First they came

First they came for the Anarchists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not an anarchist.

Then they came for Muslims, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not muslim.

Then they came for Black Lives Matter, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not black.

Then they came for the journalists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a journalist.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

 

After Pastor Martin Niemöller.

twitter-fail-whale-dollars

In which I fail to cheer for @Jack’s return to #Twitter

A lot of people (well certain people) have been fussing about Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey returning to the company as it’s new CEO. While I think he’ll easily be better than his predecessor Dick Costolo, I see no cause to celebrate.

The magic in Twitter has always been the connections between people and the ability to grow and connect communities of people. The Arab Spring is the most famous and impactful example of this, but “Black Twitter” is a more current illustration. It’s a large and decentralized community which is having a real impact on people’s lives through connection, cultural critique, and shining a light on police brutality via #BlackLivesMatter.

Today I followed a link posted by a friend from back when there were only handful of us on Twitter. It was a collection of reactions of “Twitter influencers” to Jack’s return. They were all white, a couple were my friends. Responses ranged from “we’ll see” to “Jack is my BFF.” There was not a single concern raised. It should come as no surprise that all of the white, male CEOs of Twitter were hired by a board which is itself nearly all white men (with the exception of a few Asian men and one very powerful woman.

Twitter has been making moves to try to compete with media companies (and Facebook) by pushing big news and events, memes that trend via their mysterious algorithm, and celebrity tweeters. This ground has been covered and there will always be someone who does that better than them. Twitter’s unique value proposition is the ability to find and directly connect with real people who you don’t already know but who add value to your life. To be a participant in a movement (whether it’s for democracy or your favorite TV show) rather than just a consumer. I have rarely seen Twitter’s corporate policies show that they understand or appreciate this value. In addition, their continuing lack of interest in doing anything serious about the pervasive abuse of women online further shows that they just don’t care about us, the users that give their platform meaning.

So I wrote a few tweets about this, but it’s hard to convey the complexity and the importance of this in 140 characters so I wanted to expand in this blog post. If you share my concerns, I’d appreciate a retweet or other show of solidarity.

A debate for grown-ups

I’m surprised to report that I enjoyed watching the Democratic candidates debate last night. Well I enjoyed two of them anyway. I was only able to access the video stream on CNN.com about half the time but Twitter kept me looped in without missing a moment. I collected my favorite tweets below.

I was surprised to see that even some of my friends participated in commentary that attacked people for their gender (Hillary the ice queen), culture (Bernie the hippie), or their appearance (pretty much everyone). I can only assume that people do this because they are either extremely immature or they have no legitimate policy critique to make.

I am particularly sick of the hippie-baiting. I come from a long line of hippies and we love our country as much as anyone, if not moreso. Who was there working for civil rights, who marched against the Vietnam War, who cried out against the Iraq War? History will show that we have been on the side of justice and we have been right. Stop marginalizing hippies and listen!

NCT4G Unconference

NCT4G LogoWe held another great NCTech4Good hybrid unconference last week. I especially appreciated the other organizers who displayed teamwork above and beyond the call of duty.

Here are a few fun pictures by other folks. You can find more at twitter.com/search?q=nct4g and learn more about it in my previous blog post.

NCTech4Good 2015 is upon us!

Facilitating the 2014 NCTech4Good Unconference

Facilitating the 2014 NCTech4Good Unconference

It’s been a little while since I posted about this, but I have been continuing to facilitate NCTech4Good’s hybrid unconference annually since 2011. Tomorrow is our 2015 event!

A lot of people still don’t know what “unconference” means, so I get excited about spreading the gospel. I never fail to have people who looked at me skeptically in the morning come up to me afterward to say how much they loved it and that they will suggest their own organization or community try unconferencing.

Please read my blog post I <3 Unconferences that explains the history and how they work. NCT4G is a simplified hybrid of traditional and “open space” (ie: unconference) event so I will explain our unique methodology here.

Before the conference:

  • Organizers solicit session proposals, invite public voting, and, then hand-curate HALF of the day’s sessions leaving half of the rooms free.
  • Speakers whose sessions are not selected are invited to attend and pitch their session at the beginning of the day.

Kickin #unconference grid at @NCtech4good #unconference. #nct4gAt the conference:

  • The classic “unconference grid” (see right) is pre-populated with cards from sessions that were already picked by the organizers. The grid lets us see which sessions are in which rooms and at what times.
  • Anyone who is interested in convening a session as well as everyone who is already on the grid stands up in front of the group and gives a 30-60 second pitch for their topic. This needn’t be an organized presentation, although Powerpoints are welcome and projectors are available, but can be any form of panel, talk, conversation, demo, Q & A, or even a code sprint!
  • Cards for new sessions are added to The Grid, and then we work out any conflicts or special requirements, and Voila! We have a schedule.

As you can tell, I am very skeptical of the whole idea of messing with unconference process, and I wasn’t completely sure it would work at first. But it has a resounding success for several years in a row and everyone came away satisfied. This year we’ll be doing the same and I expect it to go even better. If you are in central North Carolina, I hope to see you there!

Nonviolence is still a radical notion

the-montgomery-storyAll of the comics in The Village Voice‘s “The 10 Most Subversive Comics at New York Comic Con” look great, but I most appreciated the shout out to John Lewis’ new book March (which I just read) as well as the Fellowship of Reconciliation‘s 1957 comic explaining nonviolent direct action.

I originally discovered The Montgomery Story when I worked at FOR. I’m so glad they are reprinting it!

“The most subversive comic available at New York Comic Con is at the Top Shelf booth, a reprint of The Montgomery Story, a comic first published in 1957 and approved by Martin Luther King Jr., who saw the pre-published pages and made editorial changes. Most important is a section in the back called “How the Montgomery Method Works,” a blueprint for passive resistance. This comic has been translated into countless languages (a Top Shelf rep showed me Spanish, Arabic, and Farsi). It’s an instruction book for changing the world, and it continues to do so.”

 

Aside

Sorry Not Sorry

After reading this article at Bustle by a woman who struggled to go a whole week without apologizing, I’ve decided to try it myself. Today when there was a misunderstanding over e-mail, it took me some time to figure out how to respond without apologizing because I did feel I was at fault.

Finally I came up with “I should have made that clearer.” It felt great!