happenstance

day 99. an interview with simon slater

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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.

Episode 16 - is it for real?

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Recoded: aug 2007
Locations: istanbul, turkey; amman, jordan; the israel/jordan border; jerusislam, tel aviv, jaffa, israel
Tags: august penguin day, dotan mazor, matan kaminer, eldad brin, the dome of the rock, jerusialm, hair cut
Music: The City Awakes by stefsax and Revolve by His Boy Elroy
About: on my way through the middle-east, i found my self in isreal with a real hankering for falafel and in a desperate need of a haircut... i hope you enjoy!
THANK YOU: dotan mazor, matan kaminer, dana gordon, iddo dror, adylin luckle, ...and the family of luckles..., eldad brin, shachar shemesh, the person who invented falafel, judas, the romans, moses, mohammed, jesus, mary, mom & dad

Episode 15 - A Turkey in Turkey

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Recoded: 1 - 9 aug 2007
Locations: istanbul, turkey
Tags: luck of seven, istanbul, turkey, big apple hostel
Music: (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding - elvis costello
About: after a month of bouncing around europe, i decided to cool my jets and regroup for a week in istanbul. many thanks go out to the following - the big apple hostel crew, öznur özkurt, memhmet irdel, canan irdel, hayal pozanti, matan kaminer, gokce gunel, kenan kilictepe, andrea barker, tomas saledo, eduard trinidad, stephen warren, larz (stephen's buddy), michael the brit, and keith the american

day 68. update from delhi

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1356336974 9Bda59A7Af 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

day 58. back into the matrix.

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moon

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...

day 20. sleep the most valuble currency

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words can not describe the thanks i have for the hosts who have blessed me with their homes...

as i discovered on day 18, pushing hard moving from country to country at an early morning hour, not sleeping and eating sporadically doesn't bode well for mental acuteness. actually, it's a recipe for disaster. no really, it was a total disaster.

speaking of disasters, my ipod nano stopped behaving and i was forced to do a factory restore. in many ways, i was looking forward to this moment. now, i am now left with a handful of albums stored on my hard drive and ambient train contemplation.

first, let me say thank you to all of my hosts. if the rest of the trip allows me to cross paths with exceptional characters like these, then i think the world isn't too far off kilter.

in paris and out of the blue, Aurélien Tabard came to my rescue. he gave me keys to his uncle's vacant apartment, and aurélien's hospitality didn't stop there. as he cooked dinner on the first night, we discussed our displeasure of the current political march to the right and the inability for the left to act coheranetly.

though our personal history, we compared notes on activism and our frustration working within the confines of political systems. both of us agreed that the bickering has to stop and activists must diversify their work.

we both recognized the opportunities that lie within technology. if we are unable to capitalize on building a digital world as free as our physical world, we are doomed to confinement. as aurélien introduced me to his phd thesis, we analyzed the opportunities that exist in integrating technology with our day to day actions. we both agreed that our future should not compete with our day to day, but should enhance our day to day.

day 11, 12. berlin

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tonight, i leave berlin. in it's simple beauty, this city is just amazing. while i can't point to a single moment in time, i really like berlin.

the past three days have blessed me with an unique opportunity. not only was i able to interview three really unique individuals, but i also had the opportunity to share the house of two good friends and break bread with their new york friends.

when i departed, i was sad that my dear friends could not join me. after spending four days and three nights, i saw parts of myself i had not seen. the reflexive quality of this journey has yet to be fully understood, but knowing that a quarter an earth away reside a group of people who understand you is comforting. finding those same type of people on a random to berlin is even more comforting.

while i didn't see half of the things i should have seen as a tourist, that doesn't bother me. the time spent interviewing regine from we make money not art, dave from twittervision and travis, a budding entrapenure, couldn't have been better spent.

buried deep within the conversation with regine, dave and travis we spoke briefly about technology symbiosis, the future human cyborg, and dental care.

ok, they may seem a bit abstract, but here's the gist. long ago someone told me i was a cyborg. when you take the new oxford american dictionary "a fictional or hypothetical person whose physical abilities are extended beyond normal human limitations by mechanical elements built into the body."

then you remove "fictional or hypothetical" you can use the definition to describe someone wearing glasses, uses dialysis, takes medicine or has implants of some sort... the person we are now defining uses technology to augment their limitations.

if i asked a majority of you how you use your cell phones, 99% would say for communication. the other 1% use it for pleasure... in my mind, a cell phone, a computer, a network connection are all extensions of the human network. (editors note - yes, i know that's a cisco advertising phrase.)

that human network is alive and the connections on the digital network are also alive. too frequently to we mistake digital communications as impersonal. the advent of sony placing a camera within the confines of a laptop might have been to sell more laptops, but it eventually spurred many clones.

some may say with digital networks growing faster and ubiquitous, we have reached the dawn of a new era. i disagree, we are just moving along.

