Scripting News

Scripting News, the weblog started in 1997 that bootstrapped the blogging revolution...

Where "fear is frozen fun" came from

Most of the mottos and slogans I use on Scripting News are either original or derived from ideas pioneered by others. But some are wholesale lifted from other people's work, which is an invocation of yet another motto -- "Only steal from the best."

"It's even worse than it appears," comes from a Grateful Dead song. It a perfect disclaimer. As bad as you think I am, I am even worse.

A variant is useful in standards work, where I ask collaborators to search for the worst possible name for something, in order to avoid long arguments about which is best. You can have a good laugh when someone invokes the "worst is best" rule, and get on with the real work of working together.

An example of a derived motto: "Ask not what the Internet can do for you," a modified version of JFK's admonition from his 1961 inaugural. My version was for the VCs of Silicon Valley to remember that they have to put back to balance what they take out. Of course they completely ignore this admonition, with perilous results, imho.

Another motto is "fear is frozen fun." Last night, James C. Kim asked on Twitter what it means. I have started using it again, after not referencing it in many years. It was a big motto for me in 1994 when I started blogging. So I searched to see if I had written anything about it, and came up with nothing. I answered that I thought its meaning was self-evident, but then on reflection I realized that even I wasn't sure what it meant! It's that rich an idea.

So I looked it up. The motto was appropriated wholesale from a book I read called Conscious Loving, written by Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks. Here's a link to the citation on Google Books. I've entered the paragraph it appears in, beneath this headline.

"In our work we have found that there are only a few core feelings. These are sadness, fear, anger, joy, excitement and sexual feelings. Other common feelings, such as guilt, boredom, anxiety and depression are actually mixtures of the basic feelings or responses to one of the core feelings. For example, the Gestalt therapist Fritz Perls said that anxiety is excitement without the breath. When people remember to breathe into their fear, their anxiety often turns into excitement. We often tell our clients that fear is frozen fun. People often get the most afraid just before they are about to step out into the creative unknown, into a new possibility. Fear mobilizes your body for action, but if you do not take action, the energy curdles in your body."

I could not possibly do any better than that.

BTW, another of my mottos, "Let's have fun!" came from this motto.

There's supposed to be a little eye-twinkle after it.

In today's terminology it might be translated as "Let's have disruption!"

8/26/2013; 9:58:23 AM

Students can run their own servers

I've had two academic jobs, one at Harvard and one at NYU.

At Harvard, my assignment was to get a blogging program started. It was imho a big success. Harvard was the first American university to offer blogs to its community, and that included people who did not have addresses. The philosophy of blogging is inclusive, and I'm glad they agreed to let that happen. It has led to all kinds of great things all over the world, because it's such a central and influential place.

My goal at NYU, which I did not achieve, was to have every journalism student learn to set up and run a server. I felt this was important because at least they had to understand what a server is, and how simple it can be, and not be intimidated by techies who often try to push around non-technical people. It turns out "push around" is a lot worse than I envisioned. Read this post by my former colleague Jay Rosen for an idea of how the techies in government are working to disable journalism.

The best answer to a controlling techie is this: "No problem, I'll do it myself." That usually gets them listening. If you can actually do it, then they no longer have power over you. Now that we know that the government has its own huge development organization, it would be wise for us, outside the government, to have a large group of developers we can turn to. Even better if every journalist knows how to run a server. Then you don't have to rely on anyone but yourself.

So what should be the response of the populace to pervasive government surveillance? Well, obviously we should try to reform the government through the democratic process. But I wonder if that can work. We'd probably choose someone who sounds a lot like Barack Obama before he was elected. There must be something that happens when a new president gets the keys to the White House. "Here you go, run the country, heh." That first day on the job must be a trip.

I don't know if it will help for people to run their own servers, but we sure can't get out of this mess by continuing to depend on Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, et al. We learn more every day about how much they are owned by the government. No, it's not surprising, but actually knowing it is different from suspecting it.

8/26/2013; 9:34:03 AM

It's even worse than it appears. © 1997-2013 Scripting News, Inc.