this photo is from today's jelly at house 2.0. check out the work at jelly flickr group for more photos.
happy 2nd birthday to "work at jelly!"
today, i headed uptown to House 2.0 for a bit of organic coworking and to be a member of "24 hours of jelly." if you haven't heard of jelly, it's really something you should check out... (you should also check out episode 3 when i visited jelly last summer).
what is jelly? imagine opening up your house to the coolest people in the world and just geeking out. well, that's jelly. sometimes it's super productive (like two weeks ago in brooklyn) or it turns into a gab fest when a CNN reporter shows up. eatherway, it's one of the best ways to meet new people and extend your social network.
it really doesn't take much to host a jelly - set a date, email your friends and set up a wiki. yup, it's that simple. i hope to jell with you some time soon!
well, it's weird to pen or type these words, but the noneck officially has returned to NYC. at 14h30 on the wings of Swiss Air LX22, he arrived at JFK and rode the A to the L and into the arms of brooklyn coworking. ok, the weridist part is that he's jobless, homeless but never friendless.
for the next month and a half while he sorts out the odd jobs, couches, spare bedrooms, empty nests and the sort... feel free to shoot him a line, invite him for dinner and let him sleep on your couch. just don't ask him when he's going to shave or cut his hair... he's going to milk those for a while...
speaking of milking or shall i say working with your hands. brooklyn coworking is going to be hosting brooklyn jelly this week, too boot there's going to be a bit of an open house. so if you're interested in meeting the myth over a cup of joe, join the jellies!
whoa! if there were two cities that i would call a couple, it would be paris and new york. it absolutely astonishes me to look up and see a crystal clear blue sky, with a subway rubbling the ground beneath my feet and amazingly the most polite people on earth... well except for one short little man who must have separated ways with his identical twin brother... and while one terrorizes the politeness of new york, the other fines his vain in paris.
it's my last full day in paris. it's a monday. the sky is blue and the air a bit crisp. my friend lucia and her roommate are somewhere between barcelona and paris and i have two appointments and one unscheduled stop.
first i run to art-and-you.com to interview mary-noelle - beyond the crazy story that she and i share a mutual friend in nyc and discover that we share a mutual friend of a friend in geneva. mary-noelle and i talk (ie she talks and i record) about how art-and-you.com has yet to "officially" launch but is already becoming a well heeled video staple in the Parisian art community. using the fine video skills of friends, art-and-you offers a unpretentious view of art, the galleries, the styles and all the jazz one would normally spend four or five years studying. too boot, they have an online space for artists to upload images of their work to be critiqued from the global community of nobodies like you and me BUT also notable curators, artists, and people who are blessed with societies' knowledge of art.
now here's the best part and why it ties into the whole coworking tiff. art-and-you just doesn't work online, but they have the necessity for their OWN ART gallery. yeah that's right, they need a physical space for work to be displayed, events to be held, and a location to lasso their community... in my mind, it's not too far from the average plight of a normal startup or independent worker.
btw, they also have a partnership where parisian bars and pubs select from art-and-you's catalogue to add ambiance. if you like what you see online, well just run down the street and see if it suits your fancy. it's amazing that this is this a whole network to educated people in art, where to find art, and also how to collect art! currently, if you go to art-and-you's gallery, you'll find a young collector's pieces and a workshop on how to become an art collector. RAD? yah, i think so. btw, next year they're bringing this program to brooklyn!!
around 12h45, i met with mary-noelle's husband, ludoovic dardenay. sidenote, ludo's business partner in World Zhulu Corporation is in china and with my drupal buddies jacob redding and robert scales, the three will talk about drupal in china at drupalcon 08 in boston... but back to ludo's problem, first here's an excellent example of a modern technogenious. the man is bucking the french trend and working hard to start businesses. yes, that plural. apparently (i only use this word because i no longer have access to the economist report on france's markets and how they prevent startups) france has a major problem in startups. most of this has to do with labor law and taxes and the fact that people are guaranteed employment, healthcare, pensions, etc... you know, all the good things that americans so despearatly want but corperations and governments use the french example to thwart.
so ludo's got three business in the oven - the geek consultancy (aka a drupal development shop), a film production company and a restaurant - oh and he's working on a vineyard (yeah, did i mention he's french?) so ludo's problem is multifold (and i'm not talking about the two cell phones that he carries). ludo needs an insprational center where he can be connected with a community of communities and find other young startups or independents that need complementary services... the reason why he needs this "concierge" service is convoluted and maybe as an american i can just say that it is a french way of doing things. needless to say, the nature of an individual who's as a awesome as ludo no longer needs to toy with some henchmen nor a social networking shite. ludo now has a location in central paris where he can go and suss out problems or clients. the solution - la cantine - it is parisian for coworking.
