“Art Technology Are Old Pals” Talk Transcription (Wordcamp Vancouver 2010)

Transcription of a talk called “Art and Tech are Old Pal” at Wordcamp Vancouver in 2010. Video no longer exists (thanks to blip.tv) but audio exists, as does a “round-up” of photos, tweets, artifacts, and so on. See “Consider Perusing” below.

Dave: I bet you’ve had a lot of knowledge today, so you’re probably pretty exhausted.  I’m pretty wiped out but that’s mostly from the speaker’s dinner last night.  Thanks to the organizers for bludgeoning us the night before.  I really went there.  This will be fine.  I’m just going to pop in for just an hour or so.  It turned out to be longest bus ride of my life on the way home.  Overall, we’re good.  So, Mr. John Biehler on keyboard. [applause]

So, I do my best thinking in the bath because you can’t do anything else.  When you’re in the bath, there’s really nothing else you can do.  You certainly can’t use your iPhone unless you put it in a little Ziploc bag.  You shouldn’t be using your laptop.  That’s just dangerous.  I can’t use my vaporizer because I’d be electrocuted.  So really, all that’s left to do in the bath is thinking.

Recently, I was in the hospital.  Hit me the slide there, John.  While I was recovering and having my scrambled eggs and stuff like that, I got to thinking about what a strange conundrum.  What a strange piece of place of history that we live in with this tool.  I was thinking about coming to talk to you guys.  I had to have something because I really couldn’t think about it because I really couldn’t do much of anything.

I started thinking about how weird it is that all of a sudden art and technology were seeing these fruitions of time where all of a sudden a lot of you are making tools, writing codes, I went and sat in some of the things, and John’s talking about Map and all the new innovations of WordPress 3.0., I use the free WordPress.com, so I’m just letting you guys figured out how to build the tools.

But, all of a sudden, we’re replacing time that guys are making tools.  You’re also expected or in some way producing content for these things.  All of a sudden, you have this new publishing platform in front of you.  I started thinking, because I’ve always been caught in space between art and technology as evidenced here with my King Tut exhibit there, that was pretty good and that’s the important part of taking risks, just proof and point about when you make art, you got to take some risks.  

But both, like the information and how the information is presented — a number of years ago, people always talked about the Gutenberg press.  But now, all of a sudden, Gutenberg wasn’t a writer.  He wasn’t producing content.  His problem was never coming up with content.  His problem was to print content.  Well, I have to talk to my client about content.  My client doesn’t think that they need a blog, but they don’t really know why they need to blog.

Well, it’s weird that you even have to deal with that problem.  It used to be someone would make the type, someone would make machine, and someone would make content.  They’d all get together, exchange some money, and exchange different tasks.  But all of a sudden, you’re in a situation where you’re both obliged and have the opportunity to exercise inner disciplinary skills which is a pretty exciting thing.

So I started thinking about this a little bit more and I’m like, “Well, what other instances in history do we have where this art and technology fueled each other and technological innovations spurred creative output?”  I started thinking, “Why is there this big gulf between art and technology, art and science?”  Even when you go to college, you end up with a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science.  Why can’t we all just get along?  Why are you one or the other?

You’re always like there are the engineers at school and there are the liberal arts geeks also known as the people who’ll soon be unemployed on the other side.  I started thinking about why is there this big chasm?  I said, because I’m still in the bath and I’m thinking about this, “This chasm’s like as big as the Grand Canyon.”  I know because I walked across the Grand Canyon.

I started thinking about this as a little bit of a metaphor.  If you’re going across the Grand Canyon, it takes three days.  The first day is punishing.  It’s all downhill.  I’m like, “All downhill, that’s not too bad.”  But that’s pretty brutal.  Plus, it’s on the south rim, so you’re exposed to the sun the whole time.  Man, is this hot.  You’re down.  Your knees are pounding.

Finally, when you get down to the bottom, after such a daunting task, sitting on and just talking, “Really, we’re walking down here?  Wow.  We’re going to have to walk back up the other way.”  But it’s doable because it’s downhill the whole way even if it’s a little hot and brutal.  Now, the third day, you have to go back up and going up, wow.  That’s a day that you won’t soon forget especially since about half way up, after you’ve just been like, “All right.  I’m going to make.  I know it.”

Well, the mules that carry the tourists who don’t care to hike across it.  They carry these tourists down.  It’s a fairly small trail, so you have to compete to with trail space with this parade of mules because they don’t just travel by one, they travel by 20.  The thing that I just learned about mules is if one of them starts pooping and then whole rest of them starts pooping.

The difference in the south rim is really dry, hot, and brutal where the north rim is hard, slug, going upright and is filled with a lot of shit on the other side.  But once you get to the top, it’s pretty satisfying.  I started thinking about that, “Wow.  That’s a little bit of a metaphor for art and technology as different career paths.”  You can choose which side is which.

But, down at the bottom on day two, this is where everything really goes down.  This is where these two sides and these two different conundrums, these two different syndromes or these different sizes, or different environments, all converge down at the bottom.  You have things like a waterfall.  You have little rivulets.  You have these amazing plants that grow down at the bottom.

You have thistles that spring up along the side of the trail.  You have this old Indian Anasazi art.  You have tunnels and all these things that have been created through time.  The weirdest thing is you finally get to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and there’s beer.

I was this 17-year-old Canadian that had ended up in Utah and I had a fake ID.  It just felt like this is the whole reason why I had my B.C. identity card made down at Granville for $10.00.  The place isn’t there anymore.  I had a beer down at the bottom at Grand Canyon.

I can’t think but to think if we can figure out what’s down there?  What’s at the bottom of the Canyon in between art and technology?  There might be some beer waiting down there for us.  So, let us explore, shall we?

So, I started thinking about art and technology.  There have been situations throughout history where they’ve become old pals.  Now, last year, if any of you were WordCamp Whistler, I started back with the ancient Greeks.  Even though they extended me to an hour, I’m going to start in the 1800s because I don’t think I can do that again because I went up for an hour and a half, something like that, especially with people that are standing.  I want to go easy on you.

So, it’s like figuring each other out.  Art and technology’s in a lot of situations now where they’re just getting along like it’s no big thing.  Well, actually, our story begins in Amsterdam, one of my favourite cities.  I’ve actually forgotten to show you the pictures of the Grand Canyon.  I got so excited to tell you the story.  Here, you can play with them down here.  Pass them around and share them with your friends.

This story begins in Amsterdam.  Chris was saying that there wasn’t too much ambiance here on the stage, so I brought some pictures along here to decorate it a little bit.  Make it look a little bit more homey.  That’s a nice little canal.  That’s better?  Good.

So, in Amsterdam, it’s mostly coffee shops and these lovely canals.  There are a couple of museums that sit right next to each other.  One of them is the Rijksmuseum, the royal museum.  In there are the works of the Dutch Masters.  As it turns out, the Dutch Masters, before they were branded cigars, they were a group of painters.

