Culture is about power dynamics, unspoken priorities and beliefs, mythologies, conflicts, enforcement of social norms, creation of in/out groups and distribution of wealth and control inside companies. Culture is usually ugly. It is as much about the inevitable brokenness and dysfunction of teams as it is about their accomplishments. Culture is exceedingly difficult to talk about honestly.
Read the full post, which is about startup culture, but I thought this paragraph was very insightful and applicable across organization types.
Getting ready for OSCC, my avatar in a nice snapshot from Joyce.
A little more than a year ago, I wrote a blog post entitled Why Anyone Who Cares About the Metaverse Needs to Move Beyond Second Life; Now, Not Later. The tl;dr version said, “If we want to see the metaverse happen in our lifetime, we need to invest our time, money, creativity, and resources into making it happen. It isn’t going to come from Second Life or Linden Lab, and the metaverse can’t wait.”Shockingly to me, that post generated over a hundred comments, a bunch of blog posts, and a huge discussion that ultimately had more impact than even the act of writing the post itself.
It was the first time I’d publicly acknowledged my decision to mostly leave Second Life behind, and it may have been the first time I really crystallized even in my own mind why I felt that was the right thing to do. It was not an easy decision to make, as anyone who has known me in real life or virtually over the last 7 or 8 years can attest. It’s difficult to walk away from something you’ve made such a deep commitment and investment in, and it took many years and many disappointments, and the terribly hard (and sad) decision to stop organizing the Second Life Community Convention, before I was even capable of stepping back enough to get a little perspective.
I won’t rehash that post here, you should go read it if you’re interested, but by the fall of 2012 I had finally reached the conclusion that the metaverse I wanted to see would not grow out of Second Life. And I resolved to take my own advice and start finding ways to invest my time and energy into other technologies, platforms, and people who share the same passion and vision for making the metaverse a reality that I have. I felt the need to put my money where my mouth was, so to speak, and to not just talk about what we should do differently, but to actually start doing differently.
So that’s the context and history of where I was when a few months later I began to broach the topic of an OpenSimulator focused virtual conference with the board of AvaCon and with members of the Overte team. The members of AvaCon had been involved with organizing SLCC for many, many years, even before AvaCon itself came into existence, and we had a wealth of experience organizing large scale real and virtual events. And it seemed to me that the OpenSimulator platform was progressing and maturing in ever faster and more stable iterations over the past few years, so perhaps the time was right for AvaCon to take the energy and experience we’d previously brought to Second Life focused community events and try to offer that to the OpenSimulator community, if there was any interest…
Organizing people & organizing code aren’t the same thing, but they both have to work really well for a completely virtual conference to be successful.
Now it’s a funny thing when you bring together a group of community builders who tend to be very people focused and a group of programmers and developers who tend to be very code focused. That isn’t to say that either group didn’t know or care about the other side of the equation, of course we did, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that initially AvaCon and Overte were coming from very different perspectives and cultures and ways of thinking about and doing things, and those first meetings were really all about trying to come to a meeting of the minds about what we hoped to accomplish if we were going to collaborate with one another to organize an event.
The OSCC Conference Planning Team at a meeting on the conference grid.
For any of you who have been working in the metaverse for a while, you know how tentative those first steps of working with a new group of people you’ve never met in-person can be. Even in real world projects, there’s always that period where the initial enthusiasm for a new project or idea starts to wear off, when you begin to get down into the nitty gritty of making something happen, and suddenly you’re not quite sure if you’re going to be able to pull it off. And that’s only exacerbated when you’re working with people entirely virtually and you’ve never met face to face and you can’t look into each other’s eyes and read the body language and all the unspoken messages we send. For all the advancements in virtual world technology we’ve seen come to pass in the last decade, that’s an area where the technology is still woefully, woefully inadequate.
And so it was with Overte and AvaCon. I wouldn’t say things started off distrustfully, but rather that I think we were just trying to feel each other out, both on an organizational level and on a personal level. Who were the individual people and what were their motivations and goals? What kinds of processes did Overte use to get things done and how would that mesh with how we at AvaCon did things? And we discovered that there were some culture.. clashes, for want of a better word, or maybe just different perspectives and approaches.
Open source projects tend to value action over talk (let me see your code) and the issues being resolved in software development tend to be a little more clear cut. There may be more than one path to reach the desired destination, but something either technically works or it doesn’t – you can either log in or you can’t, the packet got sent or it didn’t – there’s less mushy middle. And by their very nature, open source software development projects are fairly decentralized and count on individuals taking the initiative to make contributions when and where they can, often asynchronously, and perhaps with little coordination with others beyond some comments in the code.
Conference organizing, on the other hand, is a beast of a very a different nature. It’s an extremely communication-intensive process that requires much advance planning and centralized decision-making. The right hand really must know what the left hand is doing, otherwise people get confused and processes get all tangled up and before you know it your event has a bad reputation before it even gets off the ground. It also involves a lot of softer, mushy, people-n-politics type negotiation that isn’t always as clear cut as solving a technical problem. What’s fair? What’s just? What’s the best way to resolve a dispute? What are people feeling and what do we want them to feel when they attend the conference? How do we want people to behave, and what happens if they don’t? Those things come up when you’re organizing an event with and for many hundreds of people and they involve making intuitive, moral, and ethical decisions as much as process or technical decisions.
For sure, organizing people and organizing code often requires different skill-sets, and in an event like OSCC where we needed both to mesh together well to have a good experience – the grid had to perform well and the people attending needed to know where to go and what to do and how to do it – I think it challenged us all to figure out the best way to make that happen.
How developers & users communicate with each other matters – a lot!
I mention these things not to highlight the differences between AvaCon and Overte. In fact, I think we all came to very deeply respect each other and the tremendous skills, commitment, and passion everyone contributed to make the event a success. But rather because I think there’s a nugget of something important in the experience both groups had in learning to work with each other, in learning to respect the strengths and weaknesses of our different approaches for organizing code and organizing people, that is relevant to the broader topic of technology platforms and the communities of developers and users that grow up around them.
The Developer & Open Source track was heavily attended, this image is of Mic Bowman, Justin Clark-Casey, and Crista Lopes talking about the future of the Hypergrid.
There’s often this feeling of disconnect between the developers who write the software and the user communities of any platform you care to think of, that I think has something to do with those different mindsets, different skills, different approaches. And I think there’s some critically important .. ingredient.. in how those groups communicate with each other that makes all the difference between a healthy, growing, vibrant technology or platform, and a technology or platform that has an unhealthy community dynamic, or begins to stagnate, or fails to meet the needs of a critical mass of users.
