images (3)Dear Reader,

Is social media the devil in disguise?

The ills of Facebook are legendary – the lack of privacy, cyber bullying, and abuse of personal information for sales.  Whether you are a fan of social media or not, it has become a part of our culture.

Media, social or otherwise, has long been controversial.   The US Constitution guarantees the freedom of the press in the First Amendment established in 1791.   The freedom of the press was universally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.   There have also been laws passed to prohibit abuses of these freedoms – libel being the most noted example.   The press has had some notable influence in the United States when the “checks and balances” system has suffered.  The rise of Joseph McCarthy to almost unassailable power in post-Nazi America in the ’50s was checked by Edward R. Murrow who pioneered broadcast journalism when television was new.   Murrow, on his show “See It Now” exposed McCarthy when the formal processes failed.

Like Edward R. Murrow with the use of new technology, will we allow social media to form us or will we form social media to our needs and best interests?

So what are the advantages of Facebook?   Among other things, my friends who regularly post to my wall are all media-savvy and I stay more up-to-date on the news than before.   I have found long-lost high school and college friends and I’m once again involved in their lives.   I keep up with my brother’s children who are all grown and leading their own lives now.   I keep up with distant family members as well.   Social media, like any other instrument of communication, is what you make of it.   I do not post anything on Facebook I do not wish to be public knowledge.   I take Facebook as the poor man’s advertising.   Your web personality is reflected in your posts.   No one can expect the cyber community to cyber-revolution-FINAL“know who I am” unless they make it clear.  The responsibility for one’s communication with the cloud community is on the individual.

The positive use of social networking is overwhelming – advances to business, professional networking, following trends, in addition to the aforementioned connection with friends and family.   Entire websites have come up to help people promote positive social change including Idealist and  Change.Org among a plethora of others.   The fact is that social good far outnumbers social bad.   The bad just attracts better headlines.

This post would not be complete without covering the topic of cyber bullying.  Cyber bullying iscyberbullying-2 an extension of bullying that has gone on forever.  Sadly, human nature has not advanced with technology and headlines love attention-getting stories.  “When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.”  was coined in the mid 1800s regarding this phenomenon.  How many of the headlines regarding cyber bullying go on in real life?  And are we giving it undue attention?  Cyber bullying will probably always exist in some form as real-life bullying has always existed.   Extensive measures have been taken to counteract this problem and will continue.

The challenges for the modern world really haven’t changed.   Employ critical thinking when absorbing information.   Is something shock journalism or serious journalism?  How accurate are the news stories being published and by what source?   What agenda drives the information?  Buyer beware.


ComputerWomanUsingLaptopDear Reader, “I have one urgent request for the CIA, FBI and other relevant agencies. After the next attack, could you please send a woman to talk to the press? You have lots of them and, trust me, they know what they’re talking about. Please do it to improve the morale of your female officers and give their daughters a better understanding of their options in life. The women are tired of being invisible.” Susan Hasler, Special to CNN.

Its ironic that in this advanced age that men still represent women who did the work. The old images and stereotypes die hard. I was saddened in a recent Facebook debate to see a woman pose the concept that no woman would be capable of being President of the United States because women are incapable of clear leadership thinking due to our nurturing natures. When I was young and we learned English grammar, generic pronouns that were used in proper writing were “him” and “mankind” and that represented women as well. I remember when women got their own pronouns. I remember 1975, the International Year of the Woman. Helen Reddy was awesome.

“I am woman, hear me roar In numbers too big to ignore And I know too much to go back an’ pretend ’cause I’ve heard it all before And I’ve been down there on the floor No one’s ever gonna keep me down again”

I am grateful for all the women who came before me and did the really hard work. Thirty years have passed since I entered the workplace in the mid-80s. Things have gotten much better and the changes are much easier won. The young men I work with are completely comfortable with me as an accomplished colleague. Now, its more a matter of awareness and perception changes. Articles like the one written by Ms. Hasler assist those changes.

Dear Reader,

logo @NEGiveCamp is always a surreal experience.   For one weekend, I’m in an environment of total teamwork absent of self-interest, political agenda, financial goals  – everyone pulling together to help the organizations depending on us.  I planned my week of vacation around this event.

This year, the experience was healing for me.   New England Give Camp is annually hosted by Microsoft’s New England Research and Development Center at 1 Memorial Drive in Cambridge, MA.   For those of you blog followers who aren’t familiar with Boston’s geography, that is literally about a block or so from the bombings and where the officer was killed.  In addition to being so geographically close to the horrific events it was chronologically close to the events as well – about 3 weeks after.   I was terrified to get on the train to go into town.  The first night I was awakened at 3 am by a loud bang!   It turns out one of the other campers had stumbled during the night, but I was panicked for a bit.

