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« | Main | Mainstream citizen journalism »

Mar 24, 2006

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sean coon

you're right, ed, a financial demarcation is a touchy one, but my guess is that the people we're looking to develop relationships with are more "off-put" by their underrepresentaion in this society and community than by our goals. i mean, every day businesses and government make obvious decisions to exclude people along these very same lines.

we're looking to empower *people* whose voices get lost in the wind (that's where the permalink and hyperlink comes into play).

the homeless community is a starting point, as their voice is completely ignored within our society of production and social norms. not many people take a moment to listen to the voice of the homeless, let alone view them within the context of their own humanity.

through our common use of language, search results can transcend those physical and mental divides.

in the end, this is simply about people. the wiki will be collaborative soon, so i'm looking forward to any suggestions you might have.

Cara Michele

One of the very things I'd like to address with this project is the idea that someone being homeless or poor is "off-putting."

Ed Cone

I think that's a very interesting and useful topic.

At the same time, people may be reluctant to choose current economic status as their mode of self-identification or public presentation.

I am, and I'm neither homeless nor poor.

sean coon

that's the thing... people living below the poverty line often view the perception of themselves as singular and absolute, as their economic *value* is blasted back at them 24/7 by the machinations of our society and community.

we want to give them the tools to speak to that issue or anything else, while putting money in their pocket for their efforts.

the wiki conversation is a stake in the ground. we're not sending out surveys for "the poor" to sign up. i'm dedicating my time, my life, to developing relationships with people in the real, and giving them the opportunity of a platform if they so desire. the user experience, the positioning, the identity of the site will conform to the lessons i learn in these conversations.

i don't have to answer to some suits while designing this experience.

it won't come off as "listen to the poor people speak." it'll come off people want it to. over my 35 years, i've tasted poverty and have even skirted on the fringe of homelessness. this is a very personal and serious project for me.

Ed Cone

Cool. I'm trying to be helpful, not negative.

Cara Michele

"...people may be reluctant to choose current economic status as their mode of self-identification or public presentation."

Homeless people aren't given that option by society, and that's just the point. By giving the homeless a voice to share their perspectives and their stories and their histories and their lives, we're giving them an opportunity to self-identify in any way they choose, and we're giving "people with homes" new ways to see and identify them besides just "homeless."

sean coon

i know you are, ed, and i very much appreciate it. i completely welcome any insight you might have, particularly regarding potential advertising relationships with local business. we want to enable people to empower themselves (apperception, financial, etc.) with their voice while *building* community.

you're just getting a pretty strong taste of my passion on this issue... sorry 'bout that. ;)

Ed Cone

Not to be argumentative, but if you give people who are typed by society according to their economic status a forum, and you label that forum according to economic status, aren't you locking them into the economic labeling?

sean coon

no.

the user experience, the positioning, the identity of the site will conform to the lessons i learn in these conversations.

i don't have to answer to some suits while designing this experience.

it won't come off as "listen to the poor people speak." it'll come off people want it to.

the wiki is a means for being transparent with our goals and progress and to encourage constructive participation from the community. it is not and should not be held to be indicative of the final experience design of the collaborative blog, nor the conversation that occurs within.

the bloggers will be able to blog anonymously if they wish.

if they wish to talk about their financial issues, that's up to them, but it's not an agenda of ours. they could blog all day about buttered popcorn for all i care... i just want to develop relationships and deliver a platform to present their voice (whatever it ends up being).

greensboro101 is an aggregator that caters to citizens currently on the networked side of the digital divide; people with the technical knowhow to blog and predominantly, the financial means to be online in the first place. 101 is their (our) mechanism available to automatically augment their (our) voices.

there's nothing automatic about this undertaking, as we must be grass roots to develop trusting relationships that will generate participation; being selective along economic lines is the obvious result of where the divide makes itself, well, obvious.

Ginger Bush

I agree completely with Sean and Carla. These people are disenfranchised, and it's ok to receive support and group with others of similar circumstance.

Labeling is something we all do, unfortunately Ed, and typing people is something that I'm sure you do yourself.

Ginger Bush

Also, Sean and Carla, I'm publishing a poetry chapbook, Channeling Dreams, with $2.00 from every book sold earmarked for the Homeless Prevention Coalition of Guilford County. There won't be a lot of profit after this and shipping costs are covered, but that's OK.

Copies are available through East House Press, PO Box 337, Colfax, NC 27235)

I'm glad there are folks like you out there, who reach out to help others, lift their spirits rather than beat them further down. God bless you both.

Ed Cone

No, Ginger, I'm absolutely perfect and immune to the foibles of other mortals. Excessive modesty is my only flaw.

But you are correct that labeling people can be unfortunate, which is why I'm raising the issue.

I think Sean's last comment clears it up a bit -- the blogs don't all have say "I am defined by my economic status."

As I see it the point, or one of the points, of providing a forum for people who are voiceless online is to let them show that they are people in full, and NOT just defined by their lack of economic resources.

sean coon

exactamundo, ed.

Ginger Bush

"As I see it the point, or one of the points, of providing a forum for people who are voiceless online is to let them show that they are people in full, and NOT just defined by their lack of economic resources."


Of course, Ed, that's understood. :)

Cara Michele

From Sean: "the bloggers will be able to blog anonymously if they wish."

And actually, I will likely urge those with whom I speak to do so. I've been doing homeless outreach long enough to know the strong stigma and stereotypes associated with homelessness, poverty, substance abuse, mental illness, HIV/AIDS, etc. And my first instinct is to (fiercely) protect those I serve. (I'm a mama.) So I will encourage them to develop their online (anonymous) persona before they reveal their NRL one, if and when they choose to.

Sean may have different thoughts on this, and the bloggers themselves may want to use their real names from the beginning. It will be up to them, not me. Those are just my thoughts and concerns.

Ed Cone

I think your concerns are related to the ones I raised, CM.

Publishing onto the web is a big deal. When I teach basic blogging, I spend a fair amount of time on the responsibilities and possible reprecussions of doing it.

If I can be helpful in that capacity, or any other, please let me know.

Cara Michele

"...possible repercussions..."

The internet is forever, isn't it? Scary.

And thank you for offering to help. I'll make sure Sean sees that. :)

sean coon

she made sure i saw that.

we're open to anyone who would like to help, from programmers (i'm talking to one right now) to designers to lawyers willing to provide a smidget of pro-bono set up work and advice... if you'd like to help on any level, especially teaching blogging, let's talk about in in a few weeks.

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