It has something to do with the people involved being willing or able to negotiate through some of those different approaches, of being willing to have at least a little bit of good faith that the other party has good intentions, of being willing to extend a little trust. I’m not exactly sure when that got broken in Second Life, but it definitely did, and after that, trying to organize a community event in an atmosphere of anger and distrust and resentment was a stressful, hellish experience, at least for me, and I’ve been trying to put my finger on what made things so different.
It wasn’t that the people who presented at SLCC weren’t as knowledgeable or insightful as the presenters at OSCC, they totally were. It wasn’t that SLCC volunteers didn’t work as crazy hard as the volunteers at OSCC, they totally did. It wasn’t even that the vast majority of SLCC attendees weren’t as passionate about Second Life as OSCC attendees were about OpenSimulator, they totally are. But somehow, the communication and dynamic between the developers and the community wasn’t good, and it left an undercurrent running through SLCC that no amount of good organization could overcome. As I wrote then about SLCC: “These kinds of community events require many things to be successful – but a company and a community that is actually supportive instead of antagonistic is essential.”
Fortunately, the experience of organizing OSCC was refreshingly different. I won’t say it was any less stressful on some level, or that it required any less hard work, but the outcome is so amazingly, amazingly different when you have developers who want to brainstorm with users and each other, when you have a community who wants to talk with one another, when people come to the event with the anticipation of sharing, exploring, and networking instead of complaining, griping, and arguing. There’s just no comparison. It renewed my faith that there’s something valuable and important in bringing together the people who write the code and the people who use the code that, if done well, can have a tremendously positive impact on not just the technology or platform itself, but in inspiring people to keep trying, to keep creating, and to keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.
Conferences can be great catalysts, but only with the right ingredients.
Even though I’ve been organizing conferences for many years, the experience of organizing OSCC helped me better understand what it takes for a conference to be a true catalyst for something beyond the event. Every conference gives you a due date, a framework for a community to focus their energies on a specific goal, and that in and of itself can be an important catalyst. I think it was in terms of the improvements made to the OpenSimulator software, for example. The developers and load testers worked week after week to discover the bugs and issues that would cause problems for the conference, and it had to be fixed by x date. All that effort led to over 1000+ code commits to the software that resulted in new features and better overall stability. (Be sure to check out the 0.7.6 Release to get all these great changes on your grid!)
But it takes more than just setting a date and having a goal, and it takes more than just having a good organizational structure or technology platform, too.
I’m absolutely certain that the work we put into the organization of the conference and to making changes to the platform were only the necessary-but-not-sufficient foundation, especially if I think about the differences between OSCC and SLCC. We used many of the same organizational processes for OSCC that we used for SLCC. The website content was similar. The schedule was similar. The track topics were similar. The technology, obviously, is very similar. When you get right down to the heart of it, it wasn’t the conference infrastructure or the specific platform that made the difference at all, it was the people. It was every planning committee member, every speaker, every sponsor, every volunteer, every attendee who came to the table with the right attitude. It was not just those of us doing the organizational work, but every person who put a little bit of their own hard work and passion and creativity into sharing and learning and discussing that made it one of the best conferences I’ve ever helped organize.
We really did have a great team of very dedicated and hardworking volunteer staff, and that definitely made a big difference in how smoothly the conference ran.
It was the very best example of a damned good pot of stone soup. And it’s those many contributions by many people who are there for the right reasons that is the secret ingredient necessary to turn a conference experience into something transformative. And in that regard, OSCC exceeded even my most optimistic hopes.
For future events, I want to put more time and effort into figuring out what those right reasons are and how to amplify that message. Maybe it’s about setting the stage properly (metaphorically speaking, though Crista was right that there’s some element of paying attention to the interaction design that matters, too). Maybe it’s about managing expectations. I definitely think there was something about starting a brand new conference that meant people weren’t sure what to expect and that perhaps made them more open to having a positive experience than a conference like SLCC which had been going on for years and at times hadn’t been well managed. Maybe it had something to do with the way the planning team communicated with the broader community. Maybe it was just a serendipitous collision of all those things and good timing, I’m not quite sure.
But I think it matters. I think these kinds of community building experiences and all the conversations they generate and information sharing that happens is critical to the long term goal of not just a better OpenSimulator but a better metaverse experience.
That’s not to say there weren’t things we could have done better, of course we made some mistakes, but in general the conference itself worked. All those functional things came together; the grid stayed up, we largely stuck to the schedule, the presentations mostly went off without a hitch, and we had a terrific group of volunteers committed to making the event a success. But it’s those intangible, harder to put your finger on things that really made it memorable, exciting, and inspiring.
Keeping the momentum between conferences is the real key to making the Metaverse.
That spirit, that willingness to extend a little trust, to contribute to a larger effort, is what it will take for the metaverse to grow into what so many of us want it to be. We need to keep tweaking our stone soup recipes, and finding ways to bridge those differences in approaches, and adapting the technology, as we did very deliberately with OSCC, to enable the human experiences we want the technology to facilitate. It doesn’t just require good code or good people, it takes both, and those long, deep conversations, and the patience and perseverance to keep testing, and failing, and trying again, that we must do to keep figuring out new and better ways to translate our human needs and desires into code that better serves us.
The trick for this conference, for OpenSimulator, and for the metaverse at large will be to keep that momentum going. To not lose touch with each other except at the annual conference, to continue to collaborate with one another, to keep the lines of communication open, to keep sharing and discussing.
How do we keep the momentum going between conferences?
Image: One of the landing zones at OSCC13, by Zuza Ritt.
As I said to someone recently in an email, if I’ve learned anything over the last few years, it’s that it is so very easy to get lost in the weeds of your own work and your own projects, but when we’re all doing that, we miss opportunities to collaborate and scale our efforts. We end up all individually recreating the wheel. OSCC reaffirmed for me that the value in an open source platform like OpenSimulator isn’t just the difference between the walled garden or not, the ability to archive or save content or not, the availability of this or that feature or not, but rather that the free flowing sharing of ideas and content with the right group of people with the right attitude has the potential to be an exponentially positive catalyst for growth.
