swimming in data, drowning in wisdom

i was just watching a video from the Digital-Life-Design(DLD) conference that was in Munich, Germany in january. the video was a talk between Arianna Huffington and Paulo Coelho, called On Mindfulness.

it was about a half hour in which they discussed Arianna Huffington’s new book and the effects of living in this world of constant movement. to me, it sounded like they were talking a lot about regret, or rather warning against it: regret of missing out on the beauty of life, regret of getting lost in routine,  and most importantly, the regret of losing sight of one’s values.

Paulo Coelho seemed particularly insistent on this last one, but i think losing sight of one’s values is the result of the former two. what i see happening to myself and to many others around me is the idea of getting lost in a routine, being caught in the never ending cycle of to-do lists without really paying attention to what is being done around me. it’s too easy to lose myself in whatever i have to do that day and ignore what i need to do for myself. it’s too easy to keep going, and harder to stop to take a look around.

this is when values are jeopardized, when one doesn’t stop to check in and realign their actions with their intentions.

i write this in fear of sounding like a broken record, but i say it mostly as a reminder to myself. i’m full of regret if we’re looking at the way Paulo described. i’m absolutely guilty of getting lost in my daily work, getting absorbed by what is due, what i need to get done. but as a student, by definition, there’s almost no getting out of that. so how do i work inside of it? how do we as a wider community incorporate Paulo’s warning into daily life and bring value back into our daily interactions?

each person has to ask themselves these questions to get to their own sense of the truth. for me, it means just taking everything task by task. i love to let myself dive into projects, i wouldn’t be myself if i didn’t. but once i finish something, i take a step back and see what i’ve done. where do i want to go? what can i do? how am i a part of something larger that effects not only myself? it’s a play between thinking about what i am doing, what makes me happy, and what i want to be doing. when i get these answers right, that’s when my values sync with my actions and i’m off and running.

Paulo Coelho and Arianna Huffington referenced meditation quite a bit in their talk. since october, meditation has quickly moved to the center of my life. i meditate at least once a day, and every other day if things get crazy. it brings me back and allows me to create a space to step away and reorient myself. for me, meditation a chance to reset. if you’re looking for something to help you reset, try it. no harm, no fowl.

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future now

there’s not much debate around the idea that technology portrayed in movies and tv shows has a strange way of becoming actualized. many a time, pop culture predicted the future. there was a mashable article not too long ago that threw us back to a few commercials that did exactly that. at&t saw the gps on the way in 1993 and apple knew touchscreens would be around in 1987.

while it’s pretty terrifying to think of Gravity or Avatar as omens for our future reality, the technology used in these movies can guide the way for the next round of programmers that roll through. think about it, some 13 yr old is sitting watching George Clooney and Sandra Bullock in space, they see some ridiculous holographic computer, and the next thing we know, we’re living in a world full of communication based on holograms.

as of right now, we’re not too far off. this morning, a Swiss UI company, dizmo, reached their goal on kickstarter to fund their new interactive user interface. any smartboard surface would facilitate the a pretty ridiculous digital experience. just like Tom Cruise in Minority Report or Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man, you can whip your files around, blow them up, spin them about, and swipe them away. sounds like the most natural way to let your files materialize before your eyes and save trees while you’re doing it. this new digital gizmo company is bringing Tony Stark’s lab to us.

the best part about all of this? give it a few years and anything like dizmo is going to be so casually the norm.

one third down, two more to go.

Mark Zuckerberg and a bunch of partners just let out a press release for their newest endeavor: internet.org. founding members and CEOs of Facebook, Opera, and Nokia, just to name a few, are building this new site in hopes of bringing the internet to the rest of the world that isn’t connected by this highspeed thing we all can’t seem to live without.

the goal is to let the internet spread it’s wings and soar to the two thirds of the world that isn’t online.

right now, VentureBeat and The New York Times, are my main sources of information. but i’m sure by the middle of the day, after they officially announce the site, there will be plenty more with things to add to the conversation.

the main idea is to cut the cost of internet access so it is available to the two thirds of the world that doesn’t have it.

lets put it this way, as the press release reads, just one company, MediaTek, is aiming for 300 million smart devices within 2 years.

that’s just one company!

they’re saying that the best avenue is to simplify phone applications ‘so they run more efficiently and …improv[e] the components of phones and networks so that they transmit more data while using less battery power.’ my question is, couldn’t they have figured out how to use less battery power sooner? regardless, of course, they are hoping to provide simple services like email and social networking sites (hint hint…Facebook).

in a sentence, Facebook is looking for a new audience. of course the others are along for the ride and making bank along the way, but it seems to me that this whole initiative is pretty pointed.

in all honesty, i don’t really remember a time when computers and the internet weren’t the talk of the town. i was really young when apple’s first computers came onto the scene, so technology is kind of my native language at this point. and truth be told, the internet has brought on quite a few great achievements. as it grows, it has enhanced communication and continues to surprise us all with the new possibilities.

