Thursday, July 28, 2005

Technorati Counts

Technorati is the place to go for taking the pulse of the blogosphere. At Technorati each new blog-post entry is indexed (now within five minutes of posting) and sorted according to the “tags” assigned to the content by the writer/creator/author of the entry. "Claiming" your blog and opening an account with Technorati gives you a platform from which you can track your own posts for how they are contributing to the dynamic conversation on the www and who might be linking your work online to their own. Poke around a bit at Technorati to see what indexing is all about and what it can tell you minute-by-minute about the topics of conversation that are hot right now. Then, jump in! Technorati give a collective voice to “the power of the many.”

“The blogosphere has been growing at an explosive rate,” says Technorati CEO Dave Sifly. Consider the numbers reported just yesterday:

·Technorati is indexing over 14 million blogs
·80,000 new blogs are created every day – one new blog every second!
·900,000 new posts are created every day
·37,500 posts are logged every hour

Get in there and start tagging: your contribution counts.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Podcast Addicts: Getting Hooked

From the NYTimes online to comments from Hillary at “podcrawl” to the real deal from Dan himself at “The Bitterest Pill,” I have recently wandered through proof of the connectivity with which the world wide web is flattening the world.

Dan is an LA podcaster – an individually who personally produces a “radio” show for online broadcasting (though I understand the term can refer to listeners as well). Dan describes his work as “people talking and people who are listening.” Well, the growing interest in podcasting is now catching attention from established news media, and last week the NYTimes published a piece in the arts section of the paper that highlighted Dan’s podcast along with a number of others. The story on Dan, however, takes center stage inasmuch as in writing her story, reporter Virginia Heffernan framed Dan Klass as “an intelligent, low-key (depressive?) actor and self-identified addict in Los Angeles” whose child can be heard crying in the background of his broadcasts.

The report caught my attention and prompted questions of accuracy even before Hillary posted her shock and disgust at the suggestion that fellow-poscaster Dan was an addict… so not true, and Hillary sent her readers to hear the great work Dan is doing along with his own rendition of the story. Well, I went, I downloaded, and – as if I have time, the wonderful world of what else can happen online just took another leap forward for me.

Of course Dan told the sometimes funny, sometimes frustrating story of failed journalism, being at times in his report more generous than I think I might have been. I can understand why listeners are quick to become “addicts” of “The Bitterest Pill.” More than that, I understand better what Dan means when he describes Podcasting as “people talking.”

I have a feeling that Dan Klass is just a beginning for me. I’m off to Hillary’s place next to get the scoop on the best podcasts to collect for later listening, and then I’ll hunker down to some serious web-shopping research for the best price on a mobile player. This is going to be fun!

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Monday, July 25, 2005

Adventures On A Sea of Remembering


Collected Cleverness

Here are a few internet “finds” that make for some fun on a lazy summer afternoon:

Via Lifehacker, who rarely fails to point me in clever new internet directions (her byline: Lifehacker recommends the downloads, web sites and shortcuts that actually save time. Don't live to geek; geek to live), I am reminded of Urban Dictionary. Similar to Wikipedia, this collaboratively constructed site gives the lowdown on lingo all the “cool kids” are bouncing around. Call me behind-the-times for my need to know, but when my friend said, “He’s a classic metrosexual,” I didn’t want to surrender the last shreds of “cool” I could still manage to claim, so I turned to Urban Dictionary to fill me in. I’m an Urban Dictionary believer now! I even own the sweatshirt: “Urban Dictionary: Define Your World”.

Along these same lines (Via Joho the Blog), I’ve just discovered Snopes.com, a look-up source for information, validation, or refutation of “urban legends,” those stories that take on a life of their own but leave us all wondering whether or not they are true. Barbara and David Mikkelson do the work of chasing down the answers, passing them on in turn to us. The glossary provided on their site is great background information, but if you want to jump in with a search on your favorite legend, go here.

Finally, via Matt at A Whole Lotta Nothing (a wonderfully human and tech-savvy blogger), I offer one of my summer’s best “finds,” a Flickr Collage maker that gathers commonly tagged images into a collection for viewing. I am a Flickr fan anyway, and there are a number of tools onsite at Flickr that do clever and amazing things, but this offsite offering is an easy, relaxing, and pleasurable exploration of public images available from the Flickr site. Here they are arranged in such a way as to explore the tagging taxonomy with which individual contributors categorized their photos. It’s great! Give it a try. (A search for “Tommi,” for example, will turn up images of my daughter, a lieutenant serving right now in Iraq.) Of course, if you find a photo you particularly like, you can click through the links back to the Flickr origin and see more work from that person, leave a comment, or maybe have a chat online.

