It’s Nothing: A Conversation About Humanity

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Over the past year (maybe more) my friend Yves has been on a journey of self discovery and observing human behavior. Each time he returns to Amsterdam we talk about his observations and attempts to change what is considered “normal everyday” communication. This time, we bring microphones to one of those conversations, in attempt to bring in you -the audience- to discuss people, communication, needs, and yes – the meaning of life. Never thought I’d write that as a podcast title 🙂 Don’t be scared. It’s nothing. So have a listen!

A small but perhaps relevant link:

Marshall Rosenberg – Nonviolent Communication

The Activist Origins of Twitter

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The Activist Origins of Twitter

“… Just like the telephone, the mobile phone, or the television was and is weird, so is twitter.” – Rabble.  


photo by Joe Pemberton / flickr

Rabble was the first ever employee at twitter and had the opportunity to watch how it went from activist tool to massively popular communication medium.  In a world where everyone thinks they know why twitter or tools like twitter exist and are good, Rabble has unique knowledge that can explain why it exists and how things changed over time. He can tell you the good, the bad, and the in between, as is so often the case with such a widely used platform.

Towards the end of the summer of 2013, at hacker camp (OHM), Rabble and I sat down to record this conversation and explore this often overlooked topic.

Small Groups, Loud Actions

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photo by Gigi Ibrahim / flickr

A suicide bomber attacks a vehicle traveling on the airport road in Kabul yesterday.  14 people are killed, people throughout the city are once again confronted with a  major act of violence and destruction.  Throughout the world millions read the headlines and chalk it up to another blow in the already (presumed) failed story of the new Afghanistan nations around the world have worked to help stabilize.  Despite the fact that millions of Afghans went about their day, working, socializing, living life, it is the suicide bomber and the 14 victims that become the latest symbol for the nation.

Groups of angry protestors around the Middle East and North Africa (and beyond at this point) take to the streets and attack their local US embassies as an angry reaction to a poorly produced video clip that presumably insults their most important prophet and religion. In one case a group of militants in Libya take advantage of the chaos and attack; the now infamous story that ends with the murder of several people including the American ambassador.  Throughout the world, especially in social media circles, people express their anger at the violence and the stupidity of the protestors for a long list of reasons. Further conclusions are drawn about what has happened in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, in places like Egypt and Tunisia where many now presume angry fundamentalists have new found power and will continue to carry out these types of acts and worse.

Again, millions upon millions of Libyans, Egyptians, Yemeni’s, Tunisians, etc did not take to the streets and attack innocent people and set fire to American buildings. But those people don’t make headlines, the bold criminals who take advantage of a situation and are led by blind rage, they’re the ones we base our judgements on.  Like so many moments in the history of the world, even in the era of so much information and the possibility to hear from so many voices, small groups of people willing to take action (in this case for destructive, criminal means) are the ones who shape perceptions of reality.

This is not to say such groups aren’t dangerous. Or that recent events involving mass protests and violence aren’t significant. But it is to point out how, as always, be it 82 million Egyptians or 6.5 million Libyans, regular people in far away countries get painted with the broad brush, and we’re convinced the image we’re given must be the whole picture.

Kidnap Radio, A Shining Light

by bicyclemark 2 Comments

photo by ginty_46 on flickr

As far as the internet goes, what you recorded last week might be interesting. What you recorded last year might be fondly remembered. And what you recorded last year is pretty much gone. At least, that is how it often feels as a content creator. That being said, as someone who loves discovering treasure buried under this year’s internet, what happens in 2007 has as much value to me as 2012;  I discover things when I discover them and its beautiful and memorable every time.

Tonight the treasure I found came to me while night jogging on a late winter’s night, the voice of someone named Annie Correal, a radio piece entitled “Kidnap Radio” from 2010.  It was the story about a radio program in Colombia, dedicated to and broadcasted for those who are in captivity somewhere in the jungle.  It is also dedicated to their families, to communicate their messages of love and support, to let captives know they aren’t forgotten and that their families are doing ok, waiting for their return.  The radio producer, this beautiful voice guiding my run, was herself the daughter of a kidnap victim. She tells of how it happened, with help from – to my great joy – the voice of her father who was released in the year 2000, after 265 days in captivity.  Annie talks about how her family was one of those that would go on the radio show “Voices of Kidnapping” to broadcast messages to her father. You even hear the recording of her step-mother and siblings, talking into the microphone, hoping their father was listening, telling him about school and things happening in their lives. Amazingly, her father heard that message from wherever he was being held in the jungle. A message that gave him hope and strength to carry on, waiting for that day when he might be released.

Of course there are many other stories within the story of Kidnap Radio. Not all had such a positive ending, with many families still waiting for their loved ones to be released, some who will never see that day come. But what struck me as I followed the winding paths in the darkness, listening to Mr. Correal speak about the color and quality of this radio that he took such delicate care of, is the power that this -nowadays overlooked- tool can have.  In a world where commercials and uncreative “cost-effective” programming has taken over most radio stations and most of us (including myself) look to the internet as the new beacon of communication – it is the radio that can still reach you in the middle of the jungle. It is radio that can broadcast your hopeful message to someone who so urgently needs to hear it.

The internet is great, no doubt about it. But right here in this little plastic box with an antenna, even in 2012, there is tremendous power accessible to all, if only it could be set free.