Archive for January, 2010

Freedom to Choose: Division v. Connection

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Hillary Clinton

Photo by U.S. Department of State — United States Government Work United States Government Work

“‘Brotherhood and Freedom!’ Yuri, what splendid words.”

The sincerity of a protest march and the brutality that follows in David Lean’s film portrayal of Boris Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago perfectly captures how optimistic words for justice can result in utter savagery.

Yet, we cannot resist the hope and promise of new words for new worlds.

Last week might have been a turning point in the march to brotherhood and freedom for the online world.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech at the Newseum in Washington, DC on January 21, 2010 will be remembered for its global call for government responsibility and the opportunity for citizen action.

“We stand for a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas.”

Clinton, whose tone-deaf chant of “Go to www.HillaryClinton.com” during her presidential campaign cemented an image of a politician out of touch with a movement in her own party, has clearly been learning lessons from her boss. In her speech, she noted that President Obama believes that “the more freely information flows, the stronger societies become. He spoke about how access to information helps citizens hold their own governments accountable, generates new ideas, encourages creativity and entrepreneurship.”

In other words, the online access makes better citizens, and can better governments.

Clinton is aware of the web’s ease at disseminating misinformation, let alone platforms to spew hatred: “And technologies with the potential to open up access to government and promote transparency can also be hijacked by governments to crush dissent and deny human rights.”

However, history has also shown that noble citizens can demand noble politicians. Clinton’s speech is a rallying cry to choose connection over division:

“The Berlin Wall symbolized a world divided and it defined an entire era. Today, remnants of that wall sit inside this museum where they belong, and the new iconic infrastructure of our age is the internet. Instead of division, it stands for connection.”

As Clinton rightly noted, our current approach to information networks has formed “a new nervous system of our planet.”

Here’s hoping that we will live in a future where authoritarian governments and their politicians will be the ones who deserve to be nervous.

- Bill Reichblum

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Help Haiti

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Earthquake In Haiti

Photo by Matthew Marek/American Red Cross — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Our heart goes out to Haiti.

Global Voices has posted citizen videos and ongoing blog updates from Haiti to further our understanding of the earthquake’s impact and donor opportunities.

For your convenience, and with our encouragement, here is a list of organizations that are taking direct contributions to help the victims:

Action Against Hunger
American Jewish World Service
Beyond Borders
CARE
Catholic Relief Services
Childcare Worldwide
Church World Service
Direct Relief International
Episcopal Relief and Development
Feed My Starving Children
Food for the Poor
Friends of the World Food Program
Google Crisis Response
Grassroots International
Haitian Health Foundation
Hope for Haiti
International Medical Corps
International Relief Teams
International Rescue Committee
Medical Teams International
Meds and Food for Kids
Medicins Sans Frontieres
Mercy Corps
One World
Oxfam America
Partners in Health
Red Cross or text <HAITI> to 90999 to donate $10
Salvation Army
Samaritan’s Purse
Save the Children
UNICEF
World Concern
World Vision
Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti or text <YELE> to 501501 to donate $5

To contact Haitian festivals see their links here.

- Bill Reichblum

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George Lucas Knows Your Future

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Cheesehead

Photo by Santiago Bilinkis — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

George Lucas knows best. He has succeeded at the center of art (see films), business (see technology development), and marketing (see any kids’ bedroom). When he talks about the future of technology’s impact on audiences, it’s worth listening.

Producers are afraid for the future of audiences, both for the cinema and for live events. It’s not just that 3-D is coming to your home television set. Technology continues to enhance the ease and comfort of watching almost anything in your own home. Why go out?

This week, thousands of presenters, artists and their managements are gathered at the annual APAP (Association of Performing Arts Presenters) conference. Session after session wonders who their audience is, worries about where they will come from, and strategizes over to how to win them back. There will be an audience, right?

George Lucas says yes, absolutely. He knows there will be an audience for the cinema, for the theatre, and for the concert hall. Why? Because of football. It’s the Green Bay Packers theory of audience development.

The Packers are a football team based in Wisconsin. They are a small market team, far from any major city. It’s not a wealthy area. It’s not even much of a place to visit. It is also cold — very cold, especially during the football season. Yet, every game sells out. Even though the game is also shown locally on television, the game sells out. Even though football is one of the few sports that can be seen better on television, the game sells out.

Lucas believes the games sell out because audiences want to be together, want to scream together, even want to be freeze together to be part of something. As long as the Green Bay Packers sell-out for football games, all of us who live for attracting audiences are safe.

Of course, Lucas also points out the responsibility to make the experience event worthy. We have to create a reason for the audience to come out of their houses to be together, and sometimes to freeze together.

He is on the road these days promoting his new book, Blockbusting, which delves into some of Hollywood’s more notable films that attained financial success and cultural impact. Can you think of anyone who knows audiences better?

May the force of George Lucas be with us and our audience.

- Bill Reichblum

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