Thursday, August 30, 2012

My trip to Portland, an arts vacay


So for my Arts Thursday, I wanted to blog about my trip to Portland, and the arts pilgrimage it's turning out to be.

First off, I'm going to visit my fellow GALA Chorine, Ricky, whom I met at this year's GALA Choruses Festival in Denver. He sings with the Portland Gay Men's Chorus and invited me to come visit, so I took him up on it.

And to do some homework, I watched episodes of Portlandia. Members of PGMC make an appearance, see if you can spot 'em.

Ricky surprised me (and initiated this artistic theme) by saying he had scored us an invite to watch a Polaris Dance Theatre rehearsal. If I was up for it, and they were in a generative place, he said the Artistic Director even said I could join if I wanted to. So we'll be visiting Friday or Monday.

And this definitely was appealing to me as I was a Dance major in college, and consider dance to be an essential part of my own life, particularly this upcoming semester. But more on that later.

So the building I live in is just one of many Artspace has all over the country...and there's one in Portland, the Everett Stations Lofts. So I got in touch with their building manager, and he got back to me and set up a meeting with me and some of their residents for Sunday afternoon.

The arts bonanza even starts when I get in (after I Skype in to a board meeting in DC). Although I'll be leaving just two days before First Thursday, a gallery walk, I get in just in time for Last Thursday!! To which Ricky had this to tweet:
On a whim, I also searched my FB friends for anyone who might be in Portland, and came across several. Two of whom I knew from DC's electronic music scene, one I know from performing with on stage, and then another whom I saw perform when he toured through the area.

And the latter is with a karaoke bar called Voice Box, just the perfect way to round-out my scheduled agenda to visit friends with another LGBT chorus!!

So while I might not be blogging too much while I'm there, I will definitely have plenty to share for weeks to come when I get back. In the meantime, follow my Twitter for some on-the-scene mirco-blogging,

- JR

Monday, August 27, 2012

"5 reasons people unfollow you on Twitter" one


So this one's a bit of a quickie.

Came across this article from 8/10/12 shared at the National Arts Marketing Project FB page, 5 reasons people unfollow you on Twitter. It begins with:
1. Every tweet is about your product or service. 
"Exciting news! Version 5.3 just released!" "Check out our brand-new feature!" If every single tweet is about something your company is doing, I'm not going to follow you. I get flooded with enough marketing in the rest of my life.
I definitely recommend checking out the article for the other four.

I had to add the following:
Thank you for sharing this!! I would add (as it relates to #1) that not following back is another reason. Maybe not as common, but personally, when I reached my follower limit, the orgs I didn't unfollow were the ones who had reciprocated this simple SM gesture, as it showed that they were interested in engaging with me and not just broadcasting to me. 
I wonder how much of that comes from Twitter being treated like Facebook, and a new follower is thought of simply as a new like, when there's a different method of engagement and orgs have the ability to follow back on Twitter, where they don't have the opportunity to like back on Facebook.
So that's my take on things. I understand that people want to curate their Twitter stream, but that's what lists are for. The pros of following others back, providing they're non Real Estate agents, porn bots, or belong to Team #FollowBack (amongst other savory characters on twitter), seem to outweigh the cons.

Plus, like I mention, if and when people reach their following limit, my simple litmus test of who stays or who goes is simply who follows me back and who doesn't. And makes it really easy to figure out who one's fans are (which tweeps are following you that you aren't following back).

Something to consider when doing a social media audit. But this coupled with #1 from the link at the top would probably be my biggest quibble with many arts organizations on Twitter.

What do you think? Are you with an arts org that doesn't follow back most of its followers? Why not? If you do, why do you? How much of what you tweet is about the org? If you do tweet about other things, what do you tweet about?

And all these ultimately beg the question, what are you and your arts organization's goals on Twitter?

Because if engagement is one of them, then reciprocating follows and diversifying your content are things you should strongly consider doing, if you're not already,

- JR

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Comparing 10 DC Theatres on twitter: Method and overall ranking

Hey there,

So most, if not all, major theatre in the DC area are doing social media to some extent. And while there are many great reports, the most useful ones tend to be national in scope, and the most relevant ones cover the whole nonprofit sector, which isn't useful when talking about local and regional organizations.

