as it seems that my mind is unable to keep up with the flurry of updates surrounding this story, i want to lay out a timeline for reporters and fellow bloggers to clearly understand. i've seen a few miss prints and want to clear the air.
1 - 2 Aug Photos - Depart for Beijing, China from New York City.
3 Aug Photos - Walk around Beijing and see sites.
4 Aug Photos - Visit the Summer Palace.
5 Aug Photos - Visit the "Bird's Nest" and hang out in the Lake District.
11 Aug - Arrival in USA (while in transit from LA, Chicago, and NYC, twitter updates are reflected on facebook wall status.) at 7.45 pm, steve spurgat notifies me that my f'wall updates no longer what i posted but instead are replaced my a code Fred Benenson blog post. (qik videos - Arrival in NYC, at Newark, Arrival in NYC, in Taxi Cab, Culture Shock)
my first question - where do i begin?
my first answer - from the beginning.
one year ago i left my friends, family, and everything i knew for a journey unlike any other. with close to $4000 USD in the bank and another $10,000 in credit card debt, i packed two backpacks and said "so long." now it's one year later, i now have $12,000 in credit card debt (mostly in late fees), and a just enough in my bank account to cover my ever growing list of expenses. (more on cash flow later..)
over the past year i've been a nyc taxi driver and have found myself in the company of good peeps who have invited me to make a few presentations around the world. somehow, someone liked what i did and said "give this boy a job." alas, now i am now the community manager for RemixAmerica.org and trying to understand the impact of mashups and remixes.... and if wasn't for the massive hangover i'm still working off, i'd tell you how happy i am with my level of creativity.... BUT all of that is just the most recent icing on the cake.
what i really want to so say is since my departure, i've seen a small slice of the world, and fallen in love with the endless possibilities that exist between here and there. between here and the one year anniversary of my return, you will get a recap of me and the untold story. (my arrival + 1 year will be the opening day of my documentary film.)
yah, so if this wasn't enough for you to chew on... i have a confession, the journey you saw last year wasn't the compete journey. i held back because i didn't know how to process all of my thoughts, footage and hell, i need the chance to f'ing live a little. so once i get my video camera operational, you'll start to see some new videos... i promise you a new video every week, and hopefully i can do more.
for now, here are a few pictures from the first two days...
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! ;)
ok, now that i look back on the past seven months and i see a about a ba-gillion and one things that i could have done different... but in the end, i'm am more happy now than i ever could have thought. i am at peace with my self and more importantly, i am at peace knowing we have much work ahead.
for those who are planning a similar exploration, i'll warn you... the hardest part of traveling the world is finding balance. it is one thing to absorb, and then there is another to complete work. yes, i do mean work. don't get me wrong, shlepping has it's payoffs but sometimes you'll find it hard to leave the safe confines of an apartment for yet another drive, walk, or exploration of the environment...
now combine that with a active campaign seeking out an angle for good content. if you're like me, after seven months you'll find it quite hard to fit the world inside of a camera, and after having a forest gump running moment, you realize that you're tired of running and you just stop... it gets even harder when you've run out of money, the weather is shitty and you are stuck in houston, tx.
two weeks have passed since the official end of my journey and i find myself at the tail end of my illness, not the subtle illness of a chest cold and/or parisian flu... but at the end of some monumental aliment that took me to the end of the darkened tunnel of love and was rescued through the hospitality of normality.
so for the last two weeks i've been a smooth rock, skipping first from houston, then into NYC - i had to reconnect with my bestest peeps/sleep in my bed, but like a good skip, they sent me sailing across the pond for yet another home coming...
many years ago when i concocted this crazy idea, i drunkly called up my airline miles and planned a little adventure to a small little city in switzerland. with the little money i had, i purchased a conference ticket and then scouted out ways to stay for free... at the advice of a friend, i found couchsurfing.com and a little technology convergence titled LIFT.
three years later, i'm on LIFT's main stage spewing my crazy idea of my global journey, hugging the world, meeting new friends and still couchsurfing.
now, for the past week and a half i've been in paris bouncing from a friend's couch (the ex-girlfriend who sent me on this journey), picking up the parisian bug, aka the illness (and when i mean illness i mean the desire to live here and i also mean a serious cold), then bouncing into the lovely arms of Dr Miggy whom i met in houston (and was making her first international voyage), and back on to my friend's couch.
