The stretches of time after my mom passed and I was back in California’s Northern Central Valley I found a rather deep appreciation for it that I had lacked much of my life (moved there before 8th grade after living in Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Spokane, and the Bay Area - by comparison in my limited life span there was nothing there).
What I found was beauty in the breezes, the long sky, the long drives next to farm land, and the fog and clouds coming over the Coastal Range to cover and fill the Valley as they headed to the Sierras. The lighting was bright with tinges of amber, yellow, blue, and green hues bouncing around. There was an old school charm that settled back to past centuries. Lunch in the bar with friends and the bill settled with dice cups, with the bar covered with small dents from many years of the dice’s resolution to bills and a few bills passed between hands under cover of the bottom side of the bar.
The drives to the Bay Area were regular and helped keep sanity and connected to a larger world that spanned beyond the hills and mountains to the East and West and the rich soil running North and South.
The drive down I–5 became wonderful as the turn West beyond though Tracy pointed to the Altamont and the wondrous golden brown hills. That part of the drive was the most boring, but driving and having the right music turned it into a dream space of dancing bathing light with clouds moving in time lapse pacing in real time driving at speed. The Altamont turns into graceful enwrapping curves you drive to and into them. The occasional clouds hanging in the hills give the sun a halo of golden light or the occasional spherical rainbow that only can happen in a land of magic and light.
I had long forgotten this Carl Steadman response to Michael Sippy’s “Just One Question - What do you want for Christmas”, but the response from 1997 is fantastic and frames the 1990s as the broken decade. (I’ll wait for you to go read it)
I’m not so sure that Carl’s broken decade got better in the first half of the 2000 decade, but it really started to. We are much farther along now. Our consumer world started to improve quite a bit and slowly business systems and services are slowly improving. The initial part of Carl’s rant focusses on the number of steps to get something going. Once it is working the steps are still clunky.
Carl gets in a great rant about time and how broken it was in the 90s within technology (calendaring and syncing is still a beast and likely to for a bit longer - you understand the problem sets and pain points if you have ever tried to build syncing). With calendaring and its related activities we now have Tempo, which is freakishly close to the next step scenario I used in many of the Come to Me Web presentations and Personal InfoCloud presentations from 2003 through 2007 (I’ve been getting requests to represent them as this is what more and more developers and designers are dealing with today and need to have a better foundation to think through them). There was an internal Yahoo presentation (and follow on day of deep discussions and conversations) with a version of the Personal InfoCloud and Come to me Web flow that is nearly identical to the Tempo app video scenario and ones spelled out in Robert Scoble’s interview with Tempo CEO, which is utterly awesome that it is getting built out some 10 years later (we had the technology and tools to do this in 2004 and beyond).
Carl’s rant gets worn away over time though consumer devices, services, and applications. The refocus on ease of use and particularly the use through mobile, which requires a very different way of thinking and considering things. It thinking through design, the dependancies, and real user needs (all while keeping in mind the attention issues, screen size, networking, and device limitations). The past couple years mobile finally caught on with mainstream users and people doing real work on the mobile and tablets - Box 40% mobile access of files stored there over the last couple years. Many other business vendors have had mobile use rates of their services from mobile over the past two years. When talking to users they opt for mobile solutions over their full enterprise tools as they are much easier to use, which quickly translates into getting more work done. As Bernd Christiansen of Citrix stated in an onstage interview the employee’s most productive part of the day is often the walk from their car to the front door of the office working on their mobile devices.
This world is not fully better and fully easy to use from the days of Carl’s rant, but it is getting better. We still have quite a ways to go.
It was a weekend not focussing on technology or internet much, but I saw some usual patterns that are the usual signs that something is not well, but I had other things that took priority of focus. Sunday I gave a quick look and let out that human deep gasp and my kid looked up and asked what was wrong as my head slumped. I was late to the news that Aaron Swartz had taken his life. I don’t know what site I read it but all my screens of services and people I follow closely where sharing the news and their remembrances.
Aaron’s passing was beyond the “he is too young” and “what a shame”, he was not only someone special he was changing the world and had been for quite a while with his sorting through the battles of standardizing RSS, working with the Creative Commons to create a modern equivalent that could be relatively easily used attach to published and shared content allowing much better and more open access to it, he helped contribute to Reddit as it was hatching and stayed with it through to it being purchased. He has done so much more since. But, he died at 26 years old. At 14 when he was partaking in the RSS discussions on listserves nobody knew his age. Nobody had a clue and it wasn’t known until they asked him to come to a gathering to discuss things face to face. This story of his age and the wonderful story about how people found out was spread on listserves I participated in and at around post conference drinks in the early 00s. At the age of 14 Aaron had lore. He had earned the respect and right to be a peer with the early grey beards of the Web that were battling to understand it all, help it work better, and make the world better because of it. Aarron fit right in.
