On Doing Good Enough
8:52PM Jul 28, 2020
Welcome back to hold 2020. Right now we have with us all the way from San Francisco yes Nick Yeah Hey Mike, we're gonna be talking about the next work with the open source library, that's part of archive.org, so stay tuned watch the video we will be back with questions and answers right after the video. Thanks.
Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for coming to my home, 2020 talk, and really appreciate you spending the time to tell us with me. I'm going to skip introductions for now, if that's okay. And instead,
start with a question. Doing good enough.
Does anyone have an idea what these projects have in common.
They were all heavily contributed to by Anne Swartz. And this talk is dedicated to him. Aaron was a tour de force he helped co design the RSS standard at the ripe age of around 13. He was pretty instrumental as a catalyst for Creative Commons software licenses co founded the Reddit platform social media. He was a major contributor on Wikipedia, and he authored a landmark analysis that really surfaced. A lot of detail about who contributes to Open Library, whether it's bots with demographics. He also co founded an organization called demand progress, which was critical for the fight for net neutrality in a free web. He founded the Open Library Project over at the Internet Archive. He enabled the Free Press to have private communications via secure drop in contributed heavily to the book the recap, and the original Pacer project, which gave American citizens access to the Roman law, which seems like something we should all have access to for free.
And there's a word in Hebrew, called dynamic
and dieting means, it would have been good enough for us. Had Aaron achieved, just one of these victories for the world. Diana. Well, maybe Aaron wouldn't have agreed because he went on to found the web pi web framework for Python the Java at website which was a Intel GMI based, kind of like a wiki blogging software co authored part of parts of the RDF standard is pretty prolific. Now, if Aaron felt this way that maybe he hadn't done enough, even after so many victories, it kind of makes sense how we might feel the same way. Now Aaron is one of my role models. There are many life lessons that he taught me both about purpose, about balance. Sometimes empowerment, and honestly sometimes caution. Now today he's going to be our guide, and I'm just going to be helping out with the, the audio and visuals. And we'll start with one of his lessons. Choose good problems. Life is short, or so I'm told, so why wasted doing something dumb. It's easy to start working on something because it's convenient. But you should always be questioning yourself about. Is there something more important, you can work on. Why don't you do that instead such questions are hard to face up to. But eventually, if you follow this rule, you'll have to ask yourself why you're not working on the most important problem in the world. Each little step makes me more productive.
This talk is about how to choose good problems.
Together we'll search for an answer to what is good enough mean for us, and hopefully along the way we'll share resources on how we can do more good for ourselves and others. Spoiler. I'm not, I'm not trying to be nor could I be a mech. It's nice to meet you. I have the privilege of working on Aaron's open library.org website at the Internet Archive. For those who have never heard of it. Open Library is the world's library catalog. We are an online website at Open Library. org where we have 3 million books that you can read, borrow preview directly from your browser. It's open source and free software. it's nonprofit and also free to use. And we have awesome features like a read aloud ability directly from your from the web browser. And also we're wiki editable so 10s of thousands of people from around the world, contribute book data and fill in our catalog kind of like Wikipedia. For me Open Library feels very close to my geeky guy, and Iki guy. The Japanese word which I think a good way to represent it is like your reason for being why you wake up in the morning and the model, as you can see here, kind of presents four overlapping circles, what you love to do and what the world really needs. What you can get money for for doing or what the business feasibility of a project might be. And then finally, what you happen to be good at. We'll get to this more later. Figuring out my path to open library was not straightforward. This advice isn't gonna apply to everyone but hopefully it'll at least give you a, an idea of a type of progression that you might be able to change and alternate that might work for you. I'm not a moral compass. Not everyone needs a life mission. And these are just things that worked for me. So when you're going on a journey I think it starts, it helps to start with a map. And here we have two maps the one on the left is the Maslow hierarchy of needs in increasing order, as it was designed, although a lot of these needs are not linear, and we hopefully will talk about that a little bit. And then also there's Iki guy, which is this idea of