during this time (that being the seven months on the road) i've languished in writing, detailing photos, and videos......and i'm just now realizing that only a third of the story is public. luckily, now that the trip is over i don't have to worry about new content, i just have to find a job and series of NYC couches to hold me off for a month... (more to come later)
so now that this journey is physically ending, i'm not gonna worry too much about NEW content. NOW the focus starts on the stories yet to be told... the 50 some odd hours of video a massed. the hundreds of pages scribbled here and there. the thousands of over exposed / underexposed photos that tell more about the people than the places... frankly, the more i think about it, the more it excites me. i now get to relive the journey from the lenses of my self, i now can be the spectator of the adventure i took, and you get to join me!
so seeing how i still haven't found an employer, i can take the liberty to say that i'm going to follow my heart and relaunch this project and look for funding on using following framework... on 07/07/08, i'll reboot the vlog and start all over again giving you weekly episodic content that combines what happened "a year ago" and what's happening now with the movie / book / luck of seven strategic framework (btw, i'm going to crystallize the seven topics into a new cagey / guru need not apply / corporate physiotherapy / "hey look, the geeks at the front of the classroom have social skilz and we're going to harvest an evolution" / < insert your witty t-shirt catch phrase here>)... so in a year's time frame (marchish 2008) all of this should parlay itself into the release of a documentary film...
just so you don't think that this is your uncle's wacky disneyland adventure where you're force fed sugar and told to sit still, this documentary will feature many "call outs" for content... for example, i want a really cool hand drawing video (a-la, make mag's weekend projects / four eyed monster) that sketches the world and colors the continents as i bounced or special effects, etc, etc, etc... in other words, a number of tasks that allow you to help fill-in the kernels of content that i can't pay to produce, nor know how....
long story short, the story is just beginning... below i've selected a few photos that since i last uploaded photos on my last day in ushuaia.
the past two days contain three ingredients - 1 tablespoon of all day encoding and editing - 1 750 cml of Argentinean wine - 2/3 victory in backgammon. as i sit, edit, and play, i am working hard to catch up on video editing. even after my scratch drive reformat, it seems that i'm filling 200 gig drives faster than i can "zadi snap" my fingers. through it all, i'm catching up on emails and poking around online for brazilian contacts.
painfully, the next few videos are more emotional than i've expected. i never would have thought that at the end of the world i would tear my soul and pour on to tape the uncertainty of life.
as my last month spins, i am at a very important crossroad. this is more important than when i started. (which you will see in two videos from now...) not only am i looking to complete the goals that i set out 12 months ago, but i am now in need of employment and shelter from the storm of poverty. my credit card bills have piled up. my roommate emailed me that my sub-let is moving out and nether she nor i can afford the apartment on our own.
while the head hits the tape, i see a few options. as an election year, i can turn to the old guard and seek my thirst on the campaign trail, OR i can do something REALLY crazy. this craziness involves turning the sum of the past 12 months, the tools and hard lessons learned into something that empowers others to do the same.
i have one simple crux. i see an intertwined world of overwhelming complexity. i see issues, arguments, problems, and overlapping thoughts. at the same time, i do not see myself cutting out one issue to fill my fix of empowering others. i do not see a single singularity, nor do i have the funds to continue. i must not give up on helping others to make our world a better place, but i must also find employment.
i've been looking at executive level positions with witness and league of young voters, but i need more options than just these two. if you know of any jobs that could use a suave boy like me, please send out a contact... my ears are open.
feeling a bit down on my antarctic prospects, sebastian and rasta max hooked me up with a small barter. for 8 hours i would be forced to sit in the front seat of a land rover to video one of ushuaia's best 4 x 4 tours. running around in the back woods, nunatak adventure took us to the hinterlands of lake escondido for fun, sun, an amazing kickin BBQ and a whole lot of splish splashing.
if you click on the roundabout, you'll find a boatload of photos from new years...
From the morning by nick drake
Recoded: 19 December 2007
Locations: Ushuaia, Argentina
Tags: flickr, blogger, photohunt, traveler, end of the earth, ushuaia, argentina, video diary, luck of seven, antarctica, adventure
Music: The Pink Panther Theme - Henry Mancini
About: after being kidnapped by south american aliens and fighting off the torrential downpour of ushuaia, i found a fellow north american for a little photo hunt. for day 4, julie jira (flickr) and i kicked around town discovering the end of the world (flickr photos or slideshow).
