People Who Inspire You

Facebook recently updated the way profiles look and added a few cool new features. On such feature is a section on your profile, under the philosophy section, called “People Who Inspire You”. I find it interesting that they would put people who inspire you under philosophy and not under interests. I believe this to be appropriate as people who inspire us tend to have an increased influence over our philosophy.

Upon the discovery of this section I quickly entered a few of the people who inspire me. Here they are in no particular order.

  • John Adams
  • James Madison
  • William F. Buckley, Jr.
  • Edmund Burke
  • Mother Teresa
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Ghandi
  • Susan B. Anthony
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Thaddeus Stevens
  • John McCain
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Theodore Roosevelt

And while several of these people wouldn’t like to be on a list with the others I find them all to be inspirational in their own way.

Two that I would like to briefly highlight are Susan B. Anthony and Thaddeus Stevens.

Susan B. Anthony

Anthony a leader in the Women’s suffrage movement is a person I admire because of her unwavering support for an idea that she believed in even though she believed she wasn’t qualified to be a leader. In studying Anthony and the Women’s suffrage movement I have become more convinced of the necessity of political involvement and especially involvement in the Republican party.

On November 18, 1872, Anthony was arrested by a U.S. Deputy Marshal for voting illegally in the 1872 Presidential Election two weeks earlier. She had written to Stanton on the night of the election that she had “positively voted the Republican ticket—straight…”. She was tried and convicted seven months later, despite the stirring and eloquent presentation of her arguments that the recently adopted Fourteenth Amendment, which guaranteed to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States” the privileges of citizenship, and which contained no gender qualification, gave women the constitutional right to vote in federal elections.

The ticket she voted for was that of Ulysses S. Grant and running mate Henry Wilson. The Republican party platform at the time made one of the first mentions of “universal suffrage” all though it wasn’t until August 18, 1920 that the 19th amendment was ratified recognizing a woman’s right to vote. Ironically as a subnote it was Democrat president Woodrow Wilson who supported the amendment but regressed on the issue of segregation in the United States (especcially for government employees) saying, “segregation is not a humiliation but a benefit, and ought to be so regarded by you gentlemen.”

Thaddeus Stevens

But back to the election of 1872. One of the major players in that election was Thaddeus Stevens. Steven’s was the house leader of the “Radical Republicans”, a segment of the Republican party that favored universal suffrage and a greater degree of emancipation and reconciliation for the previous confederate states. It was Stevens and the group of Radical Republicans who had passed the civil rights act of 1866 which was vetoed by then Democrat President Andrew Jackson who in turn had his veto overridden by the Republicans.

Steven’s was more than just an ardent abolitionist and fighter for equality. As the chairman of the house ways and means committee he fought for and impacted reforms in America’s financial system, although not all of the reforms happened he did succeed in financing the Civil War. Steven’s also had an impact on education. While a Pennsylvania legislature he worked for the free education law in 1834, some say it was his oratory skills that passed that law. He also worked for a constitutional limit on State debt and refused to sign the new state constitution in 1834 because it did not allow black citizens to vote.

When Steven’s died he was buried in the Shreiner Concord cemetery because it was the only cemetery at the time that allowed people to be buried without regard to their race. Steven’s also penned the inscription for his headstone.

“I repose in this quiet and secluded spot, not from any natural preference for solitude, but finding other cemeteries limited as to race, by charter rules, I have chosen this that I might illustrate in my death the principles which I advocated through a long life, equality of man before his Creator.”

Stevens dreamed of a socially just world, where unearned privilege did not exist. He believed from his personal experience that being different or having a different perspective can enrich society. He believed that differences among people should not be feared or oppressed but celebrated.

Anthony and Stevens, two people who believed in the ideas of equality and freedom and who didn’t live to see their work come to full fruition. These are two people that inspire me.

This has been another in a series of “ruminations“, half formed thought regurgitated via a blog to stimulate thought, discussion and the eventual assimilation of the best ideas.

Tech Predictions for 2010

Continuing my yearly prognostications for the coming year.

Link to my top two websites in 2007

My 2008 favorite websites and predictions for 2009

Favorite websites of 2009

These three sites have continued to change and add new and cool things. People keep waiting for the next shiny toy but there really haven’t been that many lately. I added YouTube to the list this year because they are doing some cool things and Netflix/Hulu because they sound the sweet bell of liberty from cable television.

In 2010 it will be: Local Content, HD video (again) and Facebook (again).

