Surviving the Culture Wars

Free culture and open business models. We all fall up. Πάνταῥεῖ•λόγος•πρᾱξις

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31 May 2009

Blog Moved, Final Post

Posted by Thom Hastings

I have finally purchased my own domain, and migrated this blog to WordPress. Blogger is terrible. You may find my final blog post there:

Goodbye for a while, do stay in touch.

08 May 2009

Let's Change the World

Posted by Thom Hastings

So, this is my first real post. Consider everything before this point a warm-up, getting past that "awkward" blogger phase where the new blogger isn't very sure of themself or their ideas. After this last week, I am sure.

First, about me. I currently work full-time as a volunteer for an AmeriCorps program called City Year. City Year's tagline is "give a year, change the world." I used to think this slogan was terribly hokey and far too rose-colored. (And that's saying a lot--I'm an idealist to begin with.) However, over the last nine months of my service, I have become a believer. As a result, I will blog (and tweet) more about my experience as a corps member in the future.

Now, about my goals and beliefs. Just like a right to water, I believe everyone on earth has a right to knowledge. That pretty much sums it up. Knowledge is power, it's the foundation of a democracy, and everyone has a right to it--everyone. My goal is liberating that knowledge and making it accessible and open to all who desire it. I see a number of barriers to this goal: legal, technological, and linguistic. Right now I evangelize Creative Commons to attempt to overcome the legal barrier. Next, I intend to help create more free and open source software to help overcome the technological barrier, alongside projects like One Laptop Per Child. Finally, my dream is to someday create fantastic free and open source language learning software (think Rosetta Stone) or even machine translation tools to overcome the linguistic barrier.

So this week has been huge for me. A massive step forward for education and the world, California announced an initiative for Open Educational Resources. Personally though, I was able to participate in an amazing conference in which I met many awesome people. In addition, I met one very special person through my work at City Year.

Over the weekend I gave two talks at a conference called BarCamp. The first was more of a group discussion in a Socratic seminar style format, and one person told me that it was the best talk he's ever heard. The second was my first serious presentation of my ideas (one in particular) to an audience. To those of you who gave it, thank you for your positive, constructive, and invaluable feedback. I will use it as I continue to give talks in the future, ideally with my next at MindShare. The video of my second talk is below.

I made a lot of amazing new friends at BarCamp, like some people who have developed a technology that actually makes the Internet faster. One very noteworthy and related to this post is Alex Peake, who runs, which uses the absolutely amazing tagline "Apathy is obsolete." I'll let you check out his site for yourself.

However, just this morning, here at City Year Los Angeles, I had the privilege of hearing Ben Sherwood talk about his life and his goals. To be blunt, I'm freaking out. We share so much vision and belief that it's ridiculous. I sincerely hope that he watches the video of my talk and that we continue to have a dialogue about survival, the media revolution, and the education of mankind.

My most memorable quotes from Ben are "everyone is surviving something," and "live life out of balance," while believing in your own efficacy. He has inspired me to completely defeat the determinism that I feel plagues so many in this world. We tend to believe that the world is too big, and that we can't make a difference. News flash: the world is getting smaller, and our power to change it is proportionately getting larger.

I was so impassioned by my interaction with Ben that I ran off to one of the computers at the office to write this post immediately. In fact, I'm already late for an opportunity to be at a gang prevention workshop in Watts. I have to go. Please check back as I continue to update an revise this post.

P.S. Ben, if you're reading this, please read the following article. I believe it will apply to your and your wife's work, as well as the future of media and the Internet:
iPods, First Sale, President Obama, and the Queen of England

12 April 2009

Posted by Thom Hastings

Talk about a personal deus ex machina, I just discovered an entire open business website.

Also, the winners of the "We're Linux" contest were announced:

11 April 2009

New World 'Hybrid' Economy

Posted by Thom Hastings

I just read the a very intelligent blog post on the New World Economy. It's also the first time I've heard that term used outside of Star Trek. I've been waiting.

I think of this blog as an evolving primer for all kinds of openness, especially open business making money honestly while freely helping mankind. This is what Lawrence Lessig calls the 'hybrid' economy:

For my very few readers: be aware that I do update old blog posts. I revise my text and add new videos, links, and other relevant information. This blog is an evolving primer.

