Years ago, living with my grandfather in Brighton, UK, he would often remind me, “all you need to build a town is a Church and a Pub”. That all you needed was a place for people to congregate and socialize. Once those institutes were in place, people would begin to gather. The first “settlers” would then get be the ones who define that town’s culture with their own flavor of religion, political and social views. If the beliefs of that town were popular enough, if lots of people identified with it, the town would grow and become more powerful. One’s physical proximity was important to the towns survival so it was a matter of convincing others to move there.
For some time now proximity has not mattered as new digital towns and countries are built and dismantled everyday, often around a common interest. These towns are constantly shifting, growing and shrinking, with new ones being born everyday. The more quickly they grow, the faster the culture changes.
TechCrunch’s article We No Longer Live In Actual Countries But Digital Ones touches on this idea, discussing XKCD’s “Map Of Online Communities 2”.
It’s interesting to think of the world we live in as a collection of digital countries. Each with its own set of guidelines, norms, leaders, gatherers, cultivators, etc. The best part is we get to join most any one we want and can move between them in seconds.
All you need now is a computer.
*Photo, The Lanes, by James Bjerkholt
I have yet to see Waiting for Superman, but since it covers such a hot topic, education in America, I already have made assumptions about its message, and its vehicle. It is one of those topics in which everyone believes they are an expert in, simply because they went through the school system. It is deeply personal to us all.
I am resisting stating my opinions on education in the U.S. because, really, they are unfounded. I will say this, one thing I can say with a degree of confidence, cultures or communities or units that value education differ greatly from those that do not.
That aside, I had decided not to see the movie because of one question:
Does the movie perpetuate this idea that there are gatekeepers in life, that we need someone else’s permission, that success is not in our own hands?
I recently changed my mind about seeing the movie because everyone is now part of the conversation. Plus, having educators in my family compels me to want to better understand and appreciate their world.
My assumption is that the most interesting conversations are probably happening offline, but here is that is taking place online:
The Real Problem with Waiting for “Superman” by Aaron Swartz
Teachers and teaching are an easy scapegoat because… by jamwt
SCHOOL SPIRIT by David Denby
kqed.org Forum Discussion
I do not know how I missed this one, but GrubWith.us is a social dining website that lets you join a table of strangers at a highlighted restaurant. So, basically, you go to GrubWith.us, see a list of upcoming dinners at different restaurants, you can then buy a seat at any one that has a spot open, along with twelve other strangers. It is a really fun and clever way to meet new people.
Interview with founder Eddy Lu at: How Eddy Lu Of GrubWith.Us Makes Money Having Dinner With New Friends
The Web Life has a list of bullet points from Kevin Rose’s Tahoe Tech Talk which I think are fantastic.
Kevin Rose: 10 tips for entrepreneurs to succeed
St. Petersburg Times writer Andrew Meacham wrote a poignant and important piece on resident Neil Alan Smith who was killed by a hit and run driver.
Hit-and-run victim was quiet and dependable, co-workers say
The perception and the poor valuing of “roles” is saddening.
Marc Hedlund, founder of personal financial site Wesabe, has a candid and interesting read on Why Wasabe Lost to Mint. There were many rumors running around as to why it failed over Mint which he wanted to address.
The best conversation on the topic is happening over at Hacker News, but I thought I would throw in my personal opinion as I was a early user of Wesabe and was sad when they shut down.
When Wesabe launched it was perfect timing for me as I couldn’t stand the available personal finance software such as Quicken. I signed up and started using the service right away. I recommended it to everyone I knew. The mental hurdle of providing one’s personal financial data online was an issue, but I was able to convince some people.
Then Mint launched. Others started to tell me about it and that I should sign up. In return, I would show them Wesabe as a better option, but there was something about it they did not get. Plus they felt it looked amateurish and untrustworthy.
It has been awhile, but from what I remember about Wesabe, it was less focused on a replacing existing software, software people understood, and more focused on new ideas. Ideas I think people were not ready for.
The great thing about living in a bubble is that everything works in your favor. You are living under your own rules so why wouldn’t it? Not only that, but it is comforting, you can focus on what you find interesting and ignore the rest of the world. This is great for building software, making music, writing, etc. Your level of output can explode.
There’s just one thing…
You can easily forget how the real world works. There are new sets of rules people are adapting to everyday and you can easily fall behind.
I am not saying that you should fall in line, but is it really a bad idea to pop your head up every once in awhile to see which rules you want to ignore?