A New Photodea.

Every day on my walk to the bus stop, I walk along a low stone wall.  I’m not sure how it got there, or why, as it stretches across the property of a church, about 10 houses, and an apartment building.  Perhaps it is a piece of the original ‘beautiful hill’ of Belmont.  Regardless, it is one of the most interesting and visually intriguing aspects of my walk.  In this wall, there is variety.  Mosses and ferns grown in damp chinks of it.  The first rays of morning warm its stony top in others.  It is because of this wall, and the variety of perspectives that can be seen along it, that I got my new photo idea about perspective.

I want to take pictures from the wall all along its expanse, the things you will see from its top.  I want to contrast the weedy barrenness of a parking lot with the quiet cluster of a shady grove of trees with the stars of white violets in dark, rich grass with the isolation of one single tulip on the edge of a concrete expanse.  I want to examine what life looks like from the perspective of this wall.

And then I got to thinking, what else?  What about life from the branches of a tree, looking out from under its illuminated leaves?  Could that be interesting and beautiful?  And what about from a moving vehicle, like the bus I ride to work or the insides of subway tunnels?  What about the everyday scenes from my front porch, or the expression of a day as seen from one solitary park bench?

At about this time, Monotone was introduced.  Eureka!  Here’s the perfect forum for these new ideas!  And what other wonderful things could go with it?  Bits of poetry inspired by the scenes?  Snags of potentially related thought?  The delicately written features of whim and fancy?  I hope to explore the possibilities this weekend, possibly with a new blog if I get motivated.

Political pressure and internet fads

It seems nowadays that everyone and their dog has a blog (oh dear, I just rhymed).  Perhaps originally an outlet for the mundane details of life, blogs are increasingly outlets for a range of more serious topics: political declarations and acusations of unfair governance, explanation of medical treatments and pharmaceuticals, and widespread discussion of crime, corruption, violence, and other ills of the world. 

It is not necessarily a strange shift, then, to see Malaysian politicians reversing their policy on blogging.  While in the past many incumbents have seen bloggers as ‘the enemy’ who called their decisions into question, a drop in public support has the ruling party singing a different tune.  Now all candidates for youth positions MUST have a blog before running for national posts.  It seems like a reasonable shift – if you want to work with youth, you have to be able to set up a blog, manage a Facebook profile, and speak their language.  With the current speed of technology, you have to be able to adapt almost as quickly as their malleable little brains are doing.  While it seems that someone in the National Front coalition should’ve figured out early on that they could use the same tools to gain public approval as rivals used to gain it for themselves, I guess it took losses in a general election to really drive the point home. 

The next obvious question for me is how our own politicians are keeping up with the fads.  Obama, Clinton, and McCain all have their own websites aimed at getting their platforms out there, spreading news about what they have been doing, and generally keeping in good contact with their supporters.  I think that’s great – keep the information highway going.  All three also include blogs as a part of those websites.  Of course, while I would like to get the occasional post from the candidates themselves to get a sense of their personal voice, all that I saw in my quick scan were written by other members of their campaign.  Alas.  Perhaps someday we’ll have a White House blog with actual words from the actual President.  McCain also has a social networking site on his website called McCainSpace, which I thought was a little cheesy, but also kinda cool.  It’s definitely a step in the right direction as far as connecting with younger voters. 

So, where do I see this whole thing going?  More direct pressure of the public on politicians.  More open communication and information passing on candidates and elected officials.  Widespread discussion and observation of every detail of political life.  While I think most of this is for the good, I also don’t always trust my fellow voter/citizen/blogger.  If we swing too far the wrong way, it’s mob rule.  Don’t really think I’m up for that.

The stories we want

Looking online for sparks of coolness, I was pleased to discover this little article documenting some of the ways the bigwigs are now approaching storytelling.  Basically the article gives outlines of how a variety of disciplines are trying to make thier storytelling more vibrant with today’s community.  How can you make things more welcoming for content sharers and those who ‘remix’ content without getting your copyright tromped on?  What constitutes a “legal” remix, and what threatens the copyright with a variety of content mooches?

As a blogger, I understand the annoyance even cold, hard companies might have with content mooching.  I get annoyed when spammers try to steal entire posts and use them to boost ad revenues on their own sites.   I mean, I put this stuff out there just to think ‘out loud’ and give vent to things – what about people who actually have gone through the process of legally protecting their work?  How do they feel about content mooching?  Not grand, I’m sure.

But still, a part of being in the culture of the time has to do with putting your work up for comment by the public.  Where, after all, did spoofs come from?  And this kind of revisionist use of existing material ultimately gives the original work renewed vigor.  Would I have the same admiration for the shadow play of Errol Flynn if I’d never seen Robin Hood: Men in Tights?  Probably not.

In the end, imitation is supposedly the highest form of flattery.   And if television is already capitalizing revenues through websites and memorabilia, if films are making the majority of their money from products related to the film (but not from theater revenues only), there needs to be some big adaptations taking place.  My advice – limited releases.  Make certain screen shots or film clips available, specifically for editing.  Release more than the usual film trailers – give us games, online interviews, outtakes, anything that might spark related interest in the film.  I first found out about the Baudelaire orphans from an online game, before I’d even heard of the books and long before there was even rumor of a movie.  I could even deal with ad content on various websites, along with interest-building content.  Just give me more.  Give me options.  Above all, give me creativity.

Speaking of creativity, this website about the conference itself is great.  I recommend the Web Awards section.

Goodbye comics, hello U.S. of A.

Some of you may have read my former postings about TEAL (Typo Eradication Advancement League). Today, at the start of Jeff’s momentous journey across the contiguous United States correcting errors as he finds them, I am glad to announce the website is up! You will also notice I’ve updated my blogroll with the current TEAL blog, as opposed to Jeff’s old one. I will be sad to see the comics and some of that olde-tyme humor disappear. However, in order to make space (and spare time) for his momentous journey, some of Jeff’s pursuits must fall by the wayside. Still, let’s take a moment for nostalgia. Sigh.

But there is a new path to tread, a new life to be led. And for that, I say good luck to Jeff and companions on his several-month quest. Adieu, adieu, parting is such sweet sorrow.

Blogging and freedom.

It’s rare that I consider the privileges of my lifestyle.  Sure, I appreciate my boss, despite my job.  And I appreciate th epeople in my life fairly regularly.  But there are always things I don’t consider, things that may come into my awareness only with special reflection, perhaps sparked by the season of Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or Easter.  So perhaps it is appropriate that this news item about blogging elsewhere came to my attention in this season.

I rarely consider the internet as a place of freedom for myself.  Sure, it allows for some expression and some sharing of opinions. For the most part though, my sharing is very lighthearted and because of this, I tend to perceive the environment as lighthearted.  Sure, when I was in China I was much more aware of restrictions that could be made, but still it was more of a game.  I looked up different opinions about Tibet and amused myself with their monks-as-oppressors, Communism-as-the-liberator articles.  I didn’t get offended or hurt, perhaps because I knew my lack of access was only temporary.

What does it mean that a blogger – not even someone with the authority of print – would be arrested and held for the opinions that he posts?   What does it mean to consider your blog – this light, hopeful and happy thing that often contains subtle prods – as something of complete and ultimate seriousness?  How does it affect your writing?  How does it affect your life, to know that what you post on a simple blog – something most like a public forum for the world – could change your life forever?  Could get you killed?  Could put your family in danger?