05 April 2009

Must-see Trailer

Posted by Thom Hastings

For a must-see documentary:

Featuring Girl Talk, Lawrence Lessig, and Cory Doctorow.
And they want you to help make it.
Book a screening.

20 March 2009

My YouTube Debut

Posted by Thom Hastings

Last week my friend Christopher randomly asked me to be part of his YouTube project, WEECY TV. I had an amazing conversation with two neighbors who I had never met, and Christopher did a great job editing it down to a few minutes. I could write about my current work, or the rest of that long, powerful conversation, but I'd rather let the video speak for itself:

My friend Steve commented on Facebook:

Hey Thom, the whole video was pretty cool. We had an Italian economist from the University of Rome come speak last night on the Italian and European economy, but he brought up the same line: there was a brilliant English economist (from the 19th century, the man's name escapes me, the article is titled something along the lines of: "A forecast for our Grandchildren") who wrote that come year 2030 (or so) the world will be at a point where greed will no longer exist because of the wealth will have increased 8-fold for the entire populous, and everybody (entrepreneurs specifically) will have satisfaction with their level of wealth.
Wealth in Europe has risen to that level, statistically it is 8-fold what it was then. But the world hasn't changed, and the Economist predicted the state of man a hundred years later incorrectly. This is because the driving factor of growth (entrepreneurs) was not the acquiring of wealth but rather success, that success is the basic human need which drove entrepreneurship and economics in general.
Thank you, Steve.

I don't believe capitalism will ever die. We can, however, evolve our sensibility to the point where we take advantage of social capitalism and bring the up social "safety net" to a much higher standard of living. That is to say, we can build a capitalism on top of a commons, but that commons must be sound enough for the capitalism which stands on top of it. This is the model of the hybrid economy.

08 March 2009

Google, Microsoft turn heads to Open Source

Posted by Thom Hastings

From OSNews:

Straight from the mouth of Eric Schmidt, Google's CEO, on March 3rd during a Q&A session in San Francisco:
What's particularly interesting about netbooks is the price point. Eventually, it will make sense for operators and so forth to subsidize the use of netbooks so they can make services revenue and advertising revenue on the consumption. That's another new model that's coming.
Microsoft's Steve Ballmer already made predictions of his own earlier this year and figures that the big MS can handle anything Google brews up.
I assume we're going to see Android-based, Linux-based laptops, in addition to phones. We'll see Google more as a competitor in the desktop operating system business than we ever have before. The seams between what's a phone operating system and a PC operating system will change, and so we have ramped the investment in the client operating system.
All the big companies see it coming, new media is open media.

The soft revolution comes as no shock to the people who know. After all, Cory Doctorow told Microsoft that DRM was a silly move back in 2004. But to the general public, open source is still a concept that isn't fully grasped. How can a company make money on something that can be given away for free? I would say "innovation" or more specifically "Reason to Buy" or even added services, as Canonical and Red Hat understand. Hardware vendors know it too, which is why genius netbooks either demand open source or simply offer it as their cheapest option.

Video below of the Touch Book, which I envisioned about a week before it was released. But that's nothing special, because genius people envision this stuff all day, and with the power of open source at their disposal, these geniuses are starting to pull off the marketing and distribution of new goods and services under new, open business models.

The Seven Movies of Destiny!

This section has problems with formatting, it's so important that it breaks the rest of the page. I'll be migrating to wordpress someday anyway.
These are the seven must-see movies on the future of business, the Internet, and culture.
  1. Lawrence Lessig @ 23C3 - On Free, and the Differences Between Culture and Code
  2. Jonathan Zittrain @ ISOC-NY - The Future of the Internet—And How to Stop It
  3. Joi Ito @ DLD 09 - On Creative Commons
  4. Lawrence Lessig, Molly S. Van Houweling, James Boyle, Joi Ito, and Jonathan Zittrain @ Berkman - The Commons: Celebrating Accomplishments, Discerning Futures
  5. Thomas Friedman @ MIT OCW - The World is Flat 3.0
  6. Pia Waugh @ VITTA - Closing Keynote: Open Source Futures
  7. Originally I had "Either a James Boyle or a Jimmy Wales or a Mark Shuttleworth or a Cory Doctorow,
    as well as everything @" here. Now, I know that the 7th Movie of Destiny is RiP: A Remix Manifesto.