2018 in Review

This will be my fourth year in a row doing these, so you can also read about 20152016, or 2017 if so desired. They are inspired by Tilde, who has taught me that it can be a Good Thing to remember what the last year has been like. Many of the headers in this post are based on my 2018 goals.

Oh dear 2018. This about sums up how I’ve been thinking about this report, and the past year:

Which also reminds me of this excellent piece.

Stated Goals

I set out in 2018 with the phrase Space for Foundations. I do think I’ve done that, despite the above. Continue reading

Technology as a Means to Equality

I had the honor recently of speaking at the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF / Doctors Without Borders) Canada Annual General Assembly (AGA). While an international organization, each location has a very large group of people who work on decision and policy for their specific group for the year – usually in the AGA. These are three days of talks, debates, and dinners. The international group defines a focus for the discussions, but it’s up to each pod how they act around that focus. This year, it was how MSF is using (or not) technology. While most of the talks were internal, the bit of time I was there the topics ranged from telemedicine to social media in conflict zones. They asked I come speak about technology and disaster/humanitarian response.

The gist of the talk I gave (15-minute video follows) is that technology is a means to more equality in the world – a way to be inclusive. That there are many people in the world who want to use their technical skills to help groups like MSF out, but we absolutely need them at things like hackathons. That there are many people with voices and connections to the globe now, and that groups like MSF have a responsibility to listen to them directly. And that technology, when done in codesign, will be aligned with what their needs are, and is an ongoing relationship, not a one-off delivery.

Again, most all of the discussion happened behind closed doors, but I recorded my laptop and voice while I did my own presentation.

It seemed to go pretty well. We’re keeping the conversation going, and I’m excited for more points of connection. You can follow the prezi at your own pace here, and see the full #vizthink for the panel here.

Some other highlights:
The other exceptional panelists and myself advocated for F/OSS, especially in light of security, for inclusion. MSF is rightfully anxious about infiltration, ways to be transparent, and usability. Ivan and I re-emphasized open source communities, that people are committed to examining (and re-examining) code for backdoors and optimizations. That open source has been around for decades, that most technology is built upon it, and that it’s a way of performing mutual aid between countries and cultures.

Someone asked in Q+A about using things like Facebook and Twitter in the field, if use could cause problems. Problems of location or images suddenly not being as private as you thought, and kidnappings and killings resulting. Or, what if things just get hacked by governments or by insurgents? My response was that MSF, with all their weight and influence in the world, has a duty to insist upon things like Coercion-Resistant design. Insist that these companies treat their customer bases humanely.

SpaceCamp at World’s Maker Faire

SpaceCamps have been happening at Maker Faire Bay Area, Detroit, and New York. The point of SpaceCamp is to propagate the robustness and awareness of hacker- and makerspaces. Attending spaces are curated into a shared area so that space facilitators get to know each other and Faire attendees are exposed to the wide variety of spaces’ interests, personalities, and geographies.

SpaceCamps are a part of Space Federation. Space Federation’s mission is to provide financial and organizational support to open communities in shared physical spaces who use innovative methods and technology in hands-on education. This means we help space facilitators and founders get to know each other, and provide fiscal sponsorship (act as a 501c3 without all of the overhead) to groups who operate as not-for-profit.

We do this because we want hacker- and makerspaces to become the schools of the future (see our panel from Faire, sorry about the audio). For that to happen, we need to be able to focus on making awesome, not figuring out if our zoning designation will fit with our insurance type. In the same way we share a laser cutter, we can share accountants and lawyers. Better yet, we can share what we’ve learned about things like membership documents, bylaws, and epoxies.

Concerns about Hackathons and Establishing Project Flow

Hackathons are great fun, aren’t they? New friends, pizza, maybe some beer. Working on problems that might save the world, or at the very least, a life? We listen to rad music, stare at stacks in confusion, and yell at our code. At the end of the event, we have a working prototype of an idea, and we all feel very good about what we’ve done. But how much impact does it *actually* have? The applications coming out are often poorly documented, stored all over the place, and have quite a bit of work left to do on them. And those devs, the wonderful devs, they disappear back into the mist when the event is done. Leaving their freshly-born application mewling in the cold cold world of the Internet.

So what can we do about that?

Heather Blanchard of Crisis Commons and I sat down at DEFCON to discuss this. We have multiple solutions, which when implemented together, should make this much less of an issue.

1) The problem definitions themselves need a lot of work. Problem definitions are what organizations such as the Red Cross bring to the Volunteer Technology Community in search of software/hardware solutions. You can peruse some on the RHoK site. The individual or organization bringing the problem def also needs to OWN it, making themselves available for questions, resource needs, and feedback.

