On January 30, Luis “elsua” Suarez visited our UNC School of Information and Library Science senior capstone course on Emerging Issues and Technologies to talk with us about his 6+ years without email while at IBM.
Luis brought a lot of good insight to the class as he did a Google Hangout with us from his home on Gran Canaria. Luis lives in Africa, reports in Europe and works most closely with a team in North America — without using email.
Luis, who was extremely generous to spend time with us during his transition, will be moving from being a Change Agent within a very large global and hierarchical organization to advising and assisting organizations of all sizes to work better by learning about Social Business practices.
Luis has been a global presence already as has been noted in Wired, New York Times, and at Outside The Inbox dot EU (among others). His experience and personal engagement will definitely be a leader and advisor to call on.
Working with Luis has taught me not to look for the smartest person in the room but to look for the smartest network that has someone in the room with you.
Looking forward to his and CAWW’s future adventures.
Each year at New Year’s, I’ve tried to work out something that would meet all the Southern folklore requirements for luck, prosperity, and a long sweet life as Mama Dip says “COLLARD GREENS for LOTS OF MONEY, BLACK-EYE PEAS for GOOD LUCK, PORK for GOOD HEALTH, YAMS to SWEETEN THINGS UP.” There are a dozen variations of what food yields what attribute, but the foods involved plus cornbread are required for whatever reasons might be given.
Starting a few years back, I’ve been adding the New Year’s plate pieces to the Portuguese dish, Caldo Verde aka the Green Soup. This year with full respect to the taste changes and easily availability of foods we might call Mexican, I moved away from the Portuguese kale and hard sausage soup entirely and went with the recipe below.
Served with a masa harina based cornbread and a red wine, it made a great New Years meal.
Caldo Verde por Ańo Nuevo
1 pound chorizo (Mexican style crumbly or hard Spanish style)
1 pound collards (stemmed, washed three times, rolled and chopped)
1 – 2 large sweet potatoes (peeled and diced)
1 large onion (peeled and diced)
4 garlic cloves (peeled and minced)
3 celery stalks (stemmed and diced)
2 – 3 medium carrots (peeled and diced)
1 poblano pepper (seeded and diced)
1 can or equiv of prepared black eyed peas (1 – 2 cups)
4 – 6 cups of stock
1 – 2 bay leaves
Garnish (enough for the table):
chopped pepper (orange, red or green)
chopped red onion
chopped and seeded jalapeńo
Most of the work here is in the preparation. If you start with dried black eyed peas, there’s a lot more work ahead of time. I skip that part and start with canned peas or those prepared ahead of time. Dicing for me means about 1/4 inch or less cubes or close to depending on the vegetable. Mincing, as in the garlic, means chop it as fine as you can or use a garlic press. For the garnishes, chop as course or as fine as your table desires.
You’ll need a large cooking pot for the caldo and small bowls for the garnishes.
Oil and heat the pot. Then saute the onion, garlic, pepper and celery until the onion is transparent.
Add the Mexican chorizo and stir until lightly browned and broken into bits.
Add sweet potatoes, bay leaf, and carrots. Stir for about 5 minutes.
Add the collards — they should be well shredded — and stir until dark green.
Now add the stock and black eyed peas then bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer and let it cook until the sweet potatoes are very mushy.
The slow simmer lets the flavors mingle. You can prepare the garnishes while you’re waiting and/or sip on a favorite beverage or chat with friends or read a good book.
Serve with cornbread (I make pan based on masa the tortilla flour, but every family has their favorite versions).
Now the Network has 1200 (dues paying) members. 200 of those members were in Wrightsville Beach for the Fall Conference, a gathering that moves around the state to a different site each year. We began with an annual conference in our first year with our first director Robert Hill Long and I setting up folding chairs someplace in Durham for many fewer people.
It was great to see what current director Ed Southern and his staff have done with the Conference and the Network.
