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BloggingOn 10.4 - A Significant Thread In The Fabric Of My Pop-Addled Consciousness

I was probably thirteen or so the first time I saw Pump Up the Volume. It's one of several movies that I've seen twenty or thirty times. These two biographical footnotes should tell you that what I'm about to say should probably be tempered with common sense and good taste. I think it's fecking brilliant, but then I probably don't have the most unadulterated view on that score.

Speaking of a tinted perspective, it could be that the blogosphere is showing up everywhere, or it could be that I'm just seeing it everywhere. Either way, I'd be interested to know if anyone else thinks this little flick has something to contribute to our class discussion.

So, Christian Slater has this little pirate radio station (blog) on which he plays offensive and sometimes wacky music, feigns on-air masturbation, complains about Amerika/high school/society in general, responds to reader mail (comments), and basically stirs things up.

He is an instigator for social change, but broadcasts (posts) under a pseudonym (screen name) and disguises his voice, thus concealing his identity from his family, teachers, classmates, etc. In real life he is socially inept, completely unable to communicate with anyone, but on the air (online) he is able to fully express himself without being hindered by inhibitions in any way at all.

The climax of the movie (and this is the part that really interests me) comes when he is forced out of anonymity by the FCC, faces his social anxieties, fears and inhibitions and is united with the zealous throng he is responsible for creating. Just after he is carted off by the FCC (while delivering his now signature line: Talk Hard*) the audio is overpowered by several individual voices (bloggers) delivering what we can only assume are their new pirate radio shows (blogs).

I don't think the parallel is such a stretch, but more interesting is that the narrative finds it's tension in the conflict between communicating under cover of anonymity and communicating directly as oneself. It's out of the attempt to communicate in this way that the "hero's journey" reaches fruition. For our blogs to be "useful" perhaps they need to facilitate this journey from the anonymity to full self-expression.

Oh yeah, we should all watch Talk Radio, too.

*Memes play an interesting part in the story as well. Some of the memes that circulate: talk hard, the truth is a virus, so be it, etc.



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BloggingOn 10.3 - "The Truth Is A Virus"

As I tried to relay in one of those akward and nondescript audio posts, I went to see Jarhead last night, and it left me wondering about our status as "information sharing animals".

I suppose it was brought on, in part, from that oh-so-familiar-feeling that arises after two hours in a dark/loud movie theatre: why did I just watch that? Not in the I-want-my-money-back sense, or in the I-just-wasted-two-hours-of-my-life sense. The movie was actually quite good, but it left me wondering just exactly what was being expressed.

My friend C.S. (nay-Lewis) summed it up pretty accurately, I thought. She said Jarhead was about (and I'm paraphrasing here) the necessity of sacrificing our "selves" in order to survive in a "crisis" situation, and how sometimes we never really get our selves back. I'm not sure that covers all the bases, but it seems about right.

So what's the problem. Well, information sharing animal that I am, I decided to go see this movie. I paid my money, sat down, watched, listened, tried to interpret what I could by making decisions about this and that, and in the end I should have been the rightful owner of some new informational content, right? But what was the nature of that information? Even if it is what C.S. posits, what good does that really do for me?

If I ever find myself drafted into the armed forces, maybe I'll have a road map that will better equip me to navigate the psychological and metaphysical perils that lie ahead. But is that really why we watch a movie like Jarhead?

If it is, then the conduit for relaying that information is rather flawed. Let's assume that Jarhead did have a "message" (any message) that you or I or anyone else who saw it should be able to easily decipher. Does the medium make that task more difficult than it needs to be? Does the medium even make that task possible? The medium is the message, right? So after two hours of verbal and visual shock-and-awe isn't it far more likely that the sensory overload is going to make that sort of information relay difficult if not impossible?

If I'm going to go to the trouble of expressing something useful or utilitarian to someone else, I'm going to attempt to be as clear and direct about it is possible. Do blogs disseminate information in a clear and direct way? What sort of information? What sort of blogs?

Forgive me, I digress and I digress some more. Part of the problem is that I have lots of thoughts about this, but no clear ideas. I think what I really want to get at is this (which is of course not a definite statement, but a string of open-ended questions): if we are information sharing animals, what is the nature of that information? What is its useful purpose? What motivates us to share information? What do we gain, as a species, by disseminating information?Do we do this more efficiently/successfully by disseminating it via the internet, or television, or cell-phones, as opposed to simply in conversation one-on-one?