Update: the ten theatres I looked at were Arena Stage, Metro Stage,Olney Theatre Center, Round House Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Signature Theatre, Studio Theatre, Theater J, Synetic Theater, & Woolly Mammoth Theatre. This blog breaks down how I went about comparing them, and includes the overall ranking at the end of the post.

With that in mind, I thought it'd be an interesting opportunity to just compare local theatres against each other. The great thing is that it's all relative. The not so great thing is that it's not objective. Regardless, I believe it's still useful to see if and which organizations might be doing social media better than others. And why just twitter? Because, with my own experience, it's the one that has more developed tools for measuring, since it's by nature a more public, open platform compared to Facebook.

So what did I look at? I considered the following areas, presence, relationships, and influence. Presence looked at appearance (the images chosen for the profile pic and wallpaper) and tweet frequency. Relationships looked at the following/follower ratio and active follower percentage. And influence looked at theatre companies' Klout and Peer Index score.

Each area in and of itself is somewhat subjective, so you'll see in my post I actually provide the breakdown of ranking by category, and then give the final combined ranking.

Presence is probably my own personal contribution to this, particularly with appearance, as all the other are objective and quantitive. The companies were ranked based on the images they chose for their profile pic and background. This is founded from articles I've read about best practices and effective engagement on social media, combined with my own experience. And then tweet frequency was pulled from TweetStats.

Tweet frequency is also kind of tricky, as there are many schools of thought that recommend a sweet spot for how often to tweet during the day. But all the theatres were averaging 2.4 tweets a day, so I simply took frequency in and of itself into consideration, as most weren't tweeting near the recommended daily amount. I combined these two because one is the static presence, while the other is the fluid one.

Followers combined the following to follower ratio, as well as the percentage of active followers. To do the first, I merely looked at each theatre company's page. This ratio is important, because it's one of the immediate ways that a company shows that it's looking to engage and not just to broadcast. Theatre companies (and twitter users in general) more on the broadcast end of the spectrum tend to have lower following to follower ratios. And while it's certainly a valid choice to make if one is using social media as an extension of their traditional and existing marketing efforts, simply broadcasting and not engaging tends not to be among best practices for the purpose of social media, particularly Twitter.

To determine the percentage of active users, I used a recently released StatusPeople tool, Fakers. This breaks down how many of one's followers are Fake, Inactive, and Good. You can check out my blog from the other day, on follower fraud. I thought percentage of active users had some value in determining the authenticity of one's following population.

I focused on ratio and percentages, and not simple number of followers, because I believe one of the biggest mistakes with social media is that it's about quantity, not quality. And one's following/follower ratio and percentage of active followers allow for relativity and context, and better give an idea of the quality of one's relationships to followers than a simple total does.

And this leads me to what might be the more questionable part of this comparison: taking into account Klout and Peer Index scores. But didn't I just say that qualitative measurements were more valuable than quantitative ones?
Yes, which is why sites like these are the subject of much debate. Because the attempt to quantify to the qualifiable. "How do you measure influence?" is a question they constantly seek to answer with their algorithms. And that's why I'm not just relying on one or the other, but using them both to check each other in how they measure each theatre company's influence. My score ranking takes both into consideration.

So, to reiterate, the three factors I took into account were presence, relationships, and influence.  And just to point out, this ranking isn't a measure of someone doing something right and others doing something wrong. Personally, I don't believe it's that comprehensive, one would need a individual social media audit for that. And ultimately, each theatre can only gauge its social media success based on its own goals and measurements.

That being said, here is the overall ranking:
  1. Woolly Mammoth Theatre
  2. Shakespeare Theatre Company
  3. Theater J
  4. Metro Stage
  5. Arena Stage
  6. Signature Theatre
  7. Round House
  8. Studio Theatre
  9. Olney Theatre
  10. Synetic Theater
I have a more detailed report with the breakdown at my J Street Jr blog, which includes individual ranking by category as well as other thoughts for future consideration. Let me know if you have any questions, or even suggestions for other things to take into consideration, both with Twitter, or any other social media platform in the future.