That’s it for now. Have fun!

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I.C.E. ing Your Cellphone

Via David Weinberger at Joho, I’m passing along news about the campaign to “I.C.E.” your cellphone: In Case of Emergency. The idea is to program emergency contact information into your phone under an entry entitled ICE, an entry more and more emergency aid and first responders are learning to identify as a resource when injury prevents an exchange of information at the scene of an accident. Originally an award-winning idea from Bob Brotchie of the UK, the practice is gaining ground around the globe as the use of cellphones increases. You can read more about the ICE campaign here.



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Sunday, July 24, 2005

Culture Jamming

I’d known some about culture jamming, but I came across a post at “worldchanging” yesterday that spoke to a couple of interesting expressions of the phenomenon I’d not heard before. The first is a bit of history, a 1989 product swap by the BLO, the Barbie Liberation Organization. Apparently the BLO bought hundreds of Teen Talk Barbie dolls (“Math is hard,” and “I love to shop”) along with hundreds of Talking Dude G.I.Joe dolls (“Vengence is mine!”) and exchanged the electronic devices before carefully repackaging and covertly replacing the dolls on store shelves. Says Jamais at worldchanging, “Barbie demanded to hear the lamentations of her enemies, and G.I.Joe sought assistance for planning weddings.” … I would so love to have purchased one of those dolls!

Shopdropping” is a present-time culture jam practiced along similar lines – this effort one to reclaim public space with random acts of art. The idea is to purchase canned food goods in volume, redesign and replace the packaging with labels altered to display photographs of artistic value, of course keeping barcodes and pricing cues in place. Having completed the project, the can goods are then covertly returned to the shelves. An ongoing project, the artist describes Shopdropping as an effort that “strives to take back a share of the visual space we encounter on a daily basis, similar to the way street art stakes a claim on public space for self expression.”

As with the Barbie dolls above, I would treasure a can of peas, even okra, if I found one re.presented wrapped in art, and the article suggests that such an inflation of value has been known to follow episodes of shopdropping. In any case, the practice presents food for thought in considering the value of reclaiming all that we can of public space from commercial use, restoring it to civic and artistic expression. I’ll take my olives wrapped in a Tuscany sunset, thank you.


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Hold the Phone

It's official ... as of July this year, there are now more cellphone users in the United States than users of land-line phones. The LATimes reports on the numbers here: there are 181.1 million cellphone subscribers compared to 177.9 conventional phone access lines. Cellphone use is expected to pass 200 million in the United States before the end of the year.


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Civics Lessons

1.8 million civilian employees of the federal government will now be required by law to receive "education and training" about The Constitution of the United States. Senator Robert C. Byrd (D.- W.Va.) is responsible for the language added to the recent spending package passing congress. He said polls show that a third of Americans don't even know how many branches of government there are (three). "Our Constitution is not a mere dry piece of dead parchment," but a revered and living document that has helped inspire our nation to achieve seemingly impossible goals and keep alive irrepressible hope, even in the face of unanticipated and sometimes unbearable adversity."

The Washington Post article presents the story as well as employee responses, some from those who "celebrate" the new law as an opportunity to learn more about the document they took a pledge to uphold and others who question why taxpayers are funding mandatory civics lessons. I waffle around the middle on this topic: While it seems a particularly good time for increased awareness of The Constitution, I wonder whether the federal government should assume responsibility for what each of us as citizens ought to do/know/read for ourselves. Any thoughts on this?

Armando at Daily Kos is at the beginning of a conversation discussing the controversy that can surround a reading of the Constitution. He highlights the perspective of "a living document" here before going on to address "originalism" tomorrow. The more than 250 comments already on that post make for great reading.


