I've been everywhere and nowhere

I started a map of all the places I've lived or visited. I excluded spots where I was just passing through.

There are a lot of them, and I feel very fortunate to have seen so much.

There are also not very many of them, and it's a good reminder that I have no firsthand knowledge of what's happening or what life is like in most of the world.

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May I live long enough to get a few more splotches of red going.

Owning our digital homes

Over the course of my life, I've built few things that reside permanently in the physical world. There's a small foot-bridge over a winding creek a few miles from where I live that I helped to bolt together. There's a school building in southern Alabama whose ceiling joists I helped frame in. I weathered a few splinters to help build the deck on our house. A few half-finished knitting projects linger. I've installed a window here, hammered some metal in a forge there.

Beyond these and some similarly inconsequential offerings, most of my life's work and creations have come in the form of things published in the digital world: essays, photos, lines of code, blog posts, songs, podcasts, and database rows. Where a carpenter might wander the streets of his city admiring the houses he built, I must wander the hard drives, websites, .zip/.tar archives and code repositories of my world to remember what I've created.

Where these digital products of my life and work reside, who has control of and ownership over them, and how long they might persist is important to me.

This is why I try to use this site, chrishardie.com, along with a few other carefully chosen services to make up my digital home. It's part of why I love WordPress as a tool for publishing. And it's why I worry about others who take for granted that the digital things they create will always be there, accessible, under their control, searchable/viewable in a way that makes sense to them.

Continue reading Owning our digital homes

Books: Seveneves, What If?, Steve Jobs

Notes on three books I've had a chance to read recently:

Sevenevesby Neal Stephenson

I've noted here before how much I enjoy Neal Stephenson's writing and storytelling, and Seveneves did not depart from that trend. It mixes together a few of my favorite things: science fiction with attention to realism, thought-provoking end-of-the-world scenarios, and a witty narrative that makes the reader work a bit to put all the pieces together. And while mostly plot-driven, Seveneves manages to do quite a bit of philosophizing about the nature of humanity and what we hold dear, not to mention the lengths we'll go to to preserve that. I will say that I enjoyed reading the first part of the book more than the second, but several days after finishing when the whole story had had a chance to marinate a bit, I was grateful for the completeness of two together, different as they were. Seveneves imagines a universe worth spending some time in. Continue reading Books: Seveneves, What If?, Steve Jobs

Blogging insecurities

(In a future post I'll discuss this list and where it fits into my own experience of writing and blogging. For now, I give you a partial list of blogging insecurities as collected from many conversations over the years about what keeps us from hitting "Publish" - please comment to add others you've encountered.)

What if my words doesn't make sense?

What if someone else has already written a better post about this topic?

What if my post is too long?

What if my post is too short?

What if the moment has passed?

Should I update or replace my WordPress theme before writing this?

My TTFB seems high, maybe I should fix that before publishing?

Maybe I need a new keyboard that will help me write better?

What if there's some more important use of my time?

What if I'm not meant to be a writer?

What if I offend someone with my views?

What if I don't challenge or provoke any useful conversation with my views?

What if this post is too personal?

Continue reading Blogging insecurities


startup-podcast-coverI've just finished raising $1.5 million in investor dollars, building an office and growing a staff to start a new media company focused on narrative podcasts.

Okay, not really.

But I HAVE just finished listening to the first season of Alex Blumberg's podcast Startup, which documents his process of envisioning and then creating exactly that new company, Gimlet Media, from the very beginning. The show is so well done that I felt in on some of the best and worst moments in starting the business, and I learned a lot along the way.

Continue reading Startup

Who else?

The U.S. has finally decided to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states. We celebrate. We acknowledge that it has taken too long. We continue to fight the fear, bigotry and close-mindedness around sexual orientation that no court can overrule.

But we must also ask, "Who else?"

Who else is fighting to have their voice heard?

Who else is struggling against the cultural, moral and legal constraints of our society?

Who else is discriminated against now in ways that may one day be seen as embarrassing and unthinkable?

Is it because of how they look? Is it because of where they were born? Who they love? How poor they are? What they believe in or don't believe in? The identity they have embraced?

Continue reading Who else?