That’s the main lesson I took home from OSCC13 and that’s the energy and focus I hope AvaCon will continue to foster as we move forward with our plans to develop better ways to support the people making the metaverse happen. (Take the survey if you’re interested in providing feedback.)
I know I’ve said it before in other places, but truly, thanks to the team at Overte, to the entire Planning Committee and all the wonderful, wonderful volunteers, to all the load testers, to the student builders, to the OpenSimulator community and the developers who submitted a zillion bug fixes, to the viewer developers, to all the companies and individual people who sponsored the conference, to every single keynote speaker and presenter who gave us so many great things to talk and think about, to every single attendee who came to the conference and had patience and understanding for our imperfections, to everyone involved. It was truly a community effort that reminded me why I got into doing this conference organizing stuff to begin with.
Meet Independence, affectionately known as Indy the Perpetually Playful (if she’s awake).
So in my last post, I told the story of how Bauser came to be a part of the family, and how my mom and I built a fence so he could run and play in the yard. The project went really well, and Bauser definitely loves having full run of the place, but after a few weeks it became obvious that I could never play fetch and toss and tug-of-war enough to keep up with his youthful energy. And neither could my kitties. Though they have adjusted pretty well to Bauser, they definitely aren’t interested in wrestling with a big dog. (Except for Lucy, they are pretty old gatos at this point – all older then 10, Bandit is blind, and Alex is going to be 19!)
After much consideration, I decided that Bauser would probably be happier with a canine companion who could keep up with his rough-and-tumble ways, and started watching the free puppy ads to see what was available. I also decided I definitely wanted a very young puppy because, though I love Bauser and think he’s adjusting pretty well, I also hated not knowing where he came from and what kind of experiences he had before he came into my life. It’s far more difficult to correct bad behaviors that have set in than it is to train a pup properly from the start, and even after 8 months, there are still certain situations where I’m not sure if I trust Bauser’s reactions. I think when you raise a dog from the start, you have a deeper understanding of their psychology and can better work with them to make sure they grow up to be well socialized and happy dogs. Finally, I also wanted a dog that would be about the same size as Bauser, and definitely a female so we didn’t have any aggressive male competition going on.
Independence came home on the 4th of July, a wriggly, curious, absolutely fearless little bundle of puppy joy.
A Boxer like Bauser, the second she saw him, I mean the very very second she laid eyes on him, it was all over. She didn’t seem to notice the predatory glare as he eyed this new critter in his home, she simply wanted to lick his face off.
Bauser is not at all sure about this creature in the house.
The first hour or so was pretty tense. Indy was seemingly oblivious to Bauser’s angst and wanted to play straight away, and he didn’t seem sure if he should eat her for lunch or try to play back. He definitely wanted to sniff her out good, and it was a little difficult to hang onto her so he could without her chewing his ears off. He seemed very perplexed about the whole thing, and excited, and a little freaked out.
Sniffing out the new puppy.
I was a little afraid it would take weeks for Bauser to adjust, but after the first hour or two, when he realized she wasn’t a threat and that she liked to play, he seemed to relax and in no time at all Indy became a part of the pack. She climbed on his head, she chased his tail, she licked his nose, she playfully tossed her blanket around, and I think she charmed his socks off.
Bauser passed out from all the excitement.
The next day, you’d think Indy had been here all along. I don’t know if I ever truly knew what the expression “Followed him around like a puppy dog” meant until I saw Bauser and Indy together. It is the cutest, most adorable thing I ever saw. Wherever he goes, she is hot on his heels, if he lays down, she does, if he gets up, she does, if he gets a drink of water, she does.
Checking out the maple tree…
Checking out the garden…
Oops, Indy fell in!
Feeling playful, if only you could hear her tiny ferocious bark!
Chewing Bauser’s collar.
Tearing down the hill together at top speed.
Watching Bauser come back up the hill.
Crashed half on, half off the coffee table after a long day of play.
All in all, I think Bauser and Indy are going to be the best of friends, and when she gets a little bigger, hopefully they will have a lifetime of playing together, too. :)
If you follow me on Twitter or Flickr, you may have noticed my picture stream became flooded with doggy pix over the last few months with the newest addition to the Fleephaus family.
Bauser’s not too keen on the whole seatbelt concept.
Here’s the story: Late one night at the end of November, I was driving a friend home, when I rounded a curve to find a big dog standing right in the middle of the road looking terrified at the oncoming headlights. I pulled over to try to call him off the road, and as I got out of the car and hollered for the dog, I didn’t even think about the fact that I’d left my driver side door open.
In went the dog, right in the driver side seat. The big dog. With big teeth. My friend jumped out of the other side of the car and we both stared at each other in horror. How to get the big dog OUT of the car now that he was in it and didn’t seem to want to leave?
Well, he wouldn’t get out even with calling, whistling, cajoling. He squirmed into the backseat and firmly planted himself there with a look that said, “So, where are we going?”
Bauser checking out the house for the first time.
Eventually we went home with the dog in the car and the next morning I posted flyers and tweets and called the SPCA.
But after a few weeks, no one had claimed him and the SPCA called me back to see if I wanted him, otherwise they were going to put him to sleep. What could a good bleeding heart softy do but adopt the poor fellow?
First night home from the SPCA, he lost 8 pounds in just a couple weeks there! :(
We decided his name was Bauser, after a dog my grandpa had when my mom was a little girl, and the slow process of introducing the kitties to the dog began. And since I didn’t have a fence, every single time Bauser needed to potty meant putting on boots and coats and dragging ourselves out in the snow and cold. It was a long winter. ;)
Bauser really wants to go out and play in the snow, but there’s no fence!
But now, finally! spring has arrived, and after much research and prep work, my mom and I are putting in a split rail fence so Bauser will have full run of the yard, get good exercise, and I can be a little lazier and just let him outside when he wants to go.
Bauser is very excited about his new bone, but sad that he’s tied to a line.
Putting in a fence is something in the past that I would have asked my grandpa to help me with, but now that he’s gone, my mom and I have had to start learning how to fend for ourselves with these big house projects. I seriously do not know what mankind did before the internets, because thankfully, there’s tons and tons of good information and how-to videos about how to do things like put up a fence. I’ve collected some of the best videos I found on my wiki here.
Step 1: Get a Property Survey
If you want to build a fence near your property line, and you don’t already have markers for where your property lines are, the first thing you have to do is get a professional surveyor out to mark it for you. I called a bunch of places and the initial estimates were in the $500-$900 range, which nearly knocked me over!
