Saturday, September 22, 2007

US State Department Enters (Muslim) Blogosphere

The NYTimes published an article today about how At [the] State Dept., Blog Team Joins Muslim Debate. This effort by state department officials to dialogue with Muslims around the world via blogging is described as, "an effort to take a more casual, varied approach to improving America’s image in the Muslim world."

Tre interesante, no? While State Department blogging could just be seen as another form of government-sponsored propaganda - an adaptation to new media trends - the "legitimacy" that the blogosphere gains by such governmental recognition is notable. I waxed all philosophical in my M.A. thesis about the public sphere a la Habermas and de-centering the center...Which is why I am so interested in what it means for the US government to enter the alternative public sphere of the blogosphere in this way.

In the long run, what does this trend mean for the quickly corporatizing blog world? Mainstream news venues, corporations, (and now) governments all want in on blogging. And, sure, we could easily look to other media formats that have gone from "alternative" to "mainstream" as straightforward predictors. But...given the unique nature of the blogosphere...will it fare differently?

Off to ponder...

**Note: I realize that this post neglects to weigh in on US military action in the Middle East. To clearly express my views on that topic, I think I'd need a whole other blog.


Please note that as my M.A. thesis project is complete, the George Washington University is no longer overseeing research conducted in conjunction with this blog (effective June 2007 to present). The Informed Consent Materials created while this blog was under GWU's IRB oversight are still available for your information and the principles outlined in them are still being used as a general guide for my continued work.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

"Solitarity"

On the September 19th edition of the Colbert Report, "The Word" segment of the program focused on online activism. On ComedyCentral.com, this segment was described with the teaser:
Make Stephen proud, young people - wage protests from the polite ditsance of your computer."
Reflecting on the tasering of a University of Florida student at John Kerry's town hall meeting on September 17th, Stephen expressed his horror at the lack of audience response at this event. He blamed the reaction of students on the way which this wired generation (which I am - I guess - a constituent) approaches social activism. Citing the protest strategies of the 1960s, Stephen questioned whether linking was as effective in-person protests.

What I love about the Colbert Report (and Daily Show, too) is the way in which popular culture analysis of happens. Hitting on a major issue of debate - whether or not online forms of activism are effective. And while Colbert's take is a little harsh (and hilarious), he echoes the point that I, and many interviewees, made in my thesis: Online activism provides great networking opportunities, but needs to go hand in hand with in-person activism.

Of course, how online and offline activism work together is still being determined. And whoever figures out the magic strategy for success - well, that individual is going to answer the questions that many activists, organizations, and non-profits, and movements are asking as they work to develop effective communications strategies.


Please note that as my M.A. thesis project is complete, the George Washington University is no longer overseeing research conducted in conjunction with this blog (effective June 2007 to present). The Informed Consent Materials created while this blog was under GWU's IRB oversight are still available for your information and the principles outlined in them are still being used as a general guide for my continued work.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Carnival of Feminists #45

The latests Carnival of Feminists offers superb links and impressive geographic diversity. Do stop by Feminist Philosophers to check it out!


Please note that as my M.A. thesis project is complete, the George Washington University is no longer overseeing research conducted in conjunction with this blog (effective June 2007 to present). The Informed Consent Materials created while this blog was under GWU's IRB oversight are still available for your information and the principles outlined in them are still being used as a general guide for my continued work.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Girl TV

Reading the title of the recent NYTimes article, "My So-Called Gossipy Life," reminded me of the totally awesome TV show, My So Called Life. You know, the short-lived realistical prime time show following the life of teenager Angela Chase (Claire Danes).

What was so ground breaking about that 1995 series was that it presented real-life situations and framed adolescence as the angsty time that it is - based on the regular, run-of-the-mill situations that many American teenagers face on a daily basis. Because of its portrayal of normalcy, My So-Called Life was a most original series - by showcasing the average.

Angela, pining after Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto) though she was, was a girlhood hero with whom I could relate. Her spit-fire friend Rayanne Graff (A.J. Langer) introduced me to some important feminist ideas on sexuality. And Rickie Vasquez (Wilson Cruz) gave everyone hope.

