Episode 047: Chris Dart

In today's podcast, Chris Dart and Ivan Stegic discuss intentional communities and other related topics. Here's what we're discussing in this podcast:

  • Chris' background
  • Ethnography, cultural & medical anthropology
  • Life as a community organizer
  • Arthur C. Clarke
  • University of Liverpool in England
  • University of Chicago
  • The arc into technology
  • Founding an intentional community
  • The Lutheran Volunteer Corps
  • Finances in an intentional community
  • Seeking the right community members
  • The Fellowship of Intentional Communities
  • Intentional Communities Minneapolis/St. Paul
  • Great Northern Union Chorus
  • Minnesota Sings
  • "Exploding the Phone"

TRANSCRIPT

IVAN STEGIC: Hey Everyone! You’re listening to the TEN7 Podcast, where we get together every fortnight, and sometimes more often, to talk about technology, business and the humans in it. I am your host Ivan Stegic. In this episode of the Podcast, we’re talking to Chris Dart, who has been in the field of technology since 1996, when he was troubleshooting issues with FileMaker Pro and Macintosh Systems. He’s the Technology Director at Friend School of Minnesota, a K through 8 Quaker school in St. Paul, he’s a developer here at TEN7, and he is also one of the founding members of the Red House Community, a small intentional community, formerly in the heart of St. Paul. Chris, welcome back to the Podcast.

CHRIS DART: (laughing) Technology, man, Hello.

IVAN: I think you forgot to mute yourself or unmute yourself. It’s nice to have you on.

CHRIS: Yea, well, it’s good to be here.

IVAN: So, shall we start where we always start? Where are you from and where did you grow up?

CHRIS: I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, but only lived there for about four years, and my Dad was a doctor, he got a position in the Marshfield Clinic, in Marshfield, Wisconsin, which is right in the middle of the state. It’s a large clinic. They’re surprisingly large given the location. So, we moved there in 1974 or so. I grew up there and graduated from high school there, then I went to Macalester College in St. Paul, and I’ve kind of been in the Twin Cities ever since.

IVAN: Macalester in St. Paul. You ended up studying cultural anthropology there. What is cultural anthropology?

CHRIS: Well, cultural anthropology is basically the study of how humans construct their world together. It’s a little different from sociology, sometimes the line gets blurred, but it’s a bit more storytelling than statistics. I think would be a good way of differentiating the two fields.

IVAN: And you majored in ethnography and medical anthropology, correct?

CHRIS: Yes.

IVAN: Ok. I want to learn a little more about both of those majors, but I’m also fascinated how that lead to a career in technology. You know, a lot of the guests we’ve had on the show end up studying something that’s liberal arts related, or non-science related, but end up in technology. So, let’s hear it.

CHRIS: So, ethnography is basically a systematic way to get into the minds of the people in a particular subculture or group. And there’s sort of, many different structure processes to do that. You want to get, sort of, a collection of what they might call a taxonomy of ideas, or terms, the hierarchy of notions. And medical anthropology is specifically the study of how people view health and illness. So, for instance, a good example is, if you mention cancer to an oncologist for instance, they’re going to want to know what specific cancer, what are the genetic coding on it, how long did you have it, what stage was it. Very specific questions. To the average person on the street, the medical anthropology of that is cancer is a serious disease whose treatment seems sometimes worse than the disease itself, which isn’t true. But it’s the perception and that’s how people see it. And, when people get cancer, they get scared, so there’s a lot of lingering cultural perceptions around that. So, that’s kind of what medical anthropology study is, how do people perceive health and illness? How do they respond to health and illness? Now how that all ties together to technology. I think the way that I use it is, I started out, I didn’t have very good math instruction, science instruction, I don’t want to really blame the teachers, but it was sort of, I didn’t really feel like it was the right fit for me in college, but when I started working as a community organizer in the nineties, I realized more and more that it was just not the right job for me. I did use a lot of ethnography there to find out about what priorities people had, what do they consider concerns or goals, and collectively what were the views of the people. Try to synthesize that into some kind of way to help them take action in their world. And, what I ended up doing, because community organizing is notoriously open-ended, I ended up, sort of, finding succor in technology and sort of, it’s nice, it’s got sort of a fairly closed process, there’s a problem you could solve, you could say that you’re done or at least you have an idea of how to solve it. Things are a little more, sort of, closed or tidier, I think. And, I started helping people out with technology. And I continue to use ethnography when I communicate with clients, finding out how they see things, especially when you get deep into the field, it’s really important to be able to step outside of it, much like the example of the oncologist versus the average person. You know, that sometimes treatment can be difficult for people, because the doctor seems aloof or they talk about things in ways that are too complicated. And in the same way when people are dealing with technology, it is like Arthur C. Clarke said, fairly akin to magic in a lot of ways, and even to me, some things, you know, and I hear about that with AI, that there’s a good deal of it, that we have to use AI to figure out because we don’t even understand it. So, anyway, that’s how I use it now. I think I still use it as a way to, sort of, I use the tools to help communicate with people.

