On job hunting and the blogging future in Metro Philadelphia

I’ve been quiet on the blogs lately, focus­ing on job searches rather than rant­ing. I thought I’d take a lit­tle time off to talk about my lit­tle cor­ner of the career mar­ket. I’ve been apply­ing for a lot of web design and edit­ing jobs but the most inter­est­ing ones have com­bined these together in cre­ative ways. My qual­i­fi­ca­tions for these jobs are more the inde­pen­dent sites I’ve put together—notably Quak​erQuaker​.org—than my paid work for Friends.

For exam­ple: one inter­est­ing job gets reposted every few weeks on Craigslist. It’s geared toward adding next-generation inter­ac­tive con­tent to the web­site of a con­sor­tium of sub­ur­ban news­pa­pers (appli­cants are asked to be “com­fort­able with terms like blog, vlog, CSS, YourHub, MySpace, YouTube…,” etc.). The qual­i­fi­ca­tions and vision are right up my alley but I’m still wait­ing to hear any­thing about the appli­ca­tion I sent by email and snail mail a week ago. Despite this, they’re con­tin­u­ing to post revised descrip­tions to Craigslist. Yesterday’s ver­sion dropped the “con­ver­gence” lingo and also dropped the pro­jected salary by about ten grand.

About two months ago I actu­ally got through to an inter­view for a fab­u­lous job that con­sisted of putting together a blog­ging com­mu­nity site to fea­ture the lesser-known and quirky busi­nesses of Philadel­phia. I had a great inter­view, thought I had a good chance at the job and then heard noth­ing. Days turned to weeks as my follow-up com­mu­ni­ca­tions went unan­swered. 11/30 Update: a friend just guessed the group I was talk­ing about and emailed that the site did launch, just qui­etly. It looks good.

Cor­po­rate blog­ging is said to be the wave of the future and in only a few years polit­i­cal cam­paigns have come to con­sider blog­gers as an essen­tial tool in get­ting their mes­sage out. User-generated con­tent has become essen­tial feed­back and pub­lic­ity mech­a­nisms. My expe­ri­ence from the Quaker world is that blog­gers are con­sti­tut­ing a new kind of lead­er­ship, one that’s both more out­go­ing but also thought­ful and vision­ary (I should post about this some­time soon). Blogs encour­age open­ness and trans­parency and will surely affect orga­ni­za­tional pol­i­tics more and more in the near future. Smart com­pa­nies and non­prof­its that want to grow in size and influ­ence will have to learn to play well with blogs.

But the future is lit­tle suc­cor to the present. In the Philadel­phia met­ro­pol­i­tan area it seems that the rare employer that’s think­ing in these terms have have a lot of back and forths try­ing to work out the job descrip­tion. Well, I only need one enlight­ened employer! It’s time now to put the boys to bed, then check the job boards again. Keep us in your prayers.

Two Years of the Quaker Ranter and Quaker Blogs

An amaz­ing thing has hap­pened in the last two years: we’ve got Friends from the cor­ners of Quak­erism shar­ing our sim­i­lar­i­ties and dif­fer­ences, our frus­tra­tions and dreams through Quaker blogs. Dis­en­chanted Friends who have longed for deeper con­ver­sa­tion and con­so­la­tion when things are hard at their local meet­ing have built a net­work of Friends who under­stand. When our gen­er­a­tion is set­tling down to write our mem­oirs — our Quaker jour­nals — a lot of us will have to have at least one chap­ter about becom­ing involved in the Quaker blog­ging community.

Con­tinue read­ing

The Early Blogging Days

I started Non​vi​o​lence​.org in late 1995 as a place to pub­li­cize the work of the US peace move­ment which was not get­ting out to a wide (or a young) audi­ence. I built and main­tained the web­sites of a few dozen hosted groups (includ­ing the War Resisters League, Fel­low­ship of Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and Pax Christi USA) but I quickly real­ized that the Non​vi​o​lence​.org home­page itself could be used for more than just as a place to put links to mem­ber groups. I could use it to high­light the arti­cles I thought should get more pub­lic­ity, whether on or off the Non​vi​o​lence​.org domain.

The home­page adapted into what is now a rec­og­niz­able blog for­mat on Novem­ber 13, 1997 when I re-named the home­page “Non­vi­o­lence Web Upfront” and started post­ing links to inter­est­ing arti­cles from Non​vi​o​lence​.org mem­ber groups. In response to a com­ment the other day I won­dered how that fit in with the evo­lu­tion of blog­ging. I was shocked to learn from Wikipedia’s that the term “weblog” wasn’t coined until Decem­ber of that year. I think is less a coin­ci­dence than a con­fir­ma­tion that many of us were try­ing to fig­ure out a for­mat for shar­ing the web with others.