trying to find your reason for being this sweet spot between taking care of yourself and others and being out. The second step is to choose your guides, it might be Aaron Swartz it might be Marlee Diaz she's a personal hero of mine. She started the 1000 black girls. Book Group, and they basically come up with all these books that that reach other demographics, other than the ones we're typically used to within our library systems. Step three. Put on your mask first before helping others. So this part is on how we can help ourselves. When I first moved to San Francisco in around 2010 2011, I was starting a company with one of my dear friends Steven Belbin, who I met at a hackerspace in Vermont. And one of the first things that we did when we landed in San Francisco was seek out the hackerspaces, which is funny because Aaron has a quote that he was the kind of guy who when he goes to a nice city he immediately seeks out the library. And when we got to San Francisco we stayed in hostels, but we ended up, waking up early in the morning going straight to noisebridge, and we ended up meeting housemates and lifelong friends, some of which who I ended up living with for for almost eight years. Three little thoughts on housing. Pick your home and housemates wisely. I found personally that 16th and around Bart was not perfect, community houses in general are fantastic, and it's been a saving grace for me especially during the shelter in place COVID. And so I would recommend checking out these links. There are some other community houses there that that you might be be drawn to if you happen to be in a situation where you're looking for a place to live. Also, a personal point. If your home may get raided by the FBI, consider not naming one of your companies hacker list. Over the years, we started a new community house called Sarah Pam is a small group of around four of us and we would have weekly gatherings for, for just philosophical dinners, we would keep each other accountable and had accountability buddy sessions, we did a weekly lecture nights we exercise together, especially during during COVID. Push Up competitions over chat has been really helpful or video calls. And I met one of my dear friends Sahar Musashi, who is also on Team Eric, we actually bonded together, our first conversation and the reason we decided to work with each other. Let's talk about Aaron's essays.
Now on the job front, a big lesson for me is that jobs are just not equal, and we spend the majority of our time at jobs, something around 2000 hours a year. Not everyone is in a position where they can be tricky, and I've been able to find some some people have done amazing work on the web and compiled a list of around 800 jobs from companies that are hiring remotely. As of July. There are also some for those who can afford to be a little bit more flexible and want to find a job that really aligns with them. There's Mac auctions 50 Digital sells for dresses. And if you happen to be the the founder type. Here's a list of resources from a nonprofit incubator called fast forward that outlines opportunities for for nonprofits to get funding or other programs and incubators they might want to explore. This will make a lot more sense I think later on in the context of missions and principles. It's really been helpful to me to find a mentor or a coach. This is Brad Rubenstein He's the author of risk up front, a book about project management and risk mitigation. I happen to meet him at an Open Library conference, kind of like this one. And we hit it off and I was really lucky to to receive a lot of learnings from him about how to run meetings and how to run open source projects. And I like the idea of returning the favor. Something that I do a habit in my life is I have a spreadsheet aspirationally of 100 champions who are really good at things that I'm not. And I try to find ways to support them. Right now I'm only at 20 out of the hundred and it changes all the time. but I feel like this has been an important micro optimization in my life, and something that's really paid dividends and built strong relationships in my personal life, I have an accountability tracker, which I've now been doing for a little over five years, and I keep track of how many push ups, pull ups, how much learning I'm doing studying Chinese and things that are important to me and it really really helps to have a single place where I can look every day. It's a good mechanism for bootstrapping your habits, because you only have to look in one location, and you kind of get a glance, you'll see a big you know it's embarrassing sometimes but you'll see a big area of red where, where I've been. Just like falling behind. And it's a good reminder to to reset. I don't really do many analytics, but it's mostly there for for keeping me accountable. Okay now that our masks are securely on. Let's make sure we're mentally prepared to help others with theirs. For me not feeling good enough comes from a few different points of anxiety. The first one is honestly insecurity, like at the age of 13, Aaron was working on the RSS standard, and oftentimes I question what I've done at the