Monday, January 3, 2011

Reflections on the past, present, and future

For the 31st of December 2010, I had in mind creating a post which everyone would be going to remember. Something clever, memorable. However, it is three days past the 31st, and have I come up with nothing. Thus instead of any deep philosophies which make no sense to even myself, I will tell you shortly about my year 2010 and my reflections on its most important actors. Because it would be too long for you to read, I will delay by a few days the publishing my little report on Hatsumode, the first shrine visit of the year, which many Japanese including my host family take part in on New Year's Day.

First, my 2010. I celebrated New Year's 2010 with Chris in Oakland, California. I saw the famous Golden Gate Bridge, hiked around the hills of San Francisco, met Chris' friends, and generally had a great deal of fun. After that we rocked it with Kent in our lovely Dana double for the next five months. I got accepted into the AKP, the program which I am currently enrolled at in Japan. In March I had the chance to co-lead a Colby Outing Club trip to the Canyonlands, Utah, which was one of the most gorgeous places I have ever seen in my life. I will be coming back there, sooner rather than later. I will never forget the red rocks, sharp desert sun, enormous canyons, islands in the sky, the imposing view of Sierra la Sal mountains, the Druid Arch, the thrill of finding water when our bottles were almost empty, and the great group of people who were there with me. On my way home in May I stopped over for 25 hours in Iceland, which turned out to be one of the best decisions of the year. I took a bus tour and saw Iceland's beauties just before the main season started; right on time. I made a new friend there, I ate whale for the first time, and I had the best hot dog in the world according to Bill Clinton (not a joke). Then I spent three months at home in the Czech Republic, moving between my home and Prague where I worked on two internships, which were both very useful in helping me decide what I want to do in the future. During the summer I took some time off to have fun as well: we hiked up some of the mountains around the gorgeous Austrian city of Salzburg with my old friends from Czech, and visited the mountains around Innsbruck with my family. I also hung out with my Czech high-school friends and did some good old orienteering. In August I said my goodbye to friends and family and left for Japan. I made some Japanese friends on my way there on a three day layover in Finland's capital of Helsinki and then spent a week traveling through the island of Hokkaido with Kent. Then the AKP started, which you have been reading enough about for the past four months. In November I also had the chance to visit my old high-school friend in Taiwan, increasing the count of countries I visited in 2010 to nine (if Taiwan counts as a country, that is), and increasing the count of unforgettable experiences to ∞.

One of the most important things which I realized in 2010 is that I no longer wish to work in the service of the Czech Republic or any other country. After all, it is not just governments and revolutionaries anymore who have the power to change the lives of individuals on a mass scale. Take Julian Assange's Wiki Leaks, which have had and will continue to have a bigger impact on world's international politics than all the of the past, present, and future journalists, spies, and double, triple, and quadruple agents combined. Or take Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook, which has gained over half a billion (yes, 500,000,000) users, becoming the world's third biggest "country". However, a country which knows more about its citizens than any other government does. Facebook knows your interests, religious views, likes, dislikes, friends, addresses, phone numbers, and you give it out for free. No wonder that the FBI and CIA are trying hard to have Zuckerberg on their side. Facebook is also a country which can organize its citizens in mere hours to serve a cause, be it protesting against governments or supporting gay rights. Then there is Google, which gets to decide which sources it will include in its search and which it will not, thus being able to virtually erase one's existence from the world, having potentially a more powerful impact than any individual state's censorship. And of course Google's street view maps probably constitute the biggest breach of privacy the world has seen so far (if you choose to see it that way, I see it as a good way of organizing the world's infinite amount of information). What all these things have in common is that they are examples of how three-year old organizations like Wiki Leaks, the five-year old Facebook and the twelve-year old Google are in a much better position to change anything in this world than governments do, be it for the better or for the worse. While Assange, Zuckerberg, and Google do not get to decide your tax rate, they have the power to take down those who do. Therefore I have come to realize this year that work in the state sector is not what I want to do. Instead, I will try to join an organization such as Google or Facebook (probably not Wiki Leaks, I still have my reservations about the way they do things) in order to have the power to change the way this world thinks, hopefully for the better. Speaking about their power, the people at Google and Facebook will be the first two to be able to read this post; those at Google before I even publish it.

A final note on Facebook: my Google Chrome told me that in 2010 I have spent too much time browsing Facebook, and that it is by far the site which I visit the most. Because addictions of any kind are no good, I have decided that as of 2011 I will only visit Facebook once a day. Sorry in advance to you all for all the late replies, likes, comments, and photo uploads, but this way I will have more time to look inside people’s houses on Google and read state secrets on Wiki Leaks. Just kidding.

Finally, though I have already written it, I will publish the post on Hatsumode in a few days, so that you actually read both posts. Sorry to those who would, but I know I wouldn’t read both at once.


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