after our conversation, i ran back to the subway and ran into mary-noelle (she was on her way to a meeting at ludo's office; i'm telling you this couple is mad busy. i was happy to have the few hours i had with them :* ). as my last day in paris, i had to track down the latest development of paris ideal of coworking. two weeks ago, i got a little email reminder that la cantine is open for business.
heading back to the same general direction i came from, i found myself at the same metro stop i exited to meet mary-noelle. nussled down the street from the grand boulevards metro stop, i discovered one of the thousand little side alleys of commerce. wrapped in the dusklating sunlight, i entered under a scaffolding to the ideal of many independent / freelance workers.
behind the store front glass stood none other than christophe. he appeared to be an introductory meeting of some sorts. now christophe is another one of those crazy french guys. it had been seven months since christophe and i last met. then it was a hot summer day and i was running into town and he was running to mediate some labor dispute. over multiple shots of coffee we discussed the future of coworking and his ideals of a location in paris. (see the video)
as i stood in front of the door, i hesitated to enter. i knew once i entered this threshold, i would spend a minimum of a few hours talking to people, asking questions and figuring out what does coworking mean to them. for a second, i thought i could just come back in a few mins... but my heart was racing, beads of sweat were growing. if i didn't know better, i would think this was love at first sight.
it could have been a small mirror that bounced off an upper floor window and onto a plate glass which illuminated the inside... but to me it seemed as if god sneezed light. as i walked through the front door, the cafe erupted in color. orange, green, white and black... (btw, in france black is a god given color.) while my photos provide no justice... the place is a palace
wrapped in projectors, outlets, wifi, and ample desk-space. the 11 day old facility has become a hive of parisian geek culture. according to marie noeline (i kid you not, it's another NOEL!) the space is used every night by geeks wanting to come by, hang out and hive. from drupal to wordpress, from php to ruby, from barcamp mashup to impromptu troubleshooting sessions. la cantine is the place to see and be seen.
as the training wheels are adjusted, cost of the space is variable. since the palace is managed by silicon sentier, a concierge for parisian startups, and there are partnerships with the likes of upgrade, dorkbot, orange labs, fing, city of paris, cap digital - so they are looking to cast their net far and wide. if you have a chance, drop by.
and casting the net far and wide is just what two users of the space are working on... karen and vincent are working on a traveling book series. this is not just about travelers and their stories, but the travels their stories take. if you hop on over to http://traverses-lelivre.com you'll be able to track down copies of a book that feature their own serial number and feature a series of french stories from around the world... sometime this summer, karen and vincent are going to purchase two mules and walk from portugal to the netherlands. too boot, over the summer karen is going to release a series of books she's written and a DVD of her trip where she walked from paris to istanbul and then rode a bike to Jerusalem. awesome, i think so!
with the day waning on, marie noeline found a few more mins for me and we started making lists of what she needs and what resources i knew. we talked about the coworking email list - "work at jelly" - collaborative art conferences - conflux - unconferences and the like... in the end, she kept on saying "what do you want this place to be?" if you're in paris don't pass up this opportunity, you have a free space filled with all the resources the city has to offer.
by the time the sun was below the horizon, my friend lucia came to pick me up. seriously, i felt like a kid at playschool not wanting to leave my new friends... and as lu and i were walking the front door out a group of artists were setting up an interactive floor display. this floor is installed every night for development while the artists hammer on the software... seriously, i almost did turn to my friend and said, "can we stay longer?" but alas, i just made another resolve to find a mechanic to fix my motorboat so i can come back and forth as i please.
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!
it is day 13 at the end of the earth.
for the past 13 days, i've documented my story via video. so far, i've kicked out 8 videos and wake up every morning staring south at my last challenge. check out my holiday request and repost it to the rest of the world.
every door that has opened has not opened to antarctica. instead, i find myself in a small town with a few new friends and a long list of admirers. i really haven't had a day to myself, and the constant challenges have tested every level of my being. i am now up against a brick wall fighting through negative thoughts and working hard to keep my spirt up.
i have made it to the end of the earth and very few make it past this point. as of today, it is unlikely that i will find a commercial voyage that i can barter. despite that everyone says the same thing - i will not give up holding up my sign - "will work for antarctica." i know there are still untested door knobs (or if you are on a boat, latches). nonetheless, it's time to explore the last foreseeable option.