age of 31. And I do have anxieties about belonging that some of you maybe will relate to, especially working in the nonprofit space now. I often just feel very worried that friends are going to leave me behind especially the Silicon Valley ambitious ones. I also have quite a bit of guilt about my, my privilege, I. More specifically, I feel like I just haven't used it as well as I could have where I could be a part of it comes from a lack of validation and maybe that's also from working in the nonprofit space. You don't see, usually the same type of rocking growth, or I haven't, and maybe that's why I feel imposter syndrome or whatever it is I feel and then I think there's also an element of just uncertain futures, I think many people want to be working on something that lasts and helps people find their passions or helps them do a better job. And that's something that I don't feel like I've done yet, but I think, Aaron has some great essays and hopefully this talk will also introduce some strategies for forgetting. So one thing that I want to bring up is that the Maslow hierarchy graph that I showed earlier was actually taken from the Blackfoot national tribe. And one of the reasons this is important, other than giving credit where credit is due. Is that they have a completely different perspective on the Maslow hierarchy. Instead of self actualization being in the top for the Blackfoot nation, their self actualization is on the bottom. And that is a foundation then to build community actualization, and then cultural perpetuity. And I think this is beautiful because it gives us a reframing on some of our anxieties and how we choose to be them. For instance, instead of insecurity.
I'm on Aaron's team and I'm on your team, right, we're all on the same team. In terms of belonging. If you look at Aaron's Twitter you can see just how many people are on our team for privilege privilege is an opportunity for change, it's leverage. And the fact that we have it just means that we get to invest our time or we're a part of real privileges investing our time and making sure we're working on things that are important and hopefully helping other people have the same privileges we do validation. I don't think we celebrate our victories enough. Sometimes it's just nice to go on Twitter or Facebook and share some of the things that you're working on. And then finally, in terms of lasting impact. There are a lot of techniques such as having a continuity page or, or writing good documentation on on your projects, or just publishing the things that you're doing as as open source, writing essays, all of these things I think make a big difference and not only unto themselves but also helping other people find direction. I think the real lesson for me in mindset is. He has kind of yourself as your critical. Consider that we may be only seeing what we believe. It's kind of reinforcing our own beliefs. We all come from different circumstances. And we might be on the same team. And a big problem that I have with myself is that I often hold myself to much higher standards than I hold other people. And sometimes when I, when I think about that perspective, it makes me realize that I'm doing okay. And, and people probably are happy with the work that I'm doing. We still have time, many of us still have time, and even those who are gone, are still doing good. I think this this talk is a testament to that. All right. Step five is loading before you aim, getting a whole picture of where we are and where we want to be. I started out really lucky. I had a loving family have a loving family. They helped me all the way through college, I didn't have debt,
I didn't, I didn't face very much adversity where I grew up in, you know, rural Cheshire Connecticut. And that had some consequences of its own such as I had a really myopic ID idea of what problems mattered. I was like really into chatbots, and I think I was more comfortable talking to people online than I was in person. And as a result, I really didn't have a full picture of what the most important problems in the in the world were where or what the things are that people really needed the most. And this kind of led me to grad school where the problem that you work on is everything. And then, into a new mindset of dropping out of grad school and taking the risk with my co founder Steven who I mentioned to just work as hard as I could, for, for what ended up being five years, I worked, six or seven days a week, and
often sleeping in the office, I got really sick.
I wouldn't. I think it was a period of personal growth, it certainly wasn't healthy, and there was a lot I was missing. I could, I felt a little bit like Adam Sandler and Happy Gilmore where I was doing something that I enjoyed. I was good at it I was getting paid for it but like something was just like not off, just something was was not quite on for me. And I think Michelle Obama says it well it's always be true to yourself and never let what someone else says distract you from your goals. And I do think I let my true self get distracted by by Silicon Valley.
And then I blinked.
And suddenly Aaron wasn't there.
