Operation Loki: Google Glass in NOLA

lokiGoogle recently announced some crazy new technology, a wearable computer called Google Glass. 8,000 people have been chosen to test drive a pre-final version of the technology. I have had the good luck to be one of the ones picked here in the New Orleans area. (For more about Glass including a video fo the interface in action check out my column for SixEstate, Exploring with Google Glass.)

I’ve been a pro blogger since 2006, as well as the founder of HumidCity back in the pre-K days. I’ve had the good fortune of being able to work in the social media and online content field since the days when Facebook was limited to Harvard students.

I want to use Glass primarily to share aspects of our unique culture here in New Orleans. Too many times have we seen ourselves in the fun house mirror of bad movies and poor reporting. As a native whose early years were split between the Garden District and the Bywater I have a foot in each end of the urban core, a background that should help me present a more organic view of the Crescent City.

Some of the groups I intend to work with and document include:  Skinz ‘n Bonez,  Krewe du Who, the Noisician Coalition, Chef Eric Mars of Louisiana Bistro, NOLA Wenches, WWOZ, WTUL, The New Orleans Musician’s Clinic, and  a wide variety of local bloggers (including the wonderful NOLA Femmes who asked me to do this guest post) and bands.

The rough part, and the reason why I am writing this today, is the cost. While I have been accepted as one of the 8,000 participating requires an outlay of $1,500 plus tax for the hardware and a run up the coast to New York city to pick it up (probably in the $400-$800 range depending on how far in advance Google gives us the dates). Like many New Orleanians right now I just don’t have the resources. That is where crowdfunding comes in.

I’ve launched an IndieGoGo campaign to raise the money. While I hate to sit here holding my hand out I also refuse to pass up this chance without a fight. So here is the skinny.

This fundraiser is to help me sponsor those costs:

  • Google Glasses will cost me $1500 Dollars + Tax (est $105)
  • Travel costs to NY are between $500-$800
  • IndieGoGo’s fees  Approximately $175 (determined by level of fulfillment)

No amount is too small or too large, if a lot of you readers donated a single dollar that would take me over the top. Any surplus funds raised will be split evenly and donated to the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the New Orleans Musican’s Clinic. This will also be the fate of the funds if I do not raise enough funds to actually participate in the Glass program.

As to the trip, I have already arranged to stay with friends in NYC up so the only travel expense you would be helping cover with is airfare/trainfare. I won’t be buying expensive Manhattan cappuchinos or drinking till dawn with your generous donation.

So, what do you say? Feel like supporting a New Orleans blogger in reaching for the cutting edge? If so stop by my IndieGoGo campaign. Every dollar helps (and I’ve got some pretty decent perks for donating as well)!!

Thanks for reading!

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Random Ramblings On Blogging & Social Media

Once again I’m ruminating on social media and my participation in it. Lately, I’ve been enjoying the interaction on Google+ where I’ve been very careful as to who I circle. I’ve learned from my Facebook account that friending/circling can get out of hand in a flash and you end up with the electronic version of junk mail in your stream. The other day a friend posted this about sharing blog posts on G+:You’re not going to get far on social media if your entire stream says “check out my interview with X, Y, or Z,” or “Go read my latest blog entry.” I commented that he had given me something to think about since I routinely share blog posts from all my blogs. I assumed (ahem, yes.) that friends would be interested in my extended thoughts or, if not, would simply move on. I don’t write a lot on G+ but instead use it to share information, funnies, music – ya know, content I think my friends and I have in common. I comment on others posts when I have something to say but don’t feel obligated to comment if I don’t. Another person (not someone I know or follow) stated she thought “a lot of “traditional” bloggers have very boring streams and if you’re going to be on here you really need to engage”. (I found it interesting she referenced “traditional” bloggers – as if that were something out of date. I don’t see blogs going the way of the dinosaurs any time soon as long as people prefer getting information in a format larger than 140 characters.)  This was a rather ungracious comment, imo, and it prompted me to reply that  “people have all sorts of reasons for engaging on social sites – one being to keep up with IRL friends & acquaintances, not as a tool for anything more. Fortunately what’s boring for one is not boring for all”. As my friend stated, “there’s definitely a way to balance things”, a concept foreign to some people, I guess.All of which reminds me of a quote I read by Tom Petty in a recent Twitter interview. When asked his opinion on social media he replied, “End of the world. Everybody has their head up their own ass thinking their every breath is important.”I lmao at that. Truer words…..

