Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Real-Time Networking

I was away on hiatus last week in LA. During my break from the day-to-day race of making goals and meeting deadlines I decided to touch bases with some friends and work peers.

Despite the proliferation of online social networks that are designed to help us maintain our networks active and alive, I still believe that the old-fashioned telephone call and actual face-to-face time with people has deeper benefits than online social networks. I would call this type of networking as "real time" which in computer terminology is generally meant as something actually happening in the moment.

I've worked in the IT industry for over 15 years, and during that period I found my job/career opportunities through my social network of peers with whom I've worked with. That said, it's important never to break bridges, though sometimes some situations can be sticky for professional and/or personal reasons that I had decided to move on to greener pastures.

In the past twenty-five years (plus or minus) most people have changed their places of work more than 5 times (probably more for some people.) I think this scenario is more common than uncommon. I did work for one company where my manager had worked for only one company throughout his career that spanned seventeen years. That is the same length of time I've been working in IT (Information Technology.)

He was impressed that I had worked at over seven companies during that period of time (not including working the same company we were working for.) I was equally impressed that he could have stayed so long in one company during that period of time. There were vast differences in the outcome of our choices. While he has a deep knowledge of his company's business (manufacturing and distributing consumer electronics); I had a deep knowledge of "business processes", because I've been exposed to seeing how many different companies operate.

This new insight led me to understand that he is dependent on his company's ability to maintain and thrive in current economic conditions. If for some reason the company could no longer sustain work for him then I wonder what social network he has to fall on to look for another job. Meanwhile I have quite a rich social network that I've fallen back on to help me grab on to the next vine as I swing through the job opportunities jungle. My eyes are constantly roving and looking out for what's the newest technology and business process improvement methods. This aspect of my career is important, and so I do work to keep in touch with people. It's also a personal need I have to constantly evolve my thought and work process, and that can only happen with exposure to different environments and people.

It's not always convenient to get together with peers. Often, I'm keeping in touch by way of e-mail, online chat, and less often by on-line social networks.

I find these days that those who have access to Internet and mobile phones are sometimes bogged down with maintaining calendars, synchronizing data between laptops and mobile phones, keeping track of all their e-mails (at work, and yahoo/hotmail/gmail accounts.) We need to be concerned with backing up the data in case data get corrupted; and when a server is down then everyone is affected like a grid going down and the lights have gone out.

I sometimes wonder if our society is more vulnerable to losing touch with professional peers and friends if we get so dependent on technology and online networks. I believe that investing real-time with people has lasting effects because as people we ultimately look for and need the nuances of reading facial expressions and hearing the tones between the lines.

-Analyn Revilla

Monday, July 21, 2008

Her Queendom Cometh: The Triumphs of Wendy Williams

This past Monday July 14th marked the premiere of New York’s most notorious radio personality Wendy Williams’ daytime talk show on the Fox Network (this is a six week sneak peak and only available in New York, Detroit, Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles). If you don’t know who Wendy is or her true “Rocky” story, here we go in a nutshell. Ms. Williams has been a fixture on New York radios stations since the eighties, where she bounced around and finallylanded at 98.7 KISS FM where she honed her “put a celeb on blast/just chatting with a girlfriend” style. When that station was bought out she was switched to Hot 97 which was also owned by the same company. She remained there until 1998 when she was famously fired amidst rumors of a physical altercation with another female DJ. But you can be the judge just pick up her first New York Times Best Selling autobiography, Wendy’s Got The Heat.

And then there were those three years when she broadcast from New York’s first cousin, Philadelphia and it seemed like Wendy was done in the Big Apple. Maybe she had pissed off too many people in the industry (there were those persistent rumors and just as much silence from insiders) or wanted to start over some place new herself? Whatever the cause the effect was Wendy being absent from the landscape of the city and Wendy is as New York as street corner hot dog vendors, Coney Island and Biggie. But Ms. Williams was working hard in Philly, had secured a new fan base and sky rocketed that stations ratings. Then came 2001, the offer from 107.5 WBLS and The Wendy Williams Experience was born. Did somebody say like a Phoenix from the flames? And our girl was back with that juicy, infectious and mischievous giggle dishin’ dirt, securing interviews with hip-hop & R&B A-listers, re-capping reality shows, tossing out Wendyisms (donkey, a swoop down, luxuriate, negroidian, pinkies up etc.) and all along the way solidifying the brand that is Wendy Williams. From her VH1 show, Wendy Williams Is On Fire, Billboard Awards, two NY Times Best Selling Books up to her network premiere on Fox Wendy continues to defy set backs and has defined a space for herself as a “Media Queen.”

