Digital Tatoo’s

One of the women coming to She’s Geeky pointed me to this article that she wrote about Digital Tatoo’s. I think it is a good metaphor for all the stuff we put out there online particularly when we are younger. Interestingly although I was “on” the internet from 1995 when I started college I never had any web presence until 2001 when I did my first ever public talk that ended up on the web. By then I was ready for my web identity to be formed but up until then I was quite conscious of not talking in any public forums or posting things online.

It is a good read and highlights where her thinking went after reading Clay Shriky’s Gin, Television and Social Surplus (I haven’t read it I heard him talk about it on a podcast).

On a more serious note, the generation coming up now is the first one to have the ability to publicly record whatever they feel like recording. While this is wonderful, it also gives me pause. This upcoming generation will be the first to cut it’s teeth on this issue and frankly I don’t envy them. There are a few things (aw come on, we all have ‘em) that I might have written about, or been passionate about at 18 that I might not want publicly available at 35, or 50. Much of our growth as people and thinkers comes from trying out new ideas and making some mistakes. For most of us, this growth is preserved only in the memories of those close to us, or in letters, and diaries boxed up in the garage. What we publish digitally though is again like a tattoo, it sticks around, publicly, forever. There is a reason most of us are discouraged from getting tattoos until we reach adulthood. The tattoo of our favorite cartoon character might have been awesome at 19, but not so awesome later.

I hope that the web encourages a plethora of public thought and expression. It also behooves us to have an awareness of the public nature and longevity of what we put out there lest we are left with the digital equivalent of that tattoo we thought we wanted, but didn’t.

Pete and Mark been at MSFT for over a year

Kim finally wrote about to “recentabout a year ago hires of MSFT of Pete Rowley and Mark Wahl. They attended RSA last year both with MSFT on their badges and both had moved their families to the Seattle area which to mean meant MSFT was serious about hiring smart good people to work on their identity products. Neither would talk about what projects they were working on though – it is nice to finally know know.

Pete is “working on evolving the Identity Lifecycle Manager (ILM)”. Ironically enough Pete’s blog was called Open Pete Rowley but he hasn’t bloged since RSA last year.

“Mark is now applying his creativity to evolving the vision, roadmap and architecture for the convergence of identity and security lifecycle management products”

The Facebook Borg are coming.

In case you are wondering about the Facebook’s intentions just read this from their developer blog:

Our goal is to help people share information and connect with the people they know all over the Web. Our strategy is to become the most effective way for every developer or publisher to spread their site and create engagement. Right now there are already more than a thousand sites using Connect, and by the end of the year that number should approach the number of Platform applications.

I think we have to think about how these things that people want with open standards across platforms.
* to connect to friends.
* to have relevant context (which facebook doesn’t have)
* to support community organizers (a post is coming on this soon how lame the whole situation with different people on different lists and duplicated all over the place – e-mails lists from this year, last year and facebook RSVP’s).
* to share things with others.

I do worry though – about the long term. ALL college kids are in this platform – to not be in it is social suicide. From the Daily Californian August 21-24, 2008 Everything you wanted to know about berkeley but were afraid to ask freshman issue.

So is an open mind the only thing you need for a good time at Cal? Nope. You need Facebook or else you’re a looser. Perhaps the best thing to ever happen to college, Facebook is the panacea for all social problems at Cal. Berkeley students are only as valuable as the number of Facebook friends and wall posts. People might dismiss Facebook as a petty distraction, but you can do some serious bonding over wall posts, tagged photos and profiles. I’m sure we’ve all had a friend ask “Oh my God! Did you see what she wrote on my wall?” I can honestly say Facebook has mad Cal more dynamic and exciting. So use Facebook…and use it a lot.

Been tweeting for a year now

It is hard to believe but yes I have been tweeting for a year now. It was really two things that got me to try it – I was at a conference the value network cluster presenting about identity and bored out of my mind & Phil Windley talked about how it was helping his team connect and why he found it useful from a business perspective.

It is interesting to watch it grow and change. I basically agree with this article. Social Media “Experts” are the Cancer of Twitter (and Must Be Stopped) They are annoying and not “real”.

