Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

When Obama got Osama

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

There was a moment tonight as the news of Osama bin Laden’s death began to spread like wildfire and Wolf Blitzer and John King traded adjectives to mark the momentous, historic, memorable occasion that I was sorely tempted to break into a rendition of “Ding, dong, the witch is dead.” The thought made me giggle. The giggle made me snort. The snort made me cry.

I put out a few tweets on Twitter expressing my belief that while bin Laden’s death is an achievement, it does not end the global war against terrorism, and that I found it somewhat creepy that people were dancing around to celebrate a death.

And my tweet stream blew up.

I quickly realized that I was in a minority –that while most of my fellow Americans (at least those in my tweet stream) agree bin Laden’s death is not a complete end, most really saw nothing wrong with celebrating the death of another human being.

The fact that I found the death chants creepy unleashed a rather spirited debate with my fellow Tweeters.

I was harangued, unfollowed and insulted by several people who called me a few rather interesting names because I was unwilling to break into song over the death of a mass murderer.

Yes, bin Laden was evil. Yes, bin Laden had the blood of thousands on his hands. Yes, he cared nothing for the countless lives he destroyed with his plans for a better world. He was an evil man….a homicidal hatemonger who ranked up there with some of the nastiest men to walk this earth in the last 50 years.

But I didn’t dance when Milosevic died, I didn’t sing when Hussein was sent to the gallows, and I did not celebrate tonight.

Beside my unwillingness to mark bin Laden’s passing with either celebration or mourning he certainly doesn’t deserve from me, what bothered me most was celebration for a war that has not ended.

Global terrorism, with or without bin Laden, remains a security threat to nations around the world, especially the United States. Celebrating bin Laden’s death should not replace acknowledgement of the cold hard truth that the “war on terror” is far from over.  

One person tweeted: “Why can’t people take this moment to celebrate?” Another pointed out that the news made people happy and that the country needed some good news.

I began to feel like a cop pulling up outside a frat house to stop a party.

Bin Laden was more than just a figurehead – he was a battle-tested mujahidin with charisma and intelligence who served as an inspiration for thousands of young men around the world over the last few decades. His death is most certainly a major loss for Al Qaeda.

But the organization didn’t die tonight. There are cells, entire structures, in other parts of the world that operate independently, some within a series of Al Qaeda command levels and others outside them. They are unlikely to take the news of bin Laden’s death lightly…and neither should we.

Social Media leads 21st Century Global Revolutions

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

Hosni Mubarak should have given me a call on January 25. His mistake.

But if he had, I would have told him something Joss Whedon already made perfectly clear in Serenity: “you can’t stop the signal.”

Actually if Mubarak had called Beijing, Tehran or Rangoon he would have heard much the same message. Sure governments can still limit communications capabilities, but the measures are temporary stop gaps at best. Time and time again over the last two years, popular uprisings have found ways to sidestep official controls and use the Internet to get their messages out to the world.

The message hasn’t always achieved the desired results – think crackdown Iran, think crackdown Burma – but as we have seen in Egypt and across the Arab world over the last month, technology (and social media, in particular) is the revolution weapon of choice for the 21st century. There is real power there.

Truth be told all it takes to galvanize international support and drive a movement is a few enterprising individuals. In the case of Egypt the tweets and Facebook updates of a small group of Egyptians sparked a massive worldwide explosion of support with the #Jan25 and #Egypt hashtags that overwhelmed the social media airwaves virtually non-stop until Hosni Mubarak announced his departure on Feb. 11.

Bloggers picked up the call. Journalists covering the protests tweeted instant updates. Major media outlets continue to produce in-depth packages on the influence of social media and the Internet. And when the Egyptian government attempted to shut down those inside the country, Internet giant Google stepped in to lend a hand. Google teamed up with Twitter to run a voice-to-tweet service that allowed Egyptians to call into international numbers and leave voicemail messages that software then translated into tweets with the hashtag #egypt.

And while it is most certainly people – not technology – that drives the campaigns, social media has emerged as potent weapon.

“Egypt made a radical maneuver, ultimately counterproductive, trying to cut access …but when you are willing to dismantle your country’s entire communication network in an attempt to quiet people you are really scared,” says John Perry Barlow, political activist and fellow emeritus of Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

Barlow, like many observers, believes technology is causing a paradigm shift in traditional power structures.

“We’re witnessing revolutions that are self-organizing, without central leadership, and that is all a direct result of technology.”

Social media is now being used by protesters in Bahrain, Libya, Iran, Jordan and elsewhere to reach out across social and economic boundaries to build broad coalitions of diverse people united around a common cause.

In countries with mammoth ruling systems in place, like Libya or Syria, shutting down the Internet – at least partially or temporarily – can forestall large public movements. And while Chinese authorities have been able to fight off massive political unrest by pushing rapid economic development for millions of Chinese, activism and unrest are growing there too.

As we’re seeing in Libya not all ruling systems will be as mature about stepping down in the face of the flood as the Mubarak regime was. Leaders like Muammar Gaddafi will fight – unfairly and with little regard for the lives being destroyed – to cling to the old systems.

But for every individual that falls, dozens more around the world will pick up the call and blast the information across the Internet keeping the eyes of the world on any abuses perpetrated against people raising their voices for change ….and that is a power greater than any gun, goon or jail cell.

Voices of the Year represent an amazing community

Monday, July 19th, 2010

The unthinkable has happened!

I am a 2010 BlogHer Voice of the Year finalist!!!

