The journey continues

Naschmarket at night

Physically and metaphorically. In a few hours I’m jumping on a train and heading back to the Vienna airport where I’ll catch a flight to London, then another back to Paris. I’ve never been to Paris, or France for that matter so this will be cool for crossing off one more place from the list, though I’ll only be there for about 48 hours and most of that will be spent at LeWeb3 so it’ll be an interesting way to see a new city. Then, before I even know I’m back on a plane, back to London, though again only as a stop over, and then over to Berlin. I’m going there to wish Creative Commons a happy 5th birthday and see friends who I haven’t seen in, well.. weeks? Right about the time I catch my breath and stop my head from spinning I’m back on a plane, back to London, and then back to Vienna. Nothing like zigzagging all over freaking Europe. W00t!

That’s the trackable stuff, the personal, less quantifiable continues as well. The people I’ve met and hung out with on this trip have had a huge impact on me, and pushed me to think of and consider things in entirely new ways. This is always good, and something I seem to be drawn more and more towards. “Oh, you want to totally shatter my current thought process and rebuild the ideas in ways I hadn’t thought of? Tell me more!” Of course seeing those around me also considering, changing, tearing down and rebuilding is also inspiring. Tantek & Micki – I’m doing my best to pay it forward. I totally know what you were talking about before, I didn’t then but lots more makes sense all the sudden. Funny how that works out I suppose.

That said, it’s 2am and I need to be on a train to the airport by 8. I haven’t packed at all, nor figured out where the hell I’m even going when I get off the plane in Paris. One way or another tomorrow is going to be packed with adventure. And I’ve got a feeling the week is only going to get more interesting each step of the way. Fingers crossed…

Oh gang violence, wah wah, we had the third reich!

Scott Blake talking at the Musemsquartier, Vienna

Tonight Scott Blake presented his Bar Code Art at the Musemsquarter here in Vienna. I worked with monochrom to get him in while I was here as part of my residency. I’ve known Scott for like 15 years or something and the amount of trouble we’ve caused over the years is rather immense, and I’ve loved his work since he first started playing with Bar Codes so I was really psyched to help get this together. I really wish we had video of it, because hearing him talk about it was amazing. (more pics here)

It funny, I was expecting this week to be a bit more calm from the first week I was here since Roboxotica is officially over (btw, audio from all the Roboxotica talks, including mine, are online now) however it’s been anything but. On Monday I spoke at the Akademie Der Bildenden Künste Wien aka The Academy of Fine Art here in Vienna (yes, the very one Hitler was kicked out of before moving to Germany) – I was expecting it to last an hour or so, but it went for almost 6 hours. Contrary to what you might instantly assume this was a good thing, the class was interested and asked a lot of questions and Leo, the professor, had a great deal of accessory info to add to what I was talking about and I have a list of notes I need to follow up on and research myself. I’ll have more to write on that very soon. I didn’t realize it was going as long as it was until, well, until it went that long.

Next week I’m playing insane jetsetter again and decided to bounce over to Paris to lobbycon LeWeb3. Then I found out about a Creative Commons 5 year event in Berlin just following that, so decided to tack that on to the trip too. And just to make it that much more fun every stupid leg of the trip, Vienna to Paris to Berlin and back to Vienna, in 3 days, routes though London. Fucking hell. At least none of it is overnight. So yeah, Paris folks who want to get together on the 11th or 12th let me know, and Berlin folks let me know about the 13th and 14th. I’m back in Vienna on the 15th.

Academy of Fine Art, Vienna

Tomorrow I meet the other residents at the Museumsquarter this month, which I expect will be cool and I’m going to try and hit up some of the other amazing museums withing spitting distance of my apartment. That feels so funny to say, I’m actually living here now, as opposed to sleeping in someone else’s guest room or at a hotel. Even if it’s just for a month, it’s still something I never thought I’d be doing. Before I leave at the end of the year I hope to pull off some other cool events, and I think I’ll be speaking at the University in Graz as well. I’ve made a few great new friends which is more than I was expecting honestly, but I’m rather happy about. Of course I miss my friends in LA, but a few folks here have been going above and beyond to make me feel welcome. And I can’t thank them enough, so I won’t even try. More soon.

(title is a quote by Johannes at dinner tonight, top photo is Scott talking, bottom photo is the Academy of Fine Art)

fly in the disappointment

I realized today I’ve become a lot more cynical and jaded than I ever was, which is saying quite a bit because I’ve been pretty fucking cynical and jaded for a long time. I started thinking about this earlier on this trip when someone was talking about something, I don’t recall exactly what, but it was in reference to someone who was married and a 3rd party who was interested in one member of the couple, and they said “well in San Francisco you can at least ask ‘how married?'” Point being that to many people being “married” means they are just with that one other person and that is the end of the discussion, where as in San Francisco it could mean that, or it could mean something else entirely. I know people who are married who regularly make out with other people they aren’t married to, and with the consent of their marriage partner. Sometimes it doesn’t end at making out. And sometimes that isn’t the only thing that ends.

I don’t have any first hand experience with that, and honestly don’t want to. My feelings are if you are in a committed relationship you need to be committed to it. If you aren’t, you need to get out of it. One person being more committed than the other is just a bomb waiting to blow things all to hell. Those couples are better off not being a couple, but I refuse to play any hand in it. It’s tricky when that’s out in the open, and even worse when it’s not. There was a time when marriage meant “for as long as you both shall live.” That’s not a cliche, there was a point in history when people did in fact stay together for the rest of their lives when they got married. If people had problems they worked them out because they were stuck with that person for ever. That changed at some point, and as I was explaining to a friend a few months back, the fact that people now have the option to get a divorce and not be a social outcast, or maybe find something better has become a self fulfilling prophecy of sorts. If you have no choice, you find ways to make things work, if you have a choice, that is always on the table somewhere and eventually it’s more appealing than fixing whatever problem is at hand. It’s not shocking that the divorce rate continues to climb, and my guess is that it will keep on keeping on.

