A New Content Supplier

(Originally published in Greater Democracy).

Back in August, I wrote about Political Network Topologies, drawing a distinction between two models of politics, one in terms of social networks and the other in terms of citizens as consumers. Jock added a comment pointing me to the work of Anna Nagurney from Umass on supernetworks.

I listened her keynote at MeshForum 2005 and started thinking in different ways about networks. Usually, when I think about networks, I think about nodes and links. However, she points out the importance of the flow on the network as well.

Yesterday, Grant McCracken wrote about brands as a new content provider. He focuses on the ‘flow’ aspects of social networks and how this flow is essential to sustaining social networks. He goes on to suggest that brands may be an important source of ‘flow’ for social networks, thus bringing together ideas of politics as a social network and politics as a group of citizens as consumers.


November 4th is a special day for me. Sixty-one years ago, my wife’s mother was born. She died six years ago, on my wife’s birthday. Five years ago, my wife and I got married on November 4th and four years ago, we baptized Fiona on November 4th.

So, last night, we went to hear Tish Hinojosa at Music for a Change. Kim and I had heard Tish in concert a couple other times and really like her. Be had bought one of her CDs which has become a favorite of Fiona’s.

It was a nice sized crowd, I would guess around 100 people. The auditorium was small and intimate. Fiona requested a song and there was nice back and forth with the crowd.


(Originally published at Greater Democracy.)

Over on Full Circle Online Interaction Blog, Nancy White asks, “How should we select our Keynote speakers?” She points to this blog post where Andrew observes, “Sitting in conferences I have often looked around at the audience and thought about the incredible opportunity for discovery which lies within”.

When I first read these posts, I thought of conferences I’ve been to where the keynote speaker or the panelists are sitting in front of a large screen with an online chat behind them. There have been great discussions that have taken place in such chats. Take a look at the Personal Democracy Forum Backchat for a good example.

My thought is that the best Keynote speakers, and for that matter the best leaders of any sort are likely to be those that can work well with a public backchat going on.

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Re: "I Rep the Ville"

(Originally posted as a comment over at New Haven Independent. For other comments about Gina’s writing, see here, here, and here.)

I’m a big fan of Gina’s writing and from that writing, what I assume to be her teaching style. What is it that makes someone’s writing great? This is an important starting point and one that I hope she discusses in her classes. I would like to suggest that there are three important factors in great writing which Gina has been touching upon.

Good writing is vivid; it is eye-catching. When I read Gina’s posts I get a strong sense of what it must be like to be in those halls and those classrooms. I hope her students are developing the skills to help people like me get a better view of what it is like to be growing up in a place like ‘the ville’.

Good writing is authentic. It doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t or pretend to have knowledge it doesn’t have. It shows feelings, hopes, fears, and uncertainties. Gina’s writing sure feels authentic to me. The glimpses of students’ lives sure feel authentic to me. I know that high school students can smell false pretenses a mile away. Gina is courageous in her ability to be real with people, both in the classroom and in her postings here. As with vividness, I hope that her students are learning the courage to be real and talk about what is really going on, and not simply what others expect them to say.

It is this sort of authenticity that is a powerful antidote to the peer pressures that seem to drive a lot of gang activity. This leads to the most important part of good writing. Good writing should be life changing.

I hope that Gina’s students are having their lives changed in a positive way be reading stories about how other people have struggled in their lives and overcome adversity. I hope that Gina’s students are finding their voices and this self-expression will empower them to successes they haven’t even dreamed of. I also hope that all of us reading Gina’s posts will gain new insights into what really goes on in public high schools, understand more about the pressures today’s youth face and find new ways to help out.

This does not mean I am unable to be critical of her writing or teaching. At times it seems as if she doesn’t appreciate how difficult the choices some of her students have to make is. Her comment “It seems to me that fighting over respect is a counter-intuitive and counter-productive activity” seems to miss that the fight for respect is a core part of the human condition that we all participate in. Whether we are fighting for respect of our parents by getting married and bringing them grandchildren, fighting for respect of people around us by doing our job well or trying to make the world a better place, we all fight for respect.

Gina has my respect for her writing and her teaching. I hope her students can find new ways, perhaps through their writings to seek respect of the people around them. Finally, I hope we can all learn from one another.

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Grant, Google and ad-placement

I wonder if Grant McCracken is whistling past the graveyard as he writes about Google versus Madison Avenue: no contest here.

I must admit, I don’t know a lot about advertising and I started reading Grant’s blog as part of my work on the DeStefano Gubernatorial campaign in Connecticut. Grant is in Connecticut and I try to read as many Connecticut based blogs as possible.

Grant writes, “Google doesn't know anything about advertising…Of course, this does not mean that Google won't stride into the advertising business and make an ass of itself.” While I’m not a big fan of Google Adsense, somehow I don’t think Grant’s scenario is all that likely. Google has done a great job of attracting very bright people and if they venture further into the advertising world, I expect they will do the same there.

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