However, being a New Englander, rather than head to the Bahamas for vacation, I pick up my weapons of choice (my trusty laptop and my courage) and I head into terrorist country.   logo

There is healing in community sharing.   I met old friends and we talked.   We processed the events together.   We worked to fix the problems in the world together.  I saw the young children that were not traumatized by the events, but were rather energized to make a difference.    Joy Olaes Surprenant always comes.   She began a wonderful organization, Catching Joy, that teaches the children the joy of givi559643_312590812203058_1173642950_ang back.   After the events of the terrorism, her organization was flooded by children wanting to know how to make a difference.

My team was helping out the fledgling organization, GVNGTogether – a non-profit that is innovating philanthropy.   Rather than philanthropy being one individual helping others, GVNGTogether is creating a community of philanthropists benefitting others.

I realized that those two terrorists made headlines and an impact.   New England Give Camp may not make the same headlines, but our impact is greater.   We outnumber them.  There are 120 of us volunteers, 24 non-profits and uncounted numbers of people positively impacted by that.   It doesn’t always feel like it, but the good is winning.   Its just not quite as flashy as Superman.

Dear Reader,

130418_boston_bombing_lgFor all of our advancements, achievements, and accomplishments as a global community, we have yet to solve the problem of horrible abuse of technology.   The most ironic thing about the recent bombing and war waged in the streets of Boston is that it was accomplished with very simple technology.   No super-advanced heat-seeking missiles were launched at MIT.   It was accomplished with technology that could have been implemented in 1812.

The Boston Marathon is an annual celebration of the human spirit and human accomplishment that has lasted 117 years.  Born out of the beauty of the Olympic games of 1896, the Boston Marathon began as a local tradition and now attracts worldwide competitors.  The beauty of this worldwide unity seemed threatened with this weeks’ events.  Will the violent fringe become the victors?

Beauty comes in strength as well.   The strength of the marathon runners who completed 26 miles and then ran another 2 miles to donate blood.   The strength of the Bostonians singing the National Anthem.   The strength of Americans

who fought war on our soil during the War of 1812.  “And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there.”  Much like all of America watching on television with the Bostonians locked in their homes, Francis Scott Key, was locked up watching the primary-americanflagbombing of Fort McHenry and unable to defend the country.   Last night; the concussion grenades, the police, and the gunfire echoed the return fire from Fort McHenry that gave courage that our patriots that were still there.   Our strength as Americans remains undiminished in 200 years.   We prevailed.  And this time, our superior technology limited the loss of life and the length of the battle.

The National Anthem As Sung By Boston. 


Dear Reader,

Baseball and baseball players equate to hope ….  an American institution …  personal difficulty doesn’t stop them from playing, personal injury doesn’t stop them from playing and war doesn’t stop them from playing …  and we have hope.  They are good for us.   We are going through a recession about as bad as the great depression and we can get away from it all by going to the game and having a hot dog….

But what do I do now?

Rhode Island has the worst economy in the 52 United States.  Enter our hero, Curt Schilling with his company 38 studios to revive Rhode Island!  Right in downtown Providence — I walk by there.  It’s right near the library.   It’s right near my favorite restaurant,  The AS220.   Right in my backyard.   We loaned him money we didn’t have to spare… $75 million dollars because our hero Curt Schilling would have created 450 new jobs over the next three years as well as bringing untold revenue into the state.

My nephew’s education would have been in much better shape.   My bus trips to and from the job I just got would have been more secure.   People could have received much-needed state-assisted training to meet the needs of employers. The revenue from 38 Studios coming into Rhode Island would have benefitted us all.

But this is where reality diverges from the fantasy of the heroes of movies.   The business failed.

What does the news from 38 Studios itself say?  A Twitter post on May 23, 2012 reads: “RT @ghrig38: Reckoning, 38 Studios first game, has outperformed EA’s projections by selling 1.2mm copies in its first 90 days”  There is a competed game and it will sell. When he was building 38 Studios, in his own blog, Curt Schilling commented on our economic crisis, “I also think there can be no question that it falls on us, the individuals, to find a way out of our own personal crisis, as we can.”  Was that advice only good when directed at others?

If someone takes out a loan to buy a house then loses their job — the house is foreclosed on and the bank gets it back to resell.   In this case, how do we recover our money?   Are we just left with more debt to bury ourselves and Mr. Schilling just moves on to his next project and says, “Oh well.”?  Do we get tied up in litigation paying lawyers more money and never getting ours back?  What does this mean when the individual in question is responsible for so much?  Starting a video game company for fun is a great idea!   But people’s lives and livelihoods were becoming involved in this.   It grew to something more than leisure.

So what now?   Does our hero come through for us?   Or do I tell my nephew that Curt Schilling, like so many others, was ony self-serving?   Do I tell my nephew tha38Studiost his hero was only in it for the glory or it mattered in the long run?