You might expect that the act of sharing information would increase our chances of survival in one way or another. Is there any information here, here or here that serves that purpose? What's the specific utility involved in this little piece of information, and other pieces like it?

It's often suggested that what distinguishes us super-fancy two-legged upright-walking lifeforms from all the others is our ability to engage in rational thought. Perhaps. But when the energy we expend on that rational thought results merely in more-spohisticated means to eat, reproduce, and defend ourselves, and possibly find pleasure - actually, let's just say find pleasure and avoid distress - then what's the big feckin' deal? Isn't that what our less fortunate slimy-scaly-fuzzy-feathery friends are up to?

Aldon says:
It is about Emergence. The human condition is to read and think until we do know what the theme is. It is what we do while waiting, and blogs are yet another place where we read, write and think, while waiting.
My apologies, but I just can't help but just pose one more question that I can't entirely answer... waiting for what, exactly?

Waiting until all of this information amounts to a clear direction, a course of action, an end to the waiting and a beginning of the acting/doing? If that action is only a plan to find pleasure and avoid distress, maybe we had best keep waiting - or we'll be forced to admit that nothing really separates us from the "animals" save for more elaborate means of seeking pleasure and more significant attitudes about the nature of our distress.


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this is an audio post - click to play


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this is an audio post - click to play


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Authenticity, the Personal, and Just A Plain Old:
You Guys Have Got To See
THIS


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BloggingOn 10.2 - Logicars and Despars [or] Should We Try That Again?

Perhaps getting carried away is also what a blog is all about. To attempt something a little more focused and coherent, let's take a look at this little thing here.

Jon Garfield's article "Constructive Media" is a great place to start talking about what a blog is, what it does, and what we can expect from it. This is theoretical. It's holistic. It's not of the "a blog is..." variety categorization and taxidermy.

Garfield is discussing all sorts of interactive internet media, but what he has to say applies to blogs, fo' sho'.
I call this "constructive media" for the simple reason that all participants agree that the point of the whole exchange is to build upon the opening point of the discussion. (even disagreement is a positive motion). The opposite may well be "destructive" media, where the original point is lost, and often civility as well. (the terms "constructive/deconstructive texts", from literary theory, generally address how a text is perceived; here we are focusing on the mechanics of the discussion).
So, the "point" of blogging is to "get somewhere" conversationally, interactively? Ok. Why not? But if we're going somewhere, where exactly are we going? This is no doubt determined by each individual blogger (or blog; as Holly would argue, "our blogs write us"), but can't we find some overarching collective destination? Self-expression? "Information-sharing"? Different posts, the both of them.

What does Garfiel... er, funkel. Gar-funkel have to say? (Maybe not about a blog's purpose, but about it's success - we may not know where we're going, but we'll know it when we get there).
The degree to which a communications medium can be said to succeed is in how many people see it as useful, and as legitimate.
Useful? Legitimate? Whatever do you mean Mr. Garfunkel? Maybe this is better deferred...


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BloggingOn 10.1 - "...Of All These Weird Creatures Who Lock Up Their Spirits, Drill Holes In Themselves, And Live For Their Secrets"

I spent some time last night leaving comments on Colin's blog. I think because I have too much to say and I'm not quite sure where to begin. If not art, blogging is at least a creative endeavor, and much of the creativity I appreciate exists in conversation with its environment - it is referential and self-referential. So why not begin at the beginning?

Aldon thinks that: "blogging and other online communities [can] be tools to help reconnect American's with their family, friends, and neighbors". I'm still skeptical, and not just because Aldon says this in another post: "I read Tom's blog entry... Tom is actually a neighbor of mine, at least according to Feedmap. I haven't actually met him, but I've commented on his blog before."

I don't doubt that the internet helps us to make connections. I am however, not quite as confident in the quality of those connections. Posting on one's blog can certainly facilitate self-expression, but most (if not all) blogs are just a step or two away from PostSecret - they allow the blogger a free space in which to say things that they probably wouldn't say in public. I think most bloggers "say" things online that they wouldn't even say in strictest confidence.

Either way, I'm not convinced that this is a bad thing... I just don't think it's the best thing. That is to say, most of us do not feel free to fully express ourselves in our daily lives, with friends, family members, coworkers, etc. Blogs, email (and even cell-phones to a certain extent) give us the degree of anonymity that we apparently feel is necessary in order to say what we really want (ok, almost). BUT... that communication is not really communication. It's a weather balloon or a message in a bottle or running a flag up the pole to see if anyone salutes. Real communication is hard, and despite the PostSecretTestimonials I don't think that blogging is making it any easier. Real communication is a different muscle entirely.

