What are we so afraid of?

Communication & relationships,Philosophy — Sean Bonner @ 6:00 pm

Why are we so sure we know, and why do we care what everyone else thinks of us?

Road Closed

 

I’ve been noticing this come up again and again recently. It’s entirely possible it’s been a common topic before I noticed it but since I started paying attention, I see it everywhere. Last January I wrote a blog post/confession coming clean to the notion that I assume everyone around me has it all figured out and by some stroke of chance no one has realized that I’m just making it all up as I go. Yet. And the subtle back of your mind stress that goes along with such a thing. I number of people reached out to me and thanked me saying they were so happy they weren’t the only ones who felt that way. These were all people I respected and looked up to in ways, and people I knew had it all figured out— something didn’t add up.

Some people told me to look up impostor syndrome which I’d never heard of before but haven’t gone a day without hearing about it since. Remember in 2007 or whenever when every single person you met claimed to have ADD and that was the excuse for some weird personality fluke of theirs? I feel like impostor syndrome is the ADD of 2013.It keeps coming up in conversations, conferences, podcasts and blog posts. Everyone is an impostor it seems, or are they?

There is a terrific episode of WTF with Marc Maron where he’s chatting with Dan Savage, and they discuss that— at least in the US— only in-the-closet gay guys and straight dudes are constantly worried what other people think about their sexuality. Constantly worried that some action, some comment or some ill perceived glance will make everyone around them think they are gay. (Or in the case of the closeted ones, something will give away their secret) He added that women don’t generally have this concern because society is largely cool with a little girl/girl action without any assumption that either girl must be a lesbian for this to happen. And similarly no gay guys are worried about being accused of being straight, regardless of wether they ever had a straight sexual/romantic relationship. A gay guy can admit to dating women in college and not have their sexuality questioned, yet some straight guys are worried if they sit too close to another dude everyone will assume they are gay.

Tara just wrote a heartfelt post here on Medium about being afraid of turning 40. About thinking her age somehow reflects her usefulness, and the assumption that people are constantly judging her because of it. She points out that she never considers other peoples age, but is sure everyone is thinking about hers and afraid that they will assume she’s too old and thus must be out of touch. Of course she’s amazing and talented and has a line of people fighting for her time and attention. That’s not something that will suddenly change when she has one more candle to blow out on her birthday cake — but that doesn’t play into her fears.

I think with all of these examples, what it boils down to insecurity, but why are we as a society so insecure? Why do we care what anyone else thinks? It’s as if we can’t be comfortable with ourselves without someone else’s approval? Do we really think that lowly of ourselves?

I like to think that heavy doses of punk rock growing up was something of a don’t-give-a-fuck vaccination and I now have a healthy immunity to a lot of this. And I also feel fortunate to be able to quickly suss out what I can control and what I can’t, and then not stress much about things that are outside of my hands— what someone else thinks of me is planted firmly in the latter category. But even then I occasionally find myself wondering what people actually think of me. And I’d be lying to suggest I wouldn’t prefer that those opinions are positive, but I’m also not willing to compromise myself in hope of that. Perhaps that’s a different conversation but it took me many years to be comfortable in my own skin, as a kid I certainly wasn’t. I wish I could point to a single thing that helped me turn that corner but I can’t really put my finger on it. I don’t know what advice to give people, I don’t know what advice I would want to hear. Or would listen to now or then.

I think the main the thing is— we have to be comfortable with who we are. If we like ourselves then it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks because we know we have value, we know we’re worthy. If we don’t like ourselves, we’ve been listening to the wrong people and need to tell those people to GTFO of our lives. Or change the channel. For me, I think I’m just going to try and be more vocal about telling my friends and people I care about that I like them, not what they can do, or what they can do for me. Maybe I can’t change the world, but I can start with my circle of friends.

(cross posted to Medium too)

Sparkfun Hackers In Residence, Part 1

Travel & Adventure — Sean Bonner @ 3:14 pm

[ Tara and I are currently in Boulder, CO at Sparkfun. This is the first post looking at what we’re working on.]

