Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Farflung Correspondent Seeks Your Help

Yesterday's email included the contract for my volunteer position as Euro-editor for this year's BlogHer. I have a few questions on the details, but esentially, I'll be trying to publish the best blogging from and about Europe to the BlogHer site during the lead up to the conference in San Jose, California, in June. BlogHer focuses on women, of course, but hello, guys, I did ask about what the editorial policy is around including Y chromosomes in my selections. Stand by on that.

In exchange for my hard work (like I couldn't use some of my squandered web hours contributing?) I'll get the mighty muscle of BlogHer promoting my own site, Nerd's Eye View. I've been having something of an identity crisis around the site. Note the remodel! Note the advertising! Note the participation in Performancing discussions on how to monitize your blog. (Bleh. There's that word again. Monitize. Bleh.) I'm not going to sell a billion copies of my book, Baked Insanity, without some marketing, right? If I want to write less "To BLAH, click the BLAH and then, click BLAH" and more stories about noisy elk, I'm gonna have to get my writing in front of more eyeballs. Welcome to the era of shameless self-promotion.

But wait there's more. It's not just about I Me Me My. There's some pretty fine writing out there about European issues that warrants sharing. You may be shocked to learn that I am anti-Americentric thinking. It's true! I engage in my share of Eurobashing, but not more than I engage in my share of Ameribashing. Indulge me while I get up on a soapbox for just a minute and rattle on about how exposure and understanding of other cultures and ideas makes us not just better neighbors, but better people. Eh, you don't need to hear this. You know. I'll step down now.

Anyhow, I could use your help. I'm looking for first rate Euro-bloggers. I have plenty of good ex-pat sites bookmarked. There's no shortage of stories about language lessons or the crazy local phone company or the significance of pork. You get the picture. There's also plenty of primo travel stuff out there, plus, that's a whole 'nother category for BlogHer. That's what I'm NOT looking for.

I'm looking for sites about European issues. I want the Ameriblog and The Daily Kos of Europe. I've got some feeds already, but I'd rather get dupes than miss something, so I'm not going to list them. I'm way a lefty but know thy enemy, yes? I'm also looking for photostreams, podcasts, and any other bloggy stuff that offers quality insight on European issues. I'm primarily looking for work by women - hey, it's BlogHER, not BlogHIM - but I'll certainly look at other stuff. English language only. Of course there's great stuff in all European languages, but I lack the skill to evaluate it. Unless it's visual, then, okay, bring it.

That's more than enough about me and my needs. You and your recommnedations, please? In the comments (or here on Nerd's Eye View. Thanks loads for helping me out in this upcoming bloggy adventure.

Note: Cross posted a few places. Sorry for dupes in your RSS readers.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Doing it and doing it and doing it

A question posted in THE NEW YORK TIMES by the proprietors of an Ad Agency:

I'm a subscriber to your (Newspaper) in Devonport, a seaside suburb of Auckland, New Zealand. With your wide readership in the U.S. ad industry, I thought you'd be better placed than anyone to help us with a phenomenon we have noticed that involves your compatriots.

We appreciate that the name of our agency, the Department of Doing, is a little quirky and helps us get noticed in an industry where everyone craves attention. But here's the rub. Our premises are on the top floor of a 19th-century shop in Devonport and we have a "Department of Doing" sign outside. We always expected the odd inquiry out of curiosity but fully 60 percent of the people who climb our steep stairs to ask, "So, what does the Department of Doing do, exactly?" are American.

We now have a visitors' book and this comment would be typical: "Fascinated by name - had to come up!" Visitors sign themselves from Chesapeake Bay, San Diego and many other U.S. destinations.

We spend a lot of time talking to our American friends and they are all very charming. But could you throw some light on their overrepresentation as investigative stair-climbers? Is your nation more curious than others? Are Americans bolder, "not backward about coming forward," as my mum would put it? Rest assured that tea, cake and a convivial chat will always be on order for our American guests.

