Happiness – some simple things

January 5th, 2010

I love the sound of trains… sad, lonely and connected
It is difficult to express the longing they trigger
and how very happy the sound makes me

I know these words do not all invoke visions of Happiness.
But I suppose it is the calm peacefulness that I feel
It reminds me of Great Grandma’s house
I feel safe, private. It is very late and everyone is asleep except me and the train conductor.

I think of my disconnected family of travelers…
and the impossibility of the connections I feel to so many diverse people
the excitement of travel

So odd that all I do is fly…


Women and Twitter

January 5th, 2010

@thenextwomen: New Article: Women on Twitter for Business Reasons Why http://bit.ly/914BaD

Made me think about my gaming days… And all the discussions we used to have about women in gaming and getting more women involved in gaming.  We noticed that games with low introduction barriers were the most popular with women and captured the casual gamer market.

Two major ones that stood out to me are Solitaire and Tetris.  (I actually had a 4am discussion about this w Alexey at Burningman this year too.  I was camped at Tetrion – a very loud camp esp once the two 40ft tetris screens were setup.  We were celebrating Tetris’s 25 yr anniversary.  Henk was the initiator of the idea and got Alexey out there in all the dust and noise.)

Alexey believes (if I heard him right – it was kinda loud ;-)) that women like Tetris because you are constantly building/creating/fixing something rather than destroying.  I’d like to say that was true but I think it is something deeper than that.  At Dave and Busters, all the girls play Day of the Dead.  I think it is because the interface is quickly accessible.  Also you are cooperating with your partner.

So adoption…It also wasn’t a time issue – I noticed many women getting lost in those games for hours.

To me it all come around to interfaces… women have less patience with overly complex interfaces.  I found that on average men would spend more time trying to figure out an interface than a woman would.  Women seem to adopt faster when the interface is simple.  We know how to create the necessary social structures/rules so we prefer interfaces that get out of our way and allow us to do so.

I think that is why women love twitter and have adopted faster.

***disclaimer all of this is said in recognition of “Sparkling Generalities.”  There are always exceptions to the rules.  I am just mulling over a pattern I have personally observed.  I am very open to opposing evidence esp scientifically gathered!


happiness is contagious – pass it on! esp to strangers?

January 4th, 2010

http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/337/dec04_2/a2338 British Medical Journal

Harvard Medical School Office of Public Affairs
Happiness is a collective – not just individual – phenomenon

A Study To Smile About: Happiness Is Contagious

Course what I think is interesting is a neighbor is 34% more likely while a spouse is only 8%.  I think this explains much.

course with these little biological guys…
It can go the other way too with negative emotion.
And again – looks like us gals really are “more sensitive.” I’m betting this is one of those baby raising things again.  Biology does like for us to be more aware of the kiddo’s needs and wants.

so consider that before being a grumpybutt…  Your spouse can handle it better than a neighbor but you do have to sleep with your spouse.


fragmentation and contextualization of ID

December 31st, 2009

Some important points to consider when pondering online identity issues…

Identity is actually a very fragmented thing.

  • Contextual based on groups or audience
  • Contextual based on Time – we evolve and change (try reading old blogs posts sometimes OUCH)
  • Ownership of data crucial to trust
  • Individual Ownership – how much does an individual own
  • Mutual Ownership – sometimes different parts are owner by multiple entities for authoritative reasons
  • Group Ownership – Sometime created by groups
  • Groups and concepts can have multiple owners so who are the Principals?
  • Multiple personas (legal in New Zealand)

WDYDWYD part 2

December 31st, 2009

So I ignored the signs about identity. I waffled back and forth trying to create privacy on important things like home addresses while trying to maintain my brand. In a way I was forced into it. Whenever anyone hears the name Silona and they know me – they assume it is me. It’s a reasonable assumption. But when some students of mine discovered silona.ch, I realized I had more to do. Silona.ch was a porn site for a dominatrix in the Czech Republic. Unfortunately she never showed her face and hard dark hair and a similar build to mine. Everyone seemed to believe me that it wasn’t me but.. the seeds of doubt were there. I knew I had to work more on creating and preserving my own identity. And I was tired of addressing the issue – “no that isn’t me…”

So I gave up on privacy. For me it had become a lost cause. So many sites and agencies wanted my address and phone. It had accidentally been published. So many things depended on my SSN and name. I had already been stalked once and because of that Dad and I had done concealed handgun classes together. (Yes I own 4 guns. Yes I am a Texan and a military brat.) I realized privacy as secrecy was a thing of the past – it just took me awhile to completely accept it.

