Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Using Social Media to Make the Case for Supporting Library Services

[Press release from REFORMA]



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Contact: Loida Garcia-Febo, President REFORMA 917-548-2910 loidagarciafebo@gmail.com www.reforma.org

Using Social Media to Make the Case for Supporting Library Services Webinar on Thursday, November 19, 2009 from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. EST

REFORMA and Webjunction are partnering to present a webinar about how non-profits such as libraries can use social websites to put access to information and libraries on the agenda of community leaders, elected officials, and local and national agencies. The content of this WebJunction and REFORMA co-sponsored webinar includes a background on social websites, how to use social websites for advocacy, national and international advocacy efforts by representatives from American Library Association (ALA) and the International Federation of Libraries and Institutions (IFLA), and suggestions on how to advocate for services for Latinos and Spanish speakers.Guest speakers include Meredith Farkas, Head of Instructional Initiatives at Norwich University; Fiona Bradley, IFLA Programme Coordinator ALP; Marci Merola, Director, ALA Office for Library Advocacy; Max Macias, Serials Technician at Portland Community College; and Loida Garcia-Febo, Assistant Coordinator New Americans Program and Special Services at Queens Library.
Registration is required for this event: http://evanced.info/webjunction/evanced/eventsignup.asp?ID=1623

Questions can be directed to Loida Garcia-Febo at loidagarciafebo@gmail.com or further information can be found on the Webjunction website at http://evanced.info/webjunction/evanced/eventsignup.asp?ID=1623


Loida Garcia-Febo

Assistant Coordinator,

New Americans Program and Special Services



Queens Library, 89-11 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica, N.Y. 11432

phone: 1 + 718-990-8569; fax: 1 + 718-990-8628


-------------------------------------------------------



REFORMA President 2009-2010

http://reforma.org/


http://loidagarciafebo.com/
http://vimeo.com/channels/loidatime
http://www.youtube.com/Loidagarciafebo

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Using Social Media to #beatcancer

This is brilliant, just brilliant!

For every mention of #beatcancer on your blog, tweet, or FB status eBay/PayPal and Miller/Coors will donate one cent to breast cancer research!


I read about this in an article posted on Facebook by Stephen Abram written by Genesis Davies:

http://www.pamil-visions.net/twitter-beatcancer/26918/

I can see the potential usage for many different types of organizations here! The potential for collaboration and mutually beneficial projects for sponsors and organizations is incredible. I do not want to speak to soon though. I will be watching how this works closely. Hopefully we can all gain some insight to see the potential of linking ideas together and using them in new ways. I have seen similar campaigns, but never with this kind of sponsorship and potential.

This campaign displays the convergence of several elements:

Social Media content production has grown exponentially over the past two years. The aggregation of SM has improved greatly and allowed for the simple updating of status on various platforms via one post, as well as led to the ability to aggregate SM into readable groups, etc...with applications written for this purpose.

The recent deluge and abilities of visionaries like Brian Solis from the Public Relations industry have been able to merge their worlds with the White Hat Hacker ethic of Sharing and in PR this is a killer APP! The introduction of the business world had me very worried, but I am now seeing the potential to collaborate, as well as pressure business to change the way they operate.

The introduction of Non-profit and other non-business organizations has led to innovative and new practices in PR, outreach and fund-raising. If you are on FB undoubtedly you have been asked to support a cause. Now I am not claiming any huge successes here, but I do claim that just the ability to send a non-offensive, non-intrusive invitation to support a cause is in itself a success! Add to this new tool, Youtube channels, Twitter campaigns, and various other ideas and you have a nice mix of ingredients to choose from. Next add the ability to mix and match them via widgets and API applications--well then we have the foundations for innovative thinking and partnerships to become a reality.

These are just some elements that have led to this kind of campaign. I am truly excited about this and just had to write this short post to let you in on it. This is a short post, not meant to be extensive, but inspiring!



