The Cave "Only what you take with you"

Dirty Minds: Too Much Information

TMI? You have no idea. (Source)

TMI? You have no idea. (Source)

A Sticky Wicket

You have a dirty mind… but it’s not entirely your fault. We are constantly bombarded with information from multiple channels. Much of this “information” is noise and redundancy. These emissions (or garbage information) sometimes pollute our minds, and make it difficult to efficiently run our communities, both online and away from screen (AFS – keyboards not necessary). It can be tricky to filter this content, and as a result, our minds can become cluttered, or “dirty”.



At the Community Leadership Summit (CLS) 2014, Randall Ross gave a plenary talk called “Get Your Face Off the Screen,” in which he described effective ways of growing your community AFS. This is a great way to reduce garbage information on the input side. i.e. by cutting of distractions. Perhaps a truly smart phone could help us do this as well. However, I have become increasingly interested in reducing things from the output end—personal emissions of garbage information (GI). Coincidentally, this thought was inspired by Randall’s Planet Awesome idea.

I have spent over two years pondering this issue. I re-wrote this article twice (this being the 3rd edition), and have learned that the problem is within myself and my habits. So, the question is: can we filter ourselves without the risk of stifling genius and innovation? Perhaps I have already answered my own question.


Just because something is free, as in freedom, and free, as in beer, it does not mean that it is free, as in no opportunity cost. Everything that we do takes away from something else that we could be doing. Every piece of information that our brain has to process, takes the place of another at that time. This is important to recognize in an Ubuntu circle because the philosophy shows that what we do to ourselves affects the others, and what we do to others, in turn, affects ourselves.

So then why is it that we continue to pollute our environments with GI?

“That’s just the way I am.”
One theory is that it’s because we still can’t stop doing things our favourite way. Some types of people need to (for lack of better understanding) think out loud and constantly emote, and sort out the pieces later. This is sometimes done without the consideration of the externalities that it produces.

“If they don’t get it from me, then they will get it from someone else.”
Another theory would be that we feel insecure about ourselves, and have a scarcity mindset. Thanks to patent laws and professional sports, many of us feel the need to be “first.” We feel the need to provide and prove that we know something of value (which in turn makes us feel valuable). Our consumption-driven society demands information now—not after you have thought about it for a couple of years 😛

“Yes, I would like to Supersize that.”
Maybe more information is better. Some people think so. How else will the monkeys on the typewriters eventually write the work of Shakespeare?

A Slippery Ewok

It is apparent that this discussion brings up more questions than it does answers. But, as long as we are questioning, then we are at least we know of the issues. And, knowing is half the battle.

Does every comment warrant a reply? Does every action require an explanation? Do I need to provide a commentary on everything in the circle? Do all the people in our circle need to know? Do I need to write a blog post about a blog post? Am I actually providing value, or a new view on a topic, or am I just creating more redundancy, and GI for people to wade through? There is a difference between creating and excreting.

Again, it is a battle of environmental awareness and self-awareness.

If you are physically larger/taller than most of the people in your circle, then it is important that you are self-aware. You would realize that every movement that you make is much more noticeable than that of a smaller person. The same is true on the internet. If you have a bigger presence/personality, then you have even more viewership. The goal would be two-fold: provide the best of you for your circle, and make sure that you’re not obstructing the necessary little guys in the process. The vehicle towards the goal could indeed be reduction of GI.

So the answer to discovering genius is not about more information; it’s about better information. We don’t need a smarter search engine. We need a smarter/faster recycling bin—inside and outside of our heads—to sort the treasure from the trash.

Tee Ell Semi-Colon Dee Arr

Man will sin. The world will end. The internet (and your mind) will get dirty. But, why make it worse while we have to live here? Inevitability is not futility.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Sure. But, when it comes to information, we ought to consider (if nothing else) what impact our production of information has on our connections.

That is just it: our ability to connect to people so easily should not be so that we can sell ourselves faster, but rather, it should be used such that we can stop reinventing the wheel and more efficiently manage our resources—our information.

The irony and cliché are relentless, but the application is the best that money can’t buy:

Let’s reduce, reuse, and recycle our information.

I am Ubuntu

oh, hiHello there!

I’m here. I’m the new face of something that you’ve always known. Or, maybe you don’t know me yet (but you will). I’m from the future. I am the future. I have come to save you from being enslaved by your technology.

I’m not a nerd.
I’m not a geek.
I’m not a techy.
I’m not 1337.

I’m snappy.
I’m you.
I’m me.
I am Ubuntu.

“Come with me if you want to live.”

Congratulations, team!

Dumb is Dead: Snappy is the New Smart

Keyword: "bulletproof" (Source)

“bulletproof” (Source)

Once thought to be a “smart” device, the dumb telephone is now a thing of the past. But, if we look closely we might see a hero arise from the ashes:

Ulterior Movies

Ubuntu could truly save our phones, and it’s up to us to make sure that it happens. It’s fun to dream up ideas, and it’s even more fun to contribute towards seeing those ideas in action. We can then start to see these dreams become a reality. We can make things better, and we may even see some truly smart devices. Or, is “smart” now a thing of a the past as well?