IVAN: So, chances are pretty good that you have a better understanding and perhaps a deeper interest in our current politics, from an ethnographic standpoint (laughing) than any of the rest of us?

CHRIS: (laughing) Maybe. It’s hard to get outside your own when it’s an emotional thing, like politics. It’s hard to get outside of your own perspective. But that’s something that I try to do, and I think it’s a good discipline.

IVAN: Yea. I don’t want to get too much into politics (laughing), so, I’m going to ask a follow-up question. So, your studies in anthropology lead to a career in technology, but you also were at school at the University of Liverpool in England. Is that correct?

CHRIS: Well, you know, they were one of the first bricks-and-mortar schools to provide an online program. So, I did everything right here in St. Paul.

IVAN: Oh, you did?

CHRIS: Like with people from all over the world and it was a little clunky, they had this interface for chat, this was back in 2006, 2007, 2008, I think, and it was a pretty rigorous program. I have to say, I looked at all the different programs, and I don’t think the University of Minnesota had one yet. At the Humphrey, I think it was where they were offering it. And then the University of Chicago at Urbana Champagne had a program, but I think that a lot of them were still, sort of, dipping their toes in it. And I guess Liverpool just decided to dive in. And, in England they have a system that, it’s my understanding that they have a review board, some sort of unusual is that, all the courses that you take at a University that’s accredited by the government, so it’s not like there are private accreditors, credited by the government so that they review the course work and they review the courses to make sure that an A at Liverpool and an A in Birmingham and an A at the New School, or wherever, is the same. You don’t get grade inflation in one place. So, sometimes you get a grade and then maybe a few months later there’s a review, like a sort of, sample, they just pick a course at random…there’s a review and then your grade goes down. (laughing) I think that was my understanding. I don’t know for sure, because it was a little difficult to do that online, it was still the new technology with still a lot of, you know, there’s a lot of things you miss when you’re trying to communicate with people in person. You could have a get together at a coffee shop and sort of go over the course work. And there were strict rules about collusion, and I think people were really afraid to do anything outside of chat outside of the main thread, because they were afraid that it might be construed as collusion and so it was very strict.

 IVAN: Wow, I didn’t realize that your experience with remote work and remote learning went that far back. You didn’t have any kind of video solution back…

CHRIS: No, it was all text. The lectures were basically just a Word document, and then we would discuss it, so it’s kind of what they call flipped education, where you basically read the lecture on your own, and then spend your time in the, sort of, class chatroom, talking about the lecture, and you had to cite everything, every time you talked. Which was an interesting thing, is that you can’t talk out of your butt, you have to actually cite your sources, and so that was pretty interesting, and I did learn a lot. I got a good overview of all the technology that was available at the time.

IVAN: And when you graduated did you go over to England to walk downstage?