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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Sunflower Sculpture

Art in the Park is a favorite ritual of summer for me, and each year I try to find at least one "treasure" with which to mark the coming and going of the annual event. This year's find was a sunflower sculpture accompanied by a gathering of daylillies (pictured below). The work was composed by metal artist Missy Wojciechowski of Park Rapids, Minnesota. She says of her work, "I got into metal art purely by chance. My mentor who is a sixth generation black-smith needed help with a large project. Metal is a medium I have always wanted to work in, and when I got the chance to work with him, I took it ... Being able to work a flat piece of metal into the shape of a flower or a graceful vine is fascinating to me."



The Oakleaf Bowl, also pictured here, demonstrates the delicacy of craft and the deft hand with which Ms. Wojciechowski approaches her work. By my measure, I left the 30th Annual Art in the Park with this year's best of show.








The interesting "backstory" is that just to the right of where the sunflower sculpture is currently situated my friend and daughter-in-law, Jennifer, had planted a real sunflower plant that she had, through the winter months, carefully nurtured to readiness, and I, not knowing the difference between the flower and a weed, had removed it during a session of enthusiastic weeding. Ah, me ... I am not and never will be a gardener! The sunflower sculpture now stands to memorialize the proof of it, marking the spot and preserving our sunflower story against time.


Sunflower Sculpture
Originally photographed by Mary Godwin.

Flash Literature

I’m chasing an idea around these days and doing the endlessly negotiative work of defining a boundary for my thinking about what constitutes “new media” literature? (a growing lineup of so-far conclusions is listed on the sidebar at right.)

It was under the umbrella of that thinking that I followed The Narrator down a trail to the SmokeLong Quarterly, an online publication for “flash” literature. Flash literature is new to me, and I’m discovering that in this fast and faster paced world of digitality and demand, it provides a just-right sized “step away” – the brain-break I find myself so often needing between efforts to process next bits of literary theory. SmokeLong, celebrating two years of publication with their current issue, takes its name from the Chinese who note that it takes about the same amount of time to smoke a cigarette as to read a piece of flash literature. Flashquake, another online publication I found along the way – this one welcoming poetry and non-fiction “flash” as well as images, defines flash literature as works of 1000 words or less, but adds that shorter is better.

It is the “shorter is better” aspect of flash literature that captures attention in my effort to put a boundary around the idea of new media literature – the pieces and infinitively divisible sense of story/information, the bite-sized possibilities that prompt digestion on the move. It is this “on the move” that seems to underwrite the various layers of understanding I see developing for me as I work to get a handle on 21st century literature. “On the move” is exciting for me, and flash literature is a perfect fit! Follow the links provided in this post, give flash literature a try, and let me know what you think.

BTW… you can find “The Lenten Diaries,” fiction from The Narrator (Ira Socol), in volume eight of SmokeLong Quarterly online. It's a great read, Narrator! And great trip down the road … thanks for making the ride worthwhile.



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Monday, July 18, 2005

Discovered Roads: Sunday Drive-Abouts

I might have been seven or eight years old – maybe ten – when I first learned to enjoy Sunday afternoon drive-abouts with my dad. The goal was to discover a road we’d never been on before and take a drive down that way just to see what might be there. A old farm house, a herd of animals like we’d never seen before, an unusual stand of trees, a fox on the run, a graveyard history, a clever mailbox … discovery was the whole point and only purpose. Windows of the black Ford Galaxy four-door were always rolled down, and the pace of the drive was more a lazy stroll than one of direction or destination. Dad rested one elbow out the window – the rolled cuffs of his white pressed shirt playing with the breeze, and with the other hand resting lazy at the bottom of the wheel, guided the car as if magically. Conversation only lightly punctuated the passing hours of seeing together: there wasn’t much call for talking.

I took a Sunday afternoon drive-about last weekend and wandered across the very top of Minnesota, winding along with the Rainy River in marking the Canadian border. It was one of those perfect days for an afternoon drive. MN Hwy 11 wove through miles and miles of trees giving place only on occasion to any indication that people actually inhabited this land. From time to time a view of the river, sometimes just a stone’s throw away, broke through the monotone of pine trees to lay out a breathtaking view. It was in one of those patches of drive where the road pulled away from the river’s path, however, that I discovered the symphony of steel you see pictured below. There in the middle of a northern Minnesota “nowhere” stood a circle of composed musical instruments, situated as if in a conversation with one another, a conversation that would have been easy to miss if one had been in too much of a hurry. There was no sign of “an owner” for miles in any direction - as if the work declared itself and the music a property of the land. I stopped there because I could, and I listened because there was time to listen. Lucky me for the day and for the learning I’d done at my father’s side to discover a road less traveled.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Planned Departures