voyaging on a cruse is not cheap. if you make it to ushuaia, a last min ticket costs in the vicinity of $7,000 USD. fuel will cost another $200 USD, and then one is forced to purchase emergency medical and evacuation insurance at $200 USD. with taxes and jazz, i'm looking at almost $8,000 USD.
i have traveled around the world on the trust and hospitality of the world! i have traveled to the end of the earth exploring our social networks. i have placed my life into the hands of the internet, and you have carried me to the end of the earth. no longer is this one man's dream; i know the world is watching.
by the end of next year, i promise you an inspiring movie that will rock your socks and bring you to tears. if you contribute, i promise you a children's book. i promise your faith, your trust, your love will be rewarded! just as the world has given me it's love, all content will be given freely for the world to view. i have trusted the world and together we stand strong.
i know to some it might sound absurd to make it to the end of the earth and not try what i've tried all along... so i'm going to do what i've done best: asking you, mr and ms internet to help. so here's kick... link to chipin widget for $8000. if you have the chance to give, please do... if you are a corporation and want to sponsor the rest of the journey, feel free... contact me.
if you have cruse contacts or an ace up your sleeve, help a brother out. :)
ps - if you feel that this is a frivilous cause and one shouldn't spend a single cent on this exploration - consider contributing to Alive in Baghdad (community journalism) or The Frozen Pea Fund (breast cancer awareness).
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...
i'm sending you this message in hopes that you can help me complete this journey in a fan-tabulious manor. from the 13 - 28 i am planning on cruising the streets of Sao Paulo with options to visit Rio and the Federal District.
from the outside, brazil seems to have adopted / promoted open-source at every level of government and culture. i would love to prove this or disprove it if it is incorrect. from what i've read, it seems that everything points to the fact that brazil is the foremost adopter of open source and creative commons. with that in mind, i would love to interview people who are influential and users / benefactors of open conversations. for example, i am looking for internet cafe owners who couldn't exist without work government funding of open-source programs or teachers, educators, schools that couldn't use computers without open source.
it is important for me to gather footage that completes the full circle of open source - from a geek's passion, to government funding, to non-profit training, to an educator's use or a business owner making profit / serving the community, to a user participating in the local/global community. since i don't know Portuguese nor do i know all of the players, i hope you can help me connected the dots and help me place brazil as the keystone on this global documentary.
in the meantime, i'm also looking for couches to surf, random art events to attend and peers to meet. consider me just a one man camera crew with a framework. please use me to help you document your community and compile your story with the global story of open source and free culture.
can you help me translate this in portuguese and help me communicate with all the nodes?
the midwest is a funny place. i know that every place i've gone and meet a fellow midwesterner, i've always found a feller of good company.
smack dab in regional stereotypes, the east and west look at my home state as a humble populous smack dab in between cornfields and coal mines, to the north a short congressman who's vegan and running for president and to the south, the home of makers mark.
i, on the other-hand know something a bit different. i know that ohio is home to six us presidents (that makes it second to NY to the number of US presidents)! i know ohio is home to the wright brothers, thomas edison, granville woods, charles kettering, blue jacket, and tecumseh.
i know that when the economy of the US is on the rocks, ohio has been on the rocks for a few months longer. i know that when the housing market crashes, i can find a desperate home owners in ohio. i know when ohio votes for a president, that president wins.
i know that ohio is at the heart of it all!
as my skybus descended through the clouds, i saw magnificent fields of crops and never-ending suburban sprawl. when the wheels made contact with earth, the precipitation contacting the plane was sleet. yet i new this was no cold welcoming. i walked out of a warm aircraft and flip-floped my way across a cold tarmac into one of the oldest airports in american history, port columbus international airport.
through the maze of walkways, foot paths, escalators, and ramps, i found my anxious parents, impatient brother and a very slow baggage claim. (in all honestly, the slowest baggage claim is in ahmedabad india. in a town known for their ice cream consumption to be some of the highest in the world, ahmedabad's baggage trollers are greased with sugar and grind to a halt the min any traveler has a destination with a time line.)
...back to columbus... so after a brief recapitulation of the past four months, i found myself in a new (circa 2000) lexus with an electronic navigator and heated seats. though the drizzle, i saw what i knew best, middle america. little did i know that in less than an hour i would find myself knee deep in the muddy river we call the future... surrounded by more questions than answers, i sat in the back seat, chewed on wendy's double patties jalapenoioed cheese hamburger.
slamming a frosty, gulping a dr. pepper and devouring a burger rocketed my shuga levels to another planet. with extremely high levels of fidgety uncertainty, my family and i shook off the sleet and walked into cosi's new GIGANTIC new museum.
