Friday, January 25, 2008

Heath Ledger Facebook Memorial Group

I was wondering how long it would take for a social networking memorial to Heath Ledger to surface. It looks like it started immediately. This really shows some same qualities that spontaneous shrines have:
  1. Lots of media or objects related to the person that died. Here on Facebook, there's movies, news media, images, user created media, sentiments from people ("I still can't believe it..."). There's a wide range of expressions from disbelief to claims about the validity of a suicide attempt. It is absolutely fascinating how rapidly this amount of information has been put into one place based on one tragic event.
  2. Mourning in protest. There's some interesting discussion around random bits of media saying that Ledger is in hell because of his portrayal of a gay man in Brokeback Mountain. There are so many expressions of outrage at this claim made by some evangelicals, that it almost seems like the discussion thread on the memorial page has become a space for supporting gay rights. Take a look at this:
"Are people so ignorant these days that they will allow a person to be typecast for a character he portrayed and not the man he truly was? This man was a wonderful father and caring human being. He most certainly is headed nowhere near hell. Shame on these awful people for printing and saying such blasphemy. His sexual orientation (which was heterosexual by the way) should not determine his value as a human being. Have some respect for his family during this difficult time."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Memorializing Women

Lately on national holidays I've been thinking about something I read and had an "Aha!" moment. John R. Gillis notes in the introduction to his book Commemorations that there are no national holidays for a woman in the US (he also notes to the lack of them in other countries).

I'd like to propose a list of women who deserve national recognition for their dedication to the freedoms of US citizens:

  • Elizabeth Cady Staton who wrote the Declaration of Statements was vital to the women's suffrage movement and was a social activist.
  • Susan B. Anthony, another woman who played a vital role in the women's suffrage movement who has her own coin - ironically associating women with ownership and property once again.
  • Another other woman involved in the women's suffrage movement who didn't oppose the 14th and 15th amendment openly and wanted to see rights extended to all citizens, irregardless of sex or race, like Carrie Chapman Catt. My vote goes to Catt.
  • Rosa Parks, African American civil rights activist who capitalized on civil disobedience. There's been lots of attention to her work due to her recent death. There's lots of people honoring her - just no national holiday.
Anyone else I'm missing?

It seems more common to commemorate women through objects (coins, statues) rather than through living memorials such as national holidays or large public spaces (parks, buildings).

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Benazir Bhutto Memorial in Second Life

There was a memorial service on Jan. 6 and a hopefully lasting memorial dedicated to Benazir Bhutto in Second Life. I haven't visited yet, and while this is more of a note for my own research, the quotes from two articles (Second Life Herald and GamePolitics) are extremely interesting. Here's a few making really poignant statements about the complicated method of memorialization in participatory spaces:

I give it approximately 10 minutes before it's covered in dicks. Posted by: Alyx Stoklitsky

...Regardless of how...complex...we might feel Mrs. Bhutto and her husband were in their nation's complex politics, we still can't but feel sorry and condemn this summary execution by terrorist forces. It should be thoroughly examined and Scotland Yard shouldn't be the entity doing the forensics.... Posted by: Prokofy Neva

BlackIce, Dragunov Marksman Says: Let’s hope it will stand for a little while.
lumi Says:I think this is a much better political use of SL than any of the campaigning garbage that’s been going around. I wonder if there’s some way that “Second Security” could be arranged to prevent it from being defaced. LL might want to look into that as a future service if it doesn’t already exist.

Thanks Josh!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mr. Quintron's Drum Buddy

I'm stoked to see Mr. Quintron's Drum Buddy being featured on Boing Boing. Quintron lives in New Orleans, and definitely represents some 9th Ward pride. One of my favorite "swamp tech" songs of all time is "Witch in the Club," which you can check out on his MySpace. The Drum Buddy is an amazing machine: an analog drum machine that creates sound out of light.

Check out Quintron on the Drum Buddy:


A Drum Buddy Demo:

YouTube - Drum Buddy Demo

Mr. Quintron and Ms. Pussycat get interviewed:

YouTube - Quintron & Miss Pussycat

Reel to Reel Tape Cutting

I've always been curious as to how this worked, and this YouTube video is really illuminating - I've gotta get a Reel to Reel!


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

WaPo makes a mistake according to the RIAA

The Washington Post reported the other day that a man in Arizona was being sued by the RIAA for ripping a CD on to his computer. The RIAA says WaPo got it totally wrong, and that the illegal act was placing it into a "shared" folder for a filesharing program to access. The most interesting part is that Cary Sherman, the President of the RIAA, makes an evasive move in regards to the question whether or not its OK to copy music to your computer:
I think that is a question you just can't answer in the abstract. That's the problem. There are a hundred hypotheticals you could come up with to try and come up with whether its legal or illegal in this particular set of circumstances. And you can go down that path trying to figure it out case by case and it just makes you realize that sometimes the law just isn't as clear as you'd like it to be.
We can't speak for all copyright owners and say whether its legal or illegal. And Its going to vary from case to case anyway. Copyright law whether we like it or not is very complicated, but that's why we're tried to make clear.
Hear it here.

I sympathize with Sherman, because the RIAA was misrepresented, even if copyright law hasn't kept up with technological advances. I freaked out after reading the article and even told my activist media class that ripping CDs was now considered illegal. I hope that this misreporting will lead to better journalism and free, accessible, and useful adult education on copyright. I feel that there's too much of a focus on children and teenagers when it comes to media literacy when there's a huge demographic of adults who just don't understand (myself included and the RIAA) the repercussions of exponential technological growth. Media literacy groups must reach out to adults in order for a big faux pas like WaPo's to be avoided in the future.