I was at a few events and gatherings that Aaron was at in the early 00s but I never had the chance to work or interact with him. But, I have worked and interacted with many who did have that fortune and even with the lore Aaron had they were impressed by his approach, capabilities, and what he could accomplish. In the tech community it is a meritocracy and you earn credibility by doing. The world has always been changed by those who do, but also by those who are curious. but are guided by an understanding of an optimal right (correct way).
What we lost as a society was not only a young man who earned his place and credibility, and earned it early, but he gave to others openly. All the efforts he put his heart and mind to had a greater benefit to all. The credo in the tech community is to give back more than you take. Aaron did that in spades, which made thinking of a future with whatever he was working on a bit more bright and promising. Aaron’s blog was at the top of my feed reader and was more than worth the time to read. He was a blogger, an open sharer of thoughts and insights, questions as well as the pursuit of the answer to the questions. This is not the human norm, he was a broken one in all the understandings that brings as being outside the mainstream norms, but much like all those in the Apple “Think Different” ad campaign he made a difference by thinking different and being different from those norms.
I love David Weinberger’s Aaron Swartz was not a hacker. He was a builder. as well as his Why we mourn. From the rough edges of hearing friends talk about their working with Aaron and following along with what he shared, we as a society were in for a special future. Doc Searls’ Aaron Swartz and Freecom lays out wonderfully the core of Aaron’s soul as a native to the Net in the virtues of NEA (Nobody owns it; Everybody can use it; Anybody con improve it). Doc also has a great collection of links on his memorial posting, many from those who worked with Aaron or knew him well on his Losing Aaron Swartz page.
Dang it, we are one down. We are down a great one. But, this net, this future, and this society that fills this little planet needs the future we could have had, but now it is ours to work together to build and make great.
How to we get there? Aaron’s first piece of advice from Aaron Swarts: How to get my job is, “Be curious. Read widely. Try new things. I think a lot of what people call intelligence just boils down to curiosity.”
The light over the stove left on at night until off to bed brings back memories of having corn flakes with Gramps late at night as a snack before bed and turning off the movie after the late movie and heading to bed at my parents house. It was warmth, family, comfort, and more in that dim warm glow over the stove.
It is quite apropos that Stacy Higginbotham at GigaOM wrote a piece on Over half of American homes don’t have or use their landline, as earlier this week I pick up my landline phone so I could call my cell phone so to find it, as I didn’t want to wake up the laptop to Skype or Google voice call it, then found there was no dial tone. I messed with the connectors a few times and still nothing. I think I only used it to check dial tone once or twice (it was less money to get a landline phone with internet and tv channels than with out it) as to sort out if internet or cable were out as a first step. I was a little peeved I didn’t have a landline dial tone, which is really odd as I haven’t had a landline phone since early 2008, as when I did it was never for me as my cell phone was my contact number from early 2000s.
After a couple days I was looking at the back of the cable router and noticed it had two RJ–11 jacks for landline phone. I thought I would try the other jack to see if I got a dial tone. Sure enough I did. Within 10 minutes the phone rang and it was a wrong number in a language I wasn’t quite familiar with. I then remembered a call in the middle of the night with a non-intelligble caller and I had then unplugged the phone. After hanging up, I reconnected the phone to the non-working jack again. Now I don’t really have a landline again. Phew.
For those about to ask, “What about those people who are going to call that number?” Well, I don’t give that number out and the only people that may have that number is the cable company and I have them sending email and they use my mobile number. Heck, I don’t even have that landline number should I want to give it out. Being that it is a cable landline and not the old copper landline, it will not even work if the power were out.
I have all my posts and comments from Personal InfoCloud moved over and it is just a clean-up of the HTML and getting the CSS set properly. I am going to move the domain before the rest of the design is done as it may be some time doing the a redesign.
I am not using SquareSpace 6, the latest and greatest version as that did not automatically import form TypePad and and version 5 did. The template I spent a couple nights a month back modifying was built for version 5, so for now it will stay there. I’m not sure when I will flip the switch on it, but it will likely be in this next month.
August is slow. August is hot. August is lazy.
On the East Coast of the U.S. August, particularly mid-August, takes hold of the cities and squeezes the now out of them. Time slows to a crawl and little gets done. Many people go away to the shore or other destinations to unfocus, untether, and unconnect from progress and time speeding forward.
This doldrums of August is meant for great bookstores. The aisles are ghost towns on usually hectic Saturday errands. These are the days bookstores reconfigure and shift the aisles and restructure. Time lingers even more slowly than usual great bookstore time. Each book on the recommendation shelves of the local well curated stores calls out to you with the beckoning come hither enticement that you will have time to read it in the next week or two while things are still floating in the suspended time of August hot Summer days.
The days are slowly filled with favorite places where you can always get your favorite table and window seat. You can stay much longer than usual as people normally hovering for you to move on have taken their well honed practice to the edge of the ocean to pester some soul there. You can stop moving enough to let all the drifting thoughts and dreams catch up to you and ferment and mature into something ripe and juicy to flow from your mind. You can remember that great idea from February, or was it June, that was going to change the world and you let it simmer in the August light on a screen or paper to see what it looks like out in the free world.
