Thursday, October 23, 2008
The story from an August 1969 Yankee this morning was entitled Spirit Capital of the Universe which apparently 100 or so years ago was Chittenden, Vermont. The story is about William & Horatio Eddy. The Wikipedia article gives the gist about the facts in the article, but the "neutral tone" that Wikipedia misses some of the fun of the magazine article. Yankee is a good source for ghost stories and I remember as a boy seeking them out to read. Indeed the illustrations to the article I picked up today seem familiar to me now.
I have no idea what to make of ghosts and find it rather convenient not to be much bothered by them. Over the years my sisters' and brothers' children have come to visit here in the summers. Now most of them are adults. A few years back I heard that while they enjoyed these visits they also often found them terrifying. Then a while back I mentioned this to one of my sisters who in turned wondered why I should be surprised; afterall, "You're the one who told them all those ghost stories." I hadn't the faintest idea what she was talking about and let her know that. She just rolled her eyes. And another time I had the same discussion with my niece. No ghost stories huh? "What about the one... and another one, and another one?" Well, this time there was no denying those were my stories and I had told them after all.
New England surely has no monopoly on ghost stories, but it's no slouch as a region when it comes to them either. I've always been interested in the number of old buildings around that were Spiritualist Churches. And of course New England is quite famous for witches. I couldn't imagine that I'd been the source of so much terror to my darling nieces and nephews growing up. I feel quite sure I hadn't meant to terrify them. But that my now adult niece could recite so easily from memory the the stories I'd told busted my pretences completely. So when the story about Governor Palin and the witch hunting Pastor Muthee made the rounds it was hard for me to get into high dudgeon about it. We all compartmentalize what we think about and it would seem we put ghost stories way back in our mental closets. Sometimes it's a bit embarrassing to get them out and sometimes we worry about the cold water that might get poured over them. But still we hardly ever really discard them; rather store them way back in our mental closets until we might use them once more.
I have no ideas how to connect ghost stories with a couple of links to share, so I won't even try. Emeka Okafor at Timbuktu Chronicles links to a great article about open source hardware in Wired. Phil Jones linked to SomeRightsReserved a site where designers post blueprints for making things. Both of these developments may be on the edge or periphery of things right now, but I strongly suspect they'll make it to the middle before too long.
Okafor makes the point that open source hardware could be a real boon to African manufacturing culture. That's a good point, but also as the reality of job loss begins to settle in here in the rich countries, many smart people are going to be scrambling to make some income. We're accustomed to talking about outsourcing here in the USA, but the discussion of social media and how it might impact our making a living is just beginning. I said a couple of links, but I'll make it three. Susan Mernit posted a great post Susan sez: Social media must haves for the recently laid off. I liked it because while I frequent all sorts of social media online, I'm really quite stupid and haphazard about it. Her straight forward post suggested to me ways I could be smarter about it. That may be wishful thinking on my part,still it's a great primer on the subject.
Naturally there are great differences and distances between people in developed economies and in developing economies. But there are fundamental challenges we all face and new tools and models of work are available to people all over.
Grace Ayaa--oh here's a fourth link--posted a great post from Kampala A little light in the shadows about her visit to learn more about the Kampala Junior Team. I was so moved by the post. First of all because Madam Ayaa does so much on behalf of her fellow Ugandans and I'm so happy to see her blogging to tell her stories. Oh and what a great story teller she is! And secondly the idea I've been mulling about the last few days is how to make some money to help support the Kampala Junior Team. Her post encourages me not to give up on that. I need encouragement and I think others do to. I'm beginning to see how these social Web tools can make a big difference here and abroad. Together we can create something good in small increments.
The Wired article about open source hardware suggests that this sort of distributed effort can actually speed development. But it's going to mean we'll have to rethink a few things.