inspiration

day 83. the hidden treasure in your heart.

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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?

also, you can join friends of alive in baghdad where you can make your own advertisement of support.

sidenote, micki krimmel (luck of seven contributor) wrote a nice piece on the changing face of online media.

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day 79. going to the movies.

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last night, boy was there a fight.

after taking an eight hour bus from Naski to Mumbai, i found my way through the monsoon laden streets to yashish's company of friends. after commandeering two cell phones for directions, i found a small hotel with three restaurants. nestled in down a dark road stood, my destination was within aqua.

as i sat in an overly sterile environment, i found warmth in the company of nine indians. glued to a flat panel, we watched the semi-finals of the world's first T20 cricket match.

the game ends for those of you (like my self) who don't pay attention to cricket, let me enlighten you about a few things... first, the world over has found cricket to be a total bore. second, the world of cricket has a new shortened version. it's kinda like two innings with a pitcher throwing no more than 20 pitches. third, cricket is a fanatical sport. forth, india and Pakistan will play each-other in the world series T20 final. fifth, they are arch rivals.

as i've traveled around india, i see a sense of nationalism unlike any other. there's almost a hell bent attitude that india is ready to take over the world. maybe it's their position as one of the world's fastest growing economies. maybe it's their position as the largest democracy in the world. maybe it's their diversity. maybe it's their position as one of the worlds largest english speaking countries. maybe it's because of their diverse history and willingness to compromise to make things equal. maybe it's because they see beyond the horizon and see a world where their footprint will dominate the globe.

one can not overlook the impact india has on the globe. one can not overlook the pride indians have for their country, diversity, and history. the world can not overlook india.

today, i made a little journey. after last night's jaunt, i woke up with three agenda items... 1. get a new SIM card (btw, i'm writing up a long overdue review of SIM purchases for MobileVoices) 2. hang out with yashesh. 3. find a way to see shreya, a college student whom i met while at digital bridge camp.

the first two were quite easy to accomplish. yashesh is a geek, and despite his maxed out metered ADSL, has his geek connections. ten mins away from his house sits a train station. surrounding the train station sits a local market. as we passed by airtel, hutch, reliance, vodaphone advertisements, i wondered which provider would clam me as their next victim.

the paperwork

as i first attempted in egypt, i selected vodaphone as my vampire of choice. to my surprise, vodaphone gave me a kickass deal, 10 times better than airtel. i kinda felt like a schmuck after the kind booth-man handed me my pre-paid packet and i wooted out-loud.

after a 15 minute interlude of names, phone numbers, addresses, passport and visa numbers, i sent my first text message to shreya. who immediately informed me her younger sister was in town and plans would have to be "family" oriented. in my mind, that meant MOVIE NIGHT!

after my night at movies with omar, i am now hell bent on catching as many movies as possible. you really don't know a culture until you know how they experience movies. despite the whole concept of sitting in a dark room with the lights out, movies are highly social and provide a rare glimpse into the banality of life.

i arrived and immediately qued up to start my bewilderment. the man behind me, stood so close that his belly touched my back. every step forward endured another oppressive re-acquaintance with this discomforted. after two quick steps and a quarter turn to my right, i experienced his dirty fake italian shoe on top of my foot. not to mention his big-assed belly pushing my arm. fed-up with his physical comport, i created a force field with my elbows. in india, physical space is one of those things you create or deal. i took it to the next level and pretty much built the taj mahal between us.

after a bit of slow-going, i was in-front of an attendant with two options - sliver seats (300 rps / 7.50 usd) or regular (90 rps / 2.50 usd). confused, intrigued, bewildered and excited, i pulled out 1000 rps, felt like a millionaire and purchased three tickets.

when shreya and her sister arrived the movie was just about to start and my excitement was about to boil over. somewhere above my head sat three leather lazy boys with our names. walking though security was not a breeze. since isreal, every mall's entrance has a guard, metal detector and bag search. after loading up my pockets with an ipod, cell phone and camera, i set off more alarms than an that crazy old farmer who drove his tracker into washington monument.

apparently, cameras are allowed but not their batteries. cell phones, while allowed, are closely monitored. after a bit of my belligerence demanding to know where my battery would be kept, we dashed up four flights of stairs to one of the most amazing theaters in the world.

there was no opulence, just glutney. the concession stand was to the right. to the left stood seven or so booths for any tasty delight of your choice. hot dogs, ice cream, starbucks, sorbet, cell phones, books, credit cards... there was a booth for them all... not only was this theater in a mall, but there was a mall within the theater.

tucked away somewhere, i assumed there was another smaller theater, but couldn't find it. maybe it was on the half-level below me and i just missed it.

in the theater, we were quickly shown our seats - three fat lazy boys with electronic adjusters to recline. each one came with a soft pillow and a warm blanket. as i pondered when was the last time the blanket was washed, my naked wet legs found warmth. comfortably adjusted a mile apart from each other, the three of us sat in a row to watch "loins of punjab." (spoilers precede this statement. LOP was not entirely a flop, and i might see it again... so now you've been warned.)

the movie goers

the movie had it's moments and more importantly had it's defining moment at the tail end. unlike a majority of the attendants, the three of us arrived too late to stand for the Indian national anthem. well guess what happens at the end? the white guy who's vying for desi idol sings the national anthem. AND in spite of the Indian-American demand for no one to stand up... the entire audience stood up...

the three of us just kinda looked at each other, tossed some popcorn in our gullet and waited for everyone to sit down.

then something hit me harder than bars of soap on the fat guy in full metal jacket... ireguardless of the stereo type portrayed in American pop culture, this country is going to bite us in the ass. we might think of them as a little democratic brother, but india has a shit load of natural and mental resources unyet tapped.

the Japanese economic fright of the 80's is nothing compared to unsmoked resources of Goa. in more ways than one, i've got my money on india!

