Wonderosity

Where curiosity turns to wonder

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My continued struggle & ambiguous feelings about Caffeine…

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Though I know certain friends find my struggles and complaints about caffeine annyoing, let me try and explain why it pains me so much when I make the choice to consume something like the Americano I just drank…

The backstory: I love the feeling of ‘aliveness’.  I also highly value honesty, being real, feeling what needs to be felt, and following my passion (and hearing/supporting the passions of others).  Conversely, I really don’t enjoy the opposites –feeling tired, sad, bored, unmotivated, lazy, aimless, etc.

What’s hard to admit, honestly, is that I find it a bit harder these days to feel ‘alive’ and ‘passionate’ and ‘motivated’ than I used to.  What used to be considered the biggest sin by me, boredom or a lack of ‘wants’, is felt more frequently. (Though I still don’t really believe that’s what is going on at core…but maybe I’m just in denial.)

When I have caffeine, I get this quick boost of what feels like ‘aliveness’ and passion and energy (and I use it sparingly enough that the difference is acute, unlike many people I know who are now just dependent on it or ‘used to it’).

And when I’m caffeinated I seem to be able to bulldoze over many of my whiny blues, my tired demotivated stuckness, uber-introspection, boredness, etc.

But then, a few problems result from this choice:

1. I can crash hard physically/emotinally…feeling extra tired, depressed, upset sleep cycle, irritable, etc.

2. Perhaps more importantly, to me, I don’t TRUST the feelings/beliefs/actions that came from me during that time.  Like a person who has a spiritual hallucinogenic trip from acid, I wonder ‘was it real’?

It frustrates me and tempts me to feel lame that so few other people seem to understand or want to talk about these problems, that so few people see what seems obvious to me –that our culture has a massively ‘acceptable’ drug addiction with cafe dealers only 1/2 block away everywhere -but here I am.

And I want the real thing. Aliveness. Passion. Motivation.  Focus.  Alertness.

Yet what I all too often find, like today, is that if getting the real thing takes more work (through who knows what -more exercise; better diet; more sleep; meditation & prayer; naps; etc.) I give into the fiend.

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ipad to the Max! (Or should I say, Maxipad? )

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Okay, the truth is I love apple products.  Was I happy about the ipad reveal today?  Overall, yes.  I’d give it a “B/B+”.  It’s hard to beat the initial iphone hype without something abso-friggin-lutely amazing and different and “WOW” (especially hardware…for the iphone it was the multitouch).

However, I DO feel bad for those responsible for branding this puppy. There will be endless ipad/maxipad/itampon jokes (as has already been shown today with Twitter’s trending “itampon” meme.  I’m hoping that they will eventually fade, and this amazing product will get better and better, but until then, a little fun is to be had. 

What I like about the iPad?

  • Beautiful
  • Fast Fast Fast
  • Great Size
  • Great Price
  • Nice re-work of apps and new apps
  • Cool ebook reader
  • Can do just about anything (remember when a DVD player cost this much)
  • Compare all you can do with this to a Kindle… (though i like e-ink on the eyes, and 3g is free on kindle, bust much less data with kindle too…so a cheap $1 day unlimited data seems fair)

What I don’t like

  • No Camera and thus no videoconf. I was expected front/back camera or at least swivel
  • No multi-tasking so far
  • The name iPad

Will I buy one?
Not sure. I’d give it a 50/50 on this first gen, and a 90% likely on the next.

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Never Too Late for an Update

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It’s been quite a while since my last podcast and life update.  Thanks to a recent surprise visit from an early bleeding purple podcast fan, I decided to share an overview of what’s been happening in my life, family, business and spiritual journey over the last couple of years.  Thanks for being interested and hope to connect with some of you soon.

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Biznik Live Interview with Van Jones of ‘The Green Collar Economy”

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Van Jones with Biznik LiveTo you faithful blog readers, sorry I’ve been behind on my Biznik Live updates. If you didn’t get a chance to listen to the Van Jones Biznik Live show, I’d suggest you do it now or download it to iTunes for later. This interview is full of helpful suggestions about how to both green your business as well as how to increase your business during these economically rocky times.After a short discussion with Seattle Greendrinks founder Gabriel Scheer about an exciting upcoming project (Re-Vision Lab -site just barely up) aimed at gathering and supporting local green entrepreneurs, we jump into issues like:

  • How Van’s amazing grass roots social marketing campaign launched his book to #12 in the NY Times. How can we do the same?
  • A summary of his book ‘The Green Collar Economy
  • What are the upcoming green entrepreneurial opportunities?
  • What can you do to speed up sustainability policies in your local gov. and schools?
  • Much more…

[display_podcast] A little message from Van on Youtube… TRANSCRIPT OF SHOW (after

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Biznik Live Interview with Martin Lindstrom of ‘Buy*ology’

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I had a great time interviewing this fellow Dane (though I speak not a word of Danish and have not yet made it to Denmark myself!). Martin is a dynamic and passionate speaker who shared with us the results of the largest neuromarketing research ever -$7 million dollars and 2000 volunteers from all over the world who let Martin’s research team peer into their brains as they were exposed to various brand-related images and words. Curious what they found out?In this Biznik Live, we touch on:

  • Some of Martin’s core findings in the neuromarketing study
  • The role of fear in our decision processes
  • Key advantages to being a small business (easier to take big risks, innovate!)
  • The story of the pizza company on a low-budget that dominated the market in his area in a really unique way…
  • Does your website have a jingle, your biz card a smell, why not?
  • Hottest tips for indie biz agents during the current economic conditions
  • Much more…

I hope you enjoy the show!TRANSCRIPTION OF THE

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Biznik Live Interview with Timothy Ferriss of ‘The Four Hour Workweek’

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Hello friends. Well, I’m finally catching up from traveling to two excellent conferences this past couple of weeks (AIN & NASAGA). During the past two and half weeks we’ve conducted three more Biznik Live shows focused on “Surviving & Thriving Amidst Economic Uncertainty”. In this and the next few blog posts, I’m going to share a little about each show. I hope the following summaries tempt you into listening if you haven’t already! The audio in this 2nd show was somewhat poor, but there was some great content -enjoy!What did Tim & our audience cover in this second Biznik Live show?

  • A summary of the Four Hour Work Week DEAL (Define->Eliminate->Automate->Liberate)
  • Clarification on the somewhat controversial chapter on Automation
  • The importance of testing, testing, testing (before investing $, time, effort)
  • Should you hold onto your assets during the current economic uncertainty?
  • Taking advantage of the likely drop in offline marketing prices during this recession (Radio & TV spots)
  • Ruthlessly applying the 80/20 Pareto Principle to your business
  • Learning how to say “No”, and facing the ‘difficult conversations’
  • Which businesses are likely to do well during a recession?
  • Clarification and advice on outsourcing

[display_podcast]Transcription of show:

 


 (Times are not 100% accurate as final show underwent some edits) 
Leif Hansen: Hello. Welcome back to Biznik Live. You got to just love technology like that. This is Leif Hansen. I’m your host. I want to thank you for joining us. Biznik Live is a show produced by biznik.com that connects you with nationally recognized authors whose powerful ideas will help you make successful choices for your business. In just a minute, we’re going to be talking with Timothy Ferriss, author of the widely acclaimed book, “The 4-Hour Workweek.” We’re going to be hearing his advice for entrepreneurs and other indie biz free agent types, particularly in the context of the current economic craziness.I really forward to connecting with you guys today in the second half of the show and later on biznik.com.
00:59 In addition to his excellent book, “The 4-Hour Workweek,” serial entrepreneur and ultra vagabond Timothy Ferriss has been featured by dozens of media including the New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, NBC and Maxim. He speaks six languages, runs a multinational firm from wireless locations worldwide and has been a popular guest lecturer at Princeton University since 2003 where he presents entrepreneurship as a tool for ideal lifestyle design and world change. Hello, Tim. Welcome to Biznik Live.Timothy Ferriss: Thank you for having me. My pleasure.Leif Hansen: It’s great to have you here. As you are the world traveler, where in the world is Timothy Ferriss today?Timothy Ferriss: Tim Ferriss is in San Francisco, one of my favorite places in the

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Biznik Live “How to Survive & Thrive Amidst Economic Uncertainty” Interview with author Michelle Goodman Wed Oct 8th, 10:00a PST

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(In a hurry? Skip down to the bullets for links!)

{1st Biznik Live show with Michelle GoodMan)

I’m starting a new show today called "Biznik Live". Its a call-in internet radio weekly series for the month of October and possibly beyond. I’m going to be interviewing nationally recognized authors whose powerful ideas can help us make successful choices for our businesses.

This first series is focused around the theme "Surviving & Thriving Amidst Economic Uncertainty". Our pilot show is Wed Oct 8th at 10:00am PST with Michelle Goodman (see below for her bio).

I know that many of us are feeling nervous about being self-employed ‘free agents’ during this time, so the content will be directly applicable to many of you.

Listen to Biznik Live on internet talk radio

I’d love to have some of you there in support, as well as to gain some great insights from Michelle Goodman. If you can’t listen live, please do still download and listen to the show at the above link as it will help as well.

1st Show Summary
In this first Biznik Live show, we’ll be interviewing author Michelle Goodman on how ‘free agents’ can survive and thrive as business owners amidst economic uncertainty.

Author Bio
In addition to her recently released "My so-called freelance life", Michelle Goodman is author of the nationally acclaimed "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube", an irreverent handbook for aspiring cubicle expats. Her articles and essays about alternative careers, human mating rituals, and cultural trends have graced media outlets such as ABCNews.com, CNN.com, Salon.com, The Seattle Times, BUST, Bitch, and The Bark, and have appeared in the anthologies Single State of the Union: Single Women Speak Out on Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Happiness and The Moment of Truth: Women’s Funniest Romantic Catastrophes. In her fifteen years as a full-time freelancer, she’s had the opportunity to wrangle text on computer games, marital aids, dog pajamas, home colonics, and just about anything else that can be sold. She lives in Seattle with her eighty-pound lapdog, Buddy. For more scoop on the so-called freelance life, visit her blog at Anti9to5Guide.com.

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“Dr. Thiagi” (Dr. Sivasailam Thiagarajan) Interview

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This podcast is our second in the series of interviews with presenters for the upcoming applied improv network conference in Chicago.  I had a blast interviewing “Dr. Thiagi“, he was so easy and enjoyable to speak with. In the interview we cover all kinds of topics, including:

  • The difference between ‘engagement’ and ‘fun’ when teaching/facilitating groups
  • How to keep authentic/engaged as a leader when, frankly, you’re having a crap day
  • How to not take oneself too seriously
  • The dangers of Exptertism
  • Seeing the genius in others
  • Work that Thiagi is currently doing and passionate about
  • I challenge the term ‘performance technologist’ and Thiagi explains

Here’s a basic bio of Thiagi from his website:

[Thiagi's photo] Dr. Sivasailam “Thiagi”Thiagarajan is the Resident Mad Scientist at The ThiagiGroup, an organization with the mission of helping people improvetheir performance effectively and enjoyably.Thiagi’s long-term clients include AT&T, Arthur Andersen,Bank of Montreal, Cadence Design Systems, Chevron, IBM, Intel,Intelsat, United Airlines, and Liberty Mutual. On a short-termbasis, Thiagi has worked with more than 50 differentorganizations in high-tech, financial services, and managementconsulting areas. For these clients, Thiagi has consulted andconducted training in such areas as rightsizing, diversity,creativity, teamwork, customer satisfaction, human performancetechnology, and organizational learning.Thiagi has published 40 books, 120 games and simulations, andmore than 200 articles. He wrote the definitive chapters onsimulations and games for ISPI’s Handbook of HumanPerformance Technology, ASTD’s Training &Development Handbook, and the American ManagementAssociation’s Human Resources Management and DevelopmentHandbook.Thiagi currently writes a monthly online newsletter,Thiagi GameLetter. This newsletter, now in itsfifth year, features Thiagi’s training games and other creativeinterventions that deliver results quickly and effectively. Heserved as the editor of NSPI Journal andPerformance & Improvement for more than 10years. He currently edits the simulation/game section in SagePublication’s journal, Simulation & Gaming. Heis also a contributing editor of the monthly journal,Educational Technology.Thiagi has made hundreds of presentations and keynote speechesat professional conferences. At ISPI, Thiagi holds the “records”for making the most presentations, conducting the mostpreconference workshops, and being invited to make the mostEncore presentations. Thiagi is also a regular presenter atLakewood’s TRAINING Conferences and the annualconferences of American Society for Training and Development(ASTD) and North American Simulation and Gaming Association(NASAGA).Thiagi has been the president of the North American Simulationand Gaming Associating (NASAGA), International Society forPerformance Improvement (ISPI), and Association for SpecialEducation Technology (ASET). He has received 17 different awardsand Presidential Citations from ISPI, including the society’shighest award, Honorary Life Member. He alsoreceived an Honorary Life Member award fromNASAGA as well as its highest award, Ifill-RaynoldsAward.Internationally recognized as an expert in multinationalcollaboration and active learning in organizations, Thiagi haslived in three different countries and has consulted in 21others.

 

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Charna Halpern Interview (of Improv Olympics)

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As part of the previously announced series of interviews with speakers for the upcoming Chicago Applied Improv Conference, I interviewed Charna Halpern of the Improv Olympics theater. Unfortunately, within weeks of our interview, Charna found she had a schedule conflict and had to cancel as a preconference speaker. However, I’ve decided to still post the interview as the content is just as interesting and relevant, and I’m sure many of you will enjoy it. I apologize in advance for some of the audio levels.

For those of you unfamiliar with Charna, here is her Wikipedia entry:
Charna Halpern was born and raised on the North Side of Chicago. She is a co-founder of the ImprovOlympic, now known as The iO. The theater has locations in Chicago, Los Angeles, and (the now defunct iO South) in North Carolina. In 1981 iO Chicago opened and then in 1984 with partner Del Close she began teaching The Harold to many students in the Chicago theatre community. She and Close co-authored the book Truth in Comedy:The Manual of Improvisation with editor Kim “Howard” Johnson in 1994. In 1996 the iO Celebrated it’s 15th Anniversary at the Vic Theater. iO West Opened in 1997 and is now under the direction of James Grace. Close passed away in 1999 and had Halpern bequeath his skull to the Goodman Theater. 2005 saw the iO 25th anniversary at The Chicago Theater. She also penned Art by Committee in that year and later in 2006 it was revealed that the skull purchased on line due to a Mortician’s refusal to remove Close’s head. Halpern studied acting and worked in radio before propelling long form and improvisational theater forward, making it in to the art form it is recognized as today. Variety Magazine called her one of the top ten women to watch in entertainment. Mike Myers named her the Uta Hagen of Comedy.

Enjoy the show, and look for an interview with the amazing ‘Thiagi‘ within the week! (I’ve already interviewed Thiagi, which was one of the best conversations I’ve had in a while, I just need to find time for some editing.)