The reason this years prediction is similar to last is because the economy took a nosedive and IMHO there weren’t as many innovations as companies hunkered down, improved their services and hoped for better times ahead.

Think back to the old days of the internet when blinky text and midi files playing music wasn’t annoying, rather it was considered to be edgy and cool. Think back to the first big name companies to start putting their web URL in advertising. I remember the first time I saw during breakfast. That afternoon I visited the site and it wasn’t that great so I left and went to one of those blinky text sites.

It is the nature of people to crave information but once they can’t get their minds around it they move on to a smaller subset of information.

In the old days of the internet there weren’t a lot of websites so it didn’t matter if the site was crappy. Now there is an infinite amount and if it’s crappy you just move on to a less crappy site. The same will happen with video, video online is going nuts but with the glut of video people will start only watching higher quality video and the only way to automatically separate out poor quality video is by size. The content will still wildly vary but the HD video will be on the top of the pile.

The same goes for websites in general, local information and local websites are much more important than other websites.  This is not because the content is better, it is because it’s an easy way for people to think. Also with the deluge of GPS enabled devices you will start seeing people really trying to tie GPS into their websites, webapps, iphone apps but it really won’t catch on for a few more years. The reason it won’t take off is most people over the age of 25 will be afraid and raise “privacy concerns”. But once the next generation (which doesn’t have any privacy concerns) comes along GPS will be in everything.

Smart websites realize this so as they grow they increase the number of subsets to their information.

Facebook in continually adding ways to prioritize and segment the information you see when you log in, friend lists are merely a way for your mind to not get completely overwhelmed every time you login. They also do this with the applications.

Twitter is doing the same thing with lists but it’s only a small way of dealing with the information overload and facebook will beat twitter in the end.

As more and more people jump into the pool you have to find a way to put blinders on them so they don’t leave.

Because of this phenomenon I believe the trends in 2010 will be Local Content, HD Video and Facebook.


Reaching the Homeschool Community

Reaching the Homeschool Community

A primer for organizations, businesses and politicians

The homeschool community is a fast growing, diverse and well networked group of parents who have taken it upon themselves to teach their children at home.

Currently there are an estimated 2 million homeschoolers in the United States. The growth of homeschooling has created a niche market that many businesses and groups now see a value in communicating with.

To really understand the homeschool community you need to have a basic understanding of it’s history.

[Read more…]

Great Chesterton Quote

Every time I dip into a book by G.K. Chesterton I wonder why I didn’t return sooner. Here is a quote that caught my attention while I was reading “The Everlasting Man”.

“If there is one fact we really can prove, from the history that we really do know, it is that despotism can be a development, often a late development and very often indeed the end of societies that have been highly democratic. A despotism may almost be defined as a tired democracy. As fatigue falls on a community, the citizens are less inclined for that eternal vigilance which has truly been called the price of liberty; and they prefer to arm only a single sentinel to watch the city while they sleep.”

(emphasis mine)

True words, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, may we never relinquish the duty of the watch.

Being Accessible and NPR

If I synthesized every bit of advice I’ve given to people on “how to use the internet effectively” it would look like this…

Be Real and Be Accessible

By being real and accessible you do two things.

First you aren’t full of hype, people like honesty and they don’t like fake stuff. Sure lying can work in the short term but long term it completely fails, and here is a secret, the internet is long term. If you put it up it can stay up 4-ev-er!

Second the internet is used for communicating, as will all other communicating audience participation is key, people want to feel involved, relevant and important. This is why we have talk radio instead of monologue radio, American Idol instead of “listen to a famous person sing” it’s by blogging is huge and why the wall on facebook is the thing you really care about.

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People don’t want to listen all the time, they want to talk back.

Here is a recent story that illustrates this perfectly

NPR has a new radio program called the Bryant Park Project (BPP) they interview regular people about unique things.

They also blog – they use Twitter – and facebook

I first started following them on Twitter then started listening to their show every now and then.

They tweeted about the California ruling (which I had just blogged about) and mentioned their blog

I went to the blog and commented [right over here]

They emailed me and asked if I would do an interview

I said yes

They called and we chatted for about 10-15 minutes

I hung up

They put a few seconds on the radio

[link – here it is]


NPR the BPP included me and made me feel relevant, I got chosen because I was real (a real live homeschool graduate) and I was accessible, I was on Twitter, I commented on their blog. Now I’m more likely to talk about the BPP and now I’m their friend on facebook. A win for them and a win for me, this is the internet done well.

That’s all.

Be Real and Be Accessible!

questions, comments, interviews, let’s talk :-) 717-556-0333