The ear­li­est edi­tion stored on Archive​.org is from Decem­ber 4, 1997. It focused on the hun­dredth anniver­sary of the birth of Catholic Worker co-founder Dorothy Day. To give you an sense of the early independently-published arti­cles, the Jan­u­ary 2, 1998 edi­tion included a guest piece by John Steitz, “Is the Non­vi­o­lence Web a Move­ment Half-Way House” that sounds eerily sim­i­lar to recent dis­cus­sions on Quaker Ranter.

Below is an excerpt from the email announce­ment for “Non­vi­o­lence Web Upfront” (typ­i­cally for me, I sent it out after I had been run­ning the new for­mat for awhile):

NONVIOLENCE WEB NEWS, by Mar­tin Kel­ley Week of Decem­ber 29, 1997

CONTENTS

Intro­duc­ing “Non­vi­o­lence Web Upfront”

New Pro­ce­dures
New Web­site #1: SERPAJ
New Web­site #2: Stop the Cassini Flyby
Two Awards
Num­bers Avail­able Upon Request
Weekly Vis­i­tor Counts

With my trav­el­ling and hol­i­day sched­ule, it’s been hard to keep reg­u­lar NVWeb News updates com­ing along, but it’s been a great month and there’s a lot. I’m espe­cially proud of the con­tin­u­ing evo­lu­tion of what I’m now call­ing “Non­vi­o­lence Web Upfront,” seen by 1800–2200 peo­ple a month!

———-

INTRODUCING “NONVIOLENCE WEB UPFRONT”

The new mag­a­zine for­mat of the NVWeb’s home­page has been need­ing a name. It needed to men­tioned the “Non­vi­o­lence Web” and I wanted it to imply that it was the site’s home­page (some­times referred to as a “front­page”) and that it con­tained mate­r­ial taken from the sites of the NVWeb.

So the name is “Non­vi­o­lence Web Upfront” and a trip to http://​www​.non​vi​o​lence​.org will see that spelled out big on top of the weekly-updated articles.

There’s also an archive of the weekly install­ments found at the bot­tom of NVWeb Upfront. It’s quite a good col­lec­tion already!

Now that this is mov­ing for­ward, I encour­age every­one to think about how they might con­tribute arti­cles. If you write an inter­est­ing opin­ion piece, essay, or story that you think would fit, send it along to me. For exam­ple, “War Toys: Re-Action-ist Fig­ures” FOR’s Vin­cent Romano’s piece from the Nov. 27 edi­tion, was an essay he had already writ­ten and made a good com­pli­men­tary piece for the Youth­Peace Week spe­cial. But don’t worry about themes: NVWeb Upfront is meant not only to be timely but to show the breadth of the non­vi­o­lence move­ment, so send your pieces along!

Of Theo, threats and selective press quoting

The Baby Theo blog got a men­tion in today’s Philadel­phia Inquirer, It’s almost as good as being there, by Kathy Boc­cella. They missed out on a huge rat­ings bonanza by not pick­ing Theo for their pic­tures. Stranger was that two inter­views pro­duced only one off-topic sub­stan­tive line: “Mar­tin Kelly [sic] expe­ri­enced the worst of it when some­one threat­ened his infant son on his Baby Theo Web page [via Archive​.org, as it appeared around the time this arti­cle was written].

Above: Theo on learn­ing he wasn’t going to be the fea­tured baby photo in the Inquirer piece… Real photo cap­tion: This week­end Julie Theo and I took a mini vaca­tion to the Penn­syl­va­nia coal regions. One of the stops was the beau­ti­fully restored Tamaqua train sta­tion, where Theo’s great great grand­fa­ther, the first Mar­tin John Kel­ley, worked as a Read­ing Rail­road con­duc­tor. We woke the lit­tle guy up from a car nap to see the sta­tion and snap this pic­ture, cruel par­ents that we are.

The Baby Theo site has been a lot of fun and it’s had great com­ments and emails of sup­port. It’s really a shame that the arti­cle only used it to strike that tired old refrain about the pos­si­ble dan­ger lurk­ing on the internet.

The threat had noth­ing to do with Theo or with the baby blog. I’ve run a promi­nent anti­war web­site (closed, was at non​vi​o​lence​.org) through two wars now, and in the nine years of its exis­tence I’ve amassed quite a col­lec­tion of abu­sive emails. I try not to take them too seri­ously: most come from sol­diers or from the fam­i­lies of solid­ers, peo­ple desparately afraid of the future and surely torn by the acts they’re being asked to com­mit. The inter­net pro­vides the psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tance for oth­er­wise good peo­ple to demo­nize the “com­mie Saddam-loving peacenik cow­ard.” You could get mad at a Pres­i­dent that actively mis­leads the coun­try into war but it’s eas­ier to turn your anger on some schmuck who runs an anti­war web­site in his spare time. Send­ing threat­en­ing emails is itself cow­ardly and anti-democratic, of course, and as I’ve writ­ten on Non​vi​o​lence​.org, it’s ter­ri­bly inap­pro­pri­ate for “mil­i­tary per­son­nel to use gov­ern­ment com­put­ers to threaten the free speech” of a dis­sent­ing Amer­i­can cit­i­zen. But it hap­pens. And because it hap­pens and because South Jer­sey has its share of pro-war hot­heads, you won’t see our spe­cific town men­tioned any­where on the site. When I asked the Inquirer reporter if they could not men­tion our town, she asked why, which led to the threat­en­ing emails, which led to the ques­tion whether Theo specif­i­cally had been threatened.