Speaking of blogging, I haven’t done any link love in a long time so I’m going to share a list (in no particular order) of blogs from all over that I’ve read regularly in the past year and recommend you check out. Just so you know, I trend toward lifestyle, photography and blogs with a lit bent. I read political blogs too but I don’t talk politics here. Happy New Year to all and here’s looking forward to a great year of – yes – “traditional” blogging!

Zoom Yummy ~ Cooking, knitting, photography. I’ve found some great dessert recipes here.

Broadside ~ Writer Caitlin Kelly blogs about about women, work, journalism, books, culture, family and relationships.

Mighty Termitey ~ My online sista from another mother who always makes me smile and I bet she can make you smile too!

Cliff’s Crib ~ Proud parent, community leader and New Orleanian who points out our warts as well as our beauty marks. This man takes no prisoners but also has a soft-ish side.

Kiss My Gumbo ~ One of the smartest women I read and know personally. Her recent posts on caring for her father with Alzhiemer’s are truly inspirational.

Odd Bits of Life in New Orleans ~ Amazing writer and poet focusing mainly on life in New Orleans, of course.

Shay’s Word Garden ~ An extremely talented poet whose work will astound you. If you think you don’t like poetry, try reading her. Her work is street smart and tender all at the same time.

My two favorite photography sites: 504ever and My Life in the Quarter – two very talented men you need to meet.

YatCuisine ~ Yummy food blog!

B2L2 ~ A group blog consisting of writers doing their thing including essays and opinion pieces. Good stuff.

Daisy Pignetti: Blogging the Unfinished Story in Post-Katrina New Orleans

Daisy Pignetti* is participating on a panel at the Oxford Internet Institute symposium at Oxford University in England and is presenting her paper “Blogging the Unfinished Story in post-Katrina New Orleans” on Friday. Her paper features my writing from my personal blog, TravelingMermaid,  in the months after the storm and up to 2009. I am honored that Daisy felt my frustrated scribbles was worthy to include in her paper so I wanted to share this news with y’all.

Daisy contacted the “NOLA Bloggers”, a group of people who blogged and networked after the storm, through Think NOLA in 2006 asking for volunteers to talk about their blogging experiences for a research project. I think it’s important to note that Think NOLA, the New Orleans Wiki (both now defunct) and Alan Gutierrez were instrumental in organizing the Nola blogosphere into a cohesive group and deserves a lot of credit for doing so.

The abstract from Daisy’s paper reads as follows:

“With the growing familiarity of the blog genre, much has been published about the use of information and communication technologies for grassroots and community endeavors, but there is still research to be done, particularly of placeblogs that coincide with sites of natural and/or national disaster. Unlike other scholarly Internet inquiries where issues of identity might influence the structures and processes of the research, the population discussed here stands out in its transparent use of blogs and other Web 2.0 technologies.

The New Orleans blogger community proves to be one built upon the shared experience of Hurricane Katrina and is thereby focused on reporting the facts surrounding and actions needed for recovery to take place. While their individual blog audiences may be small, their disclosing details about their lives ‘after the levees broke’ allows these ‘NOLA Bloggers’ to be in control of their storm stories and potentially receive feedback within minutes of sharing, which is fundamental during times of crisis.

After a brief overview of my autoethnographic research methods, I present a profile of a blogger whose writing presents readers with a truer understanding of what life is like in post-Katrina New Orleans. Since the hurricane hit in 2005, Charlotte’s writing has progressed from emotional outpourings of survivor’s guilt to reflective posts illustrating the way web 2.0 technologies have empowered her local identity since the storm. “

Several bloggers and/or blogs from the NOLA blogosphere who were posting immediately after the storm are mentioned in the paper, including:

Humid City
NOLA Slate (Sam recently guest posted for NOLAFemmes – you may read her post here.)
Wetbank Guide
Maitri’s Vatulblog
Think NOLA

Also mentioned is the list of New Orleans Bloggers and the Rising Tide Conference.