United Nations Human Rights Council report is right when it says…

‘The internet boosts economic, social, and political development, and contributes to the progress of humankind as a whole.’

it’s a bold statement, but in the grand scheme of these, it’s very true. imagine Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns without Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. impossible. social media and the internet, for those who have access, has changed how we communicate and interact with one another.

it’s a fact.

so now that internet.org is about to launch, we’re all just looking over to developing countries and waiting to see what happens next. The New York Times says Asia, Latin America, and Africa offer the most promising market opportunities for tech companies. everyone is just trying to figure out how to get those people online in order to make this business venture worthwhile.

so, here’s to the kids of those nations that still believe in face to face interactions. best of luck to you.

play more.

Makey-Makey

remember preschool when you would play with playdough and clay for hours on end? we would build creatures or make houses out of legos and then furnish them with playdough plates. those were the days. it’s throwback thursday, no? lets take it back to the simple times of making instruments with the help of Tony James and Vivian McLaughlin Bayubay from Out of the Box (easily one of my top 5 TV shows, right beside Rugrats and Hey Arnold). i might have been the only one who stayed at home with her grandma and made toy drums after preschool, but didn’t most of you play with pots and pans or something? well go back to that time, close your eyes, think it over. wherever i was when i was a kid, i was making the most intriguing stories or sounds or dances with the simplest things. between me and my sister, we didn’t need that much to keep ourselves entertained.

flash forward. now, we need everything there is to be entertained: ipads, ipods, kindles, and other weird gadgets. we need something that has a screen in order to pretend. well, a few days ago, i was looking around on Kickstarter and i saw something that is trying to take us back to the simpler moments: makey makey. this new fangled thing is a small little tape-like gadget that lets you hook anything up to a computer and make music with it. this past may, co-creator, Jay Silver, went on TED a little while ago and gave a great talk about makey makey. what makey makey does is it lets you attach alligator clips to literally any kind of object. in the video on kickstarter, they turn playdough into a game controler, use a drawing to play pacman, water buckets to play ddr, and make steps into piano keys. the guy even takes his family and turns them into a drum kit. it’s great. makey makey makes it easier to play more, something we should be doing anyway.

looking at the Kickstarter campaign, they made an absurd amount more than their goal, roughly 23 times more than they were asking. how were they so successful? well, lets think. they are presenting something entirely new that is completely out of the box yet enhances the experience we have on the daily (playing around). they also were able to build their presence on kickstarter, using all kinds of social media tricks to make sure their audience was engaged. and the main contibutor to their success is that they were on kickstarter to begin with. i’m new to the game, but it seems to me that in order to be successful, you have to be on the most prominent social media networks: you have to fish where the fish are. many kickstarter campaigns start every day, but the ones that make it are the ones whose audience is already there. this is a product that is designed for the kind of person who would be creating new things. kickstarter is the place where young creators cater to young creators and get the attention of the big fish. with backers, you already have a network of people who are willing to buy the product. once makey makey got their first try, they made more. they did a luanch-listen-relaunch kind of deal. they got it out there and realized it needed to be shifted, and they realized they also had enough backing to shift it. so they did. then they did it again. now they’re still on kickstarter, even though their campaign is over. i found them on kickstarter after the campaign, and i’m guessing i’m not the only one. when it comes to creating, there’s no better audience than those that think and act just like you do.

 

storytime.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum is the first site for StoryCorps StoryBooth in the US. the program has been running since 2003, but has yet to come through to America. the idea is that anyone can come in and tell a story they want to share. it’s a way to keep the art of oral histories alive. StoryCorps is essentially allowing people to reach out and leave their mark in the public eye in a way that may not feel so public. from what i can tell, it’s a booth where you go and sit and chat about yourself. you get to gush about all your accomplishments and have a moment where you can let everyone know that you’re doing something worth while with your life. as the cjm writes, “Aired each Friday on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, StoryCorps’ award-winning broadcasts touch millions by illuminating our common humanity through personal experiences that reflect contemporary American culture.”

i’m only on the west coast for a couple more weeks, but i’m definitely going to make another visit to the cjm to see if i can sneak a peak at these stories in the making.

boycott.

i meant to post this a while ago, but a friend from school came to visit and i got pretty busy.

along with President Obama’s statement about the tragedy, there has been constant backlash about the verdict at George Zimmerman’s trial. to note a highlight, President Obama reiterated what he had said before: “You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.” this is a pretty smooth way to say that america has got some serious problems. facts are facts. 35 years ago, it could have been obama, and today, it could have been any other black man’s son.

last week, an article in the Huffington Post, highlighted Treyvon Martin’s parents, who have come out to say they won’t be taking a stance on the proposed boycott. Treyvon’s mom is right: ” ‘They have a right to express themselves,’ Fulton said of boycott advocates.” they have a right to express themselves and the rest of the world has a right to see them. if america is going to take anything from this tragedy, it has to scream about Treyvon from the hilltops and let the memory of him run through the streets. america has to be sure that Treyvon is not forgotten.