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Leif’s Work/Life Updates + An Experimental ‘Motivational Techno Mix’

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Hi folks. I hope to get a more detailed post and/or ‘life-cast’ out sometime soon, but here are some quick updates of things happening in my life right now:

  • I’m excited to say that I’ve started working for Biznik part time. You’ve heard me talk a lot about them out of genuine fandom, now I get to work for Biznik as their “Community Catalyst”. You can read an interview about it on the Biznik Blog, or checkout my biznik thread for more details.
  • We’re scheduled to facilitate another ‘Soul Tech’ workshop in Vancouver BC on October 4th. If you missed the Seattle Soul Tech workshop, covered by the Today Show, and you have a goal of having a more balanced life with technology, then come join us!
  • My daughter Zinnia is starting Kindergarten and I’m just so dang proud of her. She says she “love love love love loves it.” I wish I could constantly walk in rememberance and thankfulness for what an amazing daughter and wife I have. Anna & Zinnia, I love you!
  • I’ll be traveling out east much of this October for a couple of trainings -the Applied Improv conference in Chicago(10/23-10/26), and the NASAGA conference in Indianapolis (10/15-10/18). They are both going to be amazing conferences, so if you’re interested in the world of experiential education, interactive/engaging training and facilitation, etc. then come and join me!
  • Attached, and in your wonderosity podcast feed, is a little audio experiment called “Fly” –it’s my first ‘techno mix’ song. The idea came while I was jogging at the Y recently, and wishing I had music that had a few ‘life keys’ that are important to me woven into the song. Hope you like it ;)
  • Speaking of podcasts, I will finally be getting back into podcasting -yay! The first few, which you should seen in 1-3 days, will be a serious of interviews with international recognized facilitators, trainers and artists –each who has some connection to the world of ‘applied improvisation’ and who will be speaking at the aforementioned conference. So stay tuned!
  • I’m this week in Banff, Alberta at the Banff centre. I was flown up last minute to perform in a preconference play called “Death by Powerpoint” by Paul Levy, for the ‘Art of Management’ conference. It’s a conf that is right up my alley but that, unfortunately, I’ll only get to attend the first day of.
  • Speaking of that play, I need to get back to rehearsal –bye! ;)

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Can Social Media Bring True Community That Benefits Business?

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Well, Biznik’s Seattle Bizjam starts tomorrow (July 9th-10th, 2008) and I’m getting excited. I’m also getting prepared as I’ll be presenting on the topic of “Raving Fans: Building Rich Online Community for Your Business“. Here’s a link to my short video introduction of BizJam and to the bizjam conference itself. Here’s the blurb on my workshop:

“Believe it or not, amidst the diverse masses of the internet are multitudes of people who are as passionate about your products or services as you are. They have great ideas and they want to see your business thrive. Why not create an online community that helps them connect to you, build trust in you, find your products and services, and connect to and refer each other? The results will be growth and satisfaction for all parties. Biznik is a perfect example. Come learn from Leif how to get started…”

For those who are coming, or who are simply curious, here’s more detail on what I’l be covering:

My basic outline:

  1. A short intro (2 min)
  2. Jump into some thought-provoking interactivities that demonstrate the upcoming ideas (10 mins)
  3. Presentation: (20-30)
    • What are the dimensions and qualities of community?
    • Can true community happen online? Where is it already happening?
    • How does online community benefit business?
    • Case Studies, Stats & Quotes
    • Upcoming Trends: Rich Media, Live Media, Status & Location
    • Potential Pitfalls in the Social Media Future
    • Best Practices & Strategies for Building Community around your biz.
    • A Few Sample Platforms
  4. Small group brainstorm and strategy sessions (15-20)

Another note. I’m excited to say that I’ll finally be getting to carve out some time for podcasting again. My first will be a life/work update, but then I’ll be doing monthly interviews with some really amazing ‘applied improv’ teachers, trainers and facilitators who will be presenting at this year’s Applied Improv Network conference in Chicago. I think you’ll really enjoy hearing from the game-changing people I’lll be interviewing.

Lastly, in additional to Bizjam this week, I’ll be at the Woodsong Music Festival on Orcas Island most of next week (July 17-20), so I’ll be pretty busy for a while.

Warmly,
Leif

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A geeky week for me: Iphone 2.0, meeting Scoble, Thingamajiggr, & BarcampSeattle

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It’s looking like a geeky week. First I watch the iphone 2.0 drama unfold (not much drama, more let down really…gotta wait 3 weeks for the really good stuff.)

Then last night (Tuesday) for ‘Tertullia’ (a Seattle guy’s group I’ve been a part of for a couple years now) Buzz brought in Scoble for ‘the Scoble show’. Here’s a Qik video that Robert took during that evening, I’m in a blue shirt and ask a question about Qik.

Though most of the content of the evening was a rehash of things I was already aware of, it was good to see how the rest of the group reacted to Scoble’s view on the meaning of the media shift. It was also great to meet him face to face and see that he really does seem to be a nice guy who is having genuine fun following his geeky passion.Though I’d love to hear more details about where he thinks technology should have its limits, I got him to twitter back to me the day before an answer to my tweet “@scobleizer I’m curious. Seems like you are constantly wired. Do you have any personal/family boundaries for unplugging? What are they?” To which he answered:

Then for this weekend, I’m hoping to make it to thingamajiggr (part of Ignite Seattle) for some good innovative geeky fun. Finally, I’ll be attending the first Barcamp Seattle for more geeking out loud. Below is my pathable profile for the event (Pathable is a cool Seattle company that connects people using metadata, then provides physical name tags with valuable info for the live event.)

Then its a father’s day at the in-laws for a ‘tech-sabbath’ rest ;)

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Can I resurrect the fun of blogging and podcasting?

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It’s funny, well, sad actually: I really used to love blogging and podcasting. I enjoyed the creative act, the experiments I conducted, the excitement of being heard by others, and the pleasure of getting feedback on my thoughts and creations. Then something happened. Certain factors crept in and killed the joy. And now I’m wondering out loud what they are for me:

  • By far the main culprit: When I started doing ’social media stuff’ professionally, my fear of ‘looking unprofessional’ increased dramatically -the inner censor (”Grammar!”, “Stupid, unoriginal idea”, etc) got loud.
  • The #2 reason is that somewhere I lost my soul, my passion, my freedom to express myself honestly. Partly this is just practical –life got busy and took on priorities. But the other reasons, having to do with deeper issues of spirituality and idenitity, are things I need to deal wi th.
  • After leaving my last job, and starting two different businesses, life got really busy. But I don’t really believe that’s true as I spend plenty of time ‘consuming’ others’ media.
  • Comparing myself to other bloggers and podcasters, which I now consume more of, contributes to that #1 issue big time
  • For podcasting, production time can be a bitch.
  • Endless experimenting with and indecision between various tools and platforms.

I could list more (what about you?), but I think those are the main reasons and its time to change. So, to all those inner and outer critics: screw you, perfection and people pleasing is not what social media is about.

I just gotta be me, like it or not, buy it or not, ‘digg me’ or not.


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Why Twitter Matters –my response to business week article by Steve Baker

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Twitter in Business Week today. Article and my response here: http://tinyurl.com/69u3l3

Follow LeifHansen on twitter.

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25 Things I love to do (one I’m not publicizing)

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I recently made this list and posted it on my wall to remind me of things that really Spark life for me.
What about you?

  1. Personal daily experimental living/learning
  2. Playing improv games with a group of people
  3. Playing Soccer, Racquet sports and Ultimate Frisbee
  4. Stimulating, respectful, deep conversations, especially with my wife and close friends
  5. Thinking of new ideas, possibilities
  6. Having ‘spiritual experiences’ (sense of transcendence, gratefulness, connectedness, being loved by the Source, stillness, etc)
  7. Improvised singing and jamming
  8. Being totally goofy and/or laughing long and hard with friends
  9. Finding and playing/testing out the newest and latest technologies
  10. Snuggling with my wife and daughter
  11. Leaning from and playing with my wife and daughter
  12. Asking and being asked good, challenging, thought-provoking questions
  13. Seeing/understanding how things fit together, and then sharing/presenting that information
  14. Imagining/talking/reading/projecting/planning about the future
  15. Walking in, exploring and communing with nature
  16. Reading, hearing, watching a good story (thus book, play, movie, storyteller, etc)
  17. Experiencing other’s artistic creativity, particularly when its really innovative
  18. Being creative myself (writing a song, story or paper; creating a beneficial social site or podcast, etc)
  19. Accomplishing things that have a dramatic and wide reaching effect for changing things for the good
  20. Working with, or even just being a part of, almost any group
  21. I love challenging, provoking, encouraging and motivating people
  22. Gathering with a group of friends for a tasty meal and some wine
  23. Organizing, creating order from chaos (once I’m actually DOING it, not before)
  24. Traveling to new places, with either a total focus or a total non-focus

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Real-Life Hack of the Day Intro: Switch Primary Hands

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The Background

I love remembering that I can live differently, do normal routines differently, experiment/play with my ‘everyday life’. I know that part of this is out of a fear of being ‘normal’ or boring, but it is also genuinely from a passion and excitement about exploring, experiencing new things, seeing things differently, etc. Throughout the years I’ve been known to tweak my life (go blind or mute an entire day while at college; try to only think hopeful/optimistic thoughts; etc.).

I’ve fantasized about the idea of doing a daily ‘life hack’ or ‘daily quest’ that I share with others. Well, instead of doing what I usually do, which is to state some grand plan/commitment and then gradually giving up or forgetting about it, I’ve decided to commit to doing this –but to do it intermittently. One thing I’ve found is that, while it is usually fun and I learn a ton, it’s harder than I thought (I’m already experiencing left-handed mouse use fatigue).

The Plan:

  1. Decide on the day’s real-life hack (name subject to change). I’ll probably keep an idealist somewhere, so if you have one, please feel free to share it in the comments or email me.
  2. Write a short blog post here at Wonderosity in the Spark Life / Everyday Living category (possibly with an Eyejot Intro)
  3. Live it out, play the game.


Today’s Real-Life Hack:

I’m going to switch use of my primary hand (right) to my left hand. Why? Primarily, like usual, I’m just curious (hey, this is the wonderosity blog). I’ve also heard research that this can be good for the ol’ noggin, get the other side of my brain activated more. We’ll see…please join me if you feel so inclined and able to do so.

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Shutdown Day, Unplugged, & Soul Tech

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Tomorrow is International ShutDown Day and, as many of you know, this is not an insignificant topic to me. I’m excited to see that the concept of dethroning technology’s dominant role in our life, even for one day, is getting so much attention. The stated purpose of the Canadian organization who is sponsoring this event is:

“The idea of Shutdown Day project is simple — just shutdown your
computer for one whole day of the year and involve yourself in some
other activities: outdoors, nature, sports, fun stuff with friends and
family — whatever, just to remind yourself that there still exists a
world outside your monitor screen.”

Because this is falling on a Saturday, and my normal ’shut down day’ (my tech sabbath) is on Sunday, I’m going to go the whole weekend as low tech as possible. This is still really hard for me and I know that the One Ring, I mean my iPhone, is going to be itchy in my pocket.

I have so many conflicted feelings right now as I write, that the only way to get them out is a quick brainstorm (I also really need to get to bed, but wanted to say something before this weekend.) I’m feeling:

  • Excitement that people are thinking more and more about these things, and taking steps like this day, taking our Soul Tech workshops, or joining efforts like Ariel’s 52 Nights Unplugged (though I haven’t seen a blog from her about this for quite some time now -is she still unplugging one night a week?)
  • Feeling stupid for feeling jealous that I’m not getting as much attention/press I’ve gotten in pasts months for our Soul Tech workshop (which, if you didn’t know, was featured in many national and international papers, and then eventually on the Today Show -see the link before for more info including a video from NBC.)
  • Feeling guilty that I still struggle with this issue so much
  • Feeling concerned that people don’t really ‘get’ how serious this issue of increasing technocentricity is and could become
  • Feeling anxious to finish my book on this topic
  • Feeling, well, its time for bed…

Good luck to those of you doing it, and hope it turns into more of a habit.

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Spark Interviewed by Conscious Living

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I hope you enjoy this fun, power-packed interview by the wonderful ladies (Wendy Garrett and Sandy Jorgensen) over at a new Talkshoe.com show called “Conscious Living“. While we (mostly me, caffeinated ) talked about many things, we focused on:

  • How Soul Tech received so much press and what the workshop is about
  • The various projects and businesses I’m involved in
  • My soon-to-launch www.SparkSocialMedia.com site
  • The pros and cons of technology/Social Media and where I think things may be heading

To those of you visiting wonderosity from this show, you can follow this link to receive the free eworkbook we talked about.  And you can follow this link if you are interested in seeing how you can use social media (blogs, podcasts, social networking sites, etc) to enhance your business, organization or other passion project.

Thanks Wendy & Sandy!

-Leif

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3, 2, 1.5 -Almost Launch: Spark Social Media Site Almost Live

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Well, I’m almost ready to let this site go public. There are a number of important additions I need to take care of (as mentioned in the forum), but I think that the Spark Social Media site will be ready to launch within a few days.

Our site will be featuring:
SparkMarkA collection of social media tutorial videos
SparkMarkRelevant and hot news from our collection of aggregated social media blogs
SparkMarkMeet other members and participate in the forums
SparkMarkJoin specific social media groups
SparkMarkLearn from a growing Social Media Wiki/Glossary
SparkMarkSocial Media Snapshots and Spark Event Photos

And just for the record, my goals for this site are:

  1. To generate more business for Spark Social Media and its partners
  2. To become a destination where both Social media virgins and intermediates can learn and grow their business, organization or other project.
  3. To be a place where I can gather information and learn from others as well

Look forward to seeing you there!

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Jill Taylor’s TED talk –pure inspiration

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If you have not yet seen this TED talk video by stroke-surviving neurologist Jill Taylor, please please please treat yourself to 18 minutes of pure inspiration and then, like me, you’ll want to pass it on to everyone you know.  I’m tempted to tempt you more by telling you what its about, but would rather just let you be surprised…

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In memory of my Father, Jorgen Hansen…

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A number of blog readers, podcast listeners and other friends have been wondering why I’ve been so quiet lately. The main reason is simply that a lot has been going on in my life and every time I imagine blogging or doing a podcast, I feel overwhelmed from how ‘behind the updates’ I am. And then another ’something’ (challenging or blessing) comes up in life and the overwhelmed feeling increases. So, in case more ’somethings’ come up and I end up crushed, blissed out or stretched thin, I thought I’d start out with updating you on the main sad news. Next post will be on the main good news happening in my life…which there is plenty of as well.

About three weeks ago (February 24th, 2008) my father, Jorgen Hansen, passed away (Santa Barbara Independent obituary). Though it was a sad surprise, it wasn’t too much of a shock due to the fact that he was close to 86 and did have some arrhythmic heart issues. I had last talked to him the week before when the Today Show aired the piece about our Soul Tech workshop. I think (in his funny way) he was proud about this (perhaps a little jealous or skeptic in that I don’t think he ever received the kind of accolade that he would have wanted, or that he deserved), but I’m not sure. He often shared that ‘true art/artist’ rarely, if ever, received a fair reward in the world.

Another reason I wasn’t devastated was that I received a wonderful gift the night before I found out the news. I woke in the morning with the memory of two dreams that felt so vivid and important I immediately went upstairs and wrote them down. I hadn’t written down dreams with this feeling of…hmmm…’importance’ in years. I don’t want to share the details publicly, but I’ll just say that upon reflection after the news, they were clearly gifts from my dad and/or God and/or ‘the universe’. A needed boost to my wavering faith (of late) that life truly ‘goes on’ after death…

My dad and I had an odd relationship –distant (geographically and due to being separated from him at 3) and yet very close (in that we could still connect intimately, and more so in later years as I learned to accept him for who he was.) There is so much more so to say, but its a little odd to share in this space. I will say though that I’ve recently learned much more about him, about his brilliant side as a teacher and mentor, through his students and through other friends and family that I’d never met.

Ironically (for those who know about my ’skep-tech’ side) this getting to know him has mostly happened through the social site I created on Ning. At ‘Room 23′ people have shared their personal stories, pictures, paintings and videos from my dad’s life and classes. Check out the site to learn more about this amazing, though at times mind-bogglingly frustrating, man. I love you dad and will miss hearing your voice and seeing your face, until we meet on the other side.