I must say that “snappy” was never part of my personal lexicon, but I think that’s why it will be effective. There’s no baggage attached to the word. Just like we have seen a departure from “loco“, we can start to move away from other concepts of the old world and begin to create something fresh. Ubuntu has always about being a positive change rather than another flavor of the past.

Let’s continue to make Ubuntu this way. Stay snappy, my friends.


Documenting the Death of the Dumb Telephone – Part 6: Ulterior Motives

"But which was destroyed, the master or the apprentice?" (Source)

“But which was destroyed, the master or the apprentice?” (Source)

“Always two there are […] A master and an apprentice.” –Yoda

Our phones are here to serve us (not the other way around). There shouldn’t be anything hidden from us. Is there a plot the overthrow the master? What is your “smart” phone designed to do, and whom does it serve? There’s too much misdirection and teeth pulling instead of providing what I want without giving it away to the enemy. Maybe my phone shouldn’t hold any information at all! I’m not going to play by the rules of my apprentice.

It is not smart to hide things from your master, and then tell him how he’s allowed (or not allowed) to access the information. Phone, don’t be dumb; you will be destroyed and replaced by a more obedient apprentice.


Documenting the Death of the Dumb Telephone – Part 5: Touch-heavy


"U can't touch this" Source

“U can’t touch this”[4] Source

“Touch-a touch-a touch-a touch me. I wanna be dirty.”[1] — Love, Your Dumb Phone

It’s not a problem with a dirty touch screen; that would be a stretch for an entire post. It’s a problem with the dirty power[2]: perhaps an even farther stretch. But, “I’m cold on a mission, so pull on back,”[4] and stretch yourself for a moment because your phone won’t stretch for you.

We’re constantly trying to stretch the battery life of our phones, but the phones keep demanding to be touched, which drains the battery. Phones have this “dirty power” over us, but maybe there are also some “spikes” in the power management of these dumb devices. The greatest feature is also the greatest flaw in the device. It is the fact that it has to be touched in order to react. Does it even react in the most effective way? What indication is there to let you know how the phone has been touched? Do the phone reduce the amount of touches in order so save battery power? If it is not smart enough to do so, then maybe it shouldn’t have a touch screen at all!

Auto-brightness. “Can’t touch this.”[4]
Lock screen. “Can’t touch this.”[4]
Phone clock. “Can’t touch this.”[4]

Yes, your phone has these things, but they never seem to work at the right time. Never mind that I have to turn on the screen to check the time. These things currently seem to follow one set of rules instead of knowing when to activate. So when you “move slide your rump,”[4] you still end up with the infamous butt dial, and the “Dammit, Janet![1] My battery is about to die” situation.

There are already developments in these areas, which indicate that the dumb phone is truly on its last legs. “So wave your hands in the air.”[4] But, seriously, let’s reduce the number of touches, “get your face off the screen”[3] and live your life.

“Stop. Hammer time!”[4]


[1] Song by Richard O’Brien
[2] Fartbarf is fun.
[3] Randall RossCommunity Leadership Summit 2014
[4] Excessively touched on “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer

Documenting the Death of the Dumb Telephone – Part 4: Nostalgia

Just like the good old days (Source)

Just like the good old days (Source)

There’s nothing good about the old days. They are just the old days. They have long gone, yet we long for fleeing feelings that cannot be recreated. Time should not be wasted in such a way.

“Dear Phone, stop wasting my time. You are designed out of dumbness.” Sometimes it’s not the thing that is dumb; it’s the people who are using it or creating it. The thing, by association, therefore cannot be smart.

One design flaw is that people can be crippled by nostalgia. We enjoy reminiscing in the past, but this is misguided emotion. “The word nostalgia is a learned formation of a Greek compound, consisting of νόστος (nóstos), meaning “homecoming”, a Homeric word, and ἄλγος (álgos), meaning ‘pain, ache'”1

Pain? Smart things avoid pain. Yet we chase these feelings like a drug. So, we should be careful about the way that we create things because they may be based on false familiarity, erroneous ease, or dumb design. Just because something works the way it always has, doesn’t mean that it is the best way. We should be pushing for innovation towards effectiveness and away from stagnant convention.

Now there may not be danger in vinyl record simulation, but there is a problem with the way that we currently use our phones. If phone design starts serving these addictions, then we are moving backwards. Let’s not create for the people we were. Let’s create for the people that we are meant to be.

“Technology is supposed to be complicated … 1337 phr34k5 0n1y … Nobody should know (or wants to know) how it works, so let’s hide that … ” These are things of the past. Move on.

Remove the pain from our phones.