After the success of last year’s 5th anniversary project on this blog, I had hoped to publish a series for the 6th anniversary featuring some of the NOLA bloggers that I personally read after the storm, people who came to mean so much to me, but personal issues prevented me from seeing that project through. Maybe next year.

There’s really nothing more I can add except, read this paper. Scroll down the programme to Friday and click on Daisy Pignetti’s name after which you can download the paper. It’s fascinating reading and gratifying to realize that all our ranting and kvetching about life post-Katrina was heard and really is a little piece of history.


*Daisy Pignetti is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. A proud New Orleans native, her research into the rebuilding of New Orleans through new media endeavors can be read in scholarly journals such as Computers and Composition Online and Reflections: A Journal of Writing, Service-Learning, and Community Literacy as well as on prominent blog sites such as the Open Society Institute’s Katrina: An UnNatural Disaster and the Harvard University hosted Publius Project. She credits these publications and opportunities to the wonderful group of Internet researchers, faculty, and staff she met during the 2007 Oxford Internet Institute Summer Doctoral Programme.

Louisiana State Museum Launches Katrina 5th Anniversary Project

I am pleased to pass along this information about Louisiana State Museum’s Hurricane Katrina 5th anniversary project on FaceBook. Thanks to Terri Kaupp for sending us the press release – although I am an active FaceBooker, I hadn’t seen anything about the project. Please check out the page and consider sharing your experience.

Recalling Katrina on Facebook
“S.O.S.” becomes Share Our Stories as Louisiana State Museum invites
social media fans to become part of a new exhibit

NEW ORLEANS (Aug. 2, 2010) – On August 29, 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated Southeast Louisiana and Mississippi, Twitter didn’t exist and Facebook was only for high school and college students. Today, these social media outlets have become a vital part of our daily life and a way to reconnect with old friends, colleagues, and family.
In advance of Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond, opening October 26 at New Orleans’ Presbytere, the Louisiana State Museum has launched a Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/LaStateMuseum where users are urged to post their stories, photos and videos of their experiences during and after the storm.
“Facebook is an ideal medium for sharing memories,” says Louisiana State Museum Manager of Social Media and Web Communications Victoria Salisbury. “We want to reach out to everyone who lived through Hurricane Katrina. Our fan page is a way for residents – and people across the country – to become part of this exhibition.”
In the years after the storm, social media has helped thousands of Gulf Coast residents to reunite with scattered friends, neighbors and families. Chalmette High School alumni, for example, used Facebook to plan a class reunion. “Student records from the school were destroyed in Hurricane Katrina,” says Chalmette’s Class of ’89 reunion organizer Wendy Lauga Thibodaux. “Within 24 hours of posting the reunion event on Facebook, I received 125 responses from alumni from Florida to Washington State. We would not have had a successful reunion without Facebook.”
In addition, the story-telling aspect of Facebook is perfect for New Orleans, a city full of tales about its past.
“The Museum wants to share your experiences of the storm. How has life changed for you in the past five years?” says Salisbury. “Social media is a great equalizer. Everyone has a voice. We’d like to hear them all.”
Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond is a $7.5 million exhibit opening on the ground floor of the historic Presbytere in the French Quarter’s Jackson Square. The 6,700-square-foot installation tells the stories of real people caught in the hurricane’s wrath. It tells of their rescue, recovery, rebuilding and renewal in a way certain to move both those who survived the storms of 2005 and those who watched the events unfold on TV.
Combining eyewitness accounts, historical context, immersive environments and in-depth scientific exploration, Katrina and Beyond enables visitors to understand the 2005 storms’ impact on Louisiana, the Gulf Coast and the nation. It is a story of how a culture – the rich, variegated world of New Orleans and coastal Louisiana – has learned to live with the fragility of its environment and how the storms of 2005 gave rise to a new vision for the region.