CHRIS: I wanted to, but I think it was just, timing didn’t work. Liverpool, I think, is kind of like, I don’t want to offend anybody, but it’s kind of like Gary or Toledo, or something. It’s just sort of like this…it didn’t seem like a very interesting place. Like the Beatles were there, but otherwise it’s kind of just another industrial town that’s kind of hit on hard times, but the school is very good. They’ve got a very good program there. But I thought about it, just timing wasn’t right.

IVAN: And in between doing your studies at Macalester and at Liverpool, you were about 10 years or so there, and I would assume that was kind of the beginning of the arc into technology, but that’s also about the same time where you founded an intentional community, correct?

CHRIS: Yes. That’s correct.

IVAN: Ok. I’m fascinated by an intentional community. My wife and I have talked about it ourselves a number of times, but more as an idea other than something we would do. So, can you give the listeners a definition of what an intentional community is?

CHRIS: Well, it can be anything from say, an Amish community in Central Wisconsin for instance, or to sort of, maybe more on the darker side, something like the David Koresh group. You could have a variety of things, but then for the most part, in our context, and I think for the most part, intentional community can be anything from those things to just more than roommates, where you have more of a commitment to each other, and you maybe have some shared resources, and you make a commitment to being present with each other, more than you would if, say, you were just friends living in a house together, or a rooming house, or something like that. It’s a big range.

IVAN: And you started a community that you’re part of in 1997. How many co-founders did you have?

CHRIS: There were six of us.

IVAN: And whose idea was it?

CHRIS: You know, ultimately, it was my idea. There were other people who were very interested in it, but I had been sort of pushing for it, and talking to friends about it, and talking it up, and there were about 10 people who ended up being interested in it, and it was a pretty tough process to sort of decide. It was a lot of, you know those GRE logic questions where it’s like, “Mary will only eat pizza on Tuesday if John has hamburgers on Monday.” (laughing) It was kind of like figuring out who would be willing to live with each other and come up with a group. So, you know, some people were disappointed they didn’t’ get to participate, and, you know, I could look back and say, “well it would’ve been interesting if they had been a part of it, and not these other people.” But, that’s how it turned out. We were all alumni of a program called The Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC) at some point in the previous few years. And that’s a program where you spend a year or two living in a core city somewhere in the United States. They have locations all over, and you have a household of four to eight people, and you work in some kind of social justice work. And you pool all your food costs, and you have about, at the time, $110 to spend on personal spending. So, it’s like living in sort of intentional poverty, but not really. You have your safety net that a person actually living in poverty doesn’t have. You’ve got your parents, you’ve got a savings account, whatever. And the three tenants were simplicity, community and social justice. And, so, we focused on those three things. And I think, once I got out of LVC I really missed it. I felt like I had not expected to find intentional community to be the most, for me it was the most satisfying part of the LVC experience. And, so, we got together and we found a house in St. Paul, and it was a pretty nice place. It had rooms where two people doubled up, but otherwise we all had our own room, and we basically modeled it after the LVC model where we had a food budget, and we’d pool our money, and this stayed the same throughout the entire time, somewhere between $100 and $130 it ended up being, a month. That was all for the food, and you would put it on a whiteboard. This stayed the same the whole time. You would basically write your list of ingredients, either for your own, sort of like if you wanted coffee, or breakfast food, or whatever, or what you planned to cook for the house for that week. You put it on the whiteboard and then a person or team volunteered to go and do the shopping. And we had a joint checking account for a long time, and you would do the shopping. And, it was set up so that we’d have enough money in the pool that we could basically accommodate pretty much everyones personal desire. So, if you drank coffee and no one else did, that’s fine, $8.00 maybe every two weeks or whatever. Or you wanted Marshmallow Mateys, that was popular for awhile for a couple of us. We would get that and it was fine if somebody else didn’t like to eat breakfast, it ended up coming out in the wash. You were still spending less than you would be had you been living alone. Because you would get a meal cooked four nights out of five in a week. We started out with six, but it ended up going down to five people, then four at one point. But you would get as much as four nights a week meals cooked for you, then leftovers, usually we cooked big batches of stews and things like that, so that you really didn’t have to spend a whole lot of your personal money on food, unless you wanted to go out or whatever.

