Dec 19

Image courtesy Dries Buytaert. License.


  1. I am ditching social media because I believe the benefits no longer outweigh the costs.
  2. It comes down to two main issues: data privacy and psychological well being.
  3. Great Hack and Social Dilemma are two great documentaries on Netflix that explore these two issues respectively.

The deeper dive

This is a move I’ve contemplated for awhile now and I wanted to lay out my rationale for anyone else interested in tracing my thought process through the decision to pull away from social media.

Like anything there are pro’s and con’s with social media. On the positive side I’ve met and kept in touch with hundreds of incredible people over the course of my travels that took me across 4 continents and 40 countries the past few years. When you arrive at a point though where it feels like social media no longer serves you and instead you feel slave to it, it’s time to make changes.

I had seen this interview a few years back with Chamath Palihapitiya, one of the early people at Facebook, talking about the destructiveness of Facebook on our mental health and basically admitting to having helped create a monster:

Around the same time the former president of Facebook, Sean Parker came out with this interview in which he admitted the service was engineered deliberately to hack our attention and drive us to addiction.

The messages from both interviews concerned me but Facebook and Instagram were essential tools for the traveling location-independent worker. It was how we maintained ties with everyone we met, how we organized and found social events, logged into apps, coordinated masterminds, researched travel destinations and got first-hand info from fellow nomads about visas and other concerns for travel. It seemed inconceivable that one could simply cease using it and continue life as normal, which was exactly the entrenched position these companies wanted.

Fast forward to October this year when at a friend’s suggestion I watched two movies that would revive this urge to leave social media. “The Great Hack” and “The Social Dilemma” in that order hammered home two points: 1) when you don’t pay for a product you are the product and your data can and will be abused 2) aside from data privacy implications, a more troubling one was emerging related to mental health with our attention constantly under attack in an unwinable battle against servers, neuroscientists, algorithms and AI’s to hack our attention. I recalled this tweet from Naval:

I had seen a Guardian interview with Jeroen Lanier on his book 10 arguments for deleting your social media right now and he subsequently appeared in the Social Dilemma movie.

The confluence of all those inputs led me to re-evaluate the pro’s con’s of social media and I realized in doing that math that the scales had finally tipped and it was no longer advantageous to remain active on these platforms. This scene from the end of the classic movie Wargames came to mind:

I deleted FB and IG from my phone. I decided to keep Twitter & LinkedIn because for whatever reason I feel they’re less nefarious/addictive and yield valuable discoveries and professional networking. I would not at this point be ready to outright delete my accounts as I still get messages on each. I compromised knowing that problem #1, the data privacy issue, is still a concern but at least I would attack problem #2 removing the detrimental mental effects.

There were a handful of struggles for me to reconcile. I’ll explain them below:

The hurdles

  • App authentication: FB and Google have become incredibly embedded as I have tended to use them as the method by which I create logins in apps. I’ve stopped doing that using email exclusively on apps that permit it and gutting FB will require a slow audit of all accounts I still use that are hanging on FB authentication.
  • Organizing and finding events, buying stuff via marketplace, finding roommates: FB is how I’ve found the current roommates for my apartment, purchased the electric guitar I recently bought, and it’s the common fabric used to organize dinners and social events with multiple people.
  • Loose ties with people from travels: There are over 100 people I’m connected to in various parts of the world now where the only link we have is a friend link on FB. Tracking down each of those people and getting alternate contact info represents a non-trivial undertaking.
  • Feeling of connection to old friends: Similarly FB news updates provide this tenuous connection to my old friends back home in the States who I haven’t seen in ages. It gives you this loose feeling like they’re still in your life as you monitor major life events for them and exchange short pleasantries in comments. Would they fade in importance to me if I wasn’t periodically seeing them post stuff? Would I to them?
  • Necessary for running ads for business: I’m involved in a couple projects which require having a FB account to manage the digital ads on their platforms. There’s no denying that FB ads can be highly effective for generating leads and making sales and given my work with Grid7, it simply is not an option to operate without access to the FB and IG platforms for advertising.