During the 1600s, they really reached the epitome of their collective skills where they determined all the best ways, the proper way to make paintings.  Back in those days, paintings were portraits.  The artists’ worked for patrons.  They worked in a controlled environment.  They worked on a single oil painting for months, if not, years.

The other thing that was really weird about their job is they had to be alchemists in a way.  They had to shop at the same stores as doctors of the day to buy the materials required to make paint.  Many of these substances were toxic.  Some of them were very strange.  Some of them were for [inaudible 00:07:49] different animals.

But they mix these things.  They were diligent with their craft and they created these massive canvases of pictures that were realistic in every sense of the way.  They can capture those people, exact details of their face.  But then something started to change in art.  Impressionism Movement came along.

Everyone knows about Van Gogh.  Everyone goes, “That’s that guy who shot himself in the ear,” and all of this, “Starry, Starry Night,” and whatever but the thing that made Van Gogh’s whole career possible and all of his Impressionist friends with him, is Van Gogh was one of the very first people to use a whole new consumer product where technologically they had standardized the recipes for paint, pre-packages them, and put them into tubes.

This was amazing because all of a sudden painters weren’t confined to where they had their mortar and pestle and their little mixing equipment inside of the studio having these materials that would only stay usable for a short period of time.  Now, they could simply go purchase little bits of paint, go out, and just spend the day out in the countryside painting.

It wasn’t just Van Gogh doing this.  All of a sudden, it opened this up to amateurs.  When amateurs are all of a sudden allowed to do things like shoot professional quality photographs, what happens?  They experiment.  They try new things and they find new ways to inject their emotion and their life experience in their work.  Voila.  There’s exhibit A.  I thought of how technology has spurred creative output.

So, moving on to the next one because there’s got to be plenty, but remember, I’ve limited to the 1800s.  I started noticing that there are sometimes cataclysmic events that happened at a certain point at time that facilitates these activities.  Wow.  Nice shorts.  It’s good.

This is a story of Henry David Thoreau.  Everyone knows Henry David Thoreau wrote Walden, [inaudible 00:09:34] book of contemporary English literature, influenced Martin Luther King and Gandhi.  Big deal.  That was only the second best thing he ever did.  I was going to say who here has got a pencil.  But everyone does because you got your free WordPress pencils.

So, graphite.  The Germans had the corner on the market on graphite.  The Germans and the Chinese had all the graphite.  The 1800s in the US, they’re like, “We found this wicked stash of graphite up here near Concord, Massachusetts which was really handy because there was still all this trade fallout from the War of 1812.

European markets and American markets weren’t getting along.  Pencils were a critical thing.  How can you write down your declaration of whatever you got without your pencil?  Are you going to use one of those old fashioned quills?  Come on, man.  But the Germans had this figured out.  The Americans were struggling to get pencils.

So, the technology was that you get half apiece, like a little half round, put a groove in it and you mix up this nice pure graphite that you get from the Germans.  You compress it.  Then you put the other half on.  You glue this thing.  So there were a couple of problems.  One, they couldn’t get the graphite.  Two, this whole thing of gluing the pencil together was really lousy.  But they had the stash of inferior graphite.

So, they were like, “Hey, Henry.  We paid for you to go to Harvard and it’s about time you started helping out the family business.  We’re pencil makers and we’re having a hard time.  So, you and your fancy schmancy Ivy League education, you get down there and you figure out a way to make this work.”  So, he went out in nature and walked around.

He found this new kind of clay that mixed with this kind of graphite produced a pencil that was even perhaps superior to the German made pencils.  Now, he took it a step further and figured out a way to compress this stuff and then get that long piece of wood, drills a hole through it, and just sticks the lead right on in there and was done.  No cutting.  No gluing.  He was like, “Great.  I’m done.  I’m out.  I’m heading to my cabin.”

But it’s hard to find pictures of Henry David Thoreau in his cabin so that’s why I put the picture of me in the cabin.  But this guy here, you think Henry David Thoreau was a little bit obscure and a little bit of a recluse.  This is his big competitor.  This is who squashed the Thoreau family pencil empire.  This is the count.

Actually, I got this on my iPhone.  I put this in because the guy’s name is so great and the fact that he is the person who has inherited this legendary pencil factory in Nuremberg.  He is the count of something.  Hold on.  It’s great.  Okay.  It’s on the iPhone.  It’s loading.

Speaking of Steve Jobs, he was all like, “We sold 20 million iPads in two months.”  Two thousand and six this guy alone sold 1.6 billion pencils.  So take that Steve Jobs.

Before he took over the family business, before he was obliged to come back, Thoreau has reclused himself in the woods, hanging out, and talking to the woodchucks and the squirrels or whatever.  This guy [inaudible 00:12:48] in the Grand Prix of Monaco and hanging out with royalty.  Cripes.  

So, there it is.  Henry David Thoreau, he did a little bit of technological innovation that came and it allowed him to do what he wanted to do and head out to the woods because he had the money to do it.  He had sorted things out and he produced something.

So, I started to think about this in terms of communications.  What we do with WordPress and blog and social media and all these stuff it’s something that’s a mix of publishing, expression, and it’s broadcasting all at the same time.  So, I started saying, “Okay.  Let’s narrow this down.”  What are the examples out there?  Sometimes you hear about the iPad and Kindle.  This is the death knell of the book.

Come on.  It’s the newspaper, the magazine and it’s compared to these things.  But these are very different things because none of these things have a broadcast button.  None of those have a conversation button.  I’m sure they’ll have like letters to the editor where they pick the fringe folks from the community, “Pick three random wing nuts and have them express the views of your community.”

So I started putting together a little bit of a formula about this and I put some notes there so I wouldn’t forget it.  But I first wrote it down here on a scroll.  What I found is this digital information that we think hangs around forever, disappears.  I’m going to talk more about this as we go on and I’ll talk more about the importance of paper.  But here’s me, eating my own dog food as Chris said earlier.

S.F. means short form.  What I mean by short form are things that aren’t designed to be worn apiece.  These are designed to be things that are digested in one sitting or thereabouts.  Mixed media are words or pictures.  Sometimes things move.  Sometimes things talk.  Auto-distributed.  I don’t  mean like on a magic like someone comes and does it for you when you ring a bell or something.

It’s like the delivery of the thing.  The fact that it’s going to be published and it’s going to be broadcasted is inherent in the thing itself.  Finally, it’s part of an ongoing narrative.  These aren’t things that just come out of nowhere.  These are things that you establish a relationship and continue on a consistent dialogue.  So I started to put those out there as sort of my constraints.

Now, what kind of examples can I find?  Let’s see.  What did I find?  Waters crossing oceans.  Now, last month, under very little fanfare, the last telegram was sent.  Did anyone hear about that?  It just happened about six weeks ago or so.  Of course, there were a few communications nerd who were all like, “I’m going to try to be the last one to do this.  Western Union, send another.  I want to be the last one.”

But you think about this and say, “Well, all it allowed people to do is communicate on individual basis back and forth across vast distances.”  It was built with tremendous hardship and difficulty, stretching cables underground across the Atlantic oceans.  No big deal.  We can do all that stuff now with the internet.  There would be no internet if there wasn’t the telegraph system.

