The President interviewed by a comedian in a garage.

Marc Maron scored a real coup for his show WTF, with the President of the United States sitting down with him in his garage in Pasadena to have a very human and personal conversation with him. It’s an excellent listen. 

A Quiet Sunday Morning

I was up early today. When the hounds wanted out at 5am, I decided I would get some coffee, write and think. It’s the beginning of a quiet and reflective Sunday morning that Joell and I have been planning for a few days.

The last week has been difficult. It started close to our hearts, but trivial: the loss of our dear little pygmy goat, Chocolate, who had been a part of our Square Peg family for a decade. Then, when we were still a bit sad over our silly little goat, a young man killed 9 people after sitting in church with them for over an hour. It’s been reported that he’s confessed that he almost didn’t go through with it because they were so kind to him. That’s the kind of people he killed, people who showed nothing but kindness to a stranger.

Nothing is going to instantly fix this hole in my heart, calm the rage I feel, purge my disgust for the racists who fly that flag, but this morning we will take another step toward healing and spend the morning in celebration at Glide.

A great interview…

Tim Ferris has an interview show, and a recent guest was Arnold Schwarzenegger. The conversation is wide-ranging, fun and inspiring. Check it out:

http://fourhourworkweek.com/2015/02/02/arnold-schwarzenegger/

If you use iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-tim-ferriss-show/id863897795?mt=2

The Internet and the FCC

On the eve of an important ruling vote at the FCC, Brad Feld has written a great piece on the subject. As he says:

There has been an enormous amount of bombastic rhetoric in the past few months about the issue that has recently become especially politicized in the same way the debate about SOPA/PIPA unfolded.

 

Indeed. And Feld continues on to debunk a few of the most ridiculous ideas and provides links to several other articles going into details. A worthy read.

Tim Cook on Human Rights and Dignity

In November 2013, Auburn University’s College of Human Sciences bestowed the IQLA Lifetime Achievement Award on Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple Computer. His acceptance speech is stunning.

“Never allow the majority to limit the rights of the minority. Never allow people who fear anyone different from themselves to limit others’ human rights or deny others’ human dignity.”

He talks about gay rights, discrimination, human dignity and human rights in a beautiful and passionate way.

Not only does he use an example, close to our heart at Square Pegs, of an autistic boy finding his voice through technology, but he makes this important point about the purpose of great products:

“We design our products so they surprise and delight everyone who uses them. And we never, never ever analyze the return on investment. We do it because it is just and right, and that is what respect for human dignity requires, and it is a part of Apple that I am especially proud of.”

This is the kind of leadership technology companies need. This is why many of us got into technology in the first place — to change lives.

Bravo, Mr. Cook.

The Internet Is Worth Protecting

I’ve been on the internet more than half my life. I consider myself a digital native.

Today many people are protesting the SOPA and Protect IP Act legislation that threatens the internet. This threat is real, as this legislation breaks some fundamental things about how the internet works. If you are interested in the technical details and arguments against this legislation, many have written about them. Here’s an interview with my friend Elliot Noss on CBC Radio talking about why his business has “gone dark” today.

This is a big issue, so I’m going to share some of my thoughts on why the internet is so important.

 

The Internet Is Made of People

From my early days on “Usenet”, what drew me was real people and their ideas. Usenet was a big distributed forum for people to talk about subjects ranging from computers (comp.sys.sgi) to rock climbing (rec.climbing) the game of go (rec.games.go). People on computers all over the world, connected on the internet and with dial-up UUCP connections, would talk about these topics, and it fascinated me. There were THOUSANDS of people out there!

Fast-forward to the early-90’s and this new thing called “The World-Wide Web” came along. I was at SGI when I first saw it, on an Irix machine running a browser built by some guys at a university. The Web quickly grew so big that whole businesses were created just to index it all.

The internet grew all sorts of businesses, many of them crazy. But for me, it was still about people. When I came to Silicon Valley many years ago, I knew I was going to be surrounded by brilliant people. Now, with the internet I can find them wherever they are… no matter where I am — The people AND their ideas.

The Internet is Made of Ideas

My internet wanderings have always followed my interests. I found people out there talking about topics that interested me. It was wonderful! But no group of people ever stays “on topic”, so over time you get to know people and understand their ideas about the world. Exposure to new and different ideas makes your world bigger and richer.