IVAN: And was the intentional community some sort of a legal organization? You mentioned the joint checking account, but it wasn’t like it was a specific coop, or a legal contract that you had to do your taxes together, for example.

CHRIS: No. There was no joint ownership, no shares that you purchased. The closest thing to a share is just that you would put your rental deposit in the kitty, or basically you would pay the person moving in if you’re leaving, if somebody’s leaving then you would put your money in the kitty, you would pay them your rent deposit. 

IVAN: And so Chris, do you think it was easier to rent or to buy a house for the intentional community?

CHRIS: We had looked at renting, and a lot of the houses that were in our price range were really crappy. So we started looking at buying, and it turns out the monthly payments for a mortgage, were quite reasonable. And, so finding a house that would accommodate us – 4 to 5 bedrooms was a fairly easy process -- and we found one not too far from where we were. And, so just one housemate and I decided to buy. We had looked at doing a cooperative type venture, but the funding wasn't there, and it was hard to, sort of, organize a structure in a single dwelling. It'd be more like if you wanted to buy a fourplex or something. So, we bought the house and three of us moved, and we opened up. At the time we would advertise by putting flyers up in coffee shops and advertising in the Women's Press. We found that other papers, you'd get a lot of people who didn't read it or just looking for a house, a place to live, and we wanted to really make sure people understood what they were getting into, not just a housemate situation.

IVAN: So how is the marketing of intentional communities and finding new housemates changed then, since you started this in 20 years ago.

CHRIS: Oh, a lot. (laughing) So, Craigslist came along in, I don't remember about when that was, but that became a way to do it. But we would get we would get emails saying, “cancel your post I'll advance you $2,000, my height is this, my measurements are this,” and it was just…like they were looking for, I don't know what. So, I started developing websites and decided to create a webform that people could email, and I can't remember when that was, but we would redirect people to our website to fill out the form. I don't remember where about we did this, it may have been late 2000s, and have them fill it out instead of answering to the Craigslist email, and that filtered out almost everyone. You had to read through the form, you had to answer certain questions, nothing big but just acknowledged that you'd read it, and this was not a housemate situation, but there's a bit more commitment to it. And that really improved the quality of the people that we were getting, because before it was really hard to find people. I mean, there isn't a network. About the same time an organization that's been around for a long time called The Fellowship of Intentional Communities, we discovered that. Somebody pointed it out to me, and it's ic.org, and they have a huge database of intentional communities, and you fill out a form asking what kind you are, are you a single leader, everyone pays everything in. Is it a commune? Is it a religious community? Do you have land? Are there shares? All that kind of stuff. What is your structure like? How do you choose your leadership? All that kind of thing. And, so we would fill it out, and we got people interested through that. Some people would go there and find a link to our website and then fill out the form. And other people found us through Craigslist. And, then we would also occasionally post on Facebook, but really the intentional-communities.org[sic] and the Craigslist were the way that we got most of the people and then word of mouth was another way.

IVAN: And I would assume you did a background check and all kinds of other references for the people that you're inviting into the house once the applicant was accepted?

CHRIS: Not really. We never did background checks.

IVAN: Wow. It sounds scary.

CHRIS: Well, the way it works is…and I think a lot of communities do this. When you're asking for people to make a commitment, first of all you've filtered out people who are a little shady. I mean, people who are going to take the risk to try to come and stay with you and interact with you and that. So, we always had people over for a meal, and we would just have dinner with them or lunch or tea or something, snacks, and we would talk to them and then we give them a tour of the house. Then we would have a conversation in the living room about their favorite activities. Are they from the area, what do they like to do, where do they work? A lot of that stuff helped us determine if somebody had a good paying job, and we never had any real trouble. There were a couple of situations when it was really hard to find people and sometimes, we made decisions that were a little too expedient and not the best. That only happened once, and that person left within a week and we got to keep the rent deposit, and it was okay, it was a little weird, but that was a long distance... we did a phone interview, and we just we decided we'd never do that again. You know you have to come and meet with us, that we have to meet you face to face and we've had some oddballs come. I mean there was a person who was, not psychologically typical, I would have to say, and it was hard to get them to leave. It was a little awkward, but you know, I think part of living in a community is taking a risk with people, and so we really wanted to make sure that it felt open. It's an open process in a sort of positive view.