I know it’s hard. I mean I do large scale databases for a living.

So I went looking for a way to fix it… my first attempt was a royal failure.  I realized things don’t just need to be available.  They need to be equitable.

As individuals, the electronic medium was forcing us to be transparent to businesses and government but they did not have to report back to us.

I decided to strive to create more equitable relationships.  Step was get government transparent… step two was business.  But I didn’t tell many people.  See in 2004 in Texas – most people already thought I was a little “unrealistic.” (to put  it nicely.)

Recently though I refocused.  Now I am focused on citations for government documents, creating citable data, and openbanking.


Neural pathways and ruts

December 31st, 2009

So there is this story I tell often to explain many of my perspectives on the world.  I realized it wasn’t posted here and I really should post it so that people have some contextualization.

So have you ever had to stop yourself midstory?  Do you find it painful?  Do you feel like you just stumbled?  Maybe even stumbled and fell?  Have you noticed that it is even worse when it is a favorite story or a frequently told story?  Have you noticed the elderly people often have a stuck set of stories?  I mean you know they are old – they most have more stories than that and yet… they keep applying the same ones to the same phrases?

Well your brain is not unlike a network of roadways.  Paths become easier to take the more often you take them.  I mean this is normal – it is called learning.  It is how we survive.  It costs us less energy (literally) to think the same way.  The problem with this is that our brains can get so used to things that it creates ruts – deep grooves.  Those ruts can become difficult even painful to deviate from.  They become so deep that they become tunnels so that we can’t see the other possible paths.

I know that I already have those ruts all over my brain.  And for the most part, I tried to make sure those are worthwhile journeys.  But I purposely try to make myself jump out of them from time to time to keep my brain nimble.

So when you tell a story… look around – anyone bored?  You might be in a rut where you can just barely see over it.  Stop engage that person – jump off the path and see what’s there and have a little conversation.

oh yea – and if you notice me getting in a rut … PLEASE ask me a question to gimme a little push out of it 😉


Consequential strangers and “the now”

December 31st, 2009

So I was  reading @Gumption ‘s blog post on Consequential Strangers and was struck about how weak ties can often be more powerful than your inner circle.  I thought “Well, why would this occur…”

I think much of this has to do with filters and judgment. When we get closer to people, we decide that we “know” them and we project much of ourselves on to them.

Often times, when we do this we limit people with baggage. Sometimes we create self fulfilling prophecies even.

My favorite example, how many times does a parent expect you to act like a 12 yr old and even though you promised yourself you wouldn’t yell at her like a 12 yr old – you find yourself doing it?

With any normal person this would never occur…  And it would certainly not occur with a random stranger.  But for some reason, we are able to give better suggestions and often be better people with strangers.  Time to lose both the amount of projection of self we give to good friends.  I think is slows down the grey matter.  Instead of coming up with solutions instead it just accesses memories both positive and negative rather than looking for novel solutions…

I think I will steal from my happiness post earlier and try to short circuit my neural circuitry when that happens by some physical trick of existing in the now and maybe reroute that neural pathway.


Happiness and Virtues

December 31st, 2009

I believe that working to cultivate these values actually insures that you handle the top 4 levels of Mazlow’ hierarchy.

So what does that say about the role of religion? ponder.  Of course I am a believer that I can have virtues and not be religious.  So I do like the assumption here that these are biologically based in regards to long term selfishness and survival of  people and culture.


“The organization of these virtues and strengths is as follows:

1. Wisdom and Knowledge: creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning, perspective, innovation
2. Courage: bravery, persistence, integrity, vitality
3. Humanity: love, kindness, social intelligence
4. Justice: citizenship, fairness, leadership
5. Temperance: forgiveness and mercy, humility, prudence, self control
6. Transcendence: appreciation of beauty and excellence, gratitude, hope, humor, spirituality

The introduction of CSV suggests that these six virtues are considered good by the vast majority of cultures and throughout history and that these traits lead to increased happiness when practiced.”


happiness, the now and narrative circuitry

December 30th, 2009


Ah HA!  Another tool… this one is super simple.  I LIKE IT!

