Charles Brantley Aycock: A Monumental Lie

charles brantley aycock

To make a point, I’ve tweaked one line from the glowing write-up Charles Brantley Aycock received at The Architect Of The Capitol site, which proudly displays his memorial bronze, to read:

Charles Brantley Aycock was born on November 1, 1859, on a farm near Fremont in Wayne County, North Carolina. Though his father died when he was 15, his mother and older brothers recognized his abilities and determined that he should go to college.

After graduating from the University of North Carolina in 1880 with first honors in both oratory and essay writing, he entered law practice in Goldsboro and supplemented his income by teaching school. His success in both fields led to his appointment as superintendent of schools for Wayne County and to service on the school board in Goldsboro.

His political career began in 1888 as a presidential elector for Grover Cleveland, when he gained distinction as an orator and political debater. From 1893 to 1897 he served as U.S. attorney for the eastern district of North Carolina, and he was elected governor in 1900 after participating as a primary conspirator in the murderous 1898 Wilmington Race Riot, which proved to be the one and only coup d’etat in United States history.

His greatest achievement in office was in education, to which he was dedicated after watching his mother make her mark when signing a deed. He felt that no lasting social reform could be accomplished without education. He supported increased salaries for teachers, longer school terms, and new school buildings; almost 3000 schools were built during his administration. Other reforms he supported included laws to establish fair election machinery, to prevent lynching, to erect a reformatory for boys, and to restrict child labor. He resumed his law practice in 1905, but in 1911 he yielded to pressure to seek the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate. He died on April 4, 1912, while campaigning.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the time, nor the energy to get into a battle to add the contextual facts to his Wikipedia entry or confront the University of North Carolina at Greensboro administration over their similarly named auditorium.

Sources:

The Greensboro Massacre On Steroids

wilmingtonraceriot

Exactly eighty-one years before the mess of 11/3/1979, a coalition of white leaders and white supremacists took to the streets in Wilmington, North Carolina, killing over a hundred African-Americans in the process of performing a coup d’etat.

The Wilmington Race Riot of 1898 was tragic on three distinct levels:

  1. A group of white political and business leaders stole an election, where African-Anericans had successfully served in positions of local government just 25 years following the end of the Civil War.
  2. Not content with the speed of the political change over, the newly “elected” powers overthrew the established leaders by launching a riot, resulting in the hundreds of deaths, while driving numerous more African-Americans out of town.
  3. The progressive nature of African-Anerican citizenship and inter-racial political cooperation in North Carolina absolutely preceded the national civil rights movent of the 50’s and 60’s. This one event completely reversed the course of civil rights in all of North Carolina and served as a signal to the nation that African-Americans continued to have zero civil rights.

Fun fact: The next five governors of North Carolina had all participated in the coup and riot of 1898, including former governor Charles B. Aycock. Greensboro residents should be distinctly familiar with that name.

The 1898 Wilmington Race Riot Commission released their report just five days after the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission‘s report went public. Considering that the events of ’79 pale in comparison to the massacre – coup d’etat of ’98, and based on the often chilly, local conversation surrounding the GTRC report, I can only guess how many supposed “progressive” North Carolinians will view the recommendations of the State President of the NAACP, let alone the final recommendations to come later this year.

Not to sound like a PSA, but our collective, understood history too often defines our future actions in defining community. For those of you with limited time to investigate this issue, take a listen to this amazing State of Things broadcast, which dissects the history of the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot, provides context to the political and cultural isses of the day and discusses how the NC State legislature might proceed from the soon-to-be published recommendations.

(hat tip: Andy)

Should Link Love Pay The Rent?

Citizen media is an authentic media.

The amateur (Etymology: French, from Latin amator lover, from amare to love) doesn’t create out of a responsibility to a deadline or a paycheck; the amateur creates out of a love for the process, the output, the feedback, the very notion of creativity itself. And in this new world of interconnectivity, the availibility of our tangibly crafted desires and dreams has increased exponentially.

We are connected.

connected
photo by Mexicanwave

And entrepreneurs are taking notice.

