Inside the Moral Kiosk

Music + Microcode - Former and current music executive and technologist

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The Internet of Me

I’ve been following the whole “internet of things” discussion for a while. As an early user of home automation gear, the ability to control and track every aspect of my home is fascinating. As an early user of OBD devices as well, the same applies for my car.

But the thing that is missing in all of these new technologies is simple: me.

I don’t want the Internet of Things. I want the Internet of Me. I am the root of the universe I inhabit. I effect every aspect of my environment with causal chains that reverberate far longer than I am in any given space. I’m a state machine disrupter.

And yet all the home automation, IoT, bio-tracking tech is based around giving agency to the data outside of myself rather than with my self at the center.

Put another way: when I get home my house recognizes my phone is nearby and unlocks the door. It does this because of a...

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More by Ethan

A Bit About My Grandpa

My Grandpa Stan (my maternal Grandfather) was born in August 1933 to second generation American’s in New York City. He is and was a born hustler, teaching himself trades – usually around technology – in order to avoid ever having to work for people. The last hustle was cell phones, which he was involved in from 1985 to not too long ago. He was the first cell phone wholesaler and retailer in California.

My Gramps never wanted me to fly.

When I was 19 I decided to go get my pilots license. It had been a life long dream and I had half an intention to make it a career. I started lessons at John Wayne Airport (KSNA) and managed to take one lesson before my Gramps found out.

The conversation went something like this.

Gramps: “So you think you’re going to become a pilot?” Me: “Yes, I’m an adult legally, and paying for it myself, so why...

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Moving On from a Life’s Work

When I was 16 years old I started a website.

That is the beginning of my history when I am introduced by someone or introduce myself.

When I was 16 years old, I started a website.


When I was 35 years old, I shut that web site down. That was last night.


Turning back the clock then.

On March 23, 1996 I was seated about midway back at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles, CA. This was when the Wiltern still had seats. I was there to see Patti Smith’s first show in Los Angeles in 15 years.

I was also a huge R.E.M. fan, having seen them the prior October in Anaheim. In fact I was wearing a tour t-shirt “just in case” any of them happened to be in attendance.

Right before the show started, a bald guy sat in front of me. I turned to my date that night with a look of “No, it can’t be.”

After he got up to go get a drink, I asked the guy sitting next to...

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Notebooks

In a crate in my garage and a cabinet in my office are notebooks. Some spiral bound, some Moleskin, some gridded and some lined. Most of them are filled margin to margin with black ink scrawls.

Contained are ideas, sketches, concepts and designs. Penmanship that is sometimes loopy, sometimes hurried and sometimes angular and meticulous.

Some pages are dated and some are note. Numbers emerge with both dollar prefixes and without. Phone numbers, IP addresses, budgets and random figures without context.

Boxes, lines and arrows. Databases, objects, systems and servers. Home entertainment systems, server closets, data centers and software.

Occasionally a missive. “Why is it that I hate everyone right now?” or “Don’t forget: Amy’s birthday next week.”

Todo lists, call lists, brain dumps and ideas.

Sometimes a name. “Eric Garland Project,”...

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Live Nation Labs Acquiring YourTrove

Many years ago, when I was still at Warner Bros Records, I met with three entrepreneurs and engineers at a restaurant in New York City. Seth Blank, Nick Vlku and Jesse Emery showed me this amazing product they had made that could take the amalgamation of social data from groups of people, index it, make it searchable and contextualized. It could expose trends, similarities, and from a simple search query you could find out much more about your world than just staring at a Facebook timeline.

I was amazed.

And then my one year old son threw one of their plates of food across the room before dumping a drink all over the table.

Two things happened as a result of that dinner:

  1. Nick, Seth or Jesse don’t have kids, although Seth just got engaged in Paris. Mazel Tov!
  2. I spent the next three years figuring out how I could work with them

It makes me extremely happy to announce that we have...

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function(life) { return is_how_you_live_it};

I recently bought a car. It was my fifth car ever purchased, but the process of doing so differed radically from the last time that I did it. I never saw the car, test drove the car or actually talked to a person through the process. The entire process, from discovery of the car I wanted to the actual sale transpired through web and email services. One day I started emailing someone, and three weeks later I drove away with a new car.

Marc Andreessen has coined the phrase “software is eating the world” but there is a more fundamental reason that this phrase has had such a powerful metaphorical hold. It isn’t that software is just eating the world. It is that the world itself is now possible to represent by polymorphic functions with refactorable logic.

For background, a function is a piece of programming that given a set of parameters produces a discrete output. A...

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Syntagms, Narrative and the Lack of Fun

When we look at social software services like Facebook and Twitter, we are really talking about systems who’s whole purpose is to get us to form narratives through them. We form these narratives by stringing together syntagms (fragments of text) into sequential interwoven dialogs that together form stories/narratives amongst others.

The feeds and reverse chronological way these are presented is the easiest distillation of what we contribute. We are story tellers through the medium provided by other services, in both active and passive means.

But when we remove all the artifice of software and features, what we are really doing is creating stories. Narratives about our day in a reverse chronological string of text and images. It mixes and infiltrates others to form meta-narratives that we hope, in the end, are contextualized somehow into something meaningful.

What draws these...

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2013 in Pictures

In no particular order…it was a good year. Children, flying, friends in far flung places and whale sharks

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2014

As always, I end the year with a recounting of my 2013 goals and how I did, and some new goals for 2014

2013 goals….

  • Run a marathon, a half marathon and a relay.

I did a full marathon. No half, no relay. (.33)

  • Attempt a triathlon

Unless you count a new baby… no.

  • Finally make progress on getting my pilots license

DONE! I got my pilots license.

  • Spend more down time with Eli and Amy

I think I did this. I hung up my hacking hat a bit to decompress more when at home. Also Eli and I resumed running together. Amy and I have had our time curtailed by the baby however, but earlier this year we had some nice down time in Portland and San Diego.

  • Take more days off

I took three days off this year before the holidays, not counting paternity time. So, no.

  • Leave work at work more often

Flying helped a lot with this, but not entirely. It was a stressful year.

  • Continue...

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The Phone, It Reifies Me

There is and always has been a dialog between what you use to form a digital identity and what you use to maintain and express that identity. This difference – utility and formation essentially – are the two destinations when setting out to make anything that is “social” through software.

From the outset of connected computing, services and technologies have divided themselves between these two areas. Some aimed to form a home for identities; a root as it were. AOL, Compuserve, MySpace, Facebook, even .plan files tried to serve this purpose.

And others were tools for those identities. Some provided video, audio, photo hosting. They were utilities for specific aspects of the identities.

OpenID and later OAuth (as mostly pushed through by Facebook), let the homes for identities extend themselves through the utilities. You could use Facebook Connect to bootstrap...

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