I felt sad. I felt upset. I felt a gap in my world. He has a wonderful essay called Mr millionaire, where he talks about this, this, you know person in business clothes walking down the street. Feeling like he had no personal accountability and then someone who's homeless says he only has $3 and 50 cents and needs money and the millionaire just breaks down, and I think my part of my Silicon Valley illusion
crumbled when when Aaron passed away.
And like this scene in Harry Potter where Harry's saying, No, I remember someone coming to help. They'll be here. I think I watched and waited for another role model to step up and I watched and I saw people trying and they were doing great work. It still felt like there was a void. And one of the lessons I learned is that you just can't assume, others are going to do it. Alan Kay has a lovely quote the best way to predict the future is to invent it. But sometimes the only way to predict the future is to insure it yourself, and Jasmine West. Quite had the privilege of working with a bit at the, the Internet Archive said my most important role was not letting management sunset. Open Library. And thank you, Jasmine, because you did that I was able to do all the work that I've been able to do over at the Internet Archive. So around 2015. I tried to fill the void by volunteering at the Internet archives and while I was there, I had a lot more time to learn what I've missed. This is the car safely who gave me some some some great feedback he said people need the basics. And from here after the more research I did, I saw that one in 10 Americans live in poverty. That one in three people worldwide live on $5 and 50 cents a day, it's around $2,000 a year to be taken with a grain of salt, because I think what you can live on in other countries is just fundamentally different. But I think the important point here is that if you're trying to buy an Elsevier journal, and it costs you know $2,000, then unfortunately you do have to choose between state of the art research or banking on on being able to make it into a college that has access to these journals or your entire year salary. And then another interesting statistic that I was pretty shocked by is that one out of every eight deaths worldwide is from air pollution. Aaron says once I realized that there were real serious fundamental problems that I could do something to address. I didn't see a way to forget that. For myself, the way that I try to cover the basics as reading his blog post about nutritional basics. But for my neighbors, sometimes tiny acts matter. Every once in a while I'll just hand out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and they disappear in seconds. One ideas, well here's something small, we can all do together right now. Make a donation. I mean if you're in a position to. There are wonderful programs right here in San Francisco, and across the United States, and globally if you look on the upper left hand corner where you can make a small donation and it really does help people. Oftentimes the biggest complaint I hear from from friends is I just don't know how to help. Here's something we can do right now, literally take out your phone. Click on on one of these buttons, you can access it by going to M ek dot FYI, slash hope, and just navigate to this page, make a small donation.
during this journey I started to go down in the Maslow hierarchy and start exploring some of the things that I feel like I had been missing for for a long time and I discovered some awesome efforts, like this one in Toronto, there's a nonprofit called ample ample labs and they have a project called Chalmers and Chalmers is a chatbot lead can talk to four people experiencing homelessness, and it will direct you to resources whether it's food, housing, entertainment, something surprising I didn't know is that 94% of people experiencing homelessness, have smartphones. And then there's this project, open aq stands for air quality they champion air quality through open data, and community. Now when I think of open data, don't get me wrong I love data, but I always feel like data is great for powering projects but it feels a little bit like protesting like you got out there you're loud you feel like you're, you're making a difference but it's hard to actually see how data. Makes it makes it into turns into impact. But one thing that I learned from this project is seven out of 10 of the most highly cited air pollution Health Studies, US government data. And also, that all seven of these studies ended up driving us national policy to improve air quality standards, and additionally influenced international guidelines. One thing that I learned as I was going down to the bottom rung of this Mazda hierarchy is that last mile problems are really tough. And the idea of last mile is is so you produce all of these resources in the United States, maybe, and then you want to get them to an area that is underdeveloped or underserved and maybe the road systems are not as sophisticated or we're flying them over to the other countries might not be cost effective. There are just a lot of challenges with running nonprofits that that face these last mile problems and many of the problems are very physical. And not only that, but there are aspects of finding talent. If you are working in Silicon Valley and paying someone $150,000, then suddenly, those. It's not clear how you can invest in that type of talent and still make it cost effective for serving some of these, these underserved areas, and it's just really challenging. So one thing that Mitra Arden who I worked with at the Internet Archive recommended is that nonprofits are actually great for birthing open technology, but as soon as they're positioned with having to compete with for profits on manufacturing, distribution and marketing, it just becomes an endless slog you have to rely on donations. Some organizations can do it really well, but it's just something to think about. Sometimes, different hybrid models might work really well for for the type of public admission that you're interested in. So my personal conclusion was that maybe the the bottom rung was a little too low for for my Iki guy sweet spot. It wasn't exactly facing the problems that I truly felt passionate about. I'm not sure that I was truly good at these things and also in terms of making a living and being able to dedicate yourself to problems you care about. And it was hard to find problems that that would satisfy that as well. Right. So step six is identifying principles and missions, as I mentioned, not everyone needs a mission statement. I think coming up with principles is a really good way to kind of kind of have a guide, or a sense of direction. So for me when I was missing. During my exploration was this this aspect of mission and and and community need. And so I'll start there. It's really important to understand your target audience. Who do I want to help. Who am I helping.
