What the fox learned from the prophet.

I’ve been a fan of K’naan for a couple years now and was heartened to read that he is cognizant of the change in his music that in the last year that didn’t quite turn me sour to him but gave me reservation.   Best lines in his NYT editorial:

“The fox, they say, once had an elegant walk, for which the other animals loved him. One day, he saw a prophet striding along and decided to improve on what was already beautiful. He set out walking but could not match the prophet’s gait. Worse, he forgot his own. So he was left with the unremarkable way the fox walks today”

and

“If this was censorship, I thought, it was a new kind — one I had to do to myself. The label wasn’t telling me what to do. No, it was just giving me choices and information, about my audience — 15-year-old American girls, mostly, who knew little of Somalia. How much better to sing them songs about Americans.”

Sample of lyrics of K’naan when he was a fox:
LYRICS:

Picture the morning taste and devour
We rise early pace up the hour
Streets is bustling hustling their heart out
You can’t have the sweet with no sour

Spices herbs the sweet scent of flower
We came out precisely the hour
Clouds disappear the sun shows the power
No chance of a probable shower

I fell in love with my neighbors daughter
I wanted to protect and support her
Never mind I’m just 12 and a quarter
I had dreams beyond our border.

Is it true when they say all you need is just love,
Is it true
What about those who have loved
Only to find that it’s taken away
And why do they say that the children have rights to be free
To be free
What about those who I’ve known
Whose memory still lives inside of me.

Fatima,
What did the Young Man say
Before he stole you away
On that fateful day Fatima
Fatima,
Did he know your name
Or the plans we made,
To go to New York City, Fatima

And after school we studied the lessons
I ask God to slow down the seconds
He does the opposite that’s what I’m guessing
I better chill and count my own blessings

Fatima, Fatima what is the matter
How come you ain’t come up the ladder
So we can be like there’s no tomorrow
Damn you gonna make me wait until tomorrow

She spoke Arabic and Swahili
She’d say Upendo (Swahili for love) Anta Habibi (Arabic for, you are my love/dearest friend)
You so bright, you shine like my TV
Then one day she never came to meet me

Is it true when they say all you need is just love,
Is it true
What about those who have loved
Only to find that it’s taken away
And why do they say that the children have rights to be free
To be free
What about those who I’ve known
Whose memory still lives inside of me.

Fatima,
What did the Young Man say
Before he stole you away
On that fateful day Fatima
Fatima,
Did he know your name
Or the plans we made,
To go to New York City, Fatima
Fatima,
What did the Young Man say
Before he stole you away
On that fateful day Fatima
Fatima,
Did he know your name
Or the plans we made,
To go to New York City, Fatima

If beauty was in the eyes of beholder
how come everyone hushed when she walked by
How come girls would look just to scold her
How come the angel wanted to hold her?

Fatima, Fatima I’m in America
I make rhymes and I make them delicate
You would have liked the parks in Connecticut
You would have said I’m working too hard again.

Damn you shooter, Damn you the building
Whose walls hid the blood she was spilling
Damn you Country so good at killing
Damn you feeling, for persevering

Is it true when they say all you need is just love,
Is it true
What about those who have loved
Only to find that it’s taken away
And why do they say that the children have rights to be free
To be free
What about those who I’ve known
Whose memory still lives inside of me.

Fatima,
What did the Gun Man Say
before he took you away on that fateful day
Fatima
Did he know your name, or the plans we made
To go to New York City

Fatima,
What did the Gun Man Say
before he took you away on that fateful day
Fatima
Did he know your name, or the plans we made
To go to New York City

Fatima..

(Spoken)
Now I just want to make it clear, I don’t want you to shed a tear.
Because this here, is a celebration, We’re not mourning, We’re celebrating
Yeah
So baby don’t cry, Please don’t let the tears fall
So don’t cry..

Sample of ‘Is there Anybody Out there with (Nelly ’15 year old American girl anthem singing’ Furtado)

[Nelly furtado]
i don’t wanna be left
in this war tonight
am i alone in this fight?
is anybody out there?
don’t wanna be left left in this world behind
say you’ll run to my side

[k’naan]
something ’bout Mary
never won a pageant
never felt pretty
never looked like Cameron
Diaz was her last name
always been abandoned
keep your head up
baby girl this is your anthem

there goes Hannah
showin’ off her banner
rocking that crown
make them boys go bananas
when you’re insecure about yourself
it’s a fact

you can point a finger
but there’s three pointing back
i can see her crying out, yeah
is there anybody out there?