Gypsy Queen by Van Morrison
My Gypsy Auto-Pilot by Gogol Bordello
Carolina by Taraf de Haidouks mixed by Bucovina Club
Me la Kamav by Vera Bila
Losing My Religion by Dolapdere Big Gang
Gypsy Rover by Roger McGuinn
Hierachie by Carmen Maria Vega
Runnin’ Wild (Course Movemente) by Django Rheinhardt
Hora Staccato by Taraful Ciuleandra and Maria Buza
Gypsy by Charlie Parker
Romani by Turkish Gypsies from Gypsies of the World
During Festifall a couple of Sundays back, Chapel Hellians visiting the Chapel Hill Public Library table and bus took time to read Dr Seus’s Green Eggs and Ham (in front of a green screen). Familiar faces and voices are there including the Mayor and at least one member of Council.
Paul Jones, a professor at the University of North Carolina, does not think they should have to.
“E-mail is a sinkhole where knowledge goes to die,” said Mr. Jones, who said that he gave up e-mail in 2011. It was a radical move, not least because Mr. Jones helped write the code for the university’s first e-mail program 30 years ago. “I’m trying to undo that sinful work,” he said, joking.
E-mails to him receive an automated reply: “Goodbye E-mail, I’m divesting,” plus some 20 ways to reach him. About the only person frustrated by this, he said, was a department head who wanted to know “how will you possibly read our important departmental announcements?” Mr. Jones said with a laugh.
But in his quest to eliminate e-mail, Mr. Jones may have a surprising obstacle: students. Canvas, a two-year-old learning management system used by Brown University, among others, allows students to choose how to receive messages like “The reading assignment has been changed to Chapter 2.”ť The options: e-mail, text, Facebook and Twitter. According to company figures, 98 percent chose e-mail.
I had a great time this Monday at the RTP Foundation taking part in 5 minute talks on open source projects called “RTP 180: Open Source All Things.” While I talked — slightly over my 5 minutes, I’ll admit — just over 60 slides representing about 1% of the projects currently hosted at ibiblio.org passed by on the screen at about 3 seconds each. That could have been a little fast for some people, so I’ve reposted those slides here:
It’s “Talk Like a Pirate Day” and don’t fear, we’ve got pirates in the National Archives! Here’s a caricature of “Paul Jones the Pirate.” This is a copy of a circa 1779 engraving found within the Records of the Office of War Information.
To send off our graduates into their new lives, he quoted from a ballad he had heard whilst growing up in Derry in which a young woman was going off into the world leaving on the 12th of May. There was much wise reflection in his interpretation of that ballad in the context of commencement, but I recalled and recall now the final verse which is a hopeful send off for graduates and for Heaney himself:
So I bade them all good evening
and there I hoisted sail,
Let the best betide my countryside,
my fortune never fail.
Then night coming on, all hopes being gone,
I think I will try elsewhere,
at a dance or a wake my chance I'll take
and leave Magherafelt May Fair.
But how did those pages get created and how did they end up in Chapel Hill on my NeXT in first place?
Wide Area Information Servers and the WWW gateway
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Judd Knott and I led a network services research group at UNC in the Office for Information Technologies. Among the projects we developed was an internet bulletin board service that allowed access to all kinds of software for information sharing, Free software (as in Freedom), USENET News, Gopher, etc — even email. LaUNChpad quickly had hundreds of users and allowed us experiment in a living world and in the process contribute to information access in a small way.
Not long after, Jim got email from Tim saying that he was submitting a paper on what was now called more briefly WWW at the upcoming Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) conference Hypertext 91 in San Antonio in December. Tim made plans to stop by UNC and visit with us before going on to Texas. He was confident given the immediate acceptance of WWW on newsgroups and as seen in his logs that he would get a good speaking slot at the conference.
A few weeks later, we learned differently. Tim’s paper had been rejected. But he had been offered a spot to demonstrate the WWW. Only a couple of catches. There was to be no Internet connectivity at the conference. And as Tim’s demonstration required a NeXT computer, he would have to bring his from Europe. Tim was intrepid and soldiered on.
