I'm Ben Turner, ex-soldier, ex-web designer, and ex-stock trader. I'm 35 years old, and am a recent master's graduate from the the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown, studying international development and communications policy (read my research papers). I like basketball, personalities, tennis, anthropology, web technology, and sophisticated women. I'm now an NYU grad student in the Tisch School of the Arts for the Interactive Telecommunications Program. I've been in this game since 1995.
My Facebook profile. It's getting rather excessively descriptive and verbose.
My research papers at Scribd. Papers on Facebook, Japan vs. US cellphone sectors, Iraq democratization, US-Iran policy.
My future start-up, dealing with online reputations and identities (e.g. whuffie). Hopefully it'll make millions and I can subsidize other projects!
My social bookmark list. del.icio.us lets you share your bookmarks online, and tag them
according to their topic.
Collates all the data I'm streaming out to the Internet from various sources.
My photo albums at Flickr. Most of the photos are private. With Flickr, you can tag photos
by topic and sort them into different sets.
Summer has drawn to a close in NYC. It was everything I hoped it would be, and more. And I had a lovely female New Yorker guide. Now fall approaches, my second year of art school begins, and I prepare to present Galapag.us as my thesis project.
This summer I managed to go to the Galapagos Islands and Quito (and the equator) with my dad. It was even better than I thought it could be!
I also got to go up to Niagara Falls and see some of what Nikola Tesla created. And I went to see horse racing for the first time, in Saratoga. Went to Vegas to see long-time friends, as well. And got a lot of practice with Python, MongoDB, and node.js at work in the heart of NYC Silicon Alley. All while having met an amazing woman.
One more thing: I finally watched "It Might Get Loud", a documentary/jam with The Edge, Jimmy Page, and Jack White, where they talk about how they came to love the electric guitar and how they crafted their sounds.
What struck me about the film was seeing them together, sharing parts of their famous guitarwork, and, well, seeing these men, experts at their craft, being able to look at what magic they've created, and being able to share it with like minds. Simply wonderful.
And it makes me yearn to one day be similarly masterful in something. The road has been longer and harder and full of more curves for me, not in ease (I've lived a good life so far), but in the degree to which and the time I've had to invest trying to find what it is I could be masterful at. I long for reaching that point, though. What will I be good at?
posted @ 04:59PM EDT on Monday, September 24th, 2012
The Upheaval Continues
I just completed my first year of ITP and finished up my two semesters at The Colbert Report. I'll be saying goodbye to many people I wish I didn't have to. I also just moved to another place a little north from where I was before, from the East Village to Stuy Town. From my room and from the shower, I can see the Empire State Building, particularly at night, when I can see the ill-chosen flashes of tourists' cameras from the Top of the Rock. Hopefully I won't need to move from here for a while. I'd be happy -- it's a spacious place with a great roommate in a gorgeous, quiet part of NYC by the East River.
This summer will be somewhat stable and simple, allowing me to focus. I have an internship at a TechStars startup alumn so I'm hoping to gain a lot of hacker cred. And I'm taking a long-awaited trip to the Galápagos Islands -- it's my number one most-wanted place to go and will provide inspiration, catalyzation, and photo...ization? for my ITP thesis next spring.
So here's to a period of settling in, finding roots, finding friends, finding purpose.
posted @ 07:07PM EDT on Saturday, May 12th, 2012
Almost the One Year Anniversary
...of the fire that pushed me out of my favorite home ever, in Logan Circle in DC. Still haunts me.
I'm living in Manhattan now, with a view north of the Empire State Building's lights coming into my window at night. I'm now in school studying Processing, Arduino, Final Cut Pro X, Sinatra, Ruby, etc., becoming a far more experienced coder and jack-of-all-trades. To be around the artists, actors, and other creatives who go to the Tisch School, and to be around my classmates, who are all digitally savvy, curious, fun-loving, playful, and resourceful? Well, it's a bit like being a kid again. My creative classmates inspire me with their fantastic ideas and executions of those ideas. To see my classmates all on "the floor", working and tinkering on multiple playful projects -- it's what I always hoped I could do while in school. :) On the side I'm interning at The Colbert Report and getting a crash course in Linux administration and jQuery. I'm becoming even more digitized than I was before, which is getting scary.
On the other hand, grad school is like two years of feeling brain-addled. You do nothing particularly well, and you're never completely done with anything. It's a necessary evil to get to where I want to go, though I'm worn out of being a student at this point. I bring that up because it's a counter-point to all the benefits: living in East Village, using my deserved Post-9/11 GI Bill, experiencing an alternate universe where people give a damn about things that are beautiful, where people create instead of destroy.
There is, perhaps, too much destruction taking place right now. This includes, I fear, the destruction of yet another of my previous lives, which I've become rather good at, much to the detriment of my ability to create.
posted @ 10:30AM EDT on Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
2011 is Already Kicking 2010's Ass!