And who do I believe needs help most.
And for the purposes of this talk, I thought about it. And I want to help underprivileged learners achieve more good for themselves and for others. I'm not sure I was doing that in the past but I feel pretty confident about what I'm what I'm doing at Open Library and we'll talk more about that later. So in terms of principles there's a talk that many of you may may have already seen, which I love called inventing on principle by Brett Victor. He kind of gets to the core of how interactivity and, and immediate feedback are really useful principles for empowering spontaneity and creativity. And for me, I came up with a few principles of my own that I think reflect the. Some of my values when I say principles is really, what do I believe fundamentally to be true. And one of them is that I think books are one of the most effective mediums for learning. People need instant online access to learning material, and also interoperable information that means information that can connect or interoperate is more useful than silence and imagine the difference between having multiple books open on your desk and being able to cross reference them inside them, and having to be limited to a single book and seeing a reference and not being able to access it. So once I have principles I like to challenge them and distill them using the five why's process which is, it's kind of like when, when you're you're with a, a kid and they ask the question and you answer, they say why you know well it's because this and they say why, and then eventually you get down to some, some axiom or you have to admit, like I usually find myself doing that. I don't know the answer. But in this case, let's choose interoperable information is more useful than silence. Why is that important. Well, because connecting relevant information enables better navigation. Why is that important. Well faster navigation, to better quality information is a competitive advantage. Why is the competitive advantage important. Well, fast access to meaningful information may enable patrons to enact greater good. And that's an aligned with what our goal is for this talk. So from there, I kind of distill, my, my principles. And my audience into several different potential either missions or product ideas. In this case I wrote, create a collaborative digital learning experience for underserved learns. And I kind of check does it pass my easy guide test well it's something I'd be really passionate about. I think that there are opportunities, whether it's that public knowledge or efsf or Internet Archive or Mozilla I feel like there's a lot of opportunity for Wikipedia, it's something I'm good at. Now, I do think it's something that people need, although that as well I think requires and deserves more research. Now, this process. The process itself is the work. So the point isn't to come up with a answer. This is the type of activity that I would encourage folks to do multiple times, give yourself options. If you want to see how I went about approaching my own life mission. I have it here on my website, I do the five why's I try to investigate what I mean with each word that I choose and my mission, which is to curate a living map of the world's knowledge. And I think you'll find that a lot of it is just it's it's there to help me think none of it is is super meaningful to other folks or impressive is just supposed to be there to show my work. When you do have a mission statement, where it proudly and not necessarily literally, but this is a shirt idea that I got from my friends sigh I remember seeing it at a party and just thinking is such a lovely idea of instead of wearing no no Abercrombie or something being able to showcase your values. The final act is walking the path. Now, now is when the the hard work begins so you you feel like you have a mission. Maybe you've been able to go online and identify some, some organizations that you think are in that sweet spot. Now you have to learn what patrons truly need set strategies to make sure that their needs are being met. Make it easy for others to join and participate in learning how to delegate responsibilities one that I've definitely struggled with and appreciate Brad Rubinstein my mentor, his contributions to helping me there, and also having a survivability plan for for after you're done.