Fortunately, I had a chat with a neighbor who also put in a fence this spring, and he gave me a tip for a local surveyor who gave a much better price. His name was Doug Spreen, and if you live in the Cincinnati area and need a property survey, I highly recommend him. He was very friendly and knowledgeable, got me scheduled within a week, charged a much more reasonable price, and did a great job. Plus hooray, I discovered my property was actually much larger than I thought!
Step 2: Get a Permit
In Green Township where I live, the City of Cincinnati handles the permits for exterior home improvements. I called the City of Cincinnati Zoning department, explained to the lady who answered what I wanted to do, and within a few moments she emailed me the permit application and an image of my parcel that I could draw where the fence would go, and boom, emailed everything back and paid the $130 permit fee online and I was set to go. I was very pleased that the process could all be done online and very quickly, which really says a lot about how much the City of Cincinnati has modernized their services.
Step 3: Call Before you Dig
In Ohio, the Ohio Utilities Protection Service makes it super easy to find out from local utility companies where underground powerlines, water lines, and other utilities are located. One quick phone call to 811 or 1-800-362-2764, and within a few days the utility folks come out and mark anywhere on your property where an underground utility exists.
Kinda hard to see in the picture, but they spray painted where the utilities are.
It was super simple and I felt a lot better knowing that my proposed fence site was in the clear and I wouldn’t have to worry about accidentally zapping myself by digging in the wrong place.
Step 4: Clear Brush and Snap a Mason’s Line
The right rear corner of my property is wooded and was pretty overgrown with honeysuckle and vines and scrub brush, so I had to clear out a path for the proposed fence. It was daunting at first, but not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.
Once the brush was cleared, my sister and I marked the property line in pink string, and the proposed fence line in neon yellow. Not only would it help us make sure our fence didn’t get crooked, it was also really neat to finally be able to visualize exactly where everything would go.
Step 5: Get Supplies and Tools
One of my biggest gripes at the moment is that manufacturers do not make tools for women!!! It is extremely frustrating that most tools and hardware are designed for someone at least a half a foot taller than me, with bigger hands than me, and a lot more upper body strength than me. My mom and I scoured the hardware stores looking for tools that had a smaller grip or shorter handles to make it easier for us to use them.
And yes, we looked at renting an auger, but holy moses, we could hardly lift the darn things, let alone imagine trying to use them. Eventually we found some fiberglass post hole diggers that were much lighter, and even a pair of wooden handled ones that were much shorter and easier to maneuver, and so far they are serving us very well.
The full list of tools and supplies we’re using:
Mason string and stakes for marking the fence line
A large level for checking plumb
A good spade for starting the hole (not a shovel)
A small digging shovel for squaring the holes
Two post hole diggers, one larger, one smaller
A baseball bat and a long straight stick for tamping the dirt back in
Gravel for drainage at the bottom of the holes
One note: To concrete or not to concrete? After much research on the internets, where there are lots of conflicting opinions about whether or not to set the posts in concrete, I decided to NOT go the concrete route because I found it pretty convincing that the concrete holds moisture and can cause the bottom of the fence posts to rot. Since this is not going to be a heavy load bearing fence, I felt the concrete option would be more work and maybe cause potential problems that I didn’t want to deal with. Plus if you do concrete, you have to set it below the frost line, which in Zone 6 is 36 inches, and that would require longer, more expensive posts. Hopefully I won’t regret this decision down the road.
Step 6: Get Fencing Materials
After looking at the stock split rail fencing materials at Home Depot and Lowes, I have to admit I was pretty unimpressed. Many of the rails and even posts looked warped and just not the kind of quality I expected. With again a thousand thanks to my nice neighbor, he gave me a great tip – he got his materials from Mills Fencing Company, a local fencing place, and to my great surprise, not only was the stock MUCH higher quality, it was also cheaper!
So again, if you’re doing a project like this in the Cincinnati area, I highly recommend the Mills Fencing Company folks. The fellows we worked with picked out the nicest posts and rails and loaded them all up for us.
Step 7: Mark the Spot & Start Digging (and Digging and Digging..)
From there it’s really not too complicated. After marking the spot where the first end or corner post goes, you basically dig a hole, pour in some gravel, set the post, tamp the dirt (or in my case, nasty clay) back in, and you’re off to the races.
Mother starting the first post hole.
A few things we’ve learned along the way:
1) Dig the holes and set the posts one at a time: Since my fence is following the contour of the land and my property slopes steeply downhill in places, it’s best to do one post at a time instead of marking all the spots and digging the holes in advance. The rails fit pretty snugly in the posts if you measure it correctly, but if you’re off by even a little bit, the rails either don’t go in enough or go in too far. With the slope, I can imagine it would be very easy to get off course if you tried to dig the holes in advance.
Me setting the first post.
2) Don’t dig a hole bigger or deeper than you need: This is really silly advice and should be self-evident, but our first few holes were enormous! It took us a little practice to get good at making the holes just the right size so we didn’t waste effort digging too much – which was especially painful since that meant we also had to waste effort filling it back in!
Bauser is very sad that we won’t let him come over and help dig.
3) Measure, eyeball, and check plumb constantly: It’s easy to get caught up in doing what you’re doing, but the second you forget to check your placement, or to check whether the post is plumb, that’s when you goof up and have to expend even more energy to fix your mistake. We’ve definitely learned the value of checking measurements and plumb constantly.
So that’s the report so far, we’re about 1/3 done and I am pleased as punch with how the fence is coming along. I think it’s beautiful!
I’ve completely surprised myself with my strength and endurance, and Bauser is going to LOVE being able to run around like a wildman in his own back yard.
Since my grandparents passed away these last few years, every holiday without them seems as hollow as the cheap chocolate bunnies lining the store shelves. On this soggy Easter morning, I miss them more than ever.
My mother’s side of the family was never particularly religious, so for us, Easter was more about celebrating the arrival of spring and having an excuse to get together. There were Easter baskets with jelly beans stuck in the fake grass at the bottom, Peeps and Cadbury eggs, and when I was a little kid, my mom colored eggs and hid them out in the yard for us to find. But the extended family gatherings on her side were never too big on the egg hunt tradition. More likely, after eating too much dinner and candy, we’d all play cards or check out Dad’s seedlings that he’d surely have started by now in preparation for planting the summer garden.
With my mom and brother, Easter 1980(?)
