Thinking Blogger Award

Today, I got tagged by Rod with the Thinking Blogger Award.

It is an interesting meme floating around, mostly in the MyBlogLog space. The idea is that if you are tagged with the award, you get to tag five other people with the award. These sorts of memes are the chain letters of the blogosphere.

As an illustration, from the look inside MyBlogLog, we find that they have around 50,000 users, as of May 2007. Assuming that everyone who gets tagged, tags five other people, and there is no overlap or breaking of the chain, after the sixth round, we run out of people on MyBlogLog.

I tried tracking back my Thinking Blogger Award Ancestory. I (1) was tagged by Rod (2) who was tagged by Skipper (3). Skipper was tagged by Loz (4), who was tagged by Paisley (5). Paisley was tagged by Walter (6) who was tagged by Danielle (7).

With that, we’ve gone past the 50,000 members of MyBlogLog, if everyone was in MyBlogLog, there were no breaks, etc. However, Danielle illustrates where this analysis fails. She has been tagged three times already.

Are there really 50,000 blogs that make people think? ilker yoldas started this off with the comment, Too many blogs, not enough thoughts!, and I wonder if the meme has reached the end of its usefulness. After all, if I’ve been awarded a thinking blogger award, perhaps the award has finally jumped the shark.

Perhaps some of the problem is what seems to me to be various blogging ghettos. The Thinking Blogger Award seems to be stuck in the MyBlogLog world. Political bloggers, and perhaps even non-profit bloggers are all to serious for this sort of stuff. Some of them are so ghettoized, they never read or link to anything outside of their parochial community.

So, I’m going to try and break this. I’m going to save my nominations for my next post and spend time thinking about blogs beyond the SAHM/WAHM/SEO/Pet/Knitting MyBlogLog world. I’m going to try to be a connector. Let’s see where we can go with this.

Promoting the Urban Forest

When I was down at the Stamford Government Center the other day for peace rally, I noticed a sign on all the trees outside of the Government Center.

Public Notice: Tree Removal, originally uploaded by Aldon.

Public Notice
Tree Removal

In accordance with the provisions of Ordinance No. 814- Article 1B Sections (4) and (5), NOTICE is hereby given of intent to remove this tree 30 days from the date of this posting.

When I took the picture of the sign, a security guard came up and told me the trees had to come down because they had termites. I knocked on the wood and it seemed pretty solid to me. The trees looked fairly healthy, so I wondered what this was all about.

Later, I started to receive emails from various people asking why the trees were being removed. People talked about sending letters to the Stamford Advocate, to the Tree Warden, and the Mayor’s office in order to get a public hearing about whether or not the trees should be removed. One person wrote that a person from City Hall said the trees were dead or dying and that was the reason they were getting cut down.

I figured I’d make a few calls myself to see what I could find out. I called the number listed on the form, and got an answering machine. I also called the number of a person on the environmental protection board.

Later in the day, I got a phone call from Erin McKenna, who is a Senior Planner at the City of Stamford’s Land Use Bureau. She provided lots of valuable information. The trees in question, honey locust, are not diseased. They are fine, although they are planted a little too closely together which has hampered their growth. They had been planned to be taken down as part of a project to install a sculpture donated by Rubin Nakian.

The plan is to install the sculpture as part of an overall redesign of the entrance to the Government Center. The new entrance is to be designed by Wesley Stout Associates. They are an award winning landscape design firm, whom I was told are very environmentally conscious. The design should be more attractive and provide better shade.

The current schedule is to wait until the plan is received from the design firm. The plan will then be reviewed internally and then publicly. There will be a public hearing about the removal of the trees, but they are hoping to wait until then plan is available to the public before holding such a hearing.

Digital Palimpsest

Yesterday, I hit a milestone, of sorts. Over the past couple of months I’ve been on the road to one event or another. I’ve tried to keep up with my blogging, my emails, and my life in general, but things have slowly gotten out of hand. I climbed up to around 1400 unread emails. I haven’t looked at Bloglines in ages. My visits to NewsTrust are cursory at best, rarely resulting in a review. Yesterday, I looked at the pile of unread emails, and found the oldest date back for two months.

As I got through my emails, I try to catch the most important ones on as timely a basis as possible, put others pile up and some slip through the cracks. I can only spend so much time plowing through old emails, so I balance it out with other ways of trying to keep my figures on the digital pulse.

I often rant against those who spend all their time in the progressive blogosphere. I know how easy it is to do. If you make a concerted effort to stay on top of DailyKos, MyDD, and your regional progressive blogging community, there isn’t a lot of time to read much else. But there is so much more to read.

As I try to balancing things out, I sometime check Bloglines for other blogs that I’ve found interesting. I hop over to BlogExplosion to see where it will take me, and recently I’ve been exploring sites like BlogCatalog and MyBlogLog. All of this works together to create a complex digital palimpsest.

