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December 2004
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February 2005

January 2005

Planetwork Seattle: Proactive Displays, Interra and the Identity Commons

I attended a Planetwork Seattle meeting on Sunday, and it was a mind- and spirit-boggling experience.  Eileen sent me an announcement for the Planetwork Networking forum on Saturday, which invited "anyone who is either working on developing software which could be used for social networking or in other ways to address the world's problems, OR who is using any form of digital media or communication technology to work for ecological and/or social benefit."  The forum offered 6-minute presentation slots, which seemed like a luxury after my 3-minute presentation at the Northwest Entrepreneur Network Pub Night on Thursday.  I submitted a proposal which was accepted a short time later, and really enjoyed the opportunity to present a little bit about proactive displays, which were motivated by a desire to create social benefits [in a conference context], to truly kindred spirits and gain valuable feedback, encouragement and contacts that will help me push forward.

As much as I enjoy talking about my own work, I was really blown away by the other presentations  (and discussions) about the ways they were designing and implementing network technologies and infrastructures to support collective and collaborative actions that will benefit local communities.  The event was organized by Kaliya Hamlin, Bill Aal and Jon Ramer, and included a number of other presentations:

I've already talked about the level of passion -- and inspiration -- I felt during the NWEN Pub Night on Thursday.  Pound for pound (or person for person), I felt even more impassioned and inspired by the visions for technology-enhanced communities -- and the actions planned or taken to implement these visions -- articulated by the presenters and other attendees at this meeting.  The next PlaNetwork Networking (PlaNetworking?) meeting is tentatively planned for Thursday, February 24, from 6-10pm at the Community Living Room.  I'll be there!

NWEN Pub Night: Beer, Pizza and Passion

I attended my first Northwest Entrepreneur Network Pub Night at Hales Ales on Thursday.  Highlights include the Red Menace Big Amber (a very hoppy ale with an interesting combination of Caramel, Carastan and a handful of Black Malts), the best pizzas I've had since moving away from Chicagoland,  and a lineup of short, passionate and compelling presentations from a collection of entrepreneurs:

  • Gene Kavner (Eballpark), who is creating the next generation of interative fantasy [online] baseball game
  • Phil Cordier (GridZones), focusing on provisioning and support of dedicated and virtual private servers on full 64-bit computing platforms
  • Ross Holeman (Drinktag), describing -- and handing out samples of -- a unique advertising medium, which adheres to the sides of beverage containers
  • Joe McCarthy (Interrelativity), evangelizing on the past, present and future prospects of proactive displays [disclaimer: that's me, so I can't say whether anyone found this particular presentation compelling, but I know it was short, and I'm pretty sure people could sense my passion :-) ].
  • Tim Godfrey (no company name yet), showing a model for a new ergonomically-correct chair design (unfortunately, Tim was not handing out samples)
  • Sven Liden (Teachtown), teaching us about autism, describing "An Educational Curriculum for Young Children with Special Needs" and his company's goal of developing software for such a curriculum that can be used by ordinary folk, and calling for volunteers to partcipate in studies of parents, teachers, clinicians and researchers to help test their software (interested prospective participants can reach Teachtown at
  • Paul Kriloff (All Star Directories), inspiring us with a success story of a company that has achieved profitability through organic growth

Every NWEN event I've attended (in the brief three month span during which I've been a member) has been extremely well-motivated, well-planned and well-executed.  It is truly inspiring to be in the presence of a group of so many people who are pursuing their passions, and to be able to enjoy good beer and pizza as well is just icing on the cake :-).

Ham and Malbec

One of the epiphanies for me over this past holiday season was the discovery of a new food and wine pairing: ham and Malbec.  I've never been a big fan of ham, and one of the detractions for me was that I could never find a big red wine that complemented that meat.  I was at a holiday party where ham was served, and someone had brought a bottle of 2002 Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Malbec, which paired beautifully with the ham.  I'm not much good at describing flavors, aromatics and other nuances of a wine, I just know what I like: big, bold, full-bodied, chewy, hedonistic.  Many malbecs fit this profile, and while the CSM Malbec is currently only available to Vintage Reserve Club members (assuming there is any left), there are plenty of good and relatively inexpensive malbecs that are widely available.

