in the grand scheme of things i've realized that no longer am i working on just a series of integrated topics, but an eco-system of systems and values. before i start tripping over myself in post-calvinesque arguments (i am in geneva till saturday), i'm struggling to iron out the complete landscape that sits beneath (or behind) the past seven months. for now let's call this an re-introduction to the luck of seven.
not only have i decided that i'll parlay the past seven months into a new media experience (children's book, a vlog reboot and movie), but i now understand the seven topics to be the basis of a strategic framework. when i first wrote down the seven topic, i had this notion that i was setting out to document the best of the best of our new world. if there was ever a cataclysm, we could use this framework to rebuild society. now more than ever, i see that this notion is not too far fetched from those ideals, but need to be crystalized into a yummy chocolate bunny for the masses.
first you'll need to understand that this is an eco-system. as established from the Wealth of Networks, this network has revolutionized all methods of production. we are sitting within the new age of mechanization. the highly organized world of central nodes are struggling to keep up with the ever adaptable biological structure called humanity. last year at this time, my brain imploded when i heard ben cerveny give a presentation on metaphors. at last year's LIFT 07, he linked technological metaphors to biological systems. one year later with several more books in my head and thousands of kilometers beneath my feet, i have a hard time seeing metaphors. i see we create networked systems in attempt to mimic the biological systems we are... granted this is a viewpoint from a high vantage point, this is the beginning of it all.
welcome to my / our new world.
as i've tried to explain countless times this is not just a basic networked system but a system of systems of systems upon systems. i know a few people are trying to ground this system in trust, kharma, love, lust, id, etc... and i have yet to discover the core of why people self subscribe to this society. maybe it is the fact that in this age you can be whom ever you want. not in the simple context that we can change our bodies, but in the fact we can adapt our brain to systems that are expressive to our own identities.
wither it's drupal or joomla, or myspace or facebook, we cling to the notion of brands because they are labels of culture we know. as far as i know brands will always exist... brands extrude reputation. how is this central to my argument? well in this world we can create any brand we want. if we know how to have a conversation, phrase an argument and use the digital / social tools; we can build anything we want... the idealist world we dream is at our finger tips.
how do these networks operate in the real space? are online values and systems transferable to the physical world?
the past seven months have not only been a journey around the world, but a journey into the internet. a journey i thought one could ever take. from one email to another, i came to the realization that my conversations things connected me through the internet. they connected me to the medium of the world.
now there are many more questions than i have answers. i can only proclaim what i've seen. i can only tell you what has happened to me and what i've touched with my own two hands...
what i have seen is a system built on the idea that the world is a free place. the world is not to be abused, robbed, raped, or pillaged... granted these things happen but in the end that is not the central activity of the world. there is giving, there is taking. there is a free and open exchange of knowledge. not everyone is willing to give up the same information that someone else has, but in the general context of things, most individuals will offer assistance when asked. sometimes, they'll give more assistance than nesscary.
when connected to an information network, the cost of entry to a global conversation diminishes. yet these acts of selflessness, greed or pride amass an unprecedented amount of knowledge and participation... this is the world we are in now. you can easily find the world's knowledge at the click of a button. wether it is right or wrong is a whole nother question, but it's there.
the more that we toyed with these spaces the more we found out that we can bring these ideas "offline" and into the physical space. egalitarian notions of software was just the beginning. from email to blogs the democratizing of information drove us to the point where we no longer needed someone to tell us how we can participate in the conversation.
if you look at the explosive growth of freelancers (some can be considered outsourcers, or out-sorcerers), you will see nothing more than an the democratizing of work. this work has always existed, this has always been the central tenet of industrialization. yet in the 21st century, this has spread forth across the globe and evolved into a multitude of ideas unheard of several years ago, BUT that doesn't mean that these elements of culture didn't exist before hand... they have always existed. some were too expensive (multimedia production); others were too obscure to discover (couchsurfing.com / global freeloaders).
