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Ari Davidow
Works at Brandeis University
Attended College of Public and Community Service (CPCS) at UMass/Boston
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Ari Davidow

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So relieved that, on what feels like a rare occasion, a solid majority of the Supremes vote for common sense in uncommonly partisan senseless times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/26/us/obamacare-supreme-court.html
The case concerned a central part of the Affordable Care Act creating exchanges that allowed people who lack insurance to shop for health plans.
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Ari Davidow

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I remain in awe of our ability as humans to forget to communicate. The proximate cause of this afternoon's rant was a post by someone to a long list of cc:s to help publicize a concert. No mention was made of when the concert was being held (we did get a venue) or who was playing (although it was clear that the person sending the email was involved).

Hah! You think. Easy to do. 

But, I have been catching up my "klezmershack" calendar this week, and have been shocked, anew, how many calendar entries on the websites of how many venues list no address, no starting time. Of those who list an address, many list it as part of a graphic, meaning that no potential attendee can add the event to their calendars, much less copy/paste the information for sharing with others.

In part this suggests to me that we need metadata, and need to automate some types of metadata mostly because, as I said, we humans so often have no idea, or get too excited by whatever it is we want to communicate, to actually do so.
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Fellow Bostonians--a couple of years ago I took a bike took of "Jewish Boston." I have a memory that someone affiliated with Workmen's Circle created the ride, but I can neither locate the ride cue sheet nor any other information. Anyone have a clue? We have a friend coming from overseas this coming weekend who is actually creating a "Jewish Boston" tour--I thought taking her out on that bike tour might be fun.
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This past Thursday night was the most recent gathering of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization. It took place at Old South Church, and several hundred of us gathered to network, share experiences, and to be inspired.

There is, for me, a significant thrill to listening to speaker after speaker (okay, not so many speakers) orate about how their faith leads them to strive for social justice. For all that I know that people can, and do use scripture to deliver, instead, messages of fear, it is just pleasant, instead, to hear people of faith find in their faith reason to be inclusive, and to fight for a society as large as it dreams itself to be.

Having said that, GBIO is an organizing group. There is actually organizing and grass roots listening that drives GBIO takes place in between the major meetings. We are in an unusual period where GBIO members put a stop to coasting on the same old same old last year. Starting last summer? spring? the constituent congregations have been holding meetings to tease out current organizing priorities. In January, congregations throughout the Boston area sent in the results of those meetings to GBIO offices (even as the January meeting was snowed out. Twice.) Over the last couple of months, the GBIO leadership has collated the results of those meetings, organized "Research Action Teams" to dig further into the areas that seemed likeliest to yield potential "issues" around which GBIO can organize. And, by Thursday night the list of research areas had narrowed to five. After a brief discussion in small groups, we voted to accept them as the current main foci for organizing. By May 12, when we hold a rally with the Governor, Mayor of Boston, and Speaker of the House, GBIO leadership will have teased out some specificorganizing issues for which we will be asking the governor, Boston's mayor, and the speaker of the MA House, for support.

Rather than continue to run on, below I list oareas where there are specific issues on the table that are being researched by GBIO over the next six weeks, and likely continuing over the next several months:

* Criminal Justice Reform. Current priorities include pre-trial bail reform; elimination of minimum mandatory sentencing for drug offences; and work on easing the re-entry and re-integration of people who have served their time into our society.)

* Public Education--This seems focused on rebuidling Dearborn Middle School as a STEM (Science, Tech, Eng, Math) Academy. I have asked to become part of the group. I do not understand why the group is not also addressing issues such as testing, Charter Schools, Common Core, and funding, overall. I hope to understand more as we move forward.

* Gentrification, Affordable Housing, and Homelessness--Currently there is support for Mayor Walsh's commitment to more housing, and in particular, more affordable housing. More to come?

* Health Care Cost Containment--Obivously critical. Not yet clear what specific issues are to be addressed. This is an area where GBIO has had significant accomplishments in years past. It is not clear whether there are active issues around which GBIO can and should organize right now.

* Gun Violence: For now, there are two issues. First, that the governor actually ensure that the new law that requires private sales in MA to also require background checks be implemented, and 2nd, that the governor join the "Do Not Stand Idly By" campaign to hold manufacturers responsible for creating safer guns and safer gun distribution chains.

WHAT DOES THIS LIST MEAN?

As I wrote, above, this is the list of the five areas around which the most congregations expressed a desire to organize. There are some current ideas (as typed, above) as to how we might organize, but the Research Action Teams are still talking. 

BUT, on May 12th, there will be a "Re-Dedication Assembly" to position GBIO with elected and corporate officials, and to publicly say, "this is what we are currently fighting for."