We’re quickly moving towards a period where a good chunk of the web will be explicitly designed (or re-designed) to take advantage of such authentic creativity. The old 1.0 slogan “Content is king” didn’t die off—it simply redefined itself through the lens of the passionate, authentic amateur.

YouTube and flickr have captured the very essence of what makes video and photography communities, respectively, thrive.

  • Instantaneous feedback and discourse
  • The ability to shelve favorites
  • Discovery of new objects based on meshed interests with other community members
  • Being able to add friends and join/start groups to extend the conversation

Between the commitment to upload massive amounts of media and the amount of time and effort one invests participating in these communities, the “throwaway” gap that previously existed for most web services (think about web analytic services or even a blogging platform) has practically disappeared. These particular domains aren’t ripe for member disengagement anymore based on a single bad experience, as they’ve progressed to becoming a part of our psyche, partially defining us through the connections our authentic media creates with others and vice-versa.

Though, as much as I believe in the potential of interconnected authentic media to inform, inspire, entertain and generate new communities, I equally believe that our media should not be leveraged from afar to pay someone else’s bills without explicit financial returns from the ecosystem. So if this perspective became a reality, would it cause authentic media to cease being authentic? Is this perspective just an excuse for a low entry point into the mainstream media ecosystem? I don’t think so.

From Kevin Kelly and The New York Times, Scan This Book:

[…] We see this effect most clearly in science. Science is on a long-term campaign to bring all knowledge in the world into one vast, interconnected, footnoted, peer-reviewed web of facts. Independent facts, even those that make sense in their own world, are of little value to science. (The pseudo- and parasciences are nothing less, in fact, than small pools of knowledge that are not connected to the large network of science.) In this way, every new observation or bit of data brought into the web of science enhances the value of all other data points. In science, there is a natural duty to make what is known searchable. No one argues that scientists should be paid when someone finds or duplicates their results. Instead, we have devised other ways to compensate them for their vital work. They are rewarded for the degree that their work is cited, shared, linked and connected in their publications, which they do not own. They are financed with extremely short-term (20-year) patent monopolies for their ideas, short enough to truly inspire them to invent more, sooner. To a large degree, they make their living by giving away copies of their intellectual property in one fashion or another. […]

Scientists “are rewarded for the degree that their work is cited, shared, linked and connected in their publications, which they do not own.” If we were to view authentic media creations as nodes of input, for which entrepreneurs can generate beyond-hyperlink synapses of interconnectivity, the difference between the goals of science and the intrinsic behavior of the web would be rather slim.

This is where the conversation shifts to the concerns of the elite to the desire of the commons.

What side of the aisle do you sit?

UPDATE: Can we do this together?

The Life Span Of A Perspective

marc-ecko

SOHH.com, Jane Bolden
Ecko Responds to Vegas Mayor’s Thumb Chopping Suggestion…

[…] Last week, (Marc) Ecko, chairman and founder of Ecko Unltd., approached Mayor Goodman about his comments via a letter titled “Re: Taggers, Thumbs and Graffiti Art.”

“You recently suggested chopping off tagger’s thumbs and subjecting them to public canings and whippings,” Ecko wrote in the letter obtained by SOHH. “Your comments garnered national attention. I heard them and reflected upon your frustration and anger. You may be surprised to learn that I share some of your concerns about public defacement and vandalism. I simply believe in a different approach.

“First, graf should be celebrated and encouraged, not demeaned or attacked,” he added. “It is art. It is expression. It is a form of social commentary. It provokes thought and debate,” Ecko continued. “Second most graffiti writers—whom you apparently perceive as being a threat to civilized society—are legitimate and talented artists. Some are entrepreneurs who aspire to design fashion brands, for example, like mine. Many are just searching for an outlet to express their creative energy and establish a name for themselves.”

Ecko concluded the letter telling Mayor Goodman that he would like to meet him next week. “I will be in Las Vegas May 8-9; I’d like to meet you. I’d like you to show me the artistry of your City, while we discuss the finer points of graf and your anti-graffiti ordinances. I’d like to teach you how graf can be a positive form of artistic expression… We can auction off whatever we create, with the proceeds going to the Las Vegas charity of your choice. We can show the people of Las Vegas that graf art, properly created and distributed, is a powerful and effective tool of change.” […]

I do understand why property owners don’t care for graffiti, and why law enforcement (and Malcolm Gladwell) believe that tagging leads to the creation of a social climate susceptable to crime, but I also understand the desire to tag.

