Tag: Netroots

Emailing 101 for activists

February 9, 2009

This morning I got a phone call from an activist friend because her Internet service provider was not letting her send out emails to 200 addresses at a time from within her own personal email account.

Um, yeah they do that, because, as far as they are concerned you are spamming! They really don’t care if you have a coffee-stained form where folks printed out their address for you at that big rally in 2003. Oh, they might care, if you could just explain it to them — but that office is in India somewhere, and I don’t think it’s been staffed since 1999. Closed tight without a forwarding address, or a farewell wave or anything. AOL, Yahoo, Gmail, are notoriously unavailable for such issues. I doubt Cox or ATT, etc.  are much better.

Recently another Oklahoma activist got their email account completely shut off by a large ISP without warning for this very behavior. So that list of thousands of addresses is … who knows where? Maybe India? No, it wasn’t backed up locally — ever.

Arrggghhh!

Look, thanks for your hard work on keeping people connected and informed,  organizing events for change, and sacrificing your personal life for the betterment of your community and world, but please be smart about it!

Any list of people (over say, 20 of your closest friends) that you send to regularly, should NOT be mailed to individually, not from your home computer with Outlook Express, not with your laptop using your Yahoo/Gmail account, etc. etc. Instead, you make a listserve, and send to the list’s email address, and everyone on that list gets the message and everybody’s happy — especially the business providing you with email service.

(I don’t want to get too technical here, but just because it’s quick and easy to send email, and it feels like it’s just freely flying off into the air towards its intended recipient, that “air” or bandwidth, is not free. Every typed character sent takes up room in that “air” and somebody pays for that.)

Fortunately, there are free listserv services available, notably Yahoo Groups and Google Groups. Riseup also provides free lists for progressive activists.  All of these also provide list owners the ability to download and store, in a safe location (i.e. on your hard drive AND a CD-ROM), the names and addresses of your group members. (By the way, your personal address book should also be backed up regularly.)

If you or your organization has a hosted account for your Web site, then chances are you have an install of Mailman or some other list manager available (check your control panel — in cPanel, for instance, look for “Mailing Lists” under the Mail section). This is a good option if you are concerned about privacy (but know that only operating your own highly secured server will really address all those concerns). If your host doesn’t have it available pre-installed, Mailman is a free download and can be installed on your account by your favorite techie.

There are also other means of mass communicating to folks for activists, and those options are expanding rapidly; I’ll write about some of those options later.

Blogroll Amnesty Day 2009

January 31, 2009

Wow, it’s that time again already, that time when all the little people of the Netroots rise up against their oppressors, the big people of the Netroots who won’t link to them (the bastards!).

So we link to each other — freely, wildly, irresponsibly, like the DFHs we really are. The motto is “look up, link down” that is, to show some love to blogs smaller than yours.

Skippy the bush kangaroo, who started, with Jon Swift and Blue Gal, this ancient rite in Blogtopia (and, yes, he coined that phrase) lo those many three years ago, has the rundown on how it all works, the inviolate rules (which always get violated, because size comparisons are always funny, aren’t they?), and what it all means in his most honorable 2009 B.A.D. post.

Note the first three of my five are progressive (loosely defined) Oklahoma blogs, because it is my mission daily to promote those every chance I get. They may or may not be smaller than Peace Arena, but I’ve only just come across them recently, so they may be unknown to you as well.

  1. I really don’t like the word Blog
  2. Green Tulsa
  3. Progress on the Prairie
  4. Tana-rama – Tana Hanson is a very talented designer
  5. Ranting Woman Ranting Daily – Interesting writer with personal take on politics, religion and technology

So, I have a year-round open blogroll policy. You can see that “roll” — collapsed flat for spacesaving — at the bottom of the front page of this site. I call it “Open Seating,” this being an arena and all, and it includes anyone I add by choice, and anyone who asks (within a very wide range of opinion, but still within the realm of civil discourse). Elsewhere I further refine with sub-categories like “Virtual Oklahoma,” hopefully self explanatory, and “La Resistance,” being online compatriots in the struggle for peace, equality and justice, a.k.a. the netroots.

If you have a blog that you would like to be added to my blogroll, comment below with the pertinent info, and tell me if you think you fit in one of the sub-categories, because if I agree, you will get extra linky goodness. You do not have to add me back, though that would be a lovely gesture. And, it would also be good and just if you too participated in Blogroll Amnesty Day when it rolls around again on the calendar. Let us lift up and nurture one another, making the virtual reality ever more virtuous, and helping to actually realize Skippy’s vision of Blogtopia.

