in the days of my youth i was told what it means to be a man...
five and a half months on six continents through 19 countries - spain, ch republic, germany, belgium, UK, france, netherlands, turkey, jordan, israel, egypt, united arab emerats, india, thailand, cambodia, australia, united states, canada, and argentina...
now i've reached that age and i try to do all those things the best i can...
today, i find myself on the eve of the seventh, the last and final continent - antarctica. like most of this trip, i have no set plan of transportation. tomorrow, i will wake up just like every other day and think of a solution.
no matter how i try i find my way into the same old jam...
buried within all of us exist the ability to transcend the normality of life and do something great. to others it might seem grand, and to others extravagant, frivolous and absurd. in the end, it is up to us to make the great decision on how to proceed.
using faith and trust, tomorrow, when i wake up, i will find a solution to my most perplexing problem - how to hitchhike to antarctica.
as i sit and wait for my plane to depart buenos aries, i can't help but rekindle a situation this past week. it amplifies everything i've thought on this trip. apparently to tara hunt i am not trust worthy enough to be an admin on the coworking.info website. yeah, i know this is petty, but bare with me. i do make a good point. apparently, my ownership of the domain and admin status on the wiki doesn't amount to a hill of beans. apparently, the linking of this project on the blogroll on blog.coworking.info was unscrupulous. comically, in our conversation she sights a "community rule" where only "space owners" & "members of the trust network" can have admin access. no were on the wiki nor google group do i find any mention of such conversation... i've asked her for justification and get a different answer each time. i guess i'll just have to trust her that i'm not trust worthy.
for the past five and half months, there has only been one other incident that someone outright questioned my trust. in that situation, the howly roommate of my first hawaian host was suffering on the verge of a complete mental breakdown with issues way beyond her control and need of someone to embody the evil of her white america.
good times, bad times... you know i've had my share...
regardless of tara's or this other woman's mental health, i've placed my own mental health and faith in humanity and surfed unforseen waves of trust. i've placed my lives into countless hands and countless people have trusted me in their homes.
it will forever surprise me that about a thousand people have placed their trust in me and this exploration. i would not be here today if it wasn't for the all the contributors, hosts and guides. thank you!
if you've enjoyed the journey so far, the next three weeks will be a journey unlike any other. sitting at the bottom of the world, i will place my life into the hands of those whom i don't know. fearful i am; in humanity i trust.
lyrics in italics are from led zeppelin's good times bad times...
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?)
i don't know how to title this entry, let alone what to say.
my departure from houston is a mixed blessing. 55 days from now, i will arrive in nyc. 55 days from now, i will complete my journey. 55 days from now, my heart and mind will see the world like i've never seen the world before...
unlike other departures, i found something unescapable. wrapped in beauty, dipped in southern comfort, educated in the complexities of humanity's humor, i found something that will bring me to houston time and time again. 50 some odd days from now, i will embrace someone who's reaffirmed my belief in humanity's never ending quest to solve our deepest problems. like the other side of a coin, the two of us are tied to this place named earth seeking to solve the cancer that grows in all of us.
for the next 55 days, i will have a cancer that only one person can cure.
(this awesome photo is from flickr user leppre - check out frosty sunrise 2 in full detail!)
a week in ohio has brought about an level of personal intimacy that i wouldn't have found any where else. with less funds than i need, i've sprawled out on my childhood bed spending countless hours planning the next four months. between east coast offers of a roving camera man & thoughts of giving up, i find myself in a precarious position.
my life in ohio is simple. my life on the east coast seems extravagant. this journey around the world seems extraordinary. yet, i still look in the mirror every morning and see the same short bearded face. when i look down, i see the same small hands. with a warn out seat, my pants are five years too told. my socks holy. my back, feet, arms and legs feel the burden of the world.
my 29 years on this planet have been extraordinary. it's taken me quite a while to truly understand the detachment my parents gave me. growing up in the last decade of the cold war, in a small bedroom community of a military base, i was exposed to a world far beyond the reach of the three creeks that surrounded my suburban ohio house.
the journey from california to ohio is normal, a loving military couple moves to maximize wealth and opportunity to provide for themselves and their young sapling. a few years later, another young sapling comes along. all the while, the two work endlessly to teach their children of the family tree and the world's forests.
