couchsurfers

day 19. running around paris

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

why seven topics...

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20070528.jpg This is a 21st century journey to the intersection of digital and organic communities. Communicating through a digital medium that has no borders, I want to share with you how this new world interacts.

Free culture. After a half-century of broadcast communications dictating the common perspective, people are now reconnecting—one-on-one, peer-to-peer, node-to-node—and proving that traditional copyright and patent restrictions need to be reformed to promote creativity.

Free and open-source software. Software should be a tool, like a shovel. With zero distribution cost, global, boundless open-source communities are competing in a world of co-opetition.

Couchsurfers and bloggers. People—from those who blog their souls to those who reserve their couch for strangers—are using technology to augment real-world relationships and bring modernism back to our post-modern world.

Barcamps, unconferences, meetups, and coworking. The online digi-world uses physical ad-hoc meetings to socialize, share, and advance ideas.

Agents of progressive social change. Inventors and concept peddlers—though not always leaders—change the way we think about the world through technology.

The environment. When we outsource jobs, we outsource pollution, waste, and other negative impacts of consumerism; we need to continue to use technology to educate the public on the true footprint of the products we use and lifestyles we choose.

Happenstance. Receiving a random e-mail, discovering a flickr profile, stumble-surfing across a facebook page, connecting in a café—the world grows smaller with every person we meet, and there is an art to discovering their stories.”

photo by charles hope

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t minus 12 days - frustration & inspiration

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Speed with 12 days till departure, frustration seems to be my number one enemy...

in many of my other projects, i've always had the luxury of having a peer. now that this internal exploration is around the corner, frustration is the most common recurring emotion. frankly, i'd love to tell you about them...

first, gear preparation. over and over i count the items i have and know that i'm scheduling to take to much. the thoughts of production have enveloped my workflow to make a nervous wreck. without a doubt, the lull moments of preparation are killing me. to be honest, i've never been more scared in my entire life.

confounding these prospects are the responses from couchsurfing.com and the groups.drupal.org admins. both think that this project is not within their scope of promotion nor purview. which of course, only exacerbates thoughts of inadequacies of articulation. constantly, i ponder "what the fuck am i trying to say..." or "if i'm just blabbering on about some meaningless intersection of futility..."

then, when i attempt to say all of this on video, i can't. i get stuck mumbling.

too boot, it is well proven that my social network is meetspace not virtual. despise the fact that this has been a word of mouth campaign and that i think i have been successful at raising funds. i honestly anticipated being closer to $7,777. which also brings about further doubts of articulation.

ahh, then there is the fact that i can't seem to find my tickets for iberia airlines, nor even recall them being sent. this is despite the fact that customer service assures me they were sent but can not seem to locate a tracking number.

...and when all of this frustration has boiled to a point where i'm about to scream, i don't...

the converse of these situations lie within the company of good friends. it's true, you don't know how much something is worth until you loose it. ironically, the pain that first birthed this project is now rekindled. within each moment that passes, my desire to be sedate and amongst loyal, loving friends grows stronger. without a doubt, when i leave on the 7th, i will leave the best group of friends i've had the pleasure knowing.

then there are thoughts of an old love. to be honest, she is the real reason why this trip was conceived. with the heartbreak that enveloped my soul, i leaped into space looking to explore those things i did not know. now after many years, thoughts of her and this trip are tied into one.

i know that i can not escape this love, nor do i know how to bring it back. while my mind escapes in dreams of fancy, my reality around me boils into a gas. everyday is now a struggle. i no longer have the luxury of time.

within a few more days, hours, mins, my life will no longer be the same. now i must nestle myself into the lyrics of kris kristofferson "Freedoms just another word for nothin left to lose." if this trip is about exploring freedom, i must boil my thoughts and set them free.