Founded in 1906 with a mission to collect, preserve, interpret and present the state’s rich history and diverse cultures, the Louisiana State Museum’s collection now totals more than 450,000 artifacts and works of art. These provide an authentic experience of Louisiana to visitors from around the world while enhancing the quality of life for residents. The Museum is part of the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.

For more information, please call 800.568.6968 or visit http://www.KatrinaAndBeyond.com, Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/LaStateMuseum and Twitter: http://twitter.com/LaStateMuseum.

The Too Much Information Age

OK. I admit it. I am of the age now (sigh) that I receive the AARP magazine. Which I did not ask for and which goes straight from the mailbox to the recycle pile every month. And, yeah, I freely admit it’s an ego thang.

This month’s issue, though, grabbed my attention because Valerie Bertinelli is on the cover. There she is, over there to the left looking fabulous. (Maybe I’ll rethink my AARP predjudice – George Cluny’s in it too.) I’ve always liked her beginning in the ’70’s when One Day At A Time was one of my favorite TV shows. Then she married Eddie Van Halen. EDDIE VAN HALEN!  How freaken cool was that? Anyway, blah, blah, blah…..time moved on and I just always liked her. So I opened the magazine and read the very nice story written about her.

But that’s not what this post is about.

No, this post is about The Too Much Information Age of which I have been pondering for a couple of weeks now. Obviously, the cosmos is in tune with my thoughts because it keeps throwing related information (ahem!) into my galaxy, forcing me to read and ponder and think to myself that I really need to do something about all this mental stuff going around in circles inside my head. So as I’m browsing through this magazine I come to an article entitled May I Have My Attention, Please?

“Welcome to the Attention Crisis—also known as the “culture of distraction,” information-fatigue syndrome,” or simply “modern life.” It’s what happens when technology’s flashing, beeping, dun-dun-daaahhhing stimuli scramble your focus, shred your nerves, and squander your productivity.”

Scrambled focus, shredded nerves, squandered productivity? Umm, yeah, sounds like the black hole I’m in.

It all started so innocently about 5 years ago with my discovery of blogs. Fastforward to the present and it’s extended to a healthy (unhealthy?) list on Google Reader of 123 subscriptions (recently culled down), 4 blogs of my own,  2 Twitter accounts, 4 emails and Facebook. I’m not even mentioning other social sites I’ve joined & neglected or just forgotten about. Facebook alone has been a tremendously voracious eater of my time. And I don’t own a Smartphone, Iphone or anything even remotely akin to them and I don’t want one. The same day I read the AARP article I watched a story on NBC Nightly News about how Tweeting and internet surfing on Blackberries, etc is taking time & attention away from the kids of their tech-addicted parents. Several people actually admitted to it and expressed dismay but didn’t seem willing to change their behavior.

I have to my admit my addiction as well, though. I don’t have kids but I do have a husband who constantly complains I’m on the computer too much…..and he’s right. I haven’t been willing to give up my blogs, the reading, the tweeting, the status updates, etc, etc, etc until recently. But I think I have finally maxed myself out and I blame it on the oilspill.

Like most everyone here, I have been reading everything I could get my hands on about the oilspill – even having a Google Alert set up to catch every piece of news that mentions “Deepwater Horizon”. For the past month or more I’ve scanned every item coming over, reading about half (and that’s a lot) and either tweeting or posting on Facebook much of it. I’ve clicked other people’s links to oilspill stories. I have immersed myself into the oilspill to the point that I feel like I’m drowning in information. It’s just too much and it’s affecting my mood – not for the better.

Focusing on one thing to the near-exclusion of everything else in life is not good mental health. So I’ve stopped checking my email as soon as I get up in the morning and try not to turn on the computer until after 3:00pm. I’ve stopped updating my Facebook status everyday and limit the links I post. I’ve cut waaaay back on Twitter and on my own blog posts. This is what I’ve done so far but more (rather, less) is coming. Every day I tell myself that I don’t have to know everything that’s going on in the world every minute of the day. Really. I don’t.

Already my days seem longer…I’m spending more time outside, more time with the dogs and husband and more time reading actual books. More importantly, I feel like I’m on more of an even keel emotionally. And it’s feeling really, really good!