The test of character is what happens when you can get away with anything.  Curt Schilling has the money and fame.   He does not have to be a good guy.  The bulk of the press is on his side, the laywers are on his side, and his former employees are on his side.  I know it is painful to have a vision… a dream … fail.   It must be painful for Mr. Schilling.   This was a dream of his.  This can’t be the first failure he has ever faced.   He became a world-class ball player and that doesn’t come without hard work and some setbacks.  All I ask is please pay Rhode Island back.  Do what any hard working person with integrity would do.   If you don’t have the money up front, set up a payment arrangement over time and pay us back.   Or make whatever business arrangment makes the most sense to get us our money back and benefit us in the long run the way you would have.   Please don’t default on our hopes.

I do not share Forbes’ “silver lining” theory about defaulting on a loan to the state of Rhode Island.  Although Forbes gave a great analysis to why the business failed, I don’t know any bank that would willingly write a loan on what might happen.   “My business failed and I didn’t pay back the loan, but all my employees will find other jobs so its good for the state even if those jobs are in other states.   Can I have more money to work with?”  It doesn’t take an Ivy League education to know that not paying a loan back is a bad thing.

His blog spoke to personal responsibility.   Well, after finishing school, I went through three years of unemployment and plenty of mounting debt.   When I got my job, I began paying off my old debts and not financing new dreams until I could afford it.   Businesses were put out becaue of my financial hardship and they deserved to be paid back.   The reasons for my financial hardship were immaterial — the fact that I wasn’t working had an impact on those around me.  Even though I still qualified for money from the state I did not take it.   I paid out of my salary because I would not futher contribute to the problems in Rhode Island.   I suffered setbacks and failure.   I overcame and found a full time job in an economy where there are almost none.  I did the right thing and I’m not a world-class ball player.   I’m just an individual doing my part.   This is the standard I set for my nephew.

We believed in you enough to finance your dreams.   Please don’t crush ours.

Dear Reader,

The next generation is working on a revolution.   Nonviolent.

The 60s saw the first real uprising of the young.  I made my way around Occupy Providence to find out what they were protesting.   The person at the information desk said, “There are so many problems…”  Never was a truth so eloquently and succinctly put.

Occupy Providence isn’t about just one issue — although the current economy dominates.   They have assembled a list — like Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses that he nailed to the church doors that started the Protestant movement.   In this case, Occupy has a list of issues that they are protesting in turn.  And the young are inspiring the old.   I talked to a retiree who is insulin-dependant and is braving the conditions to join the cause.   He has built his shelter against the oncoming winter conditions and the famous “wind-tunnel” in the Kennedy Plaza area and has his camp stove and cooking gear going.

Since my blog focuses on the place (or lack) of technology in culture, I asked folks around there if it fit in with this very “survivalist” enviornment.  I wandered amid tents, camp stoves, but I found signs of modern life.  At the main tents set up; they depend on a computer, very limited and unreliable bandwidth, and a broken printer in need of replacing.   This is all powered off of a gas generator.   When that goes down, they power it off a bicycle that a volunteer pedals to generate electricity.   Steampunk at its finest.

They say that they are the 99% of the country that are among the struggling, suffering masses fighting what Wall Street has done to Main Street.  The first Occupy embodied what the country needs to do.   Pull together instead of turning on one another.

Unfortunately, it looks like the 99% forgot to get approval from the city of Providence.   An article in Boston.Com says that the city is planning to evict the protesters from Burnside Park.  I’m wondering if the pledge for non-violence will prevail.   I’m wondering how many folks will choose arrest and imprisonment rather than to comply with the eviction order once it comes through.






Dear Reader,

Apple Computer has not commented publicly on the issues raised by quite a few folks concerned with security issues with iOS4 on the iPhone

However, Apple DID comment on Samsun‘s similar design “‘This kind of blatant copying is wrong,’ Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said in a statement.”[4] in an article by Dan Levine of Reuters.

According to an article written by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry of the Business Insider this kind of lawsuit is nearly impossible to win because that kind of imitation drives the free market enterprise. [1]  Mr. Gobry went on to compare this kind of tactic to those employed by Microsoft against Android.   Further, in an article written by James White from Mega Tech News, “Samsung introduced a full touch screen phone a full year before Apple, only to have Apple copy their design.  Effectively, this means that Apple is suing Samsung for copying their design that they copied from Samsung in the first place.”[2]

I will be examining these issues more in-depth in my post tomorrow; however,   I made the observation that Microsoft as the former technical dominating company was guilty of some ills that came to light.   I wondered what would happen to Apple as it begins to gain the same popularity.

Those that scream the loudest have the most to hide.  What is Apple hiding?


1.  http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-the-real-reason-apple-is-suing-samsung-2011-4

2.  http://www.megatechnews.com/apple-suing-samsung-for-copying-samsungs-design/

3. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/18/us-apple-samsung-lawsuit-idUSTRE73H6FV20110418

4. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/18/us-apple-samsung-lawsuit-idUSTRE73H6FV20110418

5. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703916004576271210109389154.html

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