I wish that there were tools to pick who you pay attention to developed sooner and embedded in twitter. I now follow over 1000 people (Why you ask? well I opened up my twitter to the public and started following many of the people who followed me. I do it out of respect of listening to those listening to me – to get outside of my bubble of “only people I know”) and wish there was a way to pick out the 25 or so folks in the identity community that I know are blogging – just follow them. Yes you can do this in tweet deck I know but…I have to scroll through all 1000 people listed by handle (not name as displayed in my client). I think we should have a twitter aggregator just like we have a blog aggregator at planet identity. Then i could be sure to read all the tweets.

I think we are still witnessing the tip of the twitter iceburg.

Here is an amazing Data Flow presentation of tweets about the inauguration mapped in time and on a map of the world. (off topic but they have a cool map of the growth of Walmart too).

Speaking this Spring

I have actually put a bunch of work in to moving all the content that was on the sidebar of my blog up into pages that you can see along the top navigation. They still need some more work but it is good to finally have them there. One of the pages is about upcoming talks.

SXSW Interactive,March 13-17, Austin TX.
I am facilitating a panel about OpenID, Oauth and the Enterprise. It includes Joseph Smarr, Bob Blakley and Danny Kolke the CEO of Etelos.

This is the description. I hope we broaden it to include other identity technologies too.

The debate over identity, data and authentication is gaining ground in the social networking world. The more difficult discussion regarding enterprises and Web 2.0 has yet to start. Businesses realize that they must protect the data of their company, employees and customers. Join brave leaders from several Web Application companies that are beginning the discussion – Are OpenID and OAuth good for the enterprise?

I will be facilitating a Peer 2 Peer session at the RSA security conference April 23, 10:40-11:30 on the topic Claims-Based Identity – What is the Business Case?

The user-centric identity community has been working on information cards an open standard for claims based identity architecture (as opposed to a network end-point architecture). The big question that arises is “what is the business case?” This session will be an open discussion around the existing and potential business models and cases for such a meta-system to emerge.

I am speaking at Community 2.0, on Identity Across Communities – Tools for Making it Real. May 13, 2009 San Francisco, CA

This presentation will cover the core user-centric identity technologies that are emerging to support people being able to port their identifiers and information about themselves between websites. The goal is to make it easier for people to share information along with support the emergent social effects like trust that come from persistence across time and space and ultimately build stronger communities faster. The tools include OpenID, Open Social, Information Cards, The Relationship Button from Project VRM (Vendor Relationship Management).

On the Fast Company List of Influential Women in Tech

Fast Company Image

This morning I got a ping via facebook from Bernard Moon:

hey, congrats on making the Fast Company list. you didn’t even post about it on your blog. don’t be humble! :)

It is an amazing list. It was sparked in part by the “heated conversation” that erupted after they posted The Most Influential Women in Web 2.0. They divide the list into these 7 categories and resisted the temptation to “number” us from “most influential to less influential” – thank goodness cause that would have been a very alpha-dog thing to do.

I am in the list of evangelists that includes, Mitchell Baker, danah boyd, Red Burns, Susan Crawford, Esther Dyson, Tara Hunt, Charlene Li and Mary Meeker.

This is a quote from their introduction and reflects the same reasons why I helped get She’s Geeky started. That is the unconference for women in tech that is happening for the third time next weekend

women in tech remain at a distinct disadvantage by any metric: average salary, top-management representation, board memberships. Silicon Valley, in particular, remains largely a boys’ club. In May 2007, Women in Technology International published a survey of 2,000 working women, about half of whom reported gender-based workplace inequality or said their opinions were less respected or sought out than those of male counterparts.

Several of the women who are on the list wrote blog posts for Fast company. Later today they are publishing a post that I did about the other women who work in digital identity.

The only tech sector that I know of that has gender parity is the non-profit technology sector. Beth Kanter who I met at the first BlogHer – has a great post about other amazing women in her sector.

Rashmi Sinha from Slide Share has a post up listing A Daily Dose of Blogs for the Tech Entrepreneur.

Tara Hunt co-founder of Citizen Agency has a post on 7 ways to increase your Whuffie Factor.

Online Community Unconference East

I am heading out east in February and will do several identity related events – more on those by the end of the week.

