In which I muse about the future of the Net

Some European journalists recently asked me a different set of great questions, this time about where the Net might be headed. The questions and answers are posted online here.

Being a bit too modest to quote myself here, I’ll just recommend you head over and read the piece in full.

Posted in Perspectives, tech, writing | Leave a comment

In which I answer Andrius’s 12 (excellent) Questions

We talk a bunch about openness and transparency, but I don’t know anyone who walks that talk more than my friend Andrius Kulikauskas. Andrius lives in Vilnius, Lithuania, and runs the Minciu Sodas (Orchard of Thoughts) Lab from there.

He recently asked me his 12 Questions for Us to Know Each Other, which are thoughtful like the Proust Questionnaire, but more spiritual. I really enjoyed our interview.

Here’s a link to the video with my answers to all the the questions (the video quality is poor, so think of this as a podcast.)

Andrius’s 12 Questions are short and simple, but I really appreciated his amplifications on each. Here they are:

1) What do you care about?
More specifically: How would you introduce yourself to a person who is interested in you but knows nothing about you?

2) Do you care about thinking?
More specifically:  What are ways that your values clash and how do you resolve them?

3) What do you value?
More specifically: What is your deepest value in life which includes all of your other values?

4) What do you seek to know?
More specifically: What is a question that you don’t know the answer to, but wish to answer? (There may be several.)

5) What do you wish to achieve?
More specifically: Your “endeavors”.

6) Would you think out loud?
More specifically: What part of your thinking might you share freely, openly, in the Public Domain?

7) Where do you think best?
More specifically: How do you think best? What is your preferred way of thinking?

8) What is your dream in life?
More specifically: What would you wish for, especially what role would you like to play in life, if there were no obstacles?

9) How can we help each other?
More specifically: What kind of help would you like to give to others? and get from others?

10) What do you truly know about?
More specifically: What matters do you think yourself an authority on?

11) What lessons can you share?
More specifically: What are some concrete ideas / patterns / questions that you wish to contribute to our culture?

12) What do you know of God?
More specifically: What do you infer or suppose about how this world is set up, how it works?

Andrius also posted my answers separately to YouTube (to obey their 10 minute limit). The first one is here.

I’d love to see anyone else’s answers. Post away!

Posted in change | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Motorbike stolen; answers to “Thumper”

On April Fool’s Day, I noticed the disappearance of my beloved bike, a 1989 Honda GB500 TT (Tourist Trophy) that I’d bought used in 1998. I had seen it the night before, parked as usual parallel to the curb outside our flat on Church Street (in San Francisco).

Maybe, I thought, it’s an April Fools prank. But a couple of days went by and Thumper didn’t rematerialize.

So I’m posting a picture of the victim and will tweet and blog about it in the hope that someone will spot Thumper. Here’s the last image I got of him:


Assuming bike thieves don’t read too many blogs, I’ll point out Thumper’s real distinguishing mark: the seat isn’t the stock GB500 seat (which you see in the nicer bike in the background), but rather an aftermarket seat with yellow piping I had just bought and installed. For confirmation, the last numbers of Thumper’s license are 341.

If you sight him, please drop me a line.

By the way, single-cylinder, four-stroke bikes are called “thumpers” because they have a bit more vibration than multi-cylinder bikes. But I liked the image of the rabbit.

Posted in infrastructure | 1 Comment

At last: a decent, simple vector graphics tool

I’ve long whined about the lack of simple drawing tools, blaming Adobe for vacuuming up all the simple tools so that we might all buy its Illustrator offering — a piece of software I will never learn to use.

Google’s been improving its Apps suite steadily. It just separated the drawing tool from the others, meaning you can use it on its own, not just within Docs, Spreadsheets or Presents. The drawing tools are simple and sweet. I drew a quick illustration to embed here:

I’ve tried all sorts of other programs, but remained unsatisfied. Now I’m almost satisfied: It would be nice if they added linkiness to the drawings.