In terms of doing the work showing your work and making it easy for others to contribute. Here are four documents that Open Library uses. We have a an onboarding page to help volunteers discover the project. We have an orientation which helps contributors, learn the ropes and understand how they can apply and who they can ask questions to how the software works, how our wiki works. We have a menu for volunteers so that people who have on boarded can then learn about different either projects or opportunities or ways issues for them to plug in, and then we do a weekly community call, and all of our notes are public so you can see our template. And I find that that seeing how other people do things is usually interesting and useful, but it's nice to, to create our own so if you're organizing a community or want to organize a community, then here's the last link is a generic template that I have created for free to customize and it has instructions and maybe you'll find that useful. And feel free to email me if you have any questions about how to apply it together because of jasmine and Aaron and and and booster kale and all of the folks who, who have allowed the Open Library Project to, to continue on. We now have 100 plus contributors who have helped over the last four or so years, we've welcomed another 2 million book lovers to the platform, who are getting use out of our digital library, and more than 8 million books have have been borrowed on the platform. Not only that, but we've been in a position where we can really change the library model. In general, like what would a library work, looked like if anyone in the world could go to Open Library. org and sponsor a book that was missing that they felt truly, truly expressed their values such as my way DS, with the 1000 black Chromebooks. So now you can go to open library.org slash sponsor, you'll get all this information about a program which will let you do just that. Or you can help Open Library to. We're on GitHub it's open source and join one of our community calls and share your love for books with us. Now, you might have remembered open aq and Chalmers the applications that I was mentioning earlier. Both of these are nonprofits that went through the Fast Forward incubator. They're kind of like a version of Y Combinator for for nonprofits, the one of the best that I found. I've mentored there for about two years and probably talk to close to 30 or 40 different teams, and it's a wonderful way to give back to the community and learn about other cool projects. So I would I would encourage you to, to go to their website and click on this, this graphic and see if you can help out. How did Aaron do it. Aaron left blueprints, he left tons of videos which I've watched over and over again to, to learn how. What Open Library is supposed to be for users, Aaron wrote a lot and he showed his work, and he shared. He understood that not all time is equal. He has a wonderful essay called How to be productive how to unproductivity, an errand left a legacy with clear instructions to survive this works. Aaron didn't do it by himself, and neither did I. Thank you to everyone who has paved the way for us. And so many more
a recap of some lessons.
The first one is not all jobs are equal, and we spend a lot of time at work, try to find something that you're really passionate about
that gets your ego.
Secondly, be as kind to yourself as you are critical.
Kindness goes a long way in setting the right mentality.
Three don't assume others are going to do it, there wouldn't have been an Open Library to contribute to if Jasmine hadn't stepped up and push for its survival. And then for. We're on the same team. And I need you to be here. This talk is in memory of Aaron Schwartz maley unsubmitted ski to wonderful people who didn't get enough. Thank you. If you'd like other resources. I have a document that I'm compiling I'll be updating this. This slide and quick shout outs to Steven and Betty who just had Steven was my co founder, who just had a baby boy, and my sister, Jen and Sam who just got married. And finally read and follow Cory Doctorow he's one of my favorites. Thanks, everyone, have a great day and thanks for listening.
All right, thank you very much for staying with us this is hope 2020 with NEC and his, his presentation, I mech How you doing today.
Dan fantastic one little nugget I would, I would add to the end there after the Cory Doctorow slide is Jaron Lanier also happens to be a hero of mine and I would highly recommend his book who owns the future which you can also read over on Open Library. org for free.
Sounds great. Sounds great. It's really
amazing some of the numbers that you showed in your presentation with how much you've grown in terms of patrons and book, book borrowing. So we have a question for you right here I'm going to get right into it. What guidance Do you offer to younger people starting to think about careers in schools.