CS, where can i get an inexpensive global cell phone

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this is in response to a post on an CS RTW question about global mobile phones...

i too am in a similar boat. i'll be leaving on july 7th for seven months and have been looking into a communications plan that will keep me happy on all 6 populated continents. over the weekend, i dropped into my local t-mobile store to ask a very distracted man a few questions. over my shoulder stood a tall blond who was fidgeting with a sidekick and without out a doubt, i stood in the way of the t-mobile agent getting some digits.

nonetheless, i discovered that while t-mobile would be the best provider bouncing back and fro from US and Europe. there is no good single provider. t-mobile has the most inexpensive international blackberry (data) plan, but data, voice and text are comparable to cingular, the new at&t. i've heard Europeans get a better plan when they come over to the US on voice and text but not on data. to date i have no one can provide conclusive evidence.

logically, i see my self purchasing an unlocked GSM cellphone and keeping my fingers crossed or keeping my brick like treo. my other consideration is fairly expensive. in june, apple and cingular will launch the iPhone and conceptually it's the perfect device for a world traveler - GSM, WiFi, iPod with 8 gig, Address Book, 2 megapixel camera and what appears to be an SD card slot.

in the end, i've been debating the suitability of have a phone, battery, etc... but then i think of twitter and txt messages... how will i ever live what my friend heather calls the "mini postcards."

a seventh of the way!!!

20 Feb 2007, at 1.01pm EST, Peter Deitz, a fellow couchsurfer, activist and new yorker (albeit now in montreal), placed me over the US$1,000 mark!

What's quite interesting is that Peter and I met on the notion that I could build a few Drupal sites for a client of his. What it is also interesting is that Peter Deitz is embarking on a "full time preoccupation" with peer to peer banking/micro-financeing/micro philantrhopy. After spending a few years working with the World Federalist Movement, Peter was stuck by the lack of sites that aggregate data on micro-philanthropy. So what does any good person do? Start up their own site...

In February 2007, Peter founded First-of-its-kind, aka foik. Check out Lo7's foik entry!

I'd also like to thank Dinah Sanders for her donation!

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the true power of the wealth of networks

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a funny thing happened to me last night...

first, for all mac users don't even think about purchasing a samsung SC-X210L digital camcorder. those suckers use a special AVI codec that is damn near impossible to find decoders. too boot, they are piss poor in low light situations. instead of me finding a good camcorder, i'm going to just use my little pocket point and shoot and a voice recorder. i'm not adverse to using something new, i just find my self able to produce better shots. while sound isn't top notch, noise and sound tend to time shift around me.... more to come later...

while on yesterday's voyage, i met up with my old friend, lucia rollow. we traded our most recent stories while i reviewed head shots she took of me. sitting together, i tweaked. no, it wasn't some drug nor was it a hang over. instead, i was tweaking out on a cup of joe, from a cup of joe. oh lord how i was tweaking. shaking, shivering, and some what unconversational, i found some tea that suited my biochemistry a bit better.

after burning through the itch, i headed to paragon sports to find the cheapest/cold-rated sleeping bag i could find. after a 5 min reorientation with in the store, apparently the owner loves flamboyant colors and the place is always changing, i found my self in the exact same tiny-ass room, where i picked up my camel pack and the same room where my brother picked up his Timbuktu laptop/currier bag.

new york city stores are funny. sometimes you walk into a place and find a sales assistant quickly, other times you have to spar with an attendant to find the right attendant. sex, affluence, prejudge all are factors. don't be insulted, it's part of the game. after a quick discussion on who would help me, and a quicker discussion on what's on sale, adam (the third recommended assistant) cranked out a woman's sleeping bag for US$71 and he tossed in a $5 stuff sack. so apparently, this sales attendant got into a tussle with a baseball bat and his best friend.... he really didn't mind that i was purchasing a woman's light blue sleeping bag, so i didn't inquire about his propensity to get his ass kicked.

some how, instead of heading to drop off my gear, i ended up at Spuyten Duyvil. as the weather turned from humidly cold to pissing rain, i sat in at the Duyvil shooting the shit with my friends. floored in rickety wood, yellow walls, and a red tin roof, i've called the Duyvil my second home. i love the place so much, when it came time to open up a coworking space, i petition beka, from not an alternative, really hard. with a non-stop assortment of unique beers from around the world and one of the best set of taps in America, beka, who lives and works across the street, loved the idea.

low and behold, at 6pm i found my self sharing a cheese plate with beka and eric, my coworkers. in tow, drayton heirs. ironically, drayton (rimes with layton or if you're from my past, dayton) is a nick name. apparently a bad nickname that stuck like glue. sound familiar funny? what's more funny?

drayton, beka, eric and i had a long chat about the history of environmental capitalism and our mutual connections. beka and drayton first met in 2004 in the mits of the north brooklyn redevelopment debate (greenpoint / willamsburg). over the years, beka and drayton have reconnected in brooklyn and amsterdam. on his way back from Switzerland, and on his way to LA, he decided to drop by brooklyn for a bit of R and R.

while most would think this is just some boring ass story of two damn world traveling hipsters, this is where it gets weird. when we were first introduced, we couldn't pronounce each other's names. on the way, out i had to cow out of their invite to manhattan. my excuse, i'm leaving for geneva... inevitably there is the question of why... and i lay into my lift spiel...

