Archive - Apr 2008

April 30th

Republicans make another attempt at voter suppression

(Initially posted at MyLeftNutmeg).


The amendment, LCO No. 5346 states, in part,

(b) In each primary, election or referendum, when an elector has entered the polling place, the elector shall (1) announce the elector's street address and name to the official checkers in a tone sufficiently loud and clear to enable all the election officials present to hear the same, and (2) (A) present to the official checkers [the elector's Social Security card or any other] any valid preprinted form of identification which shows the elector's name and photograph and either the elector's address [,] or signature, [or photograph,] or (B) sign a statement under penalty of false statement, on a form prescribed by the Secretary of the State, that the elector is the person whose name appears on the official checklist.

These sort of amendments have frequently been introduced in many states in an effort to suppress voting by people who do not have photographic identification. It particularly targets the poor, minorities, and young voters.

Please, quickly contact your State Legislators to oppose this amendment.

Update: They have also introduced it as Amendment LCO No. 5350 to SB 447, AN ACT CONCERNING ELECTRONIC FILING OF CAMPAIGN REPORTS.

(Categories: )

Wordless Wednesday

Patterns, originally uploaded by Aldon.

Reflections of a Digital Aborigine

At PodCampNYC last week, there was a lot of focus on the role of podcasting and other social media on education. The old discussion about the digital natives and digital immigrants popped up here and there and stimulated a lot of thinking.

For those of you not acquainted with the idea of a digital native, it is simply, those people who have grown up in a world where there has always been the Internet. Digital natives grow up communicating with their friends via IMs, Facebook, MySpace, text messaging. It is the way they have learned to communicate, just as other generations have grown up with telephones, television, radio, etc.

The digital immigrants are the older people that have come to digital communications technology later in their life. They weren’t born into a digital culture, they moved into it. This is producing a digital generation gap, where digital natives and digital immigrants look at online culture from very different points of view.

There are problems with looking at things this way. While I recent Pew report says that 94% of teenagers are online, there are some that are not, and there are others, that while being online, may not have become immersed in digital culture. On the other end of the spectrum, there are people who have been online for many years. I started programming computers in the 1960s and first connected to the Internet in the early 1980s.

Peggy Sheehy of the Suffern Middle School in Second Life, spoke about this in terms of ‘shifted learners’. Some people, both young and old have made the shift to digital culture. Others have not. This, of course, leads to plenty of plays on words about shiftless learners or shifty teachers.

Shifted learners may be a better way of looking at the new digital generation gap, but I still like the idea of a digital natives and digital immigrants.

Christine Cavalier lead a great session on social media parenting, where she explored the digital generation gap. She suggested looking at things in terms of teaching technology, or digital culture as a foreign language, similar to the way we teach English as a Foreign Language to immigrants to our country. As I listened to her talk, images of immigrant parents talking amongst themselves came to my mind, “Oh no, my child is dating a digital native!”

In a different session, John Herman pointed out Having Our Say which captures quite nicely the voice of some digital natives. As an aside, it is best viewed in the context of Did You Know 2.0.

Yet in all of this, I come back to trying to understand my own role. Perhaps I can best be thought of as a digital aborigine, or as one person suggested when I used that phrase, digital indigenous.

I’m not all that versed on various indigenous or aborigine cultures, but it seems like this could be a useful metaphor. Sure, there are the big name digital aborigines, those who have become A-list bloggers and A-list Twitterers. Some of them might be thought of as the great aboriginal warriors that everyone learns about during their brief study of aborigine culture. There are the aborigines that cooperate with the settlers and try to make their fortune off of the settlers. Yet there are many other aboriginal people.

Perhaps, I feel most akin to the shamans. I remember, with a smile, the uucp bang paths that were part of the early songlines of our digital culture. I speak to others about how to use knowledge of digital culture to make cyberspace a better place. I worry about the rabbit proof fences that add to a digital divide and thwart net neutrality.