A Call to an Expert
Anticipating Tim’s arrival, I called a nearby Computer Science department. The voice at the other end had heard of Tim’s project but was not impressed. He immediately recited what he saw as deadly problems with the WWW:
Links in hypertext must be bidirectional. WWW’s are one way only.
WWW servers aren’t aware of each other and there is no inter-server communication.
All WWW servers are equal. There should be a concept of hubs.
WWW servers don’t keep state. They are completely unaware of their previous interactions.
It’s obvious that whoever wrote the hypertext engine doesn’t understand SGML. This HTML is done all wrong.
Finally, he’s giving this away for free. That means it has no value at all. We have our own version and a strong licensing partner.
I didn’t take Tim to meet with the person who owned that voice.
There was, as you see now, a link to the WWW< >WAIS gateway for searching a database in the next room. When I clicked on the link, my information request first went to CERN in Switzerland then back to UNC to search the database. The results then left UNC for Switzerland where html was added and then the results sent back to my NeXT.
Tim showed me how simple and easy editing and creating a WWW page could be. First he showed how straightforward editing was by changing “demonstration” to “demonfdgfgstration.” I created my own page and added a link to an FTP site in Denmark that hosted a sound collection among other things. I wanted to see if the NeXT and Tim’s WWW browser would be able to pass the sound to a player. I think it did, but I really can’t remember if it did.
Beers near English Scholars
That night, I invited Tim, Jim, Judd and others working on our project to my home. My wife, Sally Greene, was having a bunch of her friends, all PhD students in English over as well.
The geeks and literature folks didn’t really mix. The geeks were out on the deck in the warm North Carolina fall night. The scholars were in the kitchen. I think some of the talk inside was of “Afternoon, a Story” a hypertext composition by Michael Joyce. Someone was interested in how current theory impacted (yes that word) and was impacted by hypertext. No one had actually experienced hypertext other than Apple’s Hypercard though. Yet just a few feet and a few drinks away…
“The Work of Art, Technology, and Love in the Age of Digital Reproduction”
What do light-weight, long-lasting batteries, Match.com, 4chan, Kittehz, SnapChat, Skype, Open Source software, Wikileaks and texting have to do with love and art? They put very contemporary twists on Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” and on More Love’s subtitle: “Art, Politics, and Sharing since the 1990s.”
Along the way, I managed to pick up the idea of inviting people to join the talk via Google+ HangOut. Part of this idea came from a conversation with Mark Katz who was expressing his regrets that he would be in Venice on the day of the talk. Mark said something like “I’ll be in the City of Love tho.” It struck me that there are several Cities of Love — San Francisco especially the Haight, Philadelphia, Paris and to some degree Boston (where couples of all genders may marry). I arranged a HangOut with Bebo White who lives in the Haight, Lorraine Richards who is on the faculty of Drexel in Philadelphia, Courtney Pulitzer who lives in Paris, and Edwin Huff in Boston.
One of the interesting side effects of this Hangout is that while I know Ed, Courtney, Lori and Bebo none of them knew any of the others. Each was from some different time of my own life. Still we all played together well.
Part of the idea for the Hangout was to bring Citizens of Cities of Love into the museum by using common consumer technology, but another part was to mirror and draw attention to Emily Jacir’s piece “Where We Come From.” Jacir solicites and performs small acts of remembrance and love in Israel on behalf of Palestinians who are forbidden to return to the places of their birth. Our aim was not so charged. Each Citizen offered to perform some small task for some one attending the talk. But as love should be bidirectional, the person requesting was asked by the Citizen to perform some small act on behalf of the Citizen.
Bebo will be documenting a visit to Spike, a coffee house in the Castro where Michael Williams’ friend Austin Miller is a barrista. Michael in turn will be recreating a human pyramid that Bebo and his friends created at UNC during the 1967 Human Be-in. Bebo also took us on a stroll thru the Haight using his phone camera including an interview with a modern flower girl.
Edwin showed us the spring snow outside his window. He was asked by Iris Tillman Hill to run out and toss a snowball. Ed grabbed his phone and took us out while he did just that. Iris was only asked to enjoy the warm sunshine on Ed’s behalf.