as the older sapling grows, the world takes it toll - accidents, fires, health issues, etc... but eventually the sapling realizes that the world's forest are massive. as he grows, he hears things that don't make any cense. he reads things that seem to have no tangible relationship to the world he lives in. yet, for some reason these stories are the notable stories - for some reason, these stories are the constitution of public discourse.
confuse by their importance and lusting after a deeper meaning - not all of these stores are lost. this young sapling knows that his forest and all the animals that inhabit the surrounding area must be similar to the one he reads.... they must be similar to all the stories he's been told... to all the stories he's dreamt... and with a slight hand of a shovel, he packs his roots, loads up an old VW van and departs to visit the forest beyond.
from the forests out east he sees an urban forest where trees are valued but not harvested. up and down the american coast he finds others who seek a grander meaning from sea to shining sea. across the sea, older sapling and taller trees that seek a similar exploration. across the world the sapling sees the stories, views first hand and oogles images of forests far and beyond - locations with out a single tree in sight - vast beaches of stubborn shrubs rooted on tiny rocks - vast urbanities where all trees have been removed...
all in all, after countless accidents, fires, health issues, loves and losts... returns to his original forest for a feast. like the year before and like any year after, the feast is more like any other family's... filled with it's unique quirkiness and unbeholden to any austere tradition - this family sits around revels in each other's stories, branches and quirks for a specialty ordered feast.
within a few days, this sapling once again departs into the unknown. this sapling has done it before. he's traveled the paths, climbed the rocks, trolled along the beaches and buried his head in the sand a few times. off in the distance there is a mountain, paths to the top are unknown, unproven and most fo the time unrewarding to anyone but itself.
beneath the ground, this sapling sees roots of many colors, shapes, sizes, from a million and one time zones. this sapling knows the roots are strong, healthy and ready to spring forth a new alternative ecosystem based on healthier soil.
while this sapling doesn't quite know his own destination, height or width - he's grown to know the trees, valleys and streems. he knows the glory of unity, the power of diversity, and the love of the world. he knows that he couldn't have done it without the unflinching support of a global family firmly rooted in passion.
thank you. blessing be with us all.
(this is a recreation a photo my father took of my mother in the same yard. click on your fav part and be transported to a magical day filled with globetrotting, house hunting & a birthday celebration.)
it's one hundred percent certifiable, my body has traveled around the world. on 24 may 1978, i was born at loma linda university hospital. on 12 november 2007, i drove around the hospital to seal the deal and officially proclaim my body around the world.
as a descendent of new world explorers, i am now the first modern hidalgo (of moca linage) to circumnavigate the globe. do i feel different?
yes and no. it's kinda like turning a monumental age. you've always dreamt of reaching the milestone, but wondered if you'd make it. nonetheless, you persevered over every oppositional thought and roadblock. i could wax on about how i feel like a billion sea shells or how there's a new spring in my step...
i know tomorrow will be another day - unscripted, unedited and unfiltered. many things can and will go wrong.
i know hundreds of people have placed me on their shoulders and carried my dream across the globe.
i know that i must work twice as hard to show my appreciation for the beauty of all things.
i now know nothing will stopping me from working the world's lemons into lemonade.
i know i am not alone.
(this is a total departure from most of my ramblings... i'm exhausted, but i want to get my "fresh" thoughts on "paper." all y'all should note i listen to the motorcycle dairies like a rechargeable battery pulls it's juice from the wall. track to track, i find an energy like none other... am i alone in this???)
from vancouver to Seattle, i sat with a cast of characters. boarding a amtrak chartered bus, i found myself surrounded by stereo typical travelers - the sports junky worried about customs, the hot college coed, the two friends setting out on a long journey, a preppy couple who had a copy of the ny times, a few hipsters, grandmas, etc...
as rain pounded the roof, we all waded through customs, reboarded the "secure" bus and shlepped to seattle. as we drove through the foggy morning in "upper northwest" (really it's all subjective, in vancouver they call it the lower mainland), the sun caressed the horizon which illuminated mountains to the left and large bodies of water to the right. somewhere through my drowsiness, i too caressed the mountainess coach chair to my left and to my right, i poured out a widow into a never ending water world.
