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cOPENhagen-Denmark's the Spot

Ed Reif 2.0 The Start Up-seeking out change and new experiences.

Sweden and Denmark  were my  port of call for Summers 2009 and 2010, but I  stayed  in Stockholm for three months in 96; with the usual run of the mill  obstacles, the fatigue, the ambiguity, and even the danger of being too enthusiastic. I learned a lot of Finnish jokes too  like the Finnish man loved his wife so much he almost told her.

Serendipity brought me to an Engelska/English  bookstore  where I  bought (browsing not allowed like at Barnes and Noble) , the most important "geek" book of the info revolution, Nicholas Negroponte's Being Digital.  This treatise on  bits verses atoms, and access and mobility to free  content  was a primer on how the worlds of interaction, entertainment and information would eventually merge.The paradox of his  book or any book nowadays, is that its digital version is available online  because  "Digital books never go out of print".

 Boom! The napsterization of cutting out the middleman, the tivoization time shifting of on-demand entertainment , plus the CNN effect, the 24 hour news cycle were all emerging, and here was The Oracle, Visionary and Digital Pathfinder Negronponte, predicting that Computing is not about computers anymore. It is about living. In fact,  I took his "Daily Me" concept of a virtual daily newspaper customized for an individual's tastes and created this  blog based on things I would like to read, where "everyone is my neighbor" Hence the Title: Hotel @nyware. 

Being Digital,  where the world is flat and decentralized, making things bigger and smaller at the same time was the future, and the future was already here. It just wasn't evenly distributed yet.This celestial coincidence, where the   planets of change line up, would take some time personally for me. The wired/less attitude and life style  hit me big  in 1998, in the USA when I  started teaching visual literacy  using  the internet to get students engaged and connected, away solely from "space" (the printed page) to "time" (Web-based timeline and interactive multimedia). In fact, it has led me to believe that good education is about good entertainment.

The three reasons why I became a teacher--- June, July and August- freed me up to do gigs. First,  at Creative Planet, where I consulted on production tools for the movie industry, where  I was introduced by UCLA and USC interns  to  free downloads courtesy of  Nutella, Limewire and Napster. I also made  Google my default search engine! More than that,  I was lucky enough to get parts as an Extra in  film and TV and a union  SAG (Screen Actors Guild) card  playing an Attorney in a horror movie. I was amazed how you could shoot and edit a movie on location using a MAC and  Final Cut, then send "The Dailys" remotely using the magic of wireless, e mail, and for larger files, FTP sites to the studio. (Now, no more thumb and flash drives etc-it's all in The Cloud).

In my  "At Sea"  world of immersion,  authorship
 is both  the transmission of experience, and  the
 construction of utterly personal experiences.
Being Digital, along with Wired Magazine, that Nicholas co-founded, was to become  my  Web 2.0 Rosetta Stone for interpeting exactly what we all were and still are  experiencing-that there is no such thing as a bad address when using the Internet- Face Book, Twitter, Skype and Blogger. They  shatter time and space, and NOW  it all really  happens in real time.

I've seen the future and it works-

I got a first hand account of "the power of one" and the "electronic word of mouth"  back in 2010, as a Citizen journalists, when Night Line and Good Morning America picked up my YouTube videos, when my ship the Carnival Splendor was dead in the water for 4 days. I wasn't watching TV:TV was watching me! (The video went nuclear and I got over 10,000 hits in a matter of hours)

Nicholas glibly pointed out "The true value of a network is less about information and more about community. The information superhighway... is creating a totally new, global social fabric."   I was doing my part for "Did you hear about" Journalism. You see, you don't have to be a navaho code breaker to use a cell phone. Just post something to Youtube and let the audience vote. This is acronymically known as UGC, user-generated content.

Yet the Summer of 1996, my  analog eyes didn't quite see our digital world. In a way, I lived the life I recently described  last year in 2011 when visiting Mynmar aka Burma, as uninitiated and unplugged- setting  life unintentionally  to airplane mode. Off "The Grid" it was CNN vesres The Alphabet.

It was still  brick and mortar for me. where ramen noodles were a dish of effortless purity, and I had to resign myself to "Black work" as a dog walker and digging ditches to take care of my  extended vacation. Stockholm wasn't solving my  digital "problems', it was subsidizing them. The epiphanies would have to wait.

Negronponte was instrumental in the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) program. Ironically I  was one of his "digital homeless". I didn't even have a computer, In fact, I had  access to  free ISDN internet bandwidth  at  Stockholm University's library and frequently  took advantage of  their  "user friendly" desktop PC's. 

Furthermore, let me say,  Tack så mycket Stockholm! for introducing me to  one of the most significant  applications to my digital life, e mail. I credit a random student who helped me sign up for my free hotmail account, which I still am using today.

Greetings From The User-Friendly Universe of Sweden...

In a very practical way, it was the act of rebirth. I delt with completely new situations; the days passed more slowly, and most of the time, I didn't even understand the language the people spoke.It actually made me more accessible to others, because they helped me out in difficult situations. Nobody  remains quite what they are when they recognizes themselves.

The idea occurred to me when I was there. At first it was only a vague idea, a question looming — what should I do? — with an answer taking shape: nothing.

I didn't consider myself happy or unhappy. I just knew there was something OUT THERE that I needed to get to and it never seemed to be where I was at any particular moment. 

Doing nothing  always carries with it the sense of violation, of sacrilege.It´s evil, dangerous, and  subversive, at least for we Americans. It´s a poor workman who blames his tool, and doing nothing is a powerful one. It can give you your best "material".

The time I enjoyed wasting in Sweden wasn´t wasted time. I made some great friends. I read a book that changed the way I thought about the world as I knew it.  I got a free  e mail account.

 I got wired!

A Footnote to the email account.

 I had the chance to drive up from Los Angeles  to Silicon Valley in 1997, and visit my e mail account!

 My virtual address that I still "reside" at to date. 
Out of curiosity, to my suprise, the offices of hotmail were in a strip mall, not some huge warehouse full of the UNIVAC tubes of 1950's. Nothing but towers of computers, were stacked up to the ceiling, as I pressed my nose up against the store front glasss and looked in at awe of the tiny space me along with hundreds of thousand other users e mail accounts "lived" at. Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith, were out of town, according to a UPS guy delivering stuff next store.

This web-based e mail service was sold  to Microsoft for $4million 2 years later. an amazing thing considering how small in terms of physical space these microcomputers actually took up.  It all makes sense to me  now- If we were to place a value of a lost lap top, not in terms of atoms $600 price tag at Best Buy,  but with bits(data) I would place a $1 million value on my own personal content. This is my own example of bits verses atoms, Nicholas talked about way back in 1996.  It has gotten to the point where I dont care as much about losing the device-the cell phone, the lap top, the mp3 player- as losing just the data!  the address book, the writings, the songs...That's why storing stuff on the server side, in the cloud gives peace of mind. and the shift from the physical to the digital..


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