I will be once again facilitating Forum One Networok‘s Online Community Unconference East February 11. Bill Johnston has been great to work with on this event and has extended early bird for $145 registration until the Jan 22nd.

The Online Community Unconference East is a gathering of online
community professionals – managers, developers, business people, tool providers, investors – to discuss experience and strategies in the development and growth of online communities. Those involved in online community development (and social software in general) share many common challenges: community management, tools, marketing, business models, legal issues. As we have found with our past events, the best source of information on all of these challenges is other knowledgeable practitioners.

At all the online community unconferences I have offered a session about identity technologies. I am hoping that some community members working on OpenID and Information Card maybe even some ID-WSF and SAML folks too. will also join me at the event. It is a great opportunity to talk with actual adopters/potential adopters of these technologies they represent hundreds of thousands of users and because of the focus on online community managers – there is an emphasis on the human side of things not just “business models” or “technical how to”

Parents and Technology

I just found this article on Yahoo! News.

It is quite disturbing

There are two companies offering a service to parents WQN and Aegis Mobility – there is software and then a monthly fee. Then services track the kids and turn of their phones in certain locations.

WQN’s surveillance service promises more than just disabling the phone in cars. It can monitor a person’s whereabouts, notifying parents by text messaging when their children step out of designated zones or return home. It also can turn off a cell phone at school, preventing cheating by text messaging during classroom tests, based on a reading of the school’s location.

The question parents would have to ask themselves is whether they’d want to prohibit their children’s activities this way. That kid you’re trying to control might not be driving, but rather sitting on a train or a city bus or in the passenger seat of a buddy’s car.

It seems a whole set of technology tools that are part of enabling over parenting. sigh.

We Live in Public – a movie

Someone tweeted about this film’s trailer yesterday.

The filmmaker’s bio describes it this way: a chilling view of the Internet

this sentence caught my attention: where technology and media dictate human social interaction and define our personal identity.

It sounds like it will be an interesting film to watch and discuss the implications of the emerging participatory panopticon. Maybe we can have a conversation about it as part of the IDMedia Review Group at IC.

This is the description from the website.

Calling all voyeurs and exhibitionists! Internet pioneer Josh Harris has spent his life implementing his unique vision of the future, where technology and media dictate human social interaction and define our personal identity. At the turn of the millenium, Harris launched an art experiment called Quiet: We Live in Public . He created an artificial society in an underground bunker in the heart of New York City. More than 100 artists moved in and lived in pods under 24-hour surveillance in what was essentially a human terrarium. They defecated, had sex, shared a transparent communal shower—all on camera. On January 1, 2000, after 30 days, the project was busted by FEMA as a “millennial cult.” Undeterred, Harris struck again, this time as his own subject. Rigging his loft with 32 motion-controlled cameras, he convinced his girlfriend to allow him to record streaming video of every moment of their lives from the toilet to the bedroom. The project backfired, his relationship imploded, and Harris went broke. Mentally unhinged, he fled to an apple farm in upstate New York. Sundance award winner Ondi Timoner (#_5_ won the Grand Jury Prize in 2004) chronicled Harris for a decade, culling through thousands of hours of Harris’s own footage and coupling it with rousing vérité of her own. The result is a fascinating, sexy, yet cautionary, tale where we all become Big Brother.

From the Tomorrow Museum

Alana Heiss of PS.1 and MoMA came by to inspect his experimental art project/millenium party “Quiet,” eventually calling it “one of the most extraordinary activities I’ve ever attended anywhere in the world.”

“The image I have in my mind is a concentration camp,” he says about the bunker built for the experiment. Staged on six floors of two buildings on lower Broadway, it was, “part rave, part Stanford Prison Experiment,” as Hanas writes. A hundred “pod people” were recorded from their Japanese capsule hotel beds (each equip with a video camera,) to the dining room, to the dance floor. There was a machine gun firing range, chess tournaments. Sex was filmed, even showers and toilets were set against the wall with no partitions. Participants were interrogated in a stark white room by a team of artists known as the Bureau.

OpenID Momentum continues

Dave posted today on the blog articulating the accomplishments of the past year.

I think it is important to acknowledge the significant progress OpenID as an Open Standard for persistent digital identity across the web has made. It is amazing to think how far it has come in 2.5 years since IIW1.