once in SEA, i found myself in the same tiny train station from which i departed. with my eyes barely working, i found the seat assignment keyosk and requested an ocean view. as an FU to my mental state, the vending machine decided to stiff me on my morning ritual of M & Ms. after a solid five mins of cursing, banging and a 110% vagrant disposition, i convinced the machine of my worthiness and was granted my treat.
as i stood to board the coast starlight, i danced (ie wobbled back and forth trying to keep balance) as i looked around at my fellow passengers.
i wondered whom i would meet. i wondered whom i would befriend. i wondered about their destinations, stories, but more importantly, i wondered which cute girl would fancy this bearded flip-floping hobbit.
would it be the hipster from vancouver or the mid-20's vixen wearing an unusually light sun dress for a cold day?
would it be one of the three young college coeds or the layered granola crunching intellectual?
would it be the grandmother who's traveled around the world or would it be married woman traveling without her husband?
after scoring a seat with a rare electrical outlet, i crossed my finger on whom my join my bench. as my luck would turn, i got the acid washed early 40s stoner who interjected "dude" instead of "ahum" or "ahh." behind me and to the left, sat a woman who's disposition suited an afternoon cocktail party, not an early morning long distance train. directly behind me and next to the boisterous three cups of coffee, sat a cute fashionable question.
tipped with firey red hair, this late 20 year old sported flat-black calf high boots, a teal dress of notable distinction and black leggings. the dress looked really familiar. the style was something i had seen a few times before. either in nyc or sf or some other hipster sub-capital. i knew the cut, the frills and somehow i knew the personality would be interesting.
as the train departed, i fell back into my previous state of traveler's coma. an hour or so later, i woke up and ran to my lunch reservation in the a dining car. (btw, what a rip off!)
upon my return, i was blessed with the two women blabbing away and my bench mate passed out sporting a nice collection of drool. tired and alone, i settled into eavesdropping mode. as an observer, i've found myself enjoying the conversations of others... when you've already developed a distain for someone's attitude, it can be a real treat!
behind and to the left, the older woman clad in "funky" jewelry provided enough comments to paint a picture of a strong independent upper-middle class woman from the united states. sounding like a blend of a million and one other conversations, i dreamt she lived in a comfortable house, struggled with her life's investments and more importantly, she was more concerned how others perceived her and her husband. (all of which was confirmed as the conversation wore on...)
sitting to her right sat the fiery red head who was verbally amazed by every burning autumn leaf. from topic to topic, i heard an open, inquisitive and fiery disposition. too boot, i heard the voice of a self made woman. when she said the words "school of hard knocks" my heart skipped a beat. i wondered who was this woman. more importantly, i wondered how to interject an introduction.
by the stroke of luck, the conductor announced we would be stopping in portland for a "fresh air break." within a matter of mins... oh wait, snap! so, there was a glance. when the two got up to get lunch, i sat typing away. next to me sat mr. spicoli (as "fire" would eventually come to describe him). somehow, someway, we made brief eye contact, but too brief to be substantial. ok, if "fire" would have dropped a hanky, then it would have been substantial... so off they went... glare, look, glance noted...
then, when the conductor called out the fresh air brake, i hopped up and to my delight so did "fire." amazingly, mr. spicoli stood in front of both of us. as a die hard smoker, he was ready to pound a few sticks in the 5 / 10 mins we had outside. as we worked our way down the stairs, "fire" commented on the characters and i was taken back... was she talking to me? was she being coy or snotty? was she calling me a character?
regardless, i knew this was my one opportunity. if i screwed this up... i would be screwed up. so i shot back the classical "oh, i think we're all characters."
low and behold, that one little line set off a chain of events that would force me to turn around and hanging over the back of my seat for the next few hours. when we re-boarded the train, "fire" pulled out her old ibook and i was like... "whoa, can i steal some of that?"
in ease, i built an itunes playlist of rock n'roll, jazz, soul, 60's and cover songs... ahem, i am that high fidelity guy. i have that disposition where i judge people by their musical tastes. i know it's such a bad thing... and if you're female and i make you a mix tape. watch out! ;)
maybe it was her light blue eyes or her constant application of a fiery red lip gloss... but every movement seemed to be in slow-mo. i was completely transfixed from topic to topic - indian pizza, dysfunctional family, fashion, music, technology, social networks, self made adventures, etc... every comma, apostrophe, period and question mark had my total awe. if this wasn't enough, she was to be in vangroovy from monday to thursday, but had to cancel to attend her grandmother's funeral... instead "fire" routed to her way to seattle. can some one say "star crossed?