Yeah, I think one of the or two of the struggles that the younger people tend to face, or one. They get treated as if they're younger. And so the opportunities that they're exposed to are just fundamentally different than than how we might provide resources to to other people, that we think might have more experience than I think the other element is that folks who who who might identify as being younger, just have a tremendous amount of pressure to execute or show how much they've achieved by a certain time. And one thing that I've struggled with most of my life, is this the seesaw a finding of this balancing act between researching and executing. And I think a lot of my life has been dedicated to just like doing the next thing, continuous like there's so many problems that need solving just pick them out of the box and do them rather than really sit down and learn. And the reason this feeds back into advice here is that, if I were to go back in time and talk to myself. One of the things that I would say is just jumping into a problem and spending five years on it. If there isn't some premeditation might actually result in you walking away with a lot of the experience that you want. But at the end of that journey you might find that you missed all of these opportunities to build the right network to be working on the types of problems you really care about and building that rapport and that that rich experience. And I think people undervalue the importance of finding your team and finding your team doesn't just mean, you know, finding your team at Google or finding your team at Yahoo or whatever it is, it's, it's like outside of work like put away. Put away these preconceptions of, like, organizations having these walls, just like in life. Who are your role models who are the people that that you want to invest in what do you want to be a part of. So I would say seeking community is really important. And the last thing I'll add on that note is that when one of the last conversations that I had with Aaron was around academic papers and I had no idea what he was facing during the time, and I remember saying Open Library is so great. Why isn't there something like this for academic papers and he's like oh I don't want to talk about it. And I was so salty. I couldn't believe like this seems right up your alley Why don't you want to talk about it, and. And I started kind of in the background working on this open source project called Open journal, you know Open Library open journal. And I won't go into the details. It was basically a way to kind of like Hacker News away for communities to discuss papers that you might find on archive with an X archive.org. And I remember standing at Aaron's Memorial. With this project, and thinking, like, what am I doing, there are so many people who have invested their whole lives in in academic papers and making information more accessible and here I am, you know some young kid who thinks that I you know if I walk away and just build a thing that's what Silicon Valley taught me then I'd be in perfect shape. And at that point I invested a lot of time that's how I ended up at the Internet Archive is I started volunteering, noticing that there wasn't a strong public sense of community, other than Jason Scott and others have done a tremendous job of growing and cultivating community with the archive team. There really wasn't a group, a group of like scrappy hackers that were just creating demos and stuff and I found like that. That was the perfect sweet spot for me to join the community to connect people who are in that space to learn more, and if there's this whole story is just a simple way of saying that if I were to go back in time finding something that I cared about earlier, and investing in a community, and spending a little more time learning rather than this. This like impulse that I feel to just create and do rather than then also put in the time and research, it really pays dividends, I think, past years to set it right when he when he said, Fortune favors the prepared mind, and also that a, an ounce of cures with an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
I agree, those are both excellent quote.
I really appreciate your comments just now. Let's go on to the next question. Somebody said that's an interesting jacket that you're wearing tell us.
There's, there's not there's not much of a story. It's just fun. It's like a T shirt, you know, do things maybe a little bit differently. It's comfortable doesn't have branding on it, other than maybe like values that I'd, I'd like people to, to know about mine strikes up conversations. Yeah, have a little fun.
Goes because I also remarks about how cool that was earlier before our meeting on one of the questions that I have for you was about the whole Iki guy concept and, you know, it's an amazing journey and there's so many different parts about it. And so, is there an end of the journey or is it a continuing journey. No, just a little bit about how you found it and where it's gone.
Yeah. Ah, it all becomes a blur, when I guess for as someone who's lived in the San Francisco area for the past nine years. I feel like I run into people every day who are performing their own you know self reflection exercises and so I don't remember exactly where I learned about Iki guy, I think he was through one of my friends at a community house. Maybe Misha Berger or someone else who was describing what their processes and trying to help me systematically identify or some of my gaps are there a lot of different models like like he guy I wouldn't say that's the, the only one.