So, I sat in Christine’s session, where she spoke wisely about trying help digital immigrants feel less afraid of the digital culture they were finding themselves amidst, and felt very out of place. I sent out my messages on Twitter as I listened to people talk about managing reputations online. It felt like some of the digital immigrants were getting Christine’s message and were trying to ratchet back their fears. They spoke about seeking for better ways of talking to children about how pictures from parties where the kids were drinking might hurt them later on in life.

I spoke about whether or not a ‘C’ student at Yale, known for serious partying, could ever become President of the United States. I’m not sure how many people got the reference. I touched on the idea of ‘reputational bankruptcy’, the ability to say, yes, I did some wild and stupid things when I was younger, but I’ve grown and learned from it. I’m not sure how much people get the idea of ‘reputational bankruptcy’ yet.

So, I tried a different tack. I asked who knew about Tori Lindsey. No one recognized the name. However, when I started to describe the story, it rang bells. It reflected a very different way that digital natives look at the Internet. Tori was beaten because she was ‘talking trash’ on MySpace and because the perpetrators wanted to create a viral video.

It was interesting to hear the reactions; they made me feel even more like the outsider digital aborigine. The best comment was from John Herman who talked about the incident with one of his classes. He spoke about how all his students spoke about what the perpetrators had done wrong was to video tape the beating. Finally, one of his students spoke up and said, no, what they did wrong was beat up a student.

Does this tell us something about how kids are thinking about the Internet? I would have loved to listen in on John’s class as they discussed this.

Today, PurpleCar twittered about a blog post by DaveLaMorte about the session. It is interesting to read his comments.

Aldon Hynes, talked about the dangers of social networking as a tool for bullying and abuse... Aldon talked about how a lack of proper modeling/teaching/supervision led to the assalt/video and how it had the potential to ruin the lives of everyone involved because these kids didn't understand to scope of their actions and the permanence of the Internet.

Yes, that is the way I would expect a digital immigrant to hear it. It goes back to the fear of what digital culture means. People hearing what I said, in this context just make me want to bang my head on the keyboard.

However, Dave went on to say,

It was at the moment that I realized that most of the people in the room not only spoke a different "technological language" than many young people, but that we are not even part of the same paradigm. Aldon's comments made me realize that kids are operating under different social codes, norms, and perspectives about how to use social media/networking/the Interwebs.

YES! That is the point exactly! Thank you, Dave. He points to Teens Today with Vanessa Van Petten. Vanessa talks about providing a Gen Y perspective on Teens and Parents. It looks like another blog I need to add to my RSS feed.

PurpleCar added a great comment to Dave’s blog post about the role of ‘micro celebrity’ as well which is worth exploring.

Meanwhile, I will be talking with my daughter’s kindergarten class about what I do. Here are my initial thoughts on this:

"This is what Fiona's daddy does." What do I do? I help people tell their stories safely on the Internet. I'll talk about how sometimes we write our stories. Some times we show our stories with pictures or movies. Sometimes, we even tell our stories over the telephone or record them. We can use computers to tell our stories. We can use cellphones to tell our stories. Our cellphones can take pictures. Our cellphones can be used to make movies. We can even make movies using computer games.

Perhaps this raises issues about what it is like to be the child of a digital aborigine, but that is a whole different topic.

So, I am starting explore what it means to be a digital aborigine, particularly with a shamanistic leaning. Let’s see what sort of discussion we can generate.

April 29th

Posting Content Online

Between PodCampNYC, recent announcements and my constant explorations into publishing content online has caused me to stop and rethink some of my current publishing strategy. I am writing this as much for my own benefit to clarify my thoughts as I am for others interested in exploring different forms of content publishing.


Currently, I have three devices that I use for shooting video. The first is a Panasonic PV-GS39 MiniDV Camcorder. It records up to 90 minutes on a MiniDV tape, which I then transfer using a FireWire cable to my laptop. The limiting factor, however, is often how long my batteries will last. If there is a lot of recording, I can use multiple tapes and run off of power from an outlet. When I have my footage, I do my post-editing with Microsoft Movie Maker. If I want to record anything long, that is what I use. However, the amount of work necessary between shooting the video and posting it online is considerable, and I don’t use the MiniDV that much any more.