it was weird to think of destiny and the world that exists beyond/after this project. it was weird to have chet baker's "my ideal" stuck in my head after so many months of celibacy. maybe this is a T.M.I., but when i started this journey i dreamt about being a casanova and meeting the love of my life. i still dream that i will find the love of my life... but i now fear that the love of my life is something that's beyond any one particular person. AND that really freaks me out...
well, i now have a crush and an address in SF which will soon start to receive post-cards. :)
i need to find some market statistics on the amount of capital based on the use of open source software. i can't seem to recall any particular statistic, but if my guestimication is correct, the world is pawned by open source. as i journey further down the rabbit hole, i can't help but to think of the digital ecology that surround this trip. i can't stop thinking about the alternative economy that we have built.
for now, i'm going to address the ecology of things and research later the market statistics...
there is one person who i can thank. while mr. meyers and i stayed up late chatting about the world, some english movie writer bloke inquired about the two stoic americans sitting at the hotel's gas fireplace sippin brews. after a bit of introduction, the tall overly intoxicated english bloke said this project was ALL wrong. now i'm paraphrasing what he said but it went something like... "arrrr matie, these fish scales don't add up... yarr, ecosystem is the wrong term..."
i asked him why, and he couldn't retort...
ok, so i know it's a bit freaky to think about computers as a part in our "organic" world, but stick with me for a second here... if we think about what we put into our bodies, do we ever really think about the converse?
do we think how our bodies are put into tools?
for the sake of the argument, i'm going to write some proofs. first, we use tools to make things. therefore, these tools became a conduit for the creation of a physical organic object. (this might be an overly materialist perspective, but i'll eventually find a master theory) almost every object we have in our possession creates some-type of emotion. just think of all the nicknacks you have in your house. better yet, think of your cubical on a monday morning. what type of emotions do they invoke?
well, in today's world, the digital tools we have at hand also have the same ability to create a similar emotion. these tools do not always create physical things, but the things we create still invoke emotion. while i've been on the road, any personal email revives the thought that someone cares about me. every comment proves that someone is reading my babble. while i might be a million miles away, these messages invoke emotional responces. i am tied to my friends THROUGH the tools at hand.
these tools also help us connect efficiently. just imagine if this trip would have been done 20 years ago. email, wikipedia, flickr, facebook - all nonexistent.
now that we've efficiently connected our mental communication, i still see our desire for physical connection. not to say that the physical connection is any more efficient, but we are discovering new pathways of physical communication efficiency. just take a look at meetup.com, care2.org, any one of the leading american presidential candidates... these all have multiple digital tools bring individuals together to make a physical organic meeting blossom.
yet, time and time again, i find people disassociating the value of the "technological" tool. many do not see it as an out growth of an organic being. if i was to talk about prosthetics, medicine, automobiles, gps, etc... it's easy to see how technology helps connect us. yet, many find it hard to see digital tools are elements of our organic being.
as my life's journey has taken me here and there, it took me awhile to fully understand why... it seems that we are too soon to adopt "geek" speak as branding and disassociate the product from society. maybe it's our inherent distrust of advertisement, or maybe it's our inherent buy-in? in the end, it seems that we disassociate the tool from it's utility. "this is not a cell phone. this is an iphone. it is a revolutionary device!"
no longer can i disassociate the use of technology from it's heritage of connecting people. through greenpeace's green my apple campaign, i've become acutely aware of the harm our digital tools can produce. at the same time, i see digital tools as an extension of the hammer, shovel and plow. regardless of marketing, the digital tools are here and they are extend our environment. through the seven topics, i am now acutely aware of a peer to peer ecosystem that seeks to coexist within a broadcast ecosystem.
as contributions continue to trickle in, i find my self in total awe. my friends (known and unknown) have installed a new version of "core." i have profuse thanks for michael meyers, cto of nowpublic.com, for hosting me in his hotel room and proving to be one amazing friend. without michael, i would have been one hungry mo-fo... many thanks to alex, boris, rolando, eric, and brian for bailing out a "brudda from a different mudda." my trip to vangroovy couldn't have happened without your help. THANK YOU!
sorry to be a ham and get all porkbelly on all y'all. i really don't even know where to begin. the american experience is one hell of a show.