That being said, case NOT closed. Colin declares: "Blogging is an activity that appears isolative but is rather the opposite. It's shouting in a forest that has a thousand eyes and ears."

Blogging is not isolative. I agree. And that forest thing seems about right, too. But what about arms and mouths? Which is to say, perhaps blogging is more exhibitionist than expressive. When I let-my-little-light-shine (if such a thing ever does occur) I don't only want to know that people are watching, but that they have some words of encouragement to offer, and that they'll be around to catch me if I fall. Yes, comments are interactive, but...

And there I'm not quite sure where to go next. Comments make me feel good, but is it the particular flavor of good that I'm really looking for? Is it the sort of good that makes me sleep easier at night, that makes me want to jump out of bed the next morning to meet another day of living, eager-like and head-on?


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Western Culture, This Is Your... uh, Culture? [or] Link = Theft [or]
Crap Out There, Now Here

Straight out of a toilet and into your bed. [!!!] These toys are perhaps the most subtle, lovable and harmless way you can physically represent urine and excrement in the form of a plush toy. [!!!]
Please, no one try to best this one. I'm confident that there are far more edifying ways you could spend your creative energies than trying to represent human waste in a more "subtle, lovable and harmless way".

Speaking of collosal wastes of time, here's an idea whose time should never, ever come. One of the many flicks that makes me scratch my head and wonder... when this idea was pitched, one or more Hollywood execs actually said, "Yeah, that sounds like a good idea, let's pump millions of dollars into it." To be fair - and this is something I should really not admit to - I'll watch it. Maybe not on the big screen, but I'll forfeit two hours of my life to see just exactly what these geniuses decided should come after the Patrick Swayze masterpiece that is Roadhouse. There aren't too many horrible movies I won't watch, truth be told. I saw the last Crocodile Dundee fiasco, after all. In the theatre. Yipes.

To make it worth your while, peruse these suggestions for alternate tag lines.

Also in the world of "maybe we shouldn't" there's this unnecessary remake. I'd like to totally dismiss it, but it's in the able hands of this guy and this guy, who were responsible for this show. It was totally uneven, but sometimes brilliant, and it had far-and-away the best ending to a tv series I have ever seen.


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All Through The Day...


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Urgent Note To Self: Walk Away Now And Never Look Back

First a discomfiting though complimentary remark of vague authenticity after class last night, and now this. I don't know what it is about undue praise that makes me feel so painfully uncomfortable. I'd like to think it's a growing aversion to inflammation of the ego, but more than likely it's the fear that I'll be exposed for the carefully executed phony that I am.

I know, I know, one lousy link is worlds away from the nightmare descent into celebrity-induced personality fissures, megalomaniacal disdain for all humanity, and soul-killing dependency on illicit sensual engagement, but I can feel the winds of the abyss whipping lightly around my ears...

So be it. Since it's likely I'll be getting a few more visitors around these parts than would reasonably be expected, I might as well roll out the welcome mat. Chances are you're just here to find out if McE's haphazard characterization was tongue-and-cheek or on-the-level. (It is, after all, hard to tell sometimes. That sardonic rapier wit.) Now that you've no doubt cleared that one up for yourselves, may I express my heartfelt (though akward) thanks for your visit, and wish you well on your internetravails. Here's one for the road.


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BloggingOn 9.6 - Vlog is to Internet as Public Access is to Cable TV

Rocketboom, rocketboom, blech. This one receives my vote for most-likely-to elicit-akward-and-inappropriate-comments-from-Bill. It's the video equivalent of double-b, but it probably owes much of its success to one visual element in particular: A.C. (not Slater). She may be generically attractive (think: the new token Republican aide in the Bartlet White House), but she is undeniably ANNOYING! Too bad her stunted and unintentionally-weird delivery distracts from the usually interesting content and nicely streamlined format of the site. Definite points for clealry displaying links to all of the stories covered.

My main issue with Rocketboom is the hype. Look, this site is NOT competing with MSM. Most (if not all) of their stories are not "real news". This is another characteristic they share with the double-b: Rocketboom is more or less a clever collection of weird and intersting stuff to see on the web. There is no real "content" here.