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iPhone Hype Holds Up…

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Check out the new iphone usage stats at m:metrics (from 10,000 adults.)
And with the new iPhone SDK just released, the iphone will be eating an even bigger piece of the pie when all the cool new native apps are released.

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66% of Amercians feel anxiety when unplugged

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I just read an engadget article referring to some interesting research about American anxiety over being unplugged.

“The study used research collected on almost 5,000 people over two years, and found that feelings of “disconnect anxiety” affected people of all ages, triggering sentiments like “dazed,” “disoriented,” “tense,” “inadequate” and even “panic.” Interestingly, however, the reasons for disconnect anxiety changed as subjects got older — teens and young adults worried about social communications being cut off, while older adults mostly fretted over work and safety issues.”

The shift in reasons for unplugged-anxiety seems obvious: As we grow up, our insecurities shift from being socially based to being based on work and health/safety. As I’ve talked about taking a break from cell phones with clients wanting to be more productive with technology, and workshop participants who are older (which is most of them), I almost always hear the concern “What if there is some family emergency?” Or the other side of the coin, “What if I‘m in an emergency situation?” This concern I’d say is the #1 reason given by people who really don’t want to use/carry a cell phone, but who sometimes still decide to carry one in their car…”just in case”.

These are good, hard questions raised by the ‘blessing’ of these kinds of technologies. And yet, to confirm the research, I doubt its what a teen is going to site as to their reason for being constantly plugged in. But maybe, to them, its just as -important.
If you wrestle with this issue and are interested in some coaching that can help you use your ‘tech time’ more productively, or in our ’soul tech’ workshops, then visit the Spark Northwest site. You can also join the ‘52 Nights Unplugged‘ site for some fun support in taking some time in your life to unplug, relax, get creative and focus on the more ‘enlivening’ aspects of life.

Warmly,
Leif

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52 Nights Unplugged, an inspiring project by Ariel Meadows

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One of my favorite outcomes from the Soul Tech workshop is that one of the participants, Ariel Meadows (a Tech Savvy Microsoft Employee,  Author, and insightful blogger) decided to commit to one night a week of no ’screen technology’ (except snapping a few digital pictures to record her process.) She’s documenting her experiences on her blog under the tag (and registered domain name) “52NightsUnplugged“.    

I’d mentioned in the workshop, during a point of practical steps one may choose to take, that my family has been trying to keep a ‘low tech sabbath’ on Sundays (off and on for about three years now) and I’d like to think that perhaps that was part of her inspiration.  Regardless of the source of her inspiration, I think its very cool and courageous that she’s going for it!  Even more inspirational is the fact that she’s been getting responses from her readers deciding that they too want to give it a go.  In addition, the Today Show (who chose to profile Ariel during the workshop) is flying her out for the upcoming February 19th show to talk live about how ‘52 Nights’ has been going.  Go Ariel, spread the gospel of ’soul tech’, of sustainable technological practices… or whatever one wants to call it. 

It’s not about abandoning technology.  It’s not about smashing the machines.  It’s about dethroning technocentrism.  It’s about not getting to the end of your life and thinking “Crap. I wish I hadn’t spent 25 of my years staring at screens.” (Take the natl avg of 4.5 hrs of TV a day, add movies, video games, cell phones, PDAs, etc and thats a low guestimate for a 75 year life…and who knows what new technology will be tempting us in the future.  Beware the ring Frodo.) 

Soul Tech, or Sustainable Tech, is about recognizing and acting on the fact that there are more wonder-full, mysterious, creative, real, adventurous, fulfilling ways to experience and express our humanity than just staring at screens and tapping mice.  I want to live life deeply and I’m sure you do too. 

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Today Show to Air Spark Northwest’s Soul Tech Workshop, Wednesday, February 20th

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The Seattle ‘Soul Tech’ workshop (”Living a passionately productive life amidst a tech-stressed world”) was a great success. You can see some of the pictures below, or here at the Humanity 2.0 site (a social site for those who have attended or who are interested in related topics.)

While it was a little strange to have the Today Show crew swinging camera’s around our faces, I am impressed that we (Jay, myself and all the participants) all seemed to eventually get used to it. Was it an appropriate use of technology…well, if it spreads the message, then I think yes.

So, I received an email from the producer yesterday that said our workshop would air on February 20th. How they will take what was probably 5-6 hours of footage and whittle it down to 2-3 minutes while maintaining the heart of things is a little beyond me. My hope though is that, besides a potential increase in business, it will also increase national awareness and dialogue about these increasingly important issues: How is technology effecting our daily lives for the better and for the worse? How can we become more intentional and conscious of our use in a way that maintains the best parts of being human?

 

Find more photos like this on Humanity 2.0

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New York Sub-Way Station Frozen by Improv Everywhere

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I wish I had known about ImprovEverywhere earlier in my life, as I’ve been doing somewhat related ‘public spontaneous events’ by myself and with friends for over a decade now.  Joining a broader community would have been supportive and fun (it can get a little scary or lonely at times)… but hey, no point whining about what can now change!  I ’ve just found out that they’ve recently started a BOOMING Ning social site, which includes local groups getting organized for lively local chaos.  To get a taste of ImprovEverywhere’s ‘art’, the below video is probably my favorite ‘mission’ by the NY group yet….over 200 ’secret agents’ spontaneiously freezing in the NY subway.  Brilliant!  It seems that most of their events are just for fun, though I’m not sure.  Personally, I’d like to add some more ‘meaningful purpose’ to the events I’m a part of, but hey, maybe the deepest message one can say is “Have fun”.  (Like the bumper sticker: “Maybe the Hokey-Pokey IS what its all about!”)Enjoy! 

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Experience your life in 5 minutes, play “Passage”

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If you haven’t played the game (or had the experience) of “Passage” yet, download it now (Mac, PC or Linux) and see what you think.  The game/experience takes 5 minutes and I thought it was a fascinating and artistic way to express much of what life’s ‘about’. I won’t say much more, but will let it be a surprise.  Kudos to Buzz for telling me about this.  After you’ve played it once, I’d suggest reading the creator’s statement and then playing it again.

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Great Article on the need to balance tech-learning with non-tech learning

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Thanks to Nancy White at Full Circle, for this insightful article … 

We need to restore mystery to education, to allow a creative and healthy balance between being ‘plugged’ where we explore the technology of knowledge as symbolized in our computers and machines with being ‘unplugged’ by exploring creativity in community where the tools are simple and embodied in our voices, our dancing, our acting and our play.” 

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Odiogo, Cool new service turns your text blogs into high quality audio podcast!

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I discovered  (and, as you can see…um, I mean hear, have implemented) on a friend’s great blog (Full Circle Associates) a powerful new service that turns the text of anybody’s blog into an audio podcast and then even adds that feed to iTunes.  Why is that so cool?  Well, I don’t know about you, but I have much more free time while on the move (driving, exercising, etc) and listening to my iPhone than time where I can read blogs in front of a screen.  Besides, listening and driving is a lot more enjoyable and safer than trying to read it off my iphone ;)  Anyway, you can check it out by pressing one of the play buttons on each blog entry, and you can subscribe to my blog’s audio feed by clicking on the ‘Odiogo’ button in the upper left column of this page.  Have fun and let me know what you think!  Set yourself up with one by heading over here

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Part III, Modernity’s Myth (The Ring, The Stone, & The Pool: Exploring the Nature of Technology through the Magic within Tolkien’s Myth)

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Part II

Part I

 

Modernity’s Myth

In order to understand the relevance of Tolkien’s story to us today, and in order to better understand how technology has taken such a prominent place in our society, we will now need to examine another myth, a myth which wants us to take it a little more ‘literally’.  I call it a myth because every worldview is part system and part story:  They are systems because they try to show how the various dimensions of reality are related;  they are stories because they try to make sense of human history using language that is inescapably associated with a socio-historical context, and because they make choices that can never be severed from subjective value judgments.  


We have a choice of what myths, what visions we will use to help us understand the physical world.  We do not have a choice of understanding it without using any myths or visions at all.  Again, we have a real choice between becoming aware of these myths and ignoring them.  If we ignore them, we travel blindly inside myths and visions which are largely provided by other people.  This makes it much harder to know where we are going.

The myth we will now be examining is the worldview produced by unrestrained scientific inquiry and assertions –a way of defining the universe that, when taken in its extreme form, reduces the universe to merely quantifiable material substances.  This worldview has taken on various nuances and labels, yet I will be using the term ‘scientific reductionism’ to describe it.  Scientific reductionism is the belief that all that exists is ultimately reducible to rationally explicable, mathematically quantifiable materials and laws that can best be discovered and exploited through the scientific method of apprehending reality.  While I will not recount here the history of how this worldview came to be so prevalent and so radically misappropriated, its primary point of origin was the Enlightenment’s placing of reason above all other sources of truth. 

Wendell Berry, critiquing one of the most recent and comprehensive attempts to promote this radically materialist worldview, O.N. Wilson’s Consilience, notes in his poignantly titled book Life is a Miracle: An essay against modern superstition that


Our daily lives are a daily mockery of our scientific pretensions.  We are learning to know precisely the location of our genes, but significant numbers of us don’t know the whereabouts of our children.  Science does not seem to be lighting the way; we seem rather to be leapfrogging into the dark along a series of scientific solutions, which become problems, which call for further solutions, which science is always eager to supply, and which it sometimes cannot supply.

A glance at any newspaper (or out most windows) confirms this image of leapfrogging in the dark –drugs that turn out to have devastating side effects; factories that destroy the environment;  machines that end up diminishing or creating barriers between relationships; social ‘programs’ that end up dehumanizing people; technologies that promise to bring happiness but only bring temporary entertainment –these and many other examples confirm Berry’s image.  We are dramatically confronted by the many problems caused by our previous ‘solutions’, and yet oddly enough more and more scientific ‘miracles’ are advertised, believed in, sold, and all too thoughtlessly consumed.  It’s as though we are addicted to technological ‘fixes’ and yet in denial of this addiction and its destructive consequences.

Yet without recognizing these consequences and without admitting the limits of this scientific myth, we have brought about serious problems; problems which may mean a temporary freedom for science, but which actually result in great loss of freedom for the world.  Berry puts it so:


Our present idea of freedom in science is too often reducible to thoughtlessness of consequence…In both science and art there is a principled resistance to any suggestion that the specialist, within his or her work, might be subject or subordinate to anything.  And so the freedom of the originators and exploiters has become, in effect, the abduction and imprisonment of all the rest of us.  Adam was the first, but not the last, to choose for the whole human race. 

Freedom was never meant be mean the ‘freedom’ to do whatever one desires; it comes when the boundaries and limits drawn by love are respected.  Our choices have consequences, and as we have seen, many of the choices of the scientific-political-technological powers-that-be have resulted in a great loss of freedom for many.

A further problem with this myth is that by reducing the known universe to mere lawfully determined, quantifiable material, we abandon any meaningful belief in the wonderful realities that make life worth living –wonders like free-will, the human spirit, and love.  Berry reminds us that, left to itself, this limited way of knowing “would impose the scientific methodology of reductionism upon cultural properties, such as religion and the arts, that are inherently alien to it, and that are often expressly resistant to reduction of any kind.”

  Since reductionism believes that everything can ultimately be explained, these mysterious realities can only be perceived as puzzles yet to be solved, illusions and superstitions yet to be discredited, or territory waiting to be conquered, quantified, and used.  Yet in believing this we deny the mysterious nature of the very realities that enable us to discover and proclaim that any ‘truth’ might exist in the first place.   In his book “The Abolition of Man”, CS Lewis illustrates this point well, 


But you cannot go on ‘explaining away’ forever: you will find that you have explained explanation itself away.  You cannot go on ‘seeing through’ things for ever.  The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it.  It is good that the window should be transparent, because the street or garden beyond it is opaque.  How if you saw through the garden too?  It is no use trying to ‘see through’ first principles.  If you see through everything, then everything is transparent.  But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world.  To ‘see through’ all things is the same as not to see.

It is worth noting that one interesting magical property of The Ring is that it makes its wearer invisible.  At first, it seems as though these pictures clash –a  ring that makes its wearer invisible and a worldview that makes everything else invisible –but in the end, they are the same.  For when we attempt to have power over others, denying their ultimately mysterious nature, we begin the process of dehumanizing them, and we too begin to fade from all that makes us truly human.

Obviously we do not literally disappear (though with foolish creations like the nuclear bomb, the metaphor becomes frighteningly befitting) but that which makes us truly human does. Wendell Berry tells us that by accepting the reductionist worldview, we adopt the idea “that there is no difference between creature and artifice, birth and manufacture, thought and computation”  In essence, this way of perceiving the world leads us to see the human as just one more machine –and not a very ‘efficient’ one at that (depending on one’s values).  Berry notices that


This machine business may once have had meaning.  It may have been a way of asserting a belief in the integrity of Creation and the physical coherence of creatures; it may have been a way of insisting on the indispensability of part to whole.  The machine, in other words, had a certain usefulness as a metaphor.  But the legitimacy of a metaphor depends upon our understanding of its limits.

Surely one of the ways of describing life is as an integrated system –there is nothing wrong with that –yet this metaphor has limits that urgently need to be recognized.  Taken by itself, the scientific way of knowing is ironically more of a limited and limiting myth (for it reduces reality) than the more traditionally ‘mythic’ ways of knowing –like the artistic work of Tolkien or a more traditional religious worldview –the very spheres that many scientists so often try to discredit in our present age.  We now turn to look at the link between scientific reductionism and the technologies that it produces.


  

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Breaking: Cat Figures Out iphone, “My Mother’s Cat Molly Figured out the iPhone UI in Minutes!”

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Wow.  The heart of wonderosity, caught in living color.

At first Molly’s fur hindered the the touch-screen interface, but soon she was pawing her way around the coolest cat and iphone-friendly sites Safari could summon.

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Part II, The Ring, The Stone, & The Pool: Exploring the Nature of Technology through the Magic within Tolkien’s Myth

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We continue from the last entry exploring the nature of technology through Tolkien’s myth…

My Story
As early as about 1978, when personal computers were just beginning to make their way into many North American middle class homes, I was already spending a lot of time with them. Using a computer was one of the few things my step-father and I did together. In fact, I learned to type by playing computer adventure games: hunting and pecking for the right letters, I would give my computerized character commands like “g-o n-o-r-t-h” and “p-i-c-k u-p s-w-o-r-d” and “a-t-t-a-c-k t-r-o-l-l”. I was entertained and fascinated, enchanted, and soon became quite proficient with these magical boxes. But with time, as they and I each developed in complexity and power, previously unseen problems and concerns about their nature and my use of them began to arise. I was unsure how to begin trying to understand how technology was affecting me and the rest of the world. Thus the research for this paper has primarily been to help me wrestle through my very ambiguous feelings about technology. And, in my own unusual way, the writing of it is an attempt to increase awareness of what seems to be the crucial questions involved with technology and to offer any answers I have found along the way.

A week before writing this paper I decided to go for a long walk in the woods to think over what I’ve learned thus far and to put together some kind of outline in my head. However, before I left my house, I started gathering things for my backpack –a few snacks, a book or two, a journal and pen, and my new ‘Revo’ –a 1999 gadget that was basically like a laptop computer, except that it was only the size of a wallet. Pretty geeky stuff for the times. “I had better take this to capture my ideas” I thought to myself. However, in light of the topic at hand, I eventually reconsidered and left it in my office. Actually, I decided to leave the pen and paper there too –for, I wondered to myself, aren’t these types of technologies as well? In the end I left everything at home except a tuna-fish sandwich that I had made for lunch, which I put in my coat pocket before heading out the door. If you’re one of those who would consider my tuna sandwich a type of technology, well, I’ll have a word or two for you later. Anyway, I left the house feeling a little less burdened than my initial attempt.