Recently I was talking with a person knowledgeable about the identity community and OpenID in particular – they mentioned that some of the conversations amongst those running for the board didn’t help the community look “good”. I said to them you know a lot of communities have elections and there is 6 board seats open and 6 people running for them – so there really isn’t a dialogue, public conversation that has texture (a different word for conflicting points of view). I celebrate a community that can dive in and engage with a range of points of view and really have a meaty dialogue. This is to be celebrated – the pains of growing up.

Wired just did a detailed article on OpenID’s and Blog commenting. It closed with this… NB: Before you race to point out the irony that this particular blog doesn’t support OpenID logins for comments, I can assure you — we’re working on it.

It also said this:

It’s easier for blogs, which don’t need a lot of demographic information about a user, to let people jump in and start participating socially without filling out a registration form. Major media properties and newspaper websites, on the other hand, want age and income data they can use to sell more targeted ads. OpenID and its companion technologies have mechanisms for sites to collect that data from their users, but those mechanisms are largely left out of the blog commenting systems.

It makes me sad to see this. I was just signing up for a topica list – it asked me for my gender the year I was born and my zip code. It is trying to figure out who I am. What I don’t think is well understood is how information sharing happens over time. Asking people to give away PII (personally identifying information) to look at a newspaper is bad practice and encourages lying.

She’s Geeky end of January

I didn’t get that much of a vacation between christmas and New Years because I was working on She’s Geeky. We are doing it a gain the women’s technology conference – this year I think we have better timing January 30-31 (not being a week off from the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing).

We had a lot of fun last year and I think this year we will have even more. The Computer History Museum is going to show us a movie they have about Ada Lovelace (the first programmer).

So why this conference? A few reasons:
When the first BlogHer came a long I was soooo excited because I thought it was going to be all girl geeks – cause all the bloggers I knew worked in technology. Well, it wasn’t it was full of wonderful women but they were, fashion models, and horse back riders, and cooks and just lots of things but no where near a majority of them were geeky women.

I love the identity community. I would say some of my best friends are among you. At the same there are very few women, so few I can almost count them on two hands. This is ok, it isn’t going to change and I am not complaining. I did think about once in a blue moon I thought it would be a lot of fun to hang out with just women working in techie fields and learn about what they do. When you get out into more specialized and niche areas the number of women seems to go down. Last year (fall 2007) a woman who works in firmware came to the conference who thought she knew all the women who worked in her industry – turns out she met two more at the event. These new contacts have been really important to her. Supporting women finding women working in or in near by fields is one of the reasons for this conference.

Eugene Kim wrote a great post last year about She’s Geeky and the patterns that it embodies for collaboration.

Last year we had women arrive after reading the article that was in the SJ Mercury News who were retired. This year we hope to reach more of these women out reaching via the Computer History Museum. It was amazing to meet these women and hear their stories.

We are working with almost all the different women in technology groups to spread the word – Women 2.0, Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners, Gaming Angels, LinuxChix, DevChix, Anita Borg Institute….The number of them is amazing – She’s Geeky is NOT a women in technology organization – we are just an event an unconference for peer to peer learning amongst women from a whole range of technology communities.

WE have a ton of links for different useful things about the event – today and tomorrow Tues and Wednesday are our blogging days so if you feel inspired these are the days post about it happening :).

Video from last year‘s event.
In physical paper form Posters 8.5×11 & Post Cards


Upcoming Yahoo!
Facebook Group
LinkedIn Group
Links to images for blog posting.
Little Rectangle –
Big Bubble color –
Big Bublbe black and white –

Online Eviction – a new challenge in this recession?

This post was on slashdot today

Protection From Online Eviction?
from the our-data-our-selves dept.

AOL has been shutting down its free Web services, in some cases with little or no notice to users, and they are not the only ones. This blog post on the coming “datapocalypse” makes the case that those who host Web content should be required to provide notice and access to data for a year, and be held strictly accountable the way landlords are before they can evict a tenant. Some commenters on the post argue that you get what you pay for with free Web services, and that users should be backing up their data anyway. What do you think, should there be required notice and access before online hosts take user data offline for good?