That’s where the right of ways were established.  That’s where the basic protocols, the way that different governments crossed boarders and Telecos pass information along.  This was all established on telegrams.  I got my very first telegram and it turns out my only one on the day I was born.  

This one’s from my Uncle Lorne.  The previous picture wasn’t my Uncle Lorne, but it didn’t have a picture of me and Uncle Lorne so that was Uncle Randy.  But here it is.  It’s important.  I’m just trying to be accurate for the record.  My Mom might watch this and she’ll be on the Twitter, “Now, David.  You should’ve pointed out to those people…”  So here it is August 16, 1970 telegram.

I’m not even sure how this worked exactly and then I remember a guy came to your house.  It got to station-to-station but there was always that problem with that last mile.  We got to get a guy on a bike.  This has the qualification of a short form definitely.  What is that?  That is almost a 160 characters though you are going to have to split that into two Twitters that not telegram.

It’s not exactly mixed media, but its mixed media in the sense that there’s this thing.  There’s a collectible piece of stuff that it lives upon and it’s part of an ongoing narrative.  People didn’t just send telegrams to people to advertise Viagra for example.  Like anyone would ever do that.  That’s ridiculous.

The delivery is obviously implied.  No one ever wrote a telegram that they said, “Don’t hit send.”  There’s no erase button on the telegram.  They couldn’t undo the little tap pity taps or whatever, so the delivery was implied on that.  I thought, “Okay, that was a pretty good example.”

By the way, I did find a picture of Uncle Loren and he died when I was still pretty young. I thought I came from a pretty decent family.  But, look at this.  Is this The Godfather part four here?  There’s Tony, the accountant, right in here.  Hey, what are you doing in the picture?  Guido, the enforcer, and Uncle Loren [inaudible 00:17:50] a giant knife.  I thought I was decent, folks.

The next one is talking about privacy.  There’s a lot of talk about privacy on the internet these days.  You guys read the internet now all talking about privacy.  “My God, I don’t want people to find that picture of me or my mom’s clam chowder recipe.”  Meanwhile, people go into McDonald’s and are like, “Fill out this form with my Social Security Insurance number and my bank account and you’ll give me $0.50?  Sign me up.  I’m doing it.”

Go to the bar and have the register receipt, your little credit card thing and hand it to the employees making $3.00 an hour.  Its like, “Wow.  I can take this and use a cab ride home.”  It totally happens.  It happened to me three times.  They’ve all been cabs from downtown to Surrey.  I don’t know about that.

But, really, I’m not so convinced that people want privacy as much as they think that they do.  People like to express themselves because you yourselves expressing yourselves online.  You’re helping other people express themselves.  You listen to clients think they want to express themselves trying to steer them into a sensible path to do it.

I think postcards are really good examples of this.  This is my next little example.  It’s a part of an ongoing narrative.  Again, no one sent postcards to people that they didn’t know unless it was something creepy or a chain letters or something.  Mixed media, for sure.  Look at that.  Text plus your design in the message area that ends up in being a stamp.  There are all sorts of different things.  Of course, the picture.

Now, auto-delivery.  People buy postcards to collect.  In fact, there are many here at the museum.  So the delivery isn’t completely implied, but it’s assumed.  The thing that makes the postcard a postcard is it has those elements in order to mail it.  A postcard without that shit on the back is just a picture.

A short form.  You can go a little bit longer with the telegram unless you’re one of those one high rollers, one of those timber barons with your one paragraph long telegrams.  You can go a little bit longer with the postcards and postcards come in all kinds of different forms.  Look, they’re wooden, made right there from old virgin forest in Oregon.

But they can have a little bit of art and uniqueness to each one.  They can express your personality and your sense of morality.  Look at this.  My favorite thing about this one is this poor, old woman here.  “Bernie, we always have to go to the strip bar on date night.  I wanted to go bowling.”

So people think that they want privacy, but you’re putting your personality and your most intimate thoughts on the back of this thing that you just assume that the postman’s too busy to read my shit or write it really messy to do that.  But it’s like these are something that’s just supposed to be inner personal communications that you’re very public with the way you do it.

This one here is amazing because I was curious about who owned the copyright on that and what kind of revenue chain that they’ve got.  So, if anyone is a commerce student or something and wants this little puzzle to unravel, figure out the copyright regulations about the [poker dog] [ph 00:20:59].  I bet you at the end of it is a giant mansion with someone with a martini and a pool.

Postcards can also keep track of historical records.  This is one that Chris is really going to like.  It’s like these things that were designed to be a femoral objects are really capturing histories, as we know it.  We shall never see these sights again in Vancouver or Seattle.  It’s pretty remarkable.  Look at that.  You can have a little piece of history for $0.10 or $0.15.

Then, also, what used to be in the day when photography was a unique thing that not everyone could do it, not everyone in the whole room had a camera.  People could then get this picture from the Polaroid camera but they want to get copies made, on the back of the picture would have the little order form.  You’d actually mail in the picture like a postcard.

Send the actual picture.  The only copy you have.  I’m going to trust this with the mail with all these personal information and the picture of me, how many copies I want, whether I want a wallet size or really big ones because I’m totally vain, that’s an awesome picture look at my hat.  I don’t know.  Do they put it in other kind of machine or something like that and make your copies and then do they package it up?  I don’t know.  But again, this postcard is a delivery mechanism and the expression thing.

Postcards, the thing that makes them really nice is after they start to take up a life of their own.  After you throw them in the mail, they get stamped, they get all this stuff on them and all the stamp stuff or whatever they call them.  It captures this little place in time.  You can also make your own postcards.

These are all things that I thought, “These postcards definitely qualifies for my formula there.”  But the weird thing about postcards is this is your send button.  There it is.  You get done, instead of publish, you go over here and you put it in the mailbox.  So that’s where the big difference lies.

You want to see your TCPIP?  There’s your TCPIP.  It’s a truck.  So postcard.  I think it qualifies.  All right.  The next one, because I’ve been showing a lot of pictures of myself, bust out a lot of crap from your closet.  I’m going to show you how dedicated I was.  I went ahead and sourced something here just to make a point that a lot of you youngsters probably haven’t even seen.  So I kept a stash here in the bag here so no one would actually see it.

So hold that for me for a second because this one’s going to be require a little bit, in order to really do it properly, I need to accessorize a little bit.  The 70’s was a special time.  There you go.  I’m going to need some sunglasses.  You got some glasses, right?  There you go.  It’s the 70’s, drinking and driving was encouraged as long as you kept it in a beer Koozie, so I brought one of those along as well.

Here it is, lugged all over transit all over the place just to prove to you that they once existed.  This, ladies and gentleman and people under 40, is a CB radio.  I’ll put it right here so you can gaze upon its glory.  I actually got an old vintage photo of it to show you.  Actually, I can’t see anything but these.  I’m going to have to skip these.  But I will do is I’ll pretend I’m making this part of the talk through the CB radio.  I won’t do it in complete CB language.