AND, there will be several congregations or clusters of congregations that are still researching climate change, student debt, addiction, recovery, and behavioral health re-imbursements, and potentially other issues, with an eye towards seeing whether that research yields issues around which good campaigns that help build the GBIO coalition, can be derived.
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Ari Davidow

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Having some interesting thoughts as I ponder a special section in the current "The Economist" about energy. The short form? Conservation--avoiding using the energy in the first place--is great. The second issue? using local affordances to generate energy locally, using the grid to even out supply, is the coming ideal. (This is even truer for Enterprise power, where an unmaintained, and increasingly fragile grid often breaks down, meaning that there =must= be local generating capacity--whether it is traditional electric plants, or solar or batteries or geothermal or whatever combination of what works for that location.)

Think about Cloud Computing for a moment. Like the early days of energy production, initially companies that wanted enterprise computing set up their own, and always growing, data centers. Costs explode. Then, "the Cloud" takes shape. We can now meter computing usage as we also now meter energy usage. How many years, then, before we are back to looking at what is best done locally, and using "the Cloud" to share capacity, including the ability to burst into the cloud and use extra capacity as needed? 
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Yes, but not sure how that is relevant to this model, or what an enterprise would do with that beyond current well-known best practices.
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I was at an interesting panel tonight, hosted by Boston area #NPTech folks. Techies (in a couple of cases, techie-ish) folks represented several Content Management Systems talked about WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal and what was good/bad about them. It was a polite, respectful panel. And I thought the silliness of focusing on brand of open source platform was brought up by the first person (other than myself) to offer a question--someone who had this complex system put together years ago and kind of maintained by volunteers and it didn't quite work and....

Yeah, now THAT's an issue--not which brand of CMS, or which CMS community with which one should affiliate, but how to handle the damn thing once you get it built. Do you host it elsewhere so you don't have to maintain it, patch it yourself? (For most very small organizations, yes, you should figure ongoing operating expenses to cover active management of your website infrastructure.) What are your options? How do you tie donations into general CRM into your social media tools, from mass emailing to twitter, facebook, instagram, whatever, to that "content" stuff you "manage" with a CMS?

Those are real questions that, in my mind, people responsible for non-profit technology should be learning to ask. Once you understand why "having a CMS" means, in terms of maintainability, periodic changes and updates, the ongoing patching and maintenance, tying it all in to your communications environment and figuring out what might help your organization best, then you can ask better questions. One question that many organizations might want to start asking: In the age of tumblr and facebook, does my tiny organization need a website? What if we just tweet a lot and maintain a presence on tumblr and put lots of neat pictures out on Instagram?

It's too bad. The moderator, and one of the panelists, are both from AnnKissam, an organization of unusually talented and friendly people. I keep trying to see myself as obviously wrong in the face of such expertise, but I think this time my approach makes more sense.

I think we hold CMS panels because we know how to, and because they sound like they are useful. They are the equivalent of those long charts comparing features between complex products that most often lead you astray. Turns out that most of those charts convert nuts and berries to fruits so they fit the chart, and that useful reality is elsewhere.

While I am ranting, one more issue. At one point, one of the audience members righteously compared the virtues of open source tools like drupal and joomal and wordpress to the corporate over-priced offerings of IBM and Adobe. Oy. Never mind that IBM provides one of the best gardens of Drupal application notes out there and that Adobe doesn't offer a CMS. Never mind that the 100 pound gorilla in this discussion is Sharepoint, which is so majorly different conceptually from drupal and joomla and wordpress, and is offered to such different audiences, that a comparison between, say, drupal and sharepoint lacks meaning (which isn't to say that religious zealots on all sides ascribe meaning to such a comparison). Nevermind. 

The real competitors to Drupal and Joomla and WordPress are scrappy commercial companies like ExpressionEngine--companies trying to do the same thing--make it easy to get specific types of content onto the web in an easily manageable, maintainable fashion, while also formalizing a support relationship so that the tools (and the contents) =are= maintained.

Sometimes, we tell ourselves stories to make ourselves feel good, and justify what we were going to do anyway, and forget that there were important questions that we meant to answer.
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Ari Davidow

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I wonder what this speaker thinks his slides are accomplishing. Too much text, in lines too wide, type too small to be read. It's like we're looking at his talking notes. Did I mention that the type is a sort of anti-aliased grey. How on earth does even HE read this?
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What happened to the visual part of visual aid?
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Just read the first story of Prof. Ruth Calderon's "A Bride for One Night," retellings of some of some stories from the Talmud. The book was suggested by my synagogue reading group, but I was too slow in requesting it from the library and missed the group's discussion.