For all the above reasons I couldn’t just outright cut the cord immediately and commit Facebook Sepukku nuking my accounts on these platforms. So here’s what I did instead:

What I’ve done:

  • Removed apps from phone: FB and IG- both gone. Buh-bye.
  • installed Newsfeed eradicator extension on desktop: this glorious chrome extension will hide your newsfeed on FB/Twitter/IG and allow you to use all like tools at your service without being a classically-conditioned subject fiending on the dopamine hits of the algorithmic manipulation from the newsfeed.
  • Started switching accounts over to email for auth: this will be a slow house cleaning project to go back, find any accounts I still have that were initiated using FB for authentication and convert them over to use email as the login mechanism.
  • Moving photo sharing to iCloud friends & family: I’ve used Instagram as a way to syndicate photos from travel to friends and family but I’ll be moving photos over to a private Apple iCloud feed shared amongst a few people.

Google will be a tougher platform to extricate from. I’ve already switched to the Brave Browser and DuckDuckGo and installed this Chrome/Brave extension which hides YouTube recommended videos. Google’s services are so dang compelling: free, really-well-designed and with network effects such that ditching their platform is super hard. With YouTube recommendations hidden, Google IMO suffers only from issue #1 so there’s less urgency but it’s still a massive personal data hoard I intend to distance from. For whatever reason I still trust Apple at this point with data more than FB & Google. But even Apple is running amok privacy-wise with their latest OS updates. I believe any public company will face inexorable pressure for delivering shareholder returns that surpass market expectations all which culminates in them being compelled to over-collect and abuse data. It is an inevitable end result of being a public company facing market pressures.


The purpose of this post is to share my thought process here and finally put a bow on this departure which actually happened back in October. Some people are already thinking about this stuff and for some it may be completely off their radar. I hope by laying out my rationale you can parse through my thoughts and apply any of the thinking that’s helpful for your own situation. As with anything we all must weigh the pro’s and con’s for our personal circumstances and come to a decision that best serves us. My goal in sharing this is to at least raise awareness for anyone who has not gone through the thought exercise and seen some of the above resources I mentioned.

If you’re reading this and we’re friends, I would love to catch up sometime via FaceTime or Zoom. I still receive FB messenger messages but I only check Instagram once per month now so don’t message me there. I intend to slowly work through a list of all the people I’ve lost contact with and hopefully have catch up calls with as many who would entertain a chat. If you’re up for a catch up session sometime, get in touch.

Happy Holidays and cheers to coming through the pandemic and Trump situations to be stronger than before in 2021.


Feb 14

There comes a time when you take all the skills you’ve acquired over a lifetime, all the connections you’ve made, all the unique vantage points you’ve had the good fortune to have and you go all-in on your Ikigai. For me, that time is now.

I read two books over the holidays: “The One Thing” by Gary Keller and “The Courage to Be Disliked” by Ichiro Kishimi. Both were profound in their own ways and the net result was that they tipped me to make the decision to leave an amazing job that has allowed me to work with incredible people doing interesting work from all over the world. By every stretch I had achieved the grail of employment and I’ve just decided to let it all go.

Pagely has been the best job I’ve ever held. Culture-wise it is bar none the best organization I’ve had the pleasure to be involved with. It has allowed me to live in 38 countries in the last four years and has given me a virtual family, stable income and purpose (they’re hiring BTW). But I realized over the holidays that a) my heart is now elsewhere and b) I am likely no longer what the company truly needs. It was not an easy decision but I’m taking a leap of faith here and committing all my energy to a cause that I believe is the highest and best use of me for generating maximum positive benefit for the world.