Graffiti, in all of it’s various forms, is a complex form of social expression — part peer pressure, part artistic endevour, part shot of self-esteem, part communication. And while a great majority of graffiti doesn’t speak to me personally, when it does, it blows me away — both exposing and reinforcing perspectives and creativity that I might never have become exposed to otherwise.

Look, graffiti artists know that their tags and creations aren’t permanent forms of expression. Tags in the real have a longer average shelf-life than a conversation at a pub, but less than as an expression on canvas. Property owners and municiple government have every right to remove graffiti from their property, yet that legal right is partially what fuels the intent of the artists / taggers themselves. It’s a complex issue.

That is, if you even believe it’s an issue… let alone one to chop thumbs over.

UPDATE: Australia Talks Back covers these very issues.

SXSW2006: Bruce Sterling – The State of the World

*Note* Live blogging will miss nuance and won’t be an exact representation of the speaker’s intent.

bruce sterling sxsw 2006

Bruce Sterling isn’t throwing a party this year, but he’s loving the bubble echo of this 2.0 SXSW2006 get together. He says “enjoy it while you can.”

He’s loving flickr and Wikipedia; companies that are completely unlike anything else, opening up their API’s to create platforms, not sites. What a contrast to standard, American business.

Only in America… where dying phone companies lobby the government as if they’re Indian casinos. […] Are people in Washington drinking their own bathwater? The guys in power are so eager to monetize the web, they’re turning America into Banana Republic with rockets.

Get his book: Visionary In Residence

Serbia is absolutely dysfunctional and Sterling has a ringside seat. He’s global, as many more are becoming. His Austin stead collects mail, while he bounces around the world. “National borders are like speed bumps.” America is a state at war. “The dollar is low compared to the Euro, which should be in intensive care.”

Creationism is an intellectual calamity.

al Quada bomb mosques. How many are enough? (we Americans don’t give a fuck about the “near enemy” issue). When the culture war is over—we are within a culture war—one doesn’t get to say “I served on this side.”

We’re on a slider bar between the unthinkable and the unimaginable. We’ve got a fire in a theater, but the exit signs are just a bunch of glowing letters in jumble.

Warren Ellis: “The spread of the possible futures and the people on the ground figuring out how to use them.”

Unimaginable does not mean catastrophic, nor does unthinkable.

The word: Spime – In 2004, Sterling did a speech at SIG-GRAPH and spoke of spime. It’s not a word; it’s a tag. It’s a theory object. William Gibson’s cyberspace is a conceptual realization. We’ll never have that, but the word is now passe.

Spime is a speculative imaginary object:

  • An interactive chip, unique identity, It’s got a tag
  • Local precise positioning system
  • A powerful search engine, auto-Googling object
  • Evolved in cradle to cradle recycling
  • 3D virtual models of objects; a product of CAD cams
  • Rapidly prototyped, it’s a fabject — a laser-centered model

If 21st century objects had these qualities, people would interact in unimaginable ways. Spimes begin and end as data. We want to do it to build an internet of things; engage from the moment of invention to the moment of decay. It’ll feel like auto-magical inventory voo doo. I ask, and I’m told. I Google to find my shoes. This concept needs distributive participation.

The semantic wit is turning into the wetlands of language.

A theory object is a platform of development. The 20th century could not write, think in this way. Theory objects can have permalinks, trackbacks, databases, etc. This is why the legacy media is going down, because legacy people don’t get it.

We need to become the change we want to see. Make no decision out of fear. None! (my emphasis).

Globalization needs to be understood culturally. Leaders are culpable, but the people are complicit. A society that lived in a locked closet and fed on their own illusions (Serbia). How different are we? Evil has a face in the world; people who don’t like people who don’t buy into their parochial bullshit.

But time passes with historical perspective.