The woods were quiet and refreshing. Eventually the trails of the UBC endowment lands take one away from the sounds of rushing cars and other city noises. Slowly, as my mind settled and I became immersed in the beauty of the woods, I began to mull over much of what I’d read related to the nature of technology. Soon afterwards, ‘brilliant earth-shattering revelations!’ (or so I felt) began to rain down upon me. “Oh, I hope <read: fear> I don’t forget these ideas” I thought to myself, “I wish I would have brought my Revo –or at least the pen and paper. Maybe I was being too legalistic. Should I go back and get it? I’d hate to forget all this.” This type of chatter and more of its kind looped through my mind for a few minutes before finally submitting to the silent whispers of the trees.

I wondered to myself later that day: was my Revo, like Tolkien’s One ring, calling out for me, it’s servant?

Tolkien’s Story
J.R.R. Tolkien created a massive work of the imagination, a fantastic meta-narrative some might say, that is working its literary ‘magic’ on millions of readers to this day. I was one of these enchanted readers early in my childhood, and made my way through his trilogy probably only a few years after my exposure to the magic of computers –which, for a 10 year old infrequent reader, was quite a feat (around a couple thousand pages if you include the Hobbit!) Tolkien’s primary works (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and The Sirmarillion) have sold well over 100,000,000 copies (as of 1999), have been translated into at least thirty languages, and are frequently at the top of various national ‘top ten book’ surveys. They have clearly been influential in the lives of many many people –and there is no sign that this trend will be ceasing any time soon. In his myth, the basic plot runs so:

An ancient and magic ring has been unexpectedly found by a member of a simple and somewhat humble race, a hobbit by the name of Bilbo Baggins. He knows not the ring’s true nature or powers, but there is a powerful enemy that does. In time, a wise old wizard named Gandalf and other wise men from various races –elves, dwarves and such –come to conclude that this ring is none other than the One Ring, from the sayings of Lore;

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord in his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to Bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

A High Council is called in which, after many disagreements and struggles, it is painfully admitted that there is only one thing that must be done with this powerful ring –it must be destroyed. The council realizes that even if one were to try and use the ring to war against the Dark Lord Sauron (for a great war is stirring at the time of this story, and many tragic victories have already been won by Sauron), it would eventually turn to ill, for its use would ultimately corrupt and enslave the wearer (The reason for this will be explored in more detail later, but for now recall Acton’s famous phrase “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”). Yet the matter of destroying this ring is not so simple: it must be taken by one willing to travel far into the lifeless land of Mordor, and cast into the same mount of fire in which it was forged.

By the time that this council takes place the ring has passed on to another hobbit, Frodo Baggins (Bilbo’s adopted cousin), who reluctantly accepts the heavy burden of bearing the ring to Mordor. The rest of the story, which is the majority of Tolkien’s trilogy, describes the journey Frodo takes with a fellowship of companions, and the adventures that they embark upon to try and destroy the One Ring.

 

Stay tuned for Part III:  Modernity’s Myth 

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The Ring, The Stone, & The Pool: Exploring the Nature of Technology through the Magic within Tolkien’s Myth , Part I

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“As the servants of the machines are becoming a privileged
class, the Machines are going to be enormously more powerful.
What’s their next move?”

–J.R.R. Tolkien (in a letter to his son, at the close of WWII)

Have you ever had the odd experience of re-reading a paper you’ve written, even just a few years back, and feeling like it must have been written by someone else far more knowledgeable or far more idiotic than yourself? I tend to feel one of those two extremes when I re-read my papers (which is probably why I do it so rarely). While a good portion of those papers now feel like they were a waste of time, a few of the ones I wrote in grad school still have tremendous importance and relevance to me and, I’ve been told, for society in general.

One of the two papers most requested from me I’ve decided to take material from and re-post in blog format, for a) I’ve recently received some national press about a workshop we’re doing related to this topic, b)I’ve always wanted to edit and update this paper, c) Excerpts from the paper are much easier to digest than a 50 page paper and, d) My paper was written from a particular ‘theological’ context that could distract some folks from the heart of the issue. If you want to read the full paper with all its foot notes (there are some good juicy ones), feel free to go ahead but, without further adieu: “The Ring, The Stone, & The Pool: Exploring the Nature of Technology through the Magic within Tolkien’s Myth, Part I, An Introduction”

“…Technology is playing more and more of a role in our daily lives and we are doing more and more of our playing through technology. However, the question that gets closer to the point of this paper is this: is technology actually playing more and more with us? Some of us are concerned that this might be the case; that as we increasingly use technologies, we are actually increasingly being used by them as well.

If the connections between an increase in technological dependency and many of the problems facing our modern society are not already obvious to the reader, I hope that by the end of this paper they will be. Yet not only do I hope to heighten your awareness of the seriousness of the situation at hand, I also aim to help you better understand the very nature of technology, and in time, to be more thoughtful about intentional about which technologies to embrace and in what manner their powers can best be used. Lastly, I will point towards another type of power, an alternative ‘magic’, that I believe can better meet many of the needs and desires which we have tried mostly in vain to meet through technological means.

In order to accomplish these goals we will need to traverse what may seem strange or unrelated territory; for what do technology, magic, myth, and art have to do with each other? By drawing upon the mythic literature of J.R.R. Tolkien, the relationship of these subjects will become clearer as we examine the nature of three magical artifacts found in Tolkien’s trilogy: the One Ring, the Palantiri stones, and Galadriel’s Pool.

After briefly telling a story about my relationship with technology, and after briefly summarizing the core plot of Tolkien’s trilogy, I will use each of these magical artifacts to provide the basic structure of this paper. In looking at ‘the One ring’, I will be critiquing various myths of modernity and exploring the nature of technology in general. Next, the Palantiri stones will provide for us a helpful analogy to our modern technologies, and so here I will also propose a more holistic approach to technological assessment. Finally, by looking into the pool of Galadriel, I will conclude by examining the nature of another kind of more creative magic that exists in both our own world and Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. But first I would like to share with the reader why this topic is so important to me…”

More coming soon…

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Eighth wonder of the world?…”we are all capable of much more than we realize…”

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This story is amazing, hard for me to even imagine and believe. Have you ever fantasized about building a hobbit home in the earth or perhaps of discovering underground palaces like those described by Tolkien’s dwarves in the Lord of the Rings? A friend recently sent me this article about an Italian man who, inspired by spiritual visions, allowed his curiosity to explore the possibilities of building underground (Makes me wonder: Does my current real estate have a vertical dimension as well?) After 30 years, this underground temple is 300,000 square feet! (Big Ben, as the article mentions, is 15,000 square feet.) Wow! I would sincerely love to visit this wonder someday. I don’t know about the Damanhur community’s particular spiritual worldview (yet), but to be honest (at this point), I don’t really care. I am simply inspired by seeing what a community of people with vision can do.  The creativity is astounding.  As the founder says, who now calls himself Falco,

“They are to remind people that we are all capable of much more than we realize and that hidden treasures can be found within every one of us once you know how to access them.”

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LA Times catches Spark’s fire about Soul-Tech

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Check out the recent article from the LA Times on Spark Northwest & 8020Vision’s Soul-Tech workshops!

Too wired, techies regroup, reach out - Los Angeles Times

Too wired, techies regroup, reach out

Leif Hansen, shown at Gas Works Park in Seattle, coordinates workshops in which
self-described technophiles look for ways to relinquish high-tech and find a balance
between the virtual and real worlds. “I see people very overwhelmed,” he said.
“Calling their dependence on technology an addiction, some attend retreats near Seattle to take the first step and admit it.

Like many professionals, Mark Stiffler spent countless hours surfing the Internet, typing e-mails and talking on a cellphone. The “wired” life took a toll.

It made him edgy and disconnected. His dependence on high-technology began feeling much like addiction and, like many addictions, this one affected his personal relationships…” {More}

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Spark Northwest has some new bling…

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Well, thanks to the design eye of Kelli Lewis, Spark Northwest now has a new website. I’m still tweaking some of the content, but feel free to give any feedback about how it works for you. Thanks!

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Dilbert Gets it: Soul Tech Needed

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Again, Soul Tech: Restoring balance to our Tech-intense lives

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Killing Cool: Top Ten Signs You’ve Become Too Cool

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I’m not a fan of ‘cool’ -though I’m just as guilty as most people of using the word. Cool has become an increasingly ‘default’ adjective over the past few decades, and yet its net effect has been primarily to further segment and dumb down our culture. The statement “That concert was cool” not only has less value than “I really liked the lead singer’s harmonies”, it also seeks out an affirmation from the hearer that they too think it was ‘cool’. And what in the world does that use of the word cool mean anyway?

I like ‘cool’ attitudes even less.   Coolness makes it really hard to get to know a person, to connect with them on an authentic, free level.  When I’m in a compassionate space, I remember that behind the neutrality/indifference of ‘coolness’ is most likely various protective layers and fears stemming from a variety of relational hurts. You may think I’m over-analyzing this, but every time I’ve had the courage, patience and care to probe beyond somebody’s icy cool walls, they begin to melt down and I’m able to cross over and connect with them on a deeper level. Now that I’m writing about it, I’m realizing that wonderosity, -a vulnerable free-flowing following your curiosity to a child-like wonder and awe at Life, is on the opposite pole from icy coolness.

Anyway, in the hope that you might seek out a little wonderosity warmth if you need it, I offer these top ten signs (not in order) that you might just be getting a little too cool:

  1. You rarely look at people’s eyes because, well, its just not cool
  2. You either strive to wear what’s right, or to look like you don’t care what’s right to wear
  3. Sarcasm or other humor/language that only a few people will get frequently pass through your lips
  4. Your primary mood is ‘indifferent’
  5. You find conversations whether there is personal disclosure uncomfortable or unpleasant
  6. You frequently find yourself afraid, worried or insecure about what other people will think about you
  7. You would prefer conversation with your gadget, than with the real person just a few feet away from you
  8. You frequently use the word cool to describe things, people, music, experiences, events, whatever.
  9. You avoid certain people (or categories of people) because, well, their just not cool
  10. You are more afraid or distrustful of people than trusting

I’m sure the above list could be consolidated, re-ordered and added to, and maybe that’s just what I’ll do. Or is that not a cool way to blog?

I’ll end with some very uncool cliches: Be free! Be yourself! Have fun! Screw your fears! True friends will like you for who you are. Let your true colors shine, go for it!

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Soul Tech -Restoring balance to our tech-intense lives

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Exciting News! Spark Northwest is teaming up with 8020Vision to offer another Humanity 2.0-ish workshop in Seattle, entitled:
Soul Tech -Restoring balance to our tech-intense lives

Humaity 2.0 on Orcas

You know how when going on a vacation it takes a few days to relax and get in the vacation mind? It is like that with our tech-intensive world. Technology can be fun and effective, and yet it can be addictive, stressful and soul-deadening as well.

During a recent Spark Northwest Humanity 2.0 workshop on balancing technology and need for human fulfillment, participants identified several major challenges, including:

  • How do we deepen awareness of when we are too consumed by technology?
  • When we become aware, how do we consciously choose new behavior that deepens our happiness and connection with others?
  • As we work to establish a balance between technical and soulful aspects of living, how do we stick with it?

The Soul Tech workshop will address these challenges.…{More Details}

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The National Institute for Play

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Just found a great presentation and video over the National Institute for Play’s site.  Check it out.

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My iphone video mentioned in London Times…

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Some lady emailed me this morning to tell me that my experimental video of begging for an iphone on the street was mentioned in the London Times. It was listed (as #3) in an article entitled “50 reasons not to buy an iPhone“:

“3. If you’re still determined to get an iPhone, you could of course try innovative ways to raise the money like begging on the street like this guy.

It was also mentioned a while back in Computer World magazine in an article entitled “Top 10 — plus one — funniest iPhone Youtube videos“.


Phone owners can always take to the streets to beg for the funds to pay a bill, as this man did in an attempt to procure the pricey device.

I haven’t seen a view hit jump yet (its been over 20,000 for a couple of weeks I think), but who knows, maybe it will make another comeback…it’s still timely and relevant and pretty funny, I think at least.

I REALLY do need to update the iphoneplease.com site though to say that I am now a proud iphone owner, thanks to the money the site raised and to the generous surprise birthday gift from a group of friends and family members.

Leif w/ hacked iphone

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The science of play –a wonderful APM audio piece

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Thanks to two friends, I found this excellent piece of audio journalism from American Public Media, “Speaking of Faith” about the science/nature/wonder of PLAY…I highly recommend it!

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A quick trip through the 10 dimensions of string theory…

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Wow! Have you ever wondered if you’d be able to grasp the basic of String Theory’s ten dimensions? Well, here is a really fun, trippy video that might just help you out. It helped me out…now I just want to find that portal, the tesseract, the portal, the ‘fold’, onto other dimensions. And I’m not kidding, I really think its possible…
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Are we outsourcing our memory to technology, and thus losing ‘employment’?

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Read an article in wired today about our memories being ‘outsourced’ to technology, something I have surely found true in my life. I’m concerned at the *lack* of concern in the article. What do you think?

———–the first snip, rest at link above——–

We’re running out of memory.

I don’t mean computer memory. That stuff’s half-price at Costco these days. No, I’m talking about human memory,
stored by the gray matter inside our heads. According to recent
research, we’re remembering fewer and fewer basic facts these days.

This summer, neuroscientist Ian Robertson polled 3,000 people
and found that the younger ones were less able than their elders to
recall standard personal info. When Robertson asked his subjects to
tell them a relative’s birth date, 87 percent of respondents over age
50 could recite it, while less than 40 percent of those under 30 could
do so. And when he asked them their own phone number, fully one-third
of the youngsters drew a blank. They had to whip out their handsets to
look it up.

That reflexive gesture — reaching into your pocket for the
answer — tells the story in a nutshell. Mobile phones can store 500
numbers in their memory, so why would you bother trying to cram the
same info into your own memory? Younger Americans today are the first
generation to grow up with go-everywhere gadgets and services that
exist specifically to remember things so that we don’t have to:
BlackBerrys, phones, thumb drives, Gmail.

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The "I like" game, a recent favorite

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Since the “I like” game was one of the most popular at our last playformation workshop, and it is obviously a very simple exercise to incorporate into daily life, I thought I’d say a few words about it here:So, the skinny, with some tips:
1. Give yourself* a time limit (we gave ourselves 2 minutes, but you could do anything. I’d suggest 1-5 minutes to not burn out)
2. Try and find/feel that place in you that is ‘real’, where you really ‘are’ right now.
3. Start saying “I like” …whatever you honestly are liking, enjoying, diggin’, at this moment. It might be a certain color, a feeling, a memory, an excitement about something upcoming, a food, a friend, whatever is true.
4. Repeat “I like” for each one and don’t stop talking -even if you need to repeat the same thing over and over. Why not groove on the goodness of that particular thing?
5. Check in with yourself, how do you feel compared to before?

*Note: while you can surely do this by yourself, as a recent participant mentioned, there is something powerful about hearing the “I likes” of someone else as well as knowing that your “I likes” are being heard. Do you have a friend, family member, coach or counselor you can do this with when needed?

This game started years ago with a much more ‘exterior’ motivation (what ’should’ I like and ‘praise the lord’ for?), and sometimes led to the more authentic kind of ‘praise’ of God and life that my current practice does. Patricia Madsen’s ‘improv wisdom‘ has a chapter related to this entitled “Wake up to the gifts” and I’d highly recommend reading her book.