#beatcancer #beatcancer #beatcancer #beatcancer #beatcancer #beatcancer #beatcancer #beatcancer #beatcancer #beatcancer #beatcancer #beatcancer #beatcancer #beatcancer #beatcancer #beatcancer #beatcancer #beatcancer #beatcancer #beatcancer #beatcancer #beatcancer #beatcancer #beatcancer

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Ten Technologies to Increase Communication in Your Organization

We live in a time unprecedented for information and knowledge in management and organizational cultures. Systems theory and other theories of organizational innovation state that there must be open channels of communication in the organization. Yet, today we use organizational communication based on the memo to communicate for the most part. With the technology available today it is easy to increase communication in your organization even with a tight budget. I am going to talk about 10 things one can do with technology to facilitate communication, either externally or internally. The applications are free and just take the investment of time/labor to get them going.

1) Start a blog. Yes, I know, everyone has heard this before. However, there are so many blogs that are boring or irrelevant. Make your blog interesting--invite guest posters who cover different aspects of your organization. You can even bring in guest bloggers who are external to your organization. Blogs can impart information, creating a dynamic conversation that can include different types of media, and is interactive.

2) Start a Twitter feed. Begin and maintain a Twitter feed with value added informational tweets. By this I mean, instead of just passing along a URL, pass it along with a short annotation, etc. that imparts why someone will want to spend their time following the link. Use hashtags for discussions on Twitter.

3) Share your best practices on a Wiki. I know the glamour of Wikis has faded in the recent past; however, they are still a powerful tool when it comes to sharing information. The fact that they can be made almost transparent via the use of history, comments and discussions is another plus for Wiki use.

4) Start an organizational discussion board. This can increase discussion and spark debate about vital organizational issues. These discussions can also document the chain of reasoning that led to a conclusion and subsequent action/policy. People can be referred to the board for a first step in a search for answers to their questions about the organization. This can ofttimes lead to individuals raising their opinions in writing--people who would otherwise remain silent on issues. Sometimes this platform can lead to increased participation and expression by people of this persuasion.

5) Start a Facebook organizational page. Utilize this to broadcast messages to members and associates on Facebook. This information can then easily be shared, or pasted and copied to other Facebook walls, pages, and discussion boards as well as other websites. You can promote public relation campaigns on these pages and start "cause" pages as well. This can help in increasing membership, as well as fundraising and building a list of allies.

6) Start a YouTube or Vimeo channel. This can be used to post public relation announcements, informational messages, membership communications, presidential messages and more. YouTube works well--one can then use widgets, and embed code to share videos on websites and social networking platforms.

7) Scrap that old print newsletter. A multimedia newsletter will allow for use of media that is used in other places, i.e., YouTube, Vimeo, etc. This will also make the newsletter a bit flashier and eye-appealing. Individuals who may not like to read the newsletter may enjoy some creative videos showcasing newsworthy events throughout the year.

8) Incorporate social software into your organization. This allows for the creation of profiles. This might not seem like a big deal, but it can potentially link people with common interests, who then may be able to collaborate to increase organizational mission accomplishment. An internal social software aspect can generally increase communication, teamwork, rapport, discussion and dare I say, innovation.

9) Create a Flickr account to share organizational photos. Photos do much to convey organizational attitudes, teamwork, camaraderie, as well as documentation of events and people. Photos from these accounts can be shared on other platforms and sites via embedding and widget use. This makes Flickr an even more powerful tool.

10) Begin or maintain an organizational culture that is free and open--one which encourages experimentation, documentation, assessment and rewards innovation. This is the most important technology, as it allows and budgets time for exploration into new techniques, technologies, ideas, and innovations. Which, in turn, allows for progress toward the fulfillment of the organizational mission. This culture must come from the administration of the organization and must be supported with time and resources.


In today's ever-changing dynamic society, we need to be thinking about leveraging our work, budgets and talents more than ever. Collaboration, innovation and increased communication go a long way in achieving this goal. Given that the technologies listed above are relatively free of charge, with the only costs an investment in labor and talent, we should be using them to increase efficiency, reduce costs and possibly increase revenue via increased support and presence in the community. The media available can increase the power of our messages and motivate people in ways heretofore unimagined; we just need to harness the power that is already there.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Creating an Infrastructure for Latinos/Hispanics About to Cross the Digital Divide

As I sit here typing I am getting Tweets via Tweetdeck from a variety of Hispanic/Latino contacts among others. What I want to point out here is that there is an already thriving Digital Latino community, but it will be growing exponentially in the next few years. For a long time I have been reading articles that state we need to bridge the digital divide by providing Internet access in libraries and communities. While this is still true, we had better start thinking about those Latinos who are already online and who will be coming online shortly.