Colin says: is "Rocket Boom," just kind of SNL stripped from its corporate moorings? And didn't the MSM make that possible by letting SNL become such thin, puny gruel?

First of all, SNL hasn't been funny since the early 90s (with the exception, perhaps, of the blue oyster cult/cowbell sketch). Second, this is like comparing A.C. to Dennis Miller, which would imply that Rocketboom is, or was at one time, funny. It is not. It is akward and unbearable (more like Weekend Update with Kevin Nealon), and I would rather just click on a list-o-links to interesting vlogs than have to suffer through Cogdon's horrible delivery.

Speaking of akward and unbearable... Vlog Soup ("Sir, I know John Henson, and you are no John Henson") doesn't fall far from the tree (Steve Garfield - "Steve (pause) AT (longer pause) Stevegarfield (short pause) DOT COM" - is a Rocketboom "correspondent" right?). Steve's delivery also lacks a certain relaxed and natural quality (read: human) that would go a LONG way. The stuff he finds is sometimes interesting, but mostly banal. Again, I would much rather click on the links than watch the rundown.

The episodes are much better Max-Headroom-style.

In the end these two are not the actual content, just the content providers. It seems we might be better off just getting it ourselves.


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BloggingOn 9.5: Vuh-Log

Avant-garde composer Erik Satie posited (to be echoed later in last century by John Cage, Morton Feldman and the like) that music will always be 80(?) years behind the visual arts. What then of text?

Hoo-reigh for vlogging! Stuff like this, this, and this is so much more (immediately) interesting than your average blog (that last one comes complete with its own treacly vlogging manifesto, courtesy of Coldplay). Blogs are so... well, 2004-presidential-election, after all. Which isn't to say that any of these vlogs will have lasting interest, or that any of it is immediately good. Certainly something can be interesting, but not all that well executed (almost every time the camera comes into focus during that second one, ugh!).

Of the stuff I've seen so far, Colin's "NYC Vlogger" is the most satisfying. He/she(?) understands and manipulates one of the primary limitations of the genre: video downloads of any sort are likely to be choppy and disconnected, why not make that a virtue of your aesthetic?

What is it that I really like about these vlogs? They don't seem to feel obligated to say or do anything in partiular, and they haven't yet settled into a fixed format or aesthetic. I'm sure some trends will start to emerge as I look at more of this stuff, but at this point I get the feeling that the rules of vlogging are not yet codeified in the same way blogs are.

Looking at this stuff reminded me of something from way back in the good ol' 90s... anyone remember this? And if you liked that, how about this or this?


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BloggingOn 9.3 - Azzara Music Blog

This one's on my blogroll as well. Ben Azzara explains:
Years ago, in an interview I was asked 'What was the best show you've ever played?' I replied, 'The one in my basement'. This blog is an effort to catch the spontaneous birth of a song. Posted here are MP3s of practices and other assorted demos involving Sarah and myself. American music at it's most raw and unchallenged.


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BloggingOn 9.2 - Photo-A-Day

I found this one by clicking on blogspot's fantastic "next blog" button several weeks back, and added it to my blogroll shortly thereafter. The pictures are almost always super-ordinary: combining genuine photographic skill, a healthy dose of experimentation and (often) a diary-by-image approach to blogging. Too bad the comments are text-only.


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BloggingOn 9.1 - Honda Sweet Mission Global Research Show
[or] Japan, you so crazy! [or] wtf!?


Here's some massive weirdness I found via MeFi (appears to be an interactive audio-blog of some sort). Click and let the whatever unfold (load patience - TURN SOUND ON - interact). Then, if you're so inclined, check out the geek-tastic discussion about how-to.

My Japon-ees is not so good. Anyone know what exactly is being communicated here?


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))<>((

I'm not sure I would reccomend this movie, but it seems to be making some commentary on digital culture and human connection in the digital age.

What are you trying to say, Miranda July?

Blogosphere, please discuss.


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The Hokey-Pokey: A Philosophy For All

I found this on the blog for "Sit Properly" (linked somewhere in BloggingOn 8.1). It is an English-to-Hindi-to-English translation of the Hokey-Pokey.
"You place your entire being inside
You place your entire being outside
You place your entire being inside and vibrate your entire being everywhere
You do the hokey pokey and revolve your being in a circle
That is the complete essense of everything."
Like, wow, man.


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BloggingOn 8.3 - Hollywood Jesus

Fusing the spiritual and the mundane.