People often make the mistake in thinking that one FIRST finds happiness, then one is ‘feels’ thankful. Surprise surprise. It is often the other way around…find what you like, what is already there, ‘the good’ (from the simplest to the most sublime) and then you’ll likely feel happier.
Enjoy, maybe it will lead you closer to Pronoia (more on that later!)

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First Spark Northwest Playformation Meeting For Indie ‘Bizniks’

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Whew! I’m tired…though from some good fun work. Spark NW had a great playformation ‘teaser’ workshop last night that brought together about 22 different indie biznik folks from around the greater Seattle area. We had a great time and overall it was clearly a successful evening with lots of new connections between people, new creative breakthroughs sparked, and goofy playful fun. However, I stayed up way too late afterwards summarizing the 20 post-workshop surveys I received. Overall, the response was great. Here are some of the highlights:

  • 95% of participants said that they enjoyed my facilitation process.
  • 85% said it was a worthwhile event (the other three were ‘neutral’)
  • 60% said they would like to come to a full day playformation workshop (7 neutral about it, 1 wouldn’t come due to his not being able to connect that evening.)
  • In addition, 12 out of 20 of the people were interested in talking more about either breakthrough coaching, team-building, or other Spark NW workshops. Excellent! I look forward following up with each of them (or you!)

The verbal feedback was also overall positive: many comments like “Very interactive, lots of movement and laughter. Total participation. Loved getting a chance to talk to so many of the people. Great Activities!”

Here are some pictures from the evening:


Find more photos like this on The Spark LifeThe primary two threads of critique confirmed what I too felt were problematic (and had warned the group in advance about:

  1. We did too much, too fast…not enough depth to really get into activities
  2. Related to that, not enough explanation about the purpose and ‘life-application’ of each activities.

These issues are issues I’ve struggled with a lot –I want to do and share as much as possible (everything!) and that can be a little overwhelming for folks, understably. It didn’t help that I had advertised this event with fairly general, ‘catch-all’ terms so that people came with expectations and interests from ‘just having fun with other people’ to ‘learn creative exercises to enhance my business’. While I believe that one can do both, indeed that is the heart and soul of Spark NW (’breakthrough transformation that is also fun and enjoyable), the people with interests focused on either ends of the spectrum will probably go away feeling like there was ‘too much’ of the other.

How can I resolve this tension? Well, I think I can solve much of it by forcing myself to narrow down my focus both on WHO I’m doing workshops for and WHAT outcomes one can specifically expect from this. That’s why I’ve decided to make the full day workshop on the 13th of October very focused on indie business / entrepeneur types who want to find creative ways to Spark their business, while I’m making the Oct. 26th a more fun personal development day open to all. Hmmm, but even that second one is still too vague. Should it be about increasing personal confidence, having a more positive mooditude, increasing creative flow and innovation, better listening and people skills, centering/awareness/groundedness, opening up and receiving offers from the universe, or what? Maybe the trick is to narrow down the WHO first (but but but, I like the idea of it being totally open), and then find out what their needs are. Anyway, if you are one of the ‘them’, let me know what you YOU are looking for. More details coming on those two events by the end of this week. Check back here, or at the SparkNW.com site.

Hope to chat with you soon!
Warmly,
Leif

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Improv your life

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I’m always a little surprised at how seldomly people taking improv classes think about how their new skills can add to their life. I was therefore happy to find this brief blog entry by an improv student applying to her life what any improv actor quickly learns on the stage:
JANE CHIN » Blog Archive » What Comedy Improv Taught Me About Life

What I learned in comedy improv has helped me live life the way I want to live life. Each opportunity to get up and perform is like applying life skills in a sliver of time. In addition to having an environment where I can exercise my extreme quirkiness, I’ve learned that…

  1. I can spend a lot of time going over what I could have done or should have said to be “funnier”, but what truly counts is what I actually do and say in my turn.
  2. A true skill of improv and in life is to be with the fear when fear comes, listen intensely to what I am given, and trust that something comes to me in the nanoseconds I have to respond in the scene.
  3. Being a good audience member, clapping and cheering for my fellow improv’ers when they’re on stage is as important as being a good improv’er when I’m on stage. I enjoy being a good audience member as much as performing on stage.
  4. When I bomb and fail miserably, I know that it will be all over in minutes. A classmate suggested that we can aim to fail on stage early on, and get over that part of our mindtrash so we can go on to enjoy ourselves.
  5. Yes, and. Yes, and. Yes, and. The mantra for comedy improv is “yes, and.” Whatever I get, I say, “yes, and.” Whatever happens to me in life, I say, “yes, and.” I accept everything that comes by saying “yes”. I create my own experience from what I’m given by saying “…and…”

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Humanity 2.0 -Orcas Island, a great success!

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Well, I was planning on writing up a more detailed summary of our Orcas workshop, but to be honest I am POOPED with the process of creating the new H2.0 social site, so hopefully you’ll get a general sense of things by checking out the pictures, etc. Pictures are only from me so far (thus I’m not in them, nor the games and interactivies I facilitated), but they show the group’s process as well as pictures of all our poster-board notes filled with great ideas, burning questions, and helpful insights.

In short, it was a great time of meeting and experiencing wonderfully diverse people and perspectives, brainstorming, problem solving, and playing together. All what we hoped it would be.

Thanks to all who came and who helped promote it! We have decided to definitely do a Seattle version, most likely sometime the first half of October. So the bunches of you who wanted to come but found the time and distance (to Orcas) a little too much, you’ll get to come. Woohoo!


Find more photos like this on Humanity 2.0

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Some crazy stats supporting our increasing technological dependence…

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I was surprised how hard it was to find research and stats related to our culture’s technological use and consumption, but eventually I did find some good stuff. This site has some great up-to-date nuggets of info, for example:

“2007 MEDIA HABIT PREDICTION
It turns out that in 2007, American
adults and teens will spend an estimated 3,518 hours - or nearly five months
each - plus $936.75 per person consuming media.

Predictions:

  • 65 days in front of the TV;
  • 41 days listening to the radio;
  • A little over a week on the
    Internet;
  • A week reading a daily newspaper;
    and
  • Another week listening to recorded
    music.

Those numbers are provided in a communications
industry forecast that is included in the U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistical
Abstract of the United States: 2007: “Media Usage and Consumer Spending: 2000 to
2009.” (Source) ”

(My hunch is that for many of us its WAY over a week on the internet.)


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Internet Addiction Test

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Just stumbled across this interesting “Internet Addiction Test” while I was trying to find some good info/stats for the Humanity 2.0 workshop.

For the record, I came out “above average.”

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Workshop: Humanity 2.0 -where the tech are we going, and do we want to go there?

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Humanity 2.0

Where the tech are we going, and do we want to go there?

A Spark Northwest Experience

As technology permeates our daily lives, it helps, and it hurts. How does our increasing use and dependence on tools such as email, cell phones, iPods, or social networking sites effect our desire for human fulfillment and spiritual transformation? We don’t know… Seriously, we don’t. Do you? In an age of dizzying technological innovation, one rarely has the time to stop and reflect on these changes. It’s clear that our technologies are getting faster, more powerful and more ubiquitous. However, what’s not so clear is: Does the added value outweigh the often unnoticed costs? Isn’t that an important question?

Gathering Together
Take a day (or more) out of your busy lives, away from the technopoly, to join people like yourself for some deeper exploration into these crucial questions and issues. Humanity 2.0 will take place on beautiful Orcas Island, and includes:

  • Stimulating dialog about balancing technology and humanity
  • Meeting and mixing with other thoughtful people
  • Interactivities with practical life-enhancing outcomes
  • A delicious and mind-enriching lunch in an idyllic island setting

Where is it happening?
This Humanity 2.0 workshop will take place on Orcas Island , just two hours north of Seattle, in the historic Oddfellows Hall , overlooking Eastsound bay. In addition, we are able to offer a 30% discount at Orcas’ famous Outlook Inn to a limited number of guests wishing to extend their visit. Call 1-877-I-AM-GAME for details.

When is it happening?
Humanity 2.0 takes place from 9:30a to 4:00p on Sunday, September 9th, 2007. Feel free to come out a day early, or stay an extra day, enjoying the pleasures of island life, including kayaking , hiking, beach-combing and dining at great restaurants. Click here for ferry information . If you are planning on coming over the morning of the workshop, you’ll need to take the 7:45a ferry. It’s a good idea to arrive 30-45 minutes early.

How do I register?
Registration is limited, so call soon. The workshop costs $85 and includes a healthy organic lunch. To register, or for more information, call 1-877-I-AM-GAME or go to www.SparkNW.com. We look forward to meeting you and giving you one of the most memorable days of your year!Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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Analyzing The Progressive Apocalypse, or, our screwed up and limited sense of time

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Excerpted from an excellent article from LocusMag:

“Lapsarianism — the idea of a paradise lost, a fall from grace that makes each year worse than the last — is the predominant future feeling for many people. It’s easy to see why: an imperfectly remembered golden childhood gives way to the worries of adulthood and physical senescence. Surely the world is getting worse: nothing tastes as good as it did when we were six, everything hurts all the time, and our matured gonads drive us into frenzies of bizarre, self-destructive behavior.

Lapsarianism dominates the Abrahamic faiths. I have an Orthodox Jewish friend whose tradition holds that each generation of rabbis is necessarily less perfect than the rabbis that came before, since each generation is more removed from the perfection of the Garden. Therefore, no rabbi is allowed to overturn any of his forebears’ wisdom, since they are all, by definition, smarter than him.

The natural endpoint of Lapsarianism is apocalypse. If things get worse, and worse, and worse, eventually they’ll just run out of worseness. Eventually, they’ll bottom out, a kind of rotten death of the universe when Lapsarian entropy hits the nadir and takes us all with it.

Running counter to Lapsarianism is progressivism: the Enlightenment ideal of a world of great people standing on the shoulders of giants. Each of us contributes to improving the world’s storehouse of knowledge (and thus its capacity for bringing joy to all of us), and our descendants and proteges take our work and improve on it. The very idea of “progress” runs counter to the idea of Lapsarianism and the fall: it is the idea that we, as a species, are falling in reverse, combing back the wild tangle of entropy into a neat, tidy braid.

Of course, progress must also have a boundary condition — if only because we eventually run out of imaginary ways that the human condition can improve. And science fiction has a name for the upper bound of progress, a name for the progressive apocalypse:

We call it the Singularity.

Vernor Vinge’s Singularity takes place when our technology reaches a stage that allows us to “upload” our minds into software, run them at faster, hotter speeds than our neurological wetware substrate allows for, and create multiple, parallel instances of ourselves. After the Singularity, nothing is predictable because everything is possible. We will cease to be human and become (as the title of Rudy Rucker’s next novel would have it) Postsingular.

The Singularity is what happens when we have so much progress that we run out of progress. It’s the apocalypse that ends the human race in rapture and joy. Indeed, Ken MacLeod calls the Singularity “the rapture of the nerds,” an apt description for the mirror-world progressive version of the Lapsarian apocalypse.

At the end of the day, both progress and the fall from grace are illusions. The central thesis of Stumbling on Happiness is that human beings are remarkably bad at predicting what will make us happy. Our predictions are skewed by our imperfect memories and our capacity for filling the future with the present day.

The future is gnarlier than futurism. NCC-1701 probably wouldn’t send out transporter-equipped drones — instead, it would likely find itself on missions whose ethos, mores, and rationale are largely incomprehensible to us, and so obvious to its crew that they couldn’t hope to explain them.

Science fiction is the literature of the present, and the present is the only era that we can hope to understand, because it’s the only era that lets us check our observations and predictions against reality.”

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A few suggestions for avoiding the regret of living a ‘virtual life’

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Since one of my originally intended goals for this blog was to ‘geek out loud’ about my tech struggles, I’ve been wanting to share with folks some of the things I’m doing at this time in my life to try and not let technology play too central of a role - to not become unhealthily dependent on it. If you’re new to my blog, you can get philosophical about this question/issue (the dangers of our increasing technocentrism) by reading my Tolkien/Technology/Magic paper and by visiting sites such as NetFuture.org. But today, I’m just sharing a few practical thoughts.

I’ll confess that I’m concerned I’m already way too dependent on technology and that perhaps I’m on a path that could ultimately make much of my life merely ‘virtual’. I can’t see myself saying when I’m about to die “boy, I sure wish I spent more time in front of those screens!” Yet I still see myself sneaking back as much as possible to the safe glow of the small window where I can sustain the illusion of total control. The Ring is around my neck, and often on my finger, threatening to make me irrevocably invisible. This concerns and saddens me, but I’m still holding on to the hope and faith that I will mature and that society will evolve and learn to appropriate technology with true wisdom. Perhaps some of us will help that process happen more quickly.

Here are a few things I’m doing that I hope will keep me from becoming technology’s tool, and, if you have similar concerns, perhaps these suggestions might be helpful to you. Most people don’t even want to admit or look at this aspect in their lives so, if you’ve read this far, you are already taking the first best step of being honest with yourself.

1)Being honest with myself

Yeah, if you’re not willing to be honest with yourself and to become somewhat ’skeptech’al about technology, you might as well go ahead and call 1-800-I-AM-BORG. I try to keep honest with myself by thinking, journaling and blogging about these kinds of issues I also try to…

2)Keeping an honest, open dialogue about my tech use and struggles with my wife.

This isn’t hard too do because my wife is the closest person I know to a true neo-luddite (or perhaps just someone who doesn’t see the value in it all, and so has chosen to opt out. I’m talking 1-2 emails a YEAR vs my 10+ a day.)

3)Keeping a “Low-Tech (or no tech) Day” a week

For a month now (and in times past) I’ve been taking a ‘low-tech sunday’ or a ‘Tech Sabbath’ in which I try to use very few advanced technologies -particularly ’screen’ technologies (as I’ve noted in the aforementioned paper that these are the kinds of technologies I’m most suspicious of -ie computers, TV, movies, cell phones, video games, etc.) I must say that I seem to be more ‘present’, ‘alive’, and active on those days that I forego becoming a screen zombie.

4)Time-use limiting technologies.

Though their effectiveness is questionable, I try and use certain technologies to help me limit my time in front of the computer screen. I’ve mentioned the freeware “Time Out” before - an app that blanks the screen at various preset intervals so my body, mind and soul can get micro breaks (mine is set for 15 seconds) and macro breaks (mine is set for 10 minutes, though 95% of the time I choose to skip these every two hour breaks). I also have recently purchased a shareware app called “Mac Minder” which allows me to set certain limits on a)how much time I use the computer each day and b)how much time I spend using certain applications. Though I’m not currently using the second option, Mac Minder tracks quite accurately the time one uses in each application and I’ve found that very fascinating (if not sobering) at times. Slife tracks computer use as well, in more detail (every web page and specific documents), but only for certain applications.

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New QuestCast to Re-Launch Soon!

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Some exciting news! With the advent of my new business Spark Northwest, I have decided to relaunch The Quest Cast. I’m not entirely sure what shape it will take, nor whether I will keep this same site or start a new one. Whatever does happen I will be sure to announce it here and if the feed changes, I will make an announcement on the previous podcast feed. For those of you have visited from the Spark Northwest website and have NO CLUE what the Quest Cast even was (let alone what it will become), check out my first post at the bottom of this page to see my original goals. You can also listen to one of the shows to get a sense of how things worked.
Thanks for coming by and I look forward to sparking a quest for you soon!
-Leif

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Upcoming Seattle BizJam event -I’m going!

