first, i'm spit polishing my thoughts for my "omega-th" dorkbot nyc presentation. tomorrow's presentation will be light hearted and quite bitch'n. from 19h00 (7pm) on, i'll be at location one fighting my fears and reminiscing about my journey around the world. afterward, i'll head over to the tank (the arts space not the drunk thing) and see my living liberally buddies, mike and his shinny new book. i hope you can attend one or both!
oh, if you're looking for photos from last friday's brooklyn coworking open house / "work at jelly" session - check day 238 photoset on flickr.
ALSO, last night i had an awesome opportunity to hang out with the UnionDocs crew for their screening of sleepwalking through the mekong. the film highlights dengue fever (the band, not the illness) mini-tour in cambodia. while the Q & A session got hot and spicy, i enjoyed seeing Pheom Phen and found myself missing the other-side of the world. if you have a chance, check out UnionDocs' documentary bodega series and if you can, try to catch dengue fever!
- other thoughts -
it is hard to believe that just seven days ago i arrived back in nyc. honestly, it's been a totally weird experience. not really knowing how things would pan out, i spent two nights on my friend's couch before moving to an undisclosed apartment in the lower east side (ps - i've been asked not to say the exact location. which i totally respect since i'm living rent free; utilities not included).
now, i feel a bit settled and find myself applying for a multitude of jobs, and exploring
first, it was the world economic forum's global fellowship program - i should stop here and explain this decision - if you don't know the controversy, let me lay out some lines... WEF is criticized for creating programs and projects that in the end hurt more people than they help. WEF is also criticized for creating a global conference - DAVOS - where many backroom conversations foster many more questions than answers. all-in-all, i feel that their work, their programs, and their general perception of life can improve.
while change is not easy, i know we can revolutionize everything we touch. using a bit of WEF's language and looking through the lens of the past seven months, i see a strategic framework that any organization can use. for-profit - not-for-profit - there is a framework for production and equality. without a doubt, i firmly believe in the opportunity to advance the seven topics through research.
also, over the past week, i've also applied to oxford university's research fellowship and Google/YouTube's Non-Profit content manager position. while i have a dwindling set of funds and want to dedicate myself to the long term cultivation of all the things i see - i have just a few short days to make some critical decisions that will impact the next few months and determine the rest of my life...
the first decision - i've decided to help Brian Conelly, from alive in baghdad, to explore the development of a video advocacy organization. this non-profit will be named "alive on earth" and will pull in the best and brightest video talent to understand the sphere of video advocacy and community journalism. ranging from curriculum, open source tools, volunteer translation and consulting - we are casting our nets and thinking about the next 10 to 15 years.
the second decision - i'm going to finally get my hack license. no, it's not some weird provincial ability to pillage bodies from nyc. a hack license will allow me to drive an NYC yellow cab. yup, i'm thinking of becoming a taxi cab driver. while there's a long list of things i have to do and i think the cost of testing, forms and junk will cost me around $1k, i'm writing out a proposal that just might score me a sponsor and get you a camera behind the front seat of a taxi cab! ;)
whoa! if there were two cities that i would call a couple, it would be paris and new york. it absolutely astonishes me to look up and see a crystal clear blue sky, with a subway rubbling the ground beneath my feet and amazingly the most polite people on earth... well except for one short little man who must have separated ways with his identical twin brother... and while one terrorizes the politeness of new york, the other fines his vain in paris.
it's my last full day in paris. it's a monday. the sky is blue and the air a bit crisp. my friend lucia and her roommate are somewhere between barcelona and paris and i have two appointments and one unscheduled stop.
first i run to art-and-you.com to interview mary-noelle - beyond the crazy story that she and i share a mutual friend in nyc and discover that we share a mutual friend of a friend in geneva. mary-noelle and i talk (ie she talks and i record) about how art-and-you.com has yet to "officially" launch but is already becoming a well heeled video staple in the Parisian art community. using the fine video skills of friends, art-and-you offers a unpretentious view of art, the galleries, the styles and all the jazz one would normally spend four or five years studying. too boot, they have an online space for artists to upload images of their work to be critiqued from the global community of nobodies like you and me BUT also notable curators, artists, and people who are blessed with societies' knowledge of art.
now here's the best part and why it ties into the whole coworking tiff. art-and-you just doesn't work online, but they have the necessity for their OWN ART gallery. yeah that's right, they need a physical space for work to be displayed, events to be held, and a location to lasso their community... in my mind, it's not too far from the average plight of a normal startup or independent worker.