My second digital video device is a Canon PowerShot S410. I have a 2 Gigabyte CompactFlash card in it and can shoot quite a bit of video that way. Unfortunately, the PowerShot only allows video segments up to three minutes long. However, you can shoot many segments and then splice them together in postproduction.

I used to use a mini-USB wire to copy images from the PowerShot onto a PC. But, the PC I had set up to do that on crashed, so I’ve taken to popping out he CompactFlash card and sticking it in a slot in an HP Printer that I have. The card then becomes a removable hard disk accessible from the computer connected to that printer. Like with the MiniDV camera, if I want to do post-production, I use Microsoft Movie Maker.

The third digital video device that I use is my Motorola RAZR V3xx cellphone. Videos on this are limited to about 16 seconds. They are even lower quality than I get on the PowerShot. Yet what is great about it is that as soon as I finish recording my clip, I hit send, and it is on its way to various video sites.

Sometimes, I also take still pictures and machinima that I mix into my videos. Machinima is making movies using computer games. I’ve shot a little footage from Second Life using Fraps to capture the images. As my kids explore other virtual worlds, I may try some footage from some other virtual worlds.

I’ve also played a little bit with Blender, which looks promising for creating animations.

Typically, I send videos from my cellphone directly to YouTube, Blip.TV, Facebook and send a copy to Kim. Flickr now supports short videos, but I haven’t sent a video to Flickr yet. They only support short videos, and I don’t really see any great advantage to adding them as yet another video storage location.

Utterz also supports video, and I sent a short video from my cellphone to Utterz as well. Yet, I don’t feel any need to send videos to Utterz. Anyone following me there will probably find my other videos.

There are other sites kicking around that add things like categorization of videos, subtitling, the ability to edit online, etc., but I don’t shoot enough video to find these services all that compelling.

What I don’t currently have in my mix is any good video streaming. If I had one of the good Nokia phones that streams on Qik, you would see me on Qik and Seesmic.

Going forward, I will keep posting to YouTube and Facebook to get people to see the videos, but my primary source will be Blip.TV. Special videos will get cross posted to Orient Lodge, with some description. I need to make sure Twitter to picks up Blip.TV postings

Still photographs

I can use the MiniDV camcorder to take pictures as well. It stores the pictures on an SD card. However, the pictures aren’t very high quality, so I haven’t bothered to get an SD card to store in my MiniDV camcorder. Instead, I tend to take most still pictures using either my PowerShot or my RAZR. The PowerShot has many more features and produces a much higher quality picture, yet I don’t always have the PowerShot with me, but I almost always have my RAZR, so I take a lot of pictures with the RAZR.

I cannot think of any time that I’ve done post production processing of any of my still photographs, with the possible exception of rotating them 90 degrees. If I were to do any post processing, I imagine I would do it in Gimp.

When I upload pictures from the PowerShot, I use the same procedure as I do for the videos. These pictures typically only get stored on Flickr. From my cellphone, I send my pictures to Flickr, Facebook, Ringo, and Kim. I recently sent some photos from the cellphone to Utterz, but my concern about Utterz applies the same for still photographs as it does for video.

When it comes to pictures from Second Life, I send them through BlogHud to Flickr. It keeps a copy on BlogHud and adds details about where the picture was taken. I’ve used other services for Second Life images, but I’ve pretty much settled on BlogHud.

For some videos, I post the thumbnails from Blip.TV to Flickr. One thing that I’m missing is the ability to post pictures with geographical information. I found one site that might do this for the RAZR, but it presented several difficulties, including sending the pictures and the geographic information together in the same data stream. For those of us with unlimited MMS but very limited data packets, this just isn’t a good idea.

Another thing that is missing from the still photography mix is a good way to read mobile bar codes. I haven’t found one that works properly with my model of Razr.

So, all of the key pictures ultimately end up on Flickr. Like with Blip.TV, I need to make sure these get cross posted automatically to Twitter. This may produce some duplication for videos that I’ve cross posted from Blip.TV In addition, special photos from Flickr will get cross posted to Orient Lodge. In particular, I like to do this for Wordless Wednesday.


