The dreaded “five things” meme

It was bound to happen. I’ve been enjoying finding out all sorts of fun details about friends like danah boyd, Matt Hurst and David Weinberger as they’ve answered the “five things people don’t know about me” meme. But Rebecca just tagged me, and now I’m forced to come up with interesting and little-known details of my life.

The problem is that, for the past few years, I feel like I’ve been more open about my life to a wider audience than I, as a shy person, ever expected to be. I’ve told journalists about countless stupid details of my life and have gotten used to total strangers knowing my whereabouts due to my blog. So I’m not sure I have five secrets left, or at least five secrets that I’m willing to share. But here goes:

1) I ran for President of the United States in 1988. I was 15 years old at the time. I found a book called “Everyone for President” at the local library book sale and thought the author had a great point: while you can’t serve as President until you’re 35, there’s nothing to prohibit you from running. So I filed the forms included with the book and more or less forgot about it, until a local journalist started researching presidential candidates who didn’t have a chance of getting elected and interviewed me for the Danbury, CT newspaper. It was a great lesson in PR, and taught me that no one takes the promises of politicians seriously – I promised to run every four years until I was electable as a way of calling attention to the absurdity of the “35 year old” rule, but I never ran again, and no one ever called me on breaking my promise.

2) I’ve never applied for a job. Not a real one, at least. My first job out of grad school was at Tripod, where I got hired because I knew HTML and was willing to work for stock options. I co-founded both Geekcorps and Global Voices, so didn’t have to apply for positions there. (And the Berkman Center doesn’t count as a “job”. It’s far too much fun to be a job.) I’m entirely capable of envisioning a life where I never apply for a job…

3) I’d be very happy as a 1950s New England housewife. My hero growing up was my maternal grandmother, who was an absolute dynamo, working full-time into her 60s as well as mothering and grandmothering a brood of children. I wanted to do whatever she did – cooking, sewing, knitting – and she never put any activites off limits due to gender preconceptions. As a result, I cook really well, sew competently, and could probably remember how to knit if I could take needles onto airplanes. And I can darn socks, even if I generally choose not to.

4) I didn’t study African history. Or technology. A friend was introducing me at an academic talk a few weeks ago and tried to give my academic background to the audience before realizing he had no idea what I’d actually studied. I spent my college career studying continental philosophy (mostly Kierkegaard and Wittgenstein) and African music (which is what got me to Africa in the first place.) The geekery began as a way to make beer money while in college and has gradually expanded to dominate my whole life.

5) My main regret in life is that I’m not a better woodworker. I make functional but ugly furniture and have great ambitions of making prettier furniture someday. Or at least buying lots more powertools so I can dream about making pretty furniture with fewer excuses.

Okay, enough of that. Who to tap? Let’s see – I’d like to hear five things I don’t know about Ndesanjo, Ory, Abdurahman, Bruno and Janet… (time to see who reads my blog every day and who pays attention to their trackbacks…)

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14 Responses to The dreaded “five things” meme

  1. ndesanjo says:

    This is interesting. I thought I knew everything about you! Running for president?! I knew you could cook, but sewing too?
    Damn, why did you pick me? Can I appeal?

  2. Ethan says:

    There are no appeals, my friend. Five things we didn’t know about you – bring ’em on!

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  4. ndesanjo says:

    My “five things” will be up later today!

  5. Bruno says:

    Well, it took a few days (holidays), but it’s up. Barack-Ethan, dream ticket. ;-)

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