PROTOTYPE PROPOSAL

We’ve been thinking about personal drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) a lot recently. Both in the context of how these devices could be useful around a house or neighborhood, as well as how they can help with volunteer projects like Safecast – and if these use cases might apply elsewhere. When Sparkfun invited us to help kick off their new ‘Hacker In Residence’ program exploring this drone question a bit more seemed like the ideal project to work on. There are a number of personal drone options available on the market, but for the most part they are either difficult to work with or limited in functionality. Weight restrictions and limited flight time is a big issue with most commercial options. We wanted to see if we could easily hack an out of the box platform like the Parrot AR Drone to add extra functionality or if it made more sense to approach this problem from another direction entirely.

Mary Meeker announced in her recent Internet Trends report that we are entering a third computing cycle of ‘Wearables/Drivables/Flyables/Scannables.’ As founders of member-driven community spaces, Crash Space and LA Makerspace, we see these technologies being used first-hand and hacked on by both hobbyists and experienced hardware engineers. The scope of where they are headed is infinite.

In the days leading up to our arrival we had to seriously think about the use cases. Sparkfun carries a wide variety of environmental sensors (temperature, humidity, barometric pressure), Safecast has high quality compact radiation sensors… but would this appeal to a less scientific or less niche group of people? And what about the device itself – do we want something with extreme maneuverability? Or something with autopilot? The options were really unlimited.

We decided that the focus for our two weeks of prototyping should be to add a much better downward facing camera to a device that could remain airborne for a period of time well beyond the normal battery life. This would enable high-res event documentation from a previously unreachable aerial view or new avenues for personal security surveillance. We thought if we could solve this first use case, then it would be easy to swap out the camera for any number of other sensors.

SPARKFUN

We received a wonderful welcome when we arrived in Boulder. In addition to providing us with a place to sleep while in town, Sparkfun gave us a dedicated room to work from at their offices. Upon arrival we got the full tour of the building – from Engineering to Shipping – everyone was super welcoming and it was awesome to see where all the red box magic happens.

The team at Sparkfun have been incredibly friendly, helpful and accommodating every step of the way, especially considering we’re pretty much making this up as we go. They also provided us with everything from a shopping list we gave them filled with parts from their catalog as well as bits and pieces from all over the web. We’d like to give an extra special shout-out to Sparkfun’s Director of Education, Lindsay Levkoff for setting this whole gig up!

 

TWO PRONGED APPROACH

Two weeks isn’t a terribly long time to solve a problem like this from scratch, so it’s lucky that we’re not starting entirely from scratch having messed around with some of these devices before and relying on some already ready to go solutions like Dropcam which we hoped would save us some time, rather than spending a week (or months) reinventing the wheel.

In anticipation of things not working out exactly perfect the very first time we decided that a two pronged approach would keep things moving in the event that we ran into any major hurdles. The breakout looks like this:

PRÖNG 1\\\

Quadcopter as platform.

We are using a Parrot AR Drone as the base because it just works right out of the box with no tinkering and is something that pretty much anyone with $300 to blow can get ahold of. Having spent time with several other brands of quad and hex copters, we knew that not having to spend a week calibrating and fine tuning balance was crucial to making this work in our 2 week window.

We hypothesized that removing the battery and adding a tether for power might give us more weight to play with as well as extended flight time. For the camera we decided on using a Dropcam because of similar out of the box instant functionality and the bonus of live video over wifi. Combining the power source for both of these devices which have different requirements would be the main trick. For very specific movement control, this plan definitely comes out ahead.

The Parrot works great as is, but is perfectly balanced for it’s own weight, and we want to add more to that. By stripping off the top hull entirely we save some weight, and luckily the Dropcam that we’re adding is fairly light on it’s own. There’s also a good bit of space between the circuit board and the plastic bottom of the Parrot, so by cutting out a small circle and sliding the Dropcam behind it we were able to attach the camera without any additional materials.


After we confirmed that the Parrot was able to lift the Dropcam and it’s own battery, we quickly moved onto attaching the power cord so we could extend the time in the air (battery life maxes out at about 15 mins). After stripping wires, soldering, hot glue gunning and zip tying, we got the power cord split into 11v (Parrot) and 5v (Dropcam) and were ready to test.