Ghost Cycle in Seattle

Pam's post on famous and nonfamous reminded me to check out the site that is listed on eerie white bikes with red printed signs that are dotted around Seattle. See picture & mission statement here.

I've seen three bikes so far, in areas where there are many bicyclists & bad traffic patterns converge and have wondered what the story was behind the bikes. There's something that hits home for me about memorials for stricken bicyclists, as I used to make my living riding a bike in Washington, D.C. (memorialized here by an old friend of a friend). The main reason I quit was because the idea of getting hit by a car...taxi...etc. "any day now" was too oppressive. So, after two years, I gave up riding.

Ghost cycle, cool project.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Wiki this

Hey all,

Too long an absence makes for a rusty start. However, I'm still surfing & have rounded out my collection of my latest, favorite technology.

Here's a description from the source:

"Wiki is in Ward's original description: The simplest online database that could possibly work.

Wiki is a piece of server software that allows users to freely create and edit Web page content using any Web browser. Wiki supports hyperlinks and has a simple text syntax for creating new pages and crosslinks between internal pages on the fly."

The beauty of a combined websource is in it's diversity. My current favorites are the Wikinews site, Wikipedia & Wikiquote, but there's heaps more.

My favorite cartoon has a wiki of it's own, as well as the site with the php code I use to build my photo galleries. There are folks using wiki's for journals and folks building wiki's for their communities, for productivity sites and, of course, for niche interests. You can even make your own.

I watched a monster, time-lapsed movie about folks entering news on the London blasts, made by a guy who is pointing out the intersection of culture & media on the web. I remember being up that morning & marveling over the news announcing that a "power-surge" had stopped several trains in London. Shortly after, the bus in Tavistock blew and it was more obvious that it was a coordinated attack. The video isn't the coolest thing, but it is refreshing to have an option, media-wise, when all hell breaks loose.

Check out wiki's folks & do tell if you've made one.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Happy Software Story

Have you tried Total Recorder? Really, you should.

The standard version is an $11.95 download which went quickly, even on my elderly dial-up. Total Recorder will record whatever audio passes through the sound card of your computer.

I'm using it right now to record an old THIS AMERICAN LIFE from 1997. There's all sorts of great audio on the web, of course. The BBC, NPR. And music of course. Forget ordinary old file swapping, how about recording a chunk of YFM's streaming broadcast "Playing the best mix of original, Urban South African music and international artists." Amazing commercials and The Morning Zoo format from very far away.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Hate It Or Love It

I'm slowly returning to the wider world at the end of a school term and reviewing all the chunks of information I've emailed myself to look at later.

An interesting set of tips in the NYT regarding a set of guidelines for conducting an honest argument between two entrenched sides:

1. Hate something for its failings, not its successes.
Simple idea, tough for me to execute. What I take away from this is that it's okay to find fault with, say, Paris Hilton for being a vacuous twerp but not because she has a successful television show.

2. No condemning something until you've tried it.
I hate the city of Phoenix which is peculiar considering that I've never been, never come close to going, don't personally know of anything bad that happened in Phoenix to any of my loved ones, etc.

3. Execution Matters
See John Kerry. Bless his heart but there were so many apologists insisting that he was NOT chilly, distant, aloof, etc. etc. It's a losing battle to convince someone that her experience using a product or a service (I suppose a presidential candidate is both) is not frustrating but actually delightful.

skipping number four for a moment...

5. Consider that they may have a point
from the original: Neither side's members should be allowed to cover their ears and sing "Blah blah blah!" at the top of their lungs when they hear an argument that could rock their worldview. As long as the points are factual, fair and substantive, you should consider them.

I thought this was such a nice list of guidelines that I removed them from their original context which was a David Pogue essay that laid out the ground rules for Windows vs. Mac conversations (number four is "Don't make grandiose purchasing plans by guessing on technology's future"-sound advice, perhaps, but not quite as readily adaptable to other arguments.)