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Meet me at BizJamIn anticipation of our new business (Spark Northwest) publicly ‘coming out’ sometime in June, I’m excited to say that I’ll be attending Biznik’s first big event –BizJam. It looks likes its going to be a jam-packed day, so my only concern is figuring out what to choose and not being overwhelmed. If any of you are in the area and thinking of coming, let me know via email or a comment. If you don’t know about it or BizNik, then click the image and become enlightened.

 

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Get your free number at Grand Central…the ultimate, and perhaps last, phone number you’ll need

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If you guys haven’t checked out Grandcentral.com and gotten your free phone number, I highly suggest doing that asap…who knows how long they’ll be in beta and what might change. You get a free phone number; you can add any of your numbers (home, work, cell, skype, whatever) and have it ring some or all those phones; you can set times to call certain phones; you can set different messages to different people or categories of people (friends/family/biz); you can listen in on a message and then decide whether or not to answer it live; you can have all your conversations recorded; lots more…pretty cool. So check it out and get a number soon.
Nope, no kick backs for me. (: Just a cool geeky tip for my cool geeky friends. I actually have my new toll-free biz # (877-I-AM-GAME) forward to that number which gives me lots of great options for when and where and how I want those calls handled.

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Some recent cool finds: Jott, DandeLife, RememberTheMilk, Ning and More

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Some of my favorite recent finds:

 

Jott.com

Call in for free and have your voice notes transcribed as a note to yourself or an email to someone else. Pretty good transcribing ability. You can also set it up to email your online todo list (I use RememberTheMilk.com, see below.) In the car, remember something you want to do –call it in and its there in your inbox.

 

RememberTheMilk.com On online todo list that can be as simple or rich as you want. Why use an online todolist? Well -I can see it from any computer, sync it with ical, see if from my cell phone, send or share lists, tag items (much better than categorizing) -includes a ‘tag cloud’, have reminders come as emails, txt messages or IM, etc. Much more –and the ajax is wicked quick.

 

DandeLife.com I mentioned it earlier. To be honest, I am not crazy about the layout. Here is the personal need that led to finding this: I write so many journal and blog entries that I rarely go back and read it –plus 95% of it is crap. But I like the idea of being able to look back at my life and see a basic outline of major events/big life lessons/blessings/challenges/etc. First by year, then by month. Probably no more detail is needed. Imagine a grid of 10×10 that is 100 years of your life. You look at it and each year has 1 sentence to describe what that year was mainly about. The ’story’ of your life, the pattern, perhaps starts to emerge. You could then zoom down a year to a 12 cell (months) view –that shows you the detail that your ‘year sentence’ came from. I also imagined being able to tag items (challenges, tragedies, moves, jobs, etc) Get it? Well, you can do that at dandelife –but in a linear timeline view (and you can’t read the whole sentence). Check mine own dandelife page and you’ll see. You can also add blog entries, pictures and even import feeds into your dandelife.

 

Ning.com Create your own private social networks that look gorgeous, can upload pictures, videos, create forums, add widgets, etc. It looks pretty and can be managed in many ways. You can stick with the easy instant creation, or even geek out and edit the php files.

 

AppDelete If you test out lots of Mac apps, you need this one –it will delete all associations of the file from your sysem, and its free.

 

Slife This handly little app is a timetracker –showing you in visually pleasing ways (graphs by day, month, app, topic, etc) detailed information about how you are spending time on your computer. You can tag, categorize, make up projects, etc. I’m still learning how to use this most effectively and its main problem is that it only ‘knows’ so many applicaitons.

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DandeLife Personal Timeline Storyboard

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Mucho going on, but no time right now to share about it all. However, I did want to point some of you over to what I think is a very cool free site. I’ll put a widget for it here, click on it and head on over there to Dandelife.

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Audio Twitter?

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I’ve had thoughts of various versions of a simple website that you can record 15 seconds for free (maybe more for pay?) and all the recordings (perhaps call-ins as well) get pasted together for a constant audio stream. Perhaps you could choose your rant by topic and/or language. This would be cool. you could listen on the site, as an iTunes feed, or from a streaming audio player. I guess it would be kind of like an Audio version of twitter. The key, IMHO, would be to keep the webpage a really simple and pretty interface: choose topic, record, listen.

 

Anyone want to help make this a reality, give me an email….

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Shut down day report

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Well, I successfully avoided my computer during “Shut Down Day”, but I must confess that it was somewhat of a lucky accident. I had remember the day or so before, but forgot that morning. Thankfully it ended up being a ‘date day’ with my wife (our first overnight without our 3 1/2 year old!) and so computers were pretty much out of the question (she is the closest thing to a neo-luddite you might find these days.) I checked back with the site and found people responses to “what did you do on shutdown day?” were pretty lame and childish (6300 responses as of this entry.)

(Top Tags for “What did you do on shutdown day as of 3/30/07)

* I used my computer [801]
* sex [513]
* this site sucks [135]
* sleep [95]
* nothing [88]
* спал [66]
* PARTY!!!! [64]
* read a book [56]
* kacken [51]
* worked [48]
* Used my computer [45]
* Lurked the EMB [41]
* shot niggers in the face [39]
* got drunk [39]
* This is stupid… [37]
* watched TV [35]
* fuck [33]
* masturbated [32]
* work [27]
* I useeee [25]

I think the idea has a lot of potential, and I really do think we are becoming dangerously dependent on our machines. Hopefully this kind of thing will be taken more seriously in the future. Perhaps more people will start to read and heed writings like previously mentioned at NetFuture

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Let’s swap stories, the purple bracelet

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For those of you who have been listening to my show since it was called the “Bleeding Purple Podcast”, check out this site. My friend Kat found it for me and I’m planning on ordering a bracelet. From the site:

“Not conversion, but conversation. Dialogue, not diatribe. Friendly, honest, and direct debate, rooted in respect and the ability to listen…simply for the possibility that understanding each other’s stories will help lead to a more civil, more sane way of working and living together.”

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Organic Globalism? Struggling Towards Sustainability -An Interview with Jeff & Nicole of KingFisher Farms, Oregon

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Hey you. Come sit down and join us for a nice organic conversation over at Breitenbush. This interview with Jeff and Nicole, two organic farmers with KingFisher Farms in Oregon, was a really helpful conversation for getting over some of my fears about slowing down and shifting into a more sustainable lifestyle. Whether you’re already far along the path of sustainability, or you, like me, find yourself stumbling along slower than you’d like -I think you’ll enjoy our honest dialogue as well.
We talk about questions like:

  • What is the organic / sustainable movement about?
  • How might we be motivated to change to a more sustainable lifestyle not out of fear and guilt, but genuine desire? (What are the bennys?)
  • What are CSAs and how do they work?
  • Does a full embracing of the sustainable lifestyle necessitate a shift away from all global systems? (boy, I wish I asked it that succinctly during the interview)
  • What would the ideal local / sustainable life look when it comes to global life?

Drop me a note here, at the People Portal, or leave a message at 360-566-2278. And if you’re in Oregon, by all means call them up and start getting their goodies.

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Still Distracted…How to stay creative and focused while in front of the screen?

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Poop. Getting connected back at home again hasn’t been going so hot lately –there are just too many cool, distracting apps and widgets and crap to test out; too much infotainment to consume; too many people to meet and connect with. I know I’m not the only one who struggles with this, but I’m always surprised at how little its talked about. I try and download apps like Think (an app that blacks out other windows to help you focus) or TimeOut (which you set periodic breaks for your health and sanity), but it always comes down to my own choice whether to stay focused or not. I find it hard. How about the rest of ya, any tips to staying focused and disciplined?

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What Mac OS X Widgets are on your Dashboard?

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Well, my Dashboard may be cluttered as hell now, but I’ve I’ve found some pretty cool widgets of late. Here’s my widget lowdown:

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Compromise or Seasonal Change?…we’re reconnecting at home

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Many of you know the odd fact that, despite my geekiness, our family has chosen (at least for the last year) to not be connected to the net at home (see below for why.) So, for the past few months (since leaving my place of work, and thus my net access) I have trotted off to various internet cafe’s and our community’s local computer repair shop (where I finally started to get to know and love the locals -geeks and falshing 12s included.) Anyway, because of some upcoming lifestyle changes I am now back online with a speedy comcast connection (6+ mps). Expect to see more from me here, at www.wonderosityshow.com , and other places.

My only fear is that I will, once again, have a ‘net-effected consciousness as around the house (”Hmmm, I wonder if I have any new email…I wonder my stats are…Oh, I could blog about that…etc.” “What was that honey?”) My main plan is simply to have hours/boundaries when I just don’t use the computer at all. So, please feel free to keep me accountable to my boundaries and primarily to trying to be truly present when people are around.

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Excellent resource for “Technology and Human Responsibility”

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A friend of mine, John Clancy from Orcas Island, tipped me off on an excellent resource that some of you may already be familiar with -its the “Technology and Human Responsibility” section of a site called the Nature Institute. I’ve just started reading some of the articles, but really like what I’ve read and am excited to find a community that looks like they have been doing some deep thinking about these topics. Here is the introduction from their Tech page:

“When science is governed by a conviction that the world is a machine, the distinction between science and technology naturally grows tenuous. Indeed, the influential philosopher, Daniel Dennett, has argued even of biology that it “is not just like engineering; it is engineering. It is the study of functional mechanisms, their design, construction, and operation.” And the University of Texas historian of science and technology, David Channell, argues that we should no longer think of technology as applied science; rather, “science is just applied technology.”

The study of technology is therefore essential to an understanding of what science is becoming today. You might say that all the work of The Nature Institute relates to technology—that is, we are concerned to rise from a technological or mechanistic view of the world to a living, qualitative, and contextual understanding of it. In order to achieve this, we must understand the character of technological thinking as deeply as possible, and learn how to transform it.”

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Frustrations with gadgets, PIM systems, notes, etc

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If your reading this blog then you likely, like me, have a number of unused or half-used gadets lying around your house waiting to find their usefulness in your life. Its hard to ignore them because they must have SOME use right? Its hard to sell them because they’re now outdated or scratched up. And its hard to trash them because, well, they still have some coolness and besides, you paid a good chunk for it. This is a list of some of my current gadget and PIM/organizational items and how I’m struggling with which ones to use.

 

ITEM

PROS

CONS

What is UNIQUE

 

 

 

 

iriver mp3 player

v. small/portable and thus available for the ‘emergency record’ session

Now that I’m mac, no mp3 syncing. Horrible interface -takes many ill-planned hard to find button presses to get anywhere

-Very small size.

M-Audio microtrack mp3/wav recorder/player

excellent portable recorder with many options for settings, hardware, etc. Can play music if wanted

Not the most portable mp3 player (for exercise, etc) nor is the interface meant to be for finding songs, etc.

-Good recording quality.

Ipaq 3955 Pocket PC

can do tons -play music and movies, calendar, tasks, contacts, holding the entire wikipedia (05) database, keyboard, wifi for basic web/email when available (though admittedly not the best browsing experiece), note-taking, record notes

record is pretty basic/low quality, ALWAYS LOSE MY STYLUS and am thus stumbling to make things work, mini keyboard is pretty tricky, and honestly I am really skeptical about how productive I am with electronic PIMS

-Syncs PIM info

-Offline Wikipedia (and other books, info, etc)

-Other applications (portable and instant on)

 

 

A small paper pocket calendar

 

immediately accesible (no power or input issues),

no screen-distractions,

more socially acceptable

no repeating items (bdays, weekly apts, etc), no syncing or interacting with other info, no cut and paste, no reminders, etc.

-Simple, More socially acceptable

 

After listing it like that, I think I’ve come to some conclusions:

1) I’ll give the iriver to my wife with a bunch of music on it and she can just press play when working out (but but but then I won’t have a small ‘emergency’ recorder!)

2) I’ll obviously use the Microtrack as my main recorder, I just need to start really doing some field recording.

3) Until the iphone comes out, I’ll continue to use my Ipaq for contacts, tasks and other info like instant wikipedia info.

4) I think I will switch back, for now, to a paper calendar –its just so much more practical and socially acceptable still. Not totally sure why, but seems to be true.

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Top 10 Free Mac Apps & Widgets I’ve found so far…

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Well, the rapidly shrinking size of my 120 GB hard drive tells me its time to stop sucking down freebie mac apps from the net, and to take a break for a while. Here are my favorite finds so far, let me know if you know of any others. I’m leaving out a few great apps (like Firefox, Sype, & Gizmo project, Google Earth, Audacity, etc) as they are already fairly well known. There is no order to the following apps, just off the top of my head:

  1. Journler –a very robust journeling application, complete with ilife integration, media creation and insertion (pix, audio, and video) and even the ability to upload content to your blog, iweb, ipod or to email it. Sweet!
  2. Adium -handle all your IM and chat clients in one tidy place, with lots of fun goodies hidden inside.
  3. Neo Office -so far, this suite has been able to do everything MS office could do, as well as read all my old
  4. TimeOut -a great little app that gently reminds you to take a break at pre-set periods while launching various apps or scripts if you choose.
  5. SideNote -an immediately accessible note-taking app that slides onto the page when triggered by mousing over to the side of the screen.
  6. CyberDuck -Great FTP client with cute icon.
  7. VirtueDesktops -Basically already does what the next Mac OS spaces will do, providing multiple desktops for diff. working environments/apps.
  8. Stellarium - A beeeeutiful virtual sky and planetarium, my space-cadet daughter Zinnia loves it.
  9. HandBrake -for ripping DVDs (you own of course.)
  10. Widgets I’m using and loving: Wikipedia Widget, iStat Pro (Vital Computer Stats), Word of the Day, DoBeDo (Great name! Summarizes iCal Tasks), iCal Events (Summarizes iCal Events), Twitter Widget (update your twitter status and see friends twitters),
  11. A few others I have a hunch will grow on me soon (Soundflower, QuickSilver, SeaShore).

I’m sure the list could go on, but these are the ones I’m actually using and will probably continue to use in some capacity. Hope you enjoy them…many of them I found, of course, over at www.opensourcemac.org

Oh, and if you, like me, have a hard time focusing on the window at hand –check out this cool app THINK.

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Interview with Todd Fadel -host of an upcoming creative collaborative experiment

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Today’s show is an interview with Todd Fadel, who is hosting a creative collaborative experiment in Portland, Oregon on February 17th, 2007. We talk about the event, its origins, inclusivity and community building through creativity. Audio quality was semi-suck, sorry about that.

As promised, here are some links to sites related to this event, as well as Todd’s creative online happenings:

I take no personal responsibility for the content of any of the above links, so if his SICK AND TWISTED mind offends you, please don’t blame me.

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Wonderosity Update #2

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  • New show format, and yay Mac/GarageBand
  • Quote from GK Chesteron -The Ethics of Elfland, via ‘Orthodoxy’
  • Various Announcements and Life-updates
  • Have a nice day

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GarageBand Fun -Geek Rap

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I’ve been having a blast with my new Macbook, especially with GarageBand. Though I haven’t produced a podcast yet (laziness), I did manage to take an old school rap of mine (yes, I rapped in HS in the late 80s) and add some funk. Check this out and tell me what you think. I’m posting this as a Tech Review because I created this song in about two hours, shows how easy Garage Band is. Hopefully it doesn’t also show a lack of talent on my part. (:

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Wonderosity -can your white-boy wonderosity host rap?

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Well, something a little different. All just to say how much fun I’m having with my new MacBook Pro and Garage Band. This is the rap I wrote back in High School (1988!)…let me know what you think (:

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Hot Idea: Self-Organizing FAQ

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This one I’m sure exists in various forms already, so if you know about where -let me know. The idea would be a FAQ (Set of Frequently Asked Questions) that re-orders itself according to use. Top clicked questions float to the top, etc. Perhaps there could even be a feature where the FAQ items are voted on and that holds weight as well (in other words, an item might be frequently clicked, but the answer sucks and so it gets flagged or sinks like Digg.)