My biological dad’s side of the family, on the other hand, was very religious indeed. They are Pentecostal Christians, and Easter was a Very Big Deal. The small church they attended always had a contest to see which family could bring the most people to service on Easter Sunday, and I remember the church bursting at the seams with people you never saw any other time of year. Distant relatives and sons and daughters who rarely came, and everybody dressed not just in Sunday best, but all the girls in frilly pastel Easter dresses and patent leather shoes. Easter was the only time my dad ever went to church with us, that I recall, and we had an enormous clan with 7 kids and a huge extended family of cousins and great-aunts and uncles.
I think some years we won, some years we didn’t, but what I remember best is after church in the parking lot, us kids would run around in our fancy clothes and the men of the church all gave change – shiny quarters and if you were lucky, silver dollars. Afterwards, my step-mom would drive us to Hook’s drugstore where we’d take our loot and blow it on so much reduced-price Easter candy that we thought we’d already died and gone to heaven.
With my grandma and cousin Rodney at Easter last year.
As an adult with no kids of my own, Easter isn’t quite as exciting anymore. I’ve long since lost touch with my biological dad’s side of the family, so it’s been many, many years since I attended an Easter Sunday service in a pretty dress. And my mom’s side of the family sort of fell apart after my grandparents passed away, so we haven’t had any gatherings on her side of the family lately, either.
Still, there’s something about the smell of spring in the air and the fragile green shoots poking out of the ground that make me feel nostalgic and happy that Easter has arrived.
Some friends and I were talking the other day about how, for those of us who are agnostic or atheist, there seem to be few alternatives for the kind of spiritual gatherings or sense of community that church provides for the faithful. We agreed that humans seem to have a need for certain kinds of rituals and that even though we aren’t religious in the organized religion sense of the word, we still felt a need for traditions and sacred spaces and a sense of belonging to a community.
My mom and sister-in law taking a picture of my niece Julie in her pretty Easter dress. Nephew Joel possibly picking his nose in the background. lol
I often make the joke that if I have to be categorized by religious belief, that I’m “apatheistic” – don’t know, don’t care – but that’s not really true. I may not believe in the Old Testament God I was taught about in Sunday school, but I was raised in a culturally Christian community, and at least my biological dad’s side of the family was very religious, so I’m sure that my internal moral compass is still largely guided by Judeo-Christian values. I still believe that “love thy neighbor” and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” are good rules to live by.
It’s hard sometimes for me to resolve the conflicts I feel about my views on organized religion and the culturally Christian heritage I was raised with, like celebrating Christian holidays or loving the architecture and iconography of churches and cathedrals, but over time I’ve come to believe that it’s ok to celebrate culturally Christian holidays in my own way, and to keep faith in the core meaning of traditions and celebratory rituals that probably preceded Christianity anyway.
So I think for me, Easter is about the coming of spring, about renewal, and a new season of growth. And it’s about redemption, too, letting go of past mistakes and “sins” and trying to make a fresh start. Maybe not with an entirely clean slate, the past is the past and our mistakes and history can’t be undone, but we can go forward “reborn”, hopefully wiser and kinder than before, and in anticipation of a new season of possibilities when the warmth of summer returns.
I’m not with my family this year, but I’m thinking of them, and remembering Easters past when we were all together. Hope you are having a happy Easter too, and feel a little spring in your step today.
I found this both moving and inspiring. I’ve come to believe that academics and researchers have a moral imperative to fight closed publishing, and this talk by Lessig only makes me feel that more strongly.
It’s crack-of-dawn early on Thanksgiving morning and the house is still and silent while the kitties snooze. Having a cup of coffee with four days off stretching before me is a lovely feeling, especially since the past few weeks have been so exceptionally busy. So busy, in fact, I took a short hiatus from online social stuff to keep my focus and get things done before the holiday break, and now the old habit of watching my morning Twitter stream roll by feels like a luxury and a treat.
It seems like a good time to reflect for a moment on those in the Metaverse for whom I am very thankful, and to recognize the contributions they have made to my personal metaverse and all the wonderful people and information they’ve brought into my life. A general thanks to everyone who contributes, of course, but the following are the folks who I’ve interacted with personally in one way or another and to whom I owe a great deal of thanks.
(Note: Names are listed in no particular order, and I’ll use the name I personally know them best by, which is sometimes an avatar name rather than a real one. Also, it’s hard to decide whether to link to someone’s blog, or twitter account, or what, so I’m slowly adding links to all the names, and linking to the place I go most often to find them or what they’ve been up to lately.)
(Second note: Invariably I am going to forget someone who deserves great thanks. If I’ve forgotten you, blame it on my sleep addled brain this morning and not my lack of gratitude!)
The Developers & Bug Testers
None of what we do in the budding Metaverse would be possible without the tireless and often unappreciated efforts of those who bring the code to life, and those with the patience to endlessly test and help squash all those pesky bugs. I’m especially thankful for the programmers who listen, explain, and document things for the rest of us, who solicit feedback, and empower us to achieve our goals and dreams with the things they create.
Thank you for all of your contributions to Opensim, and to so many of you for taking the time to answer my endless questions, help me troubleshoot and solve problems, and to learn more than I ever thought I could or would about running my own grid. FleepGrid brings me an endless source of education and entertainment, and it wouldn’t be possible without you!
I’m actually grateful for everyone who works on a Third Party Viewer, even if I’ve never met them or haven’t used their viewer. The work they do to give us options and choices, to improve the windows through which we view the metaverse, enriches all of our virtual lives. Special thanks too, to Sarge Misfit, for the hugely helpful Misfit’s Index of Viewers, without which I’d be lost in figuring out which viewers do what.
I still consider myself quite the novice with the Unity3D platform, but the work the Reaction Grid Jibe team does to help ease the transition for those of us moving from Second Life-like worlds to working with Unity is much appreciated. I’m especially grateful for their terrific support, efforts to produce a great knowledge base, and their scripted enhancements that makes development in Unity so much easier.
The News Reporters, Aggregators, & Community Connectors
Things change so quickly in the metaverse, it seems impossible sometimes to keep up, especially when it’s so very easy to get mired in the weeds of your own projects.
When I do finally look up from my work and wonder what everyone else has been up to, there are a number of folks who do a terrific job of keeping tabs on the metaverse when I don’t have time to do it myself. Whether they blog, make machinima, or tweet, these folks are indispensable sources of information and I’m eternally grateful for all the work they do to publicize, report, analyze, share, recognize, and connect the huge, global collection of people co-creating the metaverse. In many ways, their efforts are as crucial as the developers – we wouldn’t have a community without them!
