Archive - May 8, 2008

State Legislative Races

(Originally posted as a comment on MyLeftNutmeg)

Quick random comments: (More to follow when I have a chance).

I met both Michael Renzullo and Matt Brennan at the Northwest Leadership Breakfast at Audrey Blondin’s a few weeks ago. Matt ran for State Senate last time around, and with almost no funding got a third of the vote. He believes that with a level playing field, he can defeat the incumbent. Mike Renzullo has been running a strong campaign, doing a nice job of tying it into service politics, such as participating in Earth Day and the MS Walk in Litchfield. They are both great candidates and are actively trying to raise funds to qualify for the CT Clean Election program

While we are talking Clean Elections and the State Senate races, it is worth noting that John Hartwell has met is goal of qualifying for clean election funding. Martin Goldberg has been working hard on qualifying, as has, I am told, Art House who has an exploratory committee set up for his run in the 8th Senate District. Latest rumors are that Frank Farricker who ran for State Senate last time in the 36th District isn’t planning give it another shot with Bill Nickerson retiring. If the Democrats field a good candidate this could be another interesting race to watch.

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Digital Campfires

As the glow of pixels from my computer flickers I think of campfires long ago. My memories of them are sweet, but hazy, perhaps like the smoke that rose from them. As important as the smoke, flames and embers were, what stays with me is the singing, the friendly discussions, and perhaps a ghost story or two.

“Sing around the campfire, join the Camp Fire Girls.” The song comes to my mind from my childhood. I stop by the Camp Fire USA website, and read a little bit of their history.

First meetings of Camp Fire Girls are held in Vermont. Dr. Gulick chooses the name "Camp Fire" because campfires were the origin of the first communities and domestic life. Once people learned to make and control fire, they could develop and nurture a sense of community.

So, what are the digital campfires that are the origin of our digital communities? What are the songs we are learning and the behavioral expectations that are being form around these campfires? What does it take to gain a seat around the campfire?

On Tuesday night, I listened to Twitter. Friends that I’ve met from various online grassroots political campaigns, along with various online media personalities twittered about the election returns as Kim and Fiona watch American Idol in the next room.

In the morning, I put up my Wordless Wednesday post. Wordless Wednesday is another digital campfire. There are pictures of young children playing with their fathers, pictures of flowers and birds and trips to exotic places. There is a sense of orderly subdivisions, a touch of home schooling, a love of crafts and weekly attendance at church.

From the Wordless Wednesday digital campfire, I ambled over to the Second Life Educators (SLED) Mailing list campfire. As with many of the campfires I visit, I feel a little bit like an interloper. I am not a professional educator.

The discussion continues there about ‘digital natives’; who coined the phrase, if it is has any applicability to what they do, and so on. It seems like the general response is, “I have a bunch of students who are the same age as digital natives are supposed to be, and they don’t know how to use computers very well, so I don’t think digital natives exist”.

Yet there are some interesting comments that appear. One person spoke about being bored with Second Life, yet gladly spend hours in guild chat in World of Warcraft. The comment seems to reflect power of the campfire. For the commenter, the community around the guild chat campfire is more appealing than some of the campfires in Second Life. Yet for others on the list, the campfires in Second Life are more compelling.

The Group Psychotherapy mailing list has been having a related discussion. They understand the importance of groups, of communities around campfires helping individuals figure out how to act in society and confront various issues. Many members are interested in the digital campfires of Second life, but don’t have the time to go explore them. Those that have approached the digital campfires of Second Life have come back with fascinating reports of their experiences and what they have learned from them.

As the interloper, I visit many of these communities, yet one that has particularly jumped out at me is the community of interlopers. This is a loosely organized community. You see members in various places. Some of them visit Wordless Wednesday. They participate in BlogExplosion, MyBlogLog, and increasingly in EntreCard. They wander around, visit different websites, leave comments, EntreCards, their image in recent reader widgets, and other markers of their visits.

There are many things that motivate these digital nomads. Many are trying to build traffic to their own sites, often out of some desire to monetize their content or social capital. Yet their focus remains on building up the communities that they are part of.

Each of these communities is so different, and yet so similar. I wish that people from the different communities would connect with one another. My political activist friends need to listen to and connect better with my Wordless Wednesday friends. My friends on the SLED list could learn so much from my friends in Group Psychotherapy, and I can learn so much from all of them.