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Hot Idea: Bird’s Eye Journal/Blog with nested layers

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On that note, I’ll start with one I was thinking of this morning (the other I’m not willing to give up yet!)

While I do like to journal in detail, I RARELY ever go back in read those ramblings –there are just too many entries and too many words, much of which is annoying rambling.

What I WOULD like to look back on is this: A few key words and pictures that represent that YEAR, MONTH, or perhaps WEEK. Think of it is a nested journal. I actually created my own one time using windows folders. It was broken down by 1)Periods of my life (ie from early infancy to fatherhood). Then it is broken up by year with the MOST FORMATIVE/IMPORTANT 1-3 things about that year (ie parents divorced, I had a child, etc).

Is there a product that does this in an easy, visually pleasing way –perhaps allows you to add a FEW defining pictures as well?

In addition, what if you could create ‘possible futures’ –imaginary futures of what would happen if you made certain decisions, etc….I think that would be cool as well.

I know there are simple ways to do this, even using just a word processor, but I imagine that someone could create a really cool, simple, pretty interface for those –and with the nested layers of moving down to the month or day level as well. Anyone know of a product like this?

Cheers,
Leif

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Journler & Ecto -sweeeet!

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Testing Journler –if this works, wooooooh, this is probably the coolest thing I have EVER seen for offline blogging and journaling! Looks like this will be the best option for keeping a journal, and then choosing to blog that journal (if simple). Downside is that there is no ability to republish/edit past blog entries, from what I can tell. And the html/wysiwig factor is quite minimal.
Journler Pic

Qumana does allow edits/updates, but for some reason it bugs me….not sure why. Ecto is a pay-for alternative that is looking pretty cool as well. Actually, I am editing the previous Journler post with Ecto right now, and it seems prett durn smooth (I think its only 15 bucks anyway)…we’ll see!

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Hasta La Vista (Windows) Baby-switch to mac, the apple through my Windows

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I know Vista is coming out next week, but from what I’ve heard so far, this isn’t exactly something to get excited about. However, if you, like me, have been considering a switch to Mac (after about 15 years!), this might just be the perfect time to jump ship. Yes, jump before you lay down the bucks for another (most likely) buggy, virus-laden ‘passenger tested’ beta voyage.

Well, I did it. I bought a slightly used 17″ MacBook Pro (3.16 ghz, 1 gb ram, 120 gb Hard drive) AND I LOVE IT! There is no way around it Windows friends, a crispy red apple has been thrown through my windows and I’m loving the fresh air. I have a hunch this switch is going to happen to A LOT of people this year. The machine, and OS X, are absolutely amazing (and it looks like the soon to arrive upcoming OS -leopard- update will be even better.) My favorite things about the switch so far:

  1. I haven’t had a single app freeze, “unexpected error” (duh, which ones are?) or blue screen for a whole week (not so with windows, though I admit XP was much better than previous incarnations.)
  2. The OS is simple, beautiful - a work of art. You can tell that the MAC OS designers wanted something they could love. From the way windows are handled via Expose on the desktop, to the smooth 3D icons.
  3. I’m not missing any Windows applications, all the ones I used or freebie equivalents (and some excellent new mac-specific ones) are installed and working solidly. And for the one game I’m playing, which is windows specific, I just switch my mac into windows xp mode using bootcamp or parallels. Two computers in one!
  4. FrontRow is an attractive, simpe and fun way to access all my media (photos, music, videos, DVD, etc) -and using a remote to access it all is brilliant as well.
  5. The Mac community I’ve been encountering on the net speaks of people who love their macs and who artfully contribute to making it an excellent product.
  6. Widgets. Yeah, I know that Vista is going to try and do the same thing, but Macs did it first. I simply press F12 or go to a corner of my screen and ’swish’, all these cool handy widgets on just about anything pop-up.
  7. My system boots up faster. This is really important to me. Computers aren’t for patient people. I love how, whether its waking from sleep mode or a cold boot, I can be working from seconds to a minute tops.

Well, I could add quite a bit more (like Spotlight, which has integrated into the OS what Windows Desktop Search or Google Desktop Search attempted to do while bogging down my system), but seven is such a nice number I think I’ll stop now. Besides, I really need to get my bootie in gear and start doing some other work. I know this wasn’t a graphically rich review of OS, which is what its really about, so f you want to see pictures and to be persuaded by the pros –just go on over to www.mac.com now and see things for yourself.

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Great free goal-tracking tool for all your new year’s resolutions

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leif's Personal Score BadgeThough I see it has the potential to be just ‘one more thing’ I need to update, I’ve created various goal-tracking programs of my own (mostly paper), and Joe’s Goals looks like it has lots of cool potential…best of all is its simple interface and ability to tag all your goals. And, as you see to the left (though its annoying that the main title is Joe and notme), you can put a summary on your sites. Talk about public acountability!

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Gcast Call In Experiment and Announcements

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I’m experimenting with using Gcast to quickly and easily send out announcements and spontaneous thoughts. In this show I’m simply wishing a happy new new year, sharing about some upcoming shows and announcing various additions to this site. Unless I find out that doing so would mess the feed up, I’m considering splicing the Gcast call-in feed with this show, so call inns will automatically go out to those of you subscribed. However, unlike this post, there would be no mention of it directly on this blog…if all this geeking out loud confuses you, then just click on the show link or else where into web-neverland.

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Cool New Free Desktop and Windows Manager

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I’ve found a free desktop management app that is so cool, its tempting me not to make the inevitable switch to mac that I’m planning on making. Its called Dexpot. If you like the Mac OS X’s ability to quickly switch between different desktop views, to get a snapshot of all desktops, and (with this app at least) to create rules that tell various apps and windows which desktop they are to start in, then download this puppy right away. It has all kinds of other goodies that have the potential to make one’s desktop much more organize dand efficient…here is the digg review that got me to this app in the first place.

I’ve created 5 desktops:

  1. Outlook/ organization
  2. Current creative/work focus
  3. Notes & Journal
  4. Net tools
  5. Search Apps

I don’t know how well it will all work out in the long run, particularly since I’m about to get a powermac that I’m sure will do this all much more easily, but for now its quite cool.

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Why does being small make me feel so big…check out these pix!

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Get the picture? Thanks to Samtsai for this find.

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Happy Geeking New Year!

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Well, apart from dealing with family crises over the holidays, here’s some of my geek doings from this last week.

  • I’ve continued playing and posting my various life adventures over at reality all starz. Check out my page if you haven’t yet. There’s no way I’ll win the prize by the end of the year, but looks like I’ll be in about 5th place.
  • I’ve been goofing around with Stumble-Upon -a fun, dangerous (time suck and content) way to randomly trip through the net on the suggestions of others and, I just realized, a great way to promote your own sites. I’ve seen traffic increase here and at other wonderosity sites since adding them to StumbleUpon.
  • I’ve been testing out various other social-networking sites, too many to note here and nothing super noteworthy.
  • I’ve added a few videos to Revver.com, testing the remote possibility of making $ from video views. I guess I’d need to put something worthwhile up first, but I’ve heard you have to have a HUGE number (?) to get any kind of decent payback.
  • I’ve been playing around with and adding a few things to the 43things (RobotCoop) suite of sites…I think there is a lot of potential there, and I’d even love to see if they have any employment opportunities.
  • We gave into social pressures and got our first cell phone. Yup you heard me right, FIRST. We just haven’t needed one and haven’t wanted to add the ‘cons’ (being available and bugged all the time, relying on tech more than trust, the added financial cost, etc) for the ‘pros’ (convenience, safety for emergencies, etc.) But the recent advent of a few ‘close call’s, the rapid disappearance of payphones, combined with pressure and a Christmas gift offer from my mom to get us kick-started with the cost, means we now have one. We’ll see how it goes. I’ve secretly been wanting to join the club for a year or two now anyway. Partly because it now means I can have some extra (very needed) social time during drives, and I can also check my email here and there (since we’ve chosen to not be connected at home.) We went with Verizon because of coverage issues, and a Samsung sch-a930 because I was talked into it.

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Warning! This feed will self destruct in two weeks, please switch to the new wonderosity feed

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Hi Bleeding Purple People,
I notice that around 75 of you have still not switched over to the new wonderosity feed.
While I will be keeping this site up, I will be deleting the feeds associated with it (ie feeds.feedburner.com/bleedingpurple, and the enteuxis.org one).
So please just click RIGHT HERE and itunes will add the new wonderosity feed, or just copy and paste this feed -http://feeds.feedburner.com/wonderosity -into your favorite podcatcher/player.

And don’t forget to get your butt over to the new wonderosity show site and the new wonderosity social site! Of course, if all of this is too complicated for you, you can keep it simple and go on over to the wonderosity.com site and all my feeds and other projects are there as well!

Thanks and I hope you’ve had an awesome new year!
In truth,
Leif

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Here’s a little christmas geek treat…

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Check this out…

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Interview with Peter Davenport, Director of NUFORC, Part II

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This episode continues the interview with Peter Davenport, director of of the National UFO Reporting Center. In this show we talk about:

  • How does the NUFORC reporting process work?
  • Why might be some reasons humanity has not had a more overt UFO/Alien encounter?
  • Why does the traditional media seem to run from these kind of reports?
  • How often does NUFORC receive direct ‘alien contact’ stories?
  • If this really is happening, what might be the nature and purpose of non-terrestrial beings monitoring or visiting our planet?

Other Notes

  • Here’s a link to the Phoenix, Arizona sighting –Davenport’s suggestion of the most recent credible UFO mass sighting.
  • Again, I apologize for the audio quality –hope to clear that up with the help of some forthcoming Christmas presents…
  • Wonderosity will probably be quiet until after the holidays, the 1st week of January.
  • Head over to the people portal to discuss this subject and connect with other Wonderosity people.
  • An interesting site I just found that might be of interest –check out his open minded scientist / skeptic at www.ufoskeptic.org

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The black-hole of keeping up with whats happening on the net…

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I just realized that I’ve rarely been using this blog in two primary ways that I originally intended -to share my tech struggles (SkepTech entries) and to log my geeky explorations. As you might guess, the two of those topics are highly correlated. The net is mind-bogglingly massive and the new and frequently cool sites, services, mash-ups, free applications, etc seem to be growing at an exponential rate. Its a friggin black-hole for those of who are fascinated with information, ideas, and communication! My wife has helped me to see that its this ‘explore new stuff’ factor in my life that can really become a time suck. I most often find myself exploring, researching, testing, and playing with the following:

  • new social media and social networking tools/services/sites. Lately reality all starz took a good 10 hours of my time…
  • web 2.0 mash-ups (beware this dangerous feed http://feeds.feedburner.com/programmableweb/mashup)
  • new virtual worlds (the emerging ‘multiverse’)
  • serious games (though I don’t like this name, it has come to mean games that have some sort of real-life implications)
  • blog tools and gizmos

I think what I need to do is to schedule a certain chunk of time a week for this kind of activity. Though I could barely skim the surface of all that is happening in this amount of time (until I decide that I’d want to take things in a professional direction (ie get paid for the time I am ‘wasting’)), it needs to be short -like 2-3 hours a week. As much as I seem to like this kind of geeking (I do, don’t I?), I just can’t justify spending more time. Spending more time means spending less time on my other main interest of late: social media / new media journalism (podcasting, etc). Or it means taking time away from specific learning goals I have, stealing time from family, from things I need to do, from being healthy, from healthy social relationships,etc…all those other dimensions of life that never quite seem to fit together.

So there. Anyone else struggle the same, or have any suggestions? I know I’m not alone in this struggle, how they hell do others find the time for it without it adversely affecting their lives?

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Wonderosity Video Leiflet #1 -We almost died

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My first attempt at YouTube-exhibitionism. What do you think, should I do more in the future or no?
I don’t know why this isn’t embedding, but here is the revver video link or here is the YouTube link for now.

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Interview with Peter Davenport -Director of the National UFO Reporting Center, Part I

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I think my favorite thing about doing wonderosity shows is that I get to literally follow my curiosity to any place that I might not have previously followed it without the excuse of recording the conversations and interviews for a podcast. Today’s show is an interview with Peter Davenport, the 12 year director of the National UFO Reporting Agency. He was a delight to talk to, honest and friendly, and I think you’ll enjoy this first part of our conversation. In this show we talk about:

  • Peter’s involvement with NUFORC
  • His 1st encounter with a UFO as a child and later first attempts/interests in reporting
  • How NUFORC works, who calls, why? Anonyminity?
  • Peter’s opinions about the 3 most dramatic, credible and fairly recent UFO reportings
  • This thursday’s “Wonderosity Live” show will be following up on this subject, we’ll talk about UFOs and your thoughts on “Are we alone?”

Other Notes:

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Reality All Starz Site/Service -VERY COOL and VERY WONDEROSITY!

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I blogged a little about this over at my Geeking Out Loud blog (from my recently attended IgniteSeattle event), but for you wonderosity listeners who really want to LIVE out your goals, challenges and dreams (or want to be inspired to do so by others’ dreams) --you have just GOT to go check out this v. cool new site Reality All Starz. That link will take you to my profile page, but please start an account and start having fun there!

Below (from the site)

Challenge yourself and your friends to do interesting and unusual things.

It works like this: You peruse the Reality All Starz library of challenges — or you can write challenges of your own design. A challenge can be something simple like: ask out that girl you’ve avoided your entire life or something more difficult like get a town named after you. You rate the challenges, from 1 point for super easy to 100 points for damn near impossible.

You can then attempt any challenge you like. You upload video or photographic evidence that you’ve completed a challenge. Your friends can review this evidence and rate how well you’ve done. The more style or uniqueness you bring to solving each challenge, the more points you’ll get. Do more challenges, get more points.

We keep track of who are the top Reality All Starz. Are you?

Who made this?

RealityAllStarz was conceived and created by me, Peter T. Brown, and with ridiculous amounts of help from Dr. Shelly Farnham (she’s a world renowned expert in social technology). The stellar brand was developed by Jason Levine and his 3 year-old over at Perfect Pixels Design.

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Ignite Seattle

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I attended Ignite Seattle last night and, overall, had a good time. The “pre-event” first hour was a social mixer, involving creating a a bridge with popsicle sticks and glue guns. We had1/2 an hour and it had to support the weight of one of your team members. Here was my team “troubled waters”…

Unfortunately, we were amongst the ~25% whose bridges didn’t hold our weight. Bummer, I’m sure we were cheated, somehow. (:
Here, in my opinion, was the heftiest bridge of the bunch…
.

The main part of the evening was hearing 5 minute presentations from Seattlites related to their various projects. You can see a list of all the projects at the Ignite Seattle site. Here are some of my favorites from the evening:

  • The one I was most excited about was “Reality All Starz” –a site where you and others dream up challenges, vote on the # of points they’re worth, then if you or others complete the challenge –you provide evidence (writing, pictures, video, etc) and others vote on how many points you really deserve. Anyone who is familiar with my QuestCast podcast “Your dreams and goals gone public and challenged with a quest” will realize why this concept was exciting to me. I briefly talked with the presenter and founder, Peter Brown, and hope to talk with (perhaps collaborate somehow?) him more later.
  • Buster Mcleod also talked about achieving goals and about the dilemma we often experience when our motivation doesn’t quite match our desires (thus we “want to want to” dosomething). His solution: go public. Again, this is similar to what I was thinking with the QuestCast –by having your goals and dreams ‘gone public’ –we have more accountability, support and we have also linked the specific want with our universal human want for respect, for ‘creds’ (remind me of the book “Magic Kingdom”.) Anyway, Buster is planning on starting a techy arts center in belltown -downtown Seattle.
  • DorkBot –”doing cool things with electricty” -I liked the presenter’s fun, free spirit and it looks like past events reflected her spirit.
  • Stuart Maxwell, thenewbig.com, a friend a fellow podcaster, always has fresh and inspiring things to say and challenged us to think differently in a number of ways.
  • Thats all I feel like writing about here, and there is much more detailed info at the Ignite Seattle site.

