Leaving A Data Legacy

I would love to know how my grandparents lived their lives half a century ago. Now that all but one have passed, I’m left with only a few pictures and stories. While there may be a Big Fish fantasy charm to the finite amount of information I have, my curiosity endures.

FoursquareI finally adopted Foursquare in January and checked in nearly a hundred times since. To this day, I struggle to find direct utility in the service (beyond specials, which I have never successfully used). That said, I am a data nut. I appreciate the value of collecting information on my life, whether I do anything with it or not. I’m too lazy to keep a journal, so social and location services help a lot. Despite the fact that my data may be used to serve the gains of others, I (perhaps naively) trust that these services will evolve to capture and interpret the nodes of my life back to me and all who follow.

I am of the camp that sees big data not as a violation of personal privacy, but as a path to building a data legacy. I don’t presume to become wildly famous and expect the world to care what I ate for breakfast yesterday. No, I mean to say that I want to leave slices of history for my children and children’s children to better understand me and the times I live in. Does anybody really care that I had Pad Thai for lunch yesterday? Fuck no. But the next generation might appreciate a rich data set on American dining habits and dietary evolution. My grandchildren might appreciate that Pad Thai is one of my favorite dishes.

Like donating your body to science, I want to donate the computed history of my life to the next generation of sociologists, historians and nostalgics. I want my grandchildren to have access to anything they could possibly want to know about me and learn from my mistakes. We all have an opportunity like never before to contribute to the nuance of our generation’s history books.

So, in spite of all this privacy hooplah, I will continue to check in and contribute to big data through applications and organizations that lend to a long shelf life and value for greater societal context.

Advertisements

Invest In Your Childhood

I don’t care how immature or nerdy it may seem; everyone needs to invest in his or her childhood once in a while. Revisit old cartoons, movies, video games, board games, books, and destinations. Spend money on the things you loved as a child. I just purchased the new Legend of Zelda; after nearly two years devoid of video games, I look forward to burning a good 50 hours on it. Why revisit your childhood? It’s a grounding experience. Through nostalgia, you refresh core values and trace your steps. You come to appreciate who you are and where you came from. It’s important for building identity. It’s important for building the soul.

Do not hesitate to buy and enjoy that childhood classic. Screw the person who tells you to grow up.

Write History

The men and women revered in our history books made it there by impacting their community. Their personal ambitions transcended the self and aimed for a higher context. The heroes in our history books lived their lives for others, for a mission or spirit greater than themselves. We do not remember them because they were trying to earn a paycheck; we remember them because they made a difference in our lives. They served us in one way or another. They played a role in changing the world.

If you want to leave a legacy before you go, push personal needs and wants to the back burner. Live life for a higher context – if not for humanity, then for your community, friends, and family. See past your own problems and look into the problems of others. Make it your mission to heal the wounds of the world. Target a problem you believe you can solve with your talents, and do not rest until the job is done.

The world will notice. Before long, your needs and wants will be fulfilled in thanks. Your deeds will enrich lives, your name will live on, and life will be good. But only if you do it for others, not yourself.

How America Can Reclaim First Place

American FlagsCan you imagine traveling six days by horse in a blizzard to hang out with peers and talk politics? Can you imagine waking up to a trumpet, grabbing your gun and running outside to join other armed neighbors to defend your cul-de-sac? Can you imagine hiding in your basement with friends for fear of your life and plotting a bloody revolution? These activities were commonplace 250 years ago at the birth of our nation. Early Americans went to great lengths to come together, stand as one, and protect our freedoms. The value of togetherness networked local communities, rallied the majority against common enemies, and united the colonies.

Somewhere between the Cold War and postdevelopment, Americans lost site of that camaraderie. We lost site of togetherness. Back then, the freedom to assemble was a huge deal – so important that it topped the list of our constitutional amendments. Today, I see a lot of ambition and very little group collaboration. Few people stand collectively behind anything except brands and religion (and even those groups are fading).

We need to come together again. We need to debate again. We need to start a cultural revolution again. And like all great movements in history, the era of neo-togetherness starts small: spend more time with friends. Spend time discussing how you think the world should look. Spend time making suggestions and outlining solutions. And if you are brave enough, spend time tackling those solutions together.

Our great country evolved through community. Only a strong community can keep it alive.

Enhanced by Zemanta

A Vendetta Against Neckties

Amedeo Modigliani [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsI have never liked neckties. They are uncomfortable, untimely to dress and useless accessories to otherwise utilitarian garb. I can appreciate style, but the necktie is impractical. Seriously, what’s the point? Scarves make sense to me. And while not fashionable, so do bibs. But not neckties. Not anymore.

The necktie, originally called a “cravat,” was first popularized by Croatian mercenaries in the 1630s (part of my ancestry). Unpopular lore suggests these garments were used by the warriors to wipe clean their bloodied swords and flaunted as trophies of valor. The bloodier the cravat, the greater the man. While other European militias struck uniform accessories from their budgets, the Croatians struck enemies with their killer fashion sense. Bloody or not, the Croatian warriors built a reputation throughout the Western world and their linen trademark caught the attention of aristocracy. Before long, King Louis XIV embraced the necktie and the rest is history.

The modern necktie is nothing more than a corporate leash and a masturbatory symbol for power and wealth. If the world’s men spent less time tying knots at their gullets and more time changing the world, we could have flying cars by now.

Loosen your tie and share this with your boss.