GO INDIA!

day 77. resources for social change (focus on NGOs in india)

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30606188 E6F35Ff220 M it's day 77 and with the wings of mercury, i've hit 15 countries, taped 31 hours of video, and visited the only lasting ancient wonder of the world. despite my rants of trying to breaking bad habits, i am having a blast.

today, i received two refreshing emails... the first came from my mother who said "...do not misplace your faith" and the second came from an old friend who said "consider this your great adventure. don't start planning for another until you've finished this. experience this while you're living it. don't experience it in retrospect."

both emails came as a nice pleasant blow to my mental state of annoyance. maybe it's my present location that's affecting my head. the guest house where DigitalBridgeCamp is located is a former home for shell shocked WW I & II solders. it would be easy to dismiss my distraught thoughts on the ghost stories of war veterans, but my reality is that i'm trying to understand a gap that's enveloped me. i'm looking for a bridge to ride my painted pony into the 21 century.

today also contained another seminal moment. shortly after lunch, i found myself reiterating a presentation i made two days ago. with the help of a bottle of wine, some country liquor, and a good night of sleep, i sounded more like a scratchy record than fresh fruit juice. lucky for me, a few people disagreed with my viewpoint and it fired up my hungover brain cells into something tangible.

from DOTsub, rocketboom, alive in baghdad, make weekend projects, galacticast, jetset, the burg.tv - to - my name is bill, the tuxedo travelers, the yes men, not an alternative, drishti, video volunteers... i spent an hour or so talking about media and the power of making our own media.

with a camera, an idea, an internet connection and a tool kit, we can tell our own story. in the hands of underrepresented communities, the true face of the world comes into focus. just look at video volunteers and you will stare into the face of the global future.

(ed note, alive in baghdad is right now the creme de la creme of community video units. it's just so sad to watch.)

the following are just small list of organizations, projects and resources. i know my knowledge is limited. if you have any addendum, leave a comment.

video resources for social change

NGO resources to understand digital technology

("Mercury Rising" by flickr user xerones)

day 71. a shift in perspective and a few things about the Drishti Media Collective

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since my stint in U.A.E., i've found my self engulfed with The Life of Mahatma Gandhi by Louis Fischer. sure it's may seem a bit madding to jump from the 1960's armed struggle of the Black Panther party to the peaceful man of Mahatma Gandhi, but i've found it quite useful. both books have rekindled a flame long ago extinguished.

back in high school i use to volunteer at a battered woman's shelter and would devote a weekend every other month helping out at a Mormon store house packaging goods for those in need. when i graduated, i found a new world of sex, drugs, rock and roll, travel and employment. fueled by many desires, i never found time to help out those less fortunate. well, except for an annual token donation to a random charity of choice.

as my path moved from one east cost city to the next, i never forgot about the long nights cooped up on a secure floor of the YWCA in Dayton. when 2003 rolled around, i thought long and hard about my actions and decided to do something. five years later and a few thousand miles from home, i can't can not stop listing reading about the struggle for basic human rights that has plagued this planet since it's inception.

doubtful this world will ever see a day where poverty is eliminated. i can't help but to find my mind reciting the words of civil rights leaders long gone...

i too have a dream. somewhere in my head resides the acknowledgment that my past (genetic & historical) has brought me to a point where i can no longer pass by others less fortunate and not give a damn. i've thought long about our relationship with technology, progress and commerce. i've thought long about structures in society that say one thing without resolve. frankly, i can no longer think of technology without it's connotation with our soul.

we now stand at a time where consumerism is more powerful and socialism & more powerful than capitalism. yet, the tools we long for are being designed to connect us but yet somehow a good portion of society sees novelty than utility.

a camera is more powerful than a gun.
a cell phone is more powerful than a loudspeaker.
a text message is more powerful than poster.
a phone call is more powerful than chant.

we continue to struggle using these basic tools. yet, we bask in the rays of commerce while gleefully paying bills and saying "thank you" for the utility.

i can no longer see my self stepping back to a world where conversations placate our ability to change the world. frankly, i can also no longer accept a world where others determine charity, governance and media. we have the tools. we have the brains. we have the network. we need capacity and focus.

yesterday, i found myself siting with a man who embodied his name. i do not mean in any derogatory remark, but as a frank observation after spending twenty mins with one of the world's enlightened visionaries. Stalin K. started his professional career as an actor (a meme i think) and has since found himself as a leader of humanity.

about 15 years ago Stalin started making movies. 10 years ago he found himself helping build radio stations. now Stalin and his coworkers take basic consumer tools (cameras, computers and transmitters) into impoverished communities and builds local media outlets.

"of the people, for the people, by the people" is Drishti's motto. wherever they drive, communities learn the capacity to use digital tools to tell their story and build their own media outlets. primarly working in rural communities, who barely have clean water and a doctor, Drishti empowers communities to tell their story. i only wish i could have spent more time understanding how they do it. from the few hours i had to learn, i see a well thought-out, educated team planning campaigns most political campaigns dream.

here's to you Drishti! here's to the future of technology and social media! it was an honor coming to Ahmedabad.

for Drishti to do a better job, they are constantly looking for people who understand social media to help them turn their mediocre online presence into a formative platform for good. they also need open source tools translated into local regional indian languages. while they don't mind "using" commercial software, then NEED an open source video solution.

what keeps mankind alive

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moon in bloom

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

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Episode 13 - Dries on Drupal

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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.

important links to note...
- drupal.org
- groups.drupal.org
- buytaert.net
- kerneltrap.org
- slashdot.com
- amnesty.org
- greenpeace.org

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.

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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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