In 1997 the Pew Report Latinos Online stated that "just one in three Latinos who speak Spanish go online. While this may have been true in 1997 surely the numbers have grown today. The Pew Study also mentions access via phones for Spanish speakers. This has truly been a growing market; with many Hispanics I know using more than one device to access the Internet and the Web. When creating digital content please remember to include a phone-based framework for digital access by those using a phone.

The Pew report also mentions that 56 percent of Latinos in the us use the Internet! That is a huge number and that was in a study PUBLISHED in 1997! While I will not argue there are a large number of Latinos and poor people in general who do not have regular access to the internet, I will argue that if we do not work to create a digital infrastructure that is from within our community, that we will be failing the now and future Latino user population.

Here is a great post by Esther J. Cepeda with some great stats on Latino Internet usage.

Here is an article by Marissa Lang from the entitled Latinos Narrow Digital Divide.

We need our own media--As a Latino, I don't like getting my information from CNN! I don't feel that much more comfortable getting it from Univision either. However, I find myself having to use them often. We need a bilingual/multilingual approach. We cannot alienate Latinos who only speak English just as we must not alienate those who speak indigenous languages. We are all related and must work to bridge communication gaps and to help each group build their part of the infrastructure. I am a big believer in DIY (do it yourself), and the web provides a perfect medium for Latinos to take control of their own media, publishing, artistic networks and other avenues by building a digital infrastructure for future users and consumers.


With the advent of Social Media I have become increasingly convinced that organizations can partner with business in an ethical and mutually beneficial manner. Thanks to tools like Facebook and Twitter I have been exposed to thinking from such a variety of aspects/cultures/viewpoints that build my knowledge-base daily. This type of diversification of thinking can be beneficial for our Latino Community, while also benefiting general society by educating and dispelling mythologies about Latinos/Hispanics.


There are no greater tools for advocacy today than social media and digital communications. We must work to build the digital political infrastructure so that it remains free and equal. We need to ensure that the Internet does not become like the publishing industry of today is--corrupt--with the power of influence going to the highest bidder, with entertainment masking itself in the cloak of news, with PR segments portrayed as news investigations. We need journalists who will tell the story no matter if it doesn't sell Modela. We need artists who will share their message with the poor as well as the rich.


With communities like Blogadera and social media groups like Latinos in Social Media springing up and filling the void of Latino Online leadership I am optimistic that we can and will be shaping our OWN futures. With leaders like Louis Pagan, Urban Jibaro, Lori Gama, Raul Ramos, Julito, Nezua and I could go on--If I didn't mention YOU here--it is because I do not have much time to write this. Please follow the tag #latism for Latinos in Social Media discussions and people to follow on Twitter! I have a search going on my tweetdeck application that gives me a constant stream of #latism--it is fun and informative!

We must be thinking Big Picture/Systems style when we are creating our content, networks and communities. Learn from one another, communicate ideas and collaborate then please share. We must have a well of freely available helpful information in order to achieve any sort of autonomy. Please list your Latino digital group as a comment and I will create a list and publish it. We need to communicate, use each others previous work instead of repeating it and increase our growing momentum even further. I can feel it growing daily and am optimistic that we can do it. We must seize the moment and create what we need for ourselves.




Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Twitter for Organizations

Twitter for Organizations

Right now you're probably thinking, "Oh, no, not ANOTHER Twitter® tutorial!" Well, yes, this IS a Twitter® tutorial, but we're going to dig a little deeper. We'll cover the basics, then move on to organizational uses and searching. I'm hoping to impart some ideas and enthusiasm to friends in the library community as well as anyone else who might benefit. This tutorial takes for granted that the reader is already familiar with Twitter® and has a user account. For those who are not, and don't, a cheat sheet follows. The site address is http://Twitter.com/. Sign up for an account.

Why use Twitter® at all?

