Post Fact

What do you do if you find yourself living in a world where facts no longer matter to most people?

From the New York Times coverage of the historic British vote to leave the European Union:

The British campaign featured assertions and allegations tossed around with little regard to the facts. Both sides played to emotion, and the most common emotion played upon was fear.

Sound familiar?

Sure, it could describe the current U.S. Presidential campaign, but it could also describe myriad other campaigns about the environment and climate change, energy, food and health, poverty, war, immigration, politics, economics, laws and justice...the list goes on.

If there's an issue being debated, there's probably someone out there making an argument that is not based in fact and that plays upon our fears. Unfortunately, those are probably also the most well-funded, successful players in the campaign. Anyone asking for a reasoned, logical, fact-based approach are probably drowned out quickly if they're ever even heard at all.

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How I learned to run a business

Meeting RoomContinuing in the theme of last week's post on how I became a computer geek, I thought I'd also share some thoughts on how I learned to run a business.

I get asked now and then what path led me to the world of business ownership/management, and I think the short answer is that I've always just learned what I needed to know to support my other interests and passions, and in one particular long-running case, that meant learning the world of business. I've never set out to run a business for the sake of running a business, and I don't have any formal educational training in that skill set.

I'm not sure that my story should be any kind of model for others; I don't claim that I've always learned to run a business well, and I'm sure that there are many things I could and should have done better over the years. But by at least a few traditional measures of my company Summersault's performance from 1997-2013 - profitability, financial stability and customer satisfaction - I think I can claim some success along the way.

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How I became a computer geek

chris-geekOccasionally people ask me how I got started working in the world of computers and Internet technology. There were a lot of different factors - from my own curiosity to the learning and discovering my parents and teachers encouraged to the timing of what tools/tech became available as I grew up. I don't think I can hold one particular decision or moment up over another as key, but I thought I'd try to hit some of the highlights.

As a kid I was apparently very, very curious about how things worked, especially appliances and other mechanical things. I would take them apart to understand the innards, and then try to put them back together again more or less in the same working order. I was fortunate to have parents who let me do this exploring, and where they might have had good reason to be exasperated by having household fixtures disassembled and strewn about, they instead were supportive.

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NewsLink Indiana interview on Hoagy Carmichael mural

Hoagy Mural in a different lightWhen you hang around with Jim Hair, you sometimes find yourself thrust into the middle of interesting artistic and cultural experiences you hadn't planned on. That happened today, when he suggested I be an interview subject in a news segment produced by NewsLink Indiana out of Muncie about the forthcoming party to celebrate the new Hoagy Carmichael mural that's gone up in downtown Richmond. And so I was, and you can see the resulting video and news story on the NewsLink Indiana website. The piece is apparently just a promo for a longer news piece they'll produce on Saturday, so my sound bite is notably short and unsubstantial. But at least they didn't include the part where the interviewer cleverly asked me how much I know about Hoagy Carmichael, and I had very little to say in response (I think she was on to me), but that also means they left out my brilliant musings on the harm of homogenous community landscapes and the importance of creating vibrant destinations with this kind of cultural and artistic work. Sigh.

You can view other coverage of the mural: Palladium-Item article, Flickr photos, YouTube videos, and so on. Congratulations to all of the people who worked hard to make the mural happen, and certainly to Jim for bringing everyone to the table, er, canvas.

Letters from Robert C. Hardie

From 1962 to 1965, well before I was born, my father served in the U.S. Army. Most of his time was in Germany based at Bad Aibling Station, a military intelligence listening post, which was closed in 2002. During this time he wrote many letters and postcards to my grandparents and other family members, which they took care to preserve. In 2001, I took the time to transcribe these letters into a database and then into a navigable set of HTML documents. Despite some trepidation about making them globally public, I'm now posting these letters on my website in hopes that they will be interesting or useful to visitors here. As I mention in my editor's notes, it was pretty amazing for me to learn about my father through this medium, and to follow his adventures which, in some ways, I have mirrored.

Enjoy!