It has been several days since Brenda posted “last rites” on Rubies in Crystal. She wrote that day inspired by photographs posted by Vexations. I had been thinking of last days, end-of-life departures, and the wisdom of the Greeks who, if I am remembering Foucault correctly, thought it more “civilized” to arrange for a dignified departure than to be taken by surprise, plundered, and beaten by death. I responded to Brenda’s poem and Vexations’ images that day with comments on Brenda’s blog: “Yes, yes, yes … let my final flight from this skin be in the dance, in the light radiant of love, in the fluid forever of dreams.”

(NYTimes) On Wednesday last William Wallace Hurt was sentenced to a 10-year prison term that would be suspended after one year. He had pleaded “no contest” in March to second-degree murder for having taken the life of Neva Hurt, his wife of fifty years and a woman imprisoned by Alzheimer’s disease. She would not have wanted to live that way, and Bill knew it. “It is the most difficult case that I’ve ever been involved in,” said Judge James Swanson from the bench. William Wallace Hurt is 84 years old.

My friend Louise recently placed her husband of more than sixty years into hospital care. Russ, too, was overcome in the shadows of Alzheimer’s, and Louise found herself slowly but relentlessly outnumbered by the possibilities of what might happen in any next minute.

Let me plan my departure. I am certain it would be better that way. “… the dance … the light … the fluid forever of dreams.”

Friday, July 08, 2005

We Are Not Afraid

You may recall that following the U.S. Presidential election last year a website went up to offer the world an apology for what we had done in electing George Bush for a second term. That site was called simply “sorry everybody,” and people from all over the United States sent images to be posted to the site offering their personal apologies and promises to do better the next time. You can see some of the images that were contributed to that global (and later controversial) apology by clicking here.

It is in response to the terror inflicted yesterday in London that another site is growing today: “WE ARE NOT AFRAID”. Like the "sorry everybody" site, this blog invites people from all over the world to send a message to those who want to make us afraid. The message is: "It's not going to work - We are not afraid." Visit the site to view images that have already been contributed, and while you’re there, make a plan to add one of your own.

The resistance to the forces of fear and violence building at the “wearenotafraid” website brings me to think again of Tamar’s writing today at In and Out of Confidence. “It takes courage and compassion to take responsibility for righting wrongs,” she writes in speaking of her friend Chaim, himself working for peace against frightful odds in his own corner of the world. It’s a good read and an encouragement to us all to withstand.

We are with you still today, London, and to the terrorists of the world we say, “We are not afraid.”

Update of interest: The "We Are Not Afraid" website has caught the attention of NYT editorialist Sarah Boxer who comments on the developing tone of the site. In a piece entitled "Fearlessness Meets Frivolousness" she states:

"A few days ago, We're Not Afraid might have been a comfort. Today, there's a hint of "What, me worry?" from Mad magazine days, but without the humor or the sarcasm. We're Not Afraid, set up to show solidarity with London, seems to be turning into a place where the haves of the world can show that they're not afraid of the have-nots."



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Thursday, July 07, 2005

Condolences

My heart goes out to those in London and their loved ones around the world who are suffering in the throes of loss and fear right now as a result of subway and transit bombings there today. The story: hundreds injured and more than thirty killed in this coordinated attack. I mourn your pain. I am sorry for your loss.


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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Second Chances

I was a baton twirler when I was growing up and remember the first time I went to baton twirling camp: my mother outfitted me with album covers to decorate my room in place of the posters that other kids would be bringing. I could have had no idea how out of place Ed Ames and Tom Jones would be next to The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, and Pink Floyd, nor could I have known how much of "my own time" I was missing by being the "good girl" I was supposed to be.

Ok, zoom zoom ... It's 35 years later, and NOW I'm catching up. I'm finally buying those "albums" I should have bought long ago, listening to all those forbidden songs, and being delightfully surprised to learn that I actually know a lot of them - they must have seeped into my brain when I hadn't noticed.

I write all that to get to this: I was just getting to the Pink Floyd chapter of music recovery a couple of weeks ago (and OMG ... it's fabulous! So THAT'S what all the fuss was about!) when I read that the band would reunite for the first time in 24 years to sing for the Live8 concert last Saturday. Oh, yeah ... lucky me! I hadn't missed EVERYTHING!! Pink Floyd! Oh, yeah! Thanks to Norm over at onegoodmove, I caught a piece of the concert "live," and I'm passing the link on to you here.