Recoded: 18 December 2007
Locations: Ushuaia, Argentina
Tags: boat tour, bridge islands, end of the earth, ushuaia, argentina, video diary, luck of seven, antarctica, adventure
Music: Highway to Hell - AC/DC
About: another day and another attempt at finding a free ride. with a quick roll of the dice, the hook is cast and ends up empty. after a day of kicking around, serendipity and persistence pays off with a taste of what's to come...
i <3 coworking. i've been in buenos aires for 36 hours and it seems like a life time. between victor, fernando and BA's unrelenting couchsurfers, i am nursing an bad shugar, coffee, cheep wine hangover. after a brilliant night with candles burning at both ends, i woke up to lovely sounds of construction and a flurry of voices crammed into a small garden apartment.
today, marks my second day escaping the urban sounds of construction. nestled on buenos aries' equivilant of nyc's broadway you will find a long hallway. up four flights of stairs, you'll find the most romantic coworking location in the world, cowork central. with light flowing in from every angle with my knees melt at every desk.
i bow down to victor for this lovely photo, his maté and hard work at coordinating this week's meetup! while we are drupalistas, we also want to invite all geeks for wine, beer, meat, etc... if you're in buenos aires at 18h00 (6pm) on the 13 Dec, i'd love to meet ya at "The Meeting Place" (corner Lavalle and Montevideo in Buenos Aires).
(click on your favorite unfocused smile to see more photos from my time in houston. the back story to this photo is fairly remarkable. i walked into the Brazilian consulate and discovered that i had forgotten my headshots. with a point to the closest CVS over a mile and a half away, i knew that i'd never make it there and back before the visa window would close. as a buckeye, i knew microcenter as one of the first computer super stores to have fully functional products on display. located two blocks from the consulate, it was serendipity. with a quick "hello, i'm a geek traveling around the world..." mike from the printer section "demonstrated" the printer's ability to print out photos. in less than 15 mins, i was back at the console. THANK YOU MY GEEK BUDDY! YOUR RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS SAVED MY ASS!)
today marks my fourth day in houston, tx and i already feel at home. i must thank erica o'grady, matthew wettergreen, michelle calabretta, patrick and christina kwiatkowski and the mike from microcenter. like a long distance runner, i can feel the weight of every step. i know that this run, no matter how long i'd like to extend it, must end; ever step brings me closer to the finish line. yet, somewhere over the oceans of humanity, i know what i've set out to accomplish will never end. the final jaunt between houston and new york lies the sprint of a lifetime.
while my houston adventure is shaping to involve debauchery, religious, intellectual, artistic, spiritual, social and technological adventures... my psychosis is carefully balanced between the fine line of editing 15 hours of footage and planning out the last two exploratory months.
it's important to note that the next few steps are extremely important. while my travel funds are running on fumes, i still need to balance the acquisition of tickets with the need of cash to pay for these tickets. after much research and soul searching, there are two goals i must achieve
- visit antarctica
- interview the largest open source community in south america (aka brazil)
i'm tossing in argentina for a bunch of historical, logistical, political, and coworking reasons. if you're in buenos aries, you now have a coworking facility to visit - check out Cowork Central. i know i'll be looking forward to my time.
the following is a sampling of events and/or interviews i'm looking to achieve.
Dec 15th - Jan 11, Ushwaia, Argentina
- start my hitch hike to antarctica
- christmas and new years at the bottom of the world
- interview couchsurfers
Jan 12, Buenos Aries, Argentina
- back for a night / layover
Jan 13 - 27, Sao Paulo, Brazil
- Andre Avorio, barcamp & open source evangelist.
- citizen journalists
- potentially mozy on over to brazilla or Rio to interview a bunch of government officials / business owners who use open source. (i still need contacts!!!)
Jan 28, Buenos Aries, Argentina
- one last night in Buenos Aries / layover
Jan 29, New York City, USA
- arrive in my home city and couch surf for a week before traveling to an undisclosed location to present my findings.
if you know of someone who has a couch to spare, shoot me a line...
if you're in any one of these areas and would like to meet up. please, contact me...
if you know of any cool organizations that would augment this global documentary, shoot me a line...
if you have access to a government official or educators who promote open source, hook me up...
click on the better looking bloke for more pictures of my time in cali
after waiting 30 mins for something that would never happen to me, a woman and child sit down to join a male companion. somewhere in the halls luck, these two blonds have been blessed by unforeseen travel god. alone to my right, i see an old man with worn out blue jeans, with his shoes off and hat pulled over his eyes - i see the physical reflection of my tired sole.
