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 QuakerQuaker.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.
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.
I started Nonviolence.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 Nonviolence.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 Nonviolence.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 Nonviolence.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
Introducing “Nonviolence Web Upfront”
New Website #1: SERPAJ
New Website #2: Stop the Cassini Flyby
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.nonviolence.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!
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].
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 nonviolence.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 Nonviolence.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 Nonviolence.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!
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 BloggingBaby.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)
A little bit of housekeeping: There have been a few behind-the-scene changes on the Nonviolence.org homepage this weekend. I’ve switched the blogging software over to Moveabletype.
The hard-core blog readers will appreciate that Nonviolence.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.