Have you seen Smokey and the Bandit?  That’s the only thing I know about it.  As a kid, I always thought driving around and traveling would be the neatest thing.  I thought the easiest way to do that would be to be a truck driver because wherever we go on family vacations I see these long haul truck drivers.  They all had stickers about all these places that they’ve been all over the place.

So, I was like I’ll just be a long distance truck driver.  So I started listening to CB radios.  These are people, A: they wanted to help each other.  They wanted to communicate.  They wanted to form relationships.  The delivery was implied because, “Breaker, breaker.  You got your ears on?”  You get to come up with nicknames.  Does this sound familiar?

What are you on Twitter?  What are you on the CB?  I’m dude with hat.  I’m guy with puffy vest.  So you all had your thing.  But it was sharing information.  It was a completely volunteer basis.  The community came up with the rules itself.  The delivery was implied.  Short form, definitely.

You didn’t want to hog the airways.  You didn’t want to spam up people with your commercial messages on there.  No one’s selling Viagra on it.  So these are all things that qualify.  It’s also part of an ongoing narrative.  As you come in crisscross, the whole joy of it was forming relationships just like the same that Dwayne plays scrabble buddies with his friends online before he goes to bed.  These people are checking in with their buddy.

They got steak and eggs on special.  There’s a Smokey up ahead.  So it democratized this whole exchange of information.  It started to level the playing field a little bit.  But mostly it gave people a way to express themselves and then a way to develop personality for themselves.  Notice I didn’t use the word personal brand because they didn’t think about things like that in the 70’s, it was implied.  Dude, it’s all about me.  Of course, man.  Of course I’m a brand.  I’m just not lame enough to call it that.

It’s from the USS Olympia there, by the way, imported from America.  Dedication.  You can come up and take your picture with it later.  All right.  Which one’s next?  Okay.  Cassette tapes.  Anyone under 30 here?  This is a cassette tape.  Here they are.

I remember it was about 1982 or 1983 that cassettes started to surpass LPs as the top selling medium.  But there’s a fundamental difference between LPs and cassettes.  The big difference?  LPs take big machines to make.  Cassette tapes, anyone can make.

So, most people think a cassette tape is just one of those things you went and spent $8.00.  Back then, they’re about $8.00 and you could get a soda at the old soda fountain for only a nickel.  But also it bubbled up.  It created this technology that anyone could use.  So all these bands from the garage could all of a sudden make cassette tapes.  Everyone could distribute this stuff.  Even you could record your own stories.

You could get a little cassette player from Radio Shack.  Whatever happened to Radio Shack?  Where do you buy shit like that now?  If you need some little gadget, where do you go buy that?  [Inaudible 00:27:52] I know.  Go easy on me guys.  Come on.  There are gaps on my cultural understanding.  You’ll have to excuse me.

So, the cassette tapes, all of a sudden people were able to make their own thing and pass them along to someone else out of reasonable sense of quality.  With LPs, you could not do that.  Some people would do it like the ubber geeks would do it with reel to reels.  That was a little tricky, but all of a sudden, anyone could do this.

So, it started before even the bootleg, “Home taping is killing the Music Industry argument.”  The thing that really excited me about it was that buddies who had bands could all of a sudden make their cassette tapes, go down to Kinko’s, make their little covers, cut them out, go down and get those three packs of TDK cassette tapes for about $4.00 and run off a bunch of cassette tapes for their buddies using a crappy, old Ghetto blaster like what I have here.

I think it’s probably time to replace that.  That’s what I’m saying.  So, all of these things became little audio postcards.  Now, they didn’t really have a sense of ongoing narrative in most cases.  But then I started to meet friends.  I met a friend in Guam that every year for his Christmas card instead of sending around Christmas cards, he was sending around these cassette tapes.  He’d make a separate thing every year.

So it started to become part of an ongoing narrative, part of a personal narrative, and the delivery how it’s going to be used was implied with the creation of the cassette tapes.  So that was my next example.  All right.  I’m going to put back on my regular glasses.  Actually, I opened this beer and didn’t drink it.  I’ve clearly lost my edge.  It feels like camping, Camping Pilsner.

Let’s see what we’ve got.  Community culture.  I started to notice current trends and things that would pop up throughout these different projects as I was investigating, I started to unpack those a little bit.  Now, I remember that back when I was living in Utah, it was a strange time.  Being a punk rock kid from Vancouver and all of a sudden going to the same school as the Osmonds’ went to, I felt a little out of place.

Therefore, I promptly got a Volkswagen van, dropped out of high school, and went to community college.  Community colleges are the unsung heroes of our education system.  I started with a pretty intense schedule.  I had mountaineering, mountain biking, and ceramics.  I’m happy to report I excelled at all of them.  But the mountain biking thing class course introduced me to this whole new geography hitherto unknown to me down in southern Utah.

But what it taught me even more than that is the sense of community.  But, first of all, for all you bike geeks you notice something missing there?  Shocks?  Suspension?  It was all hard-tail bikes.  But the thing that was amazing about this thing is they started learning about mountain biking which was just a brand new thing and that it was community grown.  There weren’t companies.  

Companies were just starting to make these kinds of bikes.  These companies weren’t Schwinn and big, fancy bike company and stuff like that.  Entrepreneurs were going back to the garage, retooling cruisers, and then going, “What we really need is to change this frame and do this thing.”

Then they all got together down this little town called Moab that’s just pretty much filled with unemployed uranium miners, a few polygamists, a few wing nuts, some desert rats, and some people who have tried to disappear and hide for the rest of their life down in this little town.  But it’s right next to Arches National Park.

Every year around Halloween time, they have this Fat Tire Festival that all the industry would come.  Instead of being, “No.  We’re doing it this way.  No.  We’re not telling you our secrets.  Let’s not get along,” it’s the first time that I’ve seen as a 17-year-old at this point of people getting together that all had, what looked like from the outside, competing interest, they’re all saying, and “Let’s share ideas.  Let’s get together and have a good time.  Let’s share things.  We can develop standards.  We can develop a community around this technology and the thing that we’re passionate about.”  Sounding familiar?  You get where I’m going?

So, here again.  This is for you bike geeks.  Look at that.  You want to ride that?  That looks all fun in your suspension bikes.  But this was a really primitive time.  Every year, the bikes, you could see the technology changing.  You could see the people improving the way that they were doing their businesses and you’re starting to see the companies starting to separate themselves.

Well, the other thing that I really liked about it is for a 17-year-old kid in Utah, even with a fake ID, it’s hard to find a good time.  These people knew how to party.  There was Bob Gnarly and the Derailers right there.  I’m not sure what that thing [inaudible 00:32:27], but I was sure to experiment with everything.  I was also smart enough to wear a disguised beard so I could get my 3.2% beer. 

Well, look at that.  It’s a Volkswagen van.  There it was.  [Inaudible 00:32:43] that was before they had the tight shorts too.  So it was a different time.  Looking down the road from there.  I’m going to circle back and fill in some gaps here.  But I want to make-to-make this connection that something that happened almost 12 or 15 years later.