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BloggingOn 8.2 - Matters of Faith

Only a couple posts this week. The last few classes I've noticed myself content to lurk in the background and not offer all that much to class discussion. In class last week it occured to me that maybe it was because I was "saying it all" here on my blog. So, this week I'm "saving it for game-day", or whatever.

Truth be told, I've also been hack-a-loo sick since last Wednesday, so I've been clickin' and checkin' but not so inspired to write. Hopefully, I won't be coughing up a lung all class long tonight (like I was in Lauter's "lit. of social protest" yesterday evening).

Here are a few thoughts before we take the field at the WoodN'Tap...

What is the intended audience for blogs like anvil & fire and doxoblogy? While it needs to be assessed on a blog-by-blog basis (or perhaps post-by-post), are religious blogs (even evangelical ones) intending to make converts or are they just sharing the good word among the flock?

While it might be easy to take offense to something like this, maybe it's really just a party to which we are not invited (and the party I'm referring to is doxoblogy, not the sweethereafter).
Check out (anvil & fire) John Rush's satirical comment down there. It took me a few lines to figure out this one was a joke, which makes me think it's pretty right on. Here's the best bit of it: In the name of tolerance, I will do all I can to silence, trivialize, marginalize, and stop you.

As we look at religious blogs that unabashedly stand for their doctrine-of-choice there may be a knee-jerk reaction to anything that smacks of preaching and evangelism, but I'd like to assert that the reactionary stance lampooned in John's comment is just as bad, if not worse. In the name of religious pluralism (moral relativism... devotional secularism/atheism) we deny believers the right to express their true beliefs, lest they be painted as close-minded non-thinking biggots who are trying to "cram the truth down our throats".

This leaves them with a difficult project: to express the Truth while accomodating for the possibility of conflicting opinions. I believe this particular charge goes against the very nature of theistic faith and belief.

In describing orthodox Judaism, a friend of mine used the words "uncompromising monotheism". It has occured to me ever since that monotheism can't be anything but uncompromising, which is perhaps a much larger idea than I intend to dive into right now. What I mean to say is, ugh...

While I may be marginalized and denied my "heavenly reward" by doxoblogy's little top ten, I have to say "more power to 'em". If for no other reason than denying him his two cents is in a way to deny The God he is attempting to glorify.


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BloggingOn 8.1 – My Offering To This Week’s Discussion

Vaishnavism (the worship of Vishnu or Krishna) is also known as bhakti-yoga, the path of devotion. It is a several thousand-year-old spiritual tradition originating in India that has been known in the west as the Hare Krishna movement for the last 30 or 40 years. ISKCON (the International Society for Krishna Consciousness) connects practitioners of bhakti-yoga from all over the world. ISKCON devotees have been historically accepting of new technology as a means to connect with one another and to spread the philosophy of Krishna consciousness.

Here’s a long list of blogs (and blog-type-things) related to ISKCON and Vaishnavism/bhakti-yoga:

This is probably a good place to start. Basically just cut-and-paste excerpts from the books and/or lectures of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder of the Hare Krishna movement.

Though not blogs, for more background on Krishna consciousness, go here or here. Here’s a glossary, too.

This is the blog section of a website devoted to Vaishnava news items. This is a long list of Krishna conscious blogs of various stripes.

Click here or here or here for blogs by practicing devotees. These are closer to “proto-blogs” but contain varied content: sometimes personal, sometimes devotional, sometime culinary.

This is perhaps, as we would say in ISKCON, a little more fanatical, but if you’re looking for a little more controversy, there are a lot of cultural issues explored therein.

So, that’s a sampling. Now for some more unique uses…

Gurus in ISKCON frequently use email and the internet to communicate with their disciples (who may see their gurus infrequently). Indradyumna Swami’s “Diary of a Traveling Preacher” is read widely. Something like a series of transcendental adventure stories, this is probably not technically a blog. What about this one? Dhanurdhara Swami communicates to disciples through this thing that looks a lot like a blog. This time of year he posts more often. His Kartik diary from Vrindavana is also widely read. (For bonus points, find the entry where I make a cameo appearance… around this time last year).

The etiquette of the guru/disciple relationship makes the whole comment thing somewhat problematic. Most people communicate with Dhanurdhara Swami by email. These emails show up in his journal from time to time.