There are some people who seem to give for the pure joy of giving, or even if they sell stuff to make a living, their creations add to the beauty and functionality of our worlds. If you’re looking for an item, a script, or a new way to do something, they always seem happy to help or point you in the right direction. They make stuff, they share stuff, they know stuff, and they restore my faith in humanity when I’m feeling cynical.
The Members of Chilbo, AvaCon, SLCC, SLED – My Personal Friends & Communities
The deep friendships I’ve developed through working and playing in virtual worlds over the years is really pretty astounding. Some of these people know me better than my own family, have supported me through personal tragedies and successes, have slogged it out with me organizing enormously complex and stressful community events, or otherwise have a special place in my heart for a kindness they’ve shown me personally. Even if we haven’t talked in a while, I hope you know I am deeply grateful and thankful to have met you and have you in my virtual (and real) life, and I’m sorry I’m sometimes a lousy friend who takes forever to reply!
With such a huge, kind, and wonderful community of fellow Metaverse travelers, I have much to be thankful for indeed. My many thanks to all of you, and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
[Update: The best part of writing this post was taking the time to go to each link and hunt each person down and see where they are and what they've been up to. Some folks I haven't talked to in a good while, others may even have left the worlds I still use, but I'm still thankful for them. It really does make your heart feel full to realize how many good, earnest people are out there working hard to make our real and virtual worlds better places. I feel not only thankful, but blessed by good fortune too.] <3
Me blowing bubbles on my grandpa’s back steps, age 3 or 4?
. . .
When I was a little girl, back when most girls my age were dreaming of being ballerinas, princesses, or veterinarians (a popular choice in my rural community), I dreamed of being the President of the United States. I’m not sure when or why I came up with that idea, I just knew I wanted to help people, and in my little girl mind it seemed like the president got to help all kinds of people.
Then one day, I think maybe in 2nd grade or so, we were assigned a class project to draw a picture of our future selves at work in our dream jobs. I drew a picture of myself in the White House behind a big desk, probably with some rainbows and pink and purple hearts. Anyway, as we took turns sharing our pictures with the class, it was finally my turn and I was pretty excited that no one else had wanted to be my dream job yet. So you can imagine how upset I became when a classmate interrupted me to say that could never happen because only boys could be presidents. I promptly started crying, but it was an angry kind of (embarrassed) crying. That kid probably unwittingly planted some of the earliest seeds for my lifelong feminism. I was sure I’d prove him wrong – some day!
. . .
I never made a conscious choice to work in the field of Information Technology. What started as a student worker position in my university IT department eventually turned into full time job, but even though I was working full time, I spent many years thinking my day job was just a placeholder until I could graduate and get on with my real career. Eventually I realized that the calling for public service I felt from a very young age has been realized by a career in IT, it just took a different path than I expected, and I didn’t think of it that way for so long in part because the narrative society tells us about what it means to work in technical fields is all wrong.
Working in Engineering and Information Technology is all about helping people.It isn’t some abstract, impersonal problem solving exercise.
I was fortunate to have had early access to a computer and other kinds of technology even as a pretty young girl. My grandpa was an engineer, and the day he taught me how to load up games on his Commodore 64 was life altering. Load “*”, 8, 1 became a passport into whole new exciting worlds and I can directly trace my current job right back to that very first experience. I also knew one of my uncles was a computer programmer, and as I got older, I certainly understood that his job was high paying, challenging, and high status. Another uncle was an engineer too, and I knew he also had a good paying job and everyone seemed to respect his work and his career. All these men in my family, who I loved and respected, who seemed to be judged as some of the most successful career-wise in the family, and yet I had absolutely ZERO interest in doing what they did for a living. Why? Because it all sounded so darned boring.
My first game addiction, Ultima III Exodus on the Commodore 64.
When I think back to what that young version of me thought of their jobs, I associate all kinds of very dry, abstract concepts and words to their work. It seemed to involve a lot of math. It seemed to be about working with tools and machines and metals. It seemed to have nothing at all to do with other human beings, other people, or about solving the kinds of social problems that I found interesting and compelling as I got older and more conscious of the wider world. Somewhere along the line, I got the idea that technical fields like engineering and computer science were not only off limits for girls, but they were about inhuman, mechanical things, which I had no interest in anyway!
What’s funny is that you could excuse this misconception from a young girl growing up in the 80s, but it’s a lot harder to understand how I could still think that way even as an adult actually working in an IT job, and even though my mom worked in IT too! The difference was, my mom’s work stories were always about the people and relationships, so even though she also worked in a technical field I guess I didn’t associate her job in the same way – I thought of her as a people problem solver, not a technical problem solver, and somehow never made the connection between the two.
Connecting the purpose of our work to the tools we use to do it
I think what happened is that the information I absorbed about what it means to work in a technical field was focused on the tools used to do the work, not the purpose of the work. And frankly, a hammer just isn’t very interesting. But if you talk about how using a hammer can help you build houses, and building houses helps families have stable, happy homes, then suddenly that inanimate hammer object is placed in a human context that’s tied to something relatable even to the youngest of children. Focusing on the tools used in technical fields is obviously appealing to some people, but it certainly wasn’t appealing to me.
Because of these misconceptions about IT work, I spent the early part of my career avoiding the more challenging technical aspects of the job. Partly it was out of fear that I wouldn’t be smart enough to figure it out (girls can’t be system administrators or programmers!), and partly because I was under the mistaken impression that becoming more technically adept would take me further away from the human interaction that I loved most about my job. It took me years to discover that I was wrong on both counts. Perhaps if someone had helped me connect the dots, it wouldn’t have taken me so long to discover how thrilling it is create something new that people find useful or valuable, or how wonderful it is to empower others to use technology for their own goals.
Me explaining the architecture of the University of Cincinnati’s OpenSimulator grid.
I think the way we frame the narrative of technology work has a lot to do with why girls and women choose other career paths. Even today, I doubt many people would associate working in technology with public service, even though in large part, the purpose of our work is about solving human problems, improving living conditions, and making society better. We just don’t talk about it that way. And we should, because for all the little girls (and boys) who are drawn to the human elements of a particular career, we want them to know that IT and engineering jobs can be very human centered! Yes the programming and software and protocols are necessary to do the work, but that’s not why we do the work – we do the work to make the world a better, safer, more interesting and beautiful place, just like doctors and veterinarians and ballerinas – and (hopefully) presidents.