- JR

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Faking it on twitter, follower fraud

Hey there,

So, it's not Monday (which is my normal Social Media blogging day), but wanted to do a special post inspired by a tweet.

Twitter's great. Let me just say that. And while it's awesome to be able to connect with like-minded people, I love the opportunity to interact with people who might not be of like mind. One such person is @JamieGator, and he tweeted that President Obama's twitter followers were 70% fake, and a link to a USA Today piece:
"President Obama's Twitter account has 18.8 million followers -- but more than half of them really don't exist, according to reports." (read more)
The source of this was an article in the New York Times on celebrities buying their way to Twitter fame:
The practice [of buying followers] has become so widespread that StatusPeople, a social media management company in London, released a Web tool last month called the Fake Follower Check that it says can ascertain how many fake followers you and your friends have. (read more)
Now I might have read the latter piece wrong, but if not, then the "reports" mentioned in the initial quote is in actuality just a piece of data generated by this online tool Status People has made available, their Fake Follower Check.

Unfortunately neither article seems to shed any light on the metrics as to the methods or accuracy, even though Status People breaks it down on their Find Out More page:
  • How does it work? We take a sample of your follower data. Up to 1,000 records depending on how 'popular' you are and assess them against a number of simple spam criteria.
    On a very basic level spam accounts tend to have few or no followers and few or no tweets. But in contrast they tend to follow a lot of other accounts.
  • How accurate is it? For those of you with 100,000 followers or less we believe our tool will provide a very accurate insight into how many inactive and fake followers you have.
    If you're very, very 'popular' the tool will still provide good insight but may better reflect your current follower activity rather than your whole follower base.
To be fair, there is an update to the page that was just added this past week, on 8/22/12, with regard to their analyzing capacity, and how accurate it is:
We have managed to extend the accuracy of our App from 5,000 to 100,000 followers. So instead of grabbing the last 5,000 follower records and assessing up to 500 of them. We now, depending on the size of your follower base, grab up to 100,000 follower records and assess 1,000 of them across that base. This increases the accuracy of our App significantly. In fact it means that now 97% of the Twitter accounts checked will return an accurate set of scores. (read more)
So there it is. The New York Times articles starts of with a statements saying "If accurate", referring to this tool. Truth is, it's not a matter of "if accurate", it's "how accurate". And 97% is pretty good. Which brings me back to @jamiegator and his tweet.
Now the the 70% fake stat is probably the one point of confusion with the Fake Follower tool. When you first go their page, they show Tweeps and the stat for their percentage of"Fake" followers. But when you actually give it authorization to access your account, they give you a number for your followers that are "Fake", "Good", and also "Inactive". Yes, I was curious and checked out my own stats.

And, yes, I'm quite happy with those numbers. But, just so you know, I've always been selective about who follows me, and have been even more so since I reached my twitter following limit for the first time, back in May. In fact, I actually block people if I don't follow them back. Doesn't happen that often, but the general gist is that if they're tweeps that I don't want to follow, I don't want them following me. And this is reserved for certain types of accounts, like those that are spammy, like real estate agents, porn bots, and anyone who's on #TeamFollowBack, among others.

But I digress. Back to the 70% stat, I had to respond to @JamieGators tweet by putting the number in context.
To be precise, 29% of @BarackObama followers were fake and 39% were inactive, as of the time of this post. 

So in the initial quote in the New York Times, it's not that "more than half of them really don't exist", it's that more than half of them are fake OR inactive. Or that almost a third of them don't really exist. And even with only 32% of his followers being "Good", that still left over 6 million "real" followers on Twitter, compared to 59% of @MittRomney's 908,000 or so total followers.

Did I mention I was a mathlete in high school? If we finally want to put some perspective and compare "Good" followers of one to the other, @MittRomney has only 8.87% of the real/active followers that @BarackObama has. I love numbers...especially when they're put into context.