Sterling closes by quoting Carl Sandburg. Picture 1937, the age of depression, WWII at the door…:

The people, yes

The people will live on.
The learning and blundering people will live on.
They will be tricked and sold again and again sold
And go back to the nourishing earth for rootholds.
The people so peculiar in renewal and comeback,
You can’t laugh off their capacity to take it.
The mammoth rests between his cyclonic dramas.
The people so often sleepy, weary, enigmatic,
Is a vast huddle with so many units saying:

“I earn my living.
I make enough to get by
And it takes all my time.
If I had more time
I could do more for myself and maybe for others.
I could read and study
And talk things over
And find out about things.
It takes time.
I wish I had the time.”

The people
With the tragic and comic two faced hero and hoodlum
Phantom and gorilla
Twisting to moan with the gargoyle mouth
They buy me and sell me
It’s a game
Sometime I’ll break loose
This old anvil, laughs at many broken hammers
There are men that can’t be bought!
Fire borne or at home with fire
The stars make no noise
You can’t hinder the wind from blowing
Time is a great teacher
Who can live without hope?
In the darkness with a great bundle of grief the people march.
In the night, and overhead a shovel of stars for keeps, the people march:

Where to? What next?

—–

I didn’t finish my live-blog of Bruce Sterling’s brilliant speech; I couldn’t.

In the midst of his swaying through global references of humanity, ubiquitous concepts and reflective precision, Sterling briefly mentioned the humanity of the Serbian people, how they still gather to listen to poets speak and grown men openly weep within their shared language, as if their hearts were still broken.

I felt that.

When Sterling hit the very first line of Carl Sandburg’s poem, he began to weep; I immediately closed my laptop and felt the words of a man in the midst of a depression tumble out of the mouth of a man in the midst of privilege.

Bruce passionately pressed on, as each word struck a newly discovered nerve, setting off a choked up throat, a twist in his chair and freshly drawn tears. And I wept with him.

My last words at SXSW2006

Each of us—the creators and collaborators in this 2.0 revolution of media, communication, services—are the new leaders of this world.

Each of us.

The choices we make will shape our world; from the choice to harness our personal voice to the choice of developing real relationships with our fellow human beings to the choice of creating innovative, enabling worlds of objects in-between…

There is nothing else but choice; don’t think for a moment that there isn’t.

So the next time you come up with a brilliant service idea, try going that extra step to make it just that much more useful for your neighbor… or for that family living on the other side of the tracks… or for that child who was born into a depressed world where jobs are scarce, people are starving, and war is on the horizon. Because this world exists.

Thank you, Bruce.

UPDATE: Full Audio

SXSW2006 Day Five: Democratization of the Moving Image

rocketboom
Andrew Baron and Amanda Congdon are Rocketboom.

We are in an interesting time, as production tools for mass communication are dirt cheap and accessible.

Rocketboom:

An interesting intersection of blogging, TV over IP, radical advertising, etc. […] The art of the possible.

  • Personal filters (media, people they meet, events, etc.) – always on the lookout for more information.
  • Design – “One of the most important aspects of Rocketboom is… interface design; making the interface comfortable and easy to use.” The simplicity of the interface equals the experience for all viewers/users.
  • Global – “Audience is scattered all around the world. Correspondants are in Kenya, Prague, all over the States.” Very interested in global stories. Rocketboom.jp just launched to communicate from Japan, presenting video stories which isn’t language-centric.
  • Time – “Time is power.” Whoever has information before another will have a huge advantage. Large organizations cannot be agile enough to move fast. Rocketboom is daily, so it becomes habit-forming. “Simple concepts, but so important to us and our success. It’s worth considering them in-depth.”
  • Consequence – Unlike other business models built on one, two year business plans, Rocketboom deals with consequences in the moment. They’re able to shift their approaches in the moment to take advantage of emerging opportunities. Being open to change is huge.
  • Interactive – 25% of Rocketboom stories are user-generated. Then there are comments, emails with viewers, etc. They feel very strongly about the communities this interaction with viewers build. This medium is interactive, so even though a user is digesting video, it’s not TV.

The show is already available on cell phones (thanks to a fan hack), TiVo viewers, PSP and iTunes.

SXSW2006 Day 4: Cluetrain: Seven Years Later

docsearls
Doc Searls

On marketing consulting:

There’s money to be made in prolonging the problem.

