Category Archives: Personal

Virtual Reality Museum, Art Gallery & Fun House of My Dreams Is A Go

I am building a virtual reality museum, art gallery and fun house to share the archives and stories of Dr. Timothy Leary, Aaron Swartz & Chelsea Manning.

I am learning from the people around me in my Aaron Swartz Day world and also from many people in a COOL makerspace named NoiseBridge, in San Francisco. (You can donate to them here – and they need a new location soon too! In case you happen to have a bitchin space you might want to rent to them πŸ™‚

I am having amazing experiences and learning so much every day, since I’ve been learning things there.

I am keeping notes and creating tutorials, and I will be launching separate blogs about everything soon πŸ™‚

In one of the first exhibits of the VR Museum, “The History of Aaron Swartz Day,” I will show several variations of the historic poster (created by Ryan Junell) when we were experimenting with posters.

Most of these were never seen, like this one below.

Experimental version of the Aaron Swartz Day poster by Ryan Junell. (Original photo by Quinn Norton.)

Starting to blog again…

Tap. Tap. Tap. I’m trying to blog daily again.

It used to be so easy, and then somehow it became to time consuming.

Also, my life’s work is very complicated, and often I can’t discuss projects publicly until they are over. However, by that time, I’m off to the next project, so I never get around to telling the tale.

So, by this time, I have many many stories to choose from, and I’m just not sure where to begin.

Happy Thanksgiving – Let’s try to live up to our country’s ideology

The Pilgrims themselves were immigrants. They did not “belong” here. They were running from religious persecution.

Without naming names, it seems to me that many of the “immigrant groups” that now enjoy full acceptance in this country had a hard time of it themselves when they first got here, and are forgetting their roots a bit. (We are talking about these peoples’ grandparents, but it really wasn’t that long ago.)

20 years from now, I hope we will look back on these last two weeks of shameful refugee-blaming as a hiccup in American History, before we got a hold of ourselves. This country was built on immigrants. From time to time, we pride ourselves in them (when we’re not putting them in an actual internment camp (like the Japanse) or internment camp-like facilities (like that “First People’s reservations” of today).

Chelsea Manning, whose statement I had the honor of reading (transcript) at this year’s Aaron Swartz Day event, wrote an insightful piece that was published yesterday. She encapsulated much of the sentiment that has been brewing in my mind these past few weeks, as I’ve been watching CNN at the gym and resenting the station’s fear mongering and misinformation (unchecked information is almost as irresponsible as information one knows may be untrue, in my book).

I feel that news organizations still have a responsibility to the public to give them the news that they need. Needless to say, this is constantly demonstrated to not be the case.

Let’s think about how much it meant to a certain group of pilgrims to be welcomed by a certain group of First People’s, one day, a long time ago. It meant so much that we’ve founded an entire historical tradition on it.

Let’s try to help our politicians, who represent us in our relations to the rest of the world, take actions that truly represent the spirit of Thanksgiving and of welcoming others who are far from home. Remind them that the Syrian refugees are victims, the same way that holocaust survivors were in the 40s, or Vietnam/Cambodian refugees were in the 70s.

From Chelsea’s piece:

Like many other attacks, the attacks in Paris were tragic, horrific and coldly calculated. They may or may not have been preventable – it’s simply far too soon to know, assuming that we ever will. However, stoking the fears about a shadowy wave of terrorists coming from everywhere that there is warfare and strife is a disturbing, alienating and disproportionate response.

The people of France were the ones who delivered the Statue of Liberty to the US nearly a century and a half ago. Beside the statue for many years was a massive immigration station on Ellis Island. Describing the site of the statue as it was erected, the American poet Emma Lazarus wrote that the statue silently demands:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

It is a poem that defines America – and we and the EU would do well to remember it, especially in such turbulent times.

At this time in my life, all posts have a link to my Kickstarter campaign.

Back to the old blog

It’s been over a year technically – and many many years, since I have really blogged on this thing on a regular basis.

I guess at some point that projects I was working on consumed so much time there was no room for blogging, and now it’s like a whole decade of my life that I’ve lost. Or at least don’t have as well indexed as the six years before that. (I started blogging in 2001.)

Well, no time like the present to go back and catch up! My life has become beautiful and surreal in unexpected ways this last year. Aaron Swartz Day has blossomed into a historical occasion (video and transcripts here) that I’ll be writing about for months to come. I’m lecturing at San Francisco State University and finding it to be one of the most gratifying experiences of my life, and I’ve launched also a new career as an independent film maker, with a Kickstarter campaign that’s currently in mid-swing.

My first movie is entitled “From DeadDrop to SecureDrop,” and focuses on the open source anonymous whistleblower submission platform SecureDrop (originally protyped as “DeadDrop” by Kevin Poulsen and Aaron Swartz.)

SecureDrop is alive and well over at the Freedom of the Press Foundation. There are now over 19 news and non-profit organizations that have SecureDrop implementations. You’ll be hearing a lot more about SecureDrop over the next few weeks and months, as it’s one of my current obsessions, not only as I make this film, but as I teach my classes and write articles and blogposts about how I truly believe that SecureDrop is an important tool to help make the world a better place.