when it comes to information, the merchants who raised great sums to bring us the best of the silk road no longer are needed. as the past ten years have taught us, the networks between us all shrink infinitely when we reach out. albeit it is still a costly investment, the new silk road is assessable to more. from electricity, to hardware, to communications infrastructure, to education... we are slowly whittling down the cost of access. once on the road, or as it was one called "the information super highway" we are privy to the world's infinite connections of enlightenment.
when it comes to the physical, many have realized we are no longer are we willing to deal with the limitations of a world dictated to us. if we can freely converse online, who is to limit our ability to organize physically? if we have the ability to build online, we are freely able to build upon other's words for the betterment of our collective knowledge, goods and services. for the past seven months i've been blessed to freely exchange ideas, content and build physical structures were the net benefit is the sum of all of its parts.
the world online is no more online than it is an offline activity. for the past five years i've been privy to a front seat exploration of politics, policy and products are free to change and grow as we see fit. incredibly we've openly recognized that we can not exist in an online only environment. some of us call it jelly, coworking, foocamp, unconfrences, barcamp, mashpits, meetups, devhouses, saturday houses, workshops, clubs, etc...
more and more we are coming together to physically represent the world we see online. if there isn't a physical representation, we dust off obscure solutions or build replacements for a world once dominated by a heroical structure dominated by others.
we have the power. we are the future. without a doubt, the world today is dominated by freedom. freedom to move from one system or another... from one workshop to another... from one conversation to another... from online to offline... it is now up to us to perpetuate the love of knowledge into an eternity of wisdom.
this is the wealth of networks. this is the luck of seven. we are the starfish generation!
registration for barcamp bangkok is now open! that's right, after a long and winding road, thailand will have their first barcamp this month. apparently, the social lubricants provided by sugree, patipat and sira lubricated enough info out of my head for them to go full tilt. too bad, i will only be there in spirt! goodluck gang!
Recoded: 29 December 2007
Locations: Ushuaia, Argentina
Tags: free hugs, juan mann, hitchhiking, free hugs guide, end of the earth, antarctica, adventure, ushuaia, argentina, video diary, luck of seven
Music: over the rainbow - Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
About: it's lonely out here... super lonely. the likely hood of me holding up a sign and heading south is dwindling fast... in between the infrequent hugs, i think about my buddy juan mann. he's the silly fool who became internet famous for hugging the world. juan's just released an illustrated guide on hugging and is making plans to travel the world for his own internet vlog.
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).
Recoded: 25 December 2007
Locations: Ushuaia, Argentina
Tags: freestyle hostel, paul lacoste, free hugs, christmas, end of the earth, antarctica, adventure, ushuaia, argentina, video diary, luck of seven
Music: chocolate jesus - tom waits
About: on a bright and sunny day, paul and i headed down to the waterfront to see if christmas cheer and free hugs will get us anywhere. after a few hours handing out hugs and waving to ushuaia, paul and i get picked up by my buddy matias, carolina and malo for a christmas adventure we will never forget!
Locations: Ahmedabad, India
Tags: citizen journalism, video volunteers, DRISHTI Media, Arts & Human Rights , stalin k, jessica mayberry, kavita das gupta, siddharth chadha, community media, participatory culture
Music: leaving you behind, Hermann & Kleine
About: the journey into understanding participatory culture doesn't start with digital technology. the study of participatory culture should arise from the understanding that one shoe doesn't fit all. since my time in ahmedabad, i've come to see drishti and video volunteers as the premier example of interactivity between online/offline, between old media/new media, between bitching and getting things done. the prime directive should not exist on earth. if we truly care about a participatory society, we must embrace tools as forms of technology and work hard to impart their use among all.
i hope you check out more of video volunteers work.
(click on 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!
this morning, Janet Hawtin sent me the YouTube video above. to my surprise, Juan from Free Hugs has crafted an open invite for anyone to stop by his house and hang out. as a huge fan of people allowing others to work / hang out / hack at their house, this is surely going to be a treat!
not only does it seem that i'll be one of the first "youtubers" to visit, as my Sydney plans unfurl, my last few days seem to be overwhelming! nonetheless, you can count on me to make the best of a limited schedule... if you have any advice, tips, tricks. send them my way!!!
