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Tag Archives: Obama
Consider these two comic book covers for a moment:
Sure, they both shamelessly cash in on Barack Obama’s Inauguration. To be honest, the Savage Dragon cover seems a bit more tasteful than the Amazing Spider-Man one; I’ve not read the Savage Dragon issue, but the ‘bonus’ story in Amazing Spider-Man which justifies that cover is unexciting to say the least.
It’s not just the stories that are catching headlines, though, as a war of words seems to have erupted over who had the idea for an Obama tribute first. Apparently Erik Larsen, the owner/creator of Savage Dragon over at Image (and former Marvel penciller who was part of the original Image exodus in the 90s … and one of the few in that group not to head back to the Marvel/DC fold) is miffed that after his Obama issue was announced, Marvel announced their own and beat Larsen’s comic to the comic book stands and newsagents. While it may very well be the case that Marvel got their idea from Larsen’s Savage Dragon, it’s a shame to see these tribute issues brawled over, making the shameless cash-in even more juvenile. And the less said about the truly shameful use of Obama to try and restart the tragically hollow Rob Liefeld Youngblood series the better.
Links for December 9th 2008 through December 13th 2008:
- The Rumor Bomb: On Convergence Culture and Politics by Jayson Harsin [Flow TV, 9.04, December 2008] – Jayson Harsin looks at everything from Obama’s “terrorist connections” to Steve Jobs’ “heart attack” to understand how rumours work in the age of convergence culture (and what a huge impact they can have in an instantaneous, online, connective culture).
- Library Releases Report on Flickr Pilot (Library of Congress) [Library of Congress Blog] – “Only nine months into the Library of Congress’ pilot project placing Library photos on the Web site Flickr, the photos have drawn more than 10 million views, 7,166 comments and more than 67,000 tags, according to a new report from the project team overseeing the lively project. “The popularity and impact of the pilot have been remarkable,” said Michelle Springer, project manager for digital initiatives in the Office of Strategic Initiatives, who said total views reached 10 million in October. The site is averaging 500,000 views a month, she said, adding that Flickr members have marked 79 percent of the photos as “favorites.” The report recommends that the Library of Congress continue to participate in The Commons and explore other Web 2.0 communities.” [Full Report PDF] (Short version: sharing public cultural goods via participatory culture platforms is a win for everyone!)
- Microsoft Office to debut online [BBC NEWS | Technology] – “Microsoft is preparing web versions of some of its most popular programs. In 2009 web versions of Word, Excel and other programs in the Microsoft Office suite plus Exchange and Sharepoint will go online. Users will be able to get at the programs via a web browser rather than install them on a PC. Some versions of the programs are expected to be free to use provided users are happy to view adverts alongside the software.” (So, Microsoft are racing to reclaim some of the cloud computing presence which has become Google’s spare backbone … given how slowly Google Docs have evolved as a service, and how crude their slide presentation software is, if their offering is good enough there could be real Microsoft Vs Google competition in the clouds!)
While Obama’s policies were very much pro-Net Neutrality and open access during the campaign, it has taken a little while to see these policies in action (although, to be fair, he’s not actually President yet). Today, though, an important step: Obama’s transition website, change.gov is now licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license, meaning the information can be shared, reused and repurposed by pretty much anyone, as long as they note where the information came from. Here’s a capture of the website’s copyright notice:
Admittedly there was some confusion because all official federal government websites in the US are supposedly in the public domain, but is a president-elect bound by these rules? The answer seems ambiguous, but the CC BY license, apart from requiring attribution, is pretty much as good as the public domain anyway. Creative Commons heavyweights Lawrence Lessig, Joi Ito and Cory Doctorow have all expressed their delight at seeing Obama’s transition online presence sporting a CC license. I’m delighted, too, and can’t help but think that it would be marvellous to see more of Australia’s government websites and documents under Creative Commons licenses, too! And since Kevin Rudd has styled his own online presence on Obama’s, perhaps his information sharing policies could follow suit rather than being misdirected by this ridiculous internet filtering regime.
Links of interest for November 17th 2008 through November 18th 2008:
- ‘Meh’: new word for indifference enters English dictionary [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – “Meh”, a word which indicates a lack of interest or enthusiasm, has become the latest addition to the Collins English Dictionary. … The dictionary entry for “meh” will say it can be used as an interjection to indicate indifference or boredom, as an adjective to describe something as boring or mediocre, or to show an individual is apathetic or unimpressed. The word was popularised by the US comedy animation series “The Simpsons”, where characters Bart and Lisa use it to express indifference when their father Homer suggests a day trip. (Note to students: yes, it is very exciting that The Simpsons has changed language once again, but NO I do not expect to see Meh in your essays except in very specific, critical circumstances!)