I don’t do a lot with Audio, but I’m looking to do more in this area. In the past, I’ve used a microphone to record onto my PC and edited it with Audacity. For my purposes, that works quite nicely. These files I share as attachments in Drupal. When I can’t find a decent quality-working microphone, I record voice notes on my cellphone which I send as an email to myself.

In the past, I used to use Odeo as well, and I think I might still have it up and working, but I ran into various problems with it and don’t use it very often.

At PodCampNYC, I spoke with the folks at BlogTalkRadio. I liked the description of how it works. I came home, ran a test session, which worked quite nicely, so I scheduled my first broadcast. Unfortunately, I ran into a long list of technical problems and spent my whole time slot attempting to get it working. I’ll probably give it another shot next Sunday. If that works, I’ll keep going. If not, I’ll walk away until they can convince me that they’ve worked out their bugs.

As I tried to get things going, I received several emails from tech support about how they were working on fixing things, but things never got fixed, and although I asked for follow up what happened, I never received any follow up, so at this point I am skeptical.

I was pleased with my first tests of Utterz, so I expect this will become my standard repository for short audio. It posts to Twitter, and I can cross post audios that I like to Orient Lodge.


Right now, I tag most pages with or StumbleUpon. On my main machine, I have GreaseMonkey set up so I can tag pages in both systems quickly and easily at the same time. I was using ma.gnolia, but didn’t find a find a nice way of integrating it with and StumbleUpon, so for the time being I’m not doing much with ma.gnolia, although it does have a nice automatic feed into Drupal. I pull in some feeds into my Drupal site, and I may get around to reviewing that again soon.

Short text

I’ve updated my status on Facebook, Pownce, Jaiku, Utterz, Twitter, and other sites. I’ve set up feeds so that when I post content on one site, there is short text that shows up on some of these different sites. I’ve added sites like FriendFeed into that mix. I’ve added complicated paths where a Facebook Status gets added to Twitter, and directly to Jaiku as well as to Jaiku via Twitter. It is probably time to restructure all of this.

Longer text

I make a general rule to put any longer text that I write on Orient Lodge. If I’ve posted it elsewhere, I post links to the other places I’ve posted to. As noted above, some videos from Blip.TV, pictures from Flickr and audio from Utterz will get cross posted to Orient Lodge, as will some bookmarks.


Perhaps the next thing to add into all of this will be location. Sites like BrightKite, Fire Eagle, and older attempts like MeetMoi have tried to bring in a location component, but none of them have really gotten my attention yet.

Attention data aggregators

Right now, I plan on pulling most of this together via Twitter. Sites like FriendFeed might do a better job of it, and I’m busy populating sites like that, but I do like Twitter best.

Another thing that is interesting to note is that many of these sites have social networking components, but what matters is their role in distributing different types of user generated content, and not the social networking in and of itself.

Slowly, I will get my feeds into these systems running more smoothly, then a new system will come along, or I’ll get a new device and I’ll need to rejigger the whole system.

April 28th

Quick Updates

Bears gather to talk about Metanomics, originally uploaded by Aldon.

The show on BlogTalkRadio failed due to technical difficulties. I’m still waiting to find out from them what went wrong. I’ll probably write up more details later. On the other hand, Utterz has worked nicely. I hope to add both of them into my mix. Depending on timing and talk about them when I visit Fiona’s class on Friday. Also, at some point I want to put up a blog post about how all these and other new sites are changing my approach to posting different forms of content online.

Today, per Chris Brogan, is supposed to be blog commenting day. Leave a comment on at least three or five blogs, depending on whom you listen to. I haven’t started adding my comments, but will try to get to that later. It does give me more reason to put off writing a serious blog post today.

Metanomics will be speaking with Glitteractica Cookie today. I intend to be there as a bear, instead of as the dolphin I sometimes appear as when reporting in Second Life.

On top of that I’m tired. Lack of sleep from PodcampNYC, rainy day, allergies or a cold. Just not a lot of energy to write up the really great blog posts that I have pending.