as the skybus, banks north over the valley, i watch the western american desert skirt bye. off in the distance, i see andrews air force base, home to america's first astronauts. behind me, the couple and infant banter about nothing important - yet, everything his said in such serious tones. while there is an artifical serious natiture to the conversation - the two are idiots. from the rationalization for taking two separate cars to the airport, to the mother's ordeal in finding a parking spot, to his instance on telling her where she went wrong, to the baby crying, to the mother talking about how she's so sorry for delaying the flight 30 mins... i hear nothing but a relaxed worry free life style.
to embark on this journey is intersting. in San Fran, chris messina and tara hunt demanded a "refund" and gave me flack for many things.
first, she questions the value of this trip and the outcome of the project.
second, i criticized for not being honest for advertising myself is the #1 beneficiary of this project.
third, she questioned why i'm "the chosen one" and not someone else who is "better connected."
fourth, they inquired about my finances and wondered why i didn't seek out corporate underwriting.
finally, if the first few questions wasn't enough, they questioned the my integrity.
in the end, when i questioned how much of my content they had reviewed... they said "very little."
after all was said and i felt the ticking time bomb of two hours wasted, it was obvious Tara did not feel comfortable in my company. in return, i did not feel comfortable in their company. while i've always questioned their motives, my conversations with many other fansicsicans put a big olde spotlight on two humans whom are very much stuck in a bubble that will eventually burst.
we mutually agreed to a continuing conversation, but for now they would not support, endorse, nor would Tara participate in an interview. granted, chris said he would be available the morning of my departure, it was obviously an inconvenient time for two conflicting parties.
as i have always stated, this trip is about exploration. there are many ideas that must be explored. there are many ideas that must be tested and retested. there is no science to humanity. we are ever evolving creatures of awesome intellect. if we stop thinking, we stop exploring and therefore we stop expanding.
this journey is about exploration - physically and philospholicy. while i've changed the world has not.
as i grow, i see a light that very few understand. don't get me wrong, we can all think globally, and i don't mean this in a houtey-toitey... to me the world has a defined constitution; now i find my works taking on a new meaning. for example, when i landed in LA, my host, gregory whitescarver, and his pal callen immediately whisked me off to a party where i was introduced to LA's brightest.
after curtailing the use of lighter fluid on wet wood, some dark haired, light eyed, red coated ginger sat down next to me. she thanked me for kicking up the fire and started asking the usual assortment of questions - "who are you, what do you do, etc.." two seconds later her bloke arrived. sitting next to her, he proceeded to ask the same obnoxious question...
she interrupts, "he's been around the world!"
"oh, i too've been around the world... i've been to mexico, jamacia, (insert a few of western europe countries and one or two eastern europen countries)... ok, it's really not 'around the world' but i know what the world is like... well, not really africa nor asia, but i know the world." retorts the bloke.
shocked by her bf's blatant display of idiocy - with out a word, she stands up, turns around, picks up his left hand, and yanks him off the couch. with a slight handwave, they descend into the depths of the dance floor.
yeah, so where was i? oh yeah, exploration. so there's nothing wrong with how one explores the world, but for me the meaning of 'going around the world' is an interesting one. it was funny to hear chris and tara exclaim their new media exploration while other's have no other recourse than to explore or die. out of the countless conversations i had in LA, meeting Zadi and Steve from Jetset was amazing!
their support for my trip has been bewildering, from nowhere i was friend'd on every social network imaginable. then after my departure arrived the message, "oh, btw we want to do a segment on you." honored, excited, tired, out of money and stuck inside due to a gnarly sewage stankin thunderstorm - i found my self recording a message from delhi with no electricity and no internet, . almost a month later, out popped one of the most beautiful segment's i'd ever seen... check it out!
fast forward two and a half months later and several thousand km, i found myself sitting in a beverly hills coffee/tea house sipping on some raspberries and honey.
my head was down when they walked through the door, but my body knew they were here. i jumped up just as zadi started to lift her arms. standing on my tippy-toes, i hugged steve and promptly lost my balance. over ornate tea, a bowl of soup, and dainty coffee, we battered a the conversation back and forth.
well they asked questions, and i answered them...
as we moved from tea house to their dining room table, a conversation seemed to endless... maybe it was my long winded prose or short winded epics. a warm fuzzy feeling draped my body.