she’s really counting on your love
still struggling uphill
but you act like you don’t care
right now she could really use a shoulder
hanging onto the edge til it’s over
she’s crying for your love tonight
loneliest heart to survive, she said

[Nelly furtado]
i don’t wanna be left
in this war tonight
am i alone in this fight?
is anybody out there?
don’t wanna be left left in this world behind
say you’ll run to my side
is anybody out there? yeah, yeah, yeah
is anybody out there?
(somebody, anybody)

[k’naan]
his name was Adam
when his mom had him
dad was a phantom never took a look at him
grew up mad and antisocial
hated outdoors, always in playing madden
Adam was lonely
drugs were the only
way out of his own life
[From: http://www.elyrics.net%5D

now he’s slowly losing his fire
close to retire
with one last hope he puts his arms up higher
i can see him crying out, yeah
is anybody out there?

he’s really counting on your love
still struggling uphill
but you act like you don’t care
right now he could really use a shoulder
hanging onto the edge til it’s over
he’s crying for your love tonight
loneliest heart to survive, he said

[Nelly furtado]
i don’t wanna be left
in this war tonight
am i alone in this fight?
is anybody out there?
don’t wanna be left left in this world behind
say you’ll run to my side
is anybody out there?

[bridge]
if you feel the way i feel
like you’ve been talking to yourself
well this one’s for everyone who’s felt invisible
lonely in a crowded room
searching for someone like you
can’t do it all alone (no one can baby)
can’t do it all alone (no one should baby)
is anybody out there?
(somebody, anybody)
is anybody out there?
i’m right here for your
is anybody out there?

[outro]
i don’t wanna be left
in this war tonight
am i alone in this fight?
is anybody out there?
don’t wanna be left left in this world behind
say you’ll run to my side
is anybody out there? yeah, yeah, yeah
i don’t wanna do it all alone
i need your love to take me home
no one said you should be all alone
i’m right here
i’m right here
is anybody out there?

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Politicians dance with Mother Nature and trip or Kanye was right?

I haven’t posted in a while but Papa Suvarnakar and I were talking about how Mayor Bloomberg and President Obama are getting criticized for over preparing for Hurricane Irene.  I came across this stuff mostly because in Haiti, we have been largely isolated from the 24-hour news cycle.  The first article is from the Economist and basically says that the media coverage for Irene was as much as it was for Gustav but that the overhype basically did its job. The link is here
The other interesting link is an abstract from research relating to the correlation of natural disasters and how politicians are viewed in the aftermath.  The conclusion of the research was that if it was disaster was bad enough (Katrina-level), it didn’t matter how much federal aid a state got afterwards, people still blamed the President or Governor for ‘an act of God’.  The link is here
Conclusion: Pretty much if you are a politician, it will always be better in the long run to over-prepare and eat crow if your wrong because if the natural disaster is really bad, no amount support after the fact will help you get votes. Also that Kanye was right sort of.
Lastly, here, here and here are places you can help and no one will accuse of being a johnny-come-lately politician.  Our thoughts are with victims.
-n

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Response#12: The First Campaign and the Last Class!

For your final blog post, please predict, based on what you’ve learned and what your *imagination* says, what you think will be key to winning the 2012 election online.

I don’t know where social media will be 2012.  Mobile technology and Smartphone will likely make a huge processing leap and will likely play a much greater role.  I can see how augmented reality SRengine might be helpful in the field if combined with the face recognition technology of a platform like Flickr.   The campaigns themselves will likely place online and tech higher up the campaign hierarchy.  Governor Pawlenty’s first hires for a possible run wasn’t a top-tier political strategist but online campaign experts.  Garrett’s piece in Infonomics and Mike’s work through Edelman also both called to attention that social media tools are tools not a strategy.  Finally, the candidate’s themselves will have to not only be comfortable with a media environment influenced by social media, but they will have to thrive in it as President Obama did in 2008.

From the Book: "Obama's Blackberry"

The social media component of both President Obama’s reelection and his challenger will have to maintain (Obama) or establish (his opponent) trust with the user/voter.

First: I think that based on the impressive online, grassroots, contributor network that President Obama amassed in the 2008, it will be difficult, though not impossible for a Republican candidate to win the 2012 Presidential election.  Call it Metcalfe’s Law for politics, but while this network might not have the surge of passion of 2008, it is still there and as it grow steadily larger, it will be hard for a challenger to catch up.  Governor Palin has 3 million Facebook friends to President Obama’s seven million.  Could she overcome him? Also despite what Zephyr Teachout predicted, Organizing For America is still going strong and recently set its sites on Governor Palin.