The first thing I started noticing about these different technologies were there was just these cataclysmic events that would happened like there would be years of development, but finally all the right time, the right technology, the right tools, the interest and the desire all came together at the same time.

I also started noticing that behind most of these things there was a community sense to the culture.  There were things that you could say on CB radio.  It wasn’t dictated by some company.  It was completely community driven.  All these stuff was voluntary.  It was all coming from the amateurs all coming from the grass roots.

Years later, I started seeing other examples of this.  I met this guy Dave Winer.  He had went up to me like, “Dave Winer, man.  Thanks for creating RSS.”  In case you don’t know who he is, he created the RSS.  I was like, “Can I take your picture?”  He’s like, “I wish digital cameras had never been invented.”  I’m like, “Okay.”  A little bit of Cro-Magnon, but clearly a strong technologist.  He’s got something here.

I’ll circle back to all of these and talk about some of his web stuff here in a bit.  But it was clear that he had come up with some kind of little secret sauce but he needed with his technology, he needed a little art to bring this thing together and make it into a tool that other folks could use.  So there he was.  Look at that kid.

This was actually in 2006 at Gnomedex and I’ve met Matt a year before out on the patio.  A guy named Adam Curry who is an early web guy.  He’s famous for being the guy on MTV with a weird haircut.  He was the keynote speaker at Gnomedex.  At the end of his talk, he said something, “Well, I’m done taking questions.  I’m going out in the balcony to smoke a joint if you have any more questions.”  So I go out to the balcony.  I don’t even have any questions.

I sit on this table with Adam Curry, my buddy, Jay, and this other big husky guy who kept dozing off during the conference and just snored right there on the conference hall.  It turns out it was Marc Canter, he started a company called Macromedia.  I guess they’ve gone on to do a few things.

Then this kid who was clearly not of age to be drinking, well, let’s just say he wasn’t old enough to go to the parties and he had just been working for Cnet.  He was just working on software, Adam and Marc were like, and “You’re that guy who’s working on that thing.”  I was like, “Wow.  There’s something up here.”

Besides, also I’m meeting a bunch of other people in that conference who pointed me in this direction.  So all these web stuff that I’ve been doing for years and doing it the long slow hard way, we’re starting to see this connection where content and publication are all starting to come on to the same page.  You don’t have to write those angry brackets if all you want to do is write poetry.  So, there’s something to this.

So, I went home and the next week I made one of them Drupal sites.  I made one of them Type pad sites.  I made one of them blogger sites.  I made one of them WordPress sites and started testing them all out.  I would talk more about that as we go along.

But the important thing about this, because I’m a writer, I take a lot of pride in the way things I put together and I hated the term word processing.  But my first encounter is I hated the term word processing.  Words aren’t for processing.  Words are for changing lives.  Words are starting revolutions.  Words are for teaching fundamental beliefs.

Words are really when you slice and dice it, besides gravity and other laws of physics, are just about the most powerful thing we have.  They’re not for processing.  Smoothies are for processing.  You put your bananas, your berries, and little wheatgrass if you’re hippie in there.

So I’m going to go back to Utah and give you a little snapshot of my personal publishing history, where it had been to from my first introduction to computer up to that time I learned about WordPress.  That’s just because I figured I should probably mention WordPress in my talk this year because I didn’t last year.

So here, we are back in Utah.  This is Osmonds’ studio just to prove that I’ve done my time.  I’ve done my research.  I’m standing right there beside Ernest Borgnine, the Ernest Borgnine, Poseidon Adventures, handprints.  I don’t know whose idea that thing was.  But, right up the road from it, where all these buildings are, there was once a beautiful orchard.

Then, one day, in about three weeks’ time, they mowed down every tree of this old fruit orchard and they built all these buildings, put all these parking lots, and down here they built a bunch of big mansions as for big, new, high-tech company called WordPerfect.  They’re a word processing company.

So I started figuring out who are these guys, WordPerfect?  I forgot to show you on the map that I live right across the way.  I was like, “Who are these jokers coming and cutting down the trees?”  I’m a tree hugger.  I’m not going to lie to you.  Then they plant in a bunch of these little crappy trees.  But why didn’t you just leave some of it there?  It baffled me.

But that summer, maybe some of you have done this before where you do those crappy temporary jobs and they call you and they’re like, “Yes, Dave.  We got a great opportunity for you tomorrow.  What we want you to do is show up at the steel factory at about six o’clock.  You’ll be scrubbing out oil tanks and because it’s a little intense, we’re going to pay you about $3.50 an hour because it’s a little intense.  It’s only a 12-hour shift.  Of course, there’s no over time because you’re filling.   That’s going to be great, isn’t it?”

So I ended up working at the assembly line at the WordPerfect SoftCopy Plant and I was the guy who moved the box from here to here and I did something or I put something in it.  So I also figured out, because eight or nine hours you have a lot of time to think, I should figure out what thing is because I’m a writer.  Word processor, I should at least know what this thing is.

So of course I put one in the trash when I go the dumpster afterwards, I’m not proud, don’t hold this against me here.  Don’t devalue me.  I went home and mom had a computer.  We put that thing in there.  I was like, “Hey, look at this.  This isn’t too bad.  This is like a typewriter with an erase button.”  I like my typewriter.  It’s got a nice feel to it.

But the fact of the matter is I’m a lousy typist.  I make a very poor typist to this day.  I’m also very poor joint roller but buddy Scales knows that.  I’m just a bit clumsy.  So having a typewriter with an erase button really started to appeal to me.  “Hey, this is all right.”

So then, I met this guy at community college and he knew about this stuff.  I met him because he was living in the back of his truck.  But he was smart enough to get himself elected student body president because it’s Utah Technical College.  There wasn’t a lot of competition.  There wasn’t a lot of campaigner.  “I have natural leadership abilities.  I’m going to step to the forefront of this.”  It’s like if you can get 20 live bodies go vote for you.

So he had the run of the campus.  He knew where all the showers were.  He had keys to everything.  So working on the back of his truck worked really good for him.  So then, he tells me that he’s heading up to the University of Utah to teach some computer stuff and he needs someone to teach about this WordPerfect thing.  It’s going to be $5.00 an hour and I’m like, “Yes, fuck man.  I just go up and talk about some computer shit to people, I can do this.”  So I learned about all about this WordPerfect stuff.

But the other thing that I learned about this and working with this guy is all this technology stuff changes so fast.  We think one of these companies builds an empire and takes over.  But while it was only a couple of years into doing this little gig with him that Microsoft Word took over and WordPerfect had no more customers.

I went back and did a little bit of research about it.  It was things like hiring all their relatives, refusing to go public, not informing their users of updates because, well, that would just upset them, that would require them to buy more stuff.  I’ve read it twice.  It’s out there on the internet so it’s got to be true.

All this stuff, it just seems the complete opposite.  To compare that with the way the mountain bike industry developed, to see how they were developing, and seeing that Microsoft Word and WordPerfect instead of finding a way that we can just get along, let’s come up with a common format instead of everyone having to have different suffixes on the end of their thing.  Why can’t shit open with other stuff?  Can’t we all just get along?  Apparently not.