Sunday, May 01, 2005

Consider Yourself

A few days ago, I'm talking to a person about doing some work for them. This person is well-off, white, has an expensive home with an expensive view in an expensive neighborhood. This person made their money in corporate America and then left to make a living in a more new age (do we still use that term?) focused pursuit. And, in conversation about this person's ideas, they said this: "I'm like Rosa Parks."

If you ever watched Sports Night, Aaron Sorkin's brilliantly written TV show that died way too soon, you might remember the scene where Issac says to Dan that "no well-to-do young white man will ever get anywhere with him by comparing himself to Rosa Parks."

To deal with my feelings about my interaction with this person, when I got home I decided to find out who else had compared themselves to the woman who refused to go to the back of the bus. Here's what I came up with:

Ted Nugent: Nugent wanted to legalize dove hunting in Michigan and called himself "Rosa Parks with a 12 gauge."

Terrell Owens: A football player who made a brouhaha because he wanted to work as a free agent.

Lars Larson
: A conservative talk show host who thought the request by Southern Oregon University to leave his handgun at home while particpating in an on campus forum violated his civil rights.

Jack Kevorkian: The infamous Dr. Death who portrays himelf as fighting for a cause - legalized euthanasia.

Ahmed Omar Abul Ali: The Virginia Muslim charged with conspiring to assassinate President Bush.

Edward Forchian: A guy who's says that US marijuana laws are unconstitutional.

I thought it was interesting that all the people I found comparing themselves to Rosa Parks were men. The women I found had been compared to Rosa Parks by their peers or by an outside group; they hadn't drawn the comparison themselves.

I find the whole thing very presumptuous. I thought that history decided who was a leader and who was a prophet. But I have been wrong before. At this point, I want to issue a broad disclaimer about what a flawed human I am. I also want to veer off in to a tirade about humility and the lack thereof in our current society and government. Because I'm just like Al Franken. But also, I'm like a Trappist nun, so I'll shut up now.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Weddings, Afternoons, and Paul Rucker

Currently playing: III-Paul Rucker (released album, but nfs, for whatever reason).
Smells like sunshine, don't it? I spent this afternoon (Thursday) speaking with an old friend from my days in Pittsburgh, Kavita. She's getting married about a year from now, to a Providence speechwriter/pizza tosser turned med student. They're having a hybrid Catholic/South Indian wedding. I already asked the brazenly gauche question: is the Indian version like in Monsoon Wedding? Answer: no, that is North Indian, and the ceremonies are quite different. She was the only person that I look back and feel was missing from our ceremony 4 years ago (don't even get me into a conversation about who should have been left off the invitation list).

Now playing: Spanish Root - D'angelo
In my ideal world, weddings would be like amped up dinner parties - ritual, food, friends, toasts, a raising of the spirits. Having witnessed and heard about others' weddings since our date, I am coming to realize that this is not a common phenomenon. It's hard to tread the thin line of serious ritual and uplifting celebration, particularly when so much cultural baggage is built into the details of the Western wedding ceremony.

Now playing: She's My Baby - Fats Domino
I'm bringing all of this up as Stephen's wedding is right around the corner, but also as this is the season for these things, this kind of attitude is one I'd like to foster for the next few months. Having Drew and Alex in town kicked off this feeling. It's close to the solstice and so our energy level is at its height. We try to create stories in the summer that sustain us through winter. It's weddings, beach trips, frisbee in the park, playing music together in fields. NOT watching cable - not cocooning. :)

Now playing: Beautifully Absurd - Prince Paul featuring Ellington Felton and K'Alyn
Leaving one of the other Blind Shoemakers' houses last night, I talked with the uke player about having an artichoke party - dipping the leaves in butter, scraping off the meat with our teeth. Feel free to invite yourself. I hope to see all of you many times in the next few months with as many serious celebrations as we can muster.