as i write these words, the northwest seaside of washington passes to my left. to my right, everything that i've known fades into a bewildering memory of love. off in the distance, i see islands of prosperity, amusement and a future not yet determined.
since my return to the "main land" i've settled into the gentle embrace of friends. old friends, new friends, friends whom i once disagreed with... friends whom i'll never properly know... friends whom i still don't understand...
as the early morning fly fishermen whip, i wonder what i've caught. i wonder what type of trout has snagged my line. it's been really weird to know that i am four months in this journey. with a little more than 100 days left, i can feel the prickly point of having less than $70 USD in my checking account. i also feel the prickly point of this journey, but do not know what is the exact prickly point. i know that every step brings me closer to the big fish. yet, the fish i attempt to sang is perpetually eluding me.
off in the distance, a steam rises from an urban outcropping and video the scene wondering how my state of nature has evaporated, condensed, purified and boiled off. there are so many things i see that need work. so many ideas that have to be explored, purified and condensed. so many others need to be boiled, frozen or thawed. i no longer see a simple solution to world's woes, but ideas that can transform minds.
we don't need revolutions, we need an evolution to find symbiosis.
to be honest, it is hard to condense what i've seen. it's hard to sit and think about what we are doing when paul hawken brings about more conclusions than questions... frankly, i feel he's written every i wanted to say. it's hard to read benkler and think about the complexity of a networked solution. it is hard to balance the curatanical views of "community managers" who talk about a networked - peer to peer world - yet only want "their" way of salvation through sustainable consumption. it's hard to think of an open solution when history is stacked against us... it's harder to find a solution when many more questions bubble up.
traveling away form the coast, the cold earth hugs a dense fog and envelopes my train... i wonder where if the rosy picture of a networked ecology brings me any closer to understanding.
as we bank to the left and bend to the right, i wonder how to stand for something and yet stand for nothing at all... i wonder who is the conductor and who is the ticket taker... or wether there must either... i wonder how to let my own frustration subside and focus on the ecology of seven.
when i first boarded this train, i did not see an alternative ecology. now as we pass the steaming marshes of everst washington, i see a golden sunrise. a sunrise that awakens us to an opportunity like none-other. i see rays showering the trees with a million points of wealth. i see lagoons glistening with opportunity.
i see an evolution of revolutions.
no longer must we stand in line for gadgets, badges or briefs.
off in the distance, underneath an orange hard hat and donning an orange work vest, i see you.
(i'm cleaning out my drafts folder and see there are quite a few thoughts that never made it to the page.)
ok, i've now been in the USA for about a week, and i think i should be playing jaime brown's "welcome to america"... it's nice to skip around a town and see good friends. for the last three nights, i hug out with megan (a friend from austria) and now i'm with my buddy steve an old high school buddy. for the past two days, i've kicked around town, greasing my bearings and catching up on a few projects with digidave.
a few weeks ago a former contributor accused me of taking a vacation, and from what i've learned... one can not listen to negative opinions... long before this journey started, i faced the same negativity and mental oppression. never in my wildest thoughts would i think that someone who's all into a "peer-to-peer" society would get up in my grill questing one's impact on community...
finally, i met up with them... (and no, i won't name them... i hope maybe they will come around), but from what i've seen - they are as stubborn as the reflection that stares at me every morning. nonetheless, i know it's time to kick out all of my miss conceptions of what constitutes community and focus on my ability to capture what i'm seeing.
ps - the last line was said in a casey kasem voice.
in the meantime, i have a song for the rest of you...
Isn't the right thing to do
How can I ever change things
That I feel
If I could
Maybe I'd give you my world
How can I
When you won't take it from me
You can go your own way
Go your own way
You can call it
Another lonely day
You can go your own way
Go your own way
Tell me why
Everything turned around
Shacking up is all you wanna do
If I could
Baby I'd give you my world
Everything's waiting for you
You can go your own way
Go your own way
You can call it
Another lonely day
You can go your own way
Go your own way
to be honest, i don't know if today is up or down. BUT one thing i can tell you, it's 2.30 in the morning and i can't sleep. last night, i partook in a birthday party. a chinese birthday party. the luck girl was 14, the daughter of a visiting chinese philosophy professor and roommate to amit (my CS host).
