Monthly Archives: July 2011

Alex Hillman: “Want a Hall Pass for Bureaucracy?”

That’s the question Alex Hillman posed in his latest post, a great introduction to the efforts of Jeff Friedman, Manager of Civic Innovation and Participation for the City of Philadelphia and Code for America. Both, along with The Media Mobilizing Project are helping to surface, and connect people and resources leveraging in great part what Tim O’Reilly had called “the architecture of participation” way back in 2004.

I’ve always believed, due to personal experience, that when you enable people to connect and communicate with who and what they need to, with each other, great things are possible. These efforts provide gateways for those who work in technology to make contributions strengthening neighborhoods, communities, and the world.

BTW – check out the NYTimes piece on IndyHall, founded by Alex, which from everything I’ve ever heard from everyone who has worked there, sounds based on enabling the above.

Related

The Freedom Rings Partnership

OpenDataPhilly

Prometheus Radio

The Hacktory

NewAmerica.net: Preston Rhea: “How to Create a Public Computer Center”

O’Reilly Radar Gov 2.0

Quora: “How should the United States Congress use social media to enhance the legislative process?”

Wired: “Disrupting poverty: How Barefoot College is empowering women through peer-to-peer learning and technology”

Wired.com: “How Khan Academy Is Changing the Rules of Education”

flying kite: “Radio Revolution: West Philly’s Prometheus Promotes Stations by the People, For the People”

“What was the point in trying? Who wants to be laughed at?”

Erika Meyer shares what it was like learning to play guitar, fighting to make it happen, being a woman, and being told a few times along the way she had ‘no talent’: “How I Learned To Play Guitar”:

In 2000 I was a 32-year-old single mother with a four-year-old daughter. Looking for work as a web developer, I moved to Portland, Oregon, only to find that Portland is a town where it seems EVERYONE is in a band. I would watch my (male) friends in bands and sometimes find myself in tears, because deep down, I still wanted to be part of it. I’d been out of all urban ‘scenes’ and living a pretty isolated backwoods life since 1990, so I was largely unaware of the shifts that had happened in underground rock during the previous decade.

Around my 33rd birthday, I decided to ask for my guitars again, as I had every few years or so since 1990. Amazingly, this time, my mother returned them. I don’t know why she really kept them from me, and I don’t know why she finally returned them, but I immediately started to play. Thinking, “I want my daughter to experience music hands-on”, I bought a little practice amp and picked up where I’d left off, but this time with a new attitude. I decided right away that I no longer cared about ‘talent’. I decided that ‘talent’ didn’t even matter, that what matters, in fact, is passion and commitment. I knew that if I kept on the way I’d had been, I’d go to my death with some serious regret. It was time to take this as far as *I* wanted, regardless of what anyone else thought. I had thought I was playing for my daughter, but really, I was doing it for myself.

That change from a focus on talent and skill to a focus on passion and expression was a huge and important mental switch. I was finally giving myself what no one else had quite given me: permission to play guitar on my own terms. And more than that, I gave myself permission to ‘suck’. And with permission to suck comes the ability to rock, and to overcome all the fears and insecurities that had been holding me captive.

I had begun to understand, also, by this point, a lot more about psychology behind art. I remembered when I was a kid, my friends would tell me, “I can’t draw” and I would say, “Anyone can draw!” I knew it was just a matter of practice and learning to see and to trust your instincts. So I thought, “What if it’s true of music, too? What if anyone can make music?” I also knew by then that artistically frustrated people often try to put down or discourage other artists, so I decided I wouldn’t internalize other people’s negative projections about my abilities or my right to put time and energy into music. I’d focus on what I knew in my heart to be true: that I have just as much right to rock as Mick Jagger does. Maybe even more.

CMS and Presentation Systems

stdout.be talks about what Presentation Systems are and what their responsibilities could be in an environment where the CMS is no longer a single system, but an ecosystem in “The Post-CMS CMS”. It’s a great post, and reminds me of how we’ve defined the role presentation systems play in our solution stack. (via @SeanBlanda)

Sean Blanda, in a related post says, “If all you want is a CMS, you’re doing it wrong”.

Matt Thompson, in a fantastic Poynter piece, “4 ways content management systems are evolving & why it matters to journalists”, specifically calls out how “Journalism is moving from ‘content management systems’ to “content management ecosystems”. Check out the comment thread.

“Hands that Feed Us” was fantastic and so were the custom motorcycles

Friday night I made it down to Fishtown to check out Albert Yee’s show at Gravy, “Hands that Feed Us” a photo exploration and celebration of those working across the region in agriculture and produce. There are many ‘behind the scene’ looks at crisis and issues related to food production, it was uplifting to see organizations and people working towards the humane treatment of animals and sustainable agriculture.

The Metro, on the 30th, “Small-scale farms: The whole picture” had this to say:

Yee has been working for Fair Food Farmstand for more than three years, and along with his wife, Kate Donnelly, writes a popular Philly food blog, “Messy and Picky.”

His passions are set to collide this weekend, with the opening of his photography show, “Hands That Feed Us,” at Gravy Gallery in Fishtown.

The series of 13 prints represents Yee’s travels to alternative small-scale farms in the Philadelphia region. The show is intended to be a celebration of these producers, upholding them as a model for humane treatment of animals and sustainable agriculture.

“The exposé of huge corporate farms has been done many times over. And I think people are horrified, but they’re desensitized. They don’t need to see piles of dead carcasses,” says Yee. “This is the other side: It’s happy animals and happy farmers working the land. That’s a possibility that’s out there.”

I commented on how I could see a children’s book inspired by this. I’d definitely read it with my daughter because as the description of the essay put it, “Knowing the people who cultivate the raw ingredients you eat can and will make a difference in your life.”

Follow Albert on Twitter @dragonballyee

Subscribe to his blog: Albert Yee

His food blog with Kate Messy and Picky

The Gravy Studio has a blog for more information about it.

The show runs all month so if you didn’t make the opening, get on over there.

About the custom motorcycles I mentioned in the headline…

Gravy runs in a space provided by Adam Cramer’s garage in Fishtown. Adam Cramer restores vintage motorcycles and I had the chance to talk with him for a few minutes about his work. I’ve been thinking of getting a motorcycle and if I do, I think I’d be very happy to purchase one from him.

Etsy featured him in a fantastic short you can see on YouTube: “Handmade Portraits: Liberty Vintage Motorcycles”:

You can read more about his company on its home page: Liberty Vintage

You can read more about the Etsy piece on him on their blog