Here are some interesting comments from it.

Identity events of the year – Part 2

This is part 2 and continues from part 1. I will re post this caveat again.

I am not going to do a “top ten list” – not really my style. I tend to take things as they are and appreciate the amazing, wonderful, mysterious, sensuous, intellectually stimulating but don’t “compare” in a sort of ordered list way. So just so there is clarity on the number of things I mention I will “number” them but this is NOT a top ten list – I wrote this post as a reflection without thought to order.

(un5) The emergence of Portable Contacts was a great development out of the Data Sharing Events that I put on with Laurie. The conversation between Joseph and the MSFT guys (Indu and Angus) lead to this – sort of a practical low hanging fruit thing to do – rather then solve everything – just how to get the list of contacts I have in one place out and importable to another. Joseph’s community leadership has really impressed me to. He is all about getting things done and finding the needed elements to make things happen.

(un6) I have enjoyed watching Marc draw on his fence – yes he does this literally – and talk about his vision of the social web evolving. He “published” a book containing some of what he has been talking about. You can describe Marc as many things but I for one respect him as a visionary – ahead of his time in seeing where things will be going on the web and what will be needed. (You can see his predictions for 2009 here) Just as an example of something he said that really struck me as original and important to think about looking ahead – he talked about how groups need to live autonomously – outside any one platform or silo – and that we need a language of social verbs that are open and standard across them. Maybe some more people will “get” what Marc has been saying in this regard and some open standards can evolve to address this.

(un7) In a year end review it would be a mistake to not name the IDTBD conversation that happened this summer. You can read the whole thread of the e-mail conversation in the google group – it is public. There were in the end two different ways to look at how to organize (and I think they can complementary) one put organizational form and structure first and the other put relationship and community first and said that needed form and structure could emerge from that. In the middle of the conversation we were referred to Clay Shirky’s work – both this video about LOVE in technical communities and how it is very long lasting and sustaining and his book – the power of organizing without organization. (He also has another talk about Coordination Costs that is informative). Identity Commons is an organization being held together with many of the new super low cost tools that mean organizational overhead that was needed to organize people as organized as we are isn’t needed like it was 5-10 years ago. Having said this there is much to be improved and in the survey we sent out after IIW we asked about IC and the community wanted us to focus on supporting/providing better communication between groups and also increased PR/outside world awareness of the collaborative work happening in the community.

(un8) The OpenID Foundation part of the Identity Commons community held its first elections for the community seats on the board.

(un9) Information Card Foundation launched and is part of the community of Identity Commons. I have been quite impressed with the energy and evangelism of Charles Andres. (they too are using a low organizational overhead model for getting things done). I actually got a the Azigo card selector working on my Mac and downloaded a “managed” card from an early behind the scenes trial of CivicID. I also failed at getting an “I’m over 18 card from Equifax” – Actually the experience of their knowledge based authentication made me think my identity has been “stolen” it asked me about a bunch of loans I haven’t taken out. So now I have a bunch of personal identity detective work to do this year (I will be blogging about those adventures).

(un10) Parity Communications shipped some pretty amazing stuff and it has been a long time coming*. They are behind the Equifax I’m over 18 card issuing site using their service called Card Press for issuing information cards. (as an aside I “get the whole stock photo with people holding their hands in a card shape – but why the girl with no top on?)

* Some background I first talked to Paul Trevithic and Mary Ruddy in the winter of 2004 while working for Identity Commons I knew I had to go out and meet them – to learn what they were up to and hopefully link/sync it with what Owen, Andrew & Drummond&Co. were up to around user-centric identity. They were into Social physics along with John Clippinger and both Paul and John were at the 2004 Planetwork Conference.

Over all it was an amazing year and it seems that the coming year will continue to have this field evolve.

I am working hard on pulling together two events before the next IIW (May 18-20 – put it on your calendars). One is specifically focused on “What are the Business Models” we should have an announcement about that next week but the dates will be the last week of Feb.

The other is focused on the intersection of identity technologies and the legal realm – I am meeting face to face with Lucy Lynch from ISOC in Eugene this week to work on details for that.

The Identity Futures group continues to percolate along and is working on developing a proposal to do some scenario visioning/planning.

