Friday, February 29, 2008

KRS One and Stop the Violence in New Orleans

KRS One visits a "camp site" in New Orleans as part of Stop the Violence's campaign to get the Hip Hop community involved in addressing global violence through education, critical dialogue, grassroots organizing and direct action. I've always had mixed feelings about KRS One's activism: is it genuine, does he really understand the complexities of these situations, what is he doing to create change and not just bring these issues to light. However, this video is really telling of the complex issues in New Orleans where there's no one group of people to blame - rather a complex system of governmental failures, issues of poverty and gentrification, land use, and natural disaster response.

Seeing this video reminded me of TED talk that I've been reading about from Philip Zimbardo (known for theStandford prison experiment) about his book The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (here's a nice interview from Wired). When people are put under intense pressure to survive or do their jobs, there are horrific things they'll do. While the scene with KRS One handing out money is a smaller contained example, this isn't something people would do normally but they're put in position where they're broke, homeless, hopeless, living in a city with a blind government and there's a guy handing out 20 dollar bills. What would you do?


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

BIL Conference is AMAZING

I wish this was just a few weeks later and I had a little more money or I'd go:

The Concept

BIL loves TED. TED is a great place to sit and listen to interesting ideas. Many of those ideas make it online, and millions get to experience them.

The catch for many of us is that TED is $6,000, which is too expensive for most people, including a great number with good ideas worth spreading. BIL has been created as a free space for people with ideas to come together and share them.

Our event is self-organizing, emergent, and anarchic. Nobody is in charge. If you want to come just show up. If you've got an idea to spread start talking. If someone is saying something good, stop and listen.

We hope BIL can be a perfect match to TED.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

CMW Records Logo

I'm really happy to present a logo I've been working on for Creative Music Works, which sponsors space for education and innovative performances in Denver. They're starting a record label for similar artists and I have to say, I've always wanted to design something for a record label! They've also been the most pleasant clients I've ever worked with.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

An in depth look at the Northern Star at NIU

Fresh Cut has a great video documenting how NIU's student run paper, the Nothern Star operated the day after the shooting. Apparently they knew who the shooter was before CNN and utilized Facebook to gather information about the victims.

SLSA site redesign live

The SLSA site redesign went live today, and I'm happy with how the project has turned out. The folks at SLSA are brilliant wonderful people and its been great working with them to implement a new website design and a Joomla interface to handle their resources, blog, email archive and newsletter.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

NIU community successful in blocking WBC protests

Looks like the groups that utilized Facebook and other social networking sites were able to band together with local law enforcement to avoid any major confrontation at one of the NIU victim's funerals:

"When this is what you do as your hobby, as your leisure time, this is what you spend your money on," said Paulette Phelps, daughter-in-law of Fred Phelps, pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church. "This is our vacation. This is our fun time."

In spite of their inflammatory signs, including one that read, "God sent the shooter," their protest took place almost without incident.

The only exception was when a mourner shouted at the protesters from behind a police barricade before being led away by police.

The presence of several dozen police officers from departments throughout the county seemed to effectively prevent any confrontations between the Westboro Baptist Church and mourners.

A row of St. Charles snowplows formed a physical and highly visible barrier between the park where the protesters were assembled and the east entrance of the church.

About 40 officers from the Kane County Mobile Task Force, in riot gear, stood guard around the park to protect the mourners from the protesters.

"They have the ability to express their freedom of speech," St. Charles Police Chief James Lamkin said. "We wanted to make sure there was nothing that would disrespect the funeral."

About 15 students from around the suburbs were on hand to express their disgust for the protesters' message.

Read more.

Article on Pop + Politics

I'm completely flattered to be asked by Pop + Politics to comment on the NIU shootings last week and how mourning has manifested on social networking sites. Its a fantastic blog with some really wonderful news and writers. Here's an excerpt from my article:
Activism also plays into online memorials, perhaps more intensely than it does for physical memorials. Nearly all of the Facebook and MySpace memorials address the Westboro Baptist Church’s announcement that “God sent the Shooter…WBC will picket their hypocritical funerals & memorials & "vigils."” WBC pickets many vigils, memorials, funerals and public gatherings in response to mass tragedy and loss such as the funerals of soldiers, hate crime victim Matthew Shepard and other school shootings because the church sees these events as God’s “Wrath & Vengeance Against an Ungrateful Nation that has Forsaken Him & Embraced Filthy Fags.” In response, there was a call from members connected to the Facebook and MySpace memorials to set up a counter-protest and later promote when and where the counter-protests would take place:

Monday, February 18, 2008

Barack Obama Is Your New Bicycle

Lovin' this new meme! Although obviously Obama-biased, both sites relate the awesomeness of Barack Obama to the joy of getting a new bicycle - or so I'm able to ascertain!

Thanks tstiles

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

YouTube and Academia?

YouTube - Juhasz Final Video

I'm slightly frustrated by this video posted by a professor who utilized YouTube in her class to get her students to think about media critically. She's very honest about her frustrations and successes within the course. Here's an outline of the five points she makes in her video about why her experiment with YouTube in the classroom wasn't successful:

1. YouTube is a new media form surrounded by speed and efficiency. Doesn't allow extended dialogue which is what academics specialize in.

2. Humor and sincerity are important qualities of YouTube videos. Attempting to communicate something in a logical structured format isn't considered successful.

3. Popularity is a fundamental organizing strucutre for YouTube (corporate and people's viewing experience). Searching for this popularity leads to meritocracy. "There is a certain amount of talent that is needed to produce things that rise up and above the noise."

4. YouTube sells us the same type of commercials that other media sell us, but in a slicker mode. The corporate imperative causes this. YouTube is a "big TV." Policing organized around the most mediocre mainstream middling ideas of the culture, everything that falls to the outside is suspect and easy to remove.

5. There is a second world, niche micro communities, who produce radical culture and media outside the logic of YouTube and isn't well supported by YouTube's structure. It needs to find a new community that will support building an infrastructure for dealing with (I'm paraphrasing here)"asking the harder questions, saying the hard things that need to be said...and hold on to the terrain that is slipping away as corporate culture and mainstream culture take away our energy."

How do you feel about Juhasz's comments? I know that I haven't taught or participated in a class that used YouTube as it's main source of communication, but I will say personally, it is examples such as this that make me never want to teach within a university setting. Her 5th point really gets under my skin, which I interpret as "Academia needs its own ivory tower mode of discussion and YouTube isn't good for anything except videos of cats." Wow... what about media literacy projects like this, political activism and education like this, or smart d├ętournement like this, or citizen media like this.

Yes, there are lots of stupid things on YouTube and they don't develop a discussion and most users probably don't think critically about media but becoming a producer of media is the beginning of that (in my opinion...maybe I'm wrong). I think it's a fantastic entry way into a smarter, more critically minded, accessible dialogue about media production.