after a long day of moped'n around the eastern side of the island, amit and i found some left-over chicken and fries while watching the red socks capture the pennant. then we found an opportunity to get sand it our pants at a beach film festival... realizing the barrel of monkeys was just have full, we headed to amit's home to celebrate the above mentioned birthday party.
after a blur of languages and one hissy fit (not the birthday girl but a friend of a friend who's detailed how she didn't want to be included in any recording effort done by my hands. i have no clue what planet she's on, but obviously we've gotten off to a wrong start. every statement / attempt of reparation fails in hindenburg proportions.) we sang happy birthday, ate cate and chomped on apples, mangos, grapes, and watermelon. in the mix came a cup of tea. one cup turned to two. two turned to three. three turned into too much...
(yes, i am listing to the jackson five while writing this...)
my body is quite sensitive to many stimuli. caffeine is like crack. one drop makes me freak out with thriller like proportions. sometimes, i can beat it. other times, it makes me travel to the single moment in time where i lifted the glass (and in this case) clinked with fellow revelers...
with today's/yesterday's time being moped introspective, i've got a few things that seem to be on the tip of my tung i can finally articulate... but knowing that today/tomorrow brings a new day, i wonder how they will change...
first, the world's state of nature is predicated on a single toothpick stuck in the gums of one man who will never be seen, heard from, nor contacted. like an evil puppet master, his tricks and dirty deeds come dirt cheap. (AC/CD) as it is up to us to fight his insanity, i have discovered these A... B... C... or is it easy as 1... 2... 3...??? (yeah, sometimes the jackson 5 and AC/DC work well together.)
come on, come on, come on, come on, let me show you what's it's all about... (dance, twirl, clap)
i think in due time, this list will get blown out to seven items... in the meantime, i've only discovered four... the other three are buried between here (hawaii) and Antarctica.
##. Tools / Language...
unlike hammers and shovels, modern technology requires a bit of skilled operation. if it's a training video or a simple instruction manual. the hammers and shovels of the 21st century require a bit of education. the tools we use to build the 21st century village are predicated in english. from construction, labeling, manuals, you name it... more than likely it was written in english and then translated. this education therefor limits the number of people who can pick up a cheap computer and bang away until a great cathedral is built. for native multilingual content, software must break the bounds of english.
unicode and open standards are the solution.
##. We the media in order to form a more perfect union...
first, like preschool, participation is key. second, the face of media needs to change from the hands of the few to the hands of the many. if tools are pliable, we no longer need to force feed our-self's idotiocracy. then we can speak our own minds.
citizen video units are the solution.
##. Confluence of the space time continuum, sprinkled with the spice of McFly...
since mcfly jr joined doc in the flying delorean, i've always been amazed with time travel. to be honest, i think we are stuck in a brief moment of time where we would rather write our own history than read what came before us. maybe it's the concept that old is... well old... i think old is the new pink!
it seems that so many lessons have been lost on the "educated" public. there are so many things we think are the new hotness, when in reality the old hotness should be cataloged into the new hotness. i'm not saying let's live in history, but that there are quite a few lessons to learn from history.
personally, there are many historical lessons i am starting to unearth. i've also started to see how "digital" is nothing more than enhanced "organic" matter. as we move though time, we tear down walls instead of building them. instead of depleting resources we should be inventing new ones. instead of standing still, we should be jumping and screaming at the top of our lungs saying "nanana, i don't believe you!"
flying delorians powered by a reactors the size of a cuzinarts is the solution.
##. the myth of scarcity...
i'm calling bullshit on this theory. i don't know why yet... but the solution will come when i have a time to get a phd in macro/micro economic philosophy. btw, didn't the world's top one percent make more than the bottom ninety-nine added up?
i'm not a socialist but i think something is wrong in our current solution.
##. faith, the belief not the perfume...
faith, like love, is not something you put on every saturday or sunday. it's time we get rid of this mama's boys talk about beliefs and realize that working WITH someone is better than saying my god is bigger than your god. last time i checked, there is only one planet and he/she/it is pissed we're poking holes, bleading the inner core and shaving off all the trees. ha, if earth was your little brother, he'd hate you.
having faith in yourself.
simon slater, a fellow traveler from the UK and around america 2.0's cousin, emailed me a bunch of really good questions.
when i taught at Digital Bridge Camp, i had an opportunity to meet fellow vlogger freeman murray. though our frank discussions, we agreed that once on the road it's hard to reflect. if you have any questions, comments, ideas, concepts, feedback or suggestions - i'm always open to new ideas.
if you've been following my twitter feed, i've recently had to respond to some unjust criticism. hopefully, the critical party will allow me to publicly post my response. until then, here are my thoughts to simon's questions.
