Monday, May 29, 2006

Davey D on Saving Urban Radio

See this tremendous article by Bay Area journalist, deejay and community activist Davey D on the prospects for community-oriented radio, with a focus on African-American communities. Chock-full of tips on organizing a movement for media justice.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Pow! Bam! Super-heroes battle over civil liberties

Contrary to popular belief, comic books - even the most muscle-bound super-hero comics - have a long history of addressing political and moral issues, from Superman's earliest adventures (which often included battling oppressive landlords and corrupt politicians) to recent and more explicitly political graphic novels like Transmetropolitan and The Invisibles.

The new Civil War mini-series from Marvel Comics tackles head-on issues of overreaching government power and individual conscience, public safety and personal liberty.

In the series, a group of Marvel super-heroes led by Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic embrace the government's demand that they reveal their secret identities and go to work for the government as legitimate officers of the law, complete with "pension plans and annual vacation time."

Meanwhile, Captain America and his allies refuse to register with the government. "Don't play politics with me," Captain America tells a cop. "Super-heroes need to stay above that stuff or Washington starts telling us who the super-villains are."

"The Marvel superheroes are reflective of the environment they were created in," says Marvel editor Tom Brevoort. "Civil War has characters grounded in the contemporary world with a fantasy element. If you live in the world, you will find some point of relevance on top of having a big exciting superhero adventure with guys in costumes flying at each other and fighting."

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Saving the World, One Cute Puppy at a Time

From the Digital Divide Network:

Early in 2006, Texas-based animal-rescue organization Puppy Passions Rescue and Transport found itself caring for Lola, a dog who was nursing both her own puppies and a litter of orphaned pups. Tragically, Lola was also infected with heartworms, and the organization was having a tough time coming up with the money it needed to pay for her treatment.

To help raise funds to cover Lola's medical care, Puppy Passions requested donations at Care2, an online social network that allows individuals and philanthropic groups to connect with one another using tools such as blogs, messages, and petitions.

"We were extremely overwhelmed at the sudden response from people donating and wanting to help all they could," said Mike Sexton, Puppy Passions' Vice President.

Within just a few days of posting Lola's picture and story on a Care2 message board, Puppy Passions had received the $600 they needed to cover her veterinary bills from online community members touched by Lola's plight.

Care2 is just one of many social networking sites that help nonprofits network, get donations, and share information on the Web. Although popularly known as places where people make friends and find romance, social networking sites can also play a key role in helping your organization achieve its goals.

Some of us are trying to save puppies; others are trying to save democracy. The article that follows provides as solid an overview I've seen of the possibilities of social change through social networking sites:

While many people regard social networking tools as a fun diversion, some nonprofits are leveraging them to accomplish serious goals, such as increasing their visibility, helping constituents find jobs, and raising awareness about time-sensitive issues.

For instance, Interplast, a nonprofit that provides free reconstructive surgeries to persons in developing countries, uses Flickr to help publicize its work. Interplast Communications and Technology Coordinator Seth Mazow initially began using Flickr in March 2005 when he was looking for an easy way to add images to Interplast's blog. Through Flickr, he quickly realized the benefits of sharing photos online. "Flickr is a very powerful tool," said Mazow, "one that Interplast uses to spread the message about our life-changing surgeries."

Eventually, Mazow began to experiment with Flickr's tagging feature, which has increased the visibility of Interplast's photos in Google search results. He points out that one of the top results for the search term "cleft baby" is a photo from Interplast's Flickr page. Mazow also started a Flickr group called International NGOs so that persons or organizations interested in international aid could share pictures, stories, and ideas.

Professional-networking site LinkedIn proved beneficial to San Pablo, California-based Street Tech, an organization that trains people in computer repair and helps them find jobs. Paul Lamb, Street Tech's founder, cites the lack of a readily available professional network as one of the problems the organization's students face when looking for jobs. Because Street Tech lacks the resources it would need to develop its own online job-search network, students, staffers, supporters, and partner companies created LinkedIn accounts.

I also just read (slightly behind the curve, here) that Internet phone-calling service Skype has created a way for blogs to host audio conversations, known as Skypecasts, with up to 100 people at a time. Interesting.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Jeremy Reading at Valencia St. Books

On Wednesday, May 10, I'll be taking part in a "rapid fire" (three minutes, tops!) reading at Valencia Street Books, along with people like Charlie Anders, Tim Pratt, and Pat Murphy. The event, which starts at 7pm, is a fundraiser for Strange Horizons and the Speculative Literature Foundation, two of my favorite science-fiction related organizations.