Noel Hidalgo, aka "Noneck", is a tech-heavy, film-centric, free-spirited jack-of-all-trades. He’s an artist, a freelance business and lifestyle consultant whose interests include blogging, citizen journalism, activism, and political campaigns (i.e. he served as the technological coordinator for the 2004 Democratic national convention).  He’s a savvy guy with big, ambitious ideas.  So, for those that know him, it was probably little surprise that on July 7, 2007, he embarked on a worldwide trip he dubbed Luck of Seven.

On that day, after raising nearly $7,777 from family, friends, and benevolent persons, Noneck left New York to begin a seven-month anthropological, "open-source" journey traveling six continents to document free culture, social innovators and global change. 

He specifically explored "seven freedoms” (free culture; free and open-source software communities; couchsurfers, bloggers, fellow travelers and vloggers; agents of progressive social change; barcamp, coworking and meetups; happenstance; and climate change) and conveyed his findings and travels through video, blog posts, and pictures.  Through these focal points of thought and posterity, we get a glimpse of Noneck’s life on the road and the ways in which people around the world communicate in the digital age.

After charting mobile activism in Egypt, chatting with bloggers in Delhi, and interviewing locals (like Javier Sola, who trains computer teachers in Cambodia), Noneck returned to NYC in February 2008 and asked himself, "I’m home. I’m broke.  Now What?"  Well, what’s one to do after they’ve been everywhere, man?  Drive a New York City Taxi.  Duh. 

Not content to get a part-time gig in a cubicle or behind a bar, and suffering from an "uncontrollable addiction to tell good stories," Noneck has set out to earn his own hack license and tell the tale that is the Big Apple from behind the wheel of a yellow cab.

For, Noneck partnered with licensed Medallion taxi fleet and garage, Team Systems and documents his progress from citizen to cabbie, when he’ll eventually drive one of their cars.  The series is basically a randomly updated videoblog with a purpose that’s more story than self-reflection. 

Noneck’s a knowledgeable, patient host.  He clearly explains his process and details relevant info, from required medical examinations to the education one receives in taxi school.  He’s also a talented editor, making sure to intercut enough NYC scenes and emotive sound tracks to break up what would be the monotony of his talking head. 

As a New Yorker, I find the series fascinating.  There are over 12,000 cabs in this city, but I rarely think about how the industry works, the idiosyncrasies and possible machinations involved in a $1.8+ billion chauffeur machine that serves over 240 million passengers per year.  It’s cool that Noel is popping the hood and giving us a look.

Pearl Chen totally helped out with this review and the photo credit of the taxi goes to Noel Hidalgo

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