Monthly Archives: July 2010

I hate a song that…

“I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard traveling.

I am out to fight those songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood. I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built.

I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work.”

That’s Woody Guthrie on songwriting. You can hear Will Greer reading those words, plus a great set of original recordings from Guthrie and Lead Belly, on the Smithsonian Folkways collection, “Folkways: The Original Vision”.

Is this a ‘Have you no sense of decency momment?’

The Atlantic: James Fallows: “On Today’s Hot Media Stories: Sherrod, “Journolist”.

The only way it would be so is if we collectively stop watching, stop clicking, and stop linking to such witch hunts, such hatred, served in pursuit of traffic and ratings.

And you would think that by now, in our media-savvy land, we’d instinctively know that soundbites out of context lead to misunderstanding.

For a world of context from all sides, check out the Memeorandum thread.

Ethan Zuckerman at TEDGlobal on the challenge and opportunity

Interested in how information reaches those it needs to reach? Intersted in acts of journalism crossing cultural gulfs and divides? Interested in web services and connectivity? You will want to watch Ethan Zuckerman’s talk at TEDGlobal 2010 and I hope be inspired: “Ethan Zuckerman: Listening to global voices”:

Check out his ideas on how to use Twitter to open up your world.

Zuckerman and danah boyd are helping establish a reasoned view of the Web and its potential based upon its now decade-plus history. It is why I feel project’s like Zuckerman’s Global Voices are so important. Following is danah boyd’s talk at PDF 2009: “danah boyd – PdF2009 – The Not-So-Hidden Politics of Class Online”:

Related:

Ethan Zuckerman’s transcription of the talk

danah boyd: transcription of her Personal Democracy Forum (PDF) 2009 talk: “The Not-So-Hidden Politics of Class Online”

Clay Shirky: “Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality”

Guardian.co.uk: John Naughton: “The internet: Everything you ever need to know”

Previously:

“If you believe in The Long Tail, then stop saying the web is “flat” okay?”

“It exists, and its influence matters”

The call to action:

raise voices, go beyond babel, engineer serendipity, build bridges, cultivate xenophiles, rewire

A metal band that bridges cultures

Al Jazeera: “The Maiden frontier”:

As many metal fans from the region have pointed out to me, Maiden’s songs remind them that they should not trust the hype and slogans promising a better tomorrow, that progress demands putting aside easy prejudices in favour of a much harder but more honest discussion about the future and that they should remember the past but not be afraid of the future.

…Of course, building a successful career as a rock band, however difficult, is nothing compared to building an alternative economic and cultural system in a region plagued by war, occupation, authoritarianism and poverty. But the point of music and the artists who produce the culture the rest of us consume is rarely to provide a direct blueprint for action.

Instead, it is to inspire, to give a vision of a different future and the courage to get up in the morning and figure out how to survive and even thrive in a system that is very much not set up for your benefit.

More than one member of Iron Maiden has told me that perhaps the greatest gift they can give fans is joy. And whether in Dubai or Madison Square Garden, the concerts were filled with joy, from musicians and fans alike.

Metal is often accused of being music about death, and certainly Iron Maiden’s songs can often seem, on the surface, violent and blood-soaked. But as one Iranian metal musician said about the genre, and Maiden in particular, “what’s amazing is how a music about death in fact affirms life”.

Tutoring

Lately I’ve been part of a project helping tutor an individual in assisted living, who is disabled, in learning how to navigate the Web and email, with the eventual goal of uploading his music to YouTube. I can’t wait to introduce you to him – he’s fantastic and his songwriting is interesting.

It has been a terrific experience, an eye opener, and a reminder of things I I might have forgotten from when I used to develop applications for folks I worked with at Sears, who were not familiar with using a mouse, let alone an application of some sort.

Two things that come to mind that I will probably talk more about in later posts are that metaphors and analogies are terrific communication tools and that we as programmers and web service producers still make things too damn hard – there is still tremendous opportunity for innovation.

Example idea:

Markup that web browsers recognize for Login and Logout links/activities/forms so that the web browser itself can present a common interface for this kind of common action. Everyone has these interactions in different locations, with different looks and feels, but for those people who are disadvantaged in some way, this could provide a common interface. This way, web designers can keep the flexibility in their UI designs they seek *and* an additional utility would be available in the browser itself, to assist those who need it.

Just an idea to throw out there.

I’m thankful to be in a position to do this, and I hope to share more as this project progresses.