“Whisper” Goes Quiet 1/18/12 to Protest SOPA & PIPA

Protest The “Protect IP Act”

Many websites are blacked out today Weds. January 18, 2012 to protest proposed U.S. legislation that threatens internet freedom: the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA).
From personal blogs to giants like WordPress and Wikipedia, sites all over the web — including this one — are asking you to help stop this dangerous legislation from being passed. Learn how this legislation will affect internet freedom and please take action.

According to Gizmodo,  “The momentum behind the anti-SOPA movement has been slow to build, but we’re finally at a saturation point. Wikipedia, BoingBoing, WordPress, TwitPic: they’ll all be dark on January 18th. An anti-SOPA rally has been planned for tomorrow afternoon in New York. The list of companies supporting SOPA is long but shrinking, thanks in no small part to the emails and phone calls they’ve received in the last few months.”

So what is SOPA? or PIPA? At first, it sounds like a good idea–it is supposed to protect content providers. But Gizmodo argues that “SOPA is an anti-piracy bill working its way through Congress that would grant content creators extraordinary power over the internet which would go almost comedically unchecked to the point of potentially creating an “Internet Blacklist” while exacting a huge cost from nearly every site you use daily and potentially disappearing your entire digital life while still managing to be both unnecessary and ineffective but stands a shockingly good chance of passing unless we do something about it.”

So call. Or email. If you’re a subscriber, go see the site for yourself–there’s plenty posted today about ways you can show your protest. Then boycott the internet yourself.

After I post this and publicize this, by 930am I am planning on joining in as well and staying off the internet today. This site will be “dark” from 8am-8pm and post a flag and info about the issue until January 24, 2012.

25 Ways to Build A Better Blog

While content is both King (and Queen!) when it comes to producing a well-received blog, how do you improve the writing? How do you find content? How do you increase your readership?

The following blog post from The Write Alley Coaching and Writing Strategies gives you 25 ideas about how to build a better blog. While the post targets business bloggers, the tips apply to just about any blogging that someone wants to do–and many of the suggestions apply to writing in general.

I found a great blog post today full of useful tips to build a brilliant business blog and I encourage you to check it out. It also got me thinking about a few of my own tips about writing and blogging, so to get you started, here are four of my tips, and a few of their 21 Tips to total 25 ways to better your blog, whether it be for business or pleasure. Tip 1: Write regularly. Writers become better writers by writing. There’s no shortcut. Invest … Read More

via The Write Alley

A Request from Brent Staples to remove “Black Men and Public Space”

I received the following email today:

Ms. Alley.
I hope this finds you well.
you have posted on your “write alley” website my essay “black men and public space” otherwised titled “Walk On By: a black man ponders his power to alter public space.’
The piece is COPYRIGHTED material and should not be posted.
Could you please take it down?

Thanks much
Brent Staples

Here’s my email in response:

Dear Mr. Staples,

I would be happy to do so, and will do so immediately.

My community college students all purchase a textbook, 50 Essays edited by Samuel Cohen, which includes your essay. My students write about your essay for a midterm exam and I put it online so students who forget their textbook will have access to it.

And since I have your attention, let me say thank you for the use of your essay during the past few semesters. It has generated many valuable class discussions and has also developed the vocabulary of my students.

best, gwendolyn

I’m disappointed that Brent Staples made this request but I understand why. I know what it’s like to feel like your content is stolen and distributed around the web, often to the benefit of someone else’s bank account. (Note I don’t make any money off of this blog; the money from any ads you might see goes to WordPress.)

I have taken the posting to “private” so it is no longer available to readers so if you click on the link, it won’t take you to the original posting.

Here is Brent Staples essay “Black Men and Public Space” which was first published in Ms and widely anthologized since. Not all versions are exactly the same. According to the site where I found it, this version came from Harpers 12/86. The numbers refer to the paragraphs; when citing this essay, reference paragraph numbers instead of page numbers.

1. My first victim was a woman–white, well-dressed, probably in her late twenties. I came upon her late one evenin … Read More

via whisper down the write alley

Seth Godin on Mediocre Professors

Are you paying for your own education? Are you in school to learn or for a grade? What are your motives, your goals? Are you in it just for yourself? Are you part of the problem or the solution?

“This is costing me a fortune, prof! Push us! Push yourself!” writes Seth Godin in a recent blog post.

Read more:


Blog Action Day 2010 Friday: water water everywhere but is there enough to drink? (via art predator)

Students, you are strongly encouraged to participate in Blog Action Day! It’s this Friday but you can write a post anytime and schedule it to publish on Friday, October 15.

Blog Action Day 2010 Friday: water water everywhere but is there enough to drink? This Friday’s Blog Action Day focusing on water  has attracted some heavy hitter bloggers, namely, the White House and the UK Foreign Office will both be joining blogging about water October 15, and more will be announced as the week progresses. Will you be joining in? It only takes a few seconds to register your blog for Blog Action Day 2010. Can you help spread the word about this year’s Blog Action Day Friday October 15? Send an email to fello … Read More

via art predator

LA Times OP-ED: Texters, you’d be better off driving drunk – latimes.com

Students, there’s a time and a place for texting. It’s not while you’re in a classroom learning and it’s not in the car while you’re driving.

Op-Ed Essay from latimes.com by Michael Fumento
published Sunday October 3, 2010 A 27

“Border collie jill surveying the view from atop the sand dune.” Those were the last words of Malibu plastic surgeon Frank Ryan, best known for “reconstructing” reality TV star Heidi Montag. It’s not quite up there with “Et tu, Brute?” Yet it seemed important enough for him to text it just before driving off a cliff in August. Jill survived.