COSI, for those of you who are not familiar with columbus, is the center of science and industry. it a commercialized name for columbus' equivalent of a natural history museum. since, ohio developed through the industrial revolution, the monicker "industry" is added for full crowed pleasing affect. too boot, many of the exhibits are underwritten by captains of industry.
in this new iteration of the COSI, WOSU (the broadcast wing ohio state university and home to central ohio's public radio) collaborated in the construction of a monstrosity community TV studio. tucked away in a building open 9 - 5, most of the center was under-utilized... well that was until, this evening when 40 some odd bloggers, tv and radio personalities, newspaper readers, citizens of the greater community, my parents, my brother and i (all daytonion carpetbaggers) got together to discuss one question - "What can we do together that we cannot do alone to make the community better using Social Media."
walking into a TV studio with a ring a chairs and a camera pointed on half of the ring scares many people. it damn near gave me a heart attack, i didn't not expect to be on camera nor did i expect such a group gear up for video documentation. despite the prevalence of camcorders, very few east coast groups have attempted video documentation of their events. too boot, if you've seen a recent picture of me, you'll know that my hobbitin height, bearded facial monstrosity and orange cap always seems to be a bit out of place. surveying the room and seeing many clean shaven folk most in "i just got out of work" attire, i was highly self conscious of a formal meeting with a structured sessions of "we want this" and "can you tell us how solve our problems."
first, up on the wall was a matrix of time slots and locations.
second, i saw a poster advertising the "law of two feet" - Law of Two Feet (also known as the Law of Mobility in settings where participants don't necessarily have the use of both feet) -- a foot of passion and a foot of responsibility -- expresses the core idea of taking responsibility for what you love. In practical terms, the law says that if you're neither contributing nor getting value where you are, use your two feet (or available form of mobility) and go somewhere where you can. It is also a reminder to stand up for your passion. (from wikipedia)
third, i saw the four principles of open space (from wikipedia)...
- Whoever comes are the right people
- Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
- Whenever it starts is the right time
- When it's over, it's over
when the facilitator started speaking, my sugga kicked into overdrive and my fidgeting exploded in excitement... i've traveled the world, and there in front of me, there in columbus, ohio, i was watching the future of news. there in front of me sat a diverse group of community members who had come together to discuss how WOSU and COSI can better serve the community.
in the buckeye state i watched the future of "broadcast" media unfold.
in nyc, i've helped organized many of these open space events, and after a serendipitous meeting of david cohn at BarCamp NYC 2, the two of us bounced many ideas off of each other to work on CopyCamp - an unconference for community journalism. (we are in the process of formulating a grander conversation on how open space conversations can improve journalism - both citizen and professional - for now join the google group and let's corral a few news agencies into thinking that this is a good idea.)
for 15 mins, the group sat around trying to understand the next two hours. as people gathered ideas for conversation, people grabbed a sheet of paper, wrote down their two cents and found a space to do discuss the topic. while i desperately wanted to chat about so many things, i wondered how much would i be perceived as a foreigner. with my bearded hobbitin status in full effect, i wrote something down and waited to see who would pose a topic that seemed more suitable. i didn't have to wait too long to get, andrew, from elephants on bicycles, to propose a topic that sounded like "the future of citizen journalism."
after over staying our allotted time, we log rolled from topic to topic... from trust, to linkage, to content, to business models, to the definition of "broadcasting"... on and on, the room tumbled in conversation from Robin Mizell, copyeditor & former newassignment.net contributor, to mike thompson, director of news and public affairs, to susan meyer director of communications and organization planning at WOSU, to tim eby, station manager of WOSU radio, some upper crust members of COSI's management, to a few guys from the barcamp ohio group... and that's just to some of the more vocal members of the group... there was conversational buy in from so many divers parties.
as we ran through the second alloted time session, many ideas splashed up at us..
- FIRST, continue exploring by hosting more open space events that invite the community to help shape the future. just remember, rome was not built overnight.
- use the COSI/WOSU facility as home base for Columbus's tech community (aka meetups, *camps, more open space events, etc).
- investigate the marriage of freelancers and independent workers within a COSI café (aka coworking). also, don't be afraid of turning to daytime events like "work at jelly" to help crystalize personal relationships. (apparently, an international network of science centers is studying how to keep them self community relevant. if anyone can send me contacts, that would be awesome!)