Charity Makeover is a project I started as an experiment way back in 2013 to test the idea that we could tap into the unique talents of knowledge workers and assemble temporary teams to help local charities overcome the main challenges that hold them back. Think of it like a virtual Habitat for Humanity, a “digital barn raising for non-profits” if you will (hence the barn logo). We get the right set of smart people in the room and build game-changing digital assets for the local charities of their area which are poised to have incredible impact but lacking the in-house resources to overcome their hurdles on their own.

This effort was back-burnered for a number of years but always lingered as being the one thing I felt I was born to bring to the world.

I was a participant of a conference at sea called Nomad Cruise back in April of last year and on a lark decided to pitch this idea at their “Piraña Tank” mini replica of Shark Tank. You can find my pitch here:

That led to me reviving the effort and organizing an event in Lisbon which then led to a friend I made on that cruise gaining interest in being involved at a core level. On a visit Ben Lakoff made to Lisbon over a series of conversations we decided to partner up and work together to advance the idea. We executed the next event in Barcelona successfully and we felt the momentum.

Fast forward to today on my last day for Pagely… I stand on the precipice of leaving the safety of the company I’ve known for my entire remote existence and am diving head-long into the uncertainty a project with no proven revenue model nor investors but represents the single greatest lever I can think of to move the world.

If you want to follow our journey with this our Instagram will have updates or join my bi-annual personal email update. For now we’re busy preparing for our next event in Bali, Indonesia on March 14th and laying the foundational platform and playbook so that this becomes essentially “wikipedia-like” in the ability for anyone to extend it to his/her town. I’m taking all that I’ve acquired from my 25-year career in the way of knowledge, connections and passion and assembling the crew and tech to turn this into a global movement.

There’s a quote by Tim O’Reilly I put on the T-shirts for the Lisbon event. And it is our mantra:

“Pursue something so important that even if you fail, the world is better off with you having tried.”
-Tim O’Reilly

I’m confident we’ll zigzag our way to a sustainable revenue model with the runway we have. We have a hypothesis now would love an intro to people who work in HR and Corporate Social Responsibility for Enterprises to validate or refine this. In the event of some catastrophic scenario where we fail to make this effort sustainable, it will still have changed many lives for the better in the process and therefore cannot ultimately be a failure.

Thanks to my parents, my friends who have encouraged me to make this leap, Pagely for being supportive and Ben for being the first follower as we morph this into a movement. To the charity founders in the trenches who are fighting the hard fight without reinforcements, air support is on the way. Hang in there.


Jan 21

Froma Harrop, your OpEd piece on Aaron Swartz today has brought me out of a blogging hiatus to respond. I feel compelled in the name of combatting the clueless views you espouse in your article.

Ironically today is MLK day- a day to celebrate a man who challenged a population to change, stood up against a crappy system and died doing it. You rest in the cozy assertion that “Aaron committed real crimes.” Guess what: the sit-ins and protests of the 60’s broke laws at the time but they were in pursuit of challenging a broken system and advancing a just and higher cause. Aaron Swartz’s “liberation” of the PACER civil info and subsequently the JSTOR academic docs was an honorable public protest that wound up killing him and he should be revered as a figure like MLK who died in pursuit of pushing this world to be a better place. I wish he would have lived longer to figure out how to fix the software patent system and liberate all the beneficial IP that’s currently imprisoned under an arcane and broken system.

A thicker-skinned individual perhaps would have better weathered the prospect of a lifetime in jail for this protest. You could argue that he knew the consequences going into it and he chose to accept that risk. The fact he suffered depression and therefore was more susceptible to thoughts of suicide is consequential, etc, etc. The point is that the prosecution saw opportunity to target this kid, “rack him in front of the village” and make him an example to warn anyone else thinking of doing something similar. Meanwhile, the architects of the US financial crisis who committed truly damaging, societal-underming crimes for personal gain at the expense of decimating an entire nation and generation are driving around in sports cars and cashing bonuses from bail out money. It’s an issue of perverted civil punitive priorities and abuses of undue force by government officials. And it’s all sickening.

