Archive for the Tools Category

The most exciting time waster ever

Posted in Tools on June 20, 2007 by barbararuth

I just discovered the most exciting time waster ever. The Grateful Dead’s new and improved site enables users to create a list of their history of shows attended, with the option to add comments to each one. I think they could do a little tweaking with the interface — making it possible not only┬áto search by venue or date but also to mark shows attended in batches.

Maybe that isn’t a problem for those who don’t need to select every single Shoreline show or every Kaiser show from 1985 on! I know I’m not the only one. I guess I’ll tackle the project in chunks, starting with the one-offs like the Zenith in Paris.

For my fellow Deadheads, the URL is



The Small House Movement

Posted in Tools on May 2, 2007 by barbararuth

My post about Dancing Rabbit triggered a lively conversation with a friend about ways of approaching the problem of creating sustainable lifestyles. I recently learned about the small house movement. Proponents of tiny houses recommend them as a way to accomplish density without excessively tall buildings and as one potential solution to the affordable housing shortages that exist for first-time buyers in some communities. Many communities impose a minimum size on dwellings, I guess because big houses mean big property values.

Geek or Pioneer?

Posted in Tools on April 20, 2007 by barbararuth

At work, I am considered a “technical person.” So, it confuses people a little when I give voice my favorite escape fantasy — moving someplace where I can mostly get around on horseback. My dream is to replicate aspects of my maternal grandparents’ childhoods, circa 1915. Both grew up on farms. I believe that my hope of doing so, of making a living away from the crowds and congestion, rests in technological advances. This is not as strange a split as it sounds coming from a Deadhead.

Most people I meet hold the image of Deadheads that, I admit, attracted me to the scene twenty-five years ago — that we are a weird hybrid of back-to-the-land hippies and privileged college students from urban families. What’s missing from the profiles of people not “in the life” is the Deadheads’ (and the Dead’s) history as early adopters of technology.

Back in the seventies, the Dead started storing fans’ contact information in databases. In the eighties, tapers at Grateful Dead concerts were using digital audio tape to capture the best possible recordings in a compact format. There was no hostility between these digital frontiersman and the less-technical beneficiaries of their experimentation. Deadheads were also among the first to latch on to the online space as a means to make community. (See this article about the formation of the WELL.)

As I see it, it comes down to this: Not all of us who love “technology” love it for its own sake. We embrace it when it facilitates our goals and aspirations, whether that means using a printing press to produce more Bibles, avoiding ink stains on the suit by using a ballpoint pen, working on the Web while staying home with a child, building a grassroots political movement through email, documenting police brutality with a cheap video camera, touching base by telephone with a long-distance grandma, teleworking to live removed from the modern hustle, or recording sweet guitar licks for posterity.

When it comes to taking up the technological charge, you gotta do what you gotta do.