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Author: Mike Greenberg

Appearance in the Miami Herald

Appearance in the Miami Herald

I’ve been working on teaching folks how to play with Arduinos, an open-source hardware prototyping platform. Deborah Acosta from the Miami Herald caught wind and asked if she could ask me a few questions about the swelling maker movement in South Florida. She got back to me last week and told me the video was live! My 15-seconds of fame can be found at the end of this video, “Trendspotting: The Maker Movement“.

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Stories from the web: How do I improve OUR community?

Stories from the web: How do I improve OUR community?

Note: I’m cross-posting this from the South Florida Tech Leadership group. We’re a group of leaders in South Florida who are passionate about improving the tech and entrepreneurial ecosystem in our region. If you’re interested in joining in on the conversation, just drop in or introduce yourself on twitter

Over the past few weeks, I’ve read a bunch of inspiring blog posts with different angles on building your local community. I wanted to share summaries and links with you. In particular, the one below about giving back through workshops spoke particularly to me as I prepare the next version of an Arduino workshop. I plan on following up on that one as it focuses a lot on personal benefits and glosses over the community-building side (which are significant).

Has anyone else read any interesting blog posts, articles or experiences about community-building?

 
Freedom of Speech on the Internet

Freedom of Speech on the Internet

Over the past few months, there’s been a lot of attention on the PROTECT IP Act going through the US Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act going through Congress. I’ve been actively promoting against these bills from being passed into law across my various social networks. Most recently, I self-censored my own blog (nobulb.com) in participation with American Censorship Day and shared with my friends.

One of my buddies who shares my skepticism about random links on the internet questioned, “You don’t really believe this do you?” I took the opportunity to explain the crux of what was happening in this legislation that many average Americans have missed.

 The bill on the table will allow law makers to try to manipulate which websites are allowed to be viewable by the public. This is wrong on a number of reasons, most importantly that it circumvents our right to free speech. 

But even MORE importantly than this fact is that no matter what legalese the government can put behind whether a website can be allowed up or not, the internet will evolve around these laws and make them effectively useless in a matter of MINUTES (even SECONDS…you can bet people are building solutions to circumvent these laws today in preparation).

In effect, all this law will do is add additional red tape and raise taxpayer’s costs. Services which the government deems illegal will CERTAINLY find another way around the blocks the government can put in place and the entire ecosystem surrounding the internet (which has no intention of illegal activity such as the well-meaning business owners, internet providers, engineers who improve the internet, and millions of American internet users) will be saddled with the cost of maintaining this unenforceable mandate.

In short, yes I believe this.

Over the past years, the US Government has gradually consumed our liberties in the name of “what’s best for us”. This is another step in that direction. And what’s more painful is that these laws are circumventing legal due process which would normally protect sites that the government finds questionable and ensure they receive a fair trial and hearing. Please take some time to share your opinion with your representatives.

American Censorship Day

Votizen Open Letter: Oppose the PROTECT IP Internet Censorship Bill

On Manufacturing Your Own Serendipity

On Manufacturing Your Own Serendipity

People who spend their money on the slim chance to win millions are derogatorily referred to as gamblers. “These people have a problem and need to get help,” but I understand the satisfying feeling of spontaneous and beneficial discovery. Or in their case, discovering their bank account several times larger than it was mere seconds ago. These people aren’t really addicted to spending their money. They’re addicted to serendipity. And sure, some extra money is a pretty shallow victory. But with a more altruistic goal in place, serendipity tends to be a pretty satisfying experience. It’s the reason I’ve gambled upwards of 100+ hours of free time in the past six months to helping strangers improve themselves and their lives. It can be difficult for people to understand why I go out of my way to help others, but that’s only because they are looking at the  short-term benefits. In reality, I find a wealth of benefits that come from listening to other people’s struggles and then helping find ways to solve them.

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Seeking purpose in a stranger’s death

Seeking purpose in a stranger’s death

I am finding myself profoundly affected by Steve Jobs’ passing. I never particularly cared for Apple products as they stood for many of the technological principles which I oppose. But as a man who created an image, a following, maybe even a cult; Steve Jobs was a far cry from a failure. I consider myself strongly motivated to be successful and leave a lasting impact on the world. However, I see myself constantly being distracted from these goals with less important tasks. I don’t claim to understand his character, but the pattern I find in successful people like Steve are those who mastered the art of living minimalistic lives. Despite the luxury and vanity I despised so much in Apple’s products, their design and use made your life easier. Each and every product which launched under Steve’s supervision was a testament to his ideology and principle. Not many others can make that claim.

Of course, living minimally doesn’t benefit anyone but yourself. But minimalism will help you discover the forest from the trees.

Though his successes are immense, I still don’t quite understand why his death has impacted so many people in such an intensely emotional way. Of course, his technology brought people closer together. He showed people how technology can augment our daily grind instead of a hurdle. He spoke passionately about his products that would make snake oil salesmen proud. They did what he said they would, but more importantly, you wanted to see the “magic” he saw in them.

I’ve been a little introspective since I learned of his passing and tried to find the best part of what made Steve Jobs a truly great man. I’ve come to this conclusion… it was his intense passion. Few people share it. For those that do, you find yourself emotionally invested in their journey. So how do you find that same fiery passion?

(Update) Here’s one potential way…

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

– Steve Jobs