Who is Thomas Freedman?
My first impression of Steemit's content composer is not a good one. I do find Steemit's content composer frustrating to use, in that it doesn't properly render the markdown in my Firefox browser (I don't know about others), so I have no way to tell how this will look when I click the post button. At the moment it's the only browser on this computer that's installed and working. So it looks like I need to learn yet another tool to write text now, since markdown is the primary means of control over the content on this fledgling platform. Md is not difficult, complex or take lots of time to learn, but it does take effort, and whether it's turns out to be an impediment to the adoption of Steem time will tell.
Bold renders OK, but my attempt to add a heading using # tags wasn't rendered in Steemit's content composer, nor were pictures. Which md flavor does Steemit use anyway, githubs? Nuances, differences UX issues. Such is the nature of creations by team Larimer it seems. However, I digress.
This question, Who is Thomas Freedman? was best answered in the Preface to The Coming BitShares Revolution, and I see no reason to change it. I may also write a separate short article of just what happened to that book effort.
As a middle child I was often left alone to entertain myself, and I was quite happy playing with erector sets, Tinker Toys and other pursuits that allowed me to express my creativity. My uncle was cast out of a similar mold, and also had a great influence in my childhood. He built simple toys for me made out of old doorbells, buzzers, buttons and lights that stimulated my interest in electricity. When I was in Jr. high school my sister dated a guy whose brother was an engineer. He got wind that I was interested in electronics and started corresponding with me. He would send me care packages of old electronic components and obsolete electronics junk from his workplace, with datasheets and instructions on how to use them in circuits. I built burglar alarms and a variety of other gadgets, such as a fire extinguisher alarm for a local business to alert the store clerk when somebody took a fire extinguisher off its mount.
My senior electronics project in high school was a redesigned psych-tone "music" synthesizer using TTL logic chips on a double sided circuit board I laid out and produced myself.
I've always been an autodidactic, and very independent, which is one reason I chose the technical school route instead of the typical state funded college path most of my peers took. I made that decision in my freshman year of high school and I stuck to it. I enjoyed mechanics and working on cars so I elected machine shop and electronics vocations throughout high school. My reasoning was that I would put myself through electronic tech school using my machine shop skills, which I did. In my senior year of high school I put my plan into action and secured a position at a plastic injection mold shop as an apprentice machinist.
The strategy worked very well. By the time I had three years of experience with my first electronics company I moved from the assembly line testing calculators to working for a small group directly under the Board of Directors making prototype robotic manufacturing equipment and writing diagnostic software. I left that company after five years and sought a position as a software engineer, carving out a niche as a hardware diagnostics programmer working for the oil and gas exploration industry.
I moved on to Austin Texas, a location considered to be the Silicon Valley of the South. I held a number of software engineering positions over the years, including several startup companies. As my career progressed I moved from diagnostics firmware programming to higher-level systems programming and eventually object oriented languages. I was awarded two software patents for scanning electron microscope test algorithms working for the nation's first research consortium, a position I enjoyed for seven years. While working for a computer aided design consortium in 1994 I created my first website using a Sybase relational database backend. A web server frontend and a relational database backend is the dominant architecture still in use today for website designs. I also liked building and refining user interfaces, and won a "Best of Conference" award for a user interface design of a web based certificate authority using Nortel's Entrust public key cryptography system.
My last position in Austin was the lead UI web developer for a company that developed a delivery route planning application.
Although my career strategy worked rather well, it also had its downsides. Notably I experienced a number of layoffs due in part to fluctuating economic conditions and my lack of a four year degree, which left me vulnerable to the bean counters' budget cuts. To fill in the gaps I started a consulting firm to supplement my income. Competition was fierce, and by 2007 I realized I was no longer able to compete with the younger, certified engineers using my experience and credentials. So after 30 years of living in Texas I decided to leave the city and put my independence to the test in the most rural setting I had ever lived, seeking freedom from the stress of big city life and the pressures of corporate software development. Although I miss the exhilaration and thrill of working on the leading edge of Internet applications, the pace of life is slower, healthier and I have more freedom here. Though technology is important to me, it is not the yardstick by which I will measure the value of my life. The value of my life will be manifested through the principles I choose to follow and how well I follow them, which arise from my...
I've had a rebellious streak even from an early age. For example, I recall a situation in the third grade when I was called to the principal's office. I distinctly remember standing in the hallway with my third grade teacher and the principal was pointing his finger at me saying, "You have a chip on your shoulder young man". I don't recall what infraction of the rules provoked the teacher's wrath, but more than likely it was asking too many questions or interrupting her. Perhaps I did have a "chip on my shoulder", but at that age it was more a symptom of self protection than self knowledge.
I didn't start thinking about society and the broader context of life very much until I reached my 20s, shortly after I started my career in the electronics industry in Dallas Texas. Although I've always been a highly curious person (many of my instructors and supervisors would tell you I was annoyingly inquisitive), it wasn't until then that I devoted any serious attention to politics and history. Everything changed when I learned of a free seminar from a radio interview about how the U.S. tax system is based on voluntary compliance. Attending that seminar began a long journey of studying history and current events, slowly waking me up to the deception that was all around me, much of which was caused by the government.
Many publications and books along the way have contributed to my understanding of history and the formation of my perspective about the world. Books such as None Dare Call it Conspiracy by Gary Allen and Larry Abraham and alternative media sources like The Spotlight were typical of those that formed my worldview. But there were also plenty of disinformation sources as well, especially in publications like the Spotlight. But my engineering background and curious nature helped me then as it still does to discern truth from fiction, in a continual process of searching for truth and corroboration of information.
I have always been one that believes in the absolute and objective nature of truth. That's been a constant thread throughout my life, despite the many distractions along the way. What is relevant about those distractions is how greatly they have influenced my present perspective. Distractions from what? One obvious answer would be from my technical career.
Technology has indeed played an important role in my life, and it often does inspire passionate expressions of creativity and excitement. However, what greatly motivates me, the driving energy at my core is to be relevant, to have a positive impact on the world and the people around me through expressions of creativity and virtue. Yet an even greater energy underlies all of that, which is the pursuit of truth, both internal and external. What I mean by internal truth is the quest for self knowledge. When we truly understand Socrates' oft cited maxim "know thyself", we will grasp how much we bury and hide from ourselves due to painful memories and how much insight is available to us in our subconscious mind, if only we dare to face it.
Anything that hides our true self from our consciousness is a distraction. Activities and thoughts that operate out of fear are just one example. Instead I choose to operate out of love and define my life through the pursuit of truth and virtue, and I take ownership of my responsibility to set goals and manage the resources at my disposal to realize those goals. This is a big challenge, but one each of us must choose to face or ignore, because avoiding this basic responsibility would surely be a tragic waste.
I mentioned above how technology often stimulates and inspires me, and blockchain technology and the BitShares project in particular has thoroughly captivated me, more than any other technology I have read about, imagined or even dreamed. Blockchain technology is complex but holds the promise of great and revolutionary change for the world we now inhabit as well as that of a distant future. It is my strong conviction, that very soon, the blockchain will come to be recognized as the most important innovation and tool for freedom and change the world has yet seen, more than the printing press, manned flight, the automobile and even the Internet.
OK, there's my first Steem content. It may look ugly, so be it. Pushing the Post button to find out.