Twittering the Democratic Rules Committee

The predicted storm has not yet hit today in Woodbridge, CT, but we are hunkering down, and planning on following the Democratic National Rules Committee on social media. Friends are at the meeting and sending messages via Twitter. Others are using Qik to stream videos and uploading pictures to Flickr. It provides a great opportunity to talk a little bit about these new media and why I tend to think blogging may be passé.

Some of this grows out of a discussion on the Blogs United list about the Democratic National Convention credentialing process. Four years ago, I was a blogger at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. It was a frustrating time. There was this desire to live blog the event. “The crowd of delegates are really eating up Barack Obama’s keynote speech…” There was also a desire to write longer, thoughtful posts about what was going on, such as a recounting of a discussion of a veteran that had volunteered to help at the convention because of his deep respect for Sen. Kerry. These are different blogging experiences that perhaps call for different tools.

One of the tools that has emerged since the 2004 Democratic National Convention is the Microblogging rage. Twitter is the most popular, but people also use Pownce, Jaiku, BrightKite and plenty of other services.

Before I go much further with that, I should mention another trend that has emerged since 2004 which is closely linked with Microblogging, and that is life streams, or friend feeds; I’m not sure a standard term for this has emerged. A lot of different sites provide aggregated life streams and some people use feeds to make their microblogs a life stream. So, the lines get blurry.

There are two different aspects of life streams or friend feeds. First, many of us are on many different services. As well as our blogs and microblogs, we are using Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Digg,, StumbleUpon, ma.gnolia, ClipMarks, LastFM, Yelp, and many other services. Numerous tools are emerging to aggregate information from all of these services. The two most popular right now seem to be FriendFeed and LifeStream, however other sites also provide this service as part of their greater offerings and I like to use MyBlogLog for this.

The second aspect of life streams and friend feeds is that we like to see not only the aggregation of all of the stuff we’ve been doing on various services, but we also like to see the feeds of all of our friends intermingled with what we are doing. Most of the services provide this as an option, often as the default.

So, with that, if you want to get your message out, you need to start playing with Microblogs and life streams. Ideally, use something like TwitterFeed to get pointers to your blog posts showing up in Twitter. You need to get all your feeds aggregated in sites like FriendFeed, LifeStream and MyBlogLog. Ideally, the DNCC will use some of these tools as well.

So, what is going on with the Democratic Rules Committee meeting? Andy Carvin did some live streaming of the protest outside using QIK. I sure hope that there are plenty of social media people at the Democratic National Convention using QIK and ustream to send live videos from the convention. I thought it was great seeing Andy’s live, on the street interview with protestors. Andy also was sending messages back and forth with other friends there and posting links to pictures from the protest.

Several other friends are there, and I suspect there are others there that I would like to follow that I haven’t seen. This gets to another site related to Twitter that I really like, Hashtags. If you follow Hashtags on Twitter, their program will follow you and will index any post that begins with a hash mark (#). So, when I was at Computers, Freedom and Privacy, 2008, I posted twitters with #cfp08. I used #cfp08 in the title of my blog posts so they would get picked up by hashtags as well. You can see the messages about #cfp08 here. Unfortunately, this isn’t widely used yet, but it should be. However, it would be great to see messages about the rules committee at something like #dncrules and convention messages posted at #dncc2008

Yeah, there are plenty of new ways of getting the message out. Microblogging, like Twitter and friend feeds are an important new way of getting the message out. I hope people reading this think about how Twitter can work with their blogging and that the DNCC finds ways of dealing with Twitter, FriendFeed, Qik, and other new ways of getting the message out.

A Foreseeable Risk of Substantial Disruption

Thursday was a bad day for me. I received an email from a media watchdog organization declining my job application. I received an email from the DNCC declining my application to be a blogger at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, and I received a copy of the Second Circuit of Appeals decision to uphold the District Courts denial of the Doninger’s preliminary injunction motion. Yet all of these tied together into a fairly consistent theme.

In the rejection letter from the media watchdog organization, I was told that they “needed someone with more traditional journalism experience”. I can see why they say that. They are a fairly traditional watchdog organization. It is important to them that their watching of the media does not create any substantial disruption of the media landscape.