This is not to say that President Obama’s reelection campaign will be able to just dust off the magic playbook and run the same type of outsider, grassroots campaign that proved so successful against to political brands (Clinton & McCain).  President Obama can’t run on ‘change’ or ‘outside the beltway’ as now, he is part of the establishment.  Also, 2008 was unique in that it was the first open campaign since 1920, where there wasn’t an incumbant or Vice-President running. And while I think it is unlikely that ‘progressives,’ will shoot themselves in the foot and push for a primary challenger, in the three years before the first ballot in Iowa, President Obama is going to have do more than perpetually and eloquently articulating his message and get something done.


Last year when I started a similar social media class with Garrett Graff (a class which I later withdrew from to join the campaign), he mentioned one thing that stuck out in my mind.  Then Senator Obama, like Governor Dean, had to take the grassroots social media approach because the establishment angle was both already filled (Sen. Clinton) and wouldn’t fit his political narrative.  In David Ploufe’s recent book, The Audacity to Win, he acknowledges as much that the traditional constituencies were already carved out by Senator Clinton (party faithful) and Senator Edwards (political activists).  Ploufe believed that the only way to win Iowa (which was the ball game against the formidable Clinton legacy) was to galvanize a third category of voters (young people, Republicans & Independents, and first-time voters).  Now  those constituencies are President Obama’s as well as young people and some R & I holdouts.  If social media is about ‘conversations,’ who is left to talk to?


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My fellow Students: Glorymar Brings the Weird

A side-effect of us Social Media students all pulling from the same well, is that everyone student appears to have one outstanding ‘response to blogger blog‘ or discussing the the 2012 Presidential.   I worked on the Obama campaign (will likely work for the campaign in 2012), work in politics now, and have an interest in social media as it relates to civic engagement, so I will hold off on posting about the 2012 cycle until tomorrow.  I also feel weird posting a response blog to another response blog.  Thankfully Glorymar saved me on the Will it Blend post that is hilarious and weird.

A few weeks ago in my grassroots class we were discussing a “weird” case of marketing and how the scarcity factor help them. Of course we were talking about Will it blend? A product that has no traditional advertising. Will it blend?, has a website and many videos on Youtube. The sales of this product are based on pure word of mouth.

But Glorymar missed the most relevent video in the Will it Blend channel that is relevent to our Social media class:

Seth Godin is the self-proclaimed ‘agent of change,’ is a social media thinker who is credited for such memes as: ‘Permission marketing,’ ‘Purple Cow,’ and referring social networks as, ‘Tribes.’   His blog is also on our reading list.  He is like the Ron Popeil of social media to Shirky’s Asimov, in a good way (Comparing Shirky to Asimov may get me in trouble but I can’t think of a more respected futurist, comment if you can).  To have Godin actually participate in the Will it Blend viral marketing campaign is like Wright Brothers punking people in hand-gliders.  I am admittedly late to the weird addictive and must see things on the web, so thank you Glorymar for bringing me up to speed in the things that distract us.


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Personal Post: The 14th Day

[CAUTION-This post deals with a personal loss and may be considered macabre to some]

My mom passed away suddenly two-weeks ago.  This post doesn’t begin to articulate those feelings, nor will it live up to her incredible life.  She was devote Hindu and in Hinduism, traditionally there 13 days of mourning while her soul takes the cyclical journal to the afterlife.  On the 14th day and for another 26 days, the family is to mourn.  I still don’t quite know if I believe in reincarnation, but the notion that you are reborn and made flesh again has been in some New Age circles appropriated as a good thing or the transmigration of the soul, which it is not (not in Hindu or Buddhist tradition anyway).  The funeral rites are to prepare the soul for the journey of enlightment, breaking free from the wheel of life (picture above).

The experience of a traditional Hindu funeral rites (Antiyesti)  was quite public, and something that was both enlightening and cathartic.  I had never been to or participated in Hindu funeral rites, and while doing one in the small rural town of Clarion (the only funeral home in the area that did cremation) was surreal (the cremation furnace was in what looked like a shabby garage),  the ritual while new to me, seemed by design, a means necessary to create a level of detachment from grieving and the physical vessel as a means of providing closure.  Whether these rites represent the high acts for divine passage, I don’t know.