WED NIGHT - 17 Oct
- sleep on bus.
THURSDAY - 18 Oct
- 08h30 arrival at Sydney's bus station.
- morning, find wifi, have breakfast, coordinate contacts. (anyone have recommendations?)
- post-noon, meet up at Pitt Street Mall in the centre of Sydney with juan from FREE HUGS. we will hug people. (thanks janet for the introduction!)
- 19h00, sydney web standards meetup to hear jo kay talk about second life and mick liubinskas talk about "a trillion tiny transactions" (thanks christy dena for the invite.)
ps - anyone have a place for me to lay my head? it appears i forgot to coordinate a proper place to crash?
FRIDAY - 19 Oct
- 08h00 blogger breakfast at single origin. (thanks emily reed)
- Free day to document my final thoughts on australia with nice touristic backdrops. (editor's note - if anyone want's to be my host that would be fan-tab-ioulus!!!)
- Work my way to Juan's house and document any YouTuber's who show up / make our own YouTube video discussing the importance of an "open door policy" - (also see Coworking & Work at Jelly)
- Evening - Dinner with a Barcamp Sydney Organizers
- Spend the night at Juan's house.
SATURDAY - 20
- pack / organize / fret.
- 14h00 depart for airport and subsequently the United States of America. (i can't wait to find out what questions i'll be asked at customs.)
ok, now i'm off to explore melbourne!
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 favorite quote "THERE comes a time in every boy's life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure." - the adventures of tom sawyer
when i first started this trip, i wanted to SEE my global peers in their environment. now that i'm on the other-side of the world, i have discovered a free world that goes further than lawrence lessig's free culture. in my reality, our world is only limited by our heart. if our heart has no borders then our world is free. to me free culture is to give of yourself freely and expect nothing in return.
sadly, we can't all live for free. warmth, bread and shelter do not fall into our laps at the push of a keyboard. yet when people ask for money, i don't think about it. i don't think about donating. i don't think about the reasons of donating. i just don't think about the impact i can create in others lives. then i placed myself as a beggar. i truely have no more money than you give. our journey, this trip and my life is at your mercy.
when i started this trip i knew the plight of a few new media makers. i knew that theburg.tv was debt ridden, but i didn't care to think about my other fav podcast. then, i discovered that the best damn new media makers kick out the jams with next to no money! just like the NGOs i consult, we attempt to live on a fine line of stubbornness and humility.
throughout humanity's history, you can find people who give freely to create their dreams. those most passionate, attempt to live outside of the mortal constraints of life. following our heart's desires we see problems, tackle them and then try to live.
it's tough trying to find a balance between the glitter and the grit. brian, my friend whom i never met, is in a bit of a bind. his series of programs are so advanced normal media doesn't know how to contextualize them. if you scoff at the notion of citizen journalism, you don't need to go further than alive in baghdad or alive in mexico to understand how digital technology is changing the face of the globe. sadly, both programs are running out of money.
as i have traveled, i only know of a few organizations who are understand the power of video... the power of the moving image... the power of people and their stories...
these programs are not sexy nor glamorous. the programs are smart.
your donation is not sexy nor glamorous. your donation is smart.
we need to hear the world's stories, and the future lies within your fingertips. can you give $5 or $10 to alive in baghdad?
