I’m following Derek Sivers‘ lead here in creating a snapshot that may be the starting point for whatever legacy I leave behind. Unlike him, I have no problem writing about and for myself, which is probably not a great thing for reaching an audience, but it gets me out of bed in the morning.

Timeline for Context

1977: Born in California

1999: Earned bachelors degree in Materials Science and Mineral Engineering from UC Berkeley.

2000: Worked as machinist and production manager for laser crystal manufacturer, then as a test software engineer using C to test electric motor controllers

2002: Learned Perl and Python to broaden software engineering skills

2004: Started Sterry IT during a computer virus epidemic which became a general computer consulting business

2008: Created TweetScan, one of the first Twitter search engines serving 20,000 requests in one day

2011: Discovered Bitcoin and created some services around it

2015: Joined Uber as a software engineer where I worked on internal tools

2019: Left Uber to work on personal projects including combating fake news and US government reform

2021: Discovered federated social networking, aka The Fediverse and created Magic Stone to build a community around better social networking

General thoughts, my philosophy

I’ve always been curious which has caused me to identify and attempt to fill many gaps in my understanding. I read and listen to podcasts to broaden my knowledge, increase awareness, and direct my attention where I think I can do the most good.

I consider meditation to be underutilized for training our attention and getting access to underlying concerns. I believe we should focus on what we can control and accept what we cannot.

I’m learning more about how fear of death, practicality of violence and the will to power guide a lot of human activity. I feel people should be able to act as desired, so long as actions don’t cause harm to others. Since harm comes in many forms, we must accept the burden to consider the consequences of our actions. I believe we should live as if we have free will and that our choices matter.

I believe the universe is physical machine but quantum mechanics tells us that uncertainty is inherent.

I feel the culture in the United States is more punitive than necessary and think we should prioritize forgiveness as a way to get past injuries so that victims can move on at the same time as offenders.

Though there are outliers, I believe most people want to be comfortable, to spend enough time with friends and family and to find self-chosen meaning in life. For me, the goal is to have a positive impact on the world. I hope to leave the world as good a place as when I was born. I don’t believe in reincarnation but I like that the idea helps incentivize better behavior.

I support your self-determination

One of the first causes I studied was the free software movement. Technology, largely controlled by software, will grow to be so important, that personal freedom will depend to a large extent on the software you allow into your life. When you buy a device that can get software updates but inside which you cannot inspect or change the software, it is less your device than a tool being controlled by the developer. By extension such a device has some control over you.

The analog to software in the cloud is personal data. You should be able to control how your data is used (including its full deletion), and be able to download it and migrate to another cloud or self-hosted service. Using and supporting services that make their source code available (such as AGPL licensed services do) goes hand in hand with data control. Social networking has grown to encompass a large part of what people do online and here, it’s extremely important to support networks that are operated in a federated manner on free software.

Money is necessary to live in modern society, however, most of our monetary activities take place on platforms controlled and monitored by someone else. Cash, gold, Bitcoin, and barter provide ways to transact over which you retain the freedom to do what you want or need to do. I support their unencumbered use.

I believe in personal bests

Many of us are concerned with and compare ourselves to others which is tempting because we can sense someone’s greatness without knowing anything about their level of innate talent and the hard work that went into developing their skills. Rather than delve into that comparison I believe it’s much better to focus on doing our best, to measure performance and then work to improve. Recently I took up running, so working toward faster times and longer distances is a good example. Almost everything in life can be measured. I’m looking forward to improving all kinds of personal records over my lifetime.

I write daily

I don’t publish as often as I would like, but I believe in writing on a daily basis. It helps clarify and improve thinking and framing on the issues, scenarios, and events I care about. I make it a habit to jot a minimum number or words per day. Periodically, I review what I’ve written, editing along the way to see if I should revisit or publish anything.

I have to fight distraction

We live in a world engineered largely toward business ends. Apps foster habituation, devices become indispensable, games with random rewards play on dopamine-centric brain chemistry. For this reason, I remind myself often to limit activities that are repetitive and of low long-term value. I also like to set goals for more meaningful activities like reading, writing, exercise, and spending time with people, in these times preferably by phone or video call.

Questions? What can I clarify?

Email me.