Twitter® creates a constant stream of updates from important sources. Twitter® is like RSS on steroids, or like having multiple (both local and international) television news reports open all at once, or like having your best friend’s opinions in combination with world famous experts' opinions—all available for questions and answers. It can also be likened to having the phone numbers of your favorite authors and artists at your fingertips. If you are an advocate, PR person, outreach librarian or technology person, Twitter® can be of great use to you and your community. This is a tool that can spread your message—whether it be an event, announcement, policy, informational resource, or just a friendly message to the community.

Organizational communication is fast changing due to social media. In many cases, these tools can be used to communicate internally and externally; they have exponential potential for market saturation. Twitter® recently emerged as a top communication tool and the uses are being investigated and exploited. As of this writing, new applications are being created based on Twitter®. Twitter® is a tool to consider utilizing when pondering news/communication tools, both personally and individually. For this article we will focus on organizational uses of Twitter®; individual usage will be covered in a later post.


Twitter® Cheat Sheet

Twitter® is what is known as a microblogging service. That is, a service that allows one to blog 140 characters at a time to a network built by the user--the "tweeter". Following are some terms of usage which you will find helpful.

Tweet: a 140-character or less post to a user account. "I am tweeting" means I am posting a 140-character post to my account, which can then be seen by my network (those who "follow" me). "I am reading tweets" means I am reading posts from others in my network.

To follow: a user follows others, which means that they see the tweets (status updates) of those individuals whom they have added to their Twitter® stream. When someone follows you, the user, this means that they have added you to their Twitter® stream and can read your tweets.

Reply: to respond to a user's tweet. When you respond, you must begin your post with this symbol: @, followed with the user's id of whom you are responding. For instance, if I were responding to my own account, I would type: "@maxmacias--you are always right, Max!" When you respond using "@reply", please know that these replies are public and may be seen by your entire network.

A mention: when someone replies to or forwards ("retweets") your tweet. Twitter® keeps track of your mentions; you can easily view them by clicking on the "mentions" link in your account.

RT (Retweet): to forward a message from your Twitter® stream to your network. This allows your network to see the tweet and to also pass it on to their respective networks. The retweet also sends the @id of the person originally posting the tweet and establishes a sort of provenance--an excellent way to broaden your network.

DM (Direct Message): a direct message you send to a user. This message is private and only goes to the specified user.

Hashtag: An informational keyword tag indicated by the # symbol which precedes it, i.e., #Iranelection. Hashtags are postings which can be searched for and easily found.

Search: Twitter® can be searched for keywords and hashtags via the search option on the right sidebar and @id names. Searches may be saved.

Twitpic: allows one to upload and share photos on Twitter®.



Outreach/PR

For most organizations including libraries, Twitter® can be a great outreach tool. Twitter® allows you to send out a constant stream of valuable (value-added) information about the library, historical events, lectures, concerts, new items available, links to library videos, interviews, podcasts and more. Twitter® is also an effective public relations tool, announcing press releases, organizational communications, general information and also targeting populations directly.

Fun!

Twitter® is fun. It's all about networking, sharing information and answering questions. The content—and the stimulation—is as rich as your network.

Phones and other devices

Twitter® and many Twitter® applications may be accessed on phones and other devices. This allows a wider access to information and a larger audience than the usual web content. The digital divide is interestingly being conquered by wireless carriers; at the very least, the carriers have had a huge impact in lessening the chasm.

FREE

Twitter® is free; it only takes an investment in people.

Ease of use

Twitter® is easy to use; with a bit of participation and networking, you will soon develop your own help network as well as helping others along the way.

Twitpic®

Photos can be shared by sending a link to your photos, or by posting to Twitpic®. This service tweets a link to your photos when you post them to the site (a handy tool to use with your phone camera). Photos are powerful; symbolic, they can carry strong messages to your network.

Some Considerations on Following Individuals and Organizations

Does the account you are considering provide information that is valuable to your organization?

Can you collaborate with this organization offline?

What organizations or individuals from outside the library field will benefit your organization?

What other fields would provide ideas and models that might be adapted to your organization?

How can you help others in their missions and goals?

Stay away from direct marketers, pornographic profiles, bots, and accounts that do not relate to your mission. Check profiles before following. Some profiles are bots or direct marketing types. A quick look at the profile and recent posts will tell you if you really want to follow that particular user.