btw, they also have a partnership where parisian bars and pubs select from art-and-you's catalogue to add ambiance. if you like what you see online, well just run down the street and see if it suits your fancy. it's amazing that this is this a whole network to educated people in art, where to find art, and also how to collect art! currently, if you go to art-and-you's gallery, you'll find a young collector's pieces and a workshop on how to become an art collector. RAD? yah, i think so. btw, next year they're bringing this program to brooklyn!!
around 12h45, i met with mary-noelle's husband, ludoovic dardenay. sidenote, ludo's business partner in World Zhulu Corporation is in china and with my drupal buddies jacob redding and robert scales, the three will talk about drupal in china at drupalcon 08 in boston... but back to ludo's problem, first here's an excellent example of a modern technogenious. the man is bucking the french trend and working hard to start businesses. yes, that plural. apparently (i only use this word because i no longer have access to the economist report on france's markets and how they prevent startups) france has a major problem in startups. most of this has to do with labor law and taxes and the fact that people are guaranteed employment, healthcare, pensions, etc... you know, all the good things that americans so despearatly want but corperations and governments use the french example to thwart.
so ludo's got three business in the oven - the geek consultancy (aka a drupal development shop), a film production company and a restaurant - oh and he's working on a vineyard (yeah, did i mention he's french?) so ludo's problem is multifold (and i'm not talking about the two cell phones that he carries). ludo needs an insprational center where he can be connected with a community of communities and find other young startups or independents that need complementary services... the reason why he needs this "concierge" service is convoluted and maybe as an american i can just say that it is a french way of doing things. needless to say, the nature of an individual who's as a awesome as ludo no longer needs to toy with some henchmen nor a social networking shite. ludo now has a location in central paris where he can go and suss out problems or clients. the solution - la cantine - it is parisian for coworking.
after our conversation, i ran back to the subway and ran into mary-noelle (she was on her way to a meeting at ludo's office; i'm telling you this couple is mad busy. i was happy to have the few hours i had with them :* ). as my last day in paris, i had to track down the latest development of paris ideal of coworking. two weeks ago, i got a little email reminder that la cantine is open for business.
heading back to the same general direction i came from, i found myself at the same metro stop i exited to meet mary-noelle. nussled down the street from the grand boulevards metro stop, i discovered one of the thousand little side alleys of commerce. wrapped in the dusklating sunlight, i entered under a scaffolding to the ideal of many independent / freelance workers.
behind the store front glass stood none other than christophe. he appeared to be an introductory meeting of some sorts. now christophe is another one of those crazy french guys. it had been seven months since christophe and i last met. then it was a hot summer day and i was running into town and he was running to mediate some labor dispute. over multiple shots of coffee we discussed the future of coworking and his ideals of a location in paris. (see the video)
as i stood in front of the door, i hesitated to enter. i knew once i entered this threshold, i would spend a minimum of a few hours talking to people, asking questions and figuring out what does coworking mean to them. for a second, i thought i could just come back in a few mins... but my heart was racing, beads of sweat were growing. if i didn't know better, i would think this was love at first sight.
it could have been a small mirror that bounced off an upper floor window and onto a plate glass which illuminated the inside... but to me it seemed as if god sneezed light. as i walked through the front door, the cafe erupted in color. orange, green, white and black... (btw, in france black is a god given color.) while my photos provide no justice... the place is a palace
wrapped in projectors, outlets, wifi, and ample desk-space. the 11 day old facility has become a hive of parisian geek culture. according to marie noeline (i kid you not, it's another NOEL!) the space is used every night by geeks wanting to come by, hang out and hive. from drupal to wordpress, from php to ruby, from barcamp mashup to impromptu troubleshooting sessions. la cantine is the place to see and be seen.
as the training wheels are adjusted, cost of the space is variable. since the palace is managed by silicon sentier, a concierge for parisian startups, and there are partnerships with the likes of upgrade, dorkbot, orange labs, fing, city of paris, cap digital - so they are looking to cast their net far and wide. if you have a chance, drop by.
