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Dustin Boston is a developer at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and lives in Pasadena, CA. Web developer, internet defender, writer, and open source advocate.
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Innovation thrives in broad networks

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In Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson points out that the most innovative people have broad social networks:

What Ruef discovered was a ringing endorsement of the coffeehouse model of social networking: the most creative individuals in Ruef’s survey consistently had broad social networks that extended outside their organization and involved people from diverse fields of expertise. Diverse, horizontal social networks, in Ruef’s analysis, were three times more innovative than uniform, vertical networks. In groups united by shared values and long-term familiarity, conformity and convention tended to dampen any potential creative sparks. The limited reach of the network meant that interesting concepts from the outside rarely entered the entrepreneur’s consciousness. But the entrepreneurs who built bridges outside their “islands,” as Ruef called them, were able to borrow or co-opt new ideas from these external environments and put them to use in a new context.

A large, open network is the best predictor of success

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The No. 1 Predictor Of Career Success According To Network Science:

The bottom line? According to multiple, peer-reviewed studies, simply being in an open network instead of a closed one is the best predictor of career success.

Festivals are run by conglomerates

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Music festivals are the corporate dystopia we deserve:

It was also in ‘99 that Coachella began. Heralded as the “anti-Woodstock 99”, it was formed as an indie alternative to a touring circuit dominated by Ticketmaster. Only 25,000 people attended, and the promoters took a huge loss. Five years later, it swelled to a sellout crowd of 110,000 and was purchased by a conglomerate called AEG Live, which owns several major arenas. Coachella could now afford to book much bigger names, at the expense of its independent spirit.

Over the next decade, festivals boomed, from Bonnaroo to Sasquatch to Lollapalooza. Live Nation, another conglomerate, now owns all of these and more, over 60 festivals in total. Consolidation has led to standardization. Instead of local flair and flavor, festivals from coast to coast now have similar line-ups and sponsors. To maximize profit and minimize risk, security grows ever tighter.

It seems like corporations somehow get their hands on everything eventually.

No DACA, no bueno

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Caltech and a bunch of other prestigious universities filed an amicus curiae with the US Court of Appeals, which makes a powerful statement about DACA:

Indeed, ending DACA forces future scholars, innovators, and leaders to choose between withdrawing to the margins of our society and national economy or returning to countries that they have never called home. Whatever they choose, their gifts and education are lost to this nation.

Going gray(scale)

I recently switched my phone into grayscale mode in an effort to reduce the compulsive desire to check it throughout the day. So far, it's working.

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Within the first 10 minutes of the first class of the first semester of tech school, my professor said something to my class that I will never forget:

Unchecked technology is ultimately dehumanizing.

Boy is that ever true now. From political hacking1, to doxxing2, humans have found a way to make technology do the worst things possible.

One particularly insidious form of this grew up within the context of our present day “attention economy”—our phones. Now, it’s not that our phones are bad, it’s just that they are designed to keep our attention.

According to Dr. Thomas Ramsoy3, an expert in Neuroscience and a critic of “Neuromarketing” practices common today, one trick used to keep us glued to our phones is color. It can be used to induce “subconcious decisions.” Ever wonder why the notification badges on your phone are red? It’s because they draw your attention.

Tristan Harris, who used to work at Google as their Design Ethicist equates this phone douchbaggery to a slot machine.4 When you pick up your phone you’re pulling the handle. If you get a text message you win, if you get nothing you lose, but the dopamine hit is enough to keep you coming back.

And that’s how the entire world got a legitimate phone addiction.

The Center for Human Technology (Harris’ new gig) has a list of tips for combatting phone addiction. One novel idea is to put your phone in grayscale mode. This basically disables mind-control.

For the last week I have “gone gray”, disabled all notifications except for text-messages, and removed all social media from my phone5, and I can tell you that it reduced my compulsive behavior by at least 80%.

So I don’t know if I’m cured, or even if I want to be cured but I definitely feel more in control of my phone than I have in some time. And that’s the point isn’t it? To put tech in check. Hey I like the sound of that.

Rsync Deployment with GitLab CI/CD

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I had a thought about blogging while cruising Adactio: if it takes more than 30 seconds to make a finished post live, it’s probably not going to get published. I have this problem.

After I write something, I build my site with Hugo, and then rsync it up to the server. But there’s no reason for me to do that manually anymore since it can be automated with GitLab. Using SSH keys with GitLab CI/CD and CI rsync Deployment had everything I needed to get it done.

How to Meditate

This is a simple ten minute mediation that I learned from Headspace. It focuses on breathing and mindfulness. There are other types of meditation exercises that you can do too, but this is the one I use every day.

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  1. With eyes open, take deep, audible breaths. In from the nose out through the mouth. 30 seconds.
  2. Gently closing the eyes, listen to the sounds around you, feel your feet on the floor, hands on your lap.
  3. Quickly scan your body from head to feet and back up. Note how the body feels but don’t dwell on it.
  4. Briefly remind yourself of why you are doing this.
  5. Locate your diaphragm. Feel it rise and fall for a few moments, without changing your breathing patterns. Just observe.
  6. Continuing to observe, begin to count your breaths. Inhale 1, exhale 2, inhale 3, etc. Up to a count of 10, then start again.
  7. After several minutes, allow your mind to be free and do whatever it wants. 30 seconds.
  8. Reconnect with your surroundings, sounds and sensations. Gently open your eyes.
  9. Reflect on how it feels to have taken time to yourself
  10. Consider what you will do next, and smoothly transition into that. Bringing your sense of calm with you.

Embracing Diversity

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My boss, an immigrant from Iran, and founder of Axosoft and Pure Chat, shared an email with the company yesterday that I wanted to share here.

Most of you, have undoubtedly seen or heard about the Muslim ban over the weekend. Some of you may think the huge opposition you are seeing to this ban is hysteria or over-reaction to what President Trump is referring to as (paraphrased) “the things that need to be done to keep us safe.” But for those of us who have seen or lived in countries with religious persecution, this type of racism and religious division is awfully familiar. Not only does it exacerbate the very problems it claims to be solving, but it fundamentally clashes with the very ideas of what it is to be an American.

Hamid Shojaee — Embracing Diversity

Early Warning Signs of Fascism

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Here are the Early Warning Signs of Fascism, from a poster in the US Holocaust Museum which has now been liked and retweeted hundreds of thousands of times across the internet:

  • Powerful and continuing nationalism
  • Disdain for human rights
  • Identification of enemies as a unifying cause
  • Supremacy of the military
  • Rampant sexism
  • Controlled mass media
  • Obsession with national security
  • Religion and government intertwined
  • Corporate power protected
  • Labor power suppressed
  • Disdain for intellectuals & the arts
  • Obsession with crime & punishment
  • Rampant cronyism & corruption
  • Fraudulent elections

Via RaRaVibes

Do Work

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It’s time to do work.

I believe very strongly that people on the left are too prone to do things that are emotionally satisfying and not politically useful. I have a rule, and it’s true of Occupy, it’s true of the gay-rights movement: If you care deeply about a cause, and you are engaged in an activity on behalf of that cause that is great fun and makes you feel good and warm and enthusiastic, you’re probably not helping, because you’re out there with your friends, and political work is much tougher and harder. And I think it’s now clear that it is the disciplined political work that we’ve been able to do that’s won us victories.

Libertas Shrugs