Deadline looms for nominations in the 2008 Okie Blog Awards

January 20, 2009

Okie Bloggers, you have till midnight to make your selections, so hurry!

I’m ashamed to say I had to leave some categories blank, because I just didn’t read enough (or maybe any) blogs on that topic. I guess I have a good excuse on the “family blog” one since I don’t have young kids around. But otherwise my only excuse is the political nature of 2008 and my own obsession. Maybe with 2009 being a non-campaign year, I can broaden my horizons.

Hopefully you got around on the Tubes more.

A couple of progressive Oklahoma bloggers leaving state

January 17, 2009

I’m pretty bummed about the Oklahoma Netroots losing two bloggers in one week.

John Sutter of Concrete Buffalo (formerly of the Oklahoman and its Go Green blog — which apparently has been deleted) got a gig in Atlanta is already on his way. He also did some great work for The Gazette while he looked for steady work that ultimately took him away.

I don’t think John was from Oklahoma or whether he labels himself “progressive” but his reporting and blogging certainly were helpful to those of us interested in bringing Oklahoma kicking and screaming into a “greener” era. John’s offering to turn over Concrete Buffalo to an Oklahoman who wants to continue his investigations into the state’s environmental sins (many) and wins (a few) — if you are interested, leave a comment here.

Hopefully we can keep up with John through his personal Twitter account.

In a few days, Ethan of Sinister will leave Tulsa for Portland. This is a huge loss for Oklahoma’s profile in the national Netroots. Sinister is one of the few Oklahoma blogs with pretty significant national/international readership and influence. He’s out and proud as a Jew, as a gay man, as a progressive, and was not one to suffer fools. But he was also fair, and willing to listen to rational arguments on all sides.

Sinister the blog will continue (Ethan has turned his attention to Oregan politics already), and I’ll keep reading, but not having it originate in Oklahoma is such a loss for us. I hope other voices like his can fill the void soon.

I wish John and Ethan much success and happiness. I hope they can show their new communities that Oklahoma has a broader range of perspectives than is typically presented.

Peace Arena Oklahoma Netroots Awards

December 1, 2008

I promised to announce on Friday or Saturday, but this weekend has been nuts. Whatever possessed me to do this piece of business on a holiday weekend? Oh, yeah, my blogiversary. Okay, what kind of nut starts blogging on frakkin’ Thanksgiving!!!

Anyway, due to this being a last minute brainstorm, please forgive the lack of detail the awards deserve. I’m sure I’ll think of a dozen more good blogs and categories five minutes after I publish this!

I decided to do a freeform category, based on blogs/sites that have impressed me this year, basing the name on whatever niche or contribution the owner has made. Keep in mind these are just my opinion, based on my own biases/interests and factored by what has crossed my path. Now that I’m giving my own funky awards out, I’ll try to be more conscious about it — I dunno, maybe even make a few notes as I go along.

With all that said, here are the Peace Arena Netroots Awards for 2008.

Woody Guthrie Award – for best ambassador for Oklahoma to the wider Netroots:
droogie6655321 blogging at Daily Kos
Through sheer talent and consistency, droogie managed to rise through the thousands of Daily Kos bloggers and commenters to become one of the site’s most inspiring and beloved contributors. Through his humanity and intelligence, which were abundant in every post, the Tulsan countered the prevailing stereotype of Oklahomans that is rampant in the Netroots. With Oklahoma’s election results giving Oklahoma progressives that much more to fight against, even among those who are supposedly allies, droogie’s outreach is more necessary than ever.

Mason Jar of Red Dirt Award – for best Netroots ally outside the state
Down With Tyranny! for his knowledgeable and repeated advocacy for Andrew Rice and exposure of the many political crimes of Jim Inhofe. (The title of this award is meant to signify a gift given, or a memento taken, from Oklahoma by which to remember the state.)

Buffalo Stampede Award – for best blog with a cause
At Oklahoma Women’s Network Blog, Jean Warner has brought attention to every aspect of women’s lives in Oklahoma. While non-partisan, Jean has helped to give voice to the news, history and concerns of women and girls in the areas of business, politics, education, religion and more, and that in itself, is progressive in my book. It’s been a wonder to behold the volume of her blogging and her attention to stories and people that would otherwise be overlooked. And it’s just the tip of the iceberg of her work, as she has recently helped found the Oklahoma Women’s Coalition whose mission is to “advance the potential and equity of women and girls in Oklahoma”.

Wind Power Award – for most sustained rant
Okie Funk‘s resident doctor, DocHoc, is never better than when he is decrying the shameless waste of tree pulp that is The Oklahoman. Fortunately for his readers, the paper has given him plenty to work with, and doesn’t look like it will stop any time soon — more’s the pity.