But, in looking back and back when I was working with this guy, Jacy Deuel, this was pretty web stuff.  But when I tracked him down, I went and found his website.  This is pretty awesome vintage website.  His last update was ’07.  So he probably made a few little updates there.

But also, if you go back one more, it tells about the arching gopher servers that he was maintaining.  Well, I don’t even know what that is.  Gopher predecessor to “www,” site deactivated in 2000.  He was the man who did that.  He also did a great full survey of information architecture.  So you can see why we hung out.

So this guy taught me that there was this thing coming called the, “Internet,” and because he was working at the university, he had access to this early stuff.  He said, “What it would allow is everyone to publish stuff of their own.”  I was like, “Hey, I got a typewriter with an erase button and I got this publish ability, this is starting to look intriguing.”  Pause.  I’ll use a dramatic pause for you.  Actually, it’s just a beer pause, but it could feel dramatic.   

So, the publish ability.  This was the next big thing that I want to do because — some of you probably came to WorkCamp Whistler last year, I showed you a bunch of my fanzines and [inaudible 00:42:12] newsletters, my little poet [inaudible 00:42:14] books and during this time in here is when I was doing all these stuff.  Then one day, I was in Guam, Jerry Garcia died got that night I learned about the internet.  The next day I went down and I took a class at Kuentos.Guam.Net.  I got my first e-mail address, piglet@, and I got my floppy disks.

Actually, I think I brought some visual aids here in case some of you kids haven’t seen any of these.  I got to open this up here.  This is back when they’re actually floppy.  They weren’t these rip-off disks that they sell as floppy disks.  That isn’t floppy.  This is floppy.

During those times, I had all these disks and these were like my original papers from going to college.  Here’s from my folklore class.  It’s got all in here.  It’s in WordPerfect 3.1 format or something.  This is only like 15 years old.  You’d be hard-pressed to find a way to, “[inaudible 00:43:15].  What do you got for me?”

So, I realized that I had all this stuff I’d created and it was sitting in a little blue box in a bigger box somewhere and amongst a bunch of other shit that I’ve forgotten about.  It was getting both not breathing a life of its own, but it was also making itself obsolete and undecipherable through the passage of time.

So, I went and took my first little class about getting connected to the internet.  I went home with my Trumpet Winsock and the hard floppy disks.  They still call it floppy disks.  I was like, “No.  I need the floppy ones.”  Trumpet Winsock and Windows 3.1, I didn’t know what I was doing.  But I knew at the end of this [inaudible 00:43:58] like the same way how my dishwasher works.  But I can put some dirty dishes in it and I can get out some clean dishes.

So that’s how what I figured you had to do with the computer, you put some disks in there, you do some things.  You adjust the settings.  All of a sudden, you’re online.  That’s where the neat stuff happens.  I right away went to Dead.net and I found out all about what was happening with Jerry Garcia.

I started saying, “Wow.  I could do my little hemp projects here on the internet instead of having them go get stuff down at Kinko’s at $0.03 a copy.”  Who’s got that kind of money?  Postage.  I love my postcards but it started to be a little bit too much.  So I started making these web pages.  This is thanks to Archive.org, the way back machine, I went and found a couple of these things to show you guys.

This was the actual file called New Japan.  This was right after I learned to put images onto a webpage but I haven’t yet figured out how you could break things into separate pages.  So this was more like 7,000 word essay all in one page.  It’s like a Zen cone of like how long can a webpage be?  It could go on forever.  You could keep typing.  Is it when you hit save?  Is it when you hit publish when you upload that?  I don’t know, man.  You tell me.

So, when I started putting some images in here, I started to realize that rather than these things living in a shoebox, me printing out 20 copies, mailing them to people, and hoping to get some feedback, as soon as I put stuff online, right away you started this conversation.  You just started this dialogue.  But, boy, how to get that crap online was a drag.

Man, I’m a lousy typist and all of a sudden I had to type those little angle-y brackets and stuff and all the nesting the code.  Man, I’m trying to write some beautiful prose.  Don’t torment me with your H1s, dude.  

Then there’s tools like this [Clara’s home page] [ph 00:45:34]  and Microsoft whatever it was called and all these stuff and wrap all this other code trying to make a website and do all these stuff for you as long as you want it to look like a cheesy accountant site.  It just didn’t seem to make sense.

I said why is the design and the content all convoluted together [inaudible 00:45:53] you want to go back and make an edit, you have to look through all these crap.  What a drag.  But I kept on experimenting, just figuring out stuff.  I learned that you could inline CSS style, which I thought was really neat.  [Inaudible 00:46:05].  There are no underlines on Lynx.  That’s how you used to know Lynx because they were underlined.  Then you click on them.

So, this was no underline links.  Then real audio which was back in the old days, there’s this company called Real.  This is less than a decade old.  They probably still exist somewhere.  But this was a de facto standard.  This is how you put audio and video on the internet.  So I experimented and said, “What can we do with all these stuff?  We got to make this publishing easier.”

So, I started to make these little series of travel bags for all my hitchhiking around.  I made this bag that’s like if I ever had to jump out of a moving car because if you’re hitchhiking, these scenarios really are true.  So, you get a ride with a guy and the first thing you realize is the entire floor is covered with beer cans and he says, “I got a gun under this seat.  Just don’t try anything.”  At that point you think, “There might be a time that I have to ditch the backpack and I needed to vacate.”

So I made this bag called the HempenWare Essentials bag.  It’s the thing that you could fit all your stuff.  You got your lighter, your pocketknife, your passport.  This is what you need.  I got to hook you up with one of this.  But there wasn’t a lot you could do.  The whole thing of buying and selling things on the internet was still like, “Geez, that’s complicated.”  So it would be like an e-mail form and there was still this process that you had to go through to send money.

I started to do all these other little sites and experiment with them a little bit more.  Then I did this film project back in the late 90’s.  I wanted to do a production journal like a log of all my production and activities and put it on the web like a web blog.  So, I put a little clickable image map for a map on there because that’s what we did then, clickable image maps, and I started.

Every time I go on a little filming thing, I have a little theme there.  I had a little header.  I had some inline text wrap pictures that was brand new at the time there and all these text.  But there’s one thing that was wrong with this thing is it was stuck at this domain.  You’d publish it.  You’d FTP it up and it was like great.  Then you’d send out an e-mail list to let your mailing list know that you had some new content out there.  Something was still missing.

The other problem was every time I realize, “Wow.  I probably should’ve checked over the spelling or written things a little bit better.  Going in and making any changes was like a huge drag.  There’s got to be a better way.”  

So, I started to take home this old stuff.  I did a big project.  Since I couldn’t solve that problem right away, I did a big project where I found old computers, got all these files off this thing and like, “What format do I move them into now?  Text files?  Word docs?  Html pages?”  Well, most of these things are mostly long.  The html page didn’t work very well for that.