and casting the net far and wide is just what two users of the space are working on... karen and vincent are working on a traveling book series. this is not just about travelers and their stories, but the travels their stories take. if you hop on over to http://traverses-lelivre.com you'll be able to track down copies of a book that feature their own serial number and feature a series of french stories from around the world... sometime this summer, karen and vincent are going to purchase two mules and walk from portugal to the netherlands. too boot, over the summer karen is going to release a series of books she's written and a DVD of her trip where she walked from paris to istanbul and then rode a bike to Jerusalem. awesome, i think so!
with the day waning on, marie noeline found a few more mins for me and we started making lists of what she needs and what resources i knew. we talked about the coworking email list - "work at jelly" - collaborative art conferences - conflux - unconferences and the like... in the end, she kept on saying "what do you want this place to be?" if you're in paris don't pass up this opportunity, you have a free space filled with all the resources the city has to offer.
by the time the sun was below the horizon, my friend lucia came to pick me up. seriously, i felt like a kid at playschool not wanting to leave my new friends... and as lu and i were walking the front door out a group of artists were setting up an interactive floor display. this floor is installed every night for development while the artists hammer on the software... seriously, i almost did turn to my friend and said, "can we stay longer?" but alas, i just made another resolve to find a mechanic to fix my motorboat so i can come back and forth as i please.
as my path wondered through southeast asia, i found myself on the other-side of the world where the US dollar is the all mighty. for less that $6.00 USD you'd can be served a mountain of food fit for a king. little did i know that for less that $2.00 USD, my friend huixian and i would eat lavishly for two days...
if huixian and i ate at her house every day, we'd spend less than $15 USD a week. that's less than $15.00 USD a week ON FOOD!!!!
i know it's hard to understand how we can make a difference in someone's lives at the other end of the world, but those "help a christian child" TV spots aren't that far fetched. "for dollars a day you, can change someone's life..." except in this "advertisement" we're not talking about a newly "saved" cambodian pip. we're talking about a "no political or religious agenda; we work directly with village chiefs and school principals to target their communities’ most pressing needs. Gradually, we’ve hired and mentored fifty-seven Cambodians who’ve assumed all leadership positions.” - Nancy Woodward Hendrie from the sharing foundation in the mount holyoke alumnae quarterly
THAT'S RIGHT! a grassroots empowerment organization needs your help. if you donate $10.00 USD and believe it or not, WE can turn it into $50,000!!!
just imagine how much $50,000 will go in cambodia?!?!
luck of seven contributor and global non-profit rockstar beth kantor has asked me to ask for your help. over the next 40 hours, we need to win the "giving challenge." we need to get the most unique donations over the next day or so and we can collectively turn our $10 bucks into $50,000!!!
if you're into the social media chain letter thing, there's a participant wiki on how you can help... the first three are the most important...
1. Volunteer to write at least one blog between today and January 31, 2008 about this and ask your readers to contribute the minimum amount.
2. Put the widget on your blog on the side bar (it is easy to cut and paste)
3. Consider donating $10 to campaign!
there are a few things that get me miffed about society - one of them is the concept of sustainable consumption. and for the past seven months, i've constantly thought about my foot print. oh sure i've taken planes, trains and automobiles and find myself considering the purchase of carbon credits... time and time again, i know i've taken my fare share of dead dinosaurs. too boot, i've used plastic bags, purchased things made of Styrofoam and consumed inorganically substances that will duly destroy the planet in a smattering of centuries. nonetheless, i've been mentally wrestling with the issue of consumption. for the past seven months, i've consumed less than i have ever consumed. honestly, it feels a bit weird.... all of this is beside the point of me writing this longwinded trite, hippopotamus prose.
over the past week, i've had a bit of time to rifle through some old issues of adbusters. if you're a neo-liberal hippy hipster like me, without a doubt you've picked up this Vancouver based mag, torpedoed though the articles in ecstasy exclaiming "i will never consume again" while your chuck taylor's wrap your feet and ben davis wipe your behind.
after taking note of the questionable eco-friendly paper quality, i stumbled upon adbusters #73 (september/october 2007) issue. smack dab in the center of their social commentary, i found a letter from paul cooper on the subject of branding blackspot shoes. it's a short and notable letter. paul's oration foretells the expansion of "blackspot" as a brand.
according to Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island a "blackspot" is given to a pirate as a verdict of guilt. in this case, "blackspot" is the name of the three year old shoe brand (youtube video). (does anyone else see the self deprecating irony of putting on a pair of blackspots? by wearing the shoes one extolls the virtue of hiprococy - "as an activist, i am also a slave to fashion and a slave to brands.")
so back to the shoes... after building the concept, signing deals to outsource construction and selling 25,000 pairs of shoes, adbusters wants to diversify the brand by building alternative centers of mass market consumption. from starbucks to mcdonalds, mr. cooper sees blackspot as the "go-to" brand of alternative conception. (somewhere deep inside of my peon brain, i'm having a hard time rectifying the fact that adbusters is comparing itself to the "evil" demons of mcd and starbucks while seeking to compete with them on the global market.)
there are four reasons why i am writing this article. each one is based around the essential attributes of blackspot's brand that according to paul, "this time the rule of the game have changed."