Search: you can search from Twitter® looking for mentions of your id, your organization's id, or someone else’s id. You can also search for hashtags mentioned in the cheat sheet. Try searching for #iranelection. Look at the return and how it refreshes. When there is an event going on and people are tweeting and including the hashtag, all of the tweets will show up in your search. This can be a highly effective way to get a message out; marketers, artists and others come up with clever ways to get their hashtag trending (becoming a popular tag on Twitter®).


Follow Friday/Viva Viernes

Every Friday people tweet their favorite people to follow. This is a great way to network. After a certain amount of time your social capital (SC) is built up and you can endorse other users with authority. As you build your SC, you build trust with your followers. This is likened to a trusted news source whose sources and veracity of information check out when investigated. Participate in Follow Friday and you will build your SC much quicker.

Hashtags for FollowFriday/Vivaviernes:

#FF # followfriday #vivaviernes, etc…

Hashtags are trended at various sites on the web. One can gauge the popularity of a conversation by analyzing how many times the tag appears in conversations. The tag can “trend” which means that it ranks in popularity.

Here are three sites that show twitter trending topics:


http://tweetstats.com/trends

http://trendistic.com/

http://Twittersphere.com/




Twitter Campaigns

An organization can create a campaign by urging your network and communities to use a specific tag. This tag will trend and will show how popular your campaign gets.

Ability to Pump Out Tweets to Various Platforms

Your Twitter® feed can be pumped out to your blog, website, or other social networking sites with a Twitter® badge or widget.


Organizational Considerations


Internal Tweets

An organization can use #hashtags to post non-confidential internal tweets to employees.

Look at profiles

Make sure they are not bot, spammers, or direct marketers. Also be sure they are related to your organizational goals/mission.


Twitter Applications:

As you build your network it may seem overwhelming; you might want to use a Twitter® application (an outside vendor) to make your life easier.

There are several:


Hootsuite®

Peoplebrowsr

Tweetdeck ®

Ubertwitter


Characteristics of good Twitter® applications


Ability to store tweets for later answering/retweeting. Tracks links followers follow.

Better interfaces than Twitter®

Easy to reply, retweet, dm, etc…

Easy to follow, unfollow, etc…

Archiving of tweets

Allow you to tweet from multiple accounts and to tweet to your Facebook® status

The ability to group your followers into groups, i.e., news group, tech group, library group, etc.

Searching

An organization can perform a search utilizing several different search utilities for Twitter® or by asking their network or posting a direct question to people. There are a broad range of topics, anything from politics to web design. The access to specialized information is incredible!

Responsible and Privileged

Make sure the individuals who have been assigned to tweet for the organization are responsible.

Use multiple people to keep the posts interesting and diverse. This can be effective as Twitter® requires continuous interesting posting to build SC.

Policy

The organization should have a clear policy that addresses:

Appropriate language

Appropriateness of links provided

Non-political links and tweets

Tweet with the organizational mission in mind at all times

Individual vs. organizational Twitter® usage
The tweeters should understand they are representing the organization and that their personal viewpoints should never override information provided and should never dictate information shared or re-tweeted.

Assessment: How will the ROI be assessed? What will be considered successful? What are your benchmarks and how will you reach them?

Building community

Tweet organizational related material. Retweet information you know your network will appreciate. Do not argue, flame or use derogatory language when tweeting. Stay positive and friendly. Share, share, share. Be yourself and be genuine, but always remember you are a representative of the organization. Again, look for those who your organization can collaborate with and build off one another’s work. Cross—promotional opportunities abound in the world of Twitter® .

Contacting luminaries, artists, politicians, etc.

Accessing leaders in most fields is easy if they are using Twitter®. If one is interesting, and thoughtful, as well as being in possession of SC, then one can reach many important authorities in various fields to ask questions, or just to give thanks for their work. I myself have had the opportunity to thank some of my favorite authors and musicians via Twitter®. You never know where you will find the next valuable supporter.

Become a resource for those in your network

Provide information, respond to questions about best practices, calls for help, trending certain topics; be friendly and approachable.

You are the ambassador of your organization to the greater world when you tweet. Be a diplomat and train your tweeters to be diplomats and collaborators. Miscalculations like this:

Tweeting without thinking about ramifications can lead to things like this: Arnold and knife. Needless to say you don’t want negative PR issues to deal with. It is better to be disciplined in your tweets and to have well-trained tweeters for your organization.