If you find yourself lost in one of your default narratives, you can stop yourself by focusing on physical aspects of the “now” or present situation.  Like if you are washing dishing and you start a negative narrative about an argument you had earlier.  You can stop it by focusing on the feel of the water or the pattern on the dishes.  This is doubly good because you are more likely to hurt yourself since you aren’t paying attention.

I have always been a day dreamer.  I often figure out tough technical problems that way. And I can figure out multiple perceptions of a business concept.  My favorite daydream is all the projects I would do if I won the lottery.

But I have learned I do NOT solve deep seated emotional problems well using this technique.

Instead I often get stuck in a naysayers loop.  Naysayers loop can be very useful for tech projects esp hacking and security.  But those loops are extremely sabotaging for dealing with people on sensitive personal issues.

I think much of this gets back to basic brain programming.  In Vital Lies, Simple Truths by Goleman he talks about perception being created by all the information we are given or that we harvest.  This is also a reoccurring theme in Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.

For someone that does database programming, it really is simple – our filters are created by the data we are given in our lifetime.  Certain experiences can help shake that up a bit.  That is one reason I love to travel.  We can have some influence over this… but really not as much as we would like. As much as you change the algorithm it doesn’t matter if the data is broken.

So I think of it this way… I was given some pretty awesome datasets to learn from when it comes to computers, technology, problem solving, project management, event management etc.  But I was given some ugly data in regards to femininity and sexuality self esteem.  I think most women are and it holds up back esp in regards to being competitive or speaking out.  Bill Bradley once said it is like I am two people.  And once I conquer that insecure aspect I will be ready to rock the world (my phrasing ;-). )

I know that some people may think that addressing this publicly is weakness.  But that means you don’t know me well yet.  Taking it public is step one.  Dealing with the external naysayers is step two.  Getting rid of the internal naysayer (that sounds like my mom) is step three.  The funny thing is taking it public, often takes it out of my head.  Sometimes just the act of writing does…

Now to excise that data and create a new more accurate and positive dataset!!!

Boys – become Men and fix your faulty dataset too! http://artofmanliness.com/2009/05/11/the-problem-with-porn/ In my limited experience, the guys that I had healthy sexual relationships actually viewed very little porn… I think that says something.  I used to be pro-porn.  Now I am not so sure.  Esp if someone looks like they aren’t enjoying it and it is all about the humiliation.  I say at least try to keep it focused on the nice stuff.  Create a healthier dataset.

Edit: this link also talks about reprogramming… http://revolutionaryman.com/2009/03/why-men-surf-porn/ Guess I am not alone in needing reprogramming in this area.  Hey guess what I am not an object…


How to get techies involved in your project

December 30th, 2009

I often get asked by NonProfits how do I recruit all these techies to my codeathons…

Well as someone that has managed techies and run volunteer management campaigns.  It is simple:

1) know your audience

That might seem rude or overly simplistic but it is true.  Most Nonprofit volunteer coordinators know how to setup projects to the lowest common denominator for block walking, phone banking etc.  You need to find an Open Source techie project manager type and do the same open source process.  A good place to start is http://producingoss.com Karl Fogel literally wrote the book on Open Source Community management. (And I personally adore the man – not a sweeter person on this planet.)

What I have found to work is:

  • Purpose – it is easy for me to get people to work when they understand exactly how it is helping
  • Free/Open Source – make the sure they know you aren’t just getting free work out of them
  • Clarity – define the project scope you probably need to sit down with an actual designer or project manager to do this properly
  • Clear lines of communication – use the tools they are already using i.e. github and wikis
  • Long term – how will this be sustainable? I suggest finding an exist project to support like Drupal or WordPress modules.

Don’t forget the big things…

  • Fun – always have elements that show it will be bonding for programmers and Nonprofits too.
  • Press – make sure their are visual elements for them to video or photograph this gives cred too..