IVAN: So lots of gut checks, lots of face time, spending time with a potential new community member. Everybody gets a say. It sounds like that's most certainly enough instead of, or in addition to, a background check. So, I'm kind of not surprised that works, and it seems to be completely consistent with the tenets of an intentional community.

CHRIS: Yeah, I think so. We wanted to make sure that people feel like they're joining a group as an equal. And then I think in some ways if you're doing a lot of checking on people, you look at their Facebook profile or Myspace page.

IVAN: Myspace? A blast from the past. (laughing) So, it sounds like you were at around five or six people in your intentional community. Can you talk to me about the size? Is it typical of what other intentional communities are? How did you guys land on that number.

CHRIS: Well, I think it's hard to find housing that's big enough to house more people, but the University of Minnesota, there's a co-op at the U that's a student co-op. I don't know in what way that it's a co-op, but I've been there. and it's like a frat house, it's very big, lots of rooms, industrial kitchen. And I think for us in a small community, it has to be between five and seven. In LVC Lutheran Volunteer Corps that’s the way it worked best. You have fewer than five and it can often end up being three and one, where three people sort of get along and one person doesn't, and they feel excluded. With five, it’s often a moving target, where there can be three and two and then that switches a little bit. That way then nobody feels isolated in the group, unless they're not very good at socializing, which that did happen at the community and that was frustrating. When you get somebody who's there and they don't have very good social skills or whatever.

IVAN: Yeah, I think the cooperative at the University of Minnesota that you mentioned, I think that one's called “Students Cooperative.” I was reading about that earlier, and I think they're at about, is it a dozen? Maybe two dozen folk? But you're right. It’s like a three-story house and has five bathrooms and really community living.

CHRIS: Yeah, it looks like a college dorm, it's kind of crappy inside, but it's like college student crappy. But it's very idealistic, there's a lot vision there, there's a lot of, sort of, idealism in that place.

IVAN: What's the hardest thing you've ever had to do as part of the intentional community?

CHRIS: Oh well, we had a housemate, and this person, they matched us up really well, they were a very good fit, but they had a problem with substance abuse, and they were on the wagon, they were working very hard to keep on the wagon. We felt like we would be able to do it, but really didn't know much about that. I didn't know how that worked. And she ended up falling off the wagon, and it happened gradually, we didn't really understand what was going on. She just seemed more and more isolated and then she took... I take a medication that's restricted, and she took it. Then she ended up getting very sick with a heart condition, and she was in the hospital in the ICU, and we had to tell her Mom that she had to move out. And, it was really hard, because she was on death's door at the time, and she did actually die about six months later. It was really a challenge, because we didn't have the tools, and we realized that we can't be all things to all people. That people who come to the community have to be stable. They have to be well-employed. Those are the things that are really critical, and that, we want to make everybody feel welcome and, you know, we shouldn't be discriminating against people. But in this case, she just wasn't ready, and then along with that, compounding health issues, it hurt her too much and then she stole and we just couldn't have that. So, that was the hardest thing.

IVAN: My goodness. And was that early on in the international community or was that later on?

CHRIS: It was later on. It was like after what I would call, probably the most exciting period in the community. There was a good mix of people for a while, and then one person moved out, and then this person moved in. And she tried, we tried, but yeah, it was probably about halfway into the life or three-quarters of the way into the life of the community.

IVAN: So, it was when you first started out, that it kind of put you off actually doing this? You had already had a ton of experience, and, unfortunately, had this issue. I was going to ask you about how you decided and what happened when you decided that it was time to end the intentional community? How did that all shake out? Because I know that happened recently.

