“Litany” by Billy Collins

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general’s head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk. read more

New York Times on Branded Content

The Times reports on the spread of branded content.  A few quotations stood out for me as furthering theories:

This branded content, the term for products figuring prominently without being overtly sold, is reminiscent of “The Hire,” a series of short films by BMW that featured its cars. Produced in 2001 and 2002, the films had directors like Ang Lee and John Woo and included actors like Clive Owen and Don Cheadle.

The article is about how this website called Massify (where amateur filmmakers vie for the chance to shoot artsy commercials for products) teamed up with an Oscar winning production company Killer Films who chose the best script. read more

facebook: disorienting

I’ve heard grumbles from many friends about facebook.  Indeed, there’s something amiss about this megalithic inbox replacement social utility that I have had difficulty diagnosing until recently.  I’ve found a few articles on the interwebs that I take to be clues.

First, Dunbar’s Number is a network theorem that states that individuals can sustain meaningful relationships with 148 people.  Beyond that point, network salience becomes much too difficult to sustain strong ties among nodes in the network.  Some neurologists and primatologists postulate that our threshold for juggling social connections is directly related to the size of our neocortex – which is bigger in women. I digress. read more

Sociopathic Tendencies

When I see a bankster shilling on the teevee for his crime boss overlords’ right to break laws, I think about Robert Penn Warren’s image of the clammy, sad little fetus that cowers inside industrialists:

It was like the second when you come home late at night and see the yellow envelope of the telegram sticking out from under your door and you lean to pick it up, but don’t open it yet, not for a second. While you stand there in the hall, with the envelope in your hand, you feel there’s an eye on you, a great big eye looking straight at you and dark and through walls and houses and through your coat and vest and hide and sees you huddled up way inside, in the dark which is you, inside yourself, like a clammy, sad little foetus you carry around inside yourself. The eye knows what’s in the envelope, and it is watching you to see you when you open it and know, too. But the clammy little foetus which is you way down in the dark which is you too lifts up its sad little face and its eyes are blind, and it shivers cold inside you for it doesn’t want to know what is in that envelope. It wants to lie in the dark and not know, and be warm in its not-knowing. The end of man is knowledge, but there is one thing he can’t know. He can’t know whether knowledge will save him or kill him. He will be killed, all right, but he can’t know whether he is killed because of the knowledge which he got or because of the knowledge which he hasn’t got and which if he had it, would save him. There’s the cold in your stomach, but you open the envelope, you have to open the envelope, for the end of man is to know. read more


The 'Do It For The Fat Lady' scene from Franny & Zooey by J.D. Salinger "I'll tell you a terrible secret — Are you listening to me? There isn't anyone out there who isn't Seymour's Fat Lady. That includes your Professor Tupper, buddy. And all his goddam cousins by the dozens. There isn't anyone anywhere that isn't Seymour's Fat Lady. Don't you know that? Don't you know that goddam secret yet?"

Object-Centered Networks To The Rescue

Last year I wrote about the difficulty of social networking for a purpose – vis-a-vis politics and governance.  I believe I have a solution to the problem presented in my essay, “What LinkedIn’s Reorganization and OFA 2.0 Means for Politech Online”.  The problem in a nutshell was:

Many internet theorists speak of social networks online as a ‘map of the relationships between individuals.’ Politech thinkers and online organizers like myself, have taken these principles and used them to inform the social software we built for campaigns and political advocacy organizations with mixed success. read more

itsasickness – the obsession network

itsasickness was an obsession project honoring sicknesses; the objects of our obsession. It was a co-branding marketer’s dream.

That thing you geek out about, that you could talk about endlessly – obsessing over the minutia, that’s your sickness. People who are most interested are the most interesting. Ecstatic devotion to wonderful things – which were often for sale.

We celebrated the most extraordinary people that we found in our online obsession network with short tribute films on itsasicknessTV; Alan Cumming was the emcee. read more

With Apologies to The Onion

this is something i keep wanting to quote:

Soulless Cultural Wasteland ‘On The Grow’ In Southern California Desert

Los Angeles to Be Hellish Megalopolis by 1950

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The soulless cultural wasteland in the California desert, considered one of the bleakest and most God-forsaken stretches of uninhabitable scorched earth in the nation is “on the grow,” West Coast sources say, as the burgeoning city of Los Angeles continues its cancerous expansion.

Originally a tiny villa called Los Diablos, a coastal settlement of no distinction save for its capacity of heartlessness, the boomtown is now bigger than ever. Despite its lack of any life-sustaining natural resources, the city, which has no reason to exist at all has all the earmarks of a spectacular soulless cultural wasteland on the rise. read more

A Marxist Approach to IAS

In Marx’s critique of political economy Das Kapital, commodity fetishism denotes the (quasi-religious) mystification of human relations that are said to arise out of the growth of market trade, when social relationships between people are expressed as, mediated by, and transformed into, objectified relationships between things. The things are commodities and money.

Commodity fetishism is not unique to capitalist societies, since commodity trade has occurred in one way or another for thousands of years; but in Marx’s opinion, commodity fetishism became pervasive especially in capitalist society, because this kind of society is based almost totally on the “production of commodities by means of commodities”. read more

The “Come To My Event” Problem

How can you get people to come to your thing?
Are you a politician who wants to have a full house at a fundraiser?
Are you launching a website and want it to ‘take off’?

Some network theorists would tell you that you need to genuinely reach a maven and thus achieve that elusive tipping point.


Clients sometimes ask folks like me how to get a lot of people to love their [whatever] so that they can fork over $.

Well, strategists like me can quack about actor network theory and post-ANT, and clustering along shared affinities all we want, but let’s be honest… as evidenced in the above clip, rule #1: Your shits gotta be good. read more

Michael James Kavanagh

Michael Kavanagh is the 2009 winner of the RFK international journalism award.

The Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award honors those who report on issues that reflect Robert F. Kennedy’s concerns including human rights, social justice and the power of individual action in the United States and around the world.

Led by a committee of six independent journalists, the Awards are judged by more than fifty journalists each year. It has become the largest program of its kind and one of few in which the winners are determined solely by their peers. read more

What LinkedIn’s Reorganization and OFA 2.0 Means for Politech Online

Many internet theorists speak of social networks online as a ‘map of the relationships between individuals.’ Politech thinkers and online organizers like myself, have taken these principles and used them to inform the social software we built for campaigns and political advocacy organizations with mixed success.

Things are going to have to change.

The ways in which Obama for America (OFA) 2.0 is phasing in it’s reinvention should serve to teach politech strategists that we all must rethink our orientation to social networks… but it won’t. read more

The Thicket of the Law

Something about Alberto Gonzalez and James Comey made me think of this scene from A Man for All Seasons. Who would Sir Thomas More be?

ALICE – He is! Arrest him!

MARGARET – Father, that man’s bad.

MORE – There is no law against that.

ROPER – There is! God’s law!

MORE – Then God can arrest him.

ROPER – Sophistication upon sophistication!

MORE – No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what’s legal not what’s right. And I’ll stick to what’s legal. read more

Click-to-Call VoIP As a Political Tool

Advomatic got a great press hit today that we’re happy to share with you. VoIP News, a niche news and information publication dedicated to covering all aspects of the VoIP and Internet Telephony marketplaces wrote about our Click-to-Call system.

Robert Poe writes:

Advomatic application lets advocacy groups wage calling campaigns using an online interface.

…The recent battle over FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) bill provided a perfect example of how VoIP can be a political-advocacy tool. read more