Author Archives: Ethan

The worst thing I read this year, and what it taught me… or Can we design sociotechnical systems that don’t suck?

I found Shane Snow’s essay on prison reform – “How Soylent and Oculus Could Fix the Prison System” – through hatelinking. Friends of mine hated the piece so much that normally articulate people were at a loss for words. A … Continue reading

Posted in ideas, Media Lab | 1 Comment

From disastrous decisions to decentralization: a mostly spontaneous talk for Data & Society

My friends at Data and Society ran an excellent conference today in NYC. A speaker dropped out at the last minute and I got asked less than 48 hours ago to give a talk… a very specific talk. Here’s what … Continue reading

Posted in ideas | 3 Comments

Life, Only Moderately Messed Up, part 2: Getting Help

Two years ago, I wrote a blog post, “Life, only moderately messed up: understanding (my own) high-functioning depression” that was widely shared and appreciatively received. This is a somewhat overdue update to that post, and intended very much in the … Continue reading

Posted in ideas | 5 Comments

Lessons from Letterlocking: a serendipitous academic encounter

Here’s a quick experiment – I’ve been publishing stories on FOLD and replicating the text here on this blog. But FOLD now supports embedding – let’s see how well my blog supports it… Otherwise, please feel free to go read … Continue reading

Posted in Just for fun, Media | 2 Comments

That’s _Professor_ Bozo to you, Pal

Something odd about teaching at a university – everyone wants to call you Professor, or Doctor. I am always flattered by the upgrade, but I sometimes feel a little miffed. There’s lots of people who teach at universities who haven’t … Continue reading

Posted in Personal | 11 Comments

In loving memory of Patrick Fiachie

In the fall of 1993, I was 20 years old. I’d just graduated from college, and had lived most of my life in my parents’ house and in a dorm room. I was extremely ill-prepared to live on my own, … Continue reading

Posted in Personal | 1 Comment

Rooftop solar, and the four levers of social change

I started noticing the solar panels four or five years ago. My neighbors’ barns starting sprouting them, neat black rectangles covering the south-facing roofs. Down by the ski area, already known for being (mostly) powered by a ridge filled with … Continue reading

Posted in ideas | 3 Comments

Ben Franklin, the Post Office and the Digital Public Sphere

My dear friend danah boyd led a fascinating day-long workshop at Data and Society in New York City today focused on algorithmic governance of the public sphere. I’m still not sure why she asked me to give opening remarks at … Continue reading

Posted in ideas, Media | 1 Comment

T. Greg Doucette on false arrest and police brutality

This post is not from me, but is a remarkable rant from T. Greg Doucette, an attorney in Durham, NC, who took to Twitter to share his experiences defending a young client from charges of reckless driving to endanger, a … Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, ideas | 9 Comments

I never went looking for a mentor

I never went looking for a mentor. In 1995, I was working as the lead tech guy for an internet startup, Tripod. I spent an inordinate amount of time with the company’s two cofounders, one a recent college grad my … Continue reading

Posted in Personal | 9 Comments