Yeah, it's, it's interesting I. There are definitely I agree with you there are a few models. Let's go on to the next question then. It seems like some people turn to drugs or other distractions, or maybe get numb, or starts to feel helpless. Is there a way to talk to people like this to foster more optimism and more hope.
We live in a pretty difficult time.
Both, well I guess we could talk about 2020 but I could also just talk about the context of of my life, the whole span of my life, I've always felt somewhat of an outcast in that the types of communities that I've sought out. I've always looked for a group of people who I felt like were three musketeers right is this all for one One for all, and it felt like there was, I just love finding a community that cares more about the, the collaborative. The success of the collective group rather than any individual. And I think especially as people get more competitive and intellectual and smart, the more there's pressure to outcompete each other and even if people are working together and collaborating and there's this sense of camaraderie that there's just so much pressure that comes with it and it's, It's hard to truly find chosen family. That's one of the reasons why I've advocated for community houses and call it a blessing. During during shelter in place. And I think that
times in my life. the times when I feel most vulnerable is when I don't have that community. And it's kind of a cop out to say like, Don't do drugs. Instead, just find a sense of community. And rather than rather than saying that, I'd like to give one. One thing that I've been doing, which is every month, I have a call with close to 10 of my closest friends, and it's our long call, and it follows Ben Franklin's junto, or gathering or meeting, and each week we're able to discuss what our personal problems are just be vulnerable will be open. Sometimes we're not comfortable yet and so we just present a technical project like some you know graph database or something fun for someone who's really suffering, like having a meeting with a few friends probably isn't going to work by itself. Being surrounded by by people who care about you and and reinforcing positivity is like really important who you choose to live with is really important. Just being more open to asking people like I know I'm more than happy to drop everything I'm doing and talk to any of mine, anyone in my network or anyone who happens to be hearing this, this call. Here's my email if you're if you're choosing between, between, you know destructive behavior and and just opportunities for positive opportunities to feel better, then you don't have to lie or or be fake like let's just talk about it and figure out something that's going to be healthy and that you can be really proud of, that's something I'd be willing to invest in.
That sounds. Excellent.
Excellent. Thank you.
Very. So, um, we only have about five minutes left I don't see any other questions. But I do want to thank you for coming. We'd like to make a final statement or anything else to wrap this up.
I did see one, one question about the, the geeky guy from the one of the riot chats and what do you do when you get stuck in terms of getting stuck. That's a great question. I talk to a lot of friends, write about it as much as you can look for role models who have published similar work. Read where they get stuck or asked where they get stuck, sometimes it's just exposure to new models. Sometimes it's exposure to increased scrutiny and just getting feedback, and sometimes you just need to think more or walk away from it and read a book like she's surprisingly like very honestly I'm not, I'm not trying to you know, just pay compliments but like the reason I get so excited about Cory Doctorow and Jaron Lanier is like when I read their stuff. I find that they've, they've already done it right, they've, they've hit their they've, they've hit their head against something that that I've also hit and they've come up with a more eloquent solution. And it there's no stopping right like that's one of the hardest parts of life is you feel like, Oh, I don't have a global optimum for Iki guy. I feel okay about, you know, and somewhat at peace for where I am in the world, but especially being locked in my apartment for this, this long and and being separated from a lot of friends I gravitate more toward work. And I kind of get lost and distracted again just like I did in the Silicon Valley days and I start wondering like what am I doing what's next.
Just talk to a lot of people.
That's excellent advice. Excellent. Well thank you very much Mecca, on behalf of the 2020 attendees volunteers and all the staff here really want to thank you very much for coming in presenting your point of view and all the good work that you're doing, especially with Open Library. org, which is really changing, millions of people's lives around the world. So thank you again.
Thank you for having me and giving me the space to speak.
Very good. All right, so we're gonna go to a bump now we'll see you in a few minutes.