The Parrot turned on and we heard the sweet sound of the initialization tones, then the propellers started going and we thought we’d see lift. Unfortunately after it draws power and goes into lift mode a brownout occurred. We’re currently attaching things to a scope to see what is going wrong.

PRÖNG B\\\

Balloon as platform.

Quadcopters are cool for sure, but they require effort to actually fly. We wondered if removing that concern entirely might be a successful approach. Using the hardware from a microblimp as the drive controls and a weather balloon filled with helium for the lift, we thought perhaps this would just stay up on it’s own, allowing us to spend all the time on perfecting the payload. We decided to mount a Hack HD camera to the bottom for our improved visuals, though logged to a card rather than live (a problem we’d need to address later). As a bonus, both the camera and motors run off 3.7v which we hoped would simplify things. While the balloon approach lacks the fine tuned movement of a quadcopter, it completely solves the “how do we keep this up in the air for a long time” problem without even trying.

HackHD – 1080p Camera Module Test:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPBNpgrM8Wg

 

We’ve been trying to use components that anyone can get their hands-on so we bought some helium used for party balloons but quickly found out that it’s not even close to being pure and the tank we got didn’t come close to filling the 5 ft in diameter, 100g weather balloon. The weather balloon barely floated and thus the cardboard case with the HackHD Camera and Microblimp didn’t lift off the ground. We spoke to a company that sells helium and they said that they would sell some to us if we were using it for scientific purposes and it would cost about $100 to fill our balloon. At this point we are reconsidering the balloon platform and how to fill it without having to purchase a gas. Maybe hot air?…of course that will lead to a whole other set of tests.

NEXT

We have 6 working days left at Sparkfun and we will continue to hack away at our prototypes. We already have some possible solutions in the works but would love to get any feedback or ideas from the Interwebz on how to solve our issues!

To be continued…

 

ABOUT

Sean Bonner
http://seanbonner.com @seanbonner

In 2010 Sean co-founded the first hackerspace in Los Angeles, Crash Space. Sean is co-founder and director of Safecast, a nonprofit environmental monitoring company. They have been prototyping a number of drones for Safecast that will carry radiation and air quality sensors to hard to reach locations.

 

Tara Tiger Brown
http://taratigerbrown.com @tara

Tara is co-founder and Chief Encouragement Officer at LA Makerspace, a family friendly hackerspace in Los Angeles, and co-created Represent.LA to connect and promote the Los Angeles tech startup community. Tara has been working with youth on DIY skill building and following their passionate interests through the LA Makerspace and MacArthur funded Digital Media Learning Research Hub. She is a Forbes Contributor where she writes about Women in Technology and other tech tidbits.

‘Brunch Of The Dead’ Officially Released

Writing & Stories — Sean Bonner @ 7:14 am

BOTD_cover So I’ll start this off by noting that Brunch Of The Dead is currently FREE in the Amazon Kindle store and will be all week, after this week the price skyrockets to $2.99.

Now that that is out of the way…. Brunch Of The Dead is a few things. It’s a short story around 5,000 words about old people and brunch and zombies that has been 12 years in the making. That’s trumped up a bit, it was written initially 12 years ago when my friend Morgen and I used to skip work to hang out coffee shops drinking coffee and trying to make each other laugh with crazy stories. This was one of the few we wrote down, but a serious lack of confidence caused us to shelve for most of that time. About a month ago I dug it out of the archives, still thought it was funny and Morgen and I decided to put some time in reworking and polishing and then publish it. Which we did. Hence the “official” in the subject up there.

It’s also the first piece of fiction writing I’ve ever published, which is a bit nerve wracking. More so than I expected. I really enjoy fiction when I’m reading but I have a horrible time writing it. It’s one of the things I want to do more than anything in the world, but whenever I try I end up writing something that actually happened. I’ve written before about how that scares the crap out of me. I’ve also written before — countless times — about the value of just going for it. About how if you don’t try you are 100% assured to fail. About how anything creative you produce can find a handful of people who enjoy it. So I decided to take my own advice and jump in.