I am hoping to spend some more time thinking about and talking to women to understand more about their needs and practices around identity online. Just in the last week while organizing She’s Geeky (the women’s only tech conference happening at the end of January) two women have mentioned they have had online stalker experiences recently. Several also have very particular ways of presenting themselves one example is a woman who professionally they use their first initial and last name – when they submit resume’s etc and in their general life online/socially they use their First name and last initial – to ensure that they are not findable at least by an employer initially doesn’t know their full name and thus their gender.

On Gaza

I don’t write about politics on my blog that much but have spoken up about some of my travels in the world and what I have seen.

I thought with all the twitter blips going by about “the ground invasion in gaza beginning I wanted to share what I wrote about in the summer of 2006 my own personal visit to Gaza in the summer of 2000.

This is the last 1/2 of a post a post called “Security theater and the “real” threats – inhuman conditions“.

Speaking of ‘they’ – who are they? I just watched a film from Netflicks – Death in Gaza. It was of two documentary film makers one of whom died while shooting the film. I spent the summer of 2000 in Jerusalem for 10 weeks I lived and worked there and did what I call “NGO tourism”. I worked at one of the worlds foremost human rights organizations – BTselem the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories and then also worked at the PCATI the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (while there I got my education in what torture is going on and how it affects people – really awful).

My fellow international interns and I would spend our weekends traveling about going through the Westbank and up to Nazareth, and Haifa over to Televiv down to Hebron. [[you can read what I wrote about Hebron here]]

One time we got to go to Gaza for 2 days. One of the interviewers for B’Tselem was traveling there so the two of us got to go with him. We got hooked up with two guys who worked in an NGO in Gaza and went on a tour for a day… from one end to the other … inside the camps and everything. It was amazingly powerful. Just like in the movie I saw the little kids the ones who are 5 and 6 happily playing away not really knowing there life circumstances yet. Then the older boys would glare glints of anger in there eyes. They are 10-13 years old knowing what they don’t have. The get that it is not normal to have open sewers in the streets. It is not normal to have 10 people living in one room. It is not normal to be growing bunnies up stairs that you kill to have food or a donkey living in your living room. Why do they know this…there are satalite dishes…basically everyone has a TV and can see what life is like in Isreal, and America and the rest of the normal arab world. When you think about that maybe some of this makes a bit more sense. It is not normal to feel like going to school you could get killed (as they young girl in Death in Gaza talks about). It is not normal to have your school playmates killed by gunfire (like the little boys have happen to them in the movie). Or bulldozers coming to plow your house down in the middle of the night (like threatens to happen in the movie ) How can you feel peaceful in this kind of environment?

I know after witnessing what I did that day I was shaken. I really felt my soul had been shaken up like my body was still and it was moving. It was eerily like the feeling I had after exiting the memorial museum at Hiroshima. The thing was…what I had witnessed that day was happening to real people ‘now’ not a historical event from 60 years ago. The depth of suffering is quite intense and the failure to connect with people as people and to really resolve the conflict continues to cause suffering. More bombs and planes and threats of nuclear weapons going off doesn’t make the situation better. It makes it worse. Send in armies of compassionate empathetic listeners. Make public peoples family stories and histories. Find some way through. There are some amazing stories of reconciliation that have happened in Israel/Palestine. They prove it is possible. I do have hope but not if everyone just sees an enemy instead of people, families and societies with real human and community needs.

I was sorting through my stuff over the weekend and found something from B’Tselem. They still send me the reports the write. It was a 11×17 fold over about the wall situation in Jerusalem. Just really disruptive to normal peoples lives. The whole of the Westbank is oriented around the trade flows through main cities. The most main one being East Jerusalem. The fact that they want to cut the Palestinians off from their main economic hub is just mean. People don’t like people who do mean things. Why is this so hard to understand!

It makes me very sad to hear there is a war happening. There has been a war on the Palestinian people for a long time.