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Wonderosity Live Talkshoe #1 -Honesty & Spirituality

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Well, for a first experiment with Talkshoe, this turned out pretty good. Unfortunately, the combination of one caller’s background noise plus Kris Gauci’s somewhat soft voice made the first 5 minutes a bit tricky to hear. Also, while four other people connected to the show, only one had the capacity to talk and I had to mute his voice because of the aforementioned background noise. Oh well, next time will bet better (: As for the content though, Kris was a delight to talk with and the 30 minutes sped by all too quickly. We primarily talked about:

  • Kris Gauci’s brief spiritual background -more about Kris and his teaching can be found here.
  • Is God personal or impersonal?
  • Honesty/Authenticity & Spirituality
  • The paradox and need of both trust/hope and doubt/etc.

Let me know what you think about the concept of a live show like this, how the time slot was, etc. Tomorrow I have an interview with the director of the National UFO Reporting Center, currently based in Seattle, that should be interesting…hope to have the results of that out next week. Receive care, -Leif

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Wonderosity Episode #3 -Interview with Jim Palmer, Author of Divine Nobodies, Final Part III

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In this last episode with Jim Palmer, we talk about:

  • Shifting from a right/wrong (convince and convert) modality to simply wanting to know God more deeply.
  • Thoughts on why many have trigger-issues with “Jesus stuff” and how we feel about this.
  • Within on emphasis, in a sense, on ‘divine anybodies’, are there any special people, places or practices that Jim still holds as uniquely helpful?
  • What does being church look like now, to those trying to meet God in each person?
  • What does prayer look like now, for those whose perception of who and where God is is chaning?
  • To learn more about Jim and his newest book “Divine Nobodies”, make sure you visit www.divinenobodies.com
  • And more….new announcements about upcoming “Wonderosity Live” show as well….

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Great example of both religious tolerance and parenting

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A BP/Wonderosity listener and kindrid spirit sent me an email a few days ago that contains a conversation with her two children that I just had to share with you as well.

On another note, get this: The kids and I were driving one afternoon and en route passed a new Christian high school. Here’s the exchange. Now mind you, DD is 7 and DS is 5. This blew my mind!

DD: Mom, is that a church? Or a school?
Me: It’s a school, but people who go to a religious high school also worship there. So in a sense, it is both.
DD: What is that sign on it?
Me: A cross. It is a symbol of Christians.
DD: What is a Christian.
Me: A Christian is a person who believes that Jesus Christ is the son of God.
DD: Who is Jesus Christ? (read this with the sassiest, most incredulous, 7 year old girl tone imaginable)
Me: A man who lived a long, long time ago who some people think is the son of God.
DD: <<silence>>
Me: Do you believe in God, Rachel?
DD: No, I don’t believe in God.
Me: Do you believe in God, Priam? (Priam is my son)
DS: Yes mom, I believe in God.
All: <<silence>>
DD: Do you believe in God, mom?
Me: Yes sweetheart, I believe in God. But I respect that you do not believe in God.
DD: And I respect that you do believe in God, mom.
Me: Thanks. You know, many of the world’s problems are created by people who refuse to respect the beliefs of others

Hope I can handle any similar future situation with my daughter as well as she did…

Cheers,
Leif

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New Wonderosity show/podcast and social networking site up and running

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Well, I finally started my new podcast (taking over Bleeding Purple) Wonderosity last week and (besides a redirect to an amazing Wisconsin public radio show called “Electrons to Enlightenment” I had to force on peopl), have so far put out two shows. Of more relevance to this blog, I have also created a social networking site devoted to the show –I’m calling it the “Wonderosity People Portal” –a dorky, but descriptive enough, name.. Its hosted on Ning.com and I’ve really being having some fun pretending I understand PHP in order to tweak the site to my likings. Members are able to upload videos, pictures, profiles, add to forums, add to a cool TheQuesting.ning board I’ve created, add their favorite books and quotes, chat and more…I hope it helps people who, like myself, want to grow spiritually and live life to the fullest, but are turned off by both the typical ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ approaches. Check it out if/when you get the chance.

Cheers,
Leif

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Wonderosity Episode #2 -Interview with Jim Palmer, Author of Divine Nobodies, Part II

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In this second part of my interview with Jim Palmer we continue discussing the nagging question of “Why is there resistance within me to enter into what I know will be truly good and satisfying? Why do I so badly want to be a ‘Divine Somebody’ and to get my esteem by assoicating with ‘Somebodies’?”. We also talk about things like:

  • Is Jim wanting to be a somebody by writing Divine Nobodies, or is something else going on?
  • How connected are we with each other, with God…is Jim God? Are you? (:
  • How can we come to a place of peace where we feel fulfilled and content?
  • How central does Jim think Jesus and Christian faith is do the kind of spirituality he is promoting, to knowing God?

I hope you enjoy this one as well, and don’t forget to join the growing fun and community of sharing over at the Wonderosity People Portal!

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Incredible Public Radio discussion about faith and science -Electrons to Enlightenment

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I’m not sure how legal or net-friendly it is to do this, but I’ve just got to direct some of you over to this incredible wisconsin public radio series on science and faith. It’s called “Electrons to Enlightenment” and its part of their “To the Best of Our Knowledge Series”. This first one has Richard Dawkins, Karen Armstrong, Ken Wilber and more. Wow, now this is the kind of show I would like to one day be producing. I am going to link to their first show, and then hope you listen to the rest here. The 2nd part of the Jim Palmer interview should be available Monday, sorry but the holidays got in the way (: Also, I’ve redirected you bleeding purple feeders over to this site -so if you are now subscribed to both, make sure you delete you BP feed and keep this new one (see sidebar). See you at the People Portal!

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1st Wonderosity Show! Interview with Jim Palmer, Author Of Divine Nobodies, Part 1

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For our first show, after a brief introduction to Wonderosity, I interview Jim Palmer, author of “Divine Nobodies: Shedding Religion to Find God, and the unlikely people who help you.” Jim is a man with a huge heart and some powerful, simple ideas for those who are wanting to deepen spiritually. In this first of a three part interview, we explore questions like:

  • What ‘Divine Nobodies’ is basically about, and how Jim came to write it.
  • Why are bare-ass honest books like this, books admitting personal faith-struggles as well as churchianity’s shortcomings, just now starting to come out and be devoured by the public?
  • Where the heck is God? Is God “out there” or “in here” or what?
  • Why do I (and I’m sure others) seem to be in a place where I seem to be resistant to growing spiritually, slowing down, etc?

I hope you enjoy this first episode and I’d love any feedback you have to give. Please email wonderosity@gmail.com with any comments or questions! -Leif

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There.com vs. Second Life

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If you are truly a geek, you have more than likely heard of Second Life. You’ve probably tried it out and either got bored with it (like moi), or have been hanging around trying to fill your aching social void with virutal relationships (ouch!) However, though you may have messed around some with SL, I am surprised to find out how few people have heard of, IMHO the much more enjoyable and cool virtual world, “There“. If you are TOTALLY CLUELESS as to what I am talking about, both of these apps are free massive virtual worlds that you can download the client for (click one of the above), explore, play, create new objects and meet people. Obviously, one doesn’t want this to take over one’s life (which it does for many people), but I do think its a fun way to meet new people from around the world and to play, create, and explore in a totally new way. So, go ahead and try one of them, and, if you do, let me know what you think. Oh, and make sure you try and find or IM “wonderosity” while you are there…if I’ve been on for more than an hour, tell me to go get a life!

Here are four simple reasons I like There better (pun intended) than SL.

  1. By far the #1 reason is voice chatting. You can have real-time voice chat with multiple people. If they are to your left –well, guess what…its in your left speaker. If they run around your social group yelling “I need coffee” –yup, thats what you hear as well. Very cool and much deeper social interaction possible with this kind of communication. But even if you don’t choose to go the voice route, the text bubble-system is very cool as well. The only down side is that they float up in a big conversation rather quickly —but there is also the ‘chat history’. In fairness, this real-time voice chat only comes once you pay the small one-time fee of $10, but I really think its worth it…
  2. Much smoother graphics…perhaps it was my settings; perhaps There has a little less rich graphics than SL, I’m not sure –but the ride was much smoother.
  3. The very cool vehicles you can ride around in –hoverboards, jet-packs, space-ships, 4×4 jeeps, you name it. Each one rides differently –some fast, some slow; some solo, some with friends; some earth-born, some sky-worthy. Imagine cruising over a new virtual world in a hovercraft while talking in real time with some friends. Yeah, it is cool and it is addictive. I’ve spent more time this last week than I had planned on spending, and I usually get bored quick with this kind of thing.
  4. There is PG13 and much more condusive to real converastion and fun, while SL tends to always drift towards XXX stuff and tasteless content like teens trying to update their avatar with a strap on dildo. Whatever.

My avatar’s first day ‘There’ (I did have to pay a couple of bucks for the clothes, so I wasn’t stuck with the Newbie Moonie standards.)

Anyway, just a quick and dirty review to get the word out to all my millions of blog subscribers. Maybe I’ll write some more later.

Oh yeah, and btw, I will be hosting a “Wonderosity Live” show using the TalkShoe client on Thursday at 2:00 –so if you can, come join the chat!

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Some Great Web 2.0 Apps/Services: TalkShoe, Ning.com and more

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Well, one good side to not getting sleep (at least when at someone’s house with net access) is that I had more geek hours than usual in the last 24 hours. From 3:30 in the morning till 8:30, I have (from lame to coolest):

  1. Learned the basics of the cool, opensource CMS (Content Management System) Joomla and created a new wonderosity.com site –check it out. As of now it has a links to all of my related projects, a few cool plug-ins, and some basic content and news items.

  2. Two weeks ago I was doing some ’social media’ consulting for a non-profit that wanted to create a private, rich-media, social-networking site –kind of closed myspace world. I found quite a number of social-networking sites that offered what they want, but only three that seemed to allow the private/closed loop. I suppose this makes sense as most people want a social-networking space to meet other people –but I think a huge niche market is being missed here: people who don’t want to be overwhelmed by new relationships, but who want to connect more deeply with their niche member-group. Anyway, I narrowed it down to three sites/services: People Aggregator, GoingOn, and Ning.Com. I choose ning.com. To be honest, I’m too lazy to recall exactly all the reasons why –but I know one of the main reasons was it seemed to have the best balance between high functionality and easy of use/prettiness.
    Well anyway, last night I also created the community hub / media-exchange site for my new and upcoming Wonderosity show -I called it “Wonderosity People Portal”. Kinda cheezy, but I love the word Portal and I think it gets the idea across. Check it out here, though you might need to ask me for an invite if I decide to have it a closed group. I described the site on the page as:
    This is the soon-to-be community hub for the Wonderosity show (formerly the Bleeding Purple Podcast.) The new show is currently being re-vamped, but if you are curious as to what it will be like, please check out The Bleeding Purple Podcast to get a general sense. Otherwise, please feel free to start discussions, add your favorite quotes to the Quote Voter, add your questions and answers to ‘The Questioning’, and upload pictures and videos. You can also leave a voice message from your computer using the below MyChingo app, or call in a public voicemail using the SupCast app below (phone #s below.) Of course, there is the ever-geeky web-chat for whoever is on the page as well! Almost all media streams have RSS feeds, so feel free to subscribe. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I am REALLY excited about this one. Have you heard about TalkShoe? It’s doing what SkypeCasts are trying to do, but you can also: record the shows, have people call in with regular phones or VOIP, have a instant-message included, color-coded timeline, and apparently get paid for doing your show as well! I have JUST found out about this and am testing it out –but as I am very much about learning through dialogue, you can guarantee I will be playing with, using and writing more about this later. Check it out and download the client ASAP –look, evenetually, for some kind of Wonderosity show to pop up there in the next week or so.

Well, it is getting to the limit I commited to going to bed –though I am finally really excited about some projects and I wish I could geek out all night long. This, of course, would not be conscious computing and my arse would get kicked by wife and life. This was a quick entry so I’ll probably have to fix some typos and links later…let me know what you think!

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Some Personal Problems with the Art of Podcasting

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I love learning and meeting new people through interviews. One of the things that excited me most about podcasting when I first got into it is that I realized I now had an ‘excuse’ to call anybody or stop them on the street and ask them the questions that I always am full of. However, recently, I’ve been having the opposite problem –podcasting has become somewhat of an obstacle to my learning and meeting new people. I realized this, and the following reasons why, a few days ago:

  1. I’m concerned that conversational qualities that are very important to me, honesty and authenticity, are effected when one knows they are being recorded and that that conversation will likely ‘go public’. Does ‘the spirit’ like to be nailed down?
  2. I’m concerned that ’something’ might go wrong in the recording process and I will lose it all ( or have a sucky skype-quality), to the frustration of both myself and the interviewee.
  3. My interviews tend to be long -1 to 2 hours -and the editing process takes a hella long time. Then there is the whole process of uploading, creating the podcast blog feed, promoting the show, etc. I think I have begun to dread the process somewhat, and so I postpone doing the interview.

Add the above three problems together and it helps me to understand (besides the recent change of heart and interest and decision to do a new show) why I haven’t done a podcast for over a month.

I can see some technical changes helping me to get over #2.
However, unless I can find someone to help with editing (#3), that problem and the concern of #1 still persist.

Any thoughts?

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Cool Free App: Break Reminder, calling all screen-addicts

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(Note: My copy says “free for personal use”, site recently seems to say otherwise -unclear?)

Have you ever found yourself sitting in front of a screen for hours, almost as if your eyes and brain are addicted to some kind of screen candy that they are being fed through its glow? Part of you knows you should take a break, wants to take a break, and even realizes you would be more productive and creative if you just turned away and took a break or got out the old pencil and pen. Yet you still don’t do it. You’re hungry, your thirsty, you even have to take a friggin leak –but you push it till its unbearable (I can’t recall soiling my pants, but I wouldn’t put it past me.) As crazy as it might sound to some of you, I’ve talked to a number of others who also struggle with this same ’screen addiction’ phenomena. (On a sidenote, there actually have been studies done that show that the ‘alpha state‘ your brain is in while in front of a screen is addictive.) I’ve always found it strange that I will remain glued to the screen trying to accomplish things that I KNOW I could do better if I just turned away and did some creative thinking on my own.

Last year I found this very helpful, simple and free app called “Break Reminder” that actually ‘forces’ a breaks upon you by blanking out the screen and locking up your keyboard for various pre-set periods of time. You can customize the frequency of “Micropauses” (usually about 10-30 seconds, to give your eyes and brain a rest) and actual longer “Breaks” (whatever you like, I have it set for 10 minutes every couple of hours.) Its nothing splab, and I’m sure there are ways it could be improved (please do), but its simplicity is part of its beauty. A friend of mine from Microsoft just wrote and said “Came across your recommendation for Break Reminder software today, and downloaded it right away. It’s great! Just what I needed. Thanks!” So, give yourself a break and download this free app ASAP. Tweak it until it fits your rhythm -I think you will find yourself a little less strained and a little more productive. If so, this blog was already worth starting! (:

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