Ada Lovelace Day aims to raise the profile of women in science, technology, engineering and maths by encouraging people around the world to talk about the women whose work they admire. This international day of celebration helps people learn about the achievements of women in STEM, inspiring others and creating new role models for young and old alike.
Ada Lovelace is widely held to have been the first computer programmer. Close friends with inventor Charle Babbage, Lovelace was intrigued by his Analytical Engine and in 1842, she translated a description of it by italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea. Babbage asked her to expand the article, “as she understood [it] so well”, and this was when she wrote several early ‘computer programs’. Ada Lovelace died of cancer at 36, her potential tragically unfulfilled.
No time to write a post, but I found this quote very compelling and didn’t want to lose it in the shuffle of browser tabs:
“The problem is joblessness, and the problem is very concrete. You don’t have to be a genius to look around the society and say, ‘look, something is going wrong. There is a huge mess of people who want to work, there is an enormous amount of work that has to be done, there are plenty of resources, and for some reason those things can’t be put together.’ That tells you there is something deeply pathological about the general socio-economic system.”
Who said it? Does it matter? Don’t you think that’s pretty much the crux of the issue?
In a moment of tragedy or crisis, it’s strange what single detail stands out most among a thousand details of a scene. Some people remember where they were standing when they saw the towers fall on tv, some remember who they lost that day.
For me, the single detail I remember most is a certain shade of blue sky that I will always think of as September Eleven Blue. As I walked to work after spending hours glued to the television set, my brain was on some strange surreal loop. I kept looking up into the most pristine and sparkling blue sky I’d ever seen and thinking over and over: How could this happen? How could someone deliberately fly a plane full of people into a building full of people on such a beautiful sunny day? How could this happen?
The horror of it was more than I could fathom, it seemed somehow all the more horrific against that backdrop of happy blue – as if tragedy could only happen when it’s storming outside.
I don’t think I’ve ever posted a reflection on that day before, because in the weeks and years that followed, I became exhausted by and to the whole spectacle of 9/11. Instead of engendering feelings of patriotism or love of country, the cheap plastic flags and yellow ribbons pasted on every available surface, car, window, and t-shirt came to feel very cheap indeed – hollow symbols of a feeling of unity that lasted for only a brief millisecond before we turned to, not politics as usual, but far worse, the politics of fear and retribution. I didn’t know then that it would eventually lead to the War on Terror and the War on Iraq and the War on Afghanistan, so many wars on so many things, I just knew that I felt numb and frightened and suddenly very painfully aware of how fragile life is.
I had friends and colleagues who seemed for a while to need to know every gory detail of every victim’s last moments, but I didn’t. I didn’t listen to the last voice mails and the 911 recordings, I didn’t watch the videos of the people jumping, I tried not to imagine what it would have felt like to be in that plane over Pennsylvania, or to be burned alive or buried in the rubble. I couldn’t. For me, the horror of what I already knew was enough and the fascination with the tragic details felt repulsive – I couldn’t understand it. They have a name for that phenomenon now, disaster porn they call it.
To me it just felt somehow.. disrespectful. And something worse, some word I can’t put a name to, that thing that makes us gawk and take some creepy pleasure in seeing other people’s agony. Or maybe using other people’s agony to fuel our own ugly impulses, to go kill whoever was responsible, even if it meant killing hundreds of thousands of other completely innocent people as collateral damage to salve our wounded American soul.
I was afraid, back then, to even say words like these. To not feel a burning patriotic fervor to hunt down the evil-doers in the post-9/11 world was to be a traitor. In the city where I live, conservative, religious, American heartland Cincinnati, Ohio, it was impossible to avoid the forwarded-hundreds-of-times email chain letters (this was before Facebook or Twitter existed) about how we would destroy Osama bin-Ladin and every “towelhead” who got in our way. Jingoism doesn’t begin to describe it, I saw blood lust even in the eyes of my mild mannered office mates. That scared me far more than the terrorists did, far more than whatever horrible thing al-Qaida might have planned. I became afraid of my own countrymen and my own government more than I was afraid of any shadowy enemy in the middle east.
Terror Alert: Orange lasted for years afterwards. And when it was over (is it over? will the wars ever be over?) I felt mostly sadness that all those people died so tragically, and sadness that in their names we destroyed nations and our own civil liberties. That so many of our own young men and women in the military had paid as high a price as the victims of 9/11 in as senseless a tragedy through the War in Iraq.
Another Anniversary, Another Election
As another 9/11 anniversary approaches, another presidential election, I can’t help but think back about that time and how that incident really did change us. How it really did change the trajectory of our nation, our politics, our financial security. For a long time there was that cynical joke about how if you do X, the terrorists win. I sometimes think, looking back, that the terrorists did win, and win big. 9/11 changed so much about our culture, made us so much more willing to surrender our privacy and our human rights for often just the illusion of security.
One of the things that struck me about the political conventions this year was how little 9/11 was mentioned, how little the history of the last 10 years was discussed beyond the current economic issues and pandering to military voters. There was little acknowledgement even from the Democrats about the truly brutal, dishonest, and frightening Bush administration. They didn’t really tell the narrative about exactly how and why the Republican Party led us into disaster and how and why it would be disasterous to put them back in charge of the White House again. Why didn’t they tell that story more forcefully?
For my part, I felt an enormous amount of rage towards the those who had led us to that precipice. After spending billions or trillions of dollars in Iraq, after pushing through tax cuts for the wealthy, after de-regulating financial reforms put in place to protect us from another Great Depression, the Republicans marched us to catastrophe. In US Economic Crisis – “Privatizing Gains, Socializing Losses”, I wrote:
The REPUBLICAN PARTY, representing free-market capitalists, has largely had their way in terms of economic policy, they passed their tax cuts, they gutted many of the laws put in place after the Great Depression, and theysuccessfully protected the profits – the sickeningly vast profits – of a very, very tiny percentage of very, very wealthy Americans. [...]
I am angry. Afraid. Worried. The REPUBLICAN PARTY has quite literally wrapped themselves in the American Flag and used every dirty trick in the book to keep the average, church-going American distracted by issues like guns, abortion, and gay marriage so they can rob our country blind. And they seem to be getting away with it.
When does it stop? When does the party of “Country First” actually start putting the country – the whole country, not wealthy investors – first?