1. How have you gone about finding agents of social change, and can you describe the outcome of the most notable meeting? Have you discovered any new ideas that can be shared? Have you come across any major environmental breakthroughs?
one question? looks like a three parter to me... :P finding agents of social change has been a bit easier to find than original imagined. i have a fair share of sources that i read (slashdot, globalvoices, other blogs) then i have friends and contacts who've been monitoring different conversations to provided extra input. for example, i was exchanging a few ideas on a facebook "wall-to-wall" when Mary Joyce, chimed in and sent me a list of email address, urls and phone numbers of people whom i should contact in cairo. very helpful and super timely.
the most notable meeting was with stalin k. of drishti media collective and video volunteers. through their work, a few rural villages in india have their own video news magazine. with a majority of the population "uneducated" and "illiterate", drishti and video volunteers helps organize small groups of regional villagers to create citizen video units or CVUs. these citizen video units film, edit, produce their own stories, detailing their solutions to rural problems. every month, the video is presented in regional rural villages and conversations are held discussing the subjects from jungle malaria remedies, farming tips or general news of who's doing what.
in short, the villagers create their own media. as we move from one form of entertainment to another, we too need think about our own citizen video units.
as for major environmental breakthroughs, naw... we're still screwed... i think my major breakthrough came when i went to the local markets in india and cambodia and saw that everyone uses plastic bags and plastic bottles. then when i walked the surrounding streets, i saw the same type of bags littered everywhere. if we really want to clean up our environment and change the way the world works, we need to change the way we think. connivence isn't everything.
2. During events where people from the world of vlogging and blogging come to meet and share ideas, is there a general consensus on a particular direction that the world of SNS is taking us, or are the possibilities endless?
well, it depends on whom you ask. some think it's going to augment or replace the news-reporters of tomorrow. other's think their blog is the end all be all. if you ask me, i'm tired of living in a broadcast world. if video killed the radio star, vlogs killed TV. i see the future of media in outlets like Alive in Baghdad, Video Volunteers, Jetset, The Burg.tv... well that's just to name my friends... these outfits throw debt to the wind and refuse to allow anyone else dictate their "feed"... somewhere between networked journalism and citizen journalism is the future. (see jay rosen & jeff javius for more fun)
in reality, the possibilities are endless. one has to think of the internet and the devices that connect to the network it as tools. these tools, like hammers and shovels, can be used to build or destroy anything. from complete virtual worlds to a simple connection between two people, i don't see these "things" as just tools but pathways connecting emotions. regardless of where emotions happen, they are real. the other reality is that this world can easily be flipped and everything we do can be monitor, tracked and controlled. chris messina wrote an interesting piece on "big sister" but until that day, we still have agents of power "reforming" long lasting liberties into shadows of their former self. just take a look at the past three issues of the economist where they detailed the erosion of civil liberties within britain and the united states.
wether it's a hammer, shovel or iphone, i prefer to see tools build society not destroy it. then again, anything is possible... we could be nursing a life force that will kill us one day by building the next atom bomb. as of today, science fiction has turned out to be fairly real. who knows what's next?!?!
3. Your trip aims to inform and inspire ideas among its viewers. Considering the high number of young people taking gap years before and after higher education, in what other ways do you think people can follow your example without necessarily repeating your idea? Did you have any other plans formulated before embarking on 'luck of seven'?
actually, i started this trip to educate my parents on the work that i've done. it's since then, i've found my own inspiration within the voices of everyone whom i've met. i think that the "gameboy" or "myspace" or "facebook" generation needs to see how their goods are produced... it doesn't really matter what you consume, there needs to be some type of physical connection to the items we consume from cold air conditioned shelfs.
first, i know that i'm really lucky to have the fortunate to make this voyage. as every day passes, i think about how we can change our lives to help others and make this mess a bit tidier. internal and external exploration is the key. i see the world a bit more conservative than i first thought, but also very friendly. you don't have to have a penny to be nice. dream frequently and follow your passion. if we only have one life, make sure it counts for something. if we have more than one, let them build on top of each other... last time i checked, there is only one earth but a several billion people on it... question everything, explore what you can and try to understand the rest.
did i have any plans other plans? yes, but being the first lawyer on mars really doesn't seem to be appealing.