CHRIS: It did, and I'm glad that I had this opportunity, because talking about it now that I've had a little time to reflect on it, the community was disbanded in March of this year and it had been coming a long time. I'm in my late forties, and I was starting to feel a little old. Most of the people who had come to the community were in their late twenties and early thirties, newly entered into the professional career or in college for graduate school or something like that. But, I was feeling older and older, but also we had a dynamic where the person I originally bought the house with sold it, and we bought it and then a person that was there, she was a very responsible person, and I didn't want to end the community, so she bought out the former owner, co-owners portion of it, and we refinanced. And it turned out, she had a very different understanding of what community could be or should be, and she has very transactional view of it. It certainly is a way to save money, and she was very interested in limiting her expenses and very frugal person. But she did not have very good skills at sort of engaging with people and inviting people in, making them feel welcome. And, it got to be increasingly a burden on me to, sort of make sure that everyone who was new was welcome, and to sort of build the cohesion with new members. Because that's always a job when you got a new person, you want to make sure that they feel like they are a part of the group, and that they're welcome to be an equal, and that didn't work very well. And she was starting to feel, I think, that too, that it was outside of her comfort area, and it took a long time and it was hard, but it was the right thing to do. It was time to end. I had thought at one point that I would just do intentional community until I retired, and then move into a senior living facility (laughing), where I would just continue, but I'm taking a break now. One of my housemates I met, Emily, we ended up finding that we clicked really well and fell in love, and we decided to buy a house together this summer, and we've been living here. It’s a big change for me, but it was time to do it and I feel good about it. I feel like it wasn't how I would have wanted to end it, but I could never picture how it could end easily.

IVAN: Congratulations on the new house, and you've kind of done an extension of the intentional community, except it's just two members now.

CHRIS: Two members and a dog. And then, over the summer we tried raising ducks, because the house had a duck run, and then all six of them died. And so, we went through our first six housemates very quickly (laughing), and now we got a dog and it’s going okay.

IVAN: I hope that lasts longer than your ducks. (laughing)

CHRIS: (laughing) Yes.

IVAN: What do you not miss, now that you're no longer part of the community?

CHRIS: Well, I think the kind of things that most people would think of when they think of living with others. Who’s leaving the dishes undone. Who's got sort of peculiar quirks or doesn't clean up after themselves. Or, hogs the TV, which really ended up not being as big a problem later on. It was more getting people out of their rooms and back into the common space, and then dealing with personality conflicts. Those are the things that I don't miss.

IVAN: Very, very diplomatic, Chris. I appreciate that. (laughing) Before we wrap up talking about intentional communities, I do have a couple more questions. What would be the best place to go online to find out more about intentional communities, good resources to look at in case there are any listeners out there that are interested in following up?

CHRIS: Sure. Well the Fellowship of Intentional Communities is still a pretty good resource. It's definitely for finding places where you would live, like a farm or something like that. But they have small communities like ours. The other place is that, there’s a group online on Facebook called Intentional Communities Twin Cities of Minneapolis St. Paul, I can't remember the name, but I can share it with you when we get off, and that's a place where there's some pretty active communication and people looking for housemates, looking for houses, wanting to start one up, and just for the Twin Cities area, I don't have anything bigger than that. But that's the two resources that we've pointed people to in the past.

IVAN: Ok, we'll get that information from you offline, and we’ll publish that in the show notes and in the transcript on the web. Now, I know you were in a bagpipe band, and I also, if I'm not mistaken, seem to recall that you were in a barbershop quartet. Is that right?

CHRIS: In a barbershop chorus. A quartet is quite, especially if you're serious about it, is like any kind of band, is quite a commitment. But I sing in the Great Northern Union Chorus which is a Barbershop Harmony Society, a very competitive chorus. Can you hear my dog snoring? (laughing)

IVAN: (laughing) Yeah, I can. I don’t know how that’s going to get transcribed.

CHRIS: Hang on a second. Can we pause for a second?