So, I started making them all as PDFs.  So I take one weird format and take it, release from your bounds of this format and now I’ll put you in this little tiny box where you’ll never be seen again.  I filled up the side with a bunch of PDFs.  That’s not very handy either, man.  Isn’t there an easy way to do this stuff?

Around this time I was working for an internet service provider in Olympia.  I was the guy who spoke to the outside people and told them that this was the thing that they should buy and it wasn’t scary.  One of the guys that worked with this, he had a brother that was working on this new project he was telling us about.  It’s called Radio User Land.  It was this software called Manila.  It was going to be this thing where you can publish these WebPages really easy.

So, I learned about this thing and I was like, “Wow, man.  There is something pretty special about this.”  Now, long story short, that guy I showed you earlier, Dave Winer, this was his project.  It all went through this whole life cycle kind of sparked the early blogging movement, all the old grumpy uncles of the text industry, and Adam Curry.  They all had blogs on this new blogging platform.

Then, companies changed and things evolved.  Four year, five years after that was out there.  This was an early blog 2003.  This was some of the earliest blogs ever invented.  Then last year, someone’s like, “Hey, is anyone using this server?  I guess we’ll unplug it.”  All these historical data, all the early days of blogging, all the development, all these stuff; “It’s just people talking about he installed the new web browser.  Whatever.  Big deal, dude.  Way to go, Jake.  You want a raise?”

That’s the same thing when Yahoo pulled the plug on Geocities.  “It’s just a bunch of under construction gifts.  Nothing important was there.”  But this was like the on-ramp.  This was your on-ramp to web publishing for regular people.  This kind of ghetto-like platform like art sites like Geocities or Angelfire or some of these things.  There’s a tremendous amount of human expression compiled there.

Who is it?  For some grumpy old system administrator with a plug there.  “I need this extra port for something.  What, storage is cheap.  Hard drive is cheap.”  So if someone pulled the plug on this whole Radio User Land and Jake Savin who had left to go work at Microsoft took upon himself as a little project to go through some old backups and restore, archive all these old stuff.  It sounds like we’re talking about a project from the middle ages.  

This is archiving stuff in 2010 that was written in 2003.  It’s like this big, “My God.  This is good.”  You read all the accounts of how they did it.  It’s like reading this thing about the space elevator down there.  I can see how it’s possible, but I’m glad I’m not doing that.

So, around mid-2000s, right around the time I was first meeting [inaudible 00:51:26] Gnomedex, about a year before that, one of the guys who started as an intern in one of my internet companies said, “Hey, I’ve set up this little web blogging software.”  I was like, “All right.  We’ll give it a little try.”  So here, it is on April 4, 2003.  You could log in, have a little text form, a little title thing, and a publish button.  “Hey man, this is all right.  There’s something to this.”

But there is still something missing from it.  That was that whole sense that the thing comes alive.  It was still stuck in one place.  It needed that RSS.  It needed a little bit of Dave Winer and that RSS.  All of a sudden you put that RSS in there and it starts to take on a life of its own.  The content no longer has to be stuck in one place.  It can start to weave its way around the internet.

Some people complain, “My God, my content’s being scraped and re-aggregated all over the place.”  I’m like, “Well, the good news about that is there’s a better chance that it’s going to survive and there’s a better chance you’re going to find a new audience.”  The more places you put your stuff, the way better it is.

Besides all these floppy disks, the other thing that I have data stranded on and this is probably something I need an intern to help me with, Zip disk, 100 megabytes in one thing.  All my files for making Hempen Road, that film that I poured my heart and soul into for a year and a half, it took up all my energy, it’s all stranded on Zip disk.  All the contracts and documents are written in Claires Word five.  You probably all have a copy of that.

The bookkeeping files, Quicken for Mac.  How’s that for a legacy?  I got some year Y2K bug for you.  You don’t need a big Y2K bug.  We got Y2010 bugs, man.  We got shit that goes obsolete.  How often you try open a file?  “The software is not compatible with this version because your co-worker has OS whatever some other version and you can’t open stuff.”  Why is it this complicated?

So my new strategy is every time I find content that I can take from some kind of physical media is I put it everywhere.  Where it starts from me is I go to WordPress.com, I register yet another WordPress.com blog.  I got about 8,000 of them and all of them are awesome.  Some of them have podcast.  Some of them are photo specific.  This one’s for poetry.  This one is s for this other project and stuff.

If I don’t put it somewhere, it’s going to get stuck on one of these disks, on some hard drive that sure enough coming home drunk one night, who knows what can happen to the hard drive.  It gets scattered around.  You spill beers on them.  All these stuff disappear.  The other great thing about having all my stuff up on this WordPress.com thing is I just ask Google where that content is and it knows.  It says, “Dave, its right here.”

I can log and I can change that stuff.  I can move it around.  I can do whatever I want with it.  That’s all there is to it.  It’s just pasting the content in.  So, all of a sudden, this publish ability, we got the typewriter with an erase button.  We got the publish ability of it and now we hit broadcast and we can celebrate.

Man, there’s no time.  You don’t got to be messing around with the code.  You don’t got to be FTP-ing that stuff up.  You hit publish and you go have yourself a beer.  Which actually I’ll do, you’re all going have to wait, this is social.  So, here we are in this point in time when you have both the desire.  If you didn’t have the desire, you wouldn’t be here on a beautiful Saturday, so I’m going to assume that.

You have the tools.  Do you not?  You may say, “Well, I’m waiting until next week because WordPress three is out.”  You got the tools.  You got the tools to do everything.  You got your phone.  You can take your photos.  You can take your videos.  You can blog.  You can do all those things.  You have this access to this huge worldwide audience.

It’s just starting to remind me back in the old days in Portugal.  All the European countries, they all took turns running the show for 100 years and then they get defeated and they have to go back to the back of line. “Geez, we’re even back behind Liechtenstein.”  The world used to be divided between Spain and Portugal.  Now Portugal, well, they don’t have much left.  But they love Canadians there.

So, I drove the entire coast of Portugal and I was really touched by getting to the very end there, the very little tip of Portugal, because you realize that was the end of the world.  For hundreds and hundreds of years, trade flourished in the Mediterranean, the Greeks, the Romans, Constantinople, Libyans, and Egyptians and that stuff through thousands of years.

Everyone was like, “Whoa dude, you don’t pass Portugal.  You get to Portugal and you turn your ass because you don’t even know what’s out there.”  We don’t have to worry about that anymore.  In just the same that one day, Henry the navigator said, “Yes.  We’re going to go out there a little ways and see how it is.”

He had the tools.  He had the desire, there’s was a situation.  He had a group of people to go with him.  What are you lacking?  He had all that stuff.  There it is, that little lighthouse at the edge of the world.  Can you imagine sailing out there and being like, “Wow.  We might be gone –,” like you’re assuming if everything goes well, you’re going to be gone a few years.  If everything goes really well, you won’t have to eat any rats or any of your cabin mates or whatever.

So, here’s my advice that I give to you.  Now that you have the time, you have the tools, and you have the desire, the first thing that you must do is you must do this for yourself.  Whatever it is, you can replace right whatever with whatever you want.  You might code.  You might take pictures.  You might make podcasts.  You might take video.  You might help other people spread their messages.  But this is your stuff.

