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Faces of Brightkite: David Sasaki

July 29th, 2009

David Sasaki is one of the first people I friended when I joined Brightkite, and he still remains one of my favorites. As the Director of Rising Voices, a global citizen media outreach initiative of Global Voices, David works with communities all over the world that use citizen media as a tool for social change.

David and Rising Voices help communities find their voice by using outlets such as blogs, podcasts, and video. They then bring that voice to the global conversation by providing resources and funding. It is a great cause and it sounds like David gets to meet some truly amazing people on his travels.

When I asked David to share his thoughts on Brightkite, I loved what he had to say:

“Wherever I am I feel that an invisible cloud of history floats above me. Last week I participated in a five-day book sprint about open source translation tools in Amsterdam. A group of about ten of us wrote the entire book in just five days and we did so in an old surgical theater on the top floor of De Waag in Amsterdam. The building was first constructed as one of the gates to the city in 1488. It then became a weighing house for the brick-making industry, and eventually a center for the smiths, masons, painters, and surgeons’ guilds. Rembrandt painted several works in the building including most famously The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp. In 1691 they added an anatomical theater where dissections took place in order to learn more about the human body. Because it was still believed at the time that the soul resided within the body, surgeons were only allowed to dissect convicts after their execution, though the public could pay to enter the theater and witness the dissection. Today the building houses the Waag Society, a new media and digital arts organization, which co-hosts the annual PICNIC conference.

As I took my espresso breaks from writing and stared out onto wandering tourists in the plaza below I thought about all of the tens of thousands of individuals who had been in this room before me, and how their interactions, conversations, and meditations have changed throughout the building’s slow transformation from city gate to digital arts center. Of course I checked in on Brightkite, as have many others. Most updates are from tourists taking pictures of their beers and meals and joints, but there are also DJ’s producing music and New Year’s celebrations. I can go back as far as a year ago when “ohwen” first checked into the plaza. But I can’t look back any earlier. I can’t find out what Rembrandt was thinking as he painted in 1632 or what a surgeon learned about his most recent dissection a few decades later.

When you think back on the major events of the 20th century – WWI and II, the Great Depression, Independence Movements, the fall of the Berlin Wall – our records of those events are almost always told by journalists and intellectuals. We have no way of seeing what ordinary people on the street were saying, and where they were saying it. So this is why I use Brightkite, because I do want to leave behind one ordinary person’s account of where he was and what he was thinking.”

Faces of Brightkite features members of the community who are using Brightkite in a special or interesting way. If you have any recommendations for people we should feature, please feel free to send me a message, or leave a comment on this post.

Posted by Lesley Yarbrough at 5:15 PM in Community, Faces of Brightkite

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Guy Mason

  • 378 weeks ago

Excelent ending quote!

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