Recoded: 28 july 2007
Locations: amsterdam, netherlands
Tags: documentary, barcamp, devhouse, roomware, amsterdam, andy smith, james burke, geekout, rober gaal, luck of seven
Music: i want you back - the jackson 5
About: imagine you're an artist and you're trying to integrate technology into spacial art. now imagine having to assimilate drivers and code for a million and one system variants. like spiderman, a group a geeks have heard your distress calls and are working on an open-source platform for you to geek out and not freak out. check out the roomwareproject.org for more information!
gwendolyn & joshua kauffman
and roomware devhouse crew
first, let me put this post into context... my friends here in delhi (ok, it's really the National Capital Region) have welcomed me with open arms, fed me, housed me and have acted as translators and security. they have refused to accept any payment but gifts of gratuitous thanks. in my hour of depleted funds, they are finding new ways to entertain my soul through pleasant company, extend every rupee and provide countless indian history lessons.
i'm building so much dharma debt i will never forget.
thank you, Prashant, Daksh, Amit, Neha, Ashish, Abby, Naveena, Yogesh, Priyanka, Kinshuk, Kanika, Sunil...
PS - the photo is from priyanka, aka twilight fairy on flickr. you should check out her work!
speaking of rupees, remember my last post?
last night's twitter banter has netted $359.43 USD! i now have enough cash to purchase a plane ticket from mumbai to bangalore to bangkok. thank you to those who contributed! i now need $2800 USD to reach $7,777 USD. i'll tell you more about my fundraising exploits below.
btw, i think my stomach has finally succumbed to a certain level of lactose intolerance. i now find my self howling as my stomach curdles in agony demanding a refund on a meal long ago purchased. some might call it "delhi belly" but i'm fairly sure it's "dairy belly."
as for avoiding dairy in dehli, it is as futile as avoiding flies, mosquitos, over zealous drivers with their horns and the stench of raw sewage...
ok, dehi isn't that bad... so let's get to brass tax (or is it brass tacks). the past few days have been crazy. since monday, i've been in perpetual motion running all over the national capital region. (NCR is like the washington dc area, except you'll find 22 some odd million. there is also a major problem with suburban sprawl and rapid development.)
from nodia to gurgaou to new delhi to south delhi, i've seen the inside of a countless radio cabs (aka with free A/C), hailed cabs (A/C is extra), rickshaws (pedal bike where air is free and so is the BO), autorickshaws (scooter based contraptions running on CNG), a few private cars that operated as taxi cabs, and a few privately own cars.... sadly, no motorcycles nor scooters...
spending the past few nights in the out flung burros, i've been able to compare the wealth of central delhi to the poverty and squaller that is interwoven on every street, creek and alley. one can not help but see rickshaws advertising .coms sitting next to naked children.
through out all of my conversations, i seek to understand one question - "how do indians see their future..."
my friends, students whom i met, hosts, and interview subjects see two worlds - one is a digital world filled with interloping ideas of a modern digital oasis. the second contains the rest of india - 70% of the population and must not be left behind nor taken for-granted.
sunday, after two night's with Prashant Singh, i moved my stuff to daksh sharma's grandmother's house. ambiguous in schedule and sleeping locations, daksh said that his uncle would take care of me. fearful of a schedule that would conflict with mine, i patiently waited to see what was in store.
in an ironic twist of humor, i thought my third night would take me closer to central delhi. instead i found my self further away. despite the fact that daksh lives in Delhi, he and his family graciously put me into a guest house. once my distance was located on a tattered hotel map, i knew my stay would be short.
as the room cooled with a jerryrigged A/C unit in the window and two vigorous rotors attached to the ceiling, i fought to keep a million mosquitos at bay. after a million and one calls sorting out a schedule, i stood underneath a spicket spewing luke warm water and washed the one of my three sets of clothing. by the time i was done, the brownish water was black. my green nylon columbia sportswear fishing pants victoriously lasted one month without a single inkling of soap - from the streets of jerusalem, to the beach in tel aviv, the 13 hour bus ride to egypt, all the grime in cairo, and the long journey to india - these pants have armored my legs through the tick and tin.
after a dasterious night of limited REM operations, i awoke monday morning to the bell hop ring my phone 15 mins before i had scheduled my alarm. tired, confused and wondering where in the hell i left my lens cap, i stuffed my bags and turned off the air circulating apparatus installed in room 105.
upon checkout, i was greeted with a bill for 1350 rupees. dismayed on the thought i was getting scammed i franticly called daksh's uncle who's phone was turned off. after paying, sheephisly (i actually said "this is baaaaad") i climbed into a small TATA and speed off south to meet Ashish.
on monday, there were two important things i needed to do...