Posted in infrastructure | Leave a comment

Thriving in the Relationship Economy

This morning I gave a new talk with a tool that I hadn’t used before: Prezi. I’ll ruminate on my experience with the tool some other time.

My talk has the same title as this blog post. Here’s the Prezi file I spoke from (the link is only good through Oct. 21, when Prezi will remove it).

I’m currently in the mode of improving that talk, then I’ll record a screencast talking through it and share that. In the meantime, I’d love your comments.

Posted in change, My Projects, Perspectives | Tagged | 1 Comment

On Ada Lovelace Day, many inspirations

Suw Charman-Anderson has provoked a wonderful outpouring of appreciation today for pioneers in technology (broadly defined) who have two X chromosomes. You can find details of this great idea at

I’d like to honor several women’s contributions. All of them inspire me.

Nicole Lazzaro not only designs emotion into games and offers useful models like her 4 Fun Keys, she also is incredibly generous with her time and thoughts. Sometimes that means hosting an afternoon playing the Cash Flow Game (wish I’d played that four times when I was a teenager!), other times it means listening and offering feedback on career ideas. Oh, and she’s an incredible photographer.

Mary Hodder may not have all the answers, but she asks great questions, and she has great perspective, all of which she demonstrated on a recent podcast she did with me about whether there’s a big collapse coming. After consulting to Technorati and other techie firms, Mary launched her own startup. Mary’s always looking to make sure women are represented properly at tech conferences, and she won’t mince words about it. Right on.

Kaliya Hamlin is just a few years ahead of the rest of us. As IdentityWoman, she is helping several identity management communities move forward; as an open space facilitator, she is helping groups understand that self-organization actually works. I remember the first conversation I had with her, when she pulled book after book out of her backpack, much in the style of the people who used to cram phone booths or VW bugs decades ago. Yet the books she pulled out were mostly books I’d not hear of, and all of them were interesting.

Jill Bolte Taylor‘s TED talk, My Stroke of Insight, still reverberates for me. It has many high points, but for me the peaks are when this wonderful neuroanatomist’s arm disappears into her bathroom wall, when she realizes that her left hemisphere is this chatty presence (that she doesn’t miss at all when it shuts out) and when she relates her experience of universal oneness — of bliss. I’ve heard her book about the incident is fantastic.

Esther Dyson has laser focus, breadth of insight and enough playfulness to take a turn at perhaps being a cosmonaut. She was also my mentor for five and a half years, giving me all sorts of leeway to find interesting things to write about, then holding my feet to the fire of practicality and profitability, where being “innovative” just isn’t interesting enough. Thank you, Esther!

Posted in tech | Tagged | 1 Comment

On blind friending

This is the era of “friending” through online social networks. Some people have already done so much friending that they’re fed up. Their online social networks are full up, thank you.

Some people are just climbing in, and are busy forging new contacts. I’m very puzzled by those who seem to try to connect promiscuously or randomly, with no feel for what’s going on in the space (and also no obvious role as a spammer or overzealous commercial come-on).

For example, I just got (yet another) bare Facebook friend request from someone with whom I have only one weak connection. I sent him this Facebook message:

Hi [name],

I don’t think we know one another, and I’m wondering how you expect people to want to “friend” you online. Your picture is fuzzy and distant. Your public profile shows pretty much nothing. And your friend request on Facebook has no personal message. No curiosity, no generosity, no friendship.

This is a social medium. I have a feeling you’re very interesting, but no incentive to connect with you beyond my tiny positive instinct.

Best regards,

When people put a little effort into the “friending” gesture, I often connect with them. Calling out a shared interest, performing even a small act of bravery or generosity, asking a relevant question — all these things build immediate ties.

For people with open, descriptive profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn, public Twitter feeds and other kinds of information visible in the world, their door is pretty much open. But it’s polite to knock, or to inquire within, or to leave a virtual gift on the step outside.

Posted in networks, tech | 2 Comments