Enjoyed the IAMA from @RBReich, frm. Secretary of Labor on @reddit today

Question (mickhugh):

Why do you think there's been such little enthusiasm from those in power for a New public works project (like rebuilding bridges, roads, highways, etc) when costs (materials) are so low and the employment among young people is so desperately needed?

Answer (robertbreich):

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) were successful New Deal measures for putting lots of people to work rebuilding the nation's infrastructure, building public parks, and improving public spaces. I think it's nuts not to try to repeat the success when so many people are out of work -- and the portion of them out of work for a year or more is the highest it's been since the Great Depression. Also, it's now cheap for the Treasury to borrow money to finance this (the yield on the 10-year Treasury is still around 2 percent) -- far cheaper than paying unemployment insurance and all the other social costs of unemployment, far cheaper than rebuilding our infrastructure when borrowing costs are higher, far cheaper than trying to deal with crumbling highways, unsafe bridges, inadequate public transportation, outmoded ports, etc.

I've long wondered this, too....

Entrepreneurs and investors meet in New York to organize for profit and for revolution @VentureBeat

Over at Union Square, the talk was also about disruption, but at a much larger scale. As Fred Wilson wrote today, investing in web companies has been the smartest, most capital efficient strategy for VCs over the last decade. But on a personal level, he believes capital needs to flow elsewhere. “Where has USV invested our investors’ capital for the past eight years? It’s not even a contest. Internet and mobile wins hands down. But internet and mobile will not and can not solve all of society’s problems. We need new medical approaches to preventing and/or curing disease. We need new scientific approaches to generating, storing, and being more efficient with energy. Maybe we need more space exploration. Maybe we need more undersea exploration.”

USV’s Hacking Society was largely concerned with how the powerful networks built on the web, many of which are in its portfolio (Twitter, Tumblr, Kickstarter, etc) can be used to effect politics and societies at scale. Wilson and his co-founder Brad Burnham were two of the earliest and loudest opponents of SOPA. Its no surprise that Alexis Ohanian of Reddit was at the Hacking Society event. This is a group interested not just in altering business as usual, but in how these new networks might change the world.

Something's cooking in New York City.

Excited! @SyFy developing @awesomefound show! @higherawesome ftw

Awesome Foundation – In this new project starring Destination Truth’s Josh Gates, each week inventors, artists and regular people from all over the country pitch their amazing and imaginative ideas to the Awesome Foundation, a group dedicated to turning awesome ideas into awesome reality. The members grant their own money to the lucky three people with the best ideas, leading to a race to complete the projects in the given time and budget. Production company: Idiot Box Productions. Executive producer: Dan Taberski.

I hope this is as, well, awesome as I think it can be!

"That's Why You Don't Have Any Friends." - @joethepeacock

"Oh, I know," I said with a smile. "And here's the little bit of bad news -- It's gonna suck for a little while longer. But one day, you'll get out of school and go somewhere besides the small town you're in and you're going to discover that there are groups of people just like you -- not that they do what you do or act how you act, but that they refused to change who they are to fit in, and that makes them just like you. And when you find them, you're finally going to feel at home.

"It might be college, or it might be visiting another city. Hell, it might even be on the internet. But at some point you're going to find them. And it's going to be great."

He smiled. "That would be awesome," he said.

"It WILL be awesome!" I replied. "But until then, it's going to be lonely and frustrating. You're going to do stupid things thinking it's going to impress them or change their opinion of you, and it won't, and you're going to get sad. Just know that it does end. It ends the day you realize that you never wanted to be them in the first place, because they are losers. They lost the battle to be themselves. You're the winner."

Preach, brother.

Film-maker @gary_hustwit with a marvelous piece on my recent @fastcompany debate

Obviously we’re in the midst of a major shift in terms of how artists should and can be compensated for their work. My films are illegally downloaded constantly, and I’ve tried to combat that by making the films as easy as possible to legally access (like by renting or downloading Urbanized directly from this site). When I went on tour with my second film, Objectified, I asked audience members how many of them had seen my first film, Helvetica. Maybe half the audience would raise their hands. Then I asked, of the people who’d seen Helvetica, how many had watched a pirated copy? About half of the people who had just raised their hands usually kept them up. On one hand, one could argue that I’d lost money from those who didn’t pay for the Helvetica downloads. But on the other hand, they’d all just paid $20 for a ticket to the Objectified screening.

So in my case I believe that file sharing has opened up a larger audience for my films, especially internationally. And how I utilize that larger audience to make my future films possible, and pay the rent, will be the key to my continued sustainability as an independent filmmaker. I believe having a direct relationship with the people who want to see my films made, and making it easy for them to help, is the best way to achieve that.

Thank you, Gary. May there be many more artists like you who realize & seize the tremendous opportunity in this new connected world full of "happiness machines," as you put it.

Whether the digital era improves society is up to its users – that's us @zephoria

Social media is here to stay. We need to get past the point in which we celebrate it or lament it in order to figure out how to live productively with it. We need people engaging critically with the dynamics that unfold as a result of a new structure of connecting people. The values of technologists have been baked into the infrastructure, but it's also possible to change the ecosystem through cultural practices. One thing's clear: it's high time we examined the values that are propagated through our tools. We all need to think critically about the information we create, consume and share. We all need to take responsibility for helping shape the world around us.

Let's do this, Team MakeTheWorldSuckLess.