Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Trivial Nature of Life

The past couple of weeks I have been amazed at the dynamics of communities within the Social Media Sphere. Both the Frozen Pea Fund and also the nature of debate, such as the debates in Seesmic that have spilled out into blogs has been fascinating to watch. In a sense these things have existed in online forums and the like long before online video, but the nature of the current trivial communication mechanisms, such as Twitter and Seesmic, I think have broadened who we would encounter and how we can communicate, and in the case of video by providing tone of voice and body language.

Now I realize that in person meetings and gatherings convey a whole new level connection and people can just waste time that could be spent otherwise. That said, I have found it fascinating that these tools that enable us to easily communicate the trivialities of our lives give us more of the sense of a community or a tribe - where we might go beyond simply words and move to actions - such as raising funds for someone we've only met through 140 character snippets.

Here is a video where I talk more on the subject:

Friday, December 21, 2007

Frozen Pea Friday

So much to post about and so little time on winter-time Friday's but before I go, a quick post. Please check out the FrozenPeaFund.

This is an incredible example of how our online communities and "tribes" come together and support each other. It is more that talk, it really is connection. More on that later.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Podcamp - Coming to Colorado in 2008

Today I went to the Denver Area Podcasters Meetup. It was great talking with Eve and Jim and meeting them in person. I arrived a bit late, so there had already been some discussion, and that discussion included having a Podcamp in Colorado.

We are still at the very beginning stage of it all, but it was very exciting to start talking about it with others. I shared my ideas for doing the event PodcampXL style and I'd love to see those ideas develop.

We have yet to set up the wiki for Podcamp Colorado, but I will post the information on that once it is set up.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Virtually Tagged - 8 Virtually Random Things

Ok, technically I've already posted on the 8 things about me meme, but those were 8 things about me outside of Second Life.

So....when Tara5 Oh tagged me I thought I'd do 8 things about me as it relates to Second Life. (Though looking at where the meme has traveled who I'm going to tag is a good question...but I'll worry about that at the end.)

1) I joined Second Life for the conferences. No, really. I kept hearing about Second Life, but it wasn't until I heard about Bar Camp being in SL and Lawrence Lessig speaking in SL that I though "Gee there are going to be conferences I want to go to in SL and I won't even know how to walk". So I joined SL. Of course it was over a year before I actually made it to a conference.

2) I chose my SL last name because it was the only name available at the time that was close to either my maiden name or my married name. Ironically Katsu means pork cutlet - which for someone who keeps kosher is particularly amusing.

3) I've helped set up two Arabic classes in SL - one pre-SL Voice (using skype+streaming software) one post-SL Voice. I find the potential applications for language learning in SL fascinating. Immersion and use of words relevant to the speaker are the most effective ways to learn a language. Within SL the likelihood of running into someone who speaks another language is pretty high.

4) I collect Linden bears, which are bears that the Lindens give out. The lore as I understand it was that it was started as a means to give residents a reason to start a conversation with a Linden. I have made bears for two Lindens who did not have them so they might have one to give out, but as of this writing, neither the bear I made for Cory Linden nor the one I made for Joe Linden has become an official bear.

5) I like to build in SL. I find sculpture and architecture built on the basic prim types fascinating. I love see what people can create from these simple shapes, and it was amazing how after I started building I would walk around and look at buildings and break them down to their prim components in my mind.

(For those not in Second Life "Prim" is short for "primitive" which is to say the basic lego shapes that make up Second Life. Just about everything you see in Second Life is built from boxes, cylinders, prisms, spheres, toruses, tubes & rings - the basic primitive types - which can then be cut hollowed and twisted etc. this is changing with the introduction of sculpted prims.)

6) I have been mistaken more than once for Golda Stein. Not that I look anything like her but I guess there was a time when there weren't so many Goldas and Goldies.

7) I did a Menorah lighting as part of last year's (2006) Official winter festival. This year the festival is after Chanukah so it didn't seem so relevant.

8) I'm trying to learn how to do machinima but so far I've only made one Seesmic video as machinima.

Ahah! And now I get to tag 3 more people. Hmmmm....I tag Mark Forman and going a bit cross media to Utterz I'm tagging Yxes Delacroix, and thirdly Akela Talamasca. You three get to write 8 things about yourself (or speak it), and then tag 3 more people at the end.

Have fun!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Animated Menorah - an Utterz Experiment

Since I was reading the book "The Animated Menorah" to my husband anyway I thought I'd call up Utterz and record the reading. The audio is cellphone quality, but if you'd like to listen along here are all 8 Utterz in one place.

Candle 1

Candle 2

Candle 3

Candle 4

Candle 5

Candle 6

Candle 7

Candle 8

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Monday, December 3, 2007

Friends, Romans and Countrymen

lend me your ears. Oh wait...that was another post but a useful opening line.
It seems that the matter of friends, especially those made in the virtual context, has been on the minds of many. I suppose some of this is spurred by the 10,000 post threads (here) and (here) to start with. But it is a topic that has come up a few times, perhaps spurred by the fact that the social media sites tend to call connections "friends". Even gtalk has joined the bandwagon.

So what is the matter of digital connections. Are there such things as digitally made friends, or are we really more "Romans" and "Countrymen" to borrow the quote. I think of Romans being a bit like the "tribal" concept that was put forward in a New York Times article this week. To some extent we are creating our "tribes" or our social circles. In each "country" we join, be it Twitter or Seesmic or Facebook. I think that the idea is an interesting one not without merit. We all, on some level, seek to belong - whether our belonging is in that of the questioner and the one who rocks the boat, or whether we just want a crowd that we hang with.

I think we can see this tribal nature in the way we chose the tools we use. Twitter I think is a classic example of it. Twitter goes down, lags, does weird stuff - we all talk about going to Jaiku or some other service, but we keep coming back to Twitter because that's where our "friends" are, or as I would posit where our "tribe" or "community" is.

In a sense it is no surprise that we have this need for gathering. In many places the concept of "neighborhood" or local community is gone. We drive away from home to our jobs and our meeting places. We live distributed across miles and miles of our daily life. We travel from one end of the country/world to the other. For many of us there is no time or space where we can have that "place where we live". And if we don't travel then it is our neighbors who do. Humans are social beings. We tell stories, we desire to connect with others, we look for our place to belong. These digital worlds and countries give us a "place" where we can exist. We can find our "Roma" or our "tribe" even as we traverse the world, we have a "foundation of community" to base ourselves on, to take with us through our cellphones and laptops.

But wait, how solid is this foundation? Is this a false hope we pin ourselves on? Is our identity slippery enough that we can make and remake ourselves again? I think that the answer is that lifetime communities, and the attendant challenges of changing our identity are a thing of the past for much of us. We can be as slippery as we'd like or as real as we like virtually or in physical space. I think these social media tools are merely where we find our need for community met for now.

So I think that many of our "friends" are more members of our tribe. That said I think that there are real friends to be made out there even through this digitally mediated medium. Real conversations do happen, and people do form connections. There are some people who I have met only over the net who I do consider friends. And I think that this makes sense too. What sense of belonging would we have if we had no friends within the medium? What kind of an audience would Brutus have had if he had called out to Romans & Countrymen. For a community to become real, for the "tribe" to exist there must be more connection than just causal acquaintance or ones attention will wane with their needs unmet and they will move on to the next digital country.