Anyway, looking forward to seeing how Status People continues to improve this metric, as well as check out their other, paid services. In the meantime, this is a nice freebie. When coupled with other tools like FriendorFollow and Klout, it continues to become easier and easier to take charge of one's own social media presence, depending on how intentional you want to be with it.

Any questions? Also, do you find this helpful and useful with your own social media use? Or do you manage fake and/or inactive followers on Twitter another way?

Please share in the comments. And check out pieces on Status People's Fake Follower tool on Mashable, Facebook Has 44% Fake Followers, Twitter Has 33%, and CNET, How many of your Twitter followers are fake. Finally, keep an eye out for my weekly "Social Media Monday" post in a couple of days, discussing how SM has effected my upcoming Portland Trip in less than a week.

- JR

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Paul Ryan and the Arts

Hey there,

So this'll be the third blog I've posted about Paul Ryan. Following one looking at him and LGBT issues, and a more recent one on internet memes inspired by him, I wanted to do one taking a look at him and the arts.

First, I'd like to highlight a recent incident that might initially come to mind when you think about Paul Ryan and the arts, or specifically artists. Sometime recently, he cited Rage Against the Machine as his favorite band, to which RATM's Tom Morello saw an opening and went for it, via an opinion piece in Rolling Stone:
Paul Ryan's love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing, because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades...
He goes on to say:
I wonder what Ryan's favorite Rage song is? Is it the one where we condemn the genocide of Native Americans? The one lambasting American imperialism? Our cover of "Fuck the Police"? Or is it the one where we call on the people to seize the means of production? So many excellent choices to jam out to at Young Republican meetings! (read more
This is a great segue to what is the focus of this piece, and ties in with research I did in grad school on how artists define community and arts advocacy. While Tom Morello might not have been speaking specifically to Paul Ryan's stance on other issues, he is speaking to being informed and civically participating in society and the democratic process.

My graduate studies were just the foundation for a larger conversation, how to get artists informed and advocating for themselves. To this purpose, Americans for the Arts' Action Fund has a great tool at their Action Center to look up the legislative voting records of those in public office, in terms of arts related legislation. Here's the page for Paul Ryan.

If you click on the votes tab, you'll see a break down of Paul Ryan's. What's important to notice is that it's not necessarily how he voted, but if you look at the score column next to that, whether it's a check mark or an "x".

You can see the details of what he voted on and how, but to sum it up from the graphical representation, over the course of the past thirteen years, he has one unscored vote, three voting with the arts, and twenty-nine against.


And this tool is more helpful than some because it translates what each vote means in terms of whether its support of or against via the score columns, when others only have the votes without any context.

Again, like with my blog on Paul Ryan and LGBT issues, this isn't to say that anyone should be a one-issue voter. But if the arts are something you care about and support, then this is a great tool to use and keep track of representatives and how they feel about and act on the arts.

So check out his voting record, and think about how the arts affect your life as you consider all the other issues that matter you in this upcoming election,

- JR

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

DC and our cupcake obsession

Hey there,

So it's come to my attention that DC has a cupcake obsession. Not sure if this is true in any other city, but this came to light at a dinner party.  Okay, let me amend that. I realized it probably wasn't just DC once a show called Cupcake Wars came up.

And so I went to the Twittersphere and posted on Facebook, just to see what would happen. I asked for people to weigh in on their favorite cupcake place as long as they named anything but Georgetown Cupcake. Nothing against the store from the group, it's just become a tourist trap to many locals, and when there are a number of other great cupcake places around the city, it doesn't make sense to wait in a long line when you don't have to. And there's ALWAYS a line around the corner and down the block, so kudos to them.

But I wanted to know what the alternatives were. So I posted on Facebook and sent out a tweet:
And the responses came pouring in.

Okay, so maybe not pouring in, as those were the two responses I got on Twitter that evening. So far that's Hello Cupcake : 1, Sprinkles : 1. Friends were much more responsive on Facebook. You can check out the original post here (and even join the conversation), but here're the unscientific, very subjective results from those on my Facebook combined with the two tweets.