The rejection letter from the DNCC didn’t give any reasons other than that “Several hundred great blogs submitted applications.” It suggested that I check out “The Big Tent” organized by “DailyKos, ProgressNow, the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, and the Wright Group… with some of the most well known faces in the non-profit and political world, as well as food, drinks, entertainment.” I’m not sure that well known faces and entertainment being gatekept by people making their name by writing about crashing gates is going to bring about any substantial disruption.

In 2004, bloggers at the Democratic National Convention in Boston were a substantial disruption, at least to the media narrative. People wanted to talk with and about bloggers about how they were changing the media landscape. Subsequent research found that the bloggers, myself included, didn’t really bring about any substantial disruption in the media landscape, but at least coming into the convention there was a foreseeable risk that that might occur.

Many great blogs have been credentialed this year and the Democrats have chosen to have a blog credentialed to sit with each State delegation. This could bring a whole new perspective on the convention, creating a new foreseeable risk of substantial disruption, but I worry that it may not. It may be just part of the new generation of political media, the new boys on the bus.

I’ve often commented about blogs being passé. They are so 2004. “New Media” is being replaced by “Social Media” and I wonder how much the bloggers of 2008 will have moved beyond 2004 style blogging. What role will streaming multimedia, microblogging and lifestreams fit into the picture? That may be where the real potential for a foreseeable risk of substantial disruption of the political media process exists this time.

All of this takes me to the Doninger case. The Second Circuit wrote that “Because Avery’s blog post created a foreseeable risk of substantial disruption at LMHS, we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion. We therefore affirm the denial of Doninger’s preliminary injunction motion.”

The substantial disruption that Avery’s words in the blog post are accused of creating a foreseeable risk of, is citizens in the school district getting more involved the school and thereby in the community.

I disagree with the court that this sort of ‘substantial disruption’ is something the existing political structure should be protected against. Instead, the ability to create this sort of ‘substantial disruption’ is exactly what our Constitution is supposed to be protecting the right of each of us to participate in.

The candidate at the Democratic National Convention most likely to become the Democratic Party Nominee for President is running on the slogan “Change We Can Believe In”. We are most likely to see a candidate at the podium who says, “I’m asking you to believe. Not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington . . . I’m asking you to believe in yours.”

This candidate has brought many new people into involvement with the political process, similar to how Avery worked to get more people involved in the politics surrounding her high school.

So, I am frustrated. Unlike Barack Obama or Avery Doninger, I am not managing to generate a foreseeable risk of substantial disruption to current media and political status quo. Yet looking at the successes of Barack Obama and Avery Doninger, I continue to have hope that I may yet contribute to such substantial disruptions.

Where are you? Mixed groups for Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants

I had a wonderful weekend ‘horse camping’ with my wife and youngest daughter. I am finally home, in front of my computers and trying to reconnect and sort through thousands of emails.

I have spent a little time digging through the emails to the Group Psychotherapy mailing list and wanted to hit on several of the themes that have come up. In the discussion about online therapy, Charlie had a great line,

'Where are you?' which can be taken in so many ways. Either as a demand, a simple request or a plaintive cry.

My initial reaction is that ‘where are you?’ can also be a question showing caring, connectedness. I want to know where some of my friends on the list are. I think about Toby and her mother and her Aunt. I think of Ofra and her grandchildren. I think of Sheila, and too all of them I think of asking them ‘where are you?’ as more of an emotional, psychic temperature taking. A telling of the other, I care, I want to know how you are doing. I suspect this may be part of the aspect of constant partial attention that I talk a lot about.

Digital natives need to feel constantly connected with their friends. Perhaps some of it has to do with the age of many digital natives. Teenagers spend time trying to define their identity. Identity is tied to the groups we are part of, and as people work on defining their identity, they need to feel especially connected to their groups.