Land Run Award – for most promising newcomer
When John Sutter was working at the Oklahoman, he wrote for Go Green, one of the NewsOK.com blogs, which focused on the environment. “Let go” during a “budget crisis” purge at the paper, he decided to keep right on blogging, and Concrete Buffalo is the result. Oklahoma is way behind in this area, and John’s blog can help make a difference.

Black Blizzard Award – for best images
Phototune – because sometimes words fail

Well, that’s what I got for this year, folks. I hope the winners get some joy and sense of accomplishment from being recognized by my little corner of the blogosphere — and maybe they will get a few more readers. As soon as possible I whip up some corny graphic they can plop in their sidebar, if they are so inclined.

Please share other award-worthy blogs in the comments.

P.S. I should add that Bartcop was excluded from consideration in this competition. He exists in a stateless realm — but we appreciate the progressive glow he emits from his Tulsa studio.

Git yer Oklahoma Netroots bookmark, blogroll and widget code here

November 29, 2008

This will be a temporary measure, as I hope to put something more customized together that can be collectively managed. But for now, I have used Google Reader to collect all the Oklahoma Netroots blogs I have found, and, made the list public, so anyone who wants to can enjoy.

If you’re just a reader or don’t want to display the list on your site, just a bookmark should do: Oklahoma Netroots

For bloggers and webkeepers, please feel free to use the collection to …

add a blogroll

<script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://www.google.com/reader/ui/publisher-en.js”>
<script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://www.google.com/reader/public/javascript-sub/user/02091792386555904184/label/ok netroots?callback=GRC_p(%7Bc%3A%22blue%22%2Ct%3A%22OK%20Netroots%20blogs%22%2Cb%3A%22true%22%7D)%3Bnew%20GRC”></script>

Looks like:

or add what Google called a “clip” that shows the latest 10 posts (like a widget):

<script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://www.google.com/reader/ui/publisher-en.js”></script>
<script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://www.google.com/reader/public/javascript/user/02091792386555904184/label/ok netroots?n=10&callback=GRC_p(%7Bc%3A%22blue%22%2Ct%3A%22Latest%20from%20OK’s%20Netroots%22%2Cs%3A%22true%22%2Cb%3A%22false%22%7D)%3Bnew%20GRC”></script>

This gives you the latest 10 posts from all blogs in the blogroll, in date order and looks like:


If you want the output with different colors, or no style at all the options are: black, blue, gray, green, khaki, Pink, slate, none. Just replace the color in the code where you see “blue” above. 10 is the max but if you want fewer list items, use any number 1-9 instead of “10” in the code where you see “n=10″

I will have the clip on my local page until I (or someone else) comes up with something better.

And, of course, if you have or know of a blog I haven’t listed but should, let me know.

Update: just noticed that some of the posts in the feed are not in proper date order — I think that’s because they are not dated in a conventional manner, so were just dated with today’s date. Anyway, it should work out as the feed moves along. Sorry for any confusion!

5 year blogiversary, or, my Thanksgiving story

November 27, 2008

I started blogging on Thanksgiving weekend in 2003. I was inspired by an Oklahoma blog I started reading shortly after moving to the state in January. That blog: JMBzine and its owner is now a friend and colleague of mine in several social service and political projects.

Of course, I have blogged very sporatically, and using at least five different URLs and using the following blog tools

  • Movable Type
  • Blogger
  • WordPress
  • Xoops
  • Wordress again
  • Drupal
  • WordPress again

What have I learned? Unless something revolutionary happens in open-source software for running blogs, I’m sticking with WordPress.

If I had it all to do over, I would just use Blogger. The main reason is that it doesn’t require any software upgrading, and — a factor getting more and more important to me as I start to recognize my own mortality — it will exist after my domain registration expires, my hosting account is closed, and I am no longer able to drag myself to the keyboard. If Blogger decided to finally add an import feature for non-Blogger formats, I’d probably use it.

There are several downsides to Blogger, and for some projects it’s not the way to go. I’m just talking about a personal blog.

If I were advising a new blogger with limited tech skills who doesn’t care much about the design of their site, I would point them at WordPress.com for a free blog with a very accessible and easy to use interface, that is probably also relatively timeless.

When I started with Movable Type, I didn’t know markup or code of any kind. I downloaded the manual and taught myself how to completely redesign the templates. Although I soon thereafter abandoned MT when its owners revealed hostility towards open-source, I did get a good idea of the general principles that are used by all the php based blog platforms.

