disturbing news from Minnesota.
within the past 24 hours, i've gotten word that my friends, the glassbeed collective, were detained and their equipment subsequently confiscated. as the story has trickled in from multiple phone calls, txt messages and emails. my other citizen journalism friends, the uptake, were there to capture the first press conference detailing the illegal actions taken by the Minneapolis Police Department.
the glassbeed collective is known around the world for documenting police brutality. over the past month, one of their videos was wrongly removed from youtube on a false copyright claim. they have also published a video of a cyclist being assaulted by an NYPD officer in Times Square. last week, they published another video of a brutal arrest in WIlliamsburg, Brooklyn. you can find more links within this Gothamist Article.
Recoded: 4 Sept 2007
Locations: cairo & giza, Egypt; sharjar, UAE
Tags: eglug, pyramids, cairo, Alaa Abd El Fateh, open source, kifaya
Music: Cirrus reborn (dalia mix) by jaspertine and Animal by dgeis (both from ccMixer.org
About: after attending the Egyptian Linux User Group install fest, on my last two days in cairo, i pinned down with alaa (globalvoices interview) for a 40 min Q & A. here's just a few mins of the ELUG install fest, Alaa, my trip to the pyramids and the coast line of UAE.
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.
with a bit of tung and cheek, joe strummer sung the following immortal words...
"Number 1, You have the right not to be killed...
... Number 2, You have the right to food money...
... Number 3, You have the right to free speech as long as you're not dumb enough to actually try it."
as last night's waning hours worked their fury into a insatiable quest for entertainment, i found my self immersed in "seize the time" and thinking about my conversations with mardini, alaa, amr and nora.
back in nyc, i would have read their stories on global voices and thought of their story to be a novel use of social technology. after visiting them, hearing them, watching them with friends and conversing with a room full of geeks, i no longer viewed them as just a story. i no longer saw novelty, but the reality we are locked in a long struggle.
this struggle is not just about technology, but providing localized technology... without adequate translation, a computer, iphone, ipod, etc is no different than a hammer. (this will be addressed in a video interview... but hopefully you can understand that english internet superpower is not the "end all be all" of intellectual prowess... then again the hole-in-the-wall project would disagree with me.)
humanity has many faces. a majority of them are pleasant. (i am fortunate to see these faces across the globe - from the cairo subway to the streets of the bronx.) when it comes to the minority, this struggle works it way to be a battle over power. my visit to the pyramids reinfoced this fact.
through my eyes, i see this struggle to be a struggle over basic human rights. in the USA, we are "fortunate" to be "born" with "inalienable rights." incredibly, 40 years ago "the great experiment" failed in providing these rights to it's citizens. now at the dawn of the 21st century, through the use of digital technology, we have a unique opportunity to shape the way "inalienable rights" are passed along to the rest of the world.
without trying to be radical, a basic civics lesson will tell you "politics is war without bloodshed - and war is a continuation of politics, with bloodshed." huey p. newton & bobby seale built the black panther party to be THE vessel for the american black community to fight oppression, racism and murder and provide "Land, Bread, Housing, Education, Clothing, Justice And Peace." despite the fact their organization was criminalized and persecuted, the black panther party died to bring justice for all poor americans. (btw, did you know they created the "free breakfast for children program" and popularized medical research in sickle-cell disease?)
forty years later, the world continues to face these same problems. most of the people whom i've interviewed all see the same thing.
the technology we have at our disposal is not just a simple vessel of entertainment. our modern technology is a complex beast that crashes through the gates of oppression and gives us an opportunity to make the world a better place.
sadly and on a too frequent basis, i see many of us blinded by the shiny side of the iphone, the hue of a garment or worse the insatiable consumption for "sustainable consumption." yet, one can not separate the quest of basic human rights as the pit of peach. all of these issues are wrapped up on the third planet from the sun.
by creating "a bill of rights for users of the social web" it's great to see that smarr, canter, scoble and arrington hopping on the same chariot many political technologist championed last year through the integration proclamation. while i support both, i see these intellectual statements as one thing, and can't stop thinking of bertolt brecht and kurt weill's song "what keeps mankind alive"
You gentlemen who think you have a mission
To purge us of the seven deadly sins
Should first sort out the basic food position
Then start your preaching, that’s where it begins
You lot who preach restraint and watch your waist as well
Should learn, for once, the way the world is run
However much you twist or whatever lies that you tell
Food is the first thing, morals follow on
So first make sure that those who are now starving
Get proper helpings when we all start carving
What keeps mankind alive?
What keeps mankind alive?
The fact that millions are daily tortured
Stifled, punished, silenced and oppressed
Mankind can keep alive thanks to its brilliance
In keeping its humanity repressed
And for once you must try not to shriek the facts
Mankind is kept alive by bestial acts
Technorati Tags: a bill of rights for users of the social web, activists, bertoit brecht, integration proclamation, joseph smarr, kurt weill, marc canter, michael arrington, open social web, robert scoble
"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: 17 July 2007
Locations: Berlin, Germany
Tags: coworking, travel, berlin, twittervision, dave troy, travis todd, popvox, growvotes
Music: a little boy playing the accordion, background music within coffee shop
About: while on my global hunt, i popped over to visit my friends will and sue. for two months, they are honeymooning and taking in the sites, sounds and joyful company of friends.
while i was in their company, i scheduled a few interviews. this particular interview was from travis j. todd (growvotes) and dave troy (twittervision, popvox) where we discussed everything under the sun. a thinthasied version of my thoughts can be found here.
check out more information on locations for freelancers, independents, and free thinkers, check out http://wiki.coworking.info