Coming to this conclusion is cool on some level because I feel like I have some kind of actual insight about how things work – like I’m not under the same delusion as everyone else, but sucks on some level because I know that some fairy tails don’t come true. It also makes it hard to know how to react to other people who are on the other end of that spectrum, either just married or just getting married. Oddly enough relating to people who have been married for a while is no problem because they know the score already. How do you be happy for someone, while at the same time know that chances are they are building a house that is eventually going to get knocked down. Like I said, a new level of cynical and jaded. Sorry about that.

And then, there’s the other end of it where someone is in a relationship that is over, but not publicly or officially or even maybe they just don’t even know it. In talking to people here and there over the last year I’ve been shocked how many people were going through the same thing I was at the same time, but neither of us knew the other was in that situation. It might have been helpful, or consoling to have someone to talk to who knew exactly what I was in the middle of, but I wasn’t letting on and neither were they. One more awesome thing to chalk up on the ego score card. Stupid ego, always playing damage control. Oh well, the fun things you learn after the fact…

I don’t know why I’m thinking so much about this this week, well actually this week would have been my 9th year wedding anniversary so I guess I know exactly why I’m thinking about it. I just have to remember to keep building new dreams for tomorrow, and not focus on the ones that died yesterday.

Empty streets at 3am

What do you want from my life, I ask myself.
Loading my questions like a shotgun.

Walking around in major cities in the middle of the night where there isn’t a soul around is quickly becoming one of my favorite activities. The newer the city to me, the emptier the streets, the quieter the air – the better. Tonight Vienna filled that role. I walked back from the Museumquartier to the place I’m staying which is some number of KM which I didn’t bother to convert to miles but more than one, less than two I think. It was beautiful. Street lights on, store lights out. Not a car in sight. There’s nothing to disappoint on walks like that. It’s you and the city and nothing else. No expectations of your own or someone else’s to live up to. No hopes, no dreams, no fears. Just the sidewalk and the night air. I can’t get enough.

I found a cool irish pub/vegan restaurant tonight which isn’t really that far and I think I might get into the habit of walking over there. I’ve been thinking a lot about expectations recently, and talking to friends about them when the topic finds it’s way into conversation. They are scary things that compound themselves. The ones we set on ourselves, the ones our friends/family/lovers set on us (and we set on them), and the ones we assumed they are setting on us. It’s seems harder and harder to enjoy today when you are focusing on tomorrow. I’ve spent a lot of this year trying not to think about tomorrow, and trying to forget about yesterday. It’s been working to some extent, but of course I drag everyone around me into that as well some not as willingly as others. Some too willingly.

Whitewashing the past is easier than you might think, to some extent anyway. Forgetting the lessons learned isn’t, but probably shouldn’t be so that’s OK. Not looking for something tomorrow is not quite as easy as I’d like it to be. Of course I’m scared of setting myself up for disappointment by betting on something I don’t even believe can happen, but I also don’t want to lose sight of what I have and can do today. Don’t even ask, I confuse myself with these vague circular ramblings so I’m sure I’m confusing everyone else too. The point is that finding something to make you smile today, right now, is the most important thing. It’s worth trying now and again. I think so anyway, I mean really, what’s the worst that can happen?

Less than a week

Vienna streets

It’s been less than a week since I left Los Angeles and much less than a week since I got to Vienna but it seems like muck longer than that on both counts. Man, people sure have a bad impressions of LA here, when people ask me where I’m from and I say LA it’s been pretty amazing how many people have negative reactions, almost all of which have never been there but instead have “heard all about it.” Yeah, and I’m sure that is all accurate too. Sorry I haven’t been posting here so much but if you’ve been following me on Twitter or Flickr you know I’ve been keeping those pretty up to date. I’m trying to be a bit more organized with the photos I’m taking so if you want to see photos of things around Vienna check out this set, and if you want Roboxotica photos specifically check out this set.

I was also a guest on monochrom’s Taugshow on Friday night and photos from that are here. I talked about blogs and metroblogging, and how it’s changing the world. When that goes online I’ll link to it for sure. Saturday I gave the opening talk at the English portion of the Roboexotica symposium about this years theme “Ghost in the Machine.” I drew the conclusion that similar to the concept of Koestler’s theory about how primitive man’s mind still lingers within our own modern and evolved minds and drives many of our actions, that online communities were the “ghosts” actually driving the decisions and actions of more modern and evolved websites, sometimes to the benefit of the companies behind them if they are smart enough to know that they aren’t that smart. The overall point I was making was that the companies that think they are smarter than their users are the ones that fail, the ones that accept the fact that their users are smarter than they are early on, and trust them to help lead the way, can only benefit from that insight. That said, many much smarter and more interesting people filled out the talks for the rest of the day.

So far Vienna has been very fun, hectic as hell, but I’ve been enjoying it. I’m looking forward to things calming down a little more so I can explore the city and see what it has to offer. I’ve met a handful of new friends already and I’m excited to hang out with them when we’re not rushing to meet some deadline or to make some event on time. I’m sure I’ll have more stories soon, better ones than this anyway.