BUT at times we don't think of the consequences of this digital acceptance. my friend's at greenpeace have always made a good argument when it comes to technology. we need to be greener. we need to think about the over all consequences of the hyper connected world we participate within.

we have the power to enlighten our bad habits and explore our obscured connections. we have the power to use mechanical elements to explore the beauty of humanity and make this place better.

ok, did i really see all of that in berlin? well not really.

the long history of germany and the division between capitalists and communist was clear and present. the duality of a pacifist west and a militant east, and the subsequent rise of an east/west art war blew my mind. the fully adorned children's parks with young kids running naked and topless adults spoke of their true liberation. the formal direct language, and the cheap delicious food... all spoke to a world under construction.

what berlin presented was not another dirty megatroplis like new york, but a vision of something far better than what most americans see on a daily basis. i'm not sure who takes what for granted. in my eyes, i am ashamed to know of a pedestal where "liberty" is valued but you can't have more than 49 people assemble in one location.

oh how i could go on about the liberty of americans, but that would be self defeating right now. many more questions are festering and i'm about to be heading to a country that has more networked cameras per square mile than broadband... or something like that....

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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interesting news today

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one of the most elusive creatures on this planet is my younger brother. stuck in the middle of ohio, he's one hard fella to track down. in our post-easter convo, i've come to discover that his graduation is not in feb, it's not in jan, nor even dec. it is nov 17, conveniently located when i would be in Antarctica.

i'm still mulling over this change of course. i can still start the trip in europe. i've decided that africa is impossible to cover. unless i can find a sponsor to take me to a kenya, namibia and south africa, i might spend a majority of my time in egypt and the middle east. then on to india, nepal, thailand, vietnam, and maybe hong kong. in a weird twist, i will finally cross the equator on my way to australia and new zealand. from the land down under, i'm considering finding steerage in an aluminum tube in order not to miss my brother's graduation. after graduation and coincidentally thanksgiving, i'll start my trek ether with my brother and we'll venture south though the usa and onto central america in an idealistic quest to see the wind mills of antarctica or i will venture on my own to argentina, in a more immediate desire to make no stone unturned.

as you can guess, i love my bother very much, and since i have not graduated college. i must support my brother's desire to finish and in a more interesting twist, potentially join the military. that leaves me no other option than to bend convention...

oh, in other news, i invited 170 people to join my account on linkedin and i got 5 donations... ether people don't read the invites or they don't care, but you know who does?

thanks gang!

from austin to austria, i'm packing my bags and heading to sxsw.

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SXSW Interactive i'm packing my bags and heading to SXSW interactive. if you haven't heard of SXSW, it's kinda a Mecca for technologist, programmers, and anyone who's into socializing with notables who like to party. i'm going to promote a few things i've learned, learn a few more things that i don't know, talk incessantly about of on the luck of seven project, hang out with some friends, catch up with old friends at Barcamp Austin, and figure out a thing or two about life.

last year, i learned quite a few things... most of them too personal to tell here (it might make it in my book), but this year... i feel things are different. i'm not sure why, other than i'm 100% more adventuresome and well... i've got a nifty little vlog project! also, if you haven't noticed, for the month of march, i'm vloging every 7 days. on 14 march, my next video will be sent from austria.

YUP! on monday, i'm departing austin and spending a day in the air to attend a salzburg seminar - The New Information Networks: Challenges and Opportunities for Business, Governments, and Media. once on the ground, i'll be moderating a roundtable entitled: Participation, Community, Governance and be on the roundtable Communication, Networks, and Political Impacts. i'm really stoked to be in the same arena as yochai benkler, viktor mayer-schonberger, kenneth cukier, and jo twist.

in the meantime, i'm changing my fundraising tune and for the next three weeks will attempt to rase $2222.00. i'm not sure how i'm going to accomplish this step, but one thing is for sure... if i don't push to rase $2222.00, i'm not going to make my fundraising goals. if you can't donate money, give me a suggestion on were to go or what to see and whom to visit or interview.

well.. if you're looking for me, check out my twitter and my conferenceer profile, otherwise i'll see you around AUSTIN!


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finally, photos!!!

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i've finally found a high speed internet connection and have uploaded two sets.

thank you donors!