I’m not going to go so far as to say it’s “good” but I will say that I know exactly what happens in it and I still enjoy reading it, and it still makes me laugh. And what I will go so far as to say is that it’s done. I actually made it, and actually shipped it. Which is a huge step for me. And somewhat amusing that it took 12 years for 2 guys to publish a short story that could basically be told verbally in 10 minutes.

But it’s out and that feels awesome. I highly recommend to anyone who is wavering on finishing/publishing something -just go for it.

Encryption and Suspicion

Networks, Theory, and the Web,Uncategorized — Sean Bonner @ 6:19 am

Why using encryption is seen as suspicious — the difference between privacy and secrecy.

encryption

(Originally posted on Medium)

Not long ago I discussed some of the steps I was taking to ensure some privacy online and since then have had quite a few conversations with other people about their own efforts to do the same. We most frequently talk about how easy or hard something is to implement and express shared desire to have more of these options baked in as standard features on normal applications used by everyone. If encrypting an email was as easy as CCing some for example, it’s safe to assume more people would encrypt their emails.

These discussions also inevitably note that the simple act of encrypting your email is more likely to draw the attention of folks like the NSA because to some people this is seen as suspicious behavior. But I don’t buy it — if encrypting your email is suspicious that’s only the case because not many people do it, which is only the case because it’s not that easy. And now we’re running in circles. But lets think about this a bit more for a second.

What’s so suspicious about it? (more…)

Rule 34 for Creatives

Philosophy — Sean Bonner @ 11:24 am

Salton Sea Detour
[Originally published on Medium]

If you create it, there’s someone who will like it.

As citizens of the internet, we all know about The Rules, most referenced of course is Rule 34If you can think of it, there is porn of it.

Some things are just such universally understood facts that there’s no point in arguing about them. Rule 34 is one such fact. But it’s easy to read at face value and then move on thinking it’s just a joke, but in fact there’s a much more important lesson here especially for anyone creative. I say creative but I should note that I think there are very few people who aren’t creative — maybe no one. Not everyone is a writer or an artist or a composer or a crafter or a hardware designer or whatever else you can think of, but as a people we enjoy making things and at some point you have to admit that requires creativity. Anyway, that’s another rant all together — back to the rule 34 discussion.

If you can think of it: Well that’s pretty much anything, because duh.

There is porn of it: This is the moneyshot of this statement, so to speak. Keeping things a bit abstract here, porn doesn’t just exist. Someone has to create it. But more than that, someone has to not only care enough to make it but also believe that someone out there in the world would also enjoy it. If you haven’t spent much time on 4chan you might not really be grasping the scope of what we’re talking about here, but seriously, anything you can think of, it’s out there, and someone enjoys it.

The way this relates to you, as a creative — that thing you’ve been thinking of… that thing you want to write, that thing you want to paint, that thing you want to sing, that thing you want to design, that thing you want to build — whatever it is, someone will dig it. Traditionally, producing things is scary. Will it be good enough? Will anyone like it? Will everyone laugh at you? Rule 34 applies to you.

If you follow through and actually do this (I don’t want to keep contextualizing this, but you know what I mean, whatever it is you are hesitating to do. For me it’s writing, for you it might be publishing some photos or starting a sketchbook) someone out there will like it. And that’s really all you need. One person to appreciate the work you put into. The catch here is that you may never know this person exists — but they do, and Rule 34 proves that. If whatever kind of crazy twisted freaky porn you can think of has at least enough enthusiastic fans out there to justify someone willing it into existence, then certainly anything you want to make but are second guessing can find an audience.

And better than that, if you keep doing it, those fans will tell their friends, and your fans will double in number. And before you know it you’ll have double digits of fans. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.

I know I personally talk myself out of so much that I want to write because the stupid bullshit voice in my head tells me no one will care. No one will be interested. No one will like it. Rule 34 proves that voice wrong. I just need to know one person was glad I finished that thing and hit publish. Now I don’t have an excuse. How about you? What are you waiting for? That person is out there, don’t disappoint them.