I can’t even type that without letting out an ear-splitting “squeeeeee!” and sending our cats – yet again – scurrying for the safety of the nearest closet. Actually, our cats have taken up semi-permanent residence (alternately) on the ceiling, in the closet and under the bed from the incessant screaming since I found out that somehow I made the finalist list.

If this keeps up, I predict a visit to the vet’s office to get some anxiety pills for our beloved felines.

(And I’ll be asking the vet to send the bill to BlogHer.)

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Crafty Cranes and Tykes for Turtles

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

Alfred Hitchcock had it right.

After two months of Gulf Coast oil spill-inspired volunteering at the seabird sanctuary and hospital, I have come to the conclusion that Hitchcock’s The Birds (story by Daphne Du Maurier) is no fiction. More probably, it is an unauthorized biography of some poor fool who thought helping birds at his or her local sanctuary was a relaxing feel-good way to fulfill civic responsibility.

No, the truth is, the birds are out to get us! Or, at least me ….

Now why would this animal loving, 2 cats in the family, avid campaigner against animal abuse and careless environmental degradation say such a thing?!?

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They got my vote …

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Sometimes good things happen to good people.  

I’m sure it happens every day but by and large, the “feel good” events around us can often be overshadowed by “misery” in the world’s media headlines. I, too, am prone to highlighting worrisome or difficult issues here on my blog. Well, not today …

For a change, I’m going to give an enthusiastic cheer for two great ladies who deserve my – and your – support!

Two of my favorite bloggers Pauline a.k.a. @aspiringmama and Ellen a.k.a. @LoveThatMax have both had their blogs selected for pre-nominations as potential Best Parenting Blog contenders for Nickelodeon’s Parent Connect 2010 Parents’ Choice Awards!!!!!

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Tweeps exercise their rights! (and I learn a lesson)

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

 

I thought it was an easy question ….

And after ummmmm….like …(I’m 29 … I tell ya, 29!) 30 plus some odd years on this earth you would think that I’d know better.

Every day for going on 15 years I have spent hours focused on a constantly (r)evolving variety of human and environmental rights issues as part of my “day job.” This tends to put me in regular contact with academics, government officials, activists, specialists and others equally (and often more) focused on the issue at hand.

Most often the issues I am writing about are near and dear to my heart on a personal level as well (hence, my propensity to suddenly ejaculate massive amounts of passionate information on subjects that have little to do with the actual conversation I am having at the time). Many of my live and virtual friends find this endlessly interesting and a bit odd. As a result, I tend to attract a lot of questions and requests for explanation on issues.

That started me thinking (yes, yes, I know … that’s always a dangerous undertaking):

What does the average person know about human and environmental rights? What are the issues they think about? And then, finally, what are the issues that your average person passionately believes everyone else should also be aware of?

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Ten Things that Make Me Happy

Monday, May 17th, 2010

I finally lost – and I couldn’t be happier about it!

Since I joined the Twitter revolution in earnest this past January I have been patiently … well, patiently as in drumming fingers on my keyboard and tapping my toes in frustration(!!!) … waiting for someone to “tag me”  for one of those “reveal yourself” blog challenges. I think I can safely say it’s the first time in my life I’ve been so excited to lose a game of tag (well … except for when I was 10 and let Danny *blush, blush* tag me out during a game of hide-n-seek just because I had a pre-teen crush on him).

A robust online and social media presence is a great way to get to know like-minded individuals you might not otherwise have the chance to meet… especially for someone who works from a home office and spends her days buried in research and writing (two lonely but rewarding undertakings). So when I saw that Karin had tagged me on her blog It’s All Good If You Can Laugh I actually let out a “squeeee!” … which led Husband to jump up form couch demanding to know what the cat had dragged into the house THIS time! *snort*

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From Team Haris with Love

Monday, April 26th, 2010

In the six months since our son Haris passed I have shed a lot of tears. Most of them have been the reflection of a gut-wrenching sadness I would wish on no one.

But over the last week, as friends, family and complete strangers rallied to support Team Haris in the March for Babies, I’ve been shedding a different kind of tears.

It began with Pauline (a.k.a. @aspiringmama), author of the poignant blog Aspiring Mama, who first urged us to start the team and then became its’ greatest champion.

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Twitpoll: Movies we watch over and over

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

This is how madness begins …

When the writing gets tough, my mind tends to wander. (Well, my mind tends to wander no matter what … but especially when the writing hits a snag. But, I digress ….) I long ago formed the habit of having the television on in the background because, well, my mind begins to wander if it’s too quiet. Of course I subsequently discovered that if I have on the news or TNT or HBO, I end up watching the television. Yes, dear readers, my mind wanders a lot.

My solution? Put a movie I love but have seen 100s of times in the DVD player and put it on a loop. Today, as I do quite often, I put in Resident Evil.

Somewhere around the third time through the zombie-with-the-axe-limping-towards-our-heroes scene I wondered exactly how many times I’ve seen the darned thing. Like any good #twitteraddict I promptly tweeted the thought out. And, yes, my mind started to wander …. #lesigh

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Social Media: More than Just Fun

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Several times over the last couple months I’ve commented here about the power of social media to bring people together around campaigns – raising awareness for Rare Disease Day, help for Haiti after the Jan. 12 earthquake, saving a favorite television show with #Heroes100. It’s a fun, easy, almost magical way to take action on the causes that matter most to you. In a few short seconds you can reach out to thousands of individuals – something that even ten years ago was almost unthinkable.

But what happens when that cause is your very survival? What happens when social media is something more than just fun — a means for isolated individuals to reach out to the world beyond their sickbed, wheelchair or hospital room?

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