yay internetz & web-friends

So yeah I got a bicycle which has been mostly fun except like everything else with a computer machine inside it, it’s a little buggy and didn’t take photos of the most beautiful part of my nineteen mile bike ride on Thursday. Yes I said nineteen. No, this is not something you didn’t know about me, this is just a crazy anomaly where I went on what was supposed to be an eight mile ride and didn’t figure out until mile nine that I was still nine miles from home. What do you do?

I just got back from Sacramento and a flyby through San Franciso, talking to librarians about computers. I came home and waited in line behind a woman at the post office who sent something registered mail and was asking how she could tell if it had been delivered. The lady at the post office started out by saying “well you can type this number into the box at usps.com…” and wound up telling the lady “oh just call me and I’ll tell you” when it was clear that blahblahblahdotcom was not really a sensemaking phrase to this woman.

The airlines tried to send me to San Francisco, claiming it was the closest they could get me to Sacramento and gee they were sorry but it wasn’t their fault so no they wouldn’t pay to get me to Sacramento and yeah things are tough all over aren’t they? I sympathized because airline ticketing software makes library catalog software look sleek and modern. I got on the chatmachine and sent out a few plaintive wails to the friendosphere “um hey, how can I get from San Francisco to Sacramento at around midnight…?” and I had a ride before the lady came back with my boarding passes for my new suckier flight. Once I got to Chicago, I smiled and said “I’m a very nice person” to the gate agent of the (supposedly full) Sacramento flight and managed to get the last seat. I’ve been harboring a headcold for the past week or so, so despite feeling like my eyeballs were going to pop out of my head while we were landing it all worked out pretty well.

Now that I’m home I can even breathe out my nose. My friend gets to be a superhero without even having to drive me anyplace [actually he was already my designated driver from Sacto to Frisco (hee) the next day; I met him when he came to pick me up at the hotel – Ashton you are a wonderful man] and I find sometimes my magical thinking can play itself out in the real world with decent results. I’m heading to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on Wednesday. The UP is where I have gotten my second highest bowling score of all time. I am anticipating great things.

the internet got you a bicycle?

So the internet got me a bicycle. It’s both a long and a short story. Here is the bicycle.

What's the deal with the bike...?

It’s basically a purple bicycle with a cell phone and a solar powered battery charger. The cell phone has a camera and a GPS unit and is mounted behind the handlebars. The bike takes a photo a minute when it’s moving. It arrived today. You can see some videos of the people building them. There are 20 or 30 of them getting sent out to various people. You can follow the ybike tag on Flickr to see some photos, there’s not that much there yet.

The bike says Yahoo! on the side of it and at some level it’s a Yahoo! marketing project. You’ll notice that this appears to be my Sellout Week for whatever reason. Please note that while I get to keep the bike — a sort of cruiser-y type bike which is fun to ride but not very practical around here — I’m not otherwise employed by the Yahoo! machine. If I had to guess why I got this bike I’d say it’s because I know some of the Flickr folks, I take decent pictures and seem to understand the Flickr system, and I live in the most beautiful place on earth. Also it is my birthday soon. Really, I have no idea, but that’s different from it being random manna that falls from the sky. At some general level, the internet gave me this bicycle.

I had to promise to ride the bike every day. We’ll see how that goes. The last time I rode a bike more than three days in a row this decade I was at Burning Man. That said, I’m probably in the best shape I’ve been in all decade, so this will be an interesting experiment. You can go friend my bike if you want to but as you can see from some of the recent photos, the photo stream isn’t that exciting, especially at night.

I’ll save my analysis of the panopticon and the erosion of personal privacy and my place in that whole equation for another day likely in the not-too-distant future. For now I’m just like “Hey purple bike!”