Carol had a wonderful comment about this saying

I wonder how many old issues of inclusion and exclusion get activated when one is "invited".
the facebook phenomenon feels very "junior high" to me when it comes to internet networking

Yeah, that sounds about right. It is probably amplified in cases because all we have is the generic text asking someone to be a friend, with perhaps a little added personal text. There is the ability to write it off as if the person didn’t get the request. There is less of the shuffling of the feet, looking away from the person out of embarrassment, shyness or fear. So, we send more messages to be connected. We explore new ways of using text. We put up pictures of ourselves on Facebook and join groups to define ourselves and the idea of simply leaving Facebook or not putting up personal information just isn’t realistic. This gets back to a discussion from Computers, Freedom and Privacy last week that I want to explore more.

However, I want to get back to the emails from my friends on the Group Psychotherapy list. In the discussion about whether of not therapists should add clients as friends on social networks, or accept friendship requests from clients may require another variable in the calculation. Are the clients digital natives? Are they digital immigrants? Is there a digital aborigine in the mix? Is it some sort of mixed group?

I suspect that accepting or declining friendship in a social network may have very different meanings to people who have grown up in a digital world, where everyone is on social networks and everyone is everyone else’s friend, from people who have come to online social networks later in life and experience them as a foreign way of connecting and communicating.

To push this a little further, Marv commented,

we encourage patients to choose therapists with knowledge of their qualifications, although it¹s startling to find how many new patient¹s are choosing therapists based only on internet research.

As I read this, I wondered how important is it for a therapist to understand the culture that a client is part of. I’m sure this is a topic that people can run a long way with. How much must a therapist understand digital culture when dealing with digital natives? Perhaps this goes back to some of the questions that Bob deals a lot with.

So, I post these as ideas for my friends to ponder.

Wordless Wednesday

Memorial Day, originally uploaded by Aldon.

The Sojourner

For the past few days, I’ve been offline, camping with my family. Before that, I was at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference for several days, and before that I had various software programs to write, websites to build, and a trip to Virginia to bring my daughters home from college. So, last night, I sat down to an email box with over 2500 unread emails and 3500 spam emails.

I deleted the spam with only a minimal glance to make sure nothing fell into the spam box by mistake. I scanned the unread emails and found around 500 that I moved off into folders which I might read someday if I ever have time. For all practical purposes, I’ve deleted them. Then I glanced through the remaining emails to see if there were any of particular importance. If I’ve missed yours, I apologize, please be patient.

The one email that particularly caught me attention was simply titled, “The Sojourner”. Soj, as she was called, has been a key part of the fabric of Second Life for nearly four years. She was part of Brigadoon, an early support community in Second Life. The first time that I recall meeting her was last February as she worked on bringing together support groups in a health care coalition.

In subsequent meetings, she spoke about her own struggles recovering from three different strokes. She spoke about how important Second Life was as a community for stroke victims. As I opened the email, I wondered what great new adventure Soj was setting off on now.

The answer struck me with grief. From the The Tribute to The Sojourner, A True Second Life Heroine, 8/18/2004-5/25/2008, I learned of her passing.

I immediately logged into Second Life and went to the memorial that has been built for her there. Along the pathway, there are all kinds of monuments to her work. At the center is a large area covered with candles. There are so many, so close together that the effect is overwhelming. It takes a special effort to read the candles.

Candles for The Sojourner, originally uploaded by Aldon.

I wandered around reading the inscriptions floating above one candle after another. People talked, should we move the candles and spread them out? Yet it was felt that it was more appropriate that the effect be overwhelming. The contributions that Soj has made to Second Life and to so many people here was overwhelming, as is the grief of so many people that loved her deeply.

I took a picture of the candles in a special way that captured to chaos of the text. I wandered from candle to candle copying down the texts. I saved much of it on the Wiki and others have checked candles and added additional texts.

I only knew Soj for a very short time and the words that I can share pale in comparison. There are many great tributes to Soj and a couple jump out at me.

From your first day in SL when we met
You had a Dream
I am glad i could help you get it started
so long ago in a place called Brigadoon
You will be missed here.
-- Coos Yellowknife

One Short Sleepe past, we wake eternally,
and death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
-- John Donne.

Soj, you got your second set of wings! Godspeed.

Rest In Peace, The Sojourner

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