On Friday July 18th the fifth day of her live TV show Wendy turned 44 and her parents and brother were in the audience to mark the day with her. But Wendy was celebrating just as much as she was acknowledging her journey. From her start on a station in St. Croix, the big jump to D.C. to creating a name for herself in New York. She also claims the years of addiction to Cocaine, her public firing and the fickleness of fans and fame. Not to mention the candid talks about trying to have a child, the miscarriages but the eventual full term pregnancy and birth of her son all the while working to keep her marriage together, still broadcasting and planning ahead. Those defining, maturing and humbling experiences say just as much about what she is made of as well as who she is today. Wendy said it best in an interview with New York Magazine, “Virtually everything in my life I have plotted on to get it. Nothing has happened by fluke.” So it was a grown woman on the set of her TV show that honored her parents and their support of her, their fifty plus years of marriage and finally her tenacity in life and in an industry that gives women nothing and devours the weak.

-Adisa Vera Beatty

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Duvalier Funds May Be Returning Home to Haiti

Duvalier Funds May Be Returning Home to Haiti

The impoverished country of Haiti may be getting a windfall in a few months as the Swiss government may be handing over millions in unclaimed funds. According to news reports, if no one comes forward by September to claim the US$7.52 million (some news reports state up to US$12 million) in a Swiss account, and also prove that the money was legally obtained, it will be repatriated to Haiti. The Swiss Justice Ministry said that the funds have been linked to former dictator of Haiti, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. It is believed that the younger Duvalier and his cronies embezzled well over US$100 million from the country before fleeing to France in 1986.

The Duvalier Era

A couple of years ago the name of Papa Doc and Baby Doc were synonymous with Haiti. For years the country was ruled with the iron fist of this father and son team, from 1957 to 1986. Papa Doc was Dr. Francois Duvalier, who ruled Haiti from 1957 to 1971. A medical doctor by training, Duvalier captured the imagination of black Haitians and garnered their support during a time when the country was controlled by the small, but powerful group of mulattoes.

During the reign of his son, Jean-Claude Duvalier or Baby Doc, the country was even worse off, as the young ruler was not interested in politics and allowed the corruption to continue. He gained the name Baby Doc (Bebe Doc) because he was just 19-years old when he became Haiti’s president upon his father’s death in 1971. However during his rule Haiti sank further into decay and the people suffered greatly from the lack of infrastructure and economic development.

Proceedings for the return of the money began from as far back as 1986, but were only just finalized in May 2008.

The return of the funds, while late, is a welcome event. Haiti is one of, if not the most impoverished country in the region with a staggering illiteracy and HIV/AIDS rate. However, with the current instability in the country I find myself worrying that the money may well go the way of such funds – in the pocket of yet more corrupt politicians and their cronies, with nothing going towards alleviating the suffering of the people who need it most.

-Jessica McCurdy Crooks

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Reaching for the Status Quo

"I'm not buying into this ghetto mentality gangster bullsh--. It's genocide."
-Spike Lee, in an interview in Uptown Magazine

I read that this afternoon in Uptown Magazine (the one with that crazy image of Obama on the cover. I've come to the conclusion that it's some kind of illustration, photography hybrid). We've reached an interesting point in our progression as a people, as a nation. People familiar with my political leanings and activities are constantly asking how I feel about Obama, and his possible presidency. The truth is, I feel all kinds of ways about it.

I'm proud of him. He's not just an intelligent, passionate, black man, but he's one hell of a candidate. I'm interested however, in his possible position as the "Great White Hope". Familiar with the "but you guys are doing so much better now" argument, I'm curious to experience how frequently I'll hear that argument if Obama is elected. Not stressing it though, as it's not the point.

But, as I've gotten older, I've become increasingly aware of the definitions and defining characteristics of my generation. We've hit a stride in our professional and academic pursuits that are definitely the dreams of our parents. As we continue to progress, I've begun to become worried by some of the comments I hear coming from my peers. What worries me about our success is the possibility that we'll start to accept the status quo as our finish line.

Does my/our (depending on who is reading) generation feel that we're approaching our pinnacle? Are we looking for that line in the sand, the banner announcing "You've made it"? I don't want us to be lulled into a false sense of security. Of course, I'm also convinced that Obama himself will address this some point, in a moving speech that will bring me to tears every time I watch it on You Tube.