We don’t know what the message was in a 2007 accident involving the sender and her four fellow New York high school cheerleaders. But it probably wasn’t worth slamming head-on into a truck, killing them all. And the 2008 Chatsworth train collision, in which 25 people died and more than 100 were injured, was officially attributed to the engineer of the Metrolink commuter train being distracted by text messaging.

Unfortunately, laws intended to deal with the problem of texting while driving, a major topic at the Transportation Department’s Distracted Driving Summit on Sept. 21, reflect vital misunderstandings about why a cellphone combined with a moving vehicle can be so deadly and how to deal with it.

Texting while driving can be more dangerous than driving while swigging Jack Daniels, according to studies. Continue reading

A Baker’s Dozen of the Most Popular Posts

Except for the home page (8, 470 page views), here are the top 13–a Baker’s Dozen–of the most popular posts in this blog along with their page views. Obviously, readers come here looking for texts and information about them. Click to read.

Brent Staples: “Black Men and Public Spa 6,638
“Little Things” aka “Popular Mechanics” 6,355
Go Forth: Walt Whitman, Levis, & Ellyn Maybe 4,252
Thoreau: where I lived and what I lived 1,293
2 Poems by Charles Bukowski: “Bluebird” 1,180
“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I 1,167
Silko’s Ceremony: Notes, Links, Question 926
ideas to consider while considering Ride 896
One Act Play: Riders to the Sea by JM Synge 759
John Muir’s “Hetch Hetchy Valley” 717
Nanao Sakaki: Breaks the Mirror 1923-2009 704
Miracle Glass: poem by Charles Simic 572
Austin Kleon’s Mind Map of John Berger 503


I found this image on danah boyd’s blog apophonia; it originally came from  here. I figured my summer school students could use a laugh about now…

Blogger danah boyd was just named as the smartest academic in tech. She’s a researcher at Microsoft Research New England and a Fellow at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society who received her PhD from the School of Information at UC-Berkeley and now lives in Boston, MA with her cat (which is NOT pictured at left). Buzzwords in her world include: public/private, identity, context, youth culture, social network sites, social media. She blogs to express random thoughts about whatever she’s thinking.

So I’m now following her on twitter and intend to keep tabs on her blog as well.

3 Steps to Take BEFORE You Start A Blog

So you want to start a blog for yourself, for business, or for school? Here’s 3 steps you should take BEFORE you register your blog.

Step 1: Gather materials

Gather materials for your new site. These may include written text documents, jpgs, youtube videos. Collect everything including links you think you might want to put on your website to tell the story you want to share.  If your blog is for a business, and you have a business plan, bring that.  I recommend you put everything you think you might use onto a portable drive. In particular, you’ll want a mission statement about your business or about the purpose of your blog plus a brief biographical statement about yourself written in third person (don’t use “I”).  If you already have a website, you will be able to get material from it (and link it to your blog). So you’ll want to drafts and bring these materials.

Step 2: Research your URL

Use Google and other search engines to see if anyone has “your” name and variations of it online.  As you search, note what else comes up.

Step 3: Go to http://wordpress.com

At WordPress.com, explore some of the “freshly pressed” sites.  Take a few notes on how they are organized.

–Which ones do you respond to positively?
–What don’t you like about some sites?
–Which names catch your attention?
–“Theme” names (at the bottom)

Learn more about blogging, social media and writing workshops by visiting the The Write Alley. We offer monthly workshops at Bell Arts Factory.

NOTE to my Ventura College English 2 Summer School students: Do the first three steps (gather materials, research and determine the name of your blog, look at some examples) by Tuesday June 29 when we will go to the lab to start our blogs.

University students: want to win a trip to Africa?

NICHOLAS KRISTOF wants to take YOU to Africa!


Nick Kristof wrote in his Sunday column about his 2010 Win-a-Trip contest where he’ll take a university student with him on a reporting trip to Africa, giving that student a chance to blog for nytimes.com and to file videos to The Times and Youtube.

According to Kristof, the contest is open to students at American universities – either undergraduates or graduate students – who are 18 years old or over. Consult the full rules for more about eligibility. To apply write an essay of up to 700 words, or a video of up to three minutes, or both. Send the essay to winatrip@nytimes.com. Post the video Youtube www.youtube.com/NicholasKristof, next to the video invitation for applications. Explain why you should be picked to go.

The Center for Global Development will narrow applications down to a group of finalists from which Kristof and assistant Natasha Yefimov will pick a winner. Key attributes include: someone with excellent communication skills, who can blog and vlog (video blog) in ways that will capture the interest of other students. Experience blogging, vlogging or journalism should be mentioned as well as anything else special.Previous winners include
—  journalism student  Casey Parks who had never been outside the U.S. and had grown up poor, in the deep South.
–medical student Leana Wen and teacher Will Okun,  a superb, funny writer and a talented still photographer
— Paul Bowers  a thoughtful and sizzling writer with superb recommendations

The application deadline is a minute before midnight, Eastern Time, on Monday, Jan 18; the winner will be chosen by February and travel commences in April, May or June and will last about 10 days.

Just in case you don’t win, Kristof suggests exploring the following opportunities: Self-Employed Women’s Association of India and BRAC in Bangladesh,  both accept some volunteers. Those interest in health, might go to the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital in Somaliland, Africa. Teach English to brothel children in Calcutta at an anti-trafficking organization called New Light, run by Urmi Basu or contact World Teach that can connect you to possibilities to teach English abroad, from Namibia to Micronesia.

Read the complete column.