The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers.”
This family of blogs (OccurrencesForeignDomestic, The Sullen Bell, and BoyDownTheLane) is dedicated to such people as Veronica Guerin http://www.globaljournalist.org/stories/2000/07/01/veronica-guerin-ireland/, Don Bolles http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Bolles, and others journalists [lists are maintained at http://www.cpj.org/ ]who gave their lives to point the spotlight at the nexus of socio-political criminal behavior and cultural complicity in it.
And it is dedicated to “Mr. Jim” and his friends: Mr. Jim was a “virtual” friend, the citizen IT fellow from the West Coast who was one of the first people talking about state crimes against democracy on networks strung between software engineers and computer operators long before we knew about or came to call it the Internet. “Mr. Jim” passed from colon cancer some years ago but his spirit is alive and well throughout the Internet and you will hear echoes among many blogs, and so it is dedicated as well to those to whom I will link.
Mechanisms for comments and contact will exist in all three blogs. In good time, podcasts may be linked in, with some production by me for the purposes of dialogue among bloggers, interviews in the related topical field, and perhaps for use by others in the long run.
Long-term plans may also include a community discussion board, especially if I can build the community (and find volunteer moderators and contributors) slowly and carefully with articulate and respectful members whose intent is understanding, construction (not destruction), and who are willing and able to back up their POV with facts, sources, etc. .
#1) BoyDownTheLane (Baa Baa Black Sheep): Personal and guest author commentary with side-trips on the topics of life, adolescence, learning, choices, paths, fitting in, conformity and non-conformity, social ostracization, dysfunctional families, complicity versus compliance, and more. It’s also about “shooting the messenger”, the police state and totalitarianism, intimidation, destruction, and psychopathology. This past spring and summer, much of the content was devoted to my e-book on performance and sports psychology with the cockamamie idea that time spent learning about how one’s mind/body/spirit actually works might be an antidote for the psychopathologies inherent in current events.
#2) http://www.occurrencesforeigndomestic.com/ : a basic news and op-ed collection with limited commentary, sidebars for Blogroll and News Links, social media sharing, and static pages on news sources, links to organizations in the field of news and media monitoring, journalism, and the social media. America’s first newspaper, Publick Occurrences, Both Foreign and Domestick, was published in Boston in 1690. It lasted for just one issue. Hopefully we’ll all last a little longer.
The masthead image there is a blurred piece of photographic art by Julieta Aranda and Effearte in Milan, Italy; I have written to ask permission.
#3) The Sullen Bell [ http://www.thesullenbell.com/ ]
See Shakespeare’s Henry IV (Part 2)(1598)
“Thou shakest thy head and hold’st it fear or sin to speak a truth. … Yet the first bringer of unwelcome news hath but a losing office, and his tongue sounds ever after as a sullen bell, remember’d tolling a departed friend.”
Personal and guest author socio-political commentary (and book/film reviews) on media, social media, culture, perception management, mind control, news and opinion, politics, personal sovereignty, militarism, totalitarianism, surveillance, media criticism, media literacy, media psychology, cultural observation and reflection, and freedom of thought and mind, with sidebars for links and resources. It may also include music, videos, and photographic art.
These sites may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my efforts to advance understanding of criminal justice, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. I believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on these sites is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.
Modified from the original with and without apologies to “The Rocker” at http://rockthetruth2.blogspot.com/
It should be noted that the blogs, as they approach their critical two-year anniversary, have grown. As is the nature of things, readers tell others, post links on web pages, etc. Many of these readers register as “users”, giving them absolutely in rights whatsoever, though some of them guess how they can log in and post something. I haven’t yet gotten to the point where I will share authors’ or editors’ or posting privileges. SullenBoy is about to tip over into the >5,000 users range; Sullen Bell has just over 4,000; Occurrences is a few hundred away from 10,000. There is undoubtedly much duplication. Most users are “anonymous”, using made-up names and posting from locations that are or appear mobile. I have no doubt many of my readers are themselves “watchers”. Many of them are bots. I couldn’t tell if they were intelligence agents or not; most people are smart enough to understand why I can’t tell. We live in a world in which everyone watches everyone else.
I don’t trust the formal numbers suggested by outside firms since there is significant evidence that these numbers are “cooked” as part of a massive effort to control the flow of information. I don’t regard blogging as a contest in which it matters one iota whether I have more readers than the next blogger.
Given all the above, I couldn’t begin to tell you how many people have read my blogs. I do know that I have readers around the globe, particularly in places where heavy-duty restrictions on access are not in place. But the vast majority of my readership is here in the United States.
I’ve been blogging and active within multiple online communities on the Internet in one venue after another since 2004, and have a hard-earned undergraduate degree in political science and mass communications followed by three decades of experience in the schools of hard knocks, work, unemployment, marriage, parenthood, and other short and long seminars and symposia of an interpersonal and intra-personal nature.
I’ve also been an amateur writer, and photographer (recently digital), and the three sites will showcase some work from the past and in the future (after the Muse comes by for dinner and a dance).
“When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience, and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility.” – Neil Postman
“… I believe that news sites should go even further and host moderated forums on popular topics relevant to their editorial focus. Forums are a place to share ideas and learn, but certain forum topics can even spawn actions: everything from charitable donations to political petitions. Gather a community, and the potential is quite remarkable. This is especially important for hyperlocal news, because they have an opportunity to become deeply entwined in the fabric of the community. Providing more than reporting, they can become a platform for sharing local history, voices, and events.
The trick is moderating those reader voices; you don’t want unmoderated spam comments and you want to guide a discussion, not open the gates to the barbarians.
Speaking of barbarians, while I appreciate and laud the professionalism and accountability of trained journalists, I’m also going to put in a good word for (shudder) citizen journalism. Most sites today permit discussion and comments, but your community can also actively participate by submitting articles, photos, and video. Again, the goal is not to invite a storm of rubbish, but to provide rich fodder to editorial while further engaging the community.
And finally, you need to manage smart editorial strategies as you create engagement across key topics and demographics. For example, you can establish forums and digital events around topic-based communities, with expert hosts and moderators. Or you might grow communities around demographic segments based on age, location, economic status, gender, or any number of lifestyle segments. The point here is to organize your communities around your editorial product, so that they complement and nourish each other.
Building community doesn’t require a large investment, but it does require participation from the authors, editors, and deputized contributors. It requires the community content to be moderated and guided. But the upside is increased audience loyalty, viral audience growth, and the potential for greater content inventory at comparatively little cost.”
For the record, all three blogs (OccurrencesForeignDomestic, The Sullen Bell, and BoyDownTheLane) are hosted by BlueHost using a free WordPress standard default “theme” from within their “stable” of themes. Both WordPress and the theme and all of its settings, plug-ins, etc. are routinely updated and improved for free. Plug-ins are chosen from a large menu depending on your own needs. I don’t know what they’re charging these days for the three-domain-purchase-and-hosting deal but the costs of running this are so small that I don’t need advertisers, or to monetize it in anyway.