There have been numerous thoughtful pieces on this kid’s story (here, here, here, here, here, here & here) so I’m not going to rehash any more other than to say, you add nothing substantive to this conversation. Like the typical AZ Joe Arpaio Rambo-fuck-you, small-minded attitude of dealing with issues like this, your stance on Aaron Swartz sweeps the real problem under the table. The fact is flagrant, truly-detrimental crimes go unpunished while a young guy who has the guts to “break the animals out of the zoo” gets the Secret Service sicced on him because he’s a progressive muckraker who challenges authority. I don’t expect quality journalism from AZcentral at this point. Your homepage is a sleazy quilt of Enquirer-type gossip, traffic accident reports, deal chicken offers and weekend party photos devoid of any meaningful though-provoking stories so your level of journalism is to be expected I suppose. But don’t tarnish this kid’s memory by kowtowing to your status quo readership and diminishing what he did in hopes of sounding smart.

If any programmers out there have the wherewithal to create a greasemonkey Firefox add-on that redraws Froma Harrop’s pieces as the pile of monkey poop that they are, I will happily fund that effort.

Feb 22

Not seeking sympathy but very interested in comments from folks who have been burned by this parking/towing scam. Here’s the tldr; version of what happened today:

Take a poorly marked parking lot that was just converted to being a paid lot, an electronic centralized meter that gives one no way to know or prove whether payment went through and an aggressive towing company that makes $135 per carcass and you get what is from my perspective a shady money-making racket that extorts patrons and kills local merchants (and potentially enriches the property owner but that part I can’t prove yet).

For the longer more Woodward & Bernstein version watch the following video. This is a compilation of footage i shot today from my phone showing the poorly marked lot, an interview with the owner of the coffee shop and an undercover session where I’m getting strong-armed at the tow company. I’ve already attempted to dispute the towing charge with my cc processor but it has to clear before they can lodge that complaint. I will update this post with the outcome of that effort once they come to a verdict for anyone interested. I attempted to file a police report as a stolen vehicle when the towing occurred the but the lady at the police dept informed me if it was towed it was a civil mater and I would need to take issue with the company that handles the meter.

The key two questions here are:

  1. “is there a financial relationship between the property management company such that they make more on towing fee kickbacks than on the metered parking fees?”
  2. “if so, is the a) awareness that it’s a paid lot and b) payment experience for the well-intending patron intentionally degraded to yield a better profit for the towing company and prop mgmt co?”

I admittedly have zero way of proving this hypothesis today but from talking with various people lingering in the lot and judging based on what I experienced, I’m highly suspicious. Certainly from a pure game theory perspective and analysis of the factors present, that hypothesis makes sense. If that is in fact the case, then this is a super shady racket and people should blow the whistle if they have access to any documented info that proves this to be the case. Anyways, I don’t expect to learn the answer anytime soon nor do I expect the property management guy who had a chance to right the situation today to ever admit that it’s true. Anyways, evaluate the facts and draw your own conclusions. And if you have anecdotal evidence to add of your own, leave it in a comment.

Here are some useful links:

  • SWAT Towing Company google result (they don’t have a website). Notice how many complaints pop up.
  • Website of the Vue on Apache complex
  • Property management company for the Vue
  • Forms for lodging a complaint with the Arizona Attorney General and City of Tempe. If you’ve been extorted or have substantive evidence of shady kickback arrangements between property management companies and towing companies in AZ contact one of the investigative journalism teams.
  • Lastly, here are some interesting photos:
    Gallery is empty!
    Anyways I spent way too long on this already but I figure writing this post and publishing the vid would at least air the issue out there and provide a place for others to comment if they’ve been victim of a similar scam.

    If you have been fleeced or know of friends who have been hit by parking scams in Tempe, share this link and have them leave a comment here describing their situation. If enough legitimate stories amass here I will share this with authorities and urge them to hold the offending entities accountable. thx

    UPDATE 3/13: As expected SWAT was never able to produce photos they claimed they had that proved the meter was expired. I recorded this phone call with them. The lady seemed to take genuine delight in encouraging me to call back tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day… weirdly enough at the end of the call she thought it was a total bluff when I told her I had recorded it. This company is truly awful. I’m awaiting to hear the result of my dispute with Citibank Mastercard and will update this post accordingly once I hear back.