1. customer = participant, the passive consumer becomes an active participant in shaping the social enterprises of the future.
2. grassroots capitalism, people support the efforts of small-scale entrepreneurs to capture market share from faceless megacorporations.
3. open-source, anyone can brand or co-brand their products or service with the blackspot, joining a loose alliance of thousands of other indie blackspotters.
4. jiu-jitsu marketing, blackspotters will go head-to-head with the dominate companies in the industry, using the power of the world's biggest brands to drive their success.
while i genuinely think that blackspot is onto a good thing, i don't see these rules as earth shattering. they represent nothing more than the long standing fight between small business and big business.
#1 speaks about a passive consumer becoming active. yet, if you are like the millions of americans who care about the bottom line, we just want the cheapest product we can afford. i'm not an idiot (despite by bad grammar and poor spelling) i know economic theory states we must consume to exist. yet, since the dawn of towns and cities, convenience and passivity are the #1 and #2 creature comforts of humanity. nothing in this theory states why i should give a damn.
#2 is nothing more than telling people to buy local. as we move into cities, most items are produced globally. we sit with a painful realization that the world we live within is unsustainable. my ipod, my notebook, my pen, my shoes, my clothing... everything i own was not made in the city of it's acquisition. ok, most of the food i try to buy is local... but in the long run, telling people to purchase localy is not going to change the fact that north americans consume %80 of the world's resources.
#3 is novel in the sense that i can place a "blackspot" product into an advertisement and then do a bit of cross promotion. then again, the more i think about it, the more i come to understand that this is called marketing and branding. maybe #3 speaks concept that in the near future, service providers must join forces and marginalize our individual brands to compete against faceless megacorperations.
#4 is flat out about "marketing." but when i think about going "head-to-head" with megacorperations, i only see the concept of the "anti" brand. in other words, the "blackspot" brand says, "you are a smart, educated consumer. you like brands and love fashion. you know that i am not like them. instead of doing more with less, BUY ME!"
the only thing me thinks is a "revolution," is the fact that adbusters is changing.
if a company really wants to change the way the world works, let's not "sell out" or "buy in." let us find a new way to do business. yet, the more i think about how we can move swiftly into the future, i see that adbusters' alternatives are the only way to "safely consume" in hedonist material world.
as my mental tumblers roll, my mind is still locked into the concept that nothing has changed. if blackspot seeks to radically change the face of consumption, shouldn't they listen to Rev. Billy and the church of stop shopping or better yet, take a page of their own campaigns and educate the consumer and reduce the world's consumption?
ps - the more i touch an iphone, the more i want one. :P
from dat argentinean couchsurfing party.
"Growing in numbers; Growing in speed; Can't fight the future; Can't fight what I see" - moby
there are a few things that i've been told not to do... first, don't drink too much. second, never cut your own hair. third, don't reflect until your done with the journey.
all in all, i find myself reflecting day in; day out. when you find yourself touching the world, it's kinda hard not to reflect and think about the hot sand of israel or giza, the luscious rain of mumbai and houston, the trees lined avenues of phuket and endioven, the streets of buenos aires and berlin, or the gray days of vancouver and sydney. it is hard for me to travel the world and not see the similarities.
it's super hard not to reflect when every new smiling face asks for a synopsis of what you've seen, whom you've met and what you've loved. at times it's hard to remember and at other times hard to forget everything in between the faces, scents, languages, troubled situations and figments of my imagination that seemed more real than anything you could place in front of this poor boy from the midwest.
when i left new york, i set out to embrace the world and prove or disprove the things i've seen online. i wondered if the global network of geeks were just like the network of geeks i've met in north america and europe. i wondered what sat beyond the keyboard, monitor and mouse. i wondered who would embrace the world and embrace me. on 7 july, i set out to surf the net, build a few bridges and meet my global peers.