These are the days where driving is a breeze and shifting to a new location takes minutes and little frustration as traffic is light. You find parking right in front of the next favorite place. You go there and linger. You wonder when they painted. Has the store’s typography in the window always been that wonderful and perfect for the place? You have time to notice. Time to wonder. Time to embrace the world around you. You have to be no other place now, you are where you are, and are enjoying it. All of it.
Tuesday night Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giant’s pitched a perfect game (no hits, no walks, nor errors, and no runs). This was the first perfect game by a Giant in the 130 years the club has been around. Cain’s 14 strike out tied the best perfect game of Sandy Kolfax, so 2 of the 22 best perfect games ever.
One of the most amazing moments in this perfect game was in the 7th inning when the Giants’ Gregor Blanco made an amazing play on the Astros’ Jordan Schafer’s smash drive to center field. There was a whole lot of amazing and special in his play, but the most amazing bit came in his talking about the play the following day.
From yesterday’s MLB.com article Cain bak at work as Giants revel in perfecto Gregor Blanco talks about his talk with Cain after the game and Cain’s deep appreciation of that catch that saved the perfect game…
Right fielder Gregor Blanco spoke at length about his remarkable seventh-inning catch of Jordan Schafer’s drive to the center-field warning track.
Blanco refused Cain’s offer to reward him for his impossible grab. “He asked me what I wanted – a watch, a car, a house,” Blanco said, prompting laughter from reporters. “I said, ‘No man, we’re a team. I’m always there for you.’” Having the chance to make such plays is its own reward, Blanco said. “I work hard, and it’s great to have a moment like this in my career,” he said. “I’m enjoying this, enjoying the moment, and I’m just thankful to the Giants for the opportunity.”
Blanco repeated that he didn’t think he could run down Schafer’s drive. It wasn’t false modesty.
This understanding of team is fantastic. (I do love Matt Cain’s gesture of reward, and Matt’s hat tip to Gregor just after the play as it was pure class and grace.) It is a great thing when many moving parts come together like this. When each member is looking out for the team and supporting those who are having a shining moment reach their best.
This, is what it is all about!
In an attempt to try and remember (still flailing) the rhetorical and or narrative style that James Burke uses in Connections I was also recalling other times I heard the same or similar style used. One of them was by a tutor/lecturer in Oxford, Dr. Allan Chapman, with whom I took “The Natural Progression of the Thought of Man” lecture class from at The Centre for Medieval & Renaissance StudiesThe Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Studies in 1988. ()Dr. Chapman has also been on James Burke’s Connections talking about inventions and discoveries in astronomy during the early renaissance).
The class was a once a week amazing hour (or so) of Dr. Chapman laying out the drastic shift between medieval understandings and the more enlightened renaissance approach across a wide swath of subjects, from medicine, populations studies, war craft, astrology, and much more. One of the amazing things was there were no questions allowed mid-lecture, as he had structured and memorized the lectures verbatim. After the hour lecture of so he would take questions and often he would recite exactly what he had stated in the lecture. He would not let on to the method of how he did the memorizations, but his method allowed him to roll the lecture off with ease and at a rather quick pace.
This class is one of many in undergrad that deeply changed how I saw the world, but also how I saw the potential and the collection of all the things happening as fodder for more optimal ways of doing things. Seeing pitfalls and gaps at the same time as advancement and improvements. Seeing the shifts in underlying understandings and grasping the echoing across its own and other disciplines it will have in a relatively short time, when taking the long view.
In my search to see what Dr. Allan Chapman was up to these days I found his joint address to the Royal Society and Gresham College Annual Lecture on the subject of “History, Science, Religion: Capturing the Public Imagination” on Vimeo.
Dr. Chapman’s lecture style is much the same as I remember and much more enjoyable not taking notes as fast as one could (his lectures were the only source of information for our one and final exam).
Both have me thinking this is really close, then I remember one of my favorite periodical apps, Financial Times went HTML5 more than a year ago. FT went HTML5 to better manage the multi-platform development process needed for iOS and the multitude of Android versions. While many have said the development is roughly 1.5x what it would take for just one platform development it does same incredible amount of time building an app across all platforms. Since all the major smart phone platforms have their native browsers built on webkit, there is some smart thinking in that approach.
Personally, my big niggle with the FT app is while it is browser based doesn’t have Instapaper built-in and it moves me out of the app to send a link of an article (often to myself because lacking Instapaper) rather than natively in the app, or exposing browser chrome so that I can do that while still remaining in the app and in reading their content mode. It would be really smart for FT to sort this out and fix these as it would keep me in the site and service reading, which I am sure they would love. If they could treat both of those like they do with Twitter and Facebook sharing out all within the app it would be brilliant.
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