Documenting the Death of the Dumb Telephone – Part 3: Unintelligiable

R2-D2 is not dumb. But my phone is. “[It] talks in maths. [It] buzzes like a fridge. [It’s] like a detuned radio.”1

My phone has a communication problem. It beeps and boops, and sometimes screams to let me know that something is going on, but something is missing there. It’s all a bunch of noise. What exactly are you telling me, phone? Yes, there are some custom notifications to a certain degree, but normally they under the rules of a 3rd party. How do I know the difference between an emergency, an update, or an unimportant piece of information without constantly having to look at my phone? The answer is NOT a watch. In that case, maybe my phone shouldn’t have notifications at all!

Is it possible to tell me who is contacting, by what means, the type of information, and deliver the message at an appropriate time and in an appropriate fashion?
Is it possible to communicate with my digital, social, and spacial environments and tell my when my ship’s hyperdrive has been deactivated BEFORE I attempt to make the jump to lightspeed?

A *smart* phone could do that.

Dumb phone, you can beep and boop all you want, but you’re not the phone I’m looking for. Into the garbage chute!


[1] Radio Head – Karma Police

Turning the Page with Cory Doctorow

I’m still buzzing from this morning. No, it’s not because of the “crystal meth”1; nor is it because of the amazing cold brew coffee2 that’s sitting in my fridge. I’m on a mental high from listening to a great mind. This morning I went to see Cory Doctorow at the Vancouver Writer’s Fest, and I’m a better person because of it.

I’ll admit that I wasn’t initially too keen on attending the Writer’s Fest, but I said to myself, “hey, this is Cory Doctorow.”
In fact, I’m not really that into books and reading much3… but this is Cory Doctorow.
And, I’m really not that entertained by copyright talk… but, hey, this is Cory Doctorow.

If it wasn’t obvious already, I’m a pretty big fan of Cory Doctorow. He’s kind of an Alchemist of the Internet Age, except that he’s not afraid to share his knowledge. I had followed him for a while on boingboing, and I was inspired enough to read Little Brother. (Before doing so, I thought I should read George Orwell’s 1984, and so I did … for the first time. Yes, I’m not very well-read… yet). Little Brother was so impressive that I continued to buy the audiobook of Homeland. I didn’t have to pay for it, but I chose to because I valued the author and his work, which completely supports Doctorow’s Laws for the Internet Age.

At the Vancouver Writer’s Fest, Cory Doctorow gave an overview of his new book, by eloquently summarizing three laws that he had come up with for the Internet Age. It was followed by a discussion on some of the values discussed in his writing. When asked about his views on “free and open source software,” Cory was quite excited to share Ubuntu with the crowd :)

The entire discussion was probably one of the best overviews of Internet freedom that I have ever heard, and having such a master-of-language deliver the message made it all the better. I was educated, entertained, and encouraged to read and write more freely. You might say that I have turned over a new page with regards to information.


I’m still buzzing.

If you get a chance to see Cory Doctorow during his current tour, then by all means do so, because, hey, it’s Cory Doctorow!



[1] Those who attended the event will get the inside joke.
[2] I learned about this from Cory Doctorow via Little Brother.
[3] Irlen Syndrome

Thank You Ubuntu: 10 Years Towards Freedom

I have just upgraded to Ubuntu 14.10 and the first thing that I wanted to do was thank Mark Shuttleworth, the Canonical team, and the rest of the Ubuntu community. You have turned my world on its head (and that’s a good thing).

10 years of Ubuntu is worth mentioning and celebrating. I have known and supported Ubuntu for 8 of those years (so far). To put things in context, outside of liking Star Wars and following my personal beliefs, there have been nearly no other things that I have participated in consecutively for that long.

Ubuntu has changed the way that I think about technology, and the way that I interact with people in my community. That’s right; Ubuntu is not just software. I learned this from one of my good friends that I met through Ubuntu. In addition to the new friendships that Ubuntu has fostered, it has also strengthened some of my older friendships.

Ubuntu is about learning, sharing, and growing together. And that’s why I look forward to the many more years to come. Congratulations, Ubuntu!

Documenting the Death of the Dumb Telephone – Part 2: Balderdash

Sometimes we need text so that we can document history, such as the death of our beloved smart phones. But, our phones are not smart; smart things do not fill themselves with nonsense. For some reason, the number of chatting, texting, mailing, talking channels is constantly increasing, which is also increasing the amount of “garbage information” that is entering our brains. Sometimes there is so much that I have to cut off myself off from the channels. Maybe my phone shouldn’t have a text function at all! It needs to be saved.

In a future post, I will discuss how we might mitigate this by adjusting our habits, but considering that all of these messages contain text, my smart phone should be able to consolidate, cross-reference, reply in-line, or find a way reduce the number of channels and the number of taps required to explain something.

A smart phone does not walk itself into traffic because it needs to reply to so many messages. Poor phones.