You’re the one sitting down there doing the grunt time on this.  You make it exactly how you want.  Now, client-schmient.  I’m not here to talk about clients.  Yes, we all have to put on our big boy pants and go have a day job and make money and that kind of stuff.  But at the end of the day, you’re doing this because you have an interest and a passion for doing this.  So it’s your big drawing in an art book and got damn it you do it exactly the way you want to do it.

What you’ll find is now that you have this broadcast ability button, when you hit publish on your blog or whatever it is that you’re publishing out of your site.  Is it a CMS?  Is it a blog?  Is it a site?  It’s whatever you make it.  There are no rules.  Has anyone come down with an edict?  Is there a state of no, sorry, quarter in the jar every time you say blog?

Make it.  Remix it.  Make it whatever you want.  Really what it comes down to is the blog is your personal noisemaking message sending machine.  When I was down there in the Micronesian islands, I’d see these big giant log drums, man.  You can bang on that drum really loud and all of sudden spread your message.  It doesn’t take a huge thing to communicate your thing.  You have that thing to start communicating your message.

The other thing that I’m going to tell you to do is do it for others.  Now, Lauren said earlier in her talk that part of the joy that she gets is working with these other companies and non-profit agencies and helping them do good things.  There’s a joy in that.  Last night at the speaker’s dinner, Dave and I were talking about all these dark web industries right here in Vancouver and these people doing things.

Well, sure they’re making big money.  But is there fulfillment? Is there a sense of joy?  Is there something that you’re effectuating positive change in your community?  Is there something about that that makes you feel that you’re pushing the human condition forward?

I don’t want to get all Maslow’s hierarchy of needs on you, but there’s something really important about giving back, contributing and collaborating.  What you’ll find is just what I learned working as a mushroom farmer in Japan that with these logs you get the shitakes.  You inoculate the logs with these little plugs of dormant culture.  They sit there and ferment.  They start to inoculate in these logs.

Once they fill in, their culture permeates the log.  You just start stacking more logs on.  The culture spreads from one log to the next log.  Eventually these logs down here start to decay.  But, meanwhile, everyone down here is starting to add and new life is progressing through each of these logs from this original culture.  So your job is to go out there and inoculate those logs.

There they are.  Look at those beautiful fruiting shiitakes.  Once you fruit those logs, once you have your content, once you have your stuff out there and you’re putting yourself out there, the other people are going to come along and continue your culture.  You’re going to put together your own little audience and you’re going to have these people that care about your stuff.

Look around.  You’ve got all these other people that all of a sudden you’ve got something in common with.  Some of you are coders.  Some of you have other skills.  Some of you are CSS.  Some of you are PHP.  Some of you are some other acronym that I don’t understand.  But you can all get together, help each other out, and hop on the van.

I learned this on Grateful Dead tour that if you’re going to have a spot on the bus, you better have some skills.  On Dead tour, you had better be able to make a good grilled cheese sandwich.  You had better be able to change some oil or fix some spark plugs.  You had better be able to do something or else you’re not on the bus.

What you’ll find is once you get those people on the bus with you, it gives you some more drummers.  You can beat that one big drum loud, but after a while, man, you get wiped out.  That drum is just all of a sudden is not quite as loud.  “Geez, man.  I’m going to have a beer.  Man, I’m sick of beating this drum.”  Well, if you bring along some more drummers, you can pause from the drumming, have a beer, and then resume drumming.

So, are you on the bus?  These guys want to know if you are on the bus.  If you are on the bus what is your skill that you’re willing to contribute?  Well, you’re here and you’re helping.  But the community flourishes when people contribute, when people help each other out, when the eagles are [inaudible 01:00:35]  at the door, and when you diligently listen in knowledge what other people are trying to accomplish and go down those things and at the same paths rather than being at cross purposes because we can all get along.

Look at you.  You’re all sitting on the floor Kumbaya style.  That was what I was going to show you talking about the getting on the bus part.  But this is just an awesome picture here.  This is early days in Moab.  Look at these old vans.  This guy bought these vans new and was running tours them for over 40 years.  That’s longer than most web companies.  That’s longer than Radio User Land lasted.

That’s longer than just about everything except for the telegram.  Hundred and fifty years of telegram lasted.  So now, it’s up to you to chart your path.  There’s a big destination.  In this case, the destination is Santiago de Compostela.  But that’s just metaphorical.  There are many pilgrims path that lead to the same destination.

You can start from all sorts of different countries and get to the same place.  So you got to figure out your own path that fits with what you want to do and what you’re passionate about.  Some of you have brilliant minds.  Instead of going down the canyon, you’ll figure out a way to build a bridge across it.  That bridge might swing a little bit from side-to-side.  It might be a little rickety.  It might be a little bit dangerous.  But don’t let that hold you back.

Go build that bridge and get other people to go along there, walk across that with you because you don’t want to be the test monkey by yourself.  If you do these things, you write for yourself, you write for others, and you share what you’re doing, you’re going to get down there at the bottom of the Canyon and you’re going to see these beautiful flowers and these beautiful fruits of your labors down at the bottom of the Canyon.  Yes, when you get down there, there will be a beer for you.

There always needs to be an interactive part to this.  I realize some of you probably never actually got to send a postcard in your life.  Am I correct?  Who’s never mailed a postcard, never physically written a postcard, put a stamp on it and mailed it?  Anyone who has never sent a postcard in their life, come on up here and I have in here in the dossier of importance, it’s filled with postcards.

I was going to get stamps and all that kinds of stuff, but that’s intern work.  So you’re going to have to put the stamp on it and address it yourself.  I encourage you to send them to me because I’m selfish like that.  Come on up.

So now, first you have to clear your mind.  What’s that?

[Audience member choose postcard]

Dave: Okay.  Hold on.  Hold that out.  What’d you get?  Look at that.  That’s Mount Rainier.  That’s handmade.  I did business with the printing firm in Olympia and they demonstrated their printing prowess.  They went on and did a little photography day trip, took pictures, and made them into postcards.  Show the back too.  It’s empty so it’s really just a picture.  It’s freeform on the back.  There you go.  Enjoy it.

Really, everyone else has sent a postcard?  You guys are totally lying.  You’re just embarrassed to come up aren’t you?  All right.  Well, you’re missing out because there are some really good ones in here.  Where’s yours from?  What’s that?

[Audience member choose postcard]

Dave: All right.  Just for you.  That’s all I got for you guys.  Thanks so much for listening and having me here.  I just want to give a special thanks to the organizers.  I know how much work goes into doing a thing like this and it takes up not just a Saturday.  But it takes up a lot of evenings, a lot of running around, and a lot of chasing around.  I was happy to contribute to the organization by going over to Dwayne’s house, chill out one day, playing poker and drinking beer.

But, for what it’s worth, thanks to Duane, Dale, John, Rebecca, John, Tyler and all these other guys.  Thank you very much.


Duration: 1 hour, 4 minutes and 52 seconds