Now, I'm off for another trip through "Dark Side of the Moon."

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Blog Day

Serendipity combined with doodle has inspired Israeli blogger and tech innovator Nir Ofir to see the word “Blog” in the numeric representation of August 31 … “3108” Play around with the font and the quirky number/letter match-up gets better and better. Anyway, from that moment of epiphany, Nir has launched the idea of “Blog Day,” and the word is spreading to make August 31 the first annual event.

What Nir has to say: “In one long moment In August 31st 2005,every blogger from all over the world will post a recommendation of 5 new blogs (on the same day). In this day all Blog web surfers will find themselves leaping and discovering new, unknown blogs and celebrating the discovery of new people, new bloggers, and new ideas. I am suggesting this kind of activity because in the last months I felt that the more blogs there are, the less time I’m spending on new web logs.”

The idea is to invest a piece of the day on August 31 to introduce yourself and your readers to five (5) new places of interest, five new blogs and five new ways of seeing/being in the world. Let your imagination run away with you, and who knows where in the world it may take you.

Join the effort - spread the word. Years from now you’ll be telling your friends, “I was there when it all started.”


3108 This!


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Monday, July 04, 2005

Celebrating Independence

I was in the seventh grade (1967) when I built this puppet stage and constructed the sock puppets to lip sync The Fifth Dimension's musical rendition of The Declaration of Independence. Today I find the white, blond-haired, blue-eyed puppets standing in for a then popular African-American musical group to be a bit out of sync, but the idea was innovative at the time, and the (re) presentation of the message in music created new provocation for reflection. If any random moment calls for a recitation of The Declaration of Independence, I can do my part only because the music carries me. With thoughts toward a continuing celebration of the Fourth of July, here is a link to The Fifth Dimension's timely medley.


Friday, July 01, 2005

Don't Drink and Drive


Record high numbers of Americans are traveling this Fourth of July weekend. I offer this image from a 2001 Texas "Save a Life" campaign for the stark and moving message it carries: Don't drink and drive!

The small print reads:

Jacqueline Saburido as 20 years old when the car she was riding in was hit by a drunk driver. Today, at 24, she is still working to put her life back together. Learn more at www.TexasDWI.org.




technorati tags: driving safety

Got 15 Minutes to Make Some Science?

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

The folks at MIT are hoping to map the flows and patterns at play in the composition of the "blogosphere," so they're hoping for a BUNCH of responses to a call for volunteers to take their survey here. The fun part of the experience is in seeing how your answers compare to others who have completed the survey - an interactive graphic appears when you've finished the questions.

Here is MIT's description:

This is a general social survey of the greater weblog community being conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Our goal is to help understand the way that weblogs are affecting the way we communicate with each other. Specifically we are interested in issues of demographics, communication behaviors, experience with weblogs and other technology, and the meaning of various types of social links within the blogosphere.

The survey takes about 15 minutes to complete, and we are asking anyone with a weblog to participate. The larger the sample of individuals we can get, the better our picture of the community will be.

How 'bout it? Got 15 minutes this holiday weekend? Go make some science!!


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Body Amazing: Boy "Gives Birth"

Uterine imbalances combined with a lack of space during pregnancy to prompt one of a set of twin embryos to relocate itself inside the developing body of the other. The host embryo continued to develop and was born a healthy baby boy. Though periodic examinations indicated a growth in the surviving boy’s abdomen, doctors believed it to be a cyst or mass best removed “when the boy grows up.”


On June 25 at 1:00 p.m. a seven-member panel of doctors at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University delivered a living child from the body of a sixteen-year-old boy. ““Medical science says it is possible but this is the first such case in my professional life,” said the former head of the surgery department of Dhaka Medical College Hospital.” The fetus was found with developed hair, legs, teeth, hands, and genitals though cranial development was significantly lacking.

When the amazement and novelty surrounding the case subsides, there remains for me the complications of considering the life and health of the boy, the life of the unborn child, and the politics of the body, particularly as they appear differently when the gaze is cast on a male body “with child.” What presumptions seemed natural for you in this situation that would have moved other(wise) had the body of the host child been female?


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