- open up more WOSU programing for community participation by bringing in community experts (specifically expert bloggers, and not just local ones). comically, when we were talking about "experts" or "bloggers" the criteria came from the same place... people who know their stuff and can accurately augment a show. (btw, one should note that mike thompson, director of news and public affairs already pulls in bloggers to augment his line of pundants)
- point listeners/viewers/community members in direction of online communities that feature topical conversation.
- bring in new media students as interns (aka slave labor) and have them experiment with "professional programming" (i use this term in the looses sense, please see my previous blog post.)
- don't just say it, but embrace it!
- one the shortcomings seemed to stem from the fact that no one was employed 100% to understand the intricacies of new media, community, and exploration. everyone seemed to say, "well, that sounds like a bit of this and that..." yeah, in reality it is a bit of this and that...
in the end what we discussed is nothing new. if you look at talk radio, if you look at community programming, if you look at community centers, or anything that loops community, conversation, and construction - you will find time tested models of engagement. there is nothing wrong with frailty, this is what has placed WOSU/COSI into this position. there is nothing wrong with failure. we must read, write and created or in this case listen, communicate and create. the only way traditional broadcast will survive is to find a symbiosis between a relevant/profitable business model and community - if your listeners are talking, are you listing?
hats off to WOSU and COSI, the facilitators, and community members. you took the leap of faith.... now it's a collective job to find the tussling logs will sustain the weight and carry everyone.
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 ;)
(photo flickr user jpmatth, click on image for the amazing original!)
with my long distance train adventures in north america, i've always wondered how the united states can kick out the jams and revolutionize it self as a leader in long distance transportation. if you've ever ridden a long distance train, you know the beauty of sitting back and letting the conductor do the driving. in north america, it's not always the quickest, but it sure is the most beautiful journey. away from the distractions of modernity and transportation infrastructure, amtrak takes one though the wondrous back road of america.
with a verizon EDVO usb adapter connected to my mac and my mac plugged into one of the few three pronged 120 volt electrical outlets, i'm cruising the country side working away at changing the world.
while the food is hearty, it's really not healthy. the tracks on the other hand are a cluster mess. most of this journey has featured long winding turns on single pair of tracks. stopping for freight or other passenger trains has delayed us by a few hours. ever so often we pass by a freeway, a orchard, vineyard, or small town. inch by inch we craw down the west coast of america.
with the cost of petroleum increasing and gas prices on the verge, i wonder if it's time we take a few pages from the open community playbook and think about pulling our resources together and see if this great nation can spearhead a nationwide conversation on alternative transportation. if you don't know about the unconference, it is a workshop like / peer to peer conference where individuals present issues, problems, solutions or host conversations to the issues surround the central topic.
just imagine if ordinary citizens from around the nation gathered in homes, community centers, schools, etc to talk about what they can do to change their transportation woes?
imagine if each group went to city hall and invited the transportation director to chat with them.
imagine actually engaging them in conversation.
imagine not inviting them, and formulating your own alternative plan and then visiting city hall?
imagine taking a few pictures, writing up a mini-press release and sending it to the newspaper to say "we did it! we're planning another one! we want you to join us!"
imagine if Amtrak riders around the country submitted THEIR ideas and plans on what amtrak could do to improve service... (ie healthier food, wifi, more outlets, etc...)
imagine if they filled in a wiki and promoted it on trains and had people vote for their favorite ideas.
someone should contact my buddy Tomas Purves and ask him to open up transit camp's framework.
(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."
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!
"Let us endeavor to live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry." -Mark Twain
last night was a blast. my brain is still a little hazy in the number of txt messages sent to friends in the US. luckily, i didn't badger on twitter or any other digital connections for you to follow. while i might be lacking a proper internet connection to upload photos, it hasn't stopped prashanth!
i have to profusely thank everyone who came out. it was a treat to see filmmakers, programmers, and advertising folk all in the same room. i'm just itching to upload all of my photos and feel the flickr love reign in...
tonight is my last night in india.
tonight is also my last night i can stay in india.
it's incredible to think that i landed three weeks ago, fought off delhi/dary belly, resumed consuming dairy, and even ventured into eating bangalore street food. while each step and conversation begs me not to leave, my waistline and bust say it's time to lay down the nan and move on.
while it's hard to have a proper retrospective before departing, i can only sit in bewilderment in the beauty and joy every contact has given me. when i landed, i was at a loss for what would come next. thank you india!
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...