A few weeks ago, Rogelio and I attended an intriguingly titled talk, “What would W.E.B. Du Bois say about inequality in digital societies?” It was part of a lecture series probing inequality and exclusion in a digital economy. Rogelio has a full write-up of the event here.
The lecturer, Dr. Ernest J. Wilson III, noted that the digital divide is still very real, but its meaning has shifted. The argument for closing the digital divide always had an economic component: Computer access and basic literacy skills would enable people to build resumes and navigate professional networking sites. Now, Wilson argued, it means that those without digital skills will be left behind as the Western world moves toward a digital service economy.
Two and a half years ago, I uprooted from Portland, Oregon, to embark on an adventure launching a hyperlocal, citizen-authored news source called The Rapidian. Beginning in college and over my career, I’ve been drawn to wise owls who steer participatory media outfits. I have come to believe that media creation has the power to fuse people and their networks to information, and to increase the likelihood they will act in their communities.
(Photo by Chris Apap) Why yes, that is a toilet tricycle I am riding.
This is important. As a Peace Corps volunteer, I saw emerging communitiesmisunderstood and misrepresented by media inside and outside the country. That intensified tension between groups and nipped compassion from outside of the country. As the daughter of immigrants, I saw the link that native language news networks can provide to those who never feel exactly at home. When communities form, the participants are no longer detached individuals swallowed up in the crowd; they can determine what is meaningful within their own communities.
Back in 2008, I put out two issues of my zine. Very simple, really. I described it as a fancy newsletter. An 8.5″ x 11″ folded into quarters and photocopied in black and white. Side A: a front cover, a back cover for mailing addresses and a half page for anything from updates to musings. Side B was a full-page artwork.
There are so many people that I care about, and it’s simply that none of us have the time to sit down for an hour phone call once a month (and really, can you say once a month’s frequent?). So I thought of it as my way of expressing that I do, in fact, care.
Well a recent submission for a fellowship prompted me to start things back up. Since the end of June, I’ve been working on Vol. 2, Issue 1: What larks! (This one titled for something out of Hamlet’s Blackberry). After arranging a whole lot of light bulbs à la Things Organized Neatly, it seemed a shame for the bedazzled, construction paper and embroidered bulbs to see their short lives snuffed. I had hunched over them for hours, so here is a peek at the May edition:
Poifectly happy ending the short lives of my upcycled bulbs by illuminating hundreds of pencil marks.
I’m very excited for June and July, too! I’ve been a RadioLab fiend for the last month, listening to a backlog of four years’ worth of episodes. My hints about June: Voxels and guitar picks. And of July, all I’ll say is that dear Ms. Lisa made a request for rubies, fine chocolates and cheeky postcards.
Note: Don’t think I don’t love you if you haven’t received one! Postage gets expensive after a while, so if you’d really like a physical copy (and maybe wouldn’t mind chipping in?), email me at hello [at] dennetmint [dot] com.
Having studied piano for 12 years, she just doesn’t compare. I feel like I’m playing a carbon copy of the real thing or that the two are entirely different instruments.
That low G was so low! Is the keyboard out of tune? Oh right. It’s digital. These keys have never been tickled with a fork.
Maybe, I think to myself, it’s that I just don’t know this keyboard. I’m finding that any key struck with my left thumb comes out a little soft, especially when I slide it out from under my palm. I find that my right hand isn’t coming out enough till my ring finger suddenly resonates with such ferocity that I’m certain my ear drums are about to blow. I don’t know how to coax this keyboard. It takes time.
But part of me suspects that perhaps there is no coaxing. Alas, nothing compares to playing a piano, to dive your entire body into a chord and have it travel back through your fingers, to feel your body hum as an extension of the strings and hammers.
I love making lists. I think I’m pretty good at letting myself deviate, but lists are like loose road maps for me.
This new year’s, something my yoga teacher said kept echoing in my mind: “Do what you need to do to let yourself succeed.” I think the key to resolutions is not to beat myself up if I don’t accomplish them. Rather, I’m examining why I didn’t accomplish them and if I really care. If I’m mad at myself for not seeing something through, then it’s time to break it down: What are my baby steps to reach that goal?
Last year, I was so excited to set resolutions that I posted them a week before the new year. Here’s how I stacked up:
Today’s been kind of hard. One of my best friends works for 350.org, a Bill McKibben initiative that unites people in a worldwide campaign to their leaders: There must be under 350 parts per million CO2 in order to slow global warming. Right now, we’re at 388.
Things like these always make me turn inward. What did I do today to recognize 350? Let’s see…. I biked, I did yoga, I went to the grocery store for some sundries. The thing is, none of these were done in recognition of 350. They’re what I do on a normal basis. And I found myself feeling guilty—me, who does not own a car; who brings her own tupperware to restaurants; who line dries clothes when weather permits; who may not be a vegetarian but cooks vegan—that I even purchased something, might turn on my gas stove today. Not that there isn’t more I can do, but c’mon! I realized I’m being silly.
A month ago, I asked a former boyfriend if he would lend me the letters I sent him while I was in Peace Corps. I had meant to photocopy these letters before I left Portland, but I ran out of time.
I absolutely want you to keep them—they were written for you, I had said. But they’re also the only detailed records of my daily life in Lesotho.
Within days, he had mailed them priority. Included was a gracious note wishing me a happy quarter century and encouraging me to keep the letters as long as I needed.
Thinking transcription would be emotionally fraught, I dragged my feet. I began the task today. The letters weren’t filed in chronological order, but the first one I pulled was written nearly three years ago on July 27, 2007. In closing:
Do you keep letters and cards people write you? I definitely do and still have letters/cards from when I was 5. I don’t know that it’s a good thing, to be honest. It’s a huge file and I’ve kept these correspondences knowing I’ll probably never open them simply because a.) I think that they put the effort into jotting down a word or two (for which I didn’t even have to pay a penny), so the least I could do is save them, b.) what if I do go back and read them? It would be interesting to see what I was like at whatever age, the relationships I had, what I cared about, &c.
My friend and I went out for food and drinks midweek at The Winchester. At some point, the subject of death came up. Since Drew passed away in October, I’ve cycled through a couple frames of mind.
It wasn’t my own death I was concerned about. As far as I know, people can’t think postmortem. Rather, it’s when someone else dies that we’re left with baggage to sort through.
Death was an ancillary subject to whatever it was we were talking about. Relationships, probably. And as we were dissecting relationships and loss, I tried to melt down, as quickly as possible, a concise description of why death was so confounding.
How much we can give to someone and the person’s capacity to absorb our thought and affection can be cavernous, I said. Suddenly, it ceases.