It was a welcome relief to me when Obama was elected at the end of that year. Obama’s campaign rhetoric stirred in me some of those patriotic and hopeful passions I remembered from the days before 9/11, when I still believed that reasonable people could find some agreement. That’s back when I thought most Republicans were conservative like my grandpa, a staunch life-long Republican, who I loved and respected greatly, even as I passionately disagreed with his philosophies about human nature. Where he and I found common ground, I assumed so would be the case between the Left and the Right. I thought love of country and the need to help each other in such dire times would bring some kind of relief from the endless political bickering.
But I was disappointed to discover that we were more divided by partisan zealotry than ever before. Obama’s complete cop-out on a single payer system, or even a public option, for healthcare reform, his wholesale embrace of the Right’s solution did nothing to quell the divide. Such a pitiful excuse for a “socialist” solution to the healthcare problem was so well spun by the Right that it led to the birth of the Tea Party nutjobs and the “Keep the government out of my Medicare” protests. Republicans in Congress began their steadfast refusal to do anything but say “no”, be damned the consequences, including the debt ceiling fiasco that actually led to the downgrading of our nation’s credit rating.
These last few years, it has seemed as if all sanity has flown the coop. One cannot reason with those who are unreasonable, those who do not believe in science, or education, those who would rather scream about God than have any faith in or compassion for each other – those who seem to revel in the disaster porn that our nation has become. The divide has become such a chasm, I wonder what America they are even living in, because it doesn’t seem like the one I am living in.
The only exception to these political divisions seemed to be the night Osama bin-Ladin was finally killed. I wrote about how it felt to experience that moment with others through Twitter, and just like with 9/11 itself where I could not feel pure hatred and bloodlust, I could not feel pure joy and glee that we killed bin-Ladin, either. I felt somewhat ashamed of the reactions; disgusted by the calls to literally put bin-Ladin’s head on a spike as if we should engage in some gruesome medieval display of power. Reflecting back, I wrote:
By my view, the world really did change on September 11th, and it has been a long, brutal, depressing decade since. Whatever innocent naivete I still held at the wise old age of 25 began to crumble as those towers fell and the 10 years since have held many bitter lessons still. Wars that seem unending and against people and ideologies that are complex and don’t lend themselves to simple narratives about “defeating our enemies”. A decade of absolute fiscal corruption and robbery that would have made the robber barons blush. A political system that seems barely functional on the good days and completely ill equipped to address any of the real issues facing our nation. Catastrophes like Katrina from mother nature, and catastrophes of our own making, leaving people without homes and jobs and even those of us who still have both ever fearful that they could disappear tomorrow.
“ A nation that can’t resolve sensibly any issue that matters..”
I’ve been pretty candid about my political views. I’ve written about why I consider myself a progressive, and about the values and beliefs that guide my political conscience. I know that other people value other things, have beliefs that are different than mine, and I can accept and understand that. What I can’t understand, what I can’t accept, is pretending as if this history didn’t happen: Two wars costing trillions of dollars, millions of wounded, and hundreds of thousands of lives lost. An economic disaster that triggered a global crisis, erased a decade of wealth in the US, and left millions of our own people in desperate straights. These two things frame the beginning and the end of the last decade of our nation, and both of them happened under the leadership of the Republican Party, and with little to no meaningful dissent from the Democratic Party.
This history leads the partisan part of me to want to ask anyone who’s even considering voting for Mitt Romney – what the heck are you thinking? Have you completely forgotten that it was a Republican led White House that took us falsely to war in Iraq? Have you completely forgotten that it was Republican led de-regulation of the financial industry that led us to this depression/recession/whatever mess? Aren’t you absolutely horrified by the voter suppression, the racism, the insulting belief they should control women’s bodies, the religious zealotry, the anti-science, anti-education, anti-common-freaking-sense craziness of today’s Republican Party?
But make no mistake, that partisan part of me is just as furiously angry with an Obama administration who has not closed Guantanamo Bay, not ended either war, continued and even extended some of the worst parts of the Patriot Act, who completely caved on the Bush era tax cuts, whose administration has not done more to help homeowners and average working people after bailing out big business and big banks, who has not prosecuted those who were responsible for the collapse, or passed any reasonable legislation to stop it from happening again.
Indeed, I am left feeling that, while I’ll be voting for Obama again this election because the lunatic right just isn’t an option, the entire system is so corrupt that a vote for Obama or even a win for Obama is just a degree in difference, not kind. When Lessig points out that:
A tiny number of Americans — .26 percent — give more than $200 to a congressional campaign. .05 percent give the maximum amount to any congressional candidate. .01 percent give more than $10,000 in any election cycle. And .000063 percent — 196 Americans — have given more than 80 percent of the individual super-PAC money spent in the presidential elections so far.
These few don’t exercise their power directly. None can simply buy a congressman, or dictate the results they want. But because they are the source of the funds that fuel elections, their influence operates as a filter on which policies are likely to survive. It is as if America ran two elections every cycle, one a money election and one a voting election. To get to the second, you need to win the first. But to win the first, you must keep that tiniest fraction of the one percent happy. Just a couple thousand of them banding together is enough to assure that any reform gets stopped.
Some call this plutocracy. Some call it a corrupted aristocracy. I call it unstable. Just as America learned under the Articles of Confederation, where one state had the power to block the resolve of the rest, a nation in which so few have the power to block change is not a nation that can thrive.
.. what else can a simple working girl like me think but that the whole game is just plain rigged? When so many pressing issues of our time go unaddressed while we spend billions and billions of dollars and months and months of time on campaigns, not just for president, but for congress and governors and local officials as well, it seems that the entire system is just plain failing us. I feel so frustrated, so distrustful, so dissapointed in what has become of our country since 9/11, that I am paralyzed by it.
Many things have changed since the Twin Towers fell, but eleven years later, I’m still looking up into a September Eleven Blue sky caught in that surreal loop, wondering how all these things could have happened. Just as I wondered how on earth someone could deliberately fly a plane full of people into a building full of people on a perfectly beautiful sunny day, I wonder what kind of craven souls could deliberately be playing political cat and mouse with each other instead of dealing with the enormous challenges facing our country – or worse, how it has come to be that we the people seemingly have no more power to stop this calamity than we had to stop those towers from falling.
Lessig ends by saying that a nation that can’t resolve sensibly any issue that matters is a nation that will fail. I’m afraid he’s right.