"Efforts of lovers; Left in my mind; I sing in the reaches; We'll see what we find" - moby
as each roosts and the sun crows, i want to share with you seven things i've seen. these seven things are not the end-all, be-all, but just a start of my digestion... this list is also the start of what i'm going to call the starfish generation or generation starfish (i can't decide which sounds better)...
in the back of my mind, i want to turn this idea into a non-profit that helps build capacity for under represented communities to create their own media outlets - from workshops, unconferences, collaborative work centers, citizen journalism spaces to art, photography, stories, video, etc. - i want to focus on my attention further engaging people who share my passion of story telling while creating solutions to the world's complexities.
as i've explored before, i now see a global ecology based off the seven topics. the seven topics are open examples of a pliable solutions that can be molded to engage community and solve problems. this project (luck of seven) has shown me a unique world filled with international tribes that cut right through planet.
heath row once asked me if i see these topics as the seven new wonders of the world... and while i didn't quite understand the complexity of my own argument, i now do. when this journey started, it was an exploration of my peers and the passions we all enjoy. after five months - sleeping in homes, floors, and couches; after five months of sitting around the global dinner table; after five months of shaking hands with the internet - i now see an opportunity to organize the organizers.
every bone in my body feels the radiating wi-fi signal. located in every home, village, town, and country sits a router. together, we send and receive. together, i know we can build a feedback loop to experiment with the best and the brightest programs to revolutionize our communities to offer programs and content that know no ideological boundaries.
i have discovered that many of us are timeless, nationless, genderless, ageless, classless, homeless, and tireless. this these are the seven tenants of the starfish generation.
we consume to refute the world around us. we internalize everything we read and internationalize our thoughts.
we are globe of tribes.
slowly we are growing in numbers, we are slowly growing in pieces. frankly, no one can stop us now. we are all made of stars. (sorry, i was listing to moby...)
to be honest, i'm scared crapless to think about this passion and know that i have to do something about it... as i set out from NYC, i knew my life would change. i knew the only thing that could and would stop me would be my fears. without a doubt, every morning i wake up and fear thoughts of failure. every morning, i know if i devout the honesty of my heart i will achieve the goals set forth. your unflinching support, your trust, your kind and harsh words of critique have taken me around the world to visit our peers. without a doubt this is more than a feeling... (yeah, that's right... go find your boston vinyl and turn it up to 11! otherwise, watch this video and drool at their pimp-stashes - speaking of pimp-stash, did you know about mustaches for kids? houston's currently has a competition. why don't you?)
on my last day in adelaide, i was honored to be picked up by Janet Hawtin (an early supporter of this project) and her partner. then to be driven into "the hills" for a series of interviews with a group of geeks from IT share. without janet's support, i wouldn't have been introduced to the wonderful group of geeks who volunteer endlessly building computers for no/low income citizens of the adelaide metro area. no words can express my thanks for her selflessness, introductions and coordination of schedules on my brief stay.
(when you get a chance, check out a card game she's created to explain creative commons. btw, it's GPL'ed for you to rework. apparently beth kantor has recompiled a different configuration.)
as for today's interviews, whew! for two hours, i fired off a series of questions interrogating five members of IT share. limited in time because i started my day late (happy birthday jo and kt!!!), i found myself interviewing geeks who have built an international computer recycling project.
headquartered in the lion's club of bridgewater, IT share meets on a weekly basis to teach others how to build, use, and repair computers. then, these systems are either donated or sold at a low cost to residents of the adelaide metro area.
just recently, IT share, through the help of santos and the australian government, sent a container filled with computers to a hospital in the capitol of timor. armed with F/OSS, the IT Share team deployed over 30 computers, built the hospital's first computer network, connected the network to the internet and educated a team of geeks...
thank you gang! it was a pleasure to meet all of you, talk about your projects and hear how you're hard work is paying off...
yesterday (day 99), i kicked around adelaide, interviewing artists, and gallery hopping with a random acquaintance of jo's.
it really funny to think about how we're all connected. when i landed on friday (day 98), i sat at jo's place of employment (a swank tea bar named "t bar") sipping coffee and wifi. after meeting jo and coordinating a limited schedule of engagements (dinner, breakfasts, birthday party), i departed to find a second hand store (i hoped to acquire a knit cap and/or light jacket - i've spent the past three months prancing in summer weather and am completely under dressed for the cold AUS spring) and find an electrical outlet/fat wifi pipe to upload episode 19 (which never happened due to a crazy WIFI setup).