Receiving honorable mentions with one mention each were Fancy Cakes, Fraiche, Frosting, Kupcakes & Co. (outside the beltway), Red Velvet, Sprinkles, Sticky Fingers, Sweet LobbySweet Themez, & Sweetbites (a food truck).

The two in second place, receiving several mentions each, were Hello Cupcake! & Crumbs. But the hands-down winner among my circle of FB friends and tweeps, with fifteen mentions, was Baked and Wired. And if that weren't enough to make me really want to check 'em out, the following tweet has eternally endeared them to me:
I will say, I'm a house head first and foremost, but can't say no to good jungle or drum & bass. Beyond that tweet, the rest of their tweetstream shows a tremendous amount of  humor and personality, really connecting and engaging with people, as well as just being fun. I would say that it's this kind of engagement that (all things being equal), really makes a difference in today's business world.

Anyway, there's a whole new cupcake world out there, I have yet to explore, but I know where my first stop will be. Curious as to what others think, if you or your friends might swing another way, if there's another cupcake place (mentioned or not) that holds a special place in your heart...and stomach.

Share your thoughts in the comments. Also, if there are any other food specialties or trends in DC you'd be interested in, if I blogged on it, definitely let me know. And remember, by no means was this "survey" in any way objective, this was just me polling my circle of friends on social media. If anything, it's personally fascinating to see that we have so many options in DC for cupcake consumption.

- JR

P.S. Check out a map of all the places mentioned below, with Baked and Wired in red, Hello Cupcake! & Crumbs in yellow, and the rest in blue.

View DC's cupcake obsession in a larger map

Bullying and "pussies"

Hey there,

Ah Social Media...just when I think I know you. So I came across an AP story about Karen Klein, the bus monitor that was bullied, taking a portion of the money people donated to her, and started an anti-bullying foundation.

If you're not familiar with the incident, you can google it, as well as watch the video which thrust the incident onto the national, and even international, stage. I personally haven't, and can't.

So, I posted the link on Facebook, and a friend shared it on her own page.  She said thanks, I responded you're welcome and then someone posted this:
Him: I mean I get it but is it just me or do people seem to be such huge pussies nowadays. By todays standard half the shit I encountered or possibly did myself growing up could be considered bullying or being bullied. I didn't whine about it or kill myself I just manned up.
This was not someone I knew so I can only assume it was a mutual friend at best. Now this is the part I love and hate about social media. Interacting with people you don't know in real life. Nevertheless, I responded with the following:
Me: I would have to say it is just you. I would recommend reading this article, because "bullying" is not the same as when we might've been growing up. Suicides aren't a sign that people are weaker than you might've been, it's a sign that they're enduring things (successfully and not) that make what you dealt with look like bullying foreplay. 
Besides, in a lot of cases (this bus monitor aside), we're not talking about people that are adults, we're talking about youth finding their way and coming into their own in a different world than the one we knew as youths.
And yes, we're not even addressing the fact that these kids were bullying an adult. I don't know about you, but I grew up respecting my elders. If anything, this was just proof positive that bullying is worse than its been. To which the individual who called those who are bullied pussies responded with:
Him: You're reply is riddled with assumptions that you know where I grew up, how I grew up or what I've encountered growing up.

I get that I really do I just think nowadays we live in a society of excuses. People don't man up, children are coddled and made to believe they're super special but when something comes along that shows them they're at best unexceptional at worst, they can't cope.

‎*Normal at best unexceptional at worst *
At this point, I took the gloves off. I thought I made my point, I backed it up with a source. But it was clear this was someone who had a world view that I would argue is part of the problem in dealing with the bullying issue. People that think they know what kids are going through today, and that think not being able to cope is their own fault, when it's not. I know plenty of adults who are still learning to cope, and have lost friends to suicide because they in a moment lost the ability and saw no other option. And we're not even talking about adults here, we're talking about kids killing themselves at younger ages. And a disproportionate number of those are LGBT youth. But that's neither here nor there. Here's my response to his claim that my reply assumed things:
Me: No it's not, it's based on summing up the points made in the link, one of the primary factors being the compounding effects cyber-bullying has on young people's psyches. I may