So after 4.5 months of not having access to my old apartment in Logan Circle, I was finally allowed to go in and collect my things. Turns out my computer, electronics, and monitors work fine, although I think a few of my things were stolen, or I haven't found them yet. Other people said they were missing some things too. I recovered a lot of potentially lost data. I had to wipe a lot of soot off my stuff, which takes forever and is never 100% done. I threw away a lot of shoes and fabric stuff. My clothes are being cleaned on the management's dime and I'm told they'll be perfectly fine when I get them back. I hope!
Here's a video I shot while collecting my stuff:
So that was a relief to begin to put that stage of my life behind me. And yesterday, I also got my $180 back from Comcast after a protracted email struggle which ended in me paying for my "lost" equipment.
The best thing to happen was that I just got an email saying I was accepted to NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program! It'll be 2 years for a Masters of Professional Studies degree, full of 60 credits of courses learning audio, video, Python, Ruby, Arduino, Processing, creating art, 3D printing, laser cutting, building circuitboards, and so on. I can hardly wait to work with my hands again after sitting at a desk for a few years. Also, life in Manhattan! I'll move up in July or August. The DC chapter comes to a close. Thank you to Jim Webb and other Congressmen for proposing the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which made me eligible for new funding.
I'll be working until I leave -- and I'm now a team lead at work, so I get to do one of my favorite things, which is help develop subordinates and train them to be better at their job and at finding their own paths and personalities.
So this year is already off to an awesome start! There'll be a lot of changes, as I'll have to reinvent myself yet again. But, I've paid my dues.
posted @ 01:27PM EDT on Saturday, March 26th, 2011
Saying Goodbye to 2010
I'm eagerly awaiting 2011 because 2010 ended rather poorly. At the beginning of November, my neighbor's apartment caught fire while I was at work. I got an Alert DC notification of the fire at my building and I raced home in a cab. But the damage had been done and a couple months later, as of Dec. 21, I still haven't been able to get in to my floor or my apartment. The reason is presumably because asbestos was found and must be cleaned. Another 25 days, at least, are expected.
Needless to say, it was a harrowing November. I did take 2.5 months off during the summer to enjoy the warm weather and to keep coding on Galapag.us, but I'd reached a stopping point and wanted to work again. So I'd been working a couple weeks at my same previous $employer when the fire happened.
Fortunately I stayed with my girlfriend and she and her flatmate were very generous about it. I gradually got my life together again and rented a new apartment up near Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park.
There were some good things to 2010 -- my baptism, a trip to NYC to see the US Open with my mom, a trip to South Beach for the Future of Web Apps conference, getting Wizards season tickets, the news of my buddy Chris getting engaged, meeting my current girlfriend. But there were also some wretched things: losing my belongings, getting dumped by my ex of a couple years, bittersweet trip to Miami with the ex.
Personally I'm ready to move on and hope for a better subsequent year, because this one was kind of a drag.
I guess the lessons are: don't put too much value in your stuff, back up your data in the cloud, be happy with your health, have renter's insurance, be thankful for those friends and family around you who will sacrifice their time to be with you.
Happy New Year, reader. Here's to a better tomorrow.
posted @ 12:26PM EST on Tuesday, December 21st, 2010
Summer is coming to a close in DC. The leaves are turning yellow. A chill is coming in at night. The children aren't always running around at the Y. Tourists on the Mall are few and fleeting. The ladies are getting out their pashminas, wellies, and other girly gear.
I took some time off from work to code full time on Galapag.us, my platform for identity and reputation "credit ratings". But now I'm back at work with my awesome firm.
Went to NYC to meet up with my mom and watch the US Open. It has the creatives that DC doesn't have.
That is all I have to update for now.
posted @ 12:53AM EDT on Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
WHAT'S TO DO HERE?
So, welcome to benturner.com. This site is very old, and much of what is here is out-of-date and was produced in the web's toddling days and when I was in high school/college. I leave it up for posterity, and you can find most of it from the sitemap.
Most people visit my autobiography first, to find out what I'm all about. I neglect to update it from time to time, but it covers my early formative experiences pretty well. Next, people will read the soapbox because it has about 400 essays I've written over the years, from rants to poems to social commentary.
My Robin Hood section gets the most traffic besides root hits. In it,
you can find loads of resources on the man of Sherwood.
"Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest motherfucker in the world. If I moved to a martial arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad. Hiro used to feel that way, too, but then he ran into Raven. In a way, this is liberating. He no longer has to worry about trying to be the baddest motherfucker in the world. The position is taken. The crowning touch, the one thing that really puts true world-class badmotherfuckerdom totally out of reach, of course, is the hydrogen bomb. If it wasn't for the hydrogen bomb, a man could still aspire. Maybe find Raven's Achilles' heel. Sneak up, get a drop, slip a mickey, pull a fast one. But Raven's nuclear umbrella kind of puts the world title out of reach. Which is okay. Sometimes it's all right just to be a little bad. To know your limitations. Make do with what you've got." -from "Snow Crash"