer on mars really doesn't seem to be appealing.
4. Could you explain what you mean when you say there is an 'art' to discovering, for example, someones facebook page?
yes and no. when i talk about discovering people i talk about two things - a physical meeting and an online meeting. as there are tricks to meeting people, there are tricks in meeting people online.
a physical meeting is the hardest. one has to be inquisitive and highly adventurous to ask the right questions that lead to a common bond to build a platform for further conversation. regardless of gender, it is a simple pickup line. with native english speakers it's easier. with ESL (english second language) it becomes harder but ten times more rewarding. i say it's an art because like art it is hard to find the beauty within everyone. i know everyone has something worth admiring.
as for meeting people online, most people place a good deal of personal information into their profile, and therefore it's easy to "profile" people. more importantly, it's easy to find people with similar interest. when it comes down to couchsurfing, there is a great deal of trust between two parties. therefore it's important to look at someone's profile details and see if they share similar interests (photos, interests, groups, books, movies, etc). it sounds easier than reality. sometimes i'm right, sometimes i'm wrong. most of the time, i'm right about a few things and wrong about others. in the end it comes down to the adventure.
also, i can't help to think that it helps looking like broad brutish male. when i seek adventure, i feel safe knowing many people won't give me flack. when i talk to female friends about their adventures, there always seems to be a question of physcial security that never comes to mind when i travel. then again, huixian he, a petite female friend in pheom phen, has traveled a good deal of asia by herself. sure she's had a few bad experiences, but she's always has her running shoes.
in the end, looking like a sucker will always get you into trouble. having a positive outlook and being ready for anything is the best way to take on the world. it takes a great deal to escape your comfort zone, but meeting the world is well worth it. i'd like to think that there are more of "us" than "them."
5. Will you be seeking a platform for greater recognition of potentially important ideas that you have gathered once you have returned? Will this branch out to other media and if so how?
yes and no. besides my blog, vlog and photos - i'm writing a children's book, seven lessons learned from the seven continents. maybe an adult piece detailing the intimate parts of my insanity. without a doubt, i will make a documentary film of this journey. when on the road you have a great deal of time to think. i think these ideas and the solutions to these ideas are worth their weight in gold.
in the end, i'd like to think that i'm a simple man, but my girlfriends will tell you otherwise. i see many wrongs that need to be corrected. i also see many complex problems that have simple solutions. where i go after this is unknown. while i would love to have greater recognition of the ideas, these are complex ideas with simple solutions mired in selflessness. i still have a much to learn about the seven issues i have selected, the world that embody them and the best way to discover solutions to our problems.
6. And finally, if Jack Karouac was the inspiration of the term 'beat generation', does this new couch surfing movement have a name?
man that's heavy. if you look at history, you'll always find travelers and 'beatniks.' i'd like to think we are more than 'surfers'. every statistic says we (the global digital middle class) are driving quickly into a world where we refuse to accept broadcast solutions. (i need to find sources, but i know they exist! until then i will just refer to the ecology of free culture solutions that i am exploring on this journey.)
"starfish and the spider" is a simple book that illustrates examples of centralized and decentralized networks. if you look at decentralized networks, you see a starfish. if a starfish is cut in half, it will regenerate the other half. if you look at centralized networks you see a web. if you cut a spider or a web in half, you destroy the network.
as the old New Yorker cartoon illustrates "no one knows your a dog on the internet." i now see generations spanning the technological divide. as our ideas grow, replicate and get remixed, i see us in an androgynous world. frankly, regardless of time zone, age, gender, race, income and nationality we are making a starfish generation.
my flight to OZ was enjoyable. jammed in the tail with a young newly wedded couple, we shared our stories of phuket over a bowl of noodles. as the husband dozed, i composed my thoughts on a road-trip across the outback.
upon arrival i found a short line for foreign nationals and expected to breeze right through. after a small delay with my "T" status. i was stamped through passport control into a customs waiting area.
being honest, i had check off the small little box saying "hi, i've been in close contact with farm animals." not that i actually touched any animals, but seeing how i was in the rural india country side i decided to play it safe. if they looked at my passport and asked me questions, i'd rather play it safe than attempt to hide anything.
apparently, that one little box, was enough "material" to lead me down a long road of questions, interrogation and bone shaking discomfort.
as i've kicked around filling out passport/customs cards, i normally enter researcher as my job title. in egypt, blogger or journalist might have received extra scrutney. in india, i entered as a "researcher" giving a "presitation" at a few barcamps. only on my entry into the UK did i recessive questioning on what type of research. everywhere else, my passport was scanned, noted and stamped without question.
in OZ i spent an hour preaching to the uneducated. confused and bewildered, the customs agent wanted to connect every physical little thing with the "research" i was doing. armed with thoughts of rejection, i started to get nervous.
then when i offered to show my website and a few videos, the customs agent eagerly said yes.
my downfall came when i presented my laptop with a lovely little sticker from CLUB 27. you know the lonely club of famous artists who have died for one reason or another at 27. drug overdose, murder, suicide - jannis joplin, jimmy hendrix, kurt kurbain - the image of a shotgun and sureng clued her that i might be a drug dealer. i then spent 20 mins answering my drug history. from my first puff to my accent in amsterdam i gave her a detailed history of accidents, pranks and idiotic.
on the outside my voice cracked, my hands shook and sweat pored down my face.
in the eyes of god, her majesty the queen and this female customs agent i walked into OZ.
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
busted flat in baton rouge, and heading for the trains. feeling nearly faded as my jeans...
- me and bobby mcgee
well i'm pretty much screwed today.
i arrived in U.A.E. with full expectation of the arab digital hub to be bustling. turbans, burkas and other head covering struggling to stay on their owner as Dubai's internet super highway turns each mobile into a sandstorm.
on the contrary, i find myself in Sharjah's airport filled with dust. jack hammers and chemical cleaners peel back years of neglect. while wifi is abundant (albeit expensive), power outlets are a premium. if you finally find one not taped over, one must fight a construction worker or fellow traveler desperately trying to charge their mobile, PSP or archos.
as for the first class/business lounge... i was already dejected and escorted out. the lady had it in for me when she peered through her eyeshadow caked arabic eyelids. then there was the fact i was not a first class ticket holder nor do i "look" as if i was on business. through her broken english and calling for "the" boss, our ten minute interlude concluded with me, my laptop, and my funky power plug walking out in disgust. honestly, i was on my best behavior!
with hard drive and powerstrip in hand, my rapidly depleting battery will soon sauce my mental anguish. as i hammer out these last few words, my soul is enveloped by AC/DC's "highway to hell", a chorus of a fifty screaming children, a few jack hammers, and a sole floor buffer.