4. Could you explain what you mean when you say there is an 'art' to discovering, for example, someones facebook page?
yes and no. when i talk about discovering people i talk about two things - a physical meeting and an online meeting. as there are tricks to meeting people, there are tricks in meeting people online.
a physical meeting is the hardest. one has to be inquisitive and highly adventurous to ask the right questions that lead to a common bond to build a platform for further conversation. regardless of gender, it is a simple pickup line. with native english speakers it's easier. with ESL (english second language) it becomes harder but ten times more rewarding. i say it's an art because like art it is hard to find the beauty within everyone. i know everyone has something worth admiring.
as for meeting people online, most people place a good deal of personal information into their profile, and therefore it's easy to "profile" people. more importantly, it's easy to find people with similar interest. when it comes down to couchsurfing, there is a great deal of trust between two parties. therefore it's important to look at someone's profile details and see if they share similar interests (photos, interests, groups, books, movies, etc). it sounds easier than reality. sometimes i'm right, sometimes i'm wrong. most of the time, i'm right about a few things and wrong about others. in the end it comes down to the adventure.
also, i can't help to think that it helps looking like broad brutish male. when i seek adventure, i feel safe knowing many people won't give me flack. when i talk to female friends about their adventures, there always seems to be a question of physcial security that never comes to mind when i travel. then again, huixian he, a petite female friend in pheom phen, has traveled a good deal of asia by herself. sure she's had a few bad experiences, but she's always has her running shoes.
in the end, looking like a sucker will always get you into trouble. having a positive outlook and being ready for anything is the best way to take on the world. it takes a great deal to escape your comfort zone, but meeting the world is well worth it. i'd like to think that there are more of "us" than "them."
5. Will you be seeking a platform for greater recognition of potentially important ideas that you have gathered once you have returned? Will this branch out to other media and if so how?
yes and no. besides my blog, vlog and photos - i'm writing a children's book, seven lessons learned from the seven continents. maybe an adult piece detailing the intimate parts of my insanity. without a doubt, i will make a documentary film of this journey. when on the road you have a great deal of time to think. i think these ideas and the solutions to these ideas are worth their weight in gold.
in the end, i'd like to think that i'm a simple man, but my girlfriends will tell you otherwise. i see many wrongs that need to be corrected. i also see many complex problems that have simple solutions. where i go after this is unknown. while i would love to have greater recognition of the ideas, these are complex ideas with simple solutions mired in selflessness. i still have a much to learn about the seven issues i have selected, the world that embody them and the best way to discover solutions to our problems.
6. And finally, if Jack Karouac was the inspiration of the term 'beat generation', does this new couch surfing movement have a name?
man that's heavy. if you look at history, you'll always find travelers and 'beatniks.' i'd like to think we are more than 'surfers'. every statistic says we (the global digital middle class) are driving quickly into a world where we refuse to accept broadcast solutions. (i need to find sources, but i know they exist! until then i will just refer to the ecology of free culture solutions that i am exploring on this journey.)
"starfish and the spider" is a simple book that illustrates examples of centralized and decentralized networks. if you look at decentralized networks, you see a starfish. if a starfish is cut in half, it will regenerate the other half. if you look at centralized networks you see a web. if you cut a spider or a web in half, you destroy the network.
as the old New Yorker cartoon illustrates "no one knows your a dog on the internet." i now see generations spanning the technological divide. as our ideas grow, replicate and get remixed, i see us in an androgynous world. frankly, regardless of time zone, age, gender, race, income and nationality we are making a starfish generation.
in seven hours, i will enter my fourth continent 10kgs lighter (thank you kengggg!!!) now with just a few mins to send out a thank you, i am amazed i didn't come to the other side of the globe sooner. despite the cold showers, dictatorships and poverty, the food was great and conversations mind blowing. once again, i find myself leaving a company of friends.
the flight from home has been long and the rickshaw ride unexpected, but you've given me more to view than i wanted. i promise to be back.
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?
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
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.