2) The hackathons themselves are fantastic. But people who are truly inspired and wish to continue their efforts need a way to continue interacting and documenting with their creations.

3) We need a vetting process wherein people actually submit their applications (ala GIS Corps) to be a part of this network and to continue their efforts. When disaster strikes, we must know the people we are calling on for help will respond and will be competent.

4) There needs to be an end to each project. When is something done? Play with it, do a trial run. Did it work? What still needs improvement?

Rinse and repeat.

Crisis Commons and Geeks Without Bounds feels this rough draft of flow will greatly improve the tools emerging from VTCs, give a more meaningful experience to volunteers, and save more lives. And we still get our pizza and 24 hour events for feel-good-feelings, but also a path for continued engagement.

The Mystery is Discovered

frontier psychiatry

I’ve been awake since stupid early. We’re about to start the drive to San Francisco, via Santa Monica. I hate mornings.

However, yesterday we found our first clue:
Someone has removed a picture from a wall of pictures at the Big Boy! This always means adventure is afoot!

“But what does that mean?!” Shannon asks.

Only time will tell…

catalyst changes

I’m loaded. Not as in alcohol, or as in a gun, but as in questions.

I wish I had some end point to this post, some next step. The thoughts aren’t even complete. But I do want to get them down, get started on… something.

Past occurrences were necessary to arrive at where we are now, so if you’re happy with where you are, those events must have been ok, right?

I’ve been called a Catalyst for Awesome. Friends have gotten out of bad relationships based on frank discussion, friends have started on that long-dreamed-of project based on passionate discussion, but friends have also gone epic places in their lives because of when I abandoned them. I don’t want to abandon anyone again. Sometimes the catalyst has to change. /thread

I don’t have set boundaries. Constantly in flux to best deal with situations, there are certainly lines that won’t be crossed by anyone for any reason, but those lines are contextual and often more about those I care about than myself. It’s protected me from a lot of hurt, but it’s also unhealthy in the long run – both for me, and those I care about. I miss being a cyborg sometimes. It was certainly easier, though it lacked depth. So… how does one do that? Set boundaries, I mean. /thread

This kind of goes along with boundaries, but I need to know who I am outside of my communities. I have been existing for the communities I’m a part of. Again, not healthy. /thread

I don’t take the sort of time to process things that others seem to. Maybe it’s part of the “get over it” upbringing, maybe I’m actually processing that fast, maybe I’m not processing enough. But I end up seeing where I’m freaked out, why, and going back into the fray to face it head-on. I scream in the face of things. I call out the elephant in the room. With respect, mind you, and with love. /thread

Also need some sleep and a loooong motobike ride.

Hello, LJ. I think you’ll be good for me.

done lists

in the past two weeks, I’ve:
+ played on a playground
+ been on NPR
+ held hands
+ seen new people at Jigsaw
+ presented at Dorkbot Seattle
+ spent time with my tribe
+ been tempted to sing the national anthem
+ gone to art walk
+ met Mark Ganter
+ gone on a date
+ been gifted a couch
+ moved a LEGO motor with my mind
+ been kidnapped to a brass band performance
+ blogged on SPWS, and got picked up by MAKE
+ spent 12 hours in Jigsaw meetings
+ worked my rad job
+ eaten pears
+ been cuddled a lot (ok, just the right amount)
+ worked on my bike

this week, I’m:
+ going to NYC and Boston
+ peeling labels off video games
+ seeing Geoffrey Canada speak
+ (hopefully) finishing my bike
+ meeting Raine
+ seeing my sister in a play
+ visiting a bunch of friends and family on the east coast
+ maybe visiting MIT
+ working more at my rad job

year’s end

I’m taking a moment to further procrastinate on my law school application paperwork reflect on the past year. I’ve done a lot. I’ve learned even more.

Most of the things I’ve learned have been in harsh lessons, and in people caring enough to make sure I didn’t get yet another round of ass kicking. I’ve emerged with my Tribe, and a Home, and the ability to accept my own vulnerabilities.

Where to even start? My life is made of up of regaling stories, of the amazing people I interact with, of experiences and meals and quiet moments. So I guess thank-yous are in order, though who I thank comes in alphabetical order.


I posted to my website. I have a website? Good lord, better fill it with content.

This particular content is asking a question, and I’ll gladly take your responses here.
How does one warn others or even just talk about an Abuser without coming across as being a drama queen or having Survivor as your main identity?

Situation: I didn’t reach out to people about Corey because I didn’t think it was Proper or in-line with my world view. He then hurt other people. A lot.

Suggestions welcome.

(other than this, life is fucking fantastic)