Some elements that are not obvious to people is the depth of connection to land and history that is present along with the really bad living conditions.
* In the refugee camps villagers who fled their villages together – still live together 50 years later – they have a sense of identity as people of a place (a place that only the oldest people alive still remember) but that the young people feel they belong to too.
* The number of people and the conditions of living are very hard to imagine – they have the density of New York – but all in cement block houses that have tiny rooms 9×9. 1200 people a km.
* They don’t have electricity in the winter because the wiring is so ad-hoc that it is to dangerous to run in the winter.
* They don’t have sewage systems – other then the ones that run in the street.
* When the Israelis had a presence in Gaza they had their own roads – the good ones – that Palestinians could not drive on. (I was driving around with palestinians so we were on the “bad” roads).
* They have families of 10 living in one room houses.
* They have families that have a donkey’s living with them in their one room too.

These are extreme living conditions and the reason they voted for Hamas has to do with the fact that the islamic organization the religious arm of the political organization actually helps poor (as they are called to by their religious texts) impoverished people by feeding them. If you lived in these kinds of conditions wouldn’t you vote for the group that on the ground in practical reality actually helped you a bit.

There are some other interesting things to know about the Palestinian people… How do I know all this – yes I visited the territories but I wrote my senior thesis 40 pages on “The Lost Opportunity for Sustainable Development in Palestine” – 10 of them specifically about demography.

* They have HIGH levels of basic education Palestinians have the highest levels literacy in the arab world.

* They have a lot of higher educational institutions.

* They have the highest level of educational attainment of women in the arab world (normally educated women cut back on the number of children they have).

* Even though the women are relatively very educated – they are very committed to having children and lots of them

Women living in Palestine have a total fertility rate (TFR) of 5.6 children—significantly higher than women in other countries that have similar levels of education and access to health services. (Women in Gaza have 6.6 births, on average, while women in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) have an average of 5.2 births.) they are clear they are fighting a long term demographic “race” with Israel. More palestinians means more votes and more bodies to resist the injustice they have suffered.

* They have a very young population (in 2005 – 18% was below the age of 5, 45% was below the age of 15) this means that is lots of young men of marriageable age and seeking work.

So you put all this together
1. a population that watches TV from around the world on satellite dishes,
2. that lives in abject poverty
3. That is highly educated and mostly in the arts (political science, economics, english, comparative literature etc…)
4. Young men without an economic opportunities compounded by the fact that without this they can’t marry and thus can’t have sex. THEY ARE FRUSTRATED.

They know – they see every day on TV what they don’t have. We live in a globalized world and it is not just about ‘us’ those in North America and Europe knowing about the rest of the world – the rest of the world has the same tools too. They see the gap – with their own eyes and it makes them angry.

I don’t want to be all down on this post. This went by on twitter a few days ago It is about a contributor/admin on WikiHow (the wiki for how too manuals) and it made me cry – it is why I love the internet and the power it has to connect people and give people meaningful ways to contribute and help one another.

Many of you know that the dedicated wikiHowian and new admin, VC, lives in Gaza. (Actually VC is only a new admin on the English wikiHow. He has been an admin on Arabic wikiHow for a while.) And everyone knows that there is currently a war in Gaza right now. Even before the recent fighting started, VC suffered from sporadic internet access caused by electrical outages. So I felt lucky to get this email reply when I asked how he was surviving the war:

It is terrible indeed, however, it is kind people like yourself and other wikiHow editors that keep me going on, sane and to some extent even happy that I have friends who really care about me without even really ever seeing me. Thank you very much for asking and checking on me. I’m safe and sound and so is my family and my friends. The circumstances however are hard on the children, but with some tenderness, love and patience, they’ll get through it (or so I hope). The area where I live in Gaza is considered relatively safe as it is the center of the city.

It is in rough and extremely hazardous situations like these that we usually need something to hold on to … to believe in. wikiHow and its community has been that and more to me. It was and still is what I turn to so as to find comfort and peace of mind. The wikiHow community members are so supportive and kind. When I set at the computer and start doing anything related to wikiHow, it is currently my only escape outlet where I can, for some sweet moments, forget about the war, the harsh circumstances and the suffering all around me. And when I see a message by one of the editors, whether discussing some wikiHow related matter or simply saying “hi, how are you”, it makes me feel … alive, not cutoff of the world outside … having what I call a “universal family” that cares and comforts me.

For all of that Jack, I’d like to thank you for founding this wonderful family, making it possible for me and many others to feel at home no matter what.