Tweetups, Social Media clubs and groups

Look for local Tweetups (an offline gathering of localized, or special interest tweeters), Social Media clubs and groups. Depending on your field there may already be specialized groups, or perhaps you can start one in your area. There is strength in numbers and you can bounce ideas off one another, perhaps compare best practices and have presentations that are edifying to members.

Twitter cause banners/ribbons:

You can add a ribbon to your profile photo via services like this to show your support for a cause, organizations or person, etc…

Here is one site that can help you:

http://twibbon.com/



Links for Further investigation


Here are some links where you can learn more about using social media to enhance your organizational goals and mission.


Nancy White on the difference between a network and a community


Search Twitter


Social Media in Plain English



Twitter in Plain English


Drupal API for Twitter®



Mashable’s list of Twitter® tools.



Brian’s Blog PR 2.0:

He is smart and knows what he is talking about in relation to technology, communications and PR.

http://www.chrisbrogan.com/

Another smart guy who is sharp and interesting.


What is Whuffie?


Tara Hunt’s Blog


http://tv.winelibrary.com/

Gary Vee is amazing. Watch his videos and learn.

http://scobleizer.com/

Technology communications guru.

http://blog.guykawasaki.com/

Is a technology evangelist.

twittercompendium

The Twitter Compendium is designed to link you to news and information about Twitter, a global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: What are you doing? Answer on your phone, IM, or on the web

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Some Facebook Networking Strategies

It is all about relationships.  Even in subject search terms it is about relationships most often.  Lets try to build relationships that are mutually beneficial, create an atmosphere, or community even that allows questions to be asked, information to be shared, collaborations to take place and a structure for future generations. 



Since the recent announcement the Criticas is ceasing publication I've been thinking about how to supplement the ensuing vacuum with some meaningful content. 

So, to further this endeavor I've started a campaign to contact as many libraries and librarians as I can that speak Spanish, who are on Facebook.  If we build some sort of contact infrastructure, first by communicating with one another, and then implementing strategies to collaborate, share, and aid one another then we will go a long way toward filling the vacuum.  We can leverage the power of networking and collaboration to build something that will not be as threatened an entity as a magazine published by mainstream publishers.

With the technology available today we can create our own publishing processes, distribution channels and advertising campaigns. 

So, back to the campaign, search for and share with your friends librarians you meet who speak spanish, have an interest in serving Latinos, etc... and network! 

I search facebook for "Bibliotecarios (or variations of the term)."  When I befriend them and can also scan their friend list and send friend requests to other libraries or librarians who might be relevant to the campaign.

Next suggest these new friends who seem relevant as well.  Build the network, collaborate for community, create relationships that matter and inspire!






Sunday, March 1, 2009

Facebook Notes searching function needed...

It would be incredible if we could search our friend's notes. I've been interested in social-searching (searching friends, bookmarks, tweets, sending out questions to my entire FB friend list, and also targeting individuals on FB to ask questions.

If I could search my friend's notes on FB this would give me an even greater ability to social-search.

What do you think?

Is there anyone else interested in this area?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

Free story on identity...

This is a story I wrote in my 20's on identity and more:

The Bridge

Any comments would be helpful and appreciated.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mel Gibson--Stick to Mad Max, Jesus or Braveheart!

