Spoken Word Blogging

After college, I moved into an old cinnamon factory with a bunch of aspiring artists in New York City to be a writer. I was most interested in writing poems and short stories. I also had dreams of writing a great novel, but end up writing mostly computer programs.

Fast forward three decades, and I'm sitting in a nice house in suburbia writing blog posts on a laptop computer; a writing implement and genre that didn't exist back in the spice factory days. My online writing style continues to evolve. There have been times that I've written daily, sometimes, not very eloquently, in an effort to hone my craft. Other times, I've just been too busy to write regularly.

I'm starting off 2013 with a good string of blog post, but I've got a busy week ahead. I have to get non-blog writing done for other projects as well.

I'm also spending time trying to find things to inspire me and stimulate my creativity. Yesterday, I ended up on Sarah Kay's Ted talk, If I should have a daughter …

It got me thinking. Should I start hitting some of the poetry open mics? Should I start writing some more poetic blog posts to be read allowed, and then make a video of me reading them which I could share on YouTube? NPR has been doing an interesting series of having poets visit their news room and write poems about the experience and the day's news. Could I do a spoken word poetic news recap, perhaps drawing from other experiments in creative news, from the Daily Show to Autotune the news?

For politics, could I, a former, and perhaps future, political candidate, deliver spoken word poetic stump speeches?

I hope to give some of this a shot, perhaps even today, Epiphany, if I get the time.

You Are What You Eat, the Online Version

There is an old saying that you are what you eat. Normally, it is used to talk about food. Eat healthy food and you'll be healthy. Eat crap and, well, you'll be full of shit. I've been thinking about this recently in terms of our media diets. What sort of media are you consuming? When you play video games, are they making you healthier or less healthy? I've been touching on this in a couple recent blog posts about videos games. What about the shows on television?

I find that I watch very little television these days. Most of them have too much violence for me. Even shows that would otherwise be interesting, like some good science fiction, still has too much violence for me. It is a cheap way of getting audiences emotionally involved. It made me think of what television critic Eric Deggans calls the Persistent Disbelief Syndrome, another cheap trick to get viewers involved. Yes, it is challenging to create a show that is compelling and full of intrigue without resorting to violence or other cheap tricks, but perhaps we need to move away from shows that fail to meet that.

For me, I've shifted much of my media consumption online. I'm following over 3000 people on Twitter and have over 2,500 friends on Facebook. I read a lot of blogs, mostly via blog readers these days, and get a lot of information from other online sources as well.

For quite a while, I was finding blog posts to read through sites which would share who visited your blog. MyBlogLog, BlogLog, BlogFrog and others. These seem to have faded away, but I liked them. I liked the reciprocity of visiting the blogs of people who have visited you. It often made for better conversations.

Then, there were the sites like EntreCard, Adgitize, and CMF Forums. These were bloggers' ad exchanges. They still had some of the feel of reciprocity that the sites like MyBlogLog had. Most of them are gone now as well.

About the only sites that I'm really using much these days to connect with other bloggers is Empire Avenue and Triberr. Triberr leads to some good blog posts and helps drive a little traffic, but it's not especially compelling and Empire Avenue is more about sites like Facebook and Twitter than it is about blogs.

So, I'm looking for ways to find more compelling content. At the same time, I'm looking much more seriously at what I'm reading via Facebook and Twitter. Is the content I'm finding compelling? Is it building mental, emotional or social resilience, to go back to my discussions about SuperBetter? The same can be said about YouTube. Are you watching Angry Orange or TED talks?

One of the great things about online media is that it is a conversation, not necessarily just a broadcast. Each of us has the opportunity to create our own content. What is our content doing for society? Is it echoing anger filled talking points from one side of the political spectrum or the other? Is it divisive and hyperpartisan, or is it hearing what others have to say and working towards common goals?

Thinking back about the CT Health Foundation's Health Leaders Fellowship Program, I come back to key works about intent; what is your intent in what you are posting? And impact, what sort of impact are you actually having? Let's work together towards a more intentional online social media production and consumption, and let's see what sort of impact we're really having.

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The Patch State Legislative Debates

Below is a blog post that I have submitted to the Bethwood Patch. I've also modified it slightly as a post to the Orange Patch. In true political style, I'm claiming victory in the first debate on Patch and I look forward to many more.

When I accepted the Democratic Nomination for State Representative in the 114th Assembly District here I Connecticut, I talked about how I'm not running against the Republican incumbent. I'm running against apathy. I'm running to get people more involved in their communities, both politically, and in terms of community service. I'm running against an intellectual apathy where people don't know who their State Representative is or what is happening up in Hartford.

When I was asked to start blogging on the Bethwood Patch, I hesitated. I've been maintaining my personal blog for eight years. I'm writing on a health care blog for my work. I didn't need another outlet for my writings.