So, instead of trying to capture a clear picture of what I’ve been reading, I thought I would note random tidbits that have caught my eye. There are a lot of SAHM, and WAHM blogs. For those not up on the mommy blogging culture, that is Stay At Home Moms and Work At Home Blogs. These are all wonderful follow-ons to the fertility blogs and the pregnancy blogs. After delivery, there are the moms trying to keep passion alive, even aspiring to be MILFs.

As much as I love my wife and family, I do not describe myself on my blog in terms of whose spouse and whose parent I am, the way many people do, and I find Offsprung’s perspective particularly refreshing: “Welcome to the perfect online antidote to a parenting culture gone barking mad”.

I’ve always been interested in homeschooling. Learning is a life long activity and schooling should take place at home, whether or not kids are also being schooled elsewhere. Many people think of homeschoolers as the religious conservatives that don’t want their children in schools where evolution is taught. Yet I found a wonderful blog, Homeschooling Evolved. They have a link to a life-sized online whale. Another fun blog in this area is Fish Feet. She has a great graph of Global Tetrapod Diversity

There is more to schooling than just science. I find myself wandering through various blogs of freelance writers. Some are offering ideas to other writers. Some are writing about their own writing, or trying out new things. I remember stumbling across the phrase, “Butterfly effect in reverse”, and “Pinocchio’s now a boy who wants to turn back into a toy”. Then, there are all the discussions about 18,000 nude volunteers in Mexico City. Meanwhile, I read about people playing with the Hasbro Vcam Now 2.0 video camera and whether or not you can use a child’s toy to create art.

All of this, without any sort of social conscience is but vanity, and sites like World without Oil, Our Hearts for Haiti, and the National Human Services Assembly help keep this in perspective.

So, I’m catching up on my emails. I’m keeping my eyes open online, and I’m finding that just like in face to face experiences, I really, don’t know life, at all.

Why do I blog, Follow up.

Several days ago, I wrote a Why do I blog? blog post, as part of a meme floating around the blogosphere. In it, I asked five other bloggers why they blog. So far, Camille and Jaya have responded with very thoughtful posts. Jafabrit has a great post relating her blogging to her visual art. I hope you read all three posts.

The mirror question has also been catching my interest recently, why don’t you blog? Of course, I can’t go tag a bunch of blogs to ask that question, so it is a question I’ve been talking about with people on phone calls or at dinners. One reason many people don’t blog, is that they don’t know what blogging is, or how to get started. I’m always around for blogging classes and it looks like I’ll be teaching a few different classes over the summer.

A second reason is concern people have about controlling the impression that others form of them online. I touch a little bit on this in my post about collective identity formation. There is something permanent and easily searchable about what we post online and we do have to be careful about what we post. Many people talk about how kids often don’t think about possible implications about what they put on Facebook or MySpace.

Just as we can try to shape, but can’t control, the impressions that people form of us when we meet face to face, the same applies to impressions that people form of us based on what we post online. It is more complicated because so much of what we post online lacks the visual cues that people pick up on face to face. Yet the same issue applies. We can try to shape, but we can’t control the impressions others form of us, either online or off.

So, why don’t you blog? If it is because you don’t know how and want to learn, drop me a note. If it relates to impression formation, or something I’ve missed and you want to share your ideas, let me know.

Music Man '08

Jaya has an interesting post about recent blogging trends. She looks at BlogPulse graphs of the seven deadly sins and the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ and the ‘Seven Roman Virtues’. The two deadly sins that top the charts are Pride and Anger, averaging over four times as much traffic as the other deadly sins. I cannot help but wonder if these are related. After all, how much anger is a result of someone’s pride being damaged? Not only is this the case on the individual level, but where does national pride and national anger fit in?

When you look at the virtues, Hope runs away with the traffic, averaging over six times the traffic of the other virtues. Perhaps hope is the antidote to the pride and anger that is causing so much problems in our society today.

Friday, I went to see my daughter in her school production of The Music Man.

Music Man, originally uploaded by Aldon.

For those of you who haven’t seen, or don’t remember the musical, it is about a traveling salesman showing up in Iowa selling band instruments. The problem is that he doesn’t know anything about music. Typically, he sells the instruments and gets out of town before anyone knows better.

Yet in this small town in Iowa, he becomes interested in a local librarian, sticks around a little longer than he planned and has to confront what he has done. Yet it all turns out well, as the instruments and the band, even though it doesn’t play all that well, brings joy, meaning and hope to the children and their parents.

These days there is a man who spends too much on haircuts and another who is lacking in years of experience traipsing around Iowa trying to sell their wares. When we are lucky, people might talk about the issues they are discussing. More of the time, people are talking about what they look like or other unimportant minutiae.

Yet when you get right down to it, what they are really selling is hope, a commodity that has been in short supply the past six years. They are selling hope, an antidote to the pride and anger that has so damaged our political system and our standing in the world. Which one has the better prescription? Right now, I’m rooting for haircut guy, but they both have the right message and the right approach. Will they be able to deliver? Well, that is part of the magic of hope. The Music Man changed people’s lives for the better, even though people thought he wouldn’t be able to deliver. I believe that our candidates will do the same.

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