Mel Gibson--Stick to Mad Max, Jesus or Braveheart!
by Max Macias



"A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." Will Durant Quote




This quote above begins Mel Gibson’s newest work, Apocalypto. These words can be interpreted to mean that the Mayans and all Nican Tlaca cultures got what they deserved. Contained within this moral judgment is the justification that we received what we deserved as well. This is to say, the descendants of the savage ‘Aztecs, Mayans, and other Indians of the Americas’ are in their present social situation because of their past actions and rightfully so. This justifies the way things are and serves to build hatred against indigenous peoples, but more importantly it can also weaken our own self-worth. Some people will say that Apocalypto is just a movie, but it is not just a movie--this kind of work can and should be defined as propaganda. When you see something wrong about the way we are portrayed/treated/ it is your duty to stand up and say “No!”
Mr. Gibson an admitted propagandist! The Passion was made to gain Christian converts and to solidify belief. The Passion Attempts to justify Jesus’ sacrifice, and thereby justify Christianity. A work that justifies a political or religious ideal is propaganda! Why would we interpret this work any differently?
There are many aspects of a film; how well those aspects are created and executed dictates the quality of the work. Apocalypto is many things, but a good film it is not. The writing is unbelievable, the theme is non-existent, and the sets are a huge disappointment. Insults to the viewer and Mayan culture permeate the film. While the natural scenery in the film is at times quite beautiful, and the acting is good, these aspects do NOT excuse the movie.
This film fails on the fundamental level of believability. A movie asks the audience to believe what they experience. When an observer sees something on the screen that is clearly impossible—then their concentration on the story is spoiled and therefore their experience of the film as an uninterrupted event/work is ruined. The viewer’s attention goes from the film to questioning what they see. One of the basic rules of filmmaking (and of all theatre arts) is to not do this. Apocalypto repeats this fundamental mistake over and over again.

Story (condensed version—I know I left some details out)
A peaceful village of Mayan forest dwellers is attacked and the survivors are captured. As the village is under attack, the hero—Jaguar Paw—is able to hide his family down a hole. They become trapped in the hole. He promises to come back for them. Jaguar Paw and the other survivors are taken to a Mayan city where the women are sold into slavery, and the men are to be sacrificed. Most of the men escape sacrifice through a totally unbelievable episode. Jaguar Paw eventually escapes with a party of Mayan city dwellers in hot pursuit. He eventually kills most of them, and then makes it back to his village. The Mayan city dwellers finally catch up to him, but they see Europeans landing in their boats and are stunned. This allows Jaguar Paw to escape.
This story, while at times exciting, is unrealistic and unbelievable. Several opportunities arise upon which one could deepen the story, or build it up into something more than one level of meaning. ALL these chances are wasted and I was left totally disappointed. Mel asks us to believe that Jaguar paw can leap out of a tree and then outrun a jaguar—this was totally unbelievable and idiotic. I felt abused and misled by Mr. Gibson.

History or Cliche?

My mother and I went to see the movie together. She kept asking me throughout the movie, “Were they really like that?” And I kept telling her, “No, no, Mom….” I kept wondering how many people saw this movie and thought that it was super realistic and historically based. When and if this happens, a movie changes from being just a movie, to being propaganda justifying the dominant culture’s viewpoints. Film and television act as fundamental teaching utensils in American culture. Movies and TV display propaganda constantly. When this film goes to DVD and is played on television, millions of people will watch it and take it as historically accurate. They will believe that Mayans were diseased savages with no good qualities. I wonder how this will help relations between European culture and Nican Tlaca. Who will this movie help, and who will it hurt?
There are many problems that distract the viewer from what little there is of a story in this work. One way this occurs is with the overuse of clichés. A cliché, for those unfamiliar with the term, is a fancy way of saying overused idea. A sickening example is when Jaguar Paw, the hero of the film is just about to be sacrificed—guess what happens—no really—guess! Surprise, surprise—there is an eclipse at just that moment. The eclipse scares the Mayans, and then their priest declares that Kulkulkan has been satisfied. He needs no more sacrifices.
The above is one of the worst, and most overused clichés in film, television, and writing! In addition, everyone knows the Mayans were great astronomers and were superb mathematicians. How did they NOT know of the eclipse? Or did they know and were they misleading their people? Are you telling me they were unaware of eclipses? These kinds of questions created many moments of disbelief and ruined the film even more for me. Why would someone write something this bad? It is clearly insulting to the audience and ruins the viewer’s ability to believe what they are witnessing in the film. Again, the question of propaganda arises.
The other, far more insulting cliché is that right at the moment when the Mayans have caught up to, and are about to kill Jaguar Paw, the Europeans arrive. They actually save Jaguar Paw by stunning the Mayans and allowing Jaguar Paw to leave. This is the greatest insult in film since Dances with Wolves saves the Indians in that piece of work. The fact that it is historically inaccurate creates a belief in my mind that this is a work of propaganda by a religious fanatic who wants to establish that our people were/are savages for having their own religions and belief systems. It justifies how we were and are still treated.

