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July 4th, 1776: Declaring our independence AND ideals

One of only 25 known surviving copies of the Declaration of Independence which were printed July 4, 1776 sits on display at Sotheby’s June 22, 2000 in New York City. The document was bought at auction for $8.14 million on Sotheby’s web site June 29, 2000. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Newsmakers)

On this day in 1776 when the American colonies 2nd Continental Congress declared our independence from Britain, the Declaration of Independence was printed and distributed. It was a simple declarative given a year after the American Revolutionary war began, but has become more symbolic over time.

Many view this declaration as more than the Colonists officially telling Britain to go pound sand, but rather it was a fundmentally important building block in the formation of our American ideological foundation, a key basis for our guiding principles and the creation of a great nation, and a bold affirmation that we were done with an oppressive, empire-building country.

Its first few lines have resonated with me since I was in grade school: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Those lines in bold were ones I’ve believed in since I was first taught American History, fighting to stay awake as my buddy Mike F. tried to make me laugh in class, knowing *I* would be the one to catch hell.

As a former Republican and now a fierce independent, I’ve grown profoundly disturbed over the last eight years as those childish beliefs of mine in “by the people,” “liberty,” “rule of law,” “haebeus corpus,” have given way to an adult understanding that power is all that matters, demonstrated by our current Administration who has clearly shown us their belief that “the people” are to be “Governed” and that the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights are nothing but quaint historical relics that they have reigning presidential powers over and can “alter or abolish.”

Unless you and I actually do believe in our American ideals and are willing to stand up for them and take back that power (and give “the consent of the governed” to those willing to serve vs. dictate), then the 4th of July is nothing but a meaningless excuse to barbecue, shoot off fireworks and buy stuff on sale.

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Minnov8: My Other Blog

This blog has been my primary vehicle for thoughts surrounding anything internet, web, technology, and I’ve loved all the energy and time I’ve invested in it. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had several folks ping me on my apparent reduction in post frequency, and I thought a quick note on why was in order.

Though my first love is Connecting the Dots, I’m “having an affair” with another: Minnov8, a blog started by myself and four other geeks and one dedicated to Minnesota Innovation in Internet & Web Technology.

Born and raised in Minnesota — though with three years living in Chicago and most of my other jobs requiring extensive out of state travel over the years — I’m still fully invested here raising my family, staying involved with extended family, and enjoying my lifelong and new friendships.

Silicon Valley is the epicenter of technology and I’m constantly struck by the events, meetups, unconferences and other thought leader gatherings I would attend if I lived out there. I’ve been tempted on a couple of occasions to pack up and move out there (and my bride would be delighted as would my videogame and technoweenie 13 year old son), but there is too much holding us here. We have a business that’s 21 years old, several key clients and contacts placing us one or two degrees of separation from just about anyone in Minnesota.

Agitated that I had to connect with others outside of Minnesota in order to push against the membrane of the future to explore new ideas and possibilities, I found myself in a group of guys at MinneDemo, a gathering of startups, entrepreneurs, and interested others, lamenting the fact that there wasn’t a publication we could read to stay on top of the twice yearly connection received at this event.

Saying, “Well, maybe we should start a blog?” and having affirmative head nods from my colleagues, we started Minnov8 in February. Built on WordPress, we know that the next step is to add a participative aspect to the site, but we have no business model, sponsorships or other revenue streams (done so intentionally) and we’re realizing now that none of us can devote the time necessary to Minnov8 without some way of having an economic incentive to compensate for time not invested in our other pursuits. Building upon a white label social network, Drupal or some other platform would require time, effort, energy and/or investment that we’re figuring out how to make and it’s not obvious.

So that’s why I’m infrequently posting as well as the order of my priorities: Family is first; clients second; our business third; and then comes blogging, podcasting and other ‘net-centric pursuits. If you have any ideas or suggestions, let me know!

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Small firms, big firms and regional economies

The Bumble Bee is a site I stumbled across a couple of years ago and it became a permanent fixture in my RSS reader. Prior to the Collaborative Technologies Conference in Boston (now called Enterprise 2.0) two summers ago, the site author, Ken Thompson, sent me an email and we connected at the conference.

The guy is a delight with an engaging presentation style and his ongoing analysis of teaming and collaboration — with biomimcry as his guide — was the catalyst for his thought leading blog and the impetus for the development of his Web messaging applications (unbeknownst to me until I met him, Ken is an accomplished software architect, team lead and business leader) which include SwarmTeams for businesses and SwarmTribes for consumers.

Ken Thompson

Ken has written a book called “The Networked Enterprise, Competing for the Future Through Virtual Enterprise Networks” which I found incredibly enlightening. When Ken sent me the manuscript and I wrapped my head around his approach, I realized its importance as enterprise organizations embrace “2.0″ and map their businesses, organizations and cultures on to our increasingly networked world.

My ongoing reading of Ken’s blog, the nature of his swarming software for messaging, and the fact that he’s an incredibly smart and all around good guy has compelled me to try to find a way to get him on your radar screen. If you’re involved in enterprise or organizational level teaming, communications or are trying to understand what it means to be a virtual enterprise in a networked world, turn to Ken and absorb what he’s delivering.

After the jump, a very short paper from Ken Thompson on small firms, big firms and regional economies as an introduction to him and his thoughts.

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