Online communities and message boards are one of many ways that devotees connect with one another. “Association” is one of the most important aspects of devotional life. I’m not convinced that livejournal communities can be considered quality association, but devotees are often isolated from larger communities. The web helps to alleviate that problem a bit.

Click here and here for general devotee communities. Devotees discuss the Bhagavad-Gita and other scriptures (as well as the lectures of various saints and gurus) here and here. Living anywhere other than India and observing the Vaishnava diet can be difficult sometimes. Devotees share recipes here.

While on the topic of communities and newsgroups, check out the bloggish Cakra and Dipika.

Having “darshan” of deities (the act of seeing, and being seen by, the deities in the temple) is a very important part of the practice of Krishna consciousness. Not blogs exactly, but sites like these two allow devotees to have regular darshan of deities (whether they’re nearby or not).

In the past couple years, blogs have enabled the worldwide community of ISKCON to share two very significant events in our recent development.

The entire process of the installation of the Panca Tattva deities in Sri Dham Mayapur was blogged on the mayapur.info website, with lots of pictures. Unfortunately, their archives are a little hard to sort through, but this page gives a taste of the live updating they were doing. Devotees all over the world could connect to daily updates and feel like they were taking part.

More recently, the passing of one of ISKCON’s most beloved leaders, Bhakti-Tirtha Swami, was blogged for the benefit of disciples and well-wishers. Bhakti-Tirtha Swami had been battling cancer for several months, and his final weeks are chronicled in words and pictures here and here.


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This Is A Cry For Help

10 posts in 2 days. Someone stage an intervention for me. Please.


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BloggingOn 7.7 - Postscript

At some point last night Bill mentioned an "elephant in the room". I can't quite remember what he was referring to, but I thought there might've been another lurking around there, too.

It didn't seem appropriate to throw this out there in class (exactly why, I have no idea), so here it is within the "safety" of blogville. Are there any conservatives in our class? Everyone seemed to be assuming that we were among like-minded liberal folk.

I am not a registered republican, but I know I have a few opinions that would not be considered liberal by any stretch of the imagination (insert conspicuously absent link here). Anyone else? Come on, fess' up.


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BloggingOn x.3 - Busting My Own Spot

(I really hope that means what Brett thinks it means)

In my meeting with Colin last week he suggested that I find an analog equivalent that might help me discuss linking in my final paper. Then, rather fortuitously, I happened upon this.
How many tags do you have up? Probably close to a
thousand, and it's not just me. There's a bunch of people that do it. There has
been a bunch of people, but it's down to about five different people actively
writing it now. There's people in Bangor doing it. It's in Canada, it's in
Mexico, it's from California to Maine. Every stop on the Greyhound from
California to Maine has it.

The link is many things to many people in many different contexts and situations with many purposes both useful and otherwise, but it occurred to me that one analog for the link is "tagging" or "the whole-car".

Three Bulls' flavor crystals meme is a perfect example (3Bulls, btw, are not unlike a graffiti crew of yore). I posted this yesterday. Later in the day this showed up in my comments (another interesting link-event, fouroboros appears to be responsible for this).

BloggerA throws-up a meme (perhaps the more inane the better) and then, thanks to BloggerB + friends, it gets plastered all over the internet.

At the outset, a top-to-bottom or whole-car was graffiti that covered an entire subway or train car. Your tag (not unlike a screen-name, both semi-personal and semi-anonymous) travelled the five boroughs, or it screamed your "name" across the continental US. I know the link and the meme are collapsing on one another in this discussion... the link is the conduit by which the meme travels.


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The Things That Are Using Up My Valuable Mental Energy

There are shelves above my toilet, and each time I go to the bathroom I stare at the 6 pack of Cottonelle toilet paper sitting there waiting to be used. I'm really staring at the painfully cute puppy at the top of their corporate logo. I don't really like puppies all that much, it's just that this one is a registered trademark of the Cottonelle Corp (as the little blue TM next to his over-cute mug indicates).

He seems to be a friendly little guy
, as his comments on the Cottenelle site suggest (sorry, no blog): "Wanna play? I wanna play... I love to play. Let's play right now. C'mon, play with me. Click one of these links!" Ugh. I think the authentic puppy voice is lost somewhere in there towards the end. This tidbit, meant to entice you into downloading Cottonelle Puppy wallpaper, is either worse or better: "If I can't sit on your lap, at least I can sit on your laptop."