The first story is so incredibly promising. I reprint the translation with an apology--for Dr. Calderon's retelling and examination, you'll have to get a copy of the book:

The Firstpond

Rav visited a certain town.
He decreed a fast, but no rain fell.
A member of the congregation also tried to bring rain.
He said, "He Who causes the wind to blow"--and the wind blew.
He said, "He Who causes the rain to fall"--and the rain fell.
Rav said to him, "What do you do?"
He said to him, "I teach children.
I teach the poor as I teach the rich,
And if anyone cannot afford to pay,
I teach him free of charge.
And for any child who will not learn--
I have a pond with fish:
I call to him, and appeal to him, until he learns to read."
--B. Taanit 24a

Pondering this Talmudic koan after reading recent books like "Ghettoside" and "On the Run", and in a time of increased awareness of how often black kids are killed by police officers, I think about how we have become entrenched in our seeing ourselves in a life raft, eager to throw overboard (or accept the shooting death) of those who aren't lucky enough, smart enough, rich enough, to avoid poverty, or who don't think quite like "us." This Talmudic teacher seems to come from a place I admire much more.

I also think about how my teaching changed when I started seeing the class as a chance to engage students, rather than as a sieve through which to assign grades.

A promising start to a short book. My opinion of the book may shift by the time I reach the end, but for the moment, much to think about.
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My long-time local bike shop went out of business in January. The location was purchased by a local chain, and I thought that would be fine. Strolled in yesterday and felt, well, put off. I needed a new light and felt that the salesman was calibrating how much he could sell me, which wasn't the same as what I needed.

Today, the local bike club newsletter came out, and I realized that there is a bike shop in the opposite direction and actually half a mile closer to home. Checked it out today. Two effusive staffers--possibly the owners? Felt like very heimish people. They specialize in custom bikes. Much smaller store than the other--a crowded, city store. I think their website reflects the two people I met: http://www.adisbikeworld.net I plan to have them do the seasonal tuneup in the next month or so (as soon as I see some rain keeping me off the road for a few days) and we'll see.
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I don't often use my "all-in-one" printer. Even my stereo component tower is closer, with better connectivity to the computer. (One never knows when it will be time to digitize that old Cisco Houston recording that hasn't been listened to in a while.)

But, today, in semi-imitation of an early Leo Kotke Song (Coolidge Rising), getting ready to scan something, I got up from my computer chair and tripped over the printer cable awkwardly connected to the keyboard, which snapped the connector back at the printer.

In my hunt for a replacement, I found a variety of serial connectors, endless phone and ethernet adapters, SCSI connectors (and terminators) of various vintages and finally, in the back of the cabinet, in the shadow in the corner of the back of the cabinet, a lone USB printer cable.

On the plus side, an excursion to "You-Do-It" for a replacement cable of the proper length is always welcome.
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Just another test.
This Hangout On Air is hosted by Ari Davidow. The live video broadcast will begin soon.
Q&A
Preview
Live
Test 2015-01-18a
Sun, January 18, 1:20 PM
Hangouts On Air - Broadcast for free

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In their circles
601 people
Have them in circles
395 people
Tom Howard's profile photo
Terri Louise's profile photo
Dan Levy's profile photo
John Kellden's profile photo
Robert Thoelen's profile photo
Cara Chatellier's profile photo
Kasian Franks's profile photo
Heiða Björg Jóhannsdóttir's profile photo
Annette Bjorling's profile photo
Work
Occupation
Consultant/Strategist; IT Director; PMP; Hebrew typographer, extraordinaire
Skills
Cloud Computing, Cloud Migration, Web Applications and Architecture, Data Migration, Content Management, Digital Archiving, Digital Preservation, Semantic Web, XML, HTML/CSS, Social Media, Distance Learning, Project Management, Virtual Team Management, Strategic Planning, Agile Methodologies, Technology Management.
Employment
  • Brandeis University
    Instructor, 2010 - present
  • Consultant/Strategist, 2013 - present
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Tagline
Consultant/Strategist: Making the Transition to the Cloud
Introduction

I am a consultant and strategist who works with non-profits, as well as small/medium-sized businesses looking to enhance general capabilities or to focus support on their primary mission (as opposed to IT overhead). My focus is on helping craft a strategic technology plan. Sometimes, it is critical to address a specific point of pain and =then= to strategize. 

My Cloud expertise ranges from hosted websites, CRM, or backup, to building IT infrastructure in a public or private cloud setting. I have also been working with online community for 25 years, including almost two decades as a moderator in the pioneering online community, the WELL (still my online home), and as moderator of other online communities, mailing lists, blogs and websites. I taught online for a decade at the New School for Social Research Graduate Media Studies Department in the mid-1980s - mid-1990s. I currently teach Content Management and Cloud Computing online at Brandeis University in their Graduate Professional Studies program. In my copious spare time, I am proprietor of the KlezmerShack website, http://www.klezmershack.com (may I really find time soon to drag the underlying code into the current century) and of the Jewish Music mailing list, and blog about technology, and especially, on using linked open data to insert the long tail of cultural heritage into our general cultural narrative. Among other organizations and communities of practice I have helped initiate, I am co-founder, with Howard Goldstein, of the Small Archives Solution Community for Duraspace.

Education
  • College of Public and Community Service (CPCS) at UMass/Boston
    Management, Community Planning
  • Brandeis University
    IT Management
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