IVAN: Or, we can leave it on, that’s also fine. (laughing)

CHRIS: Yea, she does that. She's a little tiny dog, but she snores quite loudly. Anyway, the Great Northern Union is a competitive barbershop chorus. We've been in the Top 10 at every international contest we've been to since the chorus was formed. So, barbershop chorus is a little different than quartet, because you can do things that a quartet can't really do. I mean you can you can push the voices a little farther because you don't need all the voices on every note all the time. And so, you can hold notes longer and you can push the range, stuff like that. And so, it's kind of fun. I think that probably a lot of people would say that the best place to be when you're in a barbershop chorus is on the risers, because that's where you get the goosebumps, you hear the voices around you and those seven chords resolving to a tonic chord or whatever resolving. It’s a very pleasing and powerful experience. It’s high energy.

IVAN: When is your next performance?

CHRIS: It's in December. I can put that in the show notes. I don't have the actual date in mind, but it's in early December and it's a Christmas themed show, a holiday show. But we'll be doing our contest set, and some other contest-related type pieces. So that'll be fun.

IVAN: It sounds like a lot of fun. I remember singing in the choir in high school for four years, and it was some of the most fun I'd ever had with a group of people, so, that's awesome. Do you have a website?

CHRIS: Yeah. gnusings.com.

IVAN: Gnusings.com. Do you know about Minnesota Sings, the community sing? We've gone to those a number of times in the last few years, and it is such fun. You show up, sometimes it's in a park, sometimes it's in a community center. And it's led by two or four people, and they have songs that they sing, hippie songs, hymns. They hand out all of these pamphlets with all the words, and if you don't know the melodies, doesn't matter, you sing as best you can. That was a lot of fun. Going to those has been a lot of fun. And, I think their website is mnsings.com. That's what reminded me was gnusings.com, kind of similar. Well, before we go, could you recommend a book that I should read and that the listeners should take interest in?

CHRIS: Well, I think that the book that's probably the best for tech listeners would be Exploding the Phone. And, it's a book that I listened to earlier this year and it’s about, sort of the original hackers of the Bell Telephone network. It's a blind kid in Florida, and the phone is kind of a place for him, where it puts him on an even playing field with other people because sighted people have the same, the same disadvantage or advantage. But he starts to hear the tones. They use that multi-tone signaling and I can't remember what it's called, but he learns how to mimic those sounds, and he eventually figures out how to basically hack the phone system using whistles. And another guy had got a slide whistle from Cap'n Crunch that he learned to use, and they sort of created this underground community of hackers who'd figured out how to crack into the phone system and do fun stuff like just create conference calls. And all this was before everything was switched to digital, so the sixties, seventies era, and they got into trouble with the law. Back then Ma Bell was the law. If they wanted the FBI to go after you, it would happen.

IVAN: It was easy.

CHRIS: Yeah.

IVAN: So, phone hacking.

CHRIS: Yea, Exploding the Phone, I can get you the full details and the notes. I don't have the name of the author in front of me, but it's an entertaining read, very interesting read.

IVAN: Very good. We'll put that in the show notes as well. Chris, thank you so much for spending your time with me.

CHRIS: Yea, well thanks for having me. It was a lot of fun.

IVAN: It was my pleasure. Chris is online at cerebratorium.com. You've been listening to the TEN7 Podcast. Find us online at ten7.com/podcast. And, if you have a second, do send us a message. We love hearing from you. Our email address is podcast@ten7.com. Until next time, this is Ivan Stegic. Thank you for listening.

Ivan Stegic

Founder and President
 
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Ivan Stegic

Words that describe Ivan: Relentlessly optimistic. Kind. Equally concerned with client and employee happiness. Bowtie lover. Physicist. Ethical. Lighthearted and cheerful. Finds joy in the technical stuff. Inspiring. Loyal. Hires smart, curious and kind employees who want to create more good in the world. His favorite things right now: the TEN7 podcast and becoming the next Björn Borg.