  • Laurent Haug
  • Lou Klepner
  • John Bachir
  • Jennifer Wagnon
  • Kristofor Swanson

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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bre and brooklyn hillary culture hack nyc

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right at the end of last last year, i was randomly introduced to an unbelievable personality - Bre Pettis. as a former teacher, Bre is known for his delightful humor, ability to build things, and wacky antics. sure enough, Bre arrived here in nyc refusing to deal with another seattle winter, yet only experience new york city for a month. as is the story with many who come to "visit" new york, once Bre started exploring... well, needless to say he's coming back in three weeks!

over the weekend, Bre and Brooklyn Hillary did a bit of culture hacking. check out Charles' blip clip. using the rastorbator software, they blew up self portraits and took them around town. if you're in the area of 11 spring street, check out their work! in the meantime, Brooklyn Hillary is raising money to purchase a new camera. Check out her chipin campaign, and help a fellow brooklynite purchase a new camera.







photo in post used with permission by bre pettis


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open access & a weekend of sevens (recap)

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on the search of sevens - 30 thanks to michael nutt, heather parker and whurley for their contributions to the flickr group! i love them all! YO thank you! i'd like to thank the following donors for their contributions this weekend!

  • Christopher Erin
  • Elana Shneyer
  • Michael Nutt
  • Sid Sowder
  • Lucas Peterson

speaking about weekend stuff, i thought about myspace - not just the website, but also the overwhelming amount of data we all see. saturday afternoon, i had the opportunity to meet up with freeculture.org's summit on open access at NYU. many kudos to the organizers for lining up the three best speakers. in summary, open access is the belief that access to digital scholarly material should be free.

since 2002's Budapest Open Access Initiative over 200 organizations have subscribed to the belief that data like information needs to be free. logically, one would think that scientists want to share information and findings. yet, the real power of science is held in the hands of ever decreasing number of science journals.

as the number of publications have decreased, the walled gardens grow larger and more obscure. Jennifer Mclennan of the scholarly publishing and academic resources coalition (SPARC) made the first astounding statement. through surveys, the average cost of science journals have increased in price by 200%! libraries can not keep purchasing journals at this inflated price, and therefore start limiting the avenues people can use for research.

Gavin Yamey of Public library of Science presented next, and not in so many words said that we are under monopolistic conditions with Thompson Scientific controlling the rating system that determines how grants and government funds are distributed. low and behold, his organization, PLoS, is a non-profit open source journal. their studies have proven that being open is not only fruitful for new discoveries, but openness allows for more citations and therefore more exposure.

finally, we were blessed John Wilbanks of Science Commons. John's slide show was the lease dense with facts and figures. he could have done his presentation on a white board with fancy colored markers. nonetheless, it was great. John's argument rolls out the following formula... science is data. data can be structured, checked and digitalized. once digitalized, it can be turned into code. once as code, it can be processed for arguments and VOLA, made into something else. why should science be codified?

if you took every scientific paper written about the b13 gene in the past six months, and started reading a paper a day. it would take you SIX YEARS TO READ THEM ALL!!! yes, six years for six months worth of publishing.

he then when on to show a bunch of cool pictures of things that are totally over my head. these far out contraptions of programmed bacteria and other things, John concluded that we must find a new common ground for science. with my brain on the verge of exploding, my buddy, michael and i departed for SOHO and Chinatown to snap pictures of sevens.

on the search of sevens - 62 then later that night, i met up with lovable, huggable, vlogable - Bre Prettis of Make magazine. some how i worked my way into an itty bitty venue aptly named, the monkey, to see modal kombat. btw, if you've ever wondered what it's like to play nintendo with musical instruments, you must catch these guys. for about an hour, the duo of modal kombat played pong, mortal kombat and concluded with mario kart (the original). if there was an emotion for "hang loose" hand sign, i'd insert it here.

afterward, we met up with charles for some "blip'in" conversations and arguments of how the world's new left is emerging. which really got me thinking of myspace, the social networking site. if you are an activist like me and you've ever consider using the groups functionality on myspace, forget about it. it sucks, flickr, facebook, hell even couchsurfing has better functionality.

yesterday, i was in a meeting with a bunch of progressive publications, and as we discussed the nature of communicating with subscribers, we brought up social networks. across the table, jason das said "we use it as a bumper sticker." which got me thinking to all the organizations who use profiles instead of groups - drinking liberally, theburg.tv, and the million and one other orgs - myspace never considered groups to be a focus... and after further poking around... why in the hell do we continue to use such a piss poor product? so without futher ado, click here to friend "Luck of Seven" on myspace.

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.

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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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