Is this thing on?

okie doke. How should I say this politely?
“I’m baaaack! ”
Well that might not have been as appropriate as I had envisioned. But let’s just say I am back, and I have a hell of a lot to talk about…

It’s the Sixth Anniversary of the Iraq War

Does anyone care? Seems like it’s just me.
Well I do care. I’m very upset. And I don’t think Obama is doing enough to get us out of Iraq, and I also don’t see how it’s any different than what Bush did, if he sends more troops over to Afghanistan, like he’s talking about.
Feels a little like in the months after 911, frankly. When everybody was all “yea us!” while Bush moved in on Iraq, and everyone assured me that we would do the right thing.
I’ll say it again: Waiting a year to close Guantanamo is wrong.
Not even mentioning the sixth anniversary of the war – just plain wrong.
I know the economy is everyone’s first priority, but stalling on taking action on Guantanamo and Iraq, when lives are at stake, can’t be right.
That’s what it feels like is going on right now.
I waited a day, as I often do, to see if I still felt this way, before sharing my feelings with you. But I just felt stronger about it this morning. So there it is πŸ™‚

Cylindrian Rutabaga and Friends Tonight at the Central Perk, El Cerrito, CA

Cylindrian Rutabega — “Grace” in RL – is playing the Central Perk in El Cerrito tonight (and I’ll be hanging around with my guitar — just in case πŸ™‚
She’s there for three hours from 7-10 pm. She has a bunch of cool friends coming by and the Central Perk is my new favorite hang out i think. (Directions below photograph.)
This would also be a great time to come by and say hi in human form. I love my new robot and avatar friends, but it is still nice to see and hug the actual carbon-based unit corresponding to the identity of the human I love, during those rare special occasions when such meetings are possible πŸ™‚
Cylindrian Rutabaga Live Tonight!

Directions: This place is really easy to get to:
– It’s 1 block away from El Cerrito Plaza Bart, on the corner of Central Avenue and San Pablo.
– From Highway 80, coming North or South, it’s the “Central Ave.” Exit off the freeway. Then head east off the freeway for five minutes till you get to San Pablo Ave.
-From the North OR South, just take San Pablo Ave till it hits Central Ave. El Cerrito is in between Berkeley/Albany and Richmond. If you’re coming north and you hit Guitar Center, you’ve gone too far.
Going south, hit the Pete’s on the right and you’ve gone too far.
– Address: 10086 San Pablo, El Cerrito, 94530
-Phone: 866-417-5206
-See you tonight!

Not very long ago. In a galaxy not too far away…

Once upon a time, I met a skateboarding, breakdancing Tin Woodsman named Gary Bukowski

Gary is a Wishfarmer.

The Wishfarmers are basically a group of Second Life Wizards.

Now I spend my days and nights on Wishfarmers Isle, often just enjoying the surroundings around me, and trying remember what it was I used to do in that other place “out there.”

Our latest creation is Strengths Island, which you are about to hear a lot more about…

My Adventure As A Wishfarmer Begins

Teleport to Strengths Island

So I promised that I would start blogging more — about everything, but in particular about the projects I’ve been working on these days, which are mainly in Second Life.

Well, I’ll finally start making good on that promise today, and I’m really excited about keeping you more in the loop on what I’m working on, so you can help me make it better.

The Second Life learning curve is a brutal one, but I know that soon, if I keep at it 24-7, I’ll eventually absorb all the necessary data to effectively mesh with the grid.

Until then, I’m taking as many notes as I can about all my experiences during this precious time, when I still feel like a “Noob” (a SL new user), so I can incorporate them into my writings and teachings accordingly.

It’s been a while since I’ve really taken on the mission of mastering something new like this. In 1996, although I knew very little about computer programming at the time, I decided I wanted to learn everything about Web Standards — especially HTML and XML. Thanks to several members of the W3C’s staff and its original XML Working Group (who spent countless hours on the phone and writing emails to help me learn all the details), in just a few years, I was teaching XML for UC Berkeley Extension Online.

Then, in 2001, I decided to ramp up on Copyright Law in the hopes that it might somehow combine with my technical skills to perhaps play a role in helping to turn the copyright situation around. That time, although I wasn’t even sure myself where my research would take me (and again, as a result of countless individuals taking me under their wing, to help me learn quickly), I found myself a co-founder of Creative Commons, working with Lawrence Lessig.

So, as you can see, these leaps into the void seem to pay off for me, generally, in both the short and long term. I consider this to be another such leap.

This latest endeavor also ties in nicely with the graduate and undergraduate level teaching on social networking and virtual worlds I’ve been doing for Prof. Michelle Wolf and Prof. Marie Drennan at SF State’s Broadcast Electronic Communications Arts Department (BECA). I’m having a blast learning these new interactive education concepts and technologies from The Wishfarmers, and I am eagerly incorporating them into my own bevy of teaching knowledge and materials.

I guess by now it’s pretty obvious that I truly believe virtual worlds have the potential to help shape and improve our lives. And not just the lives of those online, but also the those out in regular old “meatspace.” It seems clear to me that virtual worlds are no more a fad or passing phase than the Internet itself.

But now I’m getting ahead of myself, and it’s usually best to start at the beginning…