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Who am I?

You can look at my home page for more information, but the short answer is that I'm a dilettante who likes thinking about a variety of subjects. I like to think of myself as a systems-level thinker, more concerned with the big picture than with the details. Current interests include politics, community formation, and social interface design. Plus books, of course.

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Wed, 20 Oct 2004

Going to Ohio
After going to that political campaign training, I mentioned to my friend Brian that I thought it was neat that many of the participants were planning to vote absentee in California, and head to a swing state for the election itself to help get out the vote. I didn't think anything more of it until a couple days ago, when Brian said that he thought it was a good idea and he was going to fly to Ohio for the election, crash with our friend Rob in Oberlin, and do some volunteer work. I was kind of shocked. And then I thought to myself that I really had no reason not to do the same. I have some extra vacation time, I can afford the trip, and I've been kicking myself to get out and do stuff. So, the upshot is that Brian and I bought tickets last night for Cleveland. We'll be there from the evening of Saturday October 30th through Wednesday after the election. We're still working out exactly how we're going to contribute, whether it's through Kerry's campaign, MoveOn or the local Oberlin effort. But we'll figure something out. I think it'll be good for me to get out and do something; at least I'll know I made an effort, even if Bush wins.

Of course, I have to spend some time between now and then figuring out why I'm a Democrat, and why I support Kerry, so that I can articulate it to voters. That's a post I've been playing around with for a while in my head, after the political training where one of the leaders asked that question to audience members: "Why are you a Democrat?" Nobody could articulate an answer on the spot. And it's surprisingly hard to do concisely. My current best attempt at an answer, using his 27 words, 9 seconds, 3 phrases guideline is "I'm a Democrat because I believe in equal opportunity for all, equal rights for all, and that citizenship is not a right, it's a responsibility." I'll expand on that more later, because understanding my motives is always interesting to me, and trying to figure out why I feel such an antipathy towards Bush that I'd vote for a small stuffed animal over him is a good question. But I think I'm written out for the evening.

posted at: 22:28 by Eric Nehrlich | path: /journal | permanent link to this entry | Comment on livejournal

Participant statement for AC2004
As I mentioned before, I'm signed up to go to the Accelerating Change conference. One of the things they suggest doing is to put together a participant statement. Here's mine.

1. Passions and Futures
I am fascinated by the topic of how people communicate, whether it's in the form of how a company makes its management decisions, or how people coordinate on a project, or how we decide who to vote for. I think that one of the most valuable aspects of the internet and its offshoots is the ability to support such communication. While I don't believe in the technology-led paradigm shifts that we once dreamed of, I think it's interesting how we have found ways to embed technology into our lives. It's only when technology is no longer technology that it has crossed over into the mainstream. So my interest is more in understanding the social aspects of interaction that can then be buttressed by an appropriate use of technology, or as Joel on Software dubbed it, social interface design.
2. Projects and Problems
I don't have any specific projects or problems I'm working on. I'm interested in hearing about research into tools for supporting new group interactions. Technology in and of itself isn't of much interest to me. Technology in support of a real, identified problem is.
3. Resources to Recommend
My personal web page is at, which is where I post my thoughts on a variety of subjects. It also includes links to blogs I follow. Relevant to the issues I mentioned above is the Many-to-Many group blog, discussing how technology can be used to support group communications, from blogs to wikis to social tagging like, etc.

posted at: 22:15 by Eric Nehrlich | path: /journal | permanent link to this entry | Comment on livejournal

Links of October 20, 2004
As usual, a couple links that I want to share.

posted at: 21:58 by Eric Nehrlich | path: /links | permanent link to this entry | Comment on livejournal

Sucker Bet, by James Swain
I've liked Swain's previous books, so when I saw this one in paperback at the used book store, I picked it up. Not as entertaining as the previous entries in the series, partially because Swain doesn't spend as much time explaining various casino swindles. The centerpiece scam isn't as interesting or intricate either. Still an okay read. Not much more to say than that.

posted at: 21:26 by Eric Nehrlich | path: /books/fiction/mystery | permanent link to this entry | Comment on livejournal