On the title:

The cluetrain stopped there (Silicon Valley) four times a day, but never made a delivery.

How the book came after the site received a buzz:

The book deal got worked out based on how much consulting money wey’d have to give up.

Companies that get it:

  • Dresdner Kleiner Wasserstein; the CIO completely bought into Cluetrain through Rageboy.
  • Microsoft is a huge blogging community.
  • Sun microsystems is trying to retain people, so they encourage blogging as well.

On the future of 2.0 and women in the mix:

There’s going to be a huge explosion of indie film and video production… the larger trend is independence… and women are best served to manage these communities.

heatherarmstrong
Heather Armstrong

Heather stumbled into the marketing department of Nikon. She posts images and labels them with, “Shot by a Nikon XXX” and her audience is now buying the camera by the thousands. The problem? She’s having issues with the camera and Nikon isn’t paying her. So there’s guilt and then there’s justifiable bitterness.

When will companies get it?:

Cluetrain will be realized when BestBuy goes out of business.

Brian Clark

On the web:

Less than entranced of the web as human-computer interaction (as oppossed to cd-rom).

On productivity:

Cluetrain predicts the idea that we can work smarter than that.

On the future of business models:

Ad agencies are starting to build around groups of freelancers, thereby reducing traditional organization, and increasing collaboration.

Q&A

Before getting into the question of how do we empower individuals, I told Heather that I’ve been dooced twice; once when blogs were just web sites, and once within the thriving blogosphere. She asked me, “didn’t you listen to me?” and I laughed it off with a no, but the truth is strange. I didn’t get dooced twice for shitting on my boss or coworkers, I got dooced for openly talking about how smart we were being within our company(s) at the time. Yes, I got dooced for having pride in our work and sharing it. Nothing secretive or clandestine, just for daring to speak to people and not go through “proper” channels. That’s a big difference.

As for empowering bloggers to a point of sustainability, I understand Doc’s response. Blogs will provide monetary returns via the relationships and opportunities they create—through the development of respected, personal perspectives and grass roots authenticity (sorry for paraphrasing, but this is a post-lunch wrap-up). That’s all good, but my question (which I didn’t quite get out) was more about how do we empower the voices around the US and the world who might be online, but are scraping to get by and don’t (or can’t) see the benefit of sharing their voice.

I feel reaching a critical mass of participation is important; not because I necessarily want to experience *everyone’s* POV, but because the chance that you or I might discover these voices is an extremely powerful, politically empowering concept, as down the road, a yet to be designed interface will make discovering such varient perpsectives within a huge ecosystem of information rather simple. So to get a critical mass, a potential monetary incentive might become the tipping point for participation.

So my original question remains; how can we develop implicit hooks between bloggers and businesses? Maybe it’s not about that direct hook either; maybe it’s about creating an algorithm service which can sense when a blog reaches:

  • a readership tipping point
  • a query match tipping point (enough people land on x site because they were looking for y)
  • a tagging tipping point (enough posts fill the context of a particular topic that matches a business’s controlled vocabulary of value keywords [matching services, inventory, etc.])
  • a local readership tipping point (based on a radius from the “home” of the blogger)

This way, community based small businesses can be alerted to potential local blog advertising possibilities and participate with smaller, more targeted payouts to audiences directly engaged within the context of their business model. Instead of creating hooks directly between domains, instead, we’d be creating hooks between people.

SXSW2006 Day Three: Everyware – The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing

adam-greenfield

Adam Greenfield is dealing with Godly AI interfaces.

What is ubiquitous computing?

Well, what happens when computers get cheaper, faster, better? They become invisible, but all around us. The possibilities to crunch concepts, data, information explode. We move into a post-graphical user interface, from gesture to voice.

Multiple users, multiple spaces. Moving away from the one-to-one paradigm.

Human behavior and ubicomp become as one. “The activation process dissolves away into the behavior of people.” Ubicomp is already social. Once devices become ambient, social interactions can meld into a contextualization of backgrounds, ideas and relevance.