Social Marketing: Promotional Considerations

I enjoyed an interesting conversation with Chris at NWEN Pub Night this past Thursday, wherein he told me about a company called Tremor, a spinoff of Procter & Gamble, which claims to have "cracked the code and leverage the power of word-of-mouth advocacy, to move sales, attitude and brand equity for our clients."  The basic idea is to enlist the services of a collection of 200,000+ influential teens, lableled "connectors" (from Malcolm Gladwell's book, "The Tipping Point"), to spread the word about new products and services.  The teens are offered early access to these products and services, but I wonder what other promotional considerations are included in the package, and whether accepting any additional compensation would affect the influence of such teens within their peer groups, were such arrangements to be made known.  This reminds me of some recent press reports about political advocacy by journalists for pay, ethical questions raised about drug studies paid for by pharmaceutical companies, and, closer to home, the Amazon Associates program

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Inspiration, Aspiration and Perspiration

When I first started this weblog, my intent was to focus on content relating to my professional activities, which I summarized as "ruminations on people, places and things, and the potential [digital] connections between them" in my weblog catchphrase.  I am still interested in these topics, and intend to continue blogging on them, but I now believe that a more accurate catchphrase is "ruminations on inspiration, aspiration and perspiration", i.e., things (including people and places)that stimulate me, things that I strongly desire, and things for which I am willing to work [up a sweat] ... I hope that these will not be disparate sets.  As I look back on my more technology-oriented posts, they all fit this broader bill, so I don't view this as a shift but rather a recognition of an enlargement of focus.

Love and Logic: Learning and Growing through Mistakes

The night after reading about the art of making mistakes wakefully, I attended the first class of a four-class seminar on Love and Logic, wonderfully facilitated by Cindy Horst.  The premise of this approach to parenting a child is to "empower him/her to make his/her own decisions, live with his/her mistakes and grow through the consequences."  The three "rules" of Love and Logic are:

  1. Take care of yourself by setting limits in a loving way
  2. Give choices whenever it's reasonable.
  3. Let empathy and consequences do the teaching.

Continue reading "Love and Logic: Learning and Growing through Mistakes" »

A Path With Heart: Wakefully Making Mistakes Along the Way

APathWithHeartAfter returning from my Warrior Monk retreat, I started re-reading "A Path With Heart: A Guide through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life", a book written by Jack Kornfield, co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society and Spirit Rock Meditation Center, that offers a path to greater mindfulness and integrity through meditation and other spiritual practices.  The central premise of the book is "Whatever we choose, the creations of our lives must be grounded in our hearts."  Kornfield's writing strikes many chords with me, particularly his invocation of warrior spirit, analogy between meditation and puppy training, and allusion to the art of making mistakes wakefully.

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Boxing and Belly Dancing, Boldness and Dreams

I rarely watch television, but I was captivated by the Ken Burns documentary film, "Unforgivable Blackness", profiling the rise and fall of Jack Johnson, the first African-American Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World, shown this week on PBS. I regularly listen to NPR (and yes, I'm a member of both KCTS and KPLU), and Wednesday morning I listened with rapt attention to Ketzel Levine's story, "Moving from Accounting to Dance", profiling Manon Martin, a former accountant from Seattle who recently sold her house and quit her job to transform her passion for belly dancing into a new career in the Middle Eastern dance clubs of Paris. What inspired me about both people is their willingness to ignore conventional wisdom and/or rules to boldly pursue their dreams.

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Warrior Monk: A Spiritual and Soulful Retreat

I attended a four-day retreat, Warrior Monk, before the holidays, with the goal of achieving greater clarity, courage and commitment in following my heart. The workshop "welcomes those in transition and those seeking their next level of authentic growth, healing and spiritual connection," and includes a combination of meditation, poetry reading and writing, chanting, singing and dancing, all designed to encourage mindfulness and intentionality.  There were daily opportunities for stretching: physically (a 5-step Tibetan rite sequence), mentally (paradox-embracing and reality-creation exercises, reminding me of the movie What the Bleep), emotionally (consistent focus on identifying, feeling and working with the four basic emotions: joy, anger, fear, sadness) and spiritually (incorporating elements of a variety of spiritual traditions).  As with the New Warrior Training Adventure, it was a wonderful opportunity to form strong bonds with great men, and I benefited as much (if not more) from the work other men did as from the work I did ... though as I write this, I realize I'm not as willing to make as much of a distinction between my work and their work -- or indeed, between me and them -- as I was before the retreat.

Continue reading "Warrior Monk: A Spiritual and Soulful Retreat" »