It does seem that way, though I’m not.
Biche would know; she was in the shop with me when Internet Dan became my identity, calling, and full-time occupation.
Dead is the wrong word. I retired this year – and in the process, I published more than I ever have before. In fact, I said damn near everything I had to say. Twenty two thousand words. Do me a favor and read through it:
Then I gave the DIY Book Scanner project to Jonathon and Scann. It was hard to let go of so much identity. You don’t simply walk away from six years of sweat, blood, and plywood. Or 1700 square feet of productive, self-sufficient space. But here I am with my brother, tearing it down.
It’s not easy to hand over a business that is making money. Or to risk compromising friendships with die-hard supporters like Scann, Jonathon, jck57, or Johannes. I now know I did the right thing, and I know it because I can see the work taking new forms, making new headway and progress in directions I could never seem to take it. Sometimes you just have to get out of the way.
These 50-odd weeks were heavy learning. And my mind changed a lot. I wanted to post about these things. In no order –
1: I no longer believe in Open Hardware licensing as endorsed by OSHWA. It’s bogus; legally toothless; dangerous to people with good intentions. It’s borderline fraud; copyright cannot protect hardware. Pretending like it does is a pretty big mistake, pushing it on others is inexcusable. I decided to make the book scanner design public domain – I wasn’t about to screw it up like other people who harvest Open Source for profit. I recommend you do the same.
2: Some of the most interesting work is secret; I used to hate secrets, but I now understand they can provide something valuable – a safe space to explore new ideas without a constant chattering peanut gallery. I still believe in radical openness, but not for everything. Secrecy has value. Interestingly, secrecy is also the reason that certain communities (like the intelligence community) can never publicly defend themselves. Sucks to be them, but it’s something to keep in mind when you criticize an organization with no outgoing interface. Or when you join one. Finally, I also learned that secrecy gives people a lot of latitude to lie about what they’ve done. No one can know if you really did it, after all.
3. I can’t do it alone. Radical self-sufficiency is still powerful in me; I still think it is best to Do It Yourself. I want to live in a world of my own making, and I want to make everything in it. And I do this, perhaps more than others. Years ago, Golan Levin and I were having a conversation about writing image processing software for the DIY Book Scanner. When I said how badly I wanted to write the software, he challenged – “Haven’t you learned anything from your own project?” – meaning that I should rely on others to do what they are good at. To crowdsource something more than enthusiasm. But beyond projects and hardware, I have also learned that life is better with a partner. Whole essays hide behind that sentence.
3. My generation faces two major challenges – the struggle for human rights (these are the rights to gay marriage, to equal pay for women, to equality for all races, to equal access to all that life has to offer) — and the struggle for control of our data and privacy. Right now, we are losing both of these struggles. I honestly and naively thought we were doing better than we were, but that is an absurd position in light of this year’s revelatory authority tantrums (cops continuously killing blacks, the slow-burn of Snowden revelations). I have nothing good to say about this. My generation is way more concerned with where their food notionally comes from than where their data is going. And while there’s a lot of lip service to feminism, racial equality, and gay rights, there’s a lot more actual work going on to legalize marijuana. Actions are the acid test of platitudes. And the approach generally sucks. I like the way Alexis Madrigal framed it:
“Individuals unplugging is not actually an answer to the biggest technological problems of our time just as any individual’s local, organic dietary habits don’t solve global agriculture’s issues”
While our generation may be the most technologically ensconced yet on earth, we’re mostly incompetent in programming and controlling that technology. The most powerful and democratizing lever ever in human hands is barely able to pry us off the couch in the middle of the walled garden. I’m ashamed.
Well, this is my year-end post. Usually these posts are basically big picture-poems; here are some words and images to keep the tradition strong. Sorry that more of these weren’t shared at the time they were created. Time has been tight.
I didn’t think 2015 would be the year I left Los Angeles. I had planned to stay.
I miss you, Towne.
Miss you Max and Marisa,
Miss you Ali and Pehr.
And Eric and America and Susan and Lanny and Quinn and Sebastian and Slators and Arnars and Schwerts and Imagineers all. And all those family members that died this year. We burned the Christmas tree for you.
Miss you Pho 87, whoa
Miss you Spring for Coffee, there is nothing like you here
Miss you fast, cheap help,
Miss you, morning walks and incoming airplane constellations.
Much of this year was getting my thoughts together – but I’m also learning to organize things-
(paint and tape)
A smaller and more efficient space makes more sense, anyway. Thanks, Rob, for all your Googly help with this:
It’s been good getting our house into order. I always said I never would.
but piece by piece
petal by petal
pin by pin
handWe did it. Goddamn! I got the better deal. By far. Thank you for asking, Dana.
I love our life together. I love our family – the Reetz side:
And the Dana side:
Always maintained I wouldn’t marry. But I’d never met a Dana before. We share words like these:
And do things like this:
also meals like these.
I hope it’s clear, I’m really not dead – just different. I can’t work from the position I used to; I have to do something new. Fortunately, I have help.
The next few years will be most interesting.
Miss you all. Have a great 2016.