  • It’s present at the level of the body to world interface, as with data captures of physical movement to track, say, the range of motion of an elbow.
  • It’s present at the level of a particular space — a room — to a processor reading the reactions of the room.
  • It’s present at the street level, reacting to movement on the street and surveillance of social interactions

Ubicomp can crunch a variety of input or data, all passed through a relational database to construct information or entertainment for digestion.

People live life in real-time, while ubicomp works with their behavior to support their needs/desires. Space is never neutral, as the politics of position can be taken in numerous degrees.

Ubicomp is now. Why?

The digital home is the next big market and the future is structurally latent. (Crazy meta-meta-meta tagging in the real). Also, public safety comes into play. Post-9/11 mentality has crept in with, “Reduce the publics fear, reduce access and monitor activity.” We need to engage in ubicomp to control our destiny and the degree of misery which could be on the horizon.

Locus of attention disappears with ubicomp, so troubleshooting the invisible become a cognitive challenge. Signage is incredibly important to navigate the explicit behavioral captures of our implicit progression through our day-to-day.

The challenge of implicitness is… an ethical challenge.

5 guidelines of designing for ubiquitous computing

  1. Ubiquitous systems must default to a mode that ensures their users safety (physical, psychic and financial). Graceful degredation moved towards a default to harmlessness, based on cultural definitions.
  2. Be self-disclosing; ubicomp must contain provisions for immediate and transparent querying of their ownership, use, capabilities, etc. Seamless interaction in physical spaces must be optional, as ubicomp could invade the privacy of individuals. “Seemfullness with beautiful seems.”
  3. Be conservative of face; allowing people to save face. Ubicomp must not unnecessarily embarrass, humiliate or shame their users. Humane interfaces must be taken into consideration, especially while designing the experience of invisible ubicomp systems.
  4. Be conservative of time
  5. Be deniable; allow for the opt out of the program at any time. Alternatives should be provided to people who want to avoid these systems.

Disclaimer: This is live blogging; all quotes are paraphrases.

SXSW Day Two: Tantek Çelik, Creating Building Blocks for Independents

tantekc

Tantek Çelik, Chief Technologist at Technorati, is shooting to enable the independents of the world. Building blocks are built by both experts and non-experts to advance the enablement of independents.

  • Blogger did this in new ways. Publishing content on your own site and made extremely easily.
  • Creative Commons is a building block as well, but in legal terms to free up content.
  • Wiki’s enable the independent, because no one needs to manage the edits.
  • IRC allows anyone to download a client and run it without signing up for the service. And it’s coded in a smart, lightweight manner.
  • Tagging has been established to remove the constraints of categories and to tap into an aggregate of perspectives
  • SuperHappyDevHouse was a social building block, where developers could code next to one another (with beer) and get instant feedback.
  • foo camp was Tim O’Reilly’s way to bring people together and allow them to figure out how to spend three days collaborating within an empty program grid, with just whiteboards, power hooks and a wireless network; a completely decentralized social building block.

Tantek created the idea of barcamp out of his experience with foo camp; why not have it on the same day as foo camp? They registered the domain 6 days before the event and reverse engineered the requirements to run it from the foo camp Wiki.

We’re now watching a friggin’ music video barcamp rehash. This should lead to a point (because the video is a bit over the top)… So people around the world jumped on the idea of barcamp. The barcamp Wiki led to replication and building; Building blocks.

The challenge is not only creating building block for ourselves, or friends, or community… but the people who are on the other side of the digital divide. Tantek’s position is that we are the privileged, so how do we provide building blocks for others who are not.

End live-blog (well, pseudo live… the WiFi was down).

Sure… to a degree. This is all good within our sphere of reality. But Wiki’s and tagging and foo camps mean nothing to people stuck in the real; struggling to get by to pay the rent, put food on the table, pay for their children’s education. Tantek’s challenge still applies, but how?

In the Q&A, I asked him how we can apply this concept to the digital divide and people operating outside the context of content creation — people who are stuck in a service based economy. A fair question? Not really, but it opened up the conversation a bit. Tantek feels that creating building blocks saves people time, and time is money and freedom has a cost. Very true, but the question remains.

Disclaimer: This is live blogging; all quotes are paraphrases.