Category Archives: Class Work

Back Soon… I think

Back Soon” from Frengo2.0’s Flickr Stream.  Licensed under the Creative Commons.

The semester is just about over, the election is behind us, and I’m feeling confident that Barack Obama is going to keep the world’s uteruses safe (for the time being).  I’ve so enjoyed sharing this space with you all and having to form (what I hope are) cogent thoughts on American political issues.

I’m finished with the class I started this blog for and am trying to decide what to do with the space.  The content here doesn’t easily fit into my personal blog, BashfullyDesigned, but I am not sure that I can keep up a commitment to this space too…  In the next few days I’m planning to figure out just what this space will be used for– in many ways it is as much a part of my life as Bashful but there are ways in which the tone I take here is hard to keep up– that kind of perpetual criticism is exhausting, don’t you think?

Stay tuned, I wont leave you hanging like this, I swear.  Plus, there are all sorts of rumors and speculation swirling about the inauguration and I’ll be following those like crazy.

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Filed under Class Work, Thought Provoking

A Social Networked Protest in India

Each week about this time I report in on how social networking technologies (usually Facebook) and politics (usually Planned Parenthood) interact.  This week, I’m still going to do that, but I’m going to point to an article I heard last night on NPR’s All Things Considered.  Referencing the work of Howard Rheingold, author of Smart Mobs, Phillip Reeves interviewed a number of Mumbai citizens using txt messages to organize a mass protest Wednesday (today).

Reeve notes that the texts urge people to consider holding the Indian government accountable:

The real terrorists are not only those who have come through boat but those who have come through vote.  We can change the system, if America can why can’t India?  Please pass it on.

Although I’m so sorry to hear about the events in Mumbai last week, I suddenly felt this huge sense of relief.  America is, again, a model for peaceful transitions of power and the potential for democracy to hold the powerful accountable.  Suddenly, I know America made the right choice.  Obama is the person we need to show the world and just moving away from the policies of the Bush years is already restoring some of America’s standing abroad. Continue reading

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Filed under Class Work, Social Networking

Interface The Future

Neal Stephenson & J. Frederick Georges Interface

Neal Stephenson & J. Frederick George's "Interface"

I think that the Seattle Weekly got it right. Interface is “a Manchurian Candidate for the Computer Age.”  In fact, the whole time I read the book I kept thinking that the plot had kind of been covered in that movie a number of years ago.  This isn’t to say that I don’t adore Stephenson. When I finally got around to reading Cryptonomicon, thanks to the nagging of my partner, I adored it: really brilliant, enthralling, and exciting.  What attracts me to Stephenson’s work is that it is Sci-Fi but not the kind of Sci-Fi with spaceships and aliens, it is a world that looks just like this one except for one little thing… and that one little thing, which always seems like a good idea at the time (i.e. brain implants for stroke victims) turns out to have huge consequences.

Stephenson and George successfully indite the media-savvy political process of the late 20th and early 21st Century.  I think they’re also right about how it will be medical technology that get people to surrender at least some of their rights to a computerized network- after all, who wouldn’t want their father back from a stroke he was never supposed to have. Continue reading

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Filed under Class Work, Reading

Still The Cause, Not the Technology

Obama's Facebook Page

This semester I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about successful campaign organization and messaging.  One common thread, in all my classes and volunteer work, is that without a solid message or a good candidate all the technology in the world wont help.  Nowhere is this clearer to me than in the presidential election.  Although Obama certainly did have an exceptional social networking strategy, it helped that he is an extremely charismatic man with a talent for oratory and keeping calm in stressful situations.

I can’t help but think that the exact same online strategy wouldn’t have helped John Kerry nearly as much– Obama’s talent was connecting with the voters and Facebook was just a tool to get that done.  In contrast, men like Kerry and Howard Dean never got over initial stumbles or the perception that he’s inaccessible.  Sure, Facebook creates the illusion that someone is accessible (we know he likes Bob Dylan, for example) but Obama isn’t making these pages– his communications staff is. Continue reading

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Filed under Class Work, Social Networking

Election Recovery, Thank You Notes, and Forgotten Help

One of the Profile Images Planned Parenthood Has Available on Facebook

One of the Profile Images Planned Parenthood Has Available on Facebook

The day after Barack Hussein Obama made history, Planned Parenthood sent me a short thank you note via e-mail.  It included a link to the PDF of their “this is what it feels like” project– pretty cool but, from what I can tell from their website hasn’t been hugely successful.  Also, they didn’t ask me to donate any more money, which was a nice change– the email was just a “thanks, we hope you’ll stay involved, and we couldn’t have done it without you.”  I like to be thanked.

On Facebook, though, they’ve been incredibly quiet.  On one hand, I feel that this is completely understandable.  I know that the money is often budgeted to run out on election day– the day after it is embarrassing to still have cash on hand, especially if you lost.  So, I’ve no doubt that their Facebook staff might have been the first to go.  At the same time, though, I think that Planned Parenthood needed to send a thank you to their Facebook supporters too.  While they might anticipate a fair amount of overlap between their e-mail list and their Facebook list, that didn’t stop them from cross posting things during the election.  By ignoring their Facebook constituency they’re failing to thank/encourage a major demographic that uses Planned Parenthood’s services– young, under or uninsured women.  As of this morning I still haven’t heard from Planned Parenthood on Facebook– nothing from them since election day’s reminder to vote.

They have a lot to celebrate.  President-Elect Obama will, according to The New York Times, reverse the so-called Global Gag RuleContinue reading

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Filed under Class Work, Social Networking

So, I’m Not The Only One Creeped Out By Facebook Politics

Just wanted to let ya’ll know that Jezebel agrees with me.  Writing about the post-election reaction on Facebook, the Jezebel ladies note:

But then something else hits you: the anger in her messages and the vitriol in her words must sound, to you, exactly like your anti-Palin/anti-McCain rants sound to her. And yet, she still sends you pictures of her kids, asks you about your job and how your mom is doing, and hopes to see you at Thanksgiving. And so the question becomes: does the political outweigh the personal? Do you owe anyone a friendship if their views run so opposite to yours?

This is a fine line, there used to be a time when the liberal and conservative staffers might still go out for a beer together at night.  I fear that time has passed.  And, if it has, does that mean our Facebook profiles are the next to go?

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Filed under Social Networking

We Just Saw “The First Campaign”

Not going to lie, it was a little weird to read The First Campaign: Globalization, the Web, and the Race for the White House just a few short days after Barack Obama made history.  I wanted to like Garrett Graff’s book, but as with so many books about globalization and technology’s potential I found that his work fell short of a truly illuminating discussion.

Of course, part of this may be that on Nov. 4 the work was instantly dated.  I believe that, though he made a few missteps along the way, President-Elect Obama’s online presence was far superior to anything Graff talks about in the book.  As a testament to just how dated the book already is, Obama is only listed in the index 25 times (for a book that is 290 pages long), where as the Clintons show up over 40 times. Continue reading

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Filed under 2008 Election, Class Work, Reading