So the NYTimes article all about the new CW show Gossip Girls, which is a soap opera style melodrama, made me nostalgic for TV shows that follow a "real" girl's life. Because while I think we all sometimes need a little escape from reality, I was just as entertained by My So-Called Life as I was by Saved by the Bell. The soapy-style series seem to be in abundance this fall, but what about the more true to life shows? Yeah, only a stick in the mud would want to instructive or preachy programs with plots that read like after-school specials. But shows can "tackle the tough issues," as My So-Called Life proved, while also entertaining and rating well.

Will 2007 have an Angela Chase? I hope so!


Please note that as my M.A. thesis project is complete, the George Washington University is no longer overseeing research conducted in conjunction with this blog (effective June 2007 to present). The Informed Consent Materials created while this blog was under GWU's IRB oversight are still available for your information and the principles outlined in them are still being used as a general guide for my continued work.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

YWLI Update

Check out another great blog by a member of the YWLI class of 2007.


Please note that as my M.A. thesis project is complete, the George Washington University is no longer overseeing research conducted in conjuction with this blog (effective June 2007 to present). The Informed Consent Materials created while this blog was under GWU's IRB oversight are still available for your information and the principles outlined in them are still being used as a general guide for my continued work.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Some Real Nutjobs


Roomie and I were watching Fox News over the weekend for the entertainment (not information) value. We figure you need a little bad TV in your life every once in while...And what semi-fictional account of world events could be better?

Well.

My jaw dropped when a special report on the Hillary Clinton nutcracker aired. Roomie had quick and witty comments analyzing the gender bias underlying the situation, but all I could muster was, "Uncool." I guess I had my feminist hat on a little too tight, because I failed to see the humor the commentators were so thoroughly enjoying.

Tracy Flory-Clark over at Broadsheet provided excellent analysis of this 2008 election paraphenilia. Indeed, it is an
awesomely vivid manifestation of extreme cultural anxiety over a woman becoming commander in chief!
Like those over at Broadsheet, I do hope that this gadget will provide the "catharsis" for those who are anxiety-ridden over women coming into position's of power.


Please note that as my M.A. thesis project is complete, the George Washington University is no longer overseeing research conducted in conjuction with this blog (effective June 2007 to present). The Informed Consent Materials created while this blog was under GWU's IRB oversight are still available for your information and the principles outlined in them are still being used as a general guide for my continued work.

Carnival of Feminists #44

Check it out!


Please note that as my M.A. thesis project is complete, the George Washington University is no longer overseeing research conducted in conjuction with this blog (effective June 2007 to present). The Informed Consent Materials created while this blog was under GWU's IRB oversight are still available for your information and the principles outlined in them are still being used as a general guide for my continued work.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Girl With Pen and Blog Without Bicycle Get Their Vlog On

Check it out!

And kudos to Deb for her ingenuity, patience, and willingness to learn new tricks (and cackling).


Please note that as my M.A. thesis project is complete, the George Washington University is no longer overseeing research conducted in conjunction with this blog (effective June 2007 to present). The Informed Consent Materials created while this blog was under GWU's IRB oversight are still available for your information and the principles outlined in them are still being used as a general guide for my continued work.

Woodhull & Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty

The Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership has partnered with Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty to make mini-module of its longer ethical leadership trainings available to web users world wide. Wanna increase your financial fluency or develop your public voice? Well, now you can do it right from the comfort of your own computer screen.


Please note that as my M.A. thesis project is complete, the George Washington University is no longer overseeing research conducted in conjunction with this blog (effective June 2007 to present). The Informed Consent Materials created while this blog was under GWU's IRB oversight are still available for your information and the principles outlined in them are still being used as a general guide for my continued work.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Late...Breaking News

So, what is this new "Late...Breaking News" tag? Well, in realizing that I don't always get to blog on events as promptly as I would like, I wanted to somehow still allow myself a space to share my thoughts and ideas on newsworthy topics of the recent past. I can't always keep up with the blogosphere's fast media "deadlines" and I wanted to reflect the fact that I *get it* in terms of the pace at which bloggers should ideally be working. But I'm also totally unwilling to let certain topics go, even if I am adding my two sense a little late in the game. Thus, I have created the "Late...Breaking News" tag. Think of it as your chance to revisit hot topics of weeks (or days) past.