for the second half of the conversation, i asked them a slew of questions. while most of it was captured on tape, i found myself in total awe of this loving new media power duo. every other story was an epic in exploration. inquisitive and impatient they took imaginative ideas and instigated solutions.
it was great to hear how they met as teenagers in NYC and moved to explore ideas through the bubbles of innovation. in 2004, they finally settled on an idea for an internet children's show. after producing a few episodes, they discovered the show didn't quite represent what they were looking to capture. through exploration they evolved from "the jetset show" to "jetset" to "epic-fu" - through each iteration came personal and professional growth.
three years after venturing into the unknown, the two are still working countless hours revolutionizing how we watch video... to steve and zadi, the power to be nimble and experiment is one code of our online ecosystem.
tuesday morning, i was kicked awake by my buddy, gregory. tuesday was my opportunity to experience LA finest natual attraction, rush hour.
from silver lake to santa monica, i had no clue when i'd arrive at my destination. if i ran into the ocean, i'd gone to far. my friends told me an hour drive and i calculated a wee bit more than that. with tyrone, my macbook, feeding me directions, i promptly found my self smack dab in the middle of the world's worst nightmare. surround by angry-half-awake drivers, i navigated gregory's ford focus through the eastern canyons of hollywood.
when i finally in venice, a hardy cup of java was placed into my hands. with a bit of cream and a spoonful of shggar, julian bleecker and i entered into a long early morning conversation.
wrapped in the pleasantries of a cross-contental individuals, julian and i chatted about new york and i started talking about the nature of code... i backhandishly said, "if you know how to code, you you can partisipate."
julian asked, "what is code?"
in the tangible nature of things, code is something we humans do in our normal day to day... in the past, it was called protocol. hell, i still know people who attended "finishing" school. in the military, there is a strict code of conduct. in science, in international affairs, in programming, in modern social edicate... there's a million and one protocols to follow...
when it comes down to code in our modern peer-to-peer society... "what is code?" (maybe i've lost my cuthness, but there was a time when i aspired to have the finest of all things. then again, i was a starving college freshman. back then, i was a pretentious little punk.)
after a bit of discussion, we concluded (not that it was our only topic of discussion) that code in it's many forms is what rules all elements of society. code it self is slowly maturing and evolving. too boot, the barrier to entry is increasing decreasing (can someone say, "get up to get down?!?!")
in our second major topic, we talking about well roundedness. what makes up an "undisciplined" or "multi-disciplined" individual. is it about learning a bunch of trades in secondary and post-secondary school? is it about learning about society, interactivity and opportunity?
julian has three rules - read, write, build - with those three things i can't argue against!
all across this great planet, i have seen people who participate in open sourced programs - from a hug to the desktop - the world is predicated on helping the person on the other end of the line... amazingly, the line that encircles the globe is built on kindness.
on the drive back to gregory's place, i found old footsteps in santa monica. driving up and down the pacific cost highway, my mind wondered off the horizon to my friends in asia. i not only wondered what they were doing but i wondered how their feedback loop operates. i wondered if our "online code" was enough. lord knows, that my friends (or so called friends) whom i've met through assorted conferences make up a bulk of the people whom i trust. in turn, i hope these people have taken an ear to what i've said and digested it back into their lives... i wondered if i some how needed to create a roving band of merrymakers to tear down the insular nature of america... then it hit me... well something hit, i think it might have been a seagull pissed i was in his parking spot, but something hard did hit my head... i realized that on this rock. that's exactly what i'm doing...
painfully, i ended up thinking of those folks who's hands i have shuck but have fallen limp. i know 95% of the hands i've shook'n have fallen limp. i know this because, i too have fallen limp to thousands of people whom i've met. it's genuinely pains me that i can't get to know everyone on this planet.
amazingly, i was able to sit down with one of those hands that didn't fall limp. while politics is one of my loves, tony katz and i are able to sit down, share a plate of chips and see a world where the little guy plays a bigger role than the man behind the curtain. both of us agreed, that that the world operates on the back of the little guy. it's time that the rest of us understand that it's up to us to make the world different.
from this journey, i've wondered quite a bit of who we are and what we are doing. my time in LA has been intriguing... i found my self driving around podering the premisis that we frequently journey into the unknown. yet at the same time we see what we want to see and believe what we want to believe.
the meme of codes will developed in the forth coming multi-plant-um audio novel narrated by william shatner. contribute $11.11 and reserve you space in line ;)