Calling FUD on Godin

The media we use to represent ourselves has a tendency to consume us.

Or so it would, should we allow it.

Seth Godin says that The prevalance of online video, constant skype connections and the multiple threads of data we get online, combined with the enormous overhead that flying now brings might just change the [value of showing up, of being there in person, of establishing a face to face relationship with the person on the other side] for a long time to come.

Just because we’ve got all these wires and nodes and cables to keep us remotely connected offering up pixelated approximations of the real thing doesn’t mean that that basic desire to meet and to be seen and congregate shall whither. Or that the impossibility of airtravel will keep us from seeing one another in the flesh as often as we like.

Fuck that. Leila‘s right: the time has come to tap innovations, creativity and apply these to air travel and security.

…Even if that means avoiding commercial air travel altogether.

Indeed, the pilgrimages we make in the future may be fewer and further between, but that will be because we’ve built up the local ties and connections to feed our desire to connect to other — with our BarCamps, our Coworking spaces, our Citizen Spaces, across our self-run Munified networks… we will build the alternative infrastructure to support the kind of old fashioned social networking and serendipitous person-to-person reality that we’ve always craved.

The airline industry is one of the last vestiges or a foregone error that’s fought innovation at every turn to its folly. The worse it becomes for passengers, the more it exacerbates the need for something better, something more communal, something more open and distributed. Ironically, it’s easy for me to say on a blog, but I don’t think that the answer is bowing down to the threat of terror — which continually proves itself too slippery to contain… instead we need to reduce the threat and reinvest in our roots and in where we are. BarCampEarth is a celebration of our global community — proudly proving that these loosely-connected tightly-woven local communities represent more than the sum of their parts… and that our ultimate strength is found in the connections we share, no matter whoever, whenever, or wherever we are.

PBWiki hits 50,000 wikis

50K Wikis!Hometown hero (created by a small team of folks lead by David Weekly of fame) has hit 50,000 PBWikis (what’s a PBwiki?).

You’ll note that almost all the wikis that I use today are PBWikis: Barcamp, Munified, Coworking, CivicForge, Mash Pit and the new Micro Microformats wiki.

Why? Ease of use, simplicity, speed… and the right subset of features and a simple interaction model. It feels solid. It looks good. It does what I want it to do (I’m also watching Stikipad as it offers Textile).

And now it looks like I’ll even be getting to do some work for the team on some upcoming usability and design tasks. Not to mention microformats integration. Nice.

Bonus: So I’m curious — what features do you look for in a wiki? What’s missing from your experience? Essentially, if you ever had a wiki feature request that you’re dying for (or something you never want to see in a wiki again), what would you say?

BellSouth to New Orleans: Let them eat cake

BellSouth Robot

The mission of The Emergency Email Network(sm) states:

“Provide notification to citizens of local, regional, national and international emergencies utilizing the Internet and electronic mail (email) in a secure and expedient manner”

© 1999 The Emergency Email Network, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

…which is quaint, presupposing that during a disaster, you’ll actually have some form of internet connectivity. Ironic, given that this service (complete with robot teleaid) is linked to from the BellSouth website and that they’re suing the city of New Orleans to prohibit them from offering free 512KBPs wifi to its citizens. Something about the government not competing with private industry.

Okay, well, whatever. Clearly they have to pay the mortgage and clearly competing with the hurricane-ravaged government of New Orleans is a burden no monopoly company should have to deal with:

“Around the country, large telephone companies have aggressively lobbied against localities launching their own Internet networks, arguing that they amount to taxpayer-funded competition,” says the story. “Some states have laws prohibiting them.”

Yeah, alright, them’s the rules and all, ain’t they? I mean, Google has to abide by Chinese law in China…

MuniFiedSuch as it’s the case that the government’s been neutered from providing adequate network services to its constituents, it strikes me that it might just be time, oh, I dunno, to get up and make our own network? And hey, the work’s alreeady begun with community mesh projects like CUWireless and SFLan. So get on a bus and head to the upcoming National Summit for Community Wireless Networks. And add your thoughts, resources or capabilities to the shiny new MuniFied wiki.

I have barely a clue about the technical ins and outs of wifi, but if I know one thing, it’s that we can’t wait around and rely on the public or private sectors to get it right, make it open, make it free and then guard against bullshit maneuvers like BellSouth’s taken against the very communities that need this kind of connectivity the most.