On the other hand, I recognized the benefit that blogging might bring to me as a State Representative candidate seeking to get more people involved. The Bethwood Patch could be a great platform to stimulate debate.

Well, this week, my opponent has started to blog on the Bethwood Patch. I'm very excited and view it is a small victory for my campaign. I am managing to get others more involved and more informed, if simply by getting my opponent to post here.

I look forward to her sharing posts where she talks about her views on the issues and what she has done for the people of Woodbridge, Orange and Derby. I look forward to her allowing comments on the posts so that we can have an open, honest, and friendly discussion about the issues that should matter to all of us in this district.

It would be great of the 114th Assembly District could set an example for other districts where there would be an ongoing friendly discussion about the issues between the candidates for office.

Let's start off with a friendly welcome to my opponent for State Representative.

Proles, Nietzsche and the Desperate Slacktivists Passive Interactivity

Recently, I stumbled across the article, What if Interactivity is the New Passivity? by Jonathan Sterne at McGill University. It is the sort of media theory stuff that I suspect many of my friends looking at how to monetize their social media activity tend not to read. It builds on the criticism of people passively consuming broadcast media, and asks if the interactions that we have now, liking pages, following friends, maybe even retweeting, or playing a game in Facebook, is really all that different than people watching television a generation ago.
It is an interesting question, and my thoughts quickly drifted to 1984, “If there was hope, it must lie in the proles”, or at least with those who are engaged in social media. Yes, I feel the ghost of Marshall McLuhan standing over my shoulder, whispering in my ear, “the medium is the message”.
Yet, perhaps, McLuhan isn’t all that far off. Perhaps what Sterne is saying is that interactivity, at least in terms of Slacktivists signing online petitions, isn’t really that much warmer of a medium than people a generation ago cursing at the news on the television.
Perhaps, the new, passive interactivity, reflects an even older idea; Henry David Thoreau’s “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”. That paragraph, goes on to say, “A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind.”
So, how do we transcend this desperate slacktivists passive interactivity? Sterne’s article starts off by talking about Malcolm Bull’s essay, “Where Is the Anti-Nietzsche?” Perhaps there is more of a relationship between these questions than the analogy that Sterne suggests. However, that should probably stand as a blog post on its own.

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In The News

When I started this blog, many years ago, it was intended to serve as a place where I could gather my writing from other places. Over the years, I've found more of my writing specifically for the blog. When I started at the Community Health Center, I didn't have as much time and energy for personal writing and so the tenor of the blog changed. Likewise, as the audience changes, so does my writing.

I have not been cross-posting blog posts I write for the Community Health Center here, for a large variety of reasons. However, I there have been some blog posts there that I've felt were particularly important. Today, I posted one of them. Psychiatric Telemedicine for Uninsured Patients without Stable Housing. It has a wonky title, but I hope you will stop by and read it. As an aside, SB 13, AN ACT CONCERNING A STUDY OF TELEMEDICINE SERVICES passed the Insurance committee with all 18 members at the committee meeting voting in favor of it. Unfortunately, it was tabled for the calendar.

Another topic I've been following is a very lively discussion on SpinSucks, PR Crisis for Skittles In Wake of Controversial Teen Shooting. How should Wrigley's respond to the increase in sales and people suggesting Wrigley's should donate the money "to the family or causes that would help with racial reconciliation or underprivileged communities".

With around 150 comments there, mine might get lost, so I figured I'd share them here:

John F. Kennedy once said, "When written in Chinese the word crisis is composed of two characters.One represents danger, and the other represents opportunity". It seems as if there is too little focus on the danger, and not enough on the opportunity.

Like many corporations, Wrigley's has a commitment to social responsibility.

"We aim to make a difference by respecting diversity and encouraging inclusion, consistently improving our health and safety practices, providing volunteer opportunities for our associates and through philanthropy with real impact."Wrigley should focus on this and highlight efforts to help make communities safer. "Any kid should be able to walk safely to a neighborhood store."

Use the opportunity to build the brand's Social Responsibility cred.

In a follow up I was asked how I would advise them to do it while staying out of the politics. I responded:

I believe that focusing on neighborhood safety can be presented as a neutral issue. Everyone wants safer neighborhoods, whether they be members of Neighborhood Watch, or parents of black youth. It is a common ground, and by focusing on the common ground, they aren't giving into the activists, they are staying neutral to the politics, and are probably least likely to end up in legal problems.If I were there, I would probably look at putting money into grants to neighborhood organizations that are working towards this. I'd probably try to do a little branding with this, something like the "Safer Rainbow Initiative".

I'd probably do it as part of the Wrigley Company Foundation as part of their "sustainable local initiatives... to improve communities around the world"

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