nonetheless, at 4pm i returned to jo's place of employment for a quick tour of central market and adelaide. as we were walking out, jo ran into akira, an adelaide based sculpture. after a brief introduction and mutual acceptance of randomness, the three of us walked out into the city streets. after an exchange of phone numbers and promises of meeting up on saturday, the three departed ways.
back to yesterday (day 99)... after two days of not sleeping, i grabbed 12 hours of rest, woke up, took a very hot shower, donned my new skull cap, packed up my laptop, hard drive, camera, ipod, and spare batteries. not knowing what to expect, i was gearing my self to do anything.
meeting back at the T bar, akira and i departed from jo's birthday preparations and ventured into the wilderness 1.1 million call adelaide. winding through the windy streets, akira and i talked about our travels and history), how we know jo, his art, our passions, the city and adelaide's new/old tram system which was to open today (sunday, day 100). arriving at the downtown art space, we met up with two very hung over artists / directors / friends. after a bit of quite conversation sans any loud noises, i got the two to spill the beans on adelaide's premier community gallery.
then as quickly as we entered, we quietly tip-toed out of the gallery and walked thought the desolate streets of addy's seedy side of town. (honestly, it's just one street three blocks long with a handful of strip clubs, bars with "pokies" aka slot machines and an honest to god "quick-e-mart".) as the day started late, we found our self just in time to use experimental art foundation's bathroom and by happenstance to meet teri hoskin.
(now this is where it gets weird...)
teri is researching a position at the new school. the new school is located in new york. i use to live in new york (well my permeant address is still in nyc) and i use to attend events at the new school. i also looked at the new school as an undergraduate alternative, but never got further than drinking their cheap wine and cheaper cheese squares. BUT i did get a good understanding of the new school's offerings and could answers teri's question on the new school.
as the conversation progressed, we realized that the new school, new york, akira, and experimental multimedia art were not the only things we have in common. tucked away on the other side of the world (aka nyc), sits one woman whom i've emailed and never received an response. this same woman is the former boss of a one Winnie Fung, a friend and not an alternative member (aka brooklyn coworking). this same woman is good friends with houndbee's girlfriend - houndbee and i met in delhi at oss camp and he rocks audio sound scapes... amazingly, this woman is not just some random person, but the executive director of eyebeam!
how awesome is that?!?! i wonder when amanda and i will finally meet? i wonder how many more of amanda's friends will i randomly meet? i wonder if amanda could possibly be the new media artist code and i just don't get it yet...
well... it's now officially day 101 and i have to wake up at 5 am and catch a train to melbourne...
as i check my global feeds, you should note the following...
- BarCamp Bangkok (google group) is kicking off! (good luck sugree and kenggg)
- kenggg i too miss you!
- tactical tech is hiring for three positions - Director of Operations, Business Development Lead, Communications Coordinator - if i wasn't on this blasted (joking) road trip, i would apply for the business development lead just to roll the dice.
- Open Source Initiative is also hiring! they need a spankin' programs manager to build up OSI's capacity and turn it into a rock star organization.
- thursday, ubuntu gutsy is released and the sydney linux users group has invited me to party with them.
- my friend zadi sent me (via twitter) sent me a "right brain v. left brain" test. not only does the test seem to short circuit my brain, but i'm disturbed by the attention to "detail." maybe my attention to detail is short circuiting the test...
- if you're in australia and if you have an old computer in your closet, consider donating it to IT Share.
- in sad news for all you 'creekers, Brian Jones, class of 96 member, passed away. my thoughts go out to his family. if you're looking for more info on his wake/funeral arrangement get in touch with *kristy* on myspace
lastly, today is day #3 in the northern territory library and it is located in the territory's legislative building. doors open at 10 am. at your disposal, you will find an assortment of global newspapers, a few lonely planets and 10 - 12 computers for public use. if you want to use the computers, you better show up early! within an hour of opening, the schedule for every computer is booked. if you have your own laptop, show up, latch on to their open network and plug-into one of a million and one power outlets. oh did i tell you that the internet is wicked fast?
oh and it's my last day in darwin. now that i've spent a week in "civilization" i'm shocked at the stares and weird looks i get. for two months, i walked down numerous streets not thinking to bits about my hairstyle. now, everywhere i turn i get glances of disgust or comments of hate. it SUCKS to find "civilized" people so self conscious of others. it's a shame there they have nothing else to worry about.