“Those people practices human sacrifice!”

The focus on violence degrades the humanity of the Mayan civilization. The focus on the sadistic qualities of the Mayans in the picture was wrong. The Mayans had sacrifice, but it was highly ritualized, and not nearly as sadistic as portrayed in the film. There was not ONE redeeming quality in the Mayan city dwellers. If someone who is ignorant sees this film and takes it for history, then they will be glad to have gotten rid of those ‘savage civilizations.’ Again, I have to question if there was a religious or a cultural agenda going on with this movie.
Why do movies ALWAYS portray our people as savages? Our people were highly civilized and were superb mathematicians! Is there really some kind of political, religious, or other agenda going on? Just ask yourself about all the people who hate us, who want us gone. Where do they get these ideas, and how are they reinforced? Clearly, people like the minutemen and their allies, stormfront are ready to do almost ANYTHING to rid themselves of us. Then there are there are intellectuals like Samuel P. Huntington who is a racist bigot and works for Harvard University while writing bigoted propaganda! Why wouldn’t there be filmmakers, and other media types bent on portraying us in an unflattering manner? As we see today in Iraq, history repeats itself. We need to guard ourselves and call it as we see it. Point out the flaws in our ‘friends’ reasoning. If we don’t NOBODY else will!
Mr. Gibson’s work is an attack on us and should be seen as such. We will NOT stand for being portrayed as savages with nothing of substance to offer the world. We will not hate ourselves, and will remain proud and strong in our struggle against their interpretations of us. It is up to us to make films and literature that will portray our culture realistically. It is up to us to define ourselves and to write our OWN history! It is up to us to tell the truth.



Copyright Max Macias 2007

Monday, February 2, 2009

Hip-Hop and Web 2.0 (something I wrote a long time ago and haven't done anything with)

[If anyone is interested in this and wants to collaborate--get in touch with me please]


This is kind of an outline of the paper I want to write on hip-hop. Please give me your advice about how I could make it better.

I've noticed some striking similarities between hip-hop and our field--web 2.0 aspects and more.

Take for instance one fundamental aspect of hip hop--REMIXABILITY--one takes what one deems is valuable, and creates something new.

Mashups have been fundamental in hip hop since day one!


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remix


The fact that knowledge does not come from a vacuum, and pretty much EVERYONE who has contributed important knowledge to the world has had a teacher who's ideas the student REMIXED.

Take Franz Brentano for instance--he taught both Edumund Husserl and Freud, while Freud went on to teach Jung, and Husserl went on to teach Heidegger. The students REMIX their teachers work.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_of_Brentano

Tagging--hip hop tagging is placing one's mark on something, claiming it as one's own--this is what we do when we tag something in flickr, or whatever we use that gives us the option to TAG something. We can find it again, so with tagging, when one, or others see the tag they know who tagged it, and how often it comes up—how much the tagger has gotten “thrown up.”

Not only do we make it our own, but we also influence others. When someone tags a train they throw some art up there that is distinctive. I'm talking about bombs--where they don't just write their name as the tag, but they put on the train. If someone becomes familiar with these types of tags--they can tell which tagger is which and know their styles.


http://www.graffiti.org/


This is similar to the tagging we do on the web, and to how information is transferred between people--be it artistic style, or some other type of information. Our tagging can influence others through the discovery of new information that leads to the creation of new knowledge.



Also the fact that hip-hop and web 2.0 did NOT come from big corporations.

Hip Hop came from a small group of individuals, and web 2.0 also came from a relatively small group of individuals developing new ideas that were creative as well as social.

I mean when hip hop was first developed--the dj's would plug-in to the street lights and broadcast their mashups and new beats to the public, who in turn remixed this new information into knew knowledge to create something new. It was fully open-source and free. How beautiful can you get? This was actually a result of a remix from the Caribbean—dJ cool-herc came to nuy from there and brought the style, and influence of the Caribbean DJ’s who would put their systems on the backs of trucks and broadcast their shows to entire neighborhoods.


Do you know of anyone who has done any work on this?

I've never encountered it.

I think it can be a way to reach both people interested in libraries and hip hop.


What do you think?

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