Monday, February 02, 2009

I attended the Beyond Jena forum at Xavier University this past Saturday, and I have to say that so, so many people missed out on this one. If you did, there is a complete audio recording of the day available on the forum website (aka, the Beyond Jena link).

A few off-the-wall observations:

-Skype ROCKS! It was perfect for Dr Marion Carroll to contribute to the doings of the second panel from afar and clue everybody in to his work on The Jefferson Parish Education for All Children blog, begun when he began to help his community confront the Jefferson Parish public school system about the segregation by the river the school board wanted to enforce in their schools (i.e., West Bank residents could only attend West Bank schools, and East Bank residents could only attend East Bank schools). It is indeed a cool tool.

-Ya know, if you've registered for a conference, and you can't show, call first. Just common courtesy, folks.

-I missed talking to DJ Poptart (aka, Crystal Kile) in greater detail about her idea to get a longitudinal survey together about who locally is using social media. Bart Everson, the moderator for the first panel discussion, mentioned that nationally, bloggers are less likely to be white than the general population, but that there is a perception that this isn't true for New Orleans. There seems to be a lack of demographics to prove or disprove this perception on a local level. It would probably be a good idea, as Ms Kile said on Saturday, for a group like, say, Rising Tide to partner up with the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women and get going on such a survey. It would give us all a way to address the racial divide in these parts that seems to be penetrating the local blogosphere.

-Cliff, G-Bitch, and E.J. held their own despite the absence of WBOK radio show host Paul Beaulieu. Bloggers are THE best. General consensus on the blogosphere's role in the Jena protests is that, in Cliff's words, there was the "right intent" in getting the rest of the nation to sit up and take notice of what was going on in the town, "but the community didn't follow through on its support." For more on this, head here. And this goes not just for civil rights issues, but for ANYthing that gets started and whipped up by bloggers in terms of the issues. Don't start what you can't finish.

-I got a kick out of seeing all the college kids up there who kick-started blogs mainly because it was a course requirement. I was a tad disturbed that they were all freshmen, but when G-Bitch told me it was easier to get freshmen to do it than the members of any other class in college, it made sense.

-The thing about blogging is that it seems to only attract certain people in this life, like most any other skill or profession. In terms of grassroots organization, it is only a supplemental tool for that at this point in time, and a few things Big Red Cotton mentioned at the Q & A for the first panel may also be holding back a real blogging boom in these parts: some serious troubles with literacy among the lower classes here, and the fact that this is a pretty small city that can't afford people much in the way of anonymity. It can make facing the consequences of what you write and speak out about tough things to take.

-Despite Dr Michael Homan's supposed malakatude, the man is making the most of blogging as a tool for his theology courses. Xavier students taking his courses are a lucky bunch.

-And finally, some other important links:
In short, I look forward to the next forum along these lines that Editor B organizes.

And you should, too.

1 comment:

amy said...

I m really looking forward to the Human Rights Film Festival. I signed up to volunteer. I wish I would have known about Beyond Jena. I totally would have gone. Thanks for blogging about it :)