Thanks to the Ackland and especially to Amanda Hughes and Allison Portnow for making this possible. Amanda helped document expressions of love by the Citizens who in return are at this moment receiving prisms as tokens of love from Yoko Ono as part of her “Time to Tell Your Love” piece.
During questions someone asked more about Benjamin’s ideas. I referred them to John Berger’s 1972 BBC series “Ways of Seeing” Particularly the first episode. Here it is:
We’ve had a busy past few months from end of semester to a summer seminar in London followed by a trip around the Balkans: Croatia > Serbia > Istanbul > Bulgaria > Serbia. It’s time to do a little catch up on the state of #noemail.
* Whilst in London, we met up with pioneer #noemail er Luis Suarez aka @elsua. Besides visiting his favorite dim sum shop, Luis offered some insight into his first steps away from email.
Luis realized that while email was touted as a way to increase cooperation and comradely interactions that it was largely being used as a way to CC higher ups on discussions in ways that actually put a damper on cooperation and decrease trusted interactions — and of course filled up everyone’s mailboxes with unnecessary reports and discussions. Team members spent more time looking over their shoulders than acting like a team as managers were flooded with with chitchat. No one was winning and most people were frustrated by the overload.
* I offered a couple of my own insights — later tweeted into the #noemail stream:
When the Buddha said you should avoid attachments, I’m sure he was referring to email and PDFs
Email is like a bunch of squirrels. Cute & amusing at first then timewasting, destructive, overmultiplying, & finally *evil*
Friends have been keeping me up on new #noemail articles:
* Joe Bob Hester sends: How useless is email? Two new studies weigh inhttp://gigaom.com/collaboration/how-useless-is-email-two-new-studies-weigh-in/ which leads us to a GigaOM piece what plays down the kind of gossip and small talk that builds social bonding. Yes there is a lot of that in email, but there it’s annoying and almost not work the cost. Unlike, say, the News Feed on Facebook or a Tweet stream both of which are designed, well-designed, for skimming and sharing in a small talk and social way. What in email is weighed toward being a time sink are positives in more social environments.
35% of all teens socialize with others in person outside of school on a daily basis.
29% of all teens exchange messages daily through social network sites.
22% of teens use instant messaging daily to talk to others.
19% of teens talk on landlines with people in their lives daily.
6% of teens exchange email daily.
Teens would rather use a land line than send email!
But Texting is the dominant daily teen communication channel. “Texting dominates teens’ general communication choices. Overall, 75% of all teens text, and 63% say that they use text to communicate with others every day.”
* Don Sizemore tells us of the need to redesign email using a “new protocol [that] should be a todo list” in a ReTweet from @hackernewsbot on Replacing Email – http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4228402. I think the hackers miss the point. There are a lot of communications protocol and even print drivers that we’ve dropped and reconceived over the years. The whole concept of email should be dropped and reinvented.
Since technology hasn’t solved the problem it has created with e-mail, it looks as if some younger people might come up with their own answer — not to use e-mail at all.
So I’m taking a cue from them.
I’ll look at my e-mail as it comes in. Maybe I’ll respond with a text, Google Chat, Twitter or Facebook message. But chances are, as with many messages sent via Facebook or Twitter, I won’t need to respond at all
Fluent, a new service that integrates with Gmail (and eventually, its creators say, with other email platforms) to deliver messages in the flowing fashion of a social media feed. The service, built by a team of former Google developers — the guys responsible for Wave, but don’t hold that against them — converts Gmail’s grids into a message-sharing service that’s more dynamic and fluid than any kind of letter-writing has been before, giving way to an inbox that’s not a box at all so much as a Twitter-like feed of information.
I think I’ve mentioned earlier that Wave was a good idea executed terribly from a social point of view (to say the least). Nonetheless I found it useful as it combined many of my styles of communicating, integrated many of the sites and environments that I used to communicate and allowed me to “slice and dice” the various threads and conversations.
I’m no longer interested in how to improve email or it’s best current implementation – Gmail — but if I were I’d be giving Fluent.io a test drive.