1. find away to purchase a super discounted ticket from sydney to hawaii.
2. prepare for a presentation at one of india's prestigious colleges' - Shri Ram College of Commerce.
with a weekend of dispatches sent to my parents. i called up my father and chatted about the trip, my ideas and my delema. after a brief discussion on solutions, he was willing to purchase my airfare from sydney to hawaii (so i can at least make it back to the USA, albeit it's the furthest state in the union) and loan me some money incase i found myself up shit creek.
comically, my old man sat in puerto rico at his parents house on a dial up connection cursing the heat, humidity and slow internet. it got even more entertaining when he forgot his paypal username and we spent two hours in an attempt to hammer a solution.
around 14h00, i found myself researching the exact cost of the next four months but found myself interrupted by a cab waiting for me outside.
let's rewind a bit, on the last day of OSS camp i sat in the small break out room with it's own separate A/C. as i wielded my magic wand looking for airfares, contacts and avenues of income, a clean cut young man walked up to me and introduced himself as kinshuk sunil. polightly he apologized for not attending my "session" on saturday, but wanted to invite me to chat with his class of MBA students. without any hesitation, i said "yes."
since shri ram is actually on the other side of delhi (ie on the north side, close to the jet engine hotel) i had to leave two hours before my little blub. despite our treck (radio cab) through dirt roads and dense traffic, my arrival was early.
with kinshuk sunil greeting me at the main gate, we walked, talked, and since the school wasn't picking up the taxi fare, he bought me a small meal. as kinshuk described my awaiting audience, i thought about what i would say... to be honest, kinshuk wanted me to talk about my observations on my seven topics of selection, but instead i knew i would end up rehashing the basis of this trip, the personal story of why i started this journey and the exploration of the space within the world.
some how i found my thoughts circling this statement "my theoretical thesis that predicated this trip is no different than its' reality."
i know it sounds a bit queer to hear but i'm going to quote the rockman (this rockman fairies from harry nilsson's the point if you don't know the story, check it)... in the album, oblio is a boy who has no point and his dog arrow is his sole companion. they both live in the land of the point where everyone has a point. according to the laws of the land, everyone in the point must have a point. after a harmless tussle with the count's son, finds himself banished to the pointless forest.
on their journey they meet a lovely cast of characters, and one of them is the pot smoking, rasta named the rockman. graciously the rockman has to set oblio straight on the term "pointless" and asks oblio, "have you ever been to paris? have you ever been to new delhi?" (now i can say i have)
oblio responds "No!"
rockman replies, "you hear what you want to hear and see what you want to see..."
...and with that oblio learns that the "pointless forest" is not pointless but filled with a billion and one points...
with that little quote echoing though my brain like the car horns on the street's of cairo, i took to the stage and spoke for an two hours. i told them about the sevens, how this trip started, i told them about hearbreak, frustration, and why i see the world in this special way.
i told them as future leaders of the world's largest democracy, they have the power to change any problem they see infront of them. tomorrow's world is at their fingertips.
as the hour moved forth and my story ended, they started to ask questions like, why focus on digital communications? why the number seven? why aren't more people traveling? why do people become "enlightened?" what do you have in your backpack?
then came my turn, i asked them about their fears, future job prospects, and more importantly how they see india.
their answers amazed me... to this group of young leaders, india is an merging superpower, but not filled with arrogance and pomp. since so much of the country resides in poverty, it is their obligation to insure that poverty in india is squelched and tradition is respected...
after a confusing exit/lockin... a small group of us made our way to the brandspankingnew delhi metro (aka subway), went through metal detectors and hopped on modern wonderment. while i was on my way, i got a txt from Abhishek Baxi (aka abby) to meet up in south delhi at a ruby tuesdays.