Knowing the destination before setting out on the voyage

Me, Myself, and this blog,Writing & Stories — Sean Bonner @ 1:37 pm

Earlier today I mentioned that there’s never been something I’m so equally attracted to and horrified of in my entire life – as writing. I’ve done it and not done it all my life and I’ve written about doing it and not doing it probably more than I’ve actually done it. I have this problem that I’ve become much more aware of recently, which might actually be making it worse now that I know about it, where I’m petrified of beginning writing if I don’t know where I’m going to end up. Depending on your perspective this has never/always been a problem for me to some extent – or rather, it’s been a problem in other areas that I didn’t realize were problematic, but hasn’t really been a problem with writing.

In my most prolific writing days I had no idea where I was headed until I got there and that was my salvation. Writing was incredibly therapeutic and with just a spark I could dig into my head and spill my guts all over a page and not only feel good about what I’d written, but feel better mentally as well. Like I’d worked through something. Solved something that I didn’t understand before and that drove me to keep doing it. At some point I got the idea that I needed that spark to give me the push, and then at some other point I realized those sparks don’t really happen on command. And then I started worrying about them and how to find them and what to do without them. The spark was like a quick strobe flash in a dark room that gave me an idea of what route to take to get through it, and without that I just keep standing there not knowing which direction to move in.

I told a story last year (and many times before actually) that as a kid I never took first steps, or said first words. I sat around staring at people for ever – much longer than I should have – and then just started walking, and just started talking in full sentences. It’s a story passed on to me from my parents and I don’t even know how much truth is in it. But I guess I convinced myself it was true, and then used it as an excuse by blaming some weird way my head works. I have to know I can do it before I start. Or I have to know the destination before I can embark on the journey. Which I think is bullshit, so that’s conflicting to say the least.

The thing is I love writing. When I’m in the groove it’s easily one of my favorite things in the world. If I could do that all day I would in a heartbeat. When I’m not in that groove it’s torture and I beat myself up about it all day long, which I’m certain only makes it that much worse.

I’ve talked to a number of my “writer” friends, or just my friends who write even if they don’t consider themselves writers. I ask them if they know where they are going when they begin. If they have a roadmap. If they just dive in blind. And their answers, of course – I knew before I ever asked them, are varied. Some people have outlines, some people have ideas, some people barely have a spark. So there’s no one solution, no one answer. And again, I already know that so I don’t know why I keep asking. But I do. I feel like I’m 1 year old just watching everyone walk around too afraid to try to take a step. Does that mean that at some people in the future I’ll just *get it* and suddenly be able to write without issue? I doubt it, but that’s a good excuse to not try today.

And it’s not even a fear of failure. I don’t mind if I suck. I don’t mind if what I write is stupid. I mean I don’t want to write sucky stupid stuff, but if that’s the result then I’m already OK with that because it’s a result, which is better than what I have right now. I’m afraid of getting lost. Afraid of staring at the blank page and not having any idea what to write next. Afraid of trying to tell a story and not having a story to tell. If I don’t actually write it then I can keep telling myself that I have a story that I just haven’t written yet. If I force myself to start writing it and hit a wall, then I have to admit that I don’t have a story. Which is where that desire to know the end before I begin comes from. And again, I know it’s stupid.

I’m not even looking for advice here, just trying to kick my own ass and sort through the crap in my own head so I can better grasp what it is that is actually standing in my way. Like with this post, I knew the first sentence because I’d already written it on twitter, everything else just appeared as I typed the line before it. So that’s something.

First 140 People On Twitter

Networks, Theory, and the Web — Sean Bonner @ 10:27 am

(crossposted on Medium)
A conversation on twitter last night reminded me of a list I’d seen compiled many years ago of the first 140 people to sign up for Twitter – known as twttr at that point. The site where the list had been posted was down but thanks to The Wayback Machine I was able to find the list. I thought I’d repost it here just for posterity.

top 6 x 6 following list on Twitter I find this list incredibly fascinating for a number of reasons. We all know what twitter is now, but no one knew what it would be then so if nothing else (with the exception of the people who worked at Odeo) this is a snapshot of a somehow connected (it was invite only) group of people who were willing to try out new things that likely made no sense to them at the time. Who is on the list is just as interesting as who isn’t – and seeing how it spread. Jason Cosper invited me and I invited both Xeni Jardin and Richard Ault who signed up immediately. I recall the first few days much more vividly than I do the following 6 months. Random text messages from people stating that they were making sandwiches or going to the store, and the feeling that this info was probably important in a context I couldn’t quite wrap my head around – which made it exciting. It was also annoying. But it found it’s groove and as I’ve said before the service went on to change my entire world and how I communicate with people, and I’d argue I’m not the only one who feels that way. I can’t imagine a world without Twitter today. And because those first few days and weeks were so new and weird, this list is a bit nostalgic for me. I don’t know how it makes anyone else feel, but like I said I just thought it was worth archiving.