"i'm going back to geneva to help host the best damn european technology conference; lift!"

to be honest, i've never really seen a light bulb pop up over someone's head. standing in front of me, drayton's head nearly exploded with the question, "do you know a guy name noel?"

i chuckle, and then ponder, is there another noel in nyc going from new york. cause if so, OMG! now that's weird! as my head quickly swells to deal with the complex question of two noels from new york heading to lift, drayton brings up couchsurfing.com and a post to one of the more elusive CS groups. apparently, before meeting up with beka, drayton sent me a message inquiring about a currency exchange. with 20-30 franks in his wallet, and a desire not to see a changing agent. we quickly negotiated an exchange and eliminated any notion of a second noel from nyc heading to lift.

now that i'm in geneva... it's only going to get better...

btw, flickr photos are coming soon... the wifi here at the hotel is too slow for me to upload them.

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what's the focus

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yesterday, while my friend assisted in editing my first post, she kept asking me why are people going to care? from her point of view, everyone travels and writes about their journey. why would anyone care about this trip? after thinking about it, she is right i need to detail my rational for topics i will be covering...

the seven topics of freedom

  • free culture - originally a book by lawrence lessig. free culture is now a movement to break through the walled gardens of our minds and share information. if you scroll down to the footer, you'll see that this site is under creative commons. what does that mean? just like you have shared information with me, you can take this content and share it. as long as you don't make a profit; you are free to use this work. wikipedia on free culture.
  • free and open-source software (F/OSS) - there are many examples F/OSS, firefox, open office, wordpress, and drupal, just to name a few. (more on wikipedia) sadly there are only a handful of profiles and conversations of their products outside of their respective communities. as we will see, the agents of open-source software are diverse, eclectic, and highly lovable.
  • couchsurfers and bloggers - imagine opening up your house and letting a complete stranger sleep on your couch? believe it or not, there is a social network dedicated to couchsurfing. as an avid supporter of couchsurfing and people who share their life online, i am looking forward to the network of connections and a wealth of stories.
  • agents of progressive social change - if global agents of change are as unusual as my friends, their stories will be pure insanity. here's to the crazy ones!
  • barcamp & coworking - are two mimes espouse physical conversations organized through the internet. barcamp is a grassroots technology unconference where attendants are presenters and presenters are attendants. ironically, there is a workplace equivalent, coworking. coworking is a grassroots organized office with café culture. both mimes have demonstrated unbelievable levels of free thinking.
  • happenstance - happenstance is the art of random interaction. i bet you are thinking it is not possible to focus on happenstance. if you do not believe it, i will free your mind.
  • our environment - nature's beauty is quickly being consumed. i will spotlight locations and the people who are protecting them. my focus will be on the destruction we don't see on the evening news.

as you can see this project is about many things. many of these things i can no tolerate languishing on the back burner. if life is a fickle flame, i must let it burn brightly. last year at this time, i was stuck in a serious rutt. frequently, on my journeys, i quoted former fellow gemini henry kissinger, "there comes a time in every rightly constructed boy's life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure."

for the past few months, i've been hung up on the fact we are losing every element of our freedom. the world i knew as a child is not the same; the world i knew ten years a go is not the same. as the years move on and information becomes entertainment, we are enveloping ourselves in a world devoid of freedom. from nature and property, to rights and intellectual property, i see our lives slipping into an abyss devoid of alternatives.

chip in and help support the dig.

contribute today and join the club of seven

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On 07 July 2007, I departed for a journey around the world to learn from you.

For seven months, I stood on six continents, and dove into seven topics.

For this project to be a success, I needed 700 people to contribute US$11.11 for a total of $7,777. instead, i got the following list of amazing people!!! if i've been a doof and somehow misplaced your name, please contact me.

contact me or join the google group.

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

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

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