My point is, there's still a lot of work to do. "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." I wonder,though, have we been trained for the long haul?

-Ashleigh Rae

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Give Peace a Chance

Technology section of BBC read “US Kid Spreads Peace Over the Net”

Trevor Dougherty, a 16-year-old from Ithaca, New York, has combined his passion for communication and his hobby of video production to promote peace over the internet.

It was a year ago that the student from Ithaca High School produced a short video with the message:

"People around the world are getting killed. We should end the violence and strive for world peace."

It is a simple and profound message, and he posted his video on YouTube. To his surprise it was nominated for the “Most Inspirational” category in the 2007 YouTube Video Awards.

The internet has connected people in different ways, and through Trevor’s message he reached millions of people online, and he got 6,000 people to gather in Ithaca to form the peace symbol.

Trevor says, "I knew it was the best video I had ever made, but it was incredible to see it featured. It's funny because I made the original video during my exams last year and I organised this event during my finals this year. It's beautiful to be distracted from my ghastly final exams, by doing something righteous." – quote from the BBC article.

He planned an event to get about 5,000 to come to the Ithaca Festival to make the world’s largest peace sign. The organizers of the festival said that they get about many people to come out for the festival. Furthermore he was warned of the work needed to launch Trevor’s specific idea. It would need a lot of advertising, sending out press releases and putting up posters.

By way of internet social networking using Facebook and YouTube. Friends told their friends, and it spread like wildfire to build to the official count of 5,814 persons who participated.

"Everyone was extremely cooperative, they were all very excited about about the idea of setting a record. They also understood the message. I think they agreed that, while we were not confiscating any weapons or ending any wars, we were forming a community of persons dedicated to one powerful cause."

-Analyn Revilla

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Merging Issue

The Merging Issue is here!

Dear Reader,

At the height of globalization, words like fuse, merge, and collaboration are frequently throughout various media. People are coming together every day. For the merging issue, we wanted to explore the fusing of different things/people/concepts/etc. Black + White, Church + Politics, Music + Business, etc. We were interested in a collection of works that are an abstract exploration of that word.

Happy reading y'all!
And here is the rest of it. READ MORE

This S**t is in my Dreaaamsss

"But Ms., how do you know when gentrification has come?" "When you see a Starbucks children, when you see a Starbucks..."

That's how one of my lessons went this year. I work with high school students in the Bronx, teaching art/photography and generally encouraging critical thought (very unpatriotic of me). One day in January, right after the Christmas Season may lay, I'd gone into corporate involvement in the media - which fits right in with a photography curriculum - and ended up discussing big business and government. It was one of those moments where you don't realize you've been going on for 10 minutes, until you see the blank stares of your audience. I stopped. "Any questions?" And that, is where this blog began.

You may be asking, 'But're not really going into a gentrification blog now, are you? It's old news. We get it...' My response to you is, yes I am, because I just woke up from a dream in which one of my good friends led me all around Marcy Houses in Brooklyn, from artist loft to creative space filled with awkward art kids (no worries, I'm one of them) in funny clothes, smoking Cloves. And she kept referring to it as "One of the most progressive gated communities in New York."

What's scary about this all is, that shit could actually happen. That tour could take place today.

I like Starbucks. I drink Starbucks, sometimes, while discussing art...I'm not judging. What upsets me are all of the double standards that go into turning a community into an "up-and coming-community". Case in point, the "Green the Ghetto" campaign going on in the Bronx right now. Yeah, I love it. There are some really amazing, progressive things happening in the borough that will benefit not only Bronx residents, but the human race. But, even as I watch these things going down I can't help but consider the other events taking place.

Harlem residents are being priced out of their homes, and gentrification has a way of seeping. It's funny like that. When you have a city of however many billion, people flock to where there's space, and things are affordable. But the isle of Manhattan, feels like it's almost to capacity with people smart enough to look for "affordable housing" although they could afford to pay the premium. Generally, they don't move in with malice; but the presence of the up-and-coming middle-class, causes developers to dismiss the I've-been-here-my-whole life class. And then, enter stage right, the Starbucks'.

- Ashleigh Rae

P.S. I was going to write about this. I'm intrigued. There's lots to say, but it's mostly been said in the article. The photo at the beginning is what really got me. Everyone looks so serene (from the backs of their heads...), watching the fire burn. The image hardly goes with the word riot. Also, I'm moved by the people's resolve.