And yes, there was a retired Lieu­tenant Colonel who sent a par­tic­u­larly creepy set of emails (more on him below). The first email didn’t men­tion Theo. It was just one of those every­day emails wish­ing that my fam­ily would be gang-raped, tor­tured and exe­cuted in front of me. I usu­ally ignore these but responded to him, upon which I received a sec­ond email explain­ing that he was mak­ing a point with his threat (“You, your orga­ni­za­tion and oth­ers like you rep­re­sent the ‘flabby soft white under­belly’ of our Nation. This is the tis­sue of an ani­mal that is the tar­get of preda­tors.” Etc., etc., blah, blah, blah). This time he searched the Non​vi​o​lence​.org site more thor­oughly and specif­i­cally men­tioned Theo in his what-if sce­nario. This was one email out of the thou­sands I receive every month. It was an inap­pro­pri­ate rhetor­i­cal argu­ment against a political/religious stance I’ve taken as a pub­lic wit­ness. It was not a cred­i­ble threat to my son.

Still, pre­cau­tion is in order. I men­tioned this story to the Inquirer reporter only to explain why I didn’t want the town listed. When I talked about the blog, I talked about old friends and dis­tant rel­a­tives keep­ing up with us and shar­ing our joys via the web­site. I talked about how the act of putting together entries helped Julie & I see Theo’s changes. I told Kathy how it was fun that friends who we had met via the inter­net were able to see some­thing beyond the Quaker essays or polit­i­cal essays. None of that made it through to the arti­cle, which is a shame. A request to not pub­lish our home town became a sen­sa­tion­al­ist cau­tion­ary tale that is now being repeated as a rea­son not to blog. How stupid.

The cau­tion­ary les­son is only applic­a­ble for those who both run a baby blog and a heav­ily used polit­i­cal web­site. When your web­site tops 50,000 vis­i­tors a day, you might want to switch to a P.O. Box. End of lesson.

For­tu­nately with the inter­net we don’t have to rely on the fil­ter of a main­stream press reporters. Vis­i­tors from the Inquirer arti­cle have been look­ing around the site and pre­sum­ably see­ing it’s not all about inter­net dan­gers. Since the Inquirer arti­cle went up I’ve had twice as many vis­its from Google as I have from Philly​.com. Viva the web!


More:
For those inter­ested, the freaky retired Lieu­tenant Colonel is the chief exec­u­tive offi­cer of a pri­vate avi­a­tion com­pany based in Florida, with con­tracts in three African nations that just hap­pen to be of par­tic­u­lar inter­est to the U.S. State Depart­ment. Although the com­pany is named after him, his full name has been care­fully excised from his web­site. I don’t sus­pect that he really is retired from U.S.-sponsored mil­i­tary ser­vice, if you know what I mean… Here’s your tax dol­lars at work.

A few news­pa­per web­sites have repub­lished up the Inky arti­cle and two blog­ging news sites have picked up on it:

  • Yet Another Baby Blog­ging story uncov­ers dan­ger — but it’s not true ran in Blog​ging​Baby​.com: “When some­one threat­ened his son on his Baby Theo Web page, he took the site down; but left up a pic on his home page. Well, that is, accord­ing to the arti­cle, which some­how man­aged to not check its facts (maybe, ummm–go to the link you included in your arti­cle?) and dis­cover that, in fact, Baby Theo’s page is alive and well. We’re glad, Theo’s a cutie.”
  • Baby blog­gers ran in Net­fam­i­lynews. “The $64,000 question(s) is: Is this a shift of think­ing and behav­ior or, basi­cally, a mis­take?.. Mar­tin Kelly, whose baby was threat­ened by some­one who vis­ited his baby page, would lean toward the mis­take side of the ques­tion.” (No I wouldn’t, as I explained to the web­mas­ter later)

Non​vi​o​lence​.org syndicated

A lit­tle bit of house­keep­ing: There have been a few behind-the-scene changes on the Non​vi​o​lence​.org home­page this week­end. I’ve switched the blog­ging soft­ware over to Move­able­type.
The hard-core blog read­ers will appre­ci­ate that Non​vi​o​lence​.org now has an syn­di­cated news feed. That means that you can now read the home­page with soft­ware like Sharpreader, News­ga­tor, etc.
even the more-casual read­ers will appre­ci­ate that you can now com­ment directly on every arti­cle. There will be other sub­tler fea­tures added over time. Let me know if there are any problems.