(food joints here in india are a bit of a bit of bewilderment. they look like your americans joints but with one striking difference... the service! the food is the same mediocre quality, english menus, uniforms etc... BUT the quality of service is astronomical. if your napkin falls, they've got it. if you need a light, they've got it. if you're about to finish your beer, drink, or water.... THEY'VE got it!)
as i sat waiting for abby to show up, i wondered how india would emerge as a superpower...
the next 24 hours would enlighten my perspective... spurred by the global network of ideas, abby found Jelly (the coworking thing i featured in episode 3) and is now looking to set up his own... after carrying on the conversation into the early hours of the morning, abby, naveena (his girlfriend) and i headed back to their apartment and i crashed on their floor.
waking later than i wanted... (ahem, thanks for all the beers!!!) i departed for my first formal interview of the trip. arranged by Dask, i found myself in an awesome conversation with Sunil Malhotra, founder president & CEO of ideafarms. we conversed about the meaning of employment, consultancy and the term "heart capital." impressively, his thoughts are no different that what many within the barcamp/coworking/freelance community have espoused.
for a while we talked about living out ideals instead of evangelizing them... (to be honest, this is something i hate, but has to be done... honestly i see my self as a modest person. i've never wanted press or notoriety, but now i'm on this oxymoronic trip and need press for money, exposure for contacts and notoriety for leverage.... ok, i really don't want notarity, i just want you to know about how the world is changing...) then, we spoke about our friends who seem notable and how our confluence of ideas can change the world...
after a very cheesy lunch (ie dairy), i headed out to meet kanika anand, a fellow couchsurfer and dreamer. we bantered, exchanged gifts whilst sipping frapps (ie more dairy). after our delightful conversation, departed south to meet up with my host, ashish and other delhi bloggers who are considering setting up an alt.art.foodie.delhi blog....
here's sort a video from the evening...
a very special thank you is sent to following who have answered the call and contributed a few bones....
Erica O'Grady, Justin Stockton, Eric Skiff, Heath Row, Lawrence Halff, Abhay Kumar, jonathan berger, nick bollweg, Jeff Ledoux, Richard Weait, Jeffrey Sass, Samuel Gluskin, Oliver Hoerold, Alexandra Deschamps, Ellen Moore, Joe Cronin, Gavin Heaton
it's been four days since i replaced my macbook with the paper back "skinny legs and all." if you haven't read the book, you're in for an treat. i haven't set it down and am almost done with the adventures of spoon, can o' beans, dirty sock, stick and conch. as my laptop sat in an air conditioned server room of OpenCraft, i could only wonder the stories it told the servers and computer components.
as for my journey, it seems to be physically manifesting my mental discomfort. my stomach woes while gone one day have returned. while there are many things that i could say, i will not bother you with my torment. well...
well i will say there is there is a torment i have yet to detail... the hustle. from time to time people come up to me and say "hello." as a courteous fellow, i don't like ignoring people. hell it's hard enough ignoring pour beggars with no legs, but fully capable humans who can clearly walk and talk is another thing...
when i don my straw hat, down every street i find someone saying "hello", "where you from?", "hey, come here..." it gets to the point where the stern new yorker appears, my eyes glaze, and the desire for a baseball bat emerges.
as for the knot that is developing in my brain... despite the mini-media-hit i got last week from dries' video, i need to spread the word further. i'd like for more people to know about this project. yet, since my time connected to the internet is very limited, i need your help.
it's funny to think about this trip as a ministry, but as the kind egyptian preacher sat next to me on the train to alexandria reminded me... this is a ministry. i've dedicated my life in this mission. open societies is developing to be my spiritual work. i know to most of you this might sound crazy, but i honestly feel this trip was settled in my bones long ago.
why do i say this? well, i've always held faith in the world. i've always held faith that as the human race we can solve our own problems. and like this trip, it's not an easy journey...
for now i'll keep my head down and keep plugging away. if you haven't found a good reason to tell a friend. today is as good as any other...