Chris Hardie

Blog, Tech, Business and Community Building

culture

April 4, 2014

Powerlessness and Empowerment with Frances Moore Lappé

A week ago I had the opportunity to hear Frances Moore Lappé speak here in Richmond. She's primarily known around the world as author of Diet for a Small Planet, but she's also an Earlham College graduate, so it was great that she came back to her alma mater to give a talk.

Lappé's talk overall was about how we can move from a place of powerlessness to a place of empowerment when it comes to working on addressing various ills that plague the world - from climate change to energy/resource crises to poverty, and all of the other systems and issues that are related.

It's a topic, a question that's been on my mind lately as I think about my own vocation, and where (to borrow from Frederick Buechner) my talents and interests might meet the world's deep needs. The question wasn't answered for me during the talk, but there were a few insights and random bits of wisdom that I want to preserve here:

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February 22, 2014

On maturity

Edison/Ford TreesAs a young person I was aware of the concept of maturity as something that could be sought, developed, worked on, but I was never quite sure how to measure whether or not someone had achieved maturity.

I've defined maturity in different ways throughout my life, most of them probably flawed.

Recently I've come to see maturity as a measure of someone's ability to understand the motivations of other people, to build for themselves a context about how a given situation or set of decisions has come about, and to have empathy for those motivations and that context.

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February 4, 2013

Facebook Appreciation Day?

Idea: What if Facebook shut down once per day, every year? Turn it all the way off. No one could get to it.  No walls, timelines, profiles, friends, games, apps or messages. They could call it Facebook Appreciation Day. Some people would appreciate that Facebook was off for the day and turn their attention to […]

December 5, 2011

Life In a Day, a crowd-sourced documentary

You should watch the film Life In a Day.  It's a crowd-sourced documentary assembled by the folks at National Geographic and YouTube, where folks from around the world sent in 4,500 hours of video footage of their lives as recorded on July 24th, 2010.  (Don't worry, the film itself is only an hour and a half.)

Life In a Day weaves together moments of joy and sadness, frivolity and struggle, plainness and great beauty into a wonderful fabric of the human experience.  It at once shows the ways in which the routines of our days are shared across cultures and landscapes (we wake, we clean up, we eat, we interact, we travel, we love, we argue, we sleep), but also the stark contrasts of wealthy and poor, privileged and oppressed, healthy and unhealthy, troubled and care-free.

There are only a few "characters" we see multiple times throughout the day - a man bicycling around the world, a family struggling with cancer - but the amazing editing and soundtrack create a story arc grounded not in personality or plot twist, but in the experience of having 24 hours pass and all of the amazing (or mundane) things that can happen in that time.  It's a masterpiece that will perhaps seem quaint in a few decades, but that could not have been possible even 5 or 10 years ago.

Life In a Day is inspiring and moving.  Best of all, it's real.

Here, you can start watching it right now:

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September 6, 2011

Summer reading mini book reviews

What We Leave BehindIt's been a decent summer of reading for me, and I thought I'd post some very brief reviews of some of what I've encountered along the way.  For each book I’ve linked to an online purchase option, but please consider buying from your locally-owned bookseller or visiting your local library first.  I've organized the reviews into three sections: Culture, Novels and Business & Politics:

Culture

Ghost in the Wires by Kevin Mitnick
Finally, Mitnick gets to tell his side of the story when it comes to his adventures in computer cracking and social engineering.  Though his writing style isn't particularly compelling and his personal meditations on the interpersonal aspects of his adventures are a bit awkward, the details of how he pulled off some pretty technologically impressive (albeit illegal and sometimes destructive) hacks - and how law enforcement responded - make for compelling reading on their own.  As someone who spent a fair number of hours in my childhood trying to deconstruct how the phone system and the emerging world of BBSes and Internet nodes worked, Mitnick's book is a great visit to the past and a reminder that humans continue to be the weakest link in all computer security.

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July 24, 2011

A pretext for violence

I'm reading with sadness the news coming out of Norway.  Apparently, 32-year old Anders Behring Breivik decided that his Christian beliefs were so threatened by cultural shifts, minorities, immigration and multiculturalism that he needed to bomb and shoot people in order to address that threat.  The killings were politically motivated: the bomb was detonated at the Primer Minister's office and Breivik then stalked and shot at close range people at a political retreat.

Some will talk about the dangers of having weapons of various sorts and sizes available to individuals like Breivik and passionately implore for tighter controls and regulation of firearms or other weapon-making materials.  Indeed, we should be asking hard questions about when, where and why we create weapons designed to kill other human beings, and how we allow them to be used.

Some will talk about how this is a clear cut example that acts of terrorism are an ongoing threat and need to be safeguarded against using increased governmental or military power to fight terrorists and prevent attacks.  Indeed, we should be asking hard questions about whether current efforts to prevent acts of terrorism are effective, and what else could be done.

Some will speak of a lone madman who was mentally ill, and how we must find better ways to diagnose and treat mental illness of this sort before an individual's darkness can turn into violence.  Indeed, we should be asking hard questions about how those among us who suffer from mental illness are treated and how they are helped.

But we must not forget that behind all of these interrelated paths to such awful acts of violence, there is a singular cause that no amount of weapons control, military might or psychological analysis can predict or prevent:

Somehow, this man was able to construct a worldview for himself in which it was permissible to murder other people because of their political views.

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October 2, 2010

The Social Network

I saw the movie The Social Network tonight, here are my spoiler-free comments.

The movie was incredibly well made.  Aaron Sorkin's writing was as good as the best days of The West Wing, each member of the cast seemed to just nail their role, the editing was some of the best I've seen, and so on.

Perhaps most enjoyably, this is a mainstream movie that is at least in part about the culture and goings-on in the modern world of Internet entrepreneurship, I believe the first of its kind. It fully embraces the geekiness that was and is a part of building a web application like Facebook: in the first 30 minutes, the Apache webserver software project is mentioned at least twice, there are dramatic lines about needing more Linux webservers running MySQL, there are punchlines that involve the emacs text editor, and scenes of glorious code writing marathons - wow.

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August 2, 2010

Discouraged and Encouraged

Discouraged

I installed compact fluorescent bulbs throughout my house, and the big box stores lit up their parking lots day and night.

I decided to drive my car less, and the oil companies spilled millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

I installed a rain barrel to water my organic garden, and the big agriculture companies shipped genetically engineered, highly processed food around the world for me to enjoy at a moment's notice.

I made a living running a business that tried to care first about doing the right thing, and my government used the taxes on our income to prop up businesses that lie, cheat and steal.

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February 15, 2010

12 kinds of social networking status updates

If you're new to Facebook, Twitter or some of the other social networking spaces out there, you're probably asking yourself, "what should I expect to see when it comes to the status updates that people post in these places?" Or if you're a social networking veteran, you might still be thinking, "what's my niche online?  How do I decide what to post?"

Well, you're in luck!  I really enjoy cataloging and categorizing these kinds of things, and so I've put together this list of 12 kinds of social networking status updates.

Most every status update will fall into one of these categories:

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