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January 2008
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March 2008

Facebook distractions

Ten years ago we used to sit online for hours in all sorts of chat programs, like ICQ and MSN and Yahoo and AOL. It was easy to spend most of an evening chatting with a few people - waiting for responses, typing some marginally witty lines - throwing in the occasional LOL, ROTFLMAO, and ;-) . And not really saying much. Now we can communicate with cryptic text messages on a cell, typing cmb, bbf, and ctn. But there's a need for more social interaction than that - hence Facebook. I joined Facebook initially to connect with my younger friends involved in the world of hip-hop,  and for things like gallery openings. It's working fine for that, but if you're not careful it can keep growing like a virus. We can have dozens, hundreds of "friends" - whatever that is, since social networking has redefined that term as a nebulous online relationship. Some are in fact real world physical friends, some are cyber links to a friend of a friend of a friend.  And we can connect with all these friends in many online ways. Everytime I change my status all my new special friends can see Mike is tired, or happy, or watching TV, or glad his Sens are winning, or dealing with an annoying rash. And they've no way to turn just my status off. Or they can see that I've joined the basket weavers of eastern Ontario group, which is a good thing if they are basket weavers too. Or I can give them a vampire bite, or poke them, or write on their superwall, or give them a special gift for only $1, or ask what their favorite flower is, or slap them upside the head. OK - I made one of those up, but there seems to a never ending supply of applications people write to do stuff with Facebook.

This is called social networking, but the socializing is in mainly cyberspace. When do we get out and meet real people? 

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More McFats

Just in case that McDonalds tray is feeling a little light, you will soon be able to add a fancy coffee to it- whipped up by a barista. This is a trial in Rochester (USA) but is expected to expand further in 2009. The article also warns of price increases, due to a predicted shortages of beans. Supposedly prices at the producer level are not high enough, so there hasn't been much expansion. If you're interested, here's some more info on trading the coffee market.

Canadian elections and management issues

Seems to be more sabre rattling in the news - threats of an election here in Canada with all parties positioning so that they aren't the one pulling the plug on the current session. Question is - who to believe, who to pick? Harvey Schacter's blog in today's Globe and Mail Business section offers some tips on how to spot a bad manager. Some of his indicators are secrecy, addiction to consultants, and choosing weaker recruits to avoid feeling threatened. Interesting, especially if you assess our current leaders using these criteria. Should they at least be good managers, and ideally also good leaders? What's the difference?

Graffiti as art

I'll use this post to collect some of the positive info I come across on graffiti, such as successful legal walls and murals.

It seems when you talk to city officials, police, or politicians they have no shortage of material on the negative aspects of graffiti. However, it's often outdated, or from another city with different conditions, or very anecdotal, or compliled by a biased source, like a removal firm. I admit I do have a bias towards preserving and promoting graff as an art form - that's why I take photos of it and work at this.

I've been running a Google alert on graff murals, I'll start this off with a few and keep adding to it - so you should do a permalink to it.

  • Ottawa Citizen - Apr27/08 China Town's Mural Wrong Size - they had to reduce the size to be legal under the sign bylaw, but it's too small for an anti-graffiti grant, it doesn't cover the entire wall. 
  • Catwalk Queen - Apr 4/08 Own a Piece of Banksy's Kate Moss - famous British graff artist Banksy now makes big bucks from his art
  • Warringah Online - Feb 21/08 Graffiti - legal mural programs in New South Wales (Australia) city
  • Orange County Register - Feb 17/08 Santa Ana College exhibit shows graffiti as art - Art exhibit designed to show the artistic side of graffiti -while still saying it's all vandalism. 
  • Liverpool City Champion- Feb 13/08 Community Mural - Vantage Community Services was faced with repeated tagging on the 5 metre long wall of their new digs - so they had some local artists do a mural.
  • Philadelphia Bulletin - Feb 11/08 Neighbourhood Murals Create a Ripple Effect - story about artist taking part in the Philadelphia Mural Arts program - they have a $5 Million dollar budget ($800,00 form the city) and more than 2,000 murals city wide. They employ about 300 artists, plus many volunteers, and do 150 murals (indoor/outdoor) a year. A very successful program, that reduces tagging, beautifies areas, and redirects youth to develop as legal artists.
  • Round Town News - Feb 8/08 Pretty as a Picture -  In Torrevieja Spain residents turn to murals to combat tagging, after being a Write4gold venue in 2005.
  • Port Lincoln Times - Feb 7/08 Fresh Look needed for skate park - mural done by youth 5 years ago, getting tagged since new group of young people have less ownership in the piece. Probably something all mural projects need to consider. 
  • Kansas City Infozine News - Feb 6/08 Portrait Gallery Embraces Hip Hop  - about a Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery exhibit that blends various hip-hop elements.  According to the article, the curators carefully addressed the negative public perception of hip hop. Curator Robert Goodyear said that the news media have tried to move the genre to the margins of society because of the "very real" negative connotations of misogyny and violence. 'But there's nothing marginal about hip hop at all. Hip hop is at the center of our culture. It's the most influential cultural phenomenon that extends beyond the music," Goodyear said.
  • Zimbio (blog) Feb 5/08 Naugatuck Graffiti Artists Will Have Legal Place To Paint - Naugatuck (Conn) is building an 8 x 75 foot legal wall for artists
  • Monterey Herald (Calif) Feb 4/08 - Salinas has been battling to get various urban arts more accepted, and streamline some of the bylaws and permits blocking the way. There are some murals, but it's hard to get funding or approval, some don't understand the images, some see as gang related. Story describes an Art Congress they are planning to spread aareness of the issues, and start some networking.
  • Yakima Herald (Wash) Feb 4/08 -Story about a couple of late night hip-hop DJ's that have started their own guerilla project - painting over tagged areas with murals with a social message for the area.
  • The Independant (London, Eng) Feb 3/08 - long article about graff artists (such as Banksey) that have moved their murals to canvas - and whether legal grafiti is a contradiction in terms. Some galleries now use the terms cult art, or street art or urban art . 
  • Boston Globe - Feb 3/08 - talks about some Boston U students that got tired of the mess in their area from weekend parties. They hold regular cleanups, and plan to expand in the spring to adding plantings and graff murals by local artists. 
  • Globe and Mail (Toronto) - Feb 2/08 - article  by Janice Lindsay on interior design in Toronto homes with murals - especially by graff artists. Paid murals of course. Links to several good sites, including some artists in Toronto.