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
- witness - using video to document human rights
- global voices - a global perspective of online conversations
- drishti - an indian based video advocacy shop
- video volunteers - an exelent example of building local rural media outlets
- dot sub - translate your video into any language
- tactical tech (NGO in-a-box kits) - free tool kits
- ashoka asia
- taproot foundation's - non profit technology listing
- Ideallist.org - tools for fundraising
NGO resources to understand digital technology
- tactical tech - best practices & tool kits for change
- NPO Groups - Rider's News & Rider's Tech
- mobileactive - social engagement with mobile phones
- NTEN - nonprofit technology network
- DotOrganize's report on non-profit's and NGOs
- tech soup - tools, forums and resources
- personal democracy fourm - online political engagement
dear fellow NYC freelancer,
it's been a while since we shared the wifi-hotspot-double-mocha-frappa-whatchamacallit, exchanged tips on client management, conference hangovers and discussed the virtues of Kurt Weill and Yochai Benkler's Wealth of Networks. i'm sorry i haven't been back to that coffee shop.
i have to let you in on secret. well, it isn't really a secret, but one of those NYC underutilized facilities... last summer, beka and i banded together to create Brooklyn Coworking at Not An Alternative (NAA). we broke free from hourly coffee purchases and created a space for new york's alternative working community - a cafe-like community and collaboration space for programmers, net-artists, online organizers and independents.
about a month ago, brooklyn coworking undertook a metamorphosis, tore down some walls and is no longer limited to a cozy café environment. if you attended Glowlab's Conflux, you've seen the spaciousness!
are you tired of complaining to your cat about broken code or a bad client?
wondering what is the next wave of social software?
looking for an invigorating environment to call an "office?"
if you are in NYC on friday, 21 september, join my best friends for williamsburg's coworking open house and happy hour! i promise you an absolute delight!
you'll find all the deets on Not An Alternative's Blog.
XOXO from india,
photo courtesy of the NAA's blog post...
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.
"If your heart acquires strength, you will be able to remove blemishes from others without thinking evil of them." - mohandas k. gandhi
on the eve of celebrating two months of jostling, i thought it would be nice to turn the spotlight to someone who has enlightened my existence.
robyn byrd is cycling around france raising awareness and money for darfur. her project cycling for darfur started on the first, and there couldn't be a better time to start. from today's nytimes, it appears that the vicious cycle is rolling on.
on her journey, robyn is fundraising for Global Grassroots, a non-profit which works with woman survivors of the darfur genocide who reside in Chad's refugee camps. for 600 kilometers she is asking people to sponsor 1 cent per kilometer (aka $6 USD for the ENTIRE TRIP!!!) through her blog she will detail conversations and people she finds.
if you get a chance, donate your lunch money to a good cause... believe it or not, just a few pennies will change the world!
robyn and i have an interesting connection, last year she contacted me vis-a-vis couchsurfing. out of the blue she crossed the hudson, the east river and into my life... for a few hours we chatted and as quickly as she entered, she disappeared...
that was until we randomly met again this year... on a crowded, rain soaked roof top in manhattan, we caught up, exchanged numbers and proceeded to spend a significant amount of time together.
shortly before my departure, through some simple twist of fate, she invited me to attend an evening with bobby seale, founder of the black panter party, former political prisoner, activist and chef. after listing to bobby cautiously wade through simple questions which could have been answered in one breath - "stop talkin' & get to work"... a featherific thought attached itself to my hat, and for the next week i attempted to read seize the time.
as the seconded ticked down to my departure, i found my self running around nyc staring at unsolvable social dilemmas and cultural creeks no bridge could cross. finding myself more flustered than resolved, i tossed the book in my sack.
just this morning i pulled out seize the time. sitting in cairo, i feel more resolved than flustered. let us all put our shoulder to the wheel and push along. i wish the best to my sister robyn.
Recoded: 13 July 2007
Locations: Prague, Czech Republic
Tags: tol, activism, hacktivism, new media, central asia, freedom, citizen journalism
Music: Everything's Got 'Em by Harry Nilsson
About: For the first extended stay was in Prague, where I taught a corse on new media journalism for Transitions Online. On the last day, I interviewed Jeremy Druker, Executive Director, and Evgeny Morozov, Director of New Media.