In 2004, I got a book on X/HTML and basic CSS, and taught myself the basics. Deconstructing an HTML site design that was contributed to the Oklahoma Green Party(where it’s still in use) in order incorporate it with blogging software, I learned a couple of very useful php commands that make life easier for web-keepers.

That’s about the extent of my code knowledge, but by experimenting with a ridiculous number of open-source software offerings, including (in addition to above) Xoops, B2, Mambo and its derivatives like Joomla, I’ve learned that I don’t need to know how to create what people smarter than I are creating and giving away. I also am constantly scouting out free scripts and services that are available for bloggers and web-keepers.

I believe in the democratic principles behind blogging, the netroots, copyleft and open-source technology. I encourage — and provide hands on help where I can — progressive activists to become bloggers. I read and/or participate in (probably way too) many blogs in the loose leftist confederation that has become known as the Netroots, which I consider the revival of grassroots democracy in this country, and the hope of democracy around the world, lighting even its darkest corners.
That the Internet turned out the way it did (thanks to the corporate entities who didn’t see its potential and passed on buying into it during the early stages), is a miracle. Without the Internet, I think it’s possible that the past eight years would have been the decimation of our beloved form of government in the U.S. Through the instant global communications provided by the Internet, advocacy campaigns were created and activists mobilized in new and powerful ways. And we are only at the beginning of that process.

What’s more, now we will have a president who understands and appreciates this resource, and will use it to improve government and policy. I believe the Internet and the open-source movement and the transparency principles that guide the blogosphere were instrumental in guiding Obama’s political ideology and agenda.

For these amazing tools, and all who have embraced and expanded them, I am eternally grateful. However strange it may be to those who think of Thanksgiving as a time to forgo technology and focus on “real” communication, for me, Thanksgiving has become the tech holiday, a time I think most pointedly about the digital threads that have connected all the world in a global family that 20 years ago was only science fiction, and a time to renew my commitment to use its power for the common good.

I’m creating the Peace Arena Activist Blog Awards

November 26, 2008

I’ve decided to bestow some blog awards to celebrate my upcoming 5-year blogging anniversary, which corresponds with Thanksgiving weekend. Since there isn’t a lot of time to prepare for this year’s awards, it will be a simple, rushed affair. So fitting!

But I’m serious about honoring the recipients, who toil in near obscurity day after day in a non-progressive state (for now). Any light I can shine in their direction, I’ll hope can help their ongoing efforts (which are far more consistent than mine).

I don’t want to infringe on any territory covered by the Okie Blogger Awards that Mike of Okiedoke has been doing such a great job with (this year’s have been postponed). With my concentration on progressive activism, I don’t think there will be. There certainly will not be a dinner, or any monetary component (sorry, maybe next year). Just the glory of one obscure blog being touted by another!

I will mostly, maybe totally, focus on Oklahoma blogs that are left-leaning, i.e. Netroots (unlike Rachel Maddow, I love that word).

I suppose I should have some categories. I was thinking maybe doing something like “Most interactive community”, “Best single-issue focus”, “Most Promising Newbie”, “Most progressive blog posing as non-political”, that kind of thing. Any other ideas?

What about a “Most Prolific Anti-Progressive Troll” award? I already know who’d win this. But perhaps this will just reward bad behavior, so maybe this isn’t advisable — but it would be funny; I’m sure he would post it as a badge of honor, poor thing.

Then there’s the question of whether to include for consideration sites that are not proper blogs. I’d say no, except I would like to honor activist photographers and videographers who post online, and those aren’t blogs. Ah, my first ethical conundrum!

I’d like to have a little web banner that the winner can display on their site (hopefully they will want to!). But my artistic abilities are for crap, which is why I don’t have a logo for my own site. If anyone has suggestions in this department, or wants to volunteer a graphic design, that would be great.

Anyway, I’ll post the winners on Friday or Saturday. Any nominations, category ideas, please post in comments.

Update: Perhaps a renaming would solve the blog/not-blog problem: Peace Arena Awards for Online Activism

What’s the matter with Democrats in DC?

November 18, 2008

Well, as suspected, the capitulation continues unabated. The Netroots is sick about it, but not really surprised. Hunter at Daily Kos pretty much sums it up in Why it Matters.

As Jane Hamsher states, the real message of today’s vote, from the 32 Democratic Senators who gave Lieberman a pass, and, yes, President-elect Obama, who whipped the vote:

This is about telling you that you mean nothing. That democracy is a nice word, but it should never threaten the entitlement of the most exclusive club in the world.

No matter what Joe Lieberman does, the people who are protecting him hate you much more than they hate him.

We just continue to fight for accountability and progressive values to make their way to the top.