My wife an I are aficionados of “Podcasts”. They are really just radio or TV shows, but packaged for the internet. But you don’t just watch what’s on, like we did back when there were just three channels on the TV. You get to pick! We love to listen to smart people talk about interesting ideas, so we listen to TEDTalks. I like computers and tech, so I listen to shows from the TWiT network and 5by5, and we both love good story telling, so we listen to The Moth and This American Life.

All over the world there are people with something to say. More than any other invention, the internet allows people with ideas to be heard; to spread their ideas. I believe this will make the world a better place.

Because…

 

The Internet is What We Make it

What we do, say, and look at on the internet makes it become what it will be.

Let’s use Google Search as an example. Google’s original search algorithms considered page linking structure as an indicator of value and intent. It was a way of measuring what people thought and what they valued. Google’s PageRank algorithm also considered that a link from a page with a high PageRank conveyed more PageRank forward to the linked page.

a page can have a high PageRank if there are many pages that point to it, or if there are some pages that point to it and have a high PageRank

http://infolab.stanford.edu/~backrub/google.html – Brin & Page,

In the intervening years, the Google algorithms have been improved and changed. Many of the changes are intended to reduce the influence of certain cynical forms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that seek to raise search listings artificially. Notably, the Google Panda update use machine learning algorithms to detect non-useful sites and reduce their search ranking.

At its best, SEO is about optimizing websites so that they are easy for search engines like Google to catalog and rank, and so that they earn the strong ranking and visibility they deserve. But there is a lot of SEO that is really just tricks to try to get attention. When the search engines fight back, the internet gets better. They all try. And when people choose quality content over link farms, they can succeed.

Quality content comes from real people. Whether they are making a funny cat video or writing an important essay, real people are behind the best on the internet.

 

The  Internet is Important, But…

What is really important is US. You and Me. The ideas we share, the things that make us laugh, cry, and think. For this, the internet is just a medium. But it’s a medium that connects us throughout the world in a new way, spreading ideas and culture and making the world a better place. (Yes, that’s a long video, but Joi’s talk is worth every minute.)

The internet is under attack by corporations that are trying to protect their failing business models. They want you to believe that the internet is a problem to be fixed. Don’t believe them.

The internet is for making people heard, for allowing us to connect to one another. Don’t let the non-people take that away from us.

 

 

Why politics is important…

Politics can make a difference. And it all starts with ideas. Some ideas are more universal and meaningful than others.

My children are the center of my world—and when I think about the issues facing our nation right now, I think about what that means for our girls, and the world that we’re leaving for them and all of our children. There is so much at stake—this is about more than just politics—it’s about whether or not we as a people can move forward through times of challenge, and cynicism, and frustration. And use the opportunity we’ve been given to build better communities and to build a better country.

Excerpt from: Organizing for America | Erica Sagrans’s Blog: Michelle Obama: “This isn’t about politics”

We’ve accomplished a lot, but the job is clearly not done. ?So when voting tomorrow, think about the opportunity we have to make a lasting difference, not just for ourselves, but for our children and grandchildren.

Just How Big Was It?

Some figures…

CBS News commissioned the same group to analyze the crowd size at the Stewart-Colbert rally it used to estimate the crowd at Glenn Beck’s August rally.

The CBS numbers: Beck drew 87,000 people to his rally, Stewart and Colbert drew 215,000.

Excerpt from: Just How Big Was The Stewart-Colbert Rally? | TPMDC

Plus the signs were better. 😉

We have good reasons to be angry

These are scary times, there is no doubt. but I hope in the end people focus on what we can accomplish, not just what we fear. Bill Clinton recently put it well…

Clinton exhorted the crowd to “keep on being mad. But concentrate your anger so that it clarifies your judgment instead of clouding it. . . . The worst thing you can do right now is bring back the shovel brigade to start digging the hole again.”

Excerpt from: Former president Clinton on mission to rescue Democratic Party in fall elections

 

I happen to agree with President Clinton about the disaster that is modern Republican policy. But wherever you stand on the various issues, let’s make this election about solutions, not just anger and frustration.

Yes on 19… (California)

I’m backing California Proposition 19, even though I’m personally disinterested in marijuana. Paul Buchheit makes the argument beautifully, so I thought I would share.

Not only is prohibition an attack on our basic right to control our own bodies and minds (a philosophical point which most people probably don’t care about), but prohibition also provides a multi-billion dollar subsidy to violent criminal organizations that threaten our physical safety and security, something everyone cares about.

?http://paulbuchheit.blogspot.com/2010/10/quest-for-freedom-and-safety-why-i.html

Go read the whole thing. Even if you don’t live in California.