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    Dec 22

    I wanted to leave you 5yrs ago when you morphed your checkout process into a misleading gauntlet of extra screens and pre-filled menus that tried to trick the customer into purchasing unnecessary stuff.

    I wanted to leave you 3yrs ago when Bob Parsons turned the entire web site into a soapbox for his chauvinistic machismo patriotism-for-profit blather and insulted the women of the tech community with sexist super bowl commercials.

    I wanted to leave you 2yrs ago when I learned how you fail to protect your customers and cave to bullies who threaten DMCA suits in pursuit of stealing customers’ legitimate domains.

    I wanted to leave you a year ago when you turned your technical support people in to annoying sales people that tried to sell me crap when I called because your service was broken.

    I committed to leaving you when I learned that you use shady methods to swoop up customer domains and hold them hostage.

    I began leaving you and moving my domains to another registrar one by one when Parsons pulled that stunt glamorizing his slaughter of a wild elephant in Zimbabwe as if it were some kind of heroic act.

    I am now officially peaced out with this SOPA nonsense.

    Your stance on SOPA is inexcusable political back scratching to curry favor and undoubtedly advances Parson’s financial interest in some sketchy under-the-table way. I don’t even know where to begin responding to the points made in your response. I am a native Phoenician and an active member of our startup community. The fact that you are regularly cited as a success on the basis of your revenues is an abomination as it neglects to account for the nasty underbelly of how your company operates. You guys are an utter embarrassment to our tech scene. I actively encourage all my colleagues to boycott your service and spread the word of how evil you truly are as a company. I have escalated the exodus of my few remaining domains on your system. good riddance.


    For anyone else who is currently on Go Daddy, there are a ton of hosting providers offering coupons to switch off their service given their recent shenanigans. Check this Reddit thread. If you haven’t been following the SOPA developments, search Twitter & Google to get informed and involved to help fight this insanity they’re proposing.

    May 24

    “You can check out anytime you like but you can never leave…”

    So I get this 2pg privacy statement in the mail from Chase telling me what rights I have to limit their ability to share my info. It basically says they have the right to share my info with other institutions for joint marketing initiatives and I have no ability to opt-out. That would be fine (annoying but acceptable) if I were still a customer of theirs but it turns out they retain the right to sell and share your info indefinitely even after you leave.

    I called them (here’s the audio) and politely asked that they delete my info given that I’m no longer a customer and that they already lost my data once. They said “sorry we get to keep your info forever.” This too would be understandable if it were purely for the archival purpose of preserving a copy of my records for historical reasons but they actually said I have no ability to stop them from sharing my info for marketing purposes even after we’ve discontinued our relationship. They retain the right to continue to spam you and sell your info even after you’ve checked out. Pink champagne on ice indeed…

    If this were some local business the attorney general would have these guys’ heads but alas it’s a bank and apparently nowadays banks appreciate sovereign immunity from all policy that is sensible. The one consolation here is that I recently completed a successful shortsale of my house (hey Chase how does that $146k haircut feel?). In layman’s terms this is a way for the average consumer to clear his/her balance sheet and shed a distressed asset similarly to how the banks have done. IMHO this process was a convoluted and opaque obstacle course by design but I plan to document the chronology of how it unfolded for anyone else who is in a similar boat and seeking to take advantage of this mechanism. F U Chase.

    UPDATE 8/28/11: Introducing our Site. Double FU Chase.

    Listen to the audio below for the ridiculous conversation with their CSR and pass this along as an advisory to any friends who are considering banking with Chase. Make sure your friends know the expectation of how they’ll be treated before signing up with these guys. And make sure they’re aware that checking in means they can never check out.

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