- Disturbing attitude to girls [Courier Mail Education Blog] – An Assault on Our Future is a report on the impact of violence on young people and their relationships released today by White Ribbon. It shows that violence is having a major impact on the long term health and wellbeing of Australia’s children. White Ribbon Chairman Andrew O’Keefe says that the report highlights clear evidence that many boys hold violence supportive attitudes:
• Nearly one in seven (14%) of boys believe that ‘it’s OK to make a girl have sex with you if she was flirting’;
• Close to one in three (31%) boys believe ‘it’s not a big deal to hit a girl’;
• nearly one in three (32%) boys believe ‘most physical violence occurs because a partner provoked it’.
Boys aged between 12-14 show higher support for these sorts of attitudes.
“White Ribbon aims to prevent violence against women. If we are going to succeed we must start by challenging these attitudes while kids are still young …” (White Ribbon Day is Nov 25)
- Your Weekly Address from the President-Elect – 14 November 2008 [YouTube] – President-elect Obama talks directly to the people via YouTube, talking about the economic crisis. This feels a lot like I imagine FDR’s Fireside Chats felt in the 1930s and 40s. Despite the medium, though, it’s notable that YouTube’s comments function has been turned off on this video.
Links of interest for November 7th 2008 through November 9th 2008:
- Huffington: ‘Obama Not Elected Without Internet’ [InternetNews Realtime IT News] – “Obama campaign-related videos garnered 14.5 million hours of viewing on YouTube, according to Democratic political consultant Joe Trippi. He estimates that amount of time would have cost $47 million to buy on TV … “And to buy that time, you’re interrupting people watching football games and soap operas,” said Trippi. On the Web, “this is stuff people wanted to watch.” Just as the power of television, via televised debates, was credited with helping John Kennedy win the presidency over Richard Nixon in 1960, the panelists agreed with moderator John Heilemann that in 2008 the Web had at least as significant a role.”
- PLATFORM: Journal of Media and Communication – “Welcome to PLATFORM: Journal of Media and Communication, a biannual open-access online postgraduate publication. Founded by the Media and Communications Program, School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne, PLATFORM has just been launched in November 2008. This new postgraduate journal, PLATFORM, is refereed by an international board of established and emerging scholars working across diverse paradigms in Media and Communication. It is planned to develop it as an international journal.”
- Gwen and baby Zuma [Gwen Stefani : News] – I really hadn’t imagined Gwen Stefani to be a champion of copyright reform and the Creative Commons, but the termsunder which she released the first picture of herself and her baby are positively forward-thinking: “[(c) Mrs. Me, Inc., 2008.] This photo is licensed under aCreative Commons BY-NC-ND license. In addition to the permissions granted to the public under this license, this photograph may also be used in its original and unaltered form for commercial purposes by publishers in connection with the distribution of news or human interest stories, such as magazines, blogs, and newspapers. All other rights, including without limitation use of this photo in whole or in part or in connection with commercial posters, calendars, and other commercial products and services, are reserved exclusively by the copyright holder.” (The Obama campaign have been posting CC licensed photos since 2007, too!)
- Google Street View turned into artwork [The Age] – “Two American artists have made swooning for Google’s all-seeing eye an art form, creating what they term the first artistic intervention in Google Street View. After witnessing the immense online interest in quirky sightings on Google Maps, Robin Hewlett and Ben Kinsley approached Google with the idea of creating a series of staged tableaux along a street in Pittsburgh. The scenes, which were shot on May 3 this year and feature Pittsburgh’s Northside residents hamming it up along a nondescript lane called Sampsonia Way, went live on Google Maps this week.” Check out the result: http://www.streetwithaview.com/
Obama’s victory has people celebrating across the world for so many reasons, but given my preoccupations, it should come as no surprise that part of my joy comes from his decidedly forward-thinking policies toward digital culture. As, for example, Barry Saunders has argued in his ABC story:
The exemplar of a successful political campaign’s use of social media is … Obama’s campaign. Foregoing public funding and the big money of lobbyists, Obama has raised enormous amounts of money from primarily small donors, at last count over $US390 million. Obama claims this will allow him to reduce lobbyist influence in government, though inevitably, the truth is somewhat more complex than that.Obama’s campaign has also make powerful use of social networking tools such as Twitter, MySpace-style social networking sites and even an iPhone application. This commitment to using tools to engage with a primarily younger, tech savvy audience, combined with an commitment to Network Neutrality and a progressive tech policy (Barack Obama on technology and innovation – PDF) has certainly helped his support amongst younger voters. McCain’s admission that he doesn’t know how to use a computer hasn’t helped his regain any of that support.
