Category: Technology

Early Voters Unfazed by Long Lines

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Moms carried small children on their hips while the pre-teens looked around in disgust. Elderly women moved ahead to sit down while their husbands kept their place in line. Younger men and women spoke in hushed tones. Though crowded, nobody wanted to leave and miss their chance.

Early Christmas shopping? Nope; the line that stretched around the inside lobby of Laman Library held hundreds of citizens taking the opportunity to vote early as Arkansas’ polls opened Monday, Oct. 20.

A Long Wait — As I got into the end of the line, I noticed it stretched along the library’s back wall and past the children’s library.

I arrived around 11:10 a.m. after purchasing $2.23 gas at the Indian Hills Kroger on John F. Kennedy Boulevard. I thought the gas line was long, but I wasn’t prepared for the line to vote. The last time I practiced early voting, it was an in-and-out affair as very few people took advantage.

That’s not the case this year. Luckily, I kept speaking with a corrections’ officer through the wait, passing the time and being continually amazed at the numbers of people who kept pouring in the doors. I’m sure he said something about the turnout first, maybe along the lines of “This just shows people want a change.” I just remember saying it did my heart good to see so many people wanting to exercise their Constitutional right.

Keep on coming — This shot looks back to where the line started when I arrived at the right end of the bookshelf (where the man wearing a green shirt stands). By the time we left the lobby, the line stretched past the left end of the bookshelf into the foyer.

We discussed the issues while moving inch-by-inch, around the outside wall while trying not to disturb the library patrons working on the computers but having no choice but to glance at their computer screens as we moseyed by. A middle-aged woman tried breaking in line. No one said anything to her, but she must have gotten hot under the collar as the stares could’ve sent knives into her back; she finally moved to the end of the line, all the way back across the lobby.

As 11:15 stretched to 12:20 and we’d made it but halfway around the lobby, I decided it’d be a good idea to call work and let them know I might be late. “It shouldn’t take too long. Now that I’m here, I want to make sure I vote,” I told Amy Meeks, the secretary of Arts & Humanities at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. She replied that it was not a problem and she’d let the dean know.

A Controlled Chaos — This scene greeted citizens who waited nearly two hours to enter the voting room. Citizens would walk down the center row, then turn left to serpentine toward ID check and ballot assignment (back of the room). Finally, they would walk through the last three rows (right side of picture) to get to vote.

It takes roughly an hour-and-a-half to two hours for the 100-mile drive between North Little Rock and Monticello. I knew I’d be pushing it, but I’d already stood in line this long. Usually, I am not the type to wait in line at a grocery store; I’ll leave the buggy and come back later. The only similar-type lines I’ve ever found worth the wait were for student tickets to the University of Tennessee-University of Arkansas football game in 1998 and for student refund checks while an undergraduate at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. But to vote? I feel this election undoubtedly deserves the same rapt attention as refund checks and football tickets.Read more: Early Voters Unfazed by Long Lines

On Technological Ch-Che-Change…


Connecting the Dots
by Glynn Wilson

There is no accounting for taste, or for how people learn and use new technology.

While I am an avid student of how people use the Internet, especially, I hate to be called a preacher or even a teacher. Although I’ve been called both – sometimes as a compliment; sometimes not.

But I’ve been thinking lately that it would not be a bad idea to start one’s own church in the good old US of A, considering the penchant on the part of the masses to search out someone else with the aura of authority to tell them what to think and how to live – and considering the tax laws.

Present company excluded, of course, since I suspect most of the readers lurking here are more likely to search out a great watering hole than a church. But there are several points worth considering for even the most intelligent audience in what I am about to say.

One of the smartest guys to ever walk the earth, Albert Einstein, once said: “Technological change is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal.”

There is a lot of technological change going on. Some for good; some for bad. And there are some attempts being made to explain it, but you have to search them out – or find a journalist or blogger to find them for you and provide a free and easy summary you can get to on your computer screen.

That is my job, in a way. So here goes.
Read more: On Technological Ch-Che-Change…

Using Social Networks Politically

 

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How do I? – John Gilchrist of Superspade.blogspot.com/ questions the panel on social networking and political change. Between the subject and the occasional bass from a session in an adjoining room, no one slept after lunch at this session.

MEMPHIS (Jan. 13) – The “Bubbling Up: MySpace, YouTube, Social Networking & Political Change” breakout session at the National Conference for Media Reform promised to cure the after-dinner sleepies by discussing the future of independent media and political activism through an examination of social media.

James Rucker, of ColorOfChange.org, helped the 2006 election coverage through Video the Vote, which recruited voting activists who had a camera or cell phone to document the disenfranchising of any voter.

“What you have with the Internet is a publishing platform that anyone can participate in,” he said. “As we heard problems developing, we’d deploy a volunteer who’d signed up online. They’d document the problem and upload it to our site.”

The site acted as a front end into the YouTube database, which Rucker said is hard to navigate due to its lack of consumable packaging. Video the Vote took the disparate videos and produced video essays, some of which were picked up by corporate media. Rucker plans to use the same idea for CopWatch, which will document police brutality.

“Everyone knows a story of police brutality,” he said. “It’s the kind of thing that’s very hard to get a feel for what’s happened when it’s in print. With cell phones, people capture things of cops being rough.”

Rucker said he believes in the power of citizen media and thinks it will change corporate media from the kind of force that it’s been. While at the moment many of the smaller players are not necessarily trusted nor do they carry the brand name, Rucker looks to bloggers as an example that the market place has been forced to acknowledge.

“I actually think corporate media will have a hard time competing with people producing citizen journalism,” he said.

Read more: Using Social Networks Politically

How Do You Make It Pay?

Memphis (Jan. 12) – During Friday’s “Building and Sustaining Independent Media” breakout session, the presenters overviewed their individual independent outlets and suggested how the independent media landscape could be strengthened, yet they could only suggest diversifying when trying to answer the most-asked question of the afternoon: how can independent media make money?

Kim Spencer, executive director of Link TV, said the key to profitability rests in a variety of funding sources. While that may seem obvious, Bonnie Boswell of The Real News took it a step further, noting that the proposed international independent news network would rely on individuals as the primary source of funding, in essence creating a publicly driven media source.

“We intend to have no government financing or advertising,” Boswell said. “We’ve raised $5 million and intend to raise $15 million more. If we can get 250,000 people to give $10 a month then you can be independent.”

Moderator Tracy Van Slyke, publisher of the 30-year-old independent national award-winning news magazine In These Times, noted while independent media may be poor in capital, it boasts rich content. In hopes of increasing the reach of that content, many of the organizations joined Mediaconsortium.org – a network of 35 progressive media organizations filling a void created by the loss of organizations like the Independent Press Association, which folded over a week ago.

“Many funders don’t understand the need for funding of the progressive media landscape,” Vans Slyke said.

Read more: How Do You Make It Pay?