With all this nonsense, why didn't they bother to give generi-puppy a name!? And while I'm at it, does the Target Dog TM? (who looks suspiciously like Spuds McKenzie's grandpup) have a name? Sadly, yes: "The Bullseye Design and Bullseye Dog are trademarks of Target Brands, Inc."


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You're Clickin', You're Checkin'

Here's the blog with it's own theme song* that I mentioned in class. Enjoy.

*I seem to remember that this was offensive in spots, be aware.


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BloggingOn x.2 - 'Round The Warmth Of The Digital Fire

In class tonight there was a decided shift in enthusiasm when we veered away from the political and indulged in the personal (as Colin noted). It reminded me of the thing that has kept coming up over the last few weeks, another thing that Colin has mentioned from time to time: that no matter what, "it all comes back to" sitting around the camp fire telling stories.

I have an intuitive sense that this is true. The cultural experiences that we indulge in are meant to provide some sense of community and the creation of values through story-telling or myth (that word makes me wary). So here we are, gathered around the digital fire, trying to create a sense of belonging and community in an environment that will never completely deliver.

In the end, isn't it far more illusory than we really need? In the blogosphere, I may be a really happening guy, with a bevy of links proving my value, influence and net worth. However, in my daily life, I may not know my neighbor's first or last name, I'm never going to actually talk to that mysterious woman that I can't stop thinking about, and if I ever do have a conversation with someone, the likelihood we will discuss anything other than the weather or theApprentice is next to none.

If we really are looking for communication and connection why do we seek it out in the least effective places? Why is it easier to be someone on the internet, than it is in real life?


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BloggingOn 7.6 - WikiWikiWiki

Truth be told, I'd rather read about this and this.

Here are two more Wikis of note.


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Iconography

Come on Dems, what you really need is better t-shirts.

There is something about the Republicans being on top that seems to have encouraged them to let it all hang out in a way that is a little unexpected, and oddly... er, respectable?




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BloggingOn 7.5

Yes.

Since I'm not a voter, can someone tell me, do they give you guys users manuals or something when you officially register your political affiliation?

"Welcome to the Democratic/Republican Party, please read the following pages carefully as they will clearly delineate your official thoughts and opinions on a variety of political issues."

Bored probably isn't the right word to describe how I feel about reading all of this crap. More like embarassed, dissapointed, disgusted. It doesn't seem like anyone out there is blogging about politics so much as ably playing their predetermined political roles.

It's all "Rah! Rah! Sis-boom-ba. Go team!" and "I know you are, but what am I?" out there. Couldn't you guys just steal eachothers mascots and get it over with? There's a reason I always cut pep rallys in high school, and there's a reason I can't stand this nonsense either.


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A Reference To Three Bulls?

I found this article in the Hartford Courant about "Shining" et al. Is that first line really making reference to Three Bulls, or is it just the ubiquitous nature of patented flavor enhancement?


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BloggingOn 7.4 - Mister Leaker

Here's one thing blogs can do that MSM never could.

Obviously the format would never show up on Good Morning America or in the Washington Post, but what really makes it different?


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BloggingOn 7.3 - My Favorite Wiki

Not that I'm intimately familiar with more than... well, any of these things, but this wiki that I mentioned in passing gets my unqualified approval. It may not address a topic as significant as a global epidemic, but it makes good use of the medium: this is a topic that has not yet been exhaustively researched, and due to the constantly growing volume of material, a wiki seems like the obvious choice for building a solid base of (collective) information.


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BloggingOn 7.2 - Independent Steering Committee

I've been checking out the Daou Report the last couple days, but I'm not quite ready to say anything about that. I did skim through this thing that Aldon mentioned.

My intuitive reaction is to say that it's a load of malarkey. Even though, I understand that part of the argument here is that "power law" works in a somewhat counterintuitive way.

Here's one bit I found particularly interesting:
Note that this model is absolutely mute as to why one blog might be preferred over another. Perhaps some writing is simply better than average (a preference for quality), perhaps people want the recommendations of others (a preference for marketing), perhaps there is value in reading the same blogs as your friends (a preference for "solidarity goods", things best enjoyed by a group). It could be all three, or some other effect entirely, and it could be different for different readers and different writers. What matters is that any tendency towards agreement in diverse and free systems, however small and for whatever reason, can create power law distributions.
It seems to wish away the real substance of the problem. That is to say, power law describes that preferences in the blogosphere exist in a way that is socially ubiquitous, but what I really want to know is why things turn out this way (exactly what __ is saying this model can't/won't tell us). In other words: people are sheep. Why are people sheep? Beats me.