Indeed, Obama’s use of digital networks wasn’t just an organizational tool, but an avenue to encourage the creativity of his supporters, as Sarah Lai Stirland noted in Wired a few days ago:
Obama’s online success dwarfed his opponent’s, and proved key to his winning the presidency. Volunteers used Obama’s website to organize a thousand phone-banking events in the last week of the race — and 150,000 other campaign-related events over the course of the campaign. Supporters created more than 35,000 groups clumped by affinities like geographical proximity and shared pop-cultural interests. By the end of the campaign, myBarackObama.com chalked up some 1.5 million accounts. And Obama raised a record-breaking $600 million in contributions from more than three million people, many of whom donated through the web. … In many ways, the story of Obama’s campaign was the story of his supporters, whose creativity and enthusiasm manifested through multitudes of websites and YouTube videos online. It even resulted in volunteer contributions like the innovative Obama ’08 iPhone and iTouch application that enabled owners to mobilize their friends and contacts in battleground states through the Apple devices.
On the digital front, Obama’s administration is already looking very promising from an open access perspective, and, as Barry notes above, may actually enshrine Net Neutrality, too! Given the deft hand the Obama team have used in engaging with young voters via digital tools and communities, it’s probably no surprise to hear that Obama’s victory speech has already clocked over 100,000 downloads via Bittorrent networks!
Meanwhile, Republican party insiders seems to be falling over themselves to point out how ‘ignorant’ Sarah Palin really is, but what does that actually say about the presidential candidate that chose her as a running mate? Oh well, it really doesn’t matter any more; I can’t really see predictions of Palin 2012 being much to worry about.
Perhaps of more concern for the hip and ironic youth of today is a piece by Dan Kois in the NY Times’ Culture Vulture asking ‘Can ‘The Daily Show’ Survive the Barack Obama Presidency?‘ What will Jon Stewart and his team satirize in a hopeful, forward-thinking, globally-minded American under Obama? I suspect there’ll still be a few things worth making fun of, but I’m sure Jon Stewart would agree, if it came down to The Daily Show or Obama, Stewart would still be voting Obama! Besides which, plenty of Americans are still doing really stupid things; drowned out by all the celebrations was the fact that in the same electoral process, Californians voted to remove the rights of gay people to marry; I think The Daily Show team might just have some new targets!
The video, though, that really caps the viral video war which has been one of the most engaging elements of the presidential campaigning, the video that shows behind a sexed-up meme can be real joy, is this little capture of Obama girl celebrating becoming President-Elect girl in Times Square …
Links of interest for October 31st 2008:
- War and Social Upheaval Cause Spikes in Zombie Movie Production [io9 – Chart Porn] – “There’s been a huge spike in the production of zombie movies lately, and many of them seem to be inspired by war. Everything from 28 Days Later to Zombie Strippers make explicit reference to wartime, as did seminal 1968 zombie flick Night of the Living Dead. Is there really a connection between zombie movies and social unrest? We decided to do some research and find out. The result? We’ve got a line graph showing the number of zombie movies coming out in the West each year since 1910 — and there are definite spikes during certain years, which always seem to happen eerily close to historical events involving war or social upheaval.”
- Beatles make digital debut in new game [The Age] – “The Beatles are coming to a game console near you. For the first time, the legendary group’s music will be featured in the lucrative video game market in a deal with MTV Games and Harmonix, creators of the Rock Band series. The game is scheduled to make its debut in time for next year’s holiday season. “The project is a fun idea which broadens the appeal of The Beatles and their music. I like people having the opportunity to get to know the music from the inside out,” Paul McCartney said in a statement. The game will not be titled Rock Band, but will work with the existing instruments – a guitar, drums and microphone. Game developers were cagey about whether new instruments, such as a keyboard, would be incorporated.” (One final frontier for Paul McCartney to get royalties … and, yes, I suspect when this comes out he’ll get a few of my hard-earned dollars!)
- Hulu, Dr. Horrible Make Time’s 50 Best Inventions of the Year [NewTeeVee] – Dr Horrible is a horribly good idea, it seems!
- Election ’08 Fanfiction – US election fan fiction and even slash fiction … Obama/Clinton is one thing, but Obama/McCain … hmmm. [Via Waxy]