I learned later that my mother’s sari was red because an unmarried woman or a woman whose husband is still alive wears either red or yellow.  If the woman is a widow, she wears white.  I learned that each Hindu service varies based on the specifics of the person’s life (how many children, the gender of the children, their age, and the circumstances of their caste and of their passing).  The sons carry on the tradition of Shradh.  I learned that traditionally, the body is entirely covered in colorful flowers from a time when cremation were open fires.  I know describing this will sound strange and grim to some.  It was strange to me.  And yet I can no more pass judgement on rituals of one religion (communal wafers and wine) over another (ghee and rose water).  Every culture says good-bye a little differently.  This was the good-bye she wanted, and it felt right to me.

I miss my mom. She was a bright and beautiful, strong-willed woman whose name was Sanskrit for ‘Smile.’ She touched the lives of everyone she encountered.  She was a painter, a doctor, and accountant, and a business woman. She had a great laugh and we all competed to get it out of her.  She had a great smile.   Good bye, momma.

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Response#11- N is for Namibia

One of the things I am noticing about the African blogosphere through the platform of Global Voices is that group formation is still in its infancy .  If Shirky is correct, and social tools’ strength comes from the informal collaboration of groups around activities that valuable to some but impractical for an institution, than this may be a reason that the type of group action (flash mobs) found in Belarus aren’t taking off in places like Namibia.  I don’t want this post to sound like online activism is not happening in Namibia or elsewhere on the continent, as clearly, they’re groups forming around female circumcision and government criticisms, Going back to the Brabazon criticism I pointed out a few weeks ago, there is a gap between an offline context from posts (here, here, and here) that maintain a journalistic and/or personal blog feel, and the group dynamic of social tools.  This gap could be attributed to issues of access, literacy, and anonmity from the perspective of potential African users,  and most certainly to my Western proclivity of lumping all African countries together.  I while I know that mobile technology is considered the burgeoning medium within developing countries, I think there is a difference between mobile activism which supplements traditional online activism (popular in Western countries) and restricted to mobile activism only (in many developing countries). Christian Kreutz has an interesting presentation on Mobile Activism in Africa that basically says that while the potential for mobile technology and the growth of its usage particularly in Africa are hopeful signs, there are still many obstacles for this type of group action driven by social tools to reach critical mass.  Interesting sidenote: Kreutz cites the group Azur which used both SMS technology and a local radio talkshow to hit both the technologically literate and illiterate regarding the issue of domestic violence.  I am starting to wonder if this type of cross platform (new and old technologies) collaboration may be the catalyst for group formation as it captures people’s curiousity about a particular movement who wouldn’t otherwise participate.  It makes me think about how the Dean campaign appeared huge on the blogosphere because the bulk of his most ardent supporters were on the blogosphere too. Rallies with hundreds of people seemed great for the darkhorse candidate but it was roughly the same narrow niche who were finding out about campaign activities through the internet.  The blog posts from Global Voices in Namibia seemed siloed by individual and the activities relegated to those narrow few who visit the site.

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Response#10-First experience editing Wikipedia

What I learned from my experience editing a Wikipedia entry:

1. The standard form of book entries varied: Tom Friedman’s The World is Flat, Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, and Richard Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class; were all outlined a little differently.

2. For as often as the above books are referenced, only Friedman’s had an extensive entry and Florida’s book was just a stub.

3. Neutral Point of View (NPOV) is easier said than done.  Most of the time I spent was getting acquainted with how other collaborators wrote about an author’s view-point.

4. There is a real opportunity within these social and cultural works to start a dialogue that isn’t happening.  Shirky has a few noncontroversial critiques that in my opinion make valid points despite in one case affirming a the restrictions placed on institutional knowledge.

5.  Wikipedia taught me the value of a good link.  I shied away from blog posts despite one of the most cogent arguments coming from a traditional print author turn blogger, Tom Slee.  His argument of the two voices of Here Comes Everybody (Shirky- is the, ‘perceptive and creative interpreter of the ways that digital technology is changing society AND ‘Clay-the ‘is a techno-enthusiast and an inveterate story-teller) articulates my own unformulated issues with the book.  The irony of Wikipedia, is that a user-generated post like that of Slee’s may not be authoritarian enough because it lacks the formal institutional backing that Wikipedia is the antithesis of.

I enjoyed working on the entry mostly because I appreciated the source material, have nothing to gain from it, and would be willing to defend it should it get deleted.  It cost me a little (maybe more than a little) time, I am curious to see if anyone will add to the post, and after a little tinkering, I got the hang of formatting the entry.   The experience was the kind of ‘acceptable bargain,’ Shirky writes about.

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