Martin Luther King, Jr Day 2008

This morning, Kim, Fiona and I went up to a Martin Luther King, Jr. day breakfast in Hartford sponsored by The Collins Foundation. The breakfast was a celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life as well as an opportunity for people to continue on Dr. King’s legacy. Money raised from the breakfast went to provide scholarships for worthy young men and women from Hartford and Bridgeport.

Many political notables attended the event to hear Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz and Congressman John Larson address the gathering. As the speeches went on, Fiona found a quiet corner to play in, during which time, she managed to lose another tooth.

Colin McEnroe was there as well. I’m not sure if it stimulated the curmudgeon in him, but today he posted this Not Nice MLK Day Thought. He asks, “Is there a worse place in America at nurturing black political talent than Connecticut?” I’ll carefully duck that question and simply note that the scholarships offered by the Collins Foundation as well as the efforts to get students from UConn Law School to mentor some of the recipients gives me hope that perhaps things are changing in Connecticut.

I look forward to see what next year’s Martin Luther Kind Jr, Day breakfast is like to get a better gauge on the progress.

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Playing with the MyBlogLog API

So, the initial glitches in getting me going with the MyBlogLog API have been resolved and I started kicking the tires with it. My initial efforts were to see who I have friended in MyBlogLog, and then checking to see if I am their friend on other Social Networks they’ve identified themselves as being part of.

Arms of an avatar

“I need some distraction, oh beautiful release… In the arms of an Angel, fly away from here”
- Sarah McLachlan, Arms Of An Angel

I spend a lot of my time in Second Life camping to make a Linden dollars here and there and exploring the Second Life capital markets. Linden Lab’s recent ban on banking has cut into the amount of Linden dollars that I have as spending money, but it doesn’t particularly bother me. I haven’t spent any US dollars to buy Linden dollars, so everything I’ve gotten and lost has been produced in Second Life.

Sure, I still have the hair and skin of a Noob and simply rent a small shop in Second life, but that meets my needs. I want to have experiences to shape my views of the evolution of internet technology, business and marketing online and have a little fun. I don’t need the fanciest objects to do that.

Yesterday, I went to the fundraiser for Africa in Second Life. I didn’t have a lot to give, but gave all that I could. Then, I did what I am good at, spreading the word. I wrote about it here. I talked about it on various groups I was on and got others to spread the word. Then I sat down and listened to some of the music.

A few new friends showed up, people that I’ve been meeting through my business reporting, and we settled down to listen to the music. One performer sang Sarah McLachlan’s “Arms of An Angel”. One of my new friends turned to me and commented about painful memories that she has carried from Africa for thirty years. The setting, a fundraiser for Africa, in a beautiful sim, with a live performer singing a song about beautiful distractions dredged up these memories. We talked a little bit. Did my words help? I don’t know, but I hope so.

Later, I was invited to a pajama party in Second Life. Every month Bevan Whitfield organizes some sort of gathering for business associates and friends and last night she organized a pajama party. Since I don’t have a lot of Linden dollars, I still have default skin and hair, and a paucity of clothes. I had no pajamas or anything else appropriate to wear for a pajama party, so I stood around awkwardly chit chatting for a while.

Then, I remembered a different avatar I had. A month ago, I was given one of Nimbus Rau’s cat avatars at An Art Show. Perhaps being a cat at a pajama party would be fun.

I quickly got into my role, worrying about being stepped on and tripping up people left and right. Some of the folks at the party were old friends. Others were people I hadn’t met before. I played the role and tripped up everyone equally. It was a fun evening as I escaped people trying to catch the cat and throw it in the pool, or do other unspeakable horrors to it. I did worry about if the cat was being too obnoxious, but everyone seemed to have fun. The protestations about the cat where in the general chat and not in backchannel IMs to me.

As the party wound down, and I wandered off, I did get one IM that caught me by surprise. One of the people I did not know there thanked me for tripping her up so much. She had had a day that sounded a lot tougher than really bad days that many people I know have from time to time. The playful distraction after the bad day was exactly what she had needed.

I spend my time thinking about the relationship between what is real and what is virtual in Second Life. Mostly, it is in terms of money and businesses. Yet the evening was a reminder of something else. The real lives of the people behind the avatars. There are good people in Second Life, struggling with their own memories, with efforts to help people in Africa or in other struggles. We can make real connections with these other people, and hopefully help them as they help us or help others.

Sarah McLachlan’s words came back to me. “I need some distraction, oh beautiful release.” Second Life can be a distraction, a beautiful release, and sometimes when the angels seem a little too far away, we can fly away in the arms of an avatar.

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Meandering through the online social networks

Yesterday and today, I continued to check to see if my access to the MyBlogLog API Beta had come through. I am hoping it will be soon and that I’ll get some time to experiment with the API. As I checked around I found Kent Brewster’s post about the MyBlogLog API

His post includes a script that takes advantage of the API to show Recent Visitors, with Tags and Social Sites. I was surprised when I first visited the site that for my profile, it said “No social sites found. If this is you, go add some now!”

So, I followed the link and looked at page where MyBlogLog users can identify the other social networking services they use. Their list had something like thirty-five different social networking services and I was only on about three quarters of them.

One of the services they list is Wink. I had tried wink before and it hadn’t worked very well. I stopped by yesterday and it was working a bit better. Wink lists something like fifty-two different social networking services. I wish I could just import those that I’ve already identified on MyBlogLog and then go out and start adding the rest.

Wink is still acting a little strange. It is supposed to have ‘activity’ but it doesn’t seem to find any activity from my sites. I was pleased to see that Wink tags links with the xfn tag rel=" me". This would make it easier for other sites to grab the information and related it. MyBlogLog does not use that, nor does Spock.

So, now, I’m juggling my lists of websites between MyBlogLog, which I’ve always liked for the community aspects, Wink, which seems pretty powerful and full featured, but just hasn’t worked well for me, and Spock, which I really like due to the emergent flexibility.

With all of that, I’m tossing in my MyBlogLog About Me widget in this post. Will I get around to adding it on the side of my blog? Will I use some script built using their API, or just roll my own? We’ll see.

Fighting Poverty and AIDS in Africa

Fighting Poverty and AIDS in Africa, originally uploaded by Aldon.

Hope: The Second Marathon Fundraiser Art Sale and Music Festival

Fighting Poverty and AIDS in Africa
January 10 and 20, 2008
9 am SLT to 10 pm SLT

When I stopped in Eliz Watanabe was singing her mix of love songs and country music. Already, over L$ 62,000 has been raised. Later, I stopped by and naphtali Hawks was doing a great reggae set and the donations were approaching L$ 100,000

Hopefully, the word will spread any many people will be able to attend.

One problem, the place is packed and people have been crashing trying to get into the Sim. They are looking at options to get more people in one way or another.

Stop by, Africa (52,220,23).

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