this was original written somewhere over the south pacific.
as the hour turns, i cross the equator for the first time. in a nondescript tiger airways airbus, i find the toilet really doesn't flush counterclockwise, i find no big celebration, i find nothing special about this landmark event.
yet my heart, my head, and my stomach bounce in delight. it might have been the most recent copy of the economist or the $3USD korean ramen or 100g of a dark chocolate and hazelnut concoction. but somewhere deep down inside, i think it's because i'm finally making it to australia.
many years ago, when i was in junior high, i use to hang outside the principles' office. surround by wood paneling and a trophy case of the school's awards, my hacker/geek/outcast friends sat under the sole pay-phone wondering how we could harness it's copper to escape from our dreary midwestern lives.
on the weekends, my father and i would drive to book's and company (the most cosmopolitan book store in dayton, ohio) and pick up our monthly addiction of computer magazines, mondo 2000, and 2600. during the week, my friends and i would sit next to the principal's office and scheme up plans to take over the school's PA system or hack the LED student council sign or plan our next 24 hour LAN party.
we were kids. we were geeks. the internet had yet to find it's way into our daily life.
one day, in a fit of youthful frustration, i called quantas and made a reservation to Australia. before the agent hung up, my dreams were dashed. somehow i would have to muster $5000 USD and apply for a visa.
seventeen years later, i have taken care of the two.
while my original plans had me in country much longer than two weeks, my flight to hawaii came at a high cost - fly out on Oct 20th for a few hundred or fly out later and pay close to a thousand - SO my first three days in australia will be spent in darwin sorting my bearings, catching up on emailed contacts, planning my US roadtrip and gathering steam for my trek across australia.
on monday, 8.10.2007 (or 8.10.2007 depending on which side of the world you're on) humpy doo, katherine, newcastle waters, tenant creek, alice springs, coober pedy, woomera, adelaide, melbourne, and sydney will no longer be names on a map nor places a crocodile dundee movie. they and the places in-between will be filled with faces and their stories'.
with a bit of tung and cheek, joe strummer sung the following immortal words...
"Number 1, You have the right not to be killed...
... Number 2, You have the right to food money...
... Number 3, You have the right to free speech as long as you're not dumb enough to actually try it."
as last night's waning hours worked their fury into a insatiable quest for entertainment, i found my self immersed in "seize the time" and thinking about my conversations with mardini, alaa, amr and nora.
back in nyc, i would have read their stories on global voices and thought of their story to be a novel use of social technology. after visiting them, hearing them, watching them with friends and conversing with a room full of geeks, i no longer viewed them as just a story. i no longer saw novelty, but the reality we are locked in a long struggle.
this struggle is not just about technology, but providing localized technology... without adequate translation, a computer, iphone, ipod, etc is no different than a hammer. (this will be addressed in a video interview... but hopefully you can understand that english internet superpower is not the "end all be all" of intellectual prowess... then again the hole-in-the-wall project would disagree with me.)
humanity has many faces. a majority of them are pleasant. (i am fortunate to see these faces across the globe - from the cairo subway to the streets of the bronx.) when it comes to the minority, this struggle works it way to be a battle over power. my visit to the pyramids reinfoced this fact.
through my eyes, i see this struggle to be a struggle over basic human rights. in the USA, we are "fortunate" to be "born" with "inalienable rights." incredibly, 40 years ago "the great experiment" failed in providing these rights to it's citizens. now at the dawn of the 21st century, through the use of digital technology, we have a unique opportunity to shape the way "inalienable rights" are passed along to the rest of the world.
without trying to be radical, a basic civics lesson will tell you "politics is war without bloodshed - and war is a continuation of politics, with bloodshed." huey p. newton & bobby seale built the black panther party to be THE vessel for the american black community to fight oppression, racism and murder and provide "Land, Bread, Housing, Education, Clothing, Justice And Peace." despite the fact their organization was criminalized and persecuted, the black panther party died to bring justice for all poor americans. (btw, did you know they created the "free breakfast for children program" and popularized medical research in sickle-cell disease?)
forty years later, the world continues to face these same problems. most of the people whom i've interviewed all see the same thing.
the technology we have at our disposal is not just a simple vessel of entertainment. our modern technology is a complex beast that crashes through the gates of oppression and gives us an opportunity to make the world a better place.
sadly and on a too frequent basis, i see many of us blinded by the shiny side of the iphone, the hue of a garment or worse the insatiable consumption for "sustainable consumption." yet, one can not separate the quest of basic human rights as the pit of peach. all of these issues are wrapped up on the third planet from the sun.
by creating "a bill of rights for users of the social web" it's great to see that smarr, canter, scoble and arrington hopping on the same chariot many political technologist championed last year through the integration proclamation. while i support both, i see these intellectual statements as one thing, and can't stop thinking of bertolt brecht and kurt weill's song "what keeps mankind alive"
You gentlemen who think you have a mission
To purge us of the seven deadly sins
Should first sort out the basic food position
Then start your preaching, that’s where it begins
You lot who preach restraint and watch your waist as well
Should learn, for once, the way the world is run
However much you twist or whatever lies that you tell
Food is the first thing, morals follow on
So first make sure that those who are now starving
Get proper helpings when we all start carving
What keeps mankind alive?
What keeps mankind alive?
The fact that millions are daily tortured
Stifled, punished, silenced and oppressed
Mankind can keep alive thanks to its brilliance
In keeping its humanity repressed
And for once you must try not to shriek the facts
Mankind is kept alive by bestial acts
Technorati Tags: a bill of rights for users of the social web, activists, bertoit brecht, integration proclamation, joseph smarr, kurt weill, marc canter, michael arrington, open social web, robert scoble
Recoded: 26 July 2007
Locations: Antwerp, Belgium
Tags: drupal, open source, linus torvalds, angela byron, history of drupal, kernel trap, inspiration, empowerment
Music: ana (captain planet remix), vieux farka touré and captainplanet
About: after much wrangling and rescheduling, dries and i finally caught up to talk about the history of drupal, his inspiration, and most importantly the empowerment of community.
on a side note, thank you OpenCraft for giving me a home to edit this video!
also, i'd like to thank dries and karlijn on their new boy and omar for his hospitality in cairo.