You can’t make sense of this. And you can act.

I don’t usually write about current events, but I can’t stop thinking about the one you’re thinking about, and need to share my thoughts. There have been some horrible things that happened this week. And you’ve tried to make sense of them. (I have too.)

It’s easy to try to explain why policy should change, why people choose to do unspeakable things, why innocent children happen to die, and why the media is partly responsible for this tragedy (and for the fact that we’re even talking about it). It’s also easy to jump to conclusions about what might or might not fix this problem (I have my solutions, and I’m sure you have yours.)

But this post is not about gun control, the responsible use of guns, or the exploitation of tragedy. It’s a call to all of us to stop trying to explain what happened and to act to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

What does that mean for you? I can’t tell you – I can tell you that it means for me that I’m going to act the next time someone I know calls our for help – and that you should too. Sadly, in my experience I haven’t found a way to stop random, senseless acts of violence from happening. And I have found that when people take small actions to make the world better, at least their part of the world gets better.

Let the tragedy at Sandy Hook be a reminder that we are all responsible for each other, that problems like this can and could happen anywhere, and that we need to do everything non-violent in our power to act and stop more tragedies like this from becoming reality. And we need to tell all mass media outlets to behave more responsibly (I’m up for a debate here as to what this means.)

Perhaps Margaret Mead said it best:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
― Margaret Mead

An Eye from Above

It’s astounded me lately how the information we gain from internet tools changes our perception of the things around us, the relationships we forge, and the ways that we interact with the world. GeoEye is a service that has changed my view again. This satellite photo service — showing pictures of everyday things down to half-meter accuracy — renders familiar landmarks like the Washington Mall or unfamiliar landmarks like the skyline of Abu Dhabi in the comfort of your computer screen. It doesn’t seem that odd to be floating at 28,000 feet over the Mall, “seeing” the Inauguration of President Obama.

But satellite imagery is an apt metaphor for the increasingly granular and interconnected nature of the Internet. It’s no longer enough to see point to point (can I view a distant galaxy), but now important to be able to peer into someone’s life with half-meter accuracy simply by dialing an address on a browser. Google Street View already provides the ability to look at many places in the U.S.

So what does it mean to be able to imagine a place and go there and view it too? I think that there are a few things to be thankful for — among them the ability to have better real time directions, to see old places you once visited, and to be able to see places you’ve never seen — and a few darker ones too. It’s no longer accurate to assume that public life is private.

On the other hand, the very act of being on the internet, maintaining a status on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter presupposes that someone cares what you’re doing, or might be looking, or might be enlightened by your observations. So let’s hope that Geoeye and other services like it recognize that with great power comes great responsibility. In the meanwhile, smile! You’re on Satellite Candid Camera …

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