Please note that as my M.A. thesis project is complete, the George Washington University is no longer overseeing research conducted in conjuction with this blog (effective June 2007 to present). The Informed Consent Materials created while this blog was under GWU's IRB oversight are still available for your information and the principles outlined in them are still being used as a general guide for my continued work.

Working at the Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership

In addition to settling into my new digs, I've also been adjusting to my new role of program coordinator at the Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership. That's right - Elizabeth has joined the ranks of the employed.

The Woodhull Institute is
a not-for-profit, non-partisan, non-sectarian educational organization that provides ethical leadership training and professional development for women.
The Institute defines ethical leadership as leadership that
is concerned with the means as well as the ends to personal and professional achievements.
To promote such leadership,
Woodhull has developed a community that encourages women to lead with honesty, respect, courage and compassion; to strive for the common ground in decision- making; and to share in community service.
A very cool feminist-y organization to be working at indeed!

Because the work that I am doing at Woodhull is related to so many of the issues that I pursue on this blog, there might be occasions on which I reference the Institute's projects. I want to be clear, however, that A Blog Without a Bicycle is a separate and independent endeavor from my Woodhull work. The opinions and ideas expressed here are solely my own and do not in any way represent the Institute. While I may share information about newsworthy Woodhull events or projects, I will not be blogging here in any "official" Woodhull capacity. If you would like to reach me when I'm wearing my Woodhull hat, you can email me at the Institute at ecurtis(at)woodhull(dot)org.

Now...It's on to pursuing work/life balance. While I've always been awed by folks who seem to be able to juggle blogging and fulltime employ, I'm finding that I'm going to have to work on my coordination to be able to keep so many (metaphorical) balls in the air.


Please note that as my M.A. thesis project is complete, the George Washington University is no longer overseeing research conducted in conjuction with this blog (effective June 2007 to present). The Informed Consent Materials created while this blog was under GWU's IRB oversight are still available for your information and the principles outlined in them are still being used as a general guide for my continued work.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Getting All Domesticated

On Laboring Domestically

Where oh where has this blogger gone? Or where oh where could she have been?

Well, in addition to doing many a job-search related thing (more *exciting* news on that soon!), I was coordinating my move into my amazing new apartment in a woman-owned building with my awesome feminist roomie (okay, so the connection to feminism was a stretch there). Thanks to my fam, the physical moving went fairly smoothly and quickly. Although I do understand why by the end of the project that they had requested that: 1) I never move again, ever; 2)I reduce my number of worldly goods; 3)I stay away from assembly-required European-made furniture.

Currently, I am quite tuckered out and not quite settled. This is not my first foray into "grown up" living, but I am resenting how setting up house is not as much fun as playing house (oh, the gendered games we play as kids). Why do I only seem to unpack tupperware lids - and not tupperware conatiners? Why can't I find my socks? Is that a killer dust bunny chasing me? Why are shower curtain rings so disagreeable? I've always had a healthy respect for domestic labor while also having a natural dislike for it. It's hard work! Which just makes me all the more appreciative of all of the folks who have done reproductive labor on my behalf in the past (ie, thanks Mum!).

On that note, I think it is time to finish up some minute household chores and then get myself to bed to adjust to all the location-specific noises of things that go bump in the night at my new *home sweet home.*


Please note that as my M.A. thesis project is complete, the George Washington University is no longer overseeing research conducted in conjuction with this blog (effective June 2007 to present). The Informed Consent Materials created while this blog was under GWU's IRB oversight are still available for your information and the principles outlined in them are still being used as a general guide for my continued work.