imgres

(Note: Unfortunately it seems that a few people on this list, over the last 7 years, changed their usernames or stopped using them and someone else has snatched those names up. They are obvious when you follow the links below, so this list is more an archive of the names and accounts, no so much the current users.)

(more…)

Decisions Decisions

Me, Myself, and this blog — Sean Bonner @ 8:29 pm

I feel like I used to be a lit more decisive. I don’t know if that’s true or if it’s just my head making shit up but I feel like it’s true. I feel like when I was presented with an option I would make my choice and run with it but at some point I started asking myself about the options and which was better and what might happen if I chose one over the other. I told myself that this was smart and it would help me make more educated choices and more thoughtful decisions. And that’s not entirely wrong, or bad, but the result of doing that more and more often hasn’t been making better and better decisions it’s been making some very well thought out decisions and being paralyzed in fear of making the wrong decision so not making a decision at all on far too many other things. Maybe I don’t have time to do the research I think I need to, or maybe the info that I found wasn’t definitive, or maybe I just didn’t feel like thinking about it – whatever the reason a choice left unmade was the result. And it’s been happening more and more often. It’s almost like I’m bikeshedding myself.

Anyway I sort of knew I was doing this but pretended I didn’t, and then I really knew I was doing it and thought I’d just ignore it. Turns out neither of those are really good ideas and it’s just been getting worse and worse. The anxiety. The indecision. It’s a bunch of bullshit, all of it. This morning I was at Costco with Tara because we needed to pick up a few things (protip: Costco sells a giant 26oz jar of MaraNatha Almond Butter which is amazing in smoothies for like $6, which is even way cheaper than Amazon, and the 12oz jar is $19 at my local grocery store – but anyway…) and we were walking down the office supply isle and Tara said “Oh we need printer paper” and reached over to the stack of paper packages closest to her, grabbed one and put it in the cart and kept going.

I stood there in shock. And then told her why I was in such awe.

There were no less than 8 different kinds of printer paper there. At even my quickest glance I could see they were all about the same price and about the same sheet count so there was no instant, obvious reason to choose one over the other. If I had been standing there and realized I needed paper it would have taken me 10-15 minutes of reading about each option and trying to decide which one was the wisest choice. I probably would have been googling them holding them next to each other to see how much of a difference there was between 92 bright white and 87 white. And I would have been unsure about my final pick. Did I spend extra for something I don’t need? Should I have gotten something brighter? What about recycled? Tara wrestled with none of that, she didn’t even care. She spent 3 seconds on it – if even – and then moved on.

I thought about this for the rest of the day and this afternoon realized why. I hadn’t really realized how much this indecisiveness was bothering me until I saw how little impact making a choice and running with it had on her. Because really, there’s no difference in any of those papers – they all do the job. So anything more than 5 seconds would have been a waste, but I couldn’t have realized that until I saw it in action. And so here I am, obsessing about that and promising myself that I’m going to stop wrestling with myself over shit that doesn’t matter and just make a decision and run with it, and be happy with it, and stop thinking about it so I can move on to the next thing. A decision made is better than a decision in limbo tearing away at me. I won’t even get into the months and months of disasterous mental hell I’ve been putting myself through over any number of choices that have been laid out before me. None of which deserve 1% of the time I’ve spent on them.

I’m feeling like this is a reckless decision but it’s probably not in anyway. But I’m making the choice to just start making choices. I’m committing to making a commitment and seeing where it leads rather than trying to know the whole map before I take a step. Maybe I’ll make the wrong choice sometimes, but I’ll be making choices and that’s better than where I’m at right now.

So we’ll see where this leads.

« Previous PageNext Page »
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
(c) 2014 sbdc | powered by WordPress with Barecity