And of course that oversimplification is unkind at best, but seems to be the crux of the biscuit, as it were. Do people flock to the A-List bloggers (or rockers, or politicians, or reality-tv personalities) because of some statistical phenomenon, or because they are lazy, or for a sense of belonging/understanding/, or because of a truly overwhelming proliferation of choices, or because there actually is a noticeable difference in quality?

I can't promise any viable suggestion, though I'm relatively certain that "coding" (whether conscious or unconscious) plays a significant role.

Speaking of equality and inequality, what's up with this?
The transformation here is simple - as a blogger's audience grows large, more people read her work than she can possibly read, she can't link to everyone who wants her attention, and she can't answer all her incoming mail or follow up to the comments on her site. The result of these pressures is that she becomes a broadcast outlet, distributing material without participating in conversations about it.
Is there some grammatical rule that governs this sort of egalitarianism regarding the use of personal pronouns? Is there a mathematical formula that says exactly where in a given essay you should insert the paragraph with the conspicuous use of she and her? Perhaps it has something to do with the golden ratio?

This commentary (linked from that other thing just discussed) seems a little more realistic. Here are a few snippets that I felt were closer to what I was originally hoping for (over-LONG excerpt):
Finally, independent confirmation of an obvious fact that is self-servingly denied by the Weblog aristocracy itself: Despite no appreciable difference in the “thoughtfulness” of their respective Web criticism, some Webloggers are superstars. The myth, of course, holds that all bloggers are equal, because we all can set out our wares on the great egalitarian Internet, where the best ideas bubble to the surface. This free-market theory of information has superficial appeal, but reality is rather different. Jason’s commentary is quite good (Meg’s less so), but so is the commentary written by literally a dozen other bloggers I read, none of whom can create a miniature Slashdot effect by mentioning you. (I’m not citing any other bloggers here, by the way, whatever their fame or acumen. I’m limiting the name-dropping to the bloggers Rebecca Mead introduced into the discourse.) Jason’s fame cannot be attributed solely to his cuteness (mentioned explicitly by Mead). I can think of two other A-list bloggers who are better-looking, not to mention having a bit more meat on the bones, and I am aware that there are a lot of attractive bloggeuses. Moreover, one A-list blogger is spectacularly ugly, but that has not impeded his star status. Web-design skills cannot account for everything, either. Jason’s site, in its various forms, offers a middling level of programming complexity. Yet I can name three other A-list bloggers, and a far greater number digging for coal with their bare hands in the caverns of the net, whose sites are more complex and better-looking. A small number of A-list bloggers run Weblogs that are effectively undesigned, a positioning statement that aims to showcase their ideas more prominently, but their ideas aren’t markedly superior to other bloggers’ in the first place. Any way you cut it, there is no rational or even pseudo-rational explanation for the distribution of fame in the blog biz. Fame is like that.
Perhaps the real appeal for me here is that this speaks more in the language of the blogosphere (a language that I am beginning to appreciate more and more), and less in the language of academically sanctioned discourse.

Yes, people am sheep.


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BloggingOn 7.1 - Clearing the Air (or) An Admission Before Diving In

I am a woefully underinformed member of society, politically speaking. Woefully and willfully. I don't watch TV, I don't listen to the radio, I sure as hell don't read the newspaper. Apart from a short-lived obsession with NPR, I have had little to no (news)media input for the last several years. I think I decided at some point that anything really important would find its way to me one way or another. That's been, more or less, true. I'm not familiar with the subtle nuances of the latest Supreme Court nominations, but I am aware that there was a chief justice replaced, and another seat opening soon... Miers was nixed and Alito (Scalito) is being vetted.

What the hell else do I need to know? Do I really need to know that much?

Analysis of my willfull ignorance could probably span several posts, but to put it frankly (in all its possibly naive, almost certainly cliched, but somehow completely sincere and yet pathetic glory) I don't feel that I as an individual have any substantial power to exert over the American political process. The amount of time that it would require for me to be informed enough to make a significant contribution is more than I would ever be willing to spend.

Look, I'll level with you. If I were going to send a postcard to Post Secret it might very well say something like:

I'm 27. I'm not registered to vote, and I'm not sorry. No, not at all.

Or, it might say something like this:

Everyone probably thinks I'm a liberal...

But that's an entirely different post.


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