Archive for December, 2008

Steve Snow at right. Gates at CenterWhen I met Steve Snow, he was not only embarking on a life-changing journey, he was embarking on a journey in which he changed others lives as well.

Charlotte’s Web (here in 1997) was conceived before the Web was really or readily available to all. Steve saw potential for strong and broad democratic involvement aided by technology that would transform communities like Charlotte reaching out to the homeless and to public housing equally with outreach to those more privileged.

Charlotte’s Web had a fantastic start then ran into trouble, mostly political due to it’s involvement with various parts of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg government each of whom had a financial stake and so a policy stake in the enterprise.

Steve somehow managed to manage CharWeb through that time and into the future until about 2001 when Charlotte.com picked up the project and Steve left.

Steve was an outspoken advocate of full-community participation in the online community. He helped found the Association for Community Networking and advocated for access for the homeless.

Steve still cared about and was involved in community even in his counseling and consulting practice in Asheville, NC, which he named CommCure. In his own biography on the CommCare site, he described himself this way:
“Among his primary interests academically are integrating human needs and technical infrastructure and Jungian applications of SandPlay in virtual environments. He also has a deep commitment to addressing complex trauma in children and adults, with a special emphasis on men who commit domestic, family or interpersonal violence, an area for which he is a regular speaker in national and international conferences.”

The final sentence rings true especially as it pertains to Steve’s commitment to others: ” If you are interested in talking about any of these things, please send an e-mail note and he’ll reply quickly.”

If only that were still true in fact as well as spirit.

Steve died suddenly on December 27th in Asheville, NC.

About the photo: 4/11/96 – Steve Snow, on the right, is shown with Bill Gates, founder and chariman of Microsoft, during Gates’ visit to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Virtual Library. GARY O’BRIEN/Charlotte.com

Alert! @andycarvin be talking about Steve Snow (and maybe Steve Cisler) on Talk of the Nation tomorrow December 31 at 2pm EST.

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Circa 1958 at the Ackland
While at the Ackland Museum for the Circa 1958 show, we came upon special recreations of four wonderful participatory pieces in the same room.

Allan Kaprow’s untitled piece, which dominates the room, is made from chicken wire, a step ladder and newspaper — the idea is that the piece exists only for the length of the show then is gone, except for notes about its creation.

Robert Morris’ Box with the sound of its own making is a sealed crafted smooth box with a long tape loop inside. The sound on the tape loop is the sound recording during the construction of the box itself.

George Brecht’s Three Chair Events (1961) places three chairs in the museum in various places. Originally one outside, one in the gallery and one in the bathroom, but for this show in various rooms in the museum. The public is invited to sit on the chairs and “observe” what’s happening around you.

The fourth and most fun is Yoko Ono’s remake of her early Painting to hammer a nail in. The reimagined version is not much like the recreation seen here on the blog, but is a special Ackland Circa 1958 version.

The Ackland version is a gold framed mirror film covered piece of wood with the invitation “Yoko Ono invites you to drive a nail in the mirror.” This opportunity is made realizable by a wooden handled hammer attached to the easel by a gold chain and a box full of nails built into the easel frame.

More like the original than the Ackland version

The tilted mirror was pretty well full of nails of all sizes and shapes by the time we arrived (the show ends January 4th). But we managed not only to get our nails in the mirror but whilst driving them in, we discovered a secret sonic dimension to the Yoko Ono mirror piece.

By dropping a nail, from the top of the piece, you get some very nice random but not unpleasing tones as the nail bounces among its secured cousins like a musical Pachinko ball. Two to four nails released together still give musical results; any more and you attract the negative attention of the room’s guard.

Note: I’m interested in doing an homage/recreation/reimagining of Allan Kaprow’s 18 Happenings in 6 Parts within the next year and am planning now. Join me here and bring your ideas.

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UNC at Charlotte folks picked up on the UNC – Chapel Hill flash mob/rave in the library scene almost to the letter.

University of Virginia also flash raved in their library on December 12 in pale imitation of Chapel Hill’s earlier library rave:

College of Charleston may have been the first to follow Chapel Hill:

In my day we did this without wearing clothes…

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Larry Lessig tweets that his “site has been hacked, so some big news of the day is posted at jz’s: http://ping.fm/Kx1vp

A quick look at the http://lessig.org sites shows that some hidden gambling spam was added to his site resulting in that site becoming dropped by Google. Seems to work for me now.

Unrelated is the more important announcement posted on Jonathan Zittrain’s “Future of the Internet and How To Stop It” site.
The quick version: Lessig is leaving Stanford and heading back to Harvard to start directing the Safra Center on ethics at the Law School.

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Although I was teaching Smart Mobs and Fred was teaching Technologies of Friendship, I didn’t notice any of our student in this video shot last night at 11 pm in UNC’s Undergraduate Library.

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The Public Domain
James Boyle’s new book, The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind, is out from Yale University Press and for free download. His site for the book (see link on book name) is chocked full of video and other great supporting materials.

Jamie introduced me to many of the Creative Commons concepts via his earlier groundbreaking book, Shamans, Software and Spleens: Law and the Construction of the Information Society. After reading that book in 1996, I managed to get Jamie, Mark Hosler (of Negativland) and the late Anne Branscomb (author of Who Owns Information) up to Charlottesville, Va to speak to the Wahoos. Jamie was such a hit (all three were each in their own way) that the Federalist Society invited him to be one of their speakers. This lead to one of my favorite Boyle moments. In his self-introduction, he said “If we transposed political positions onto the map of the United States, the Federalist Society would be in Maine and I would be somewhere to the west of Honolulu, so you should be skeptical of the arguments I put forward.”

Boyle delivered a great talk at Duke last week which you can watch here: “A Song’s Tale: Mashups, Borrowing and the Law” (requires RealPlayer or on YouTube below). This talk links copyright to gospel music, Ray Charles, Kanye West, Hurricane Katrina and Jesus to a good woman and a gold-digger (for starters).

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I met Jef back in the very late 70s when he was with Touch the Mime Group. He got me to collect old green bar computer printer paper to use in some of their skits. Jef told me that the skit was about the dehumanizing effect of computers. Only after I saw Touch play the skit did I realize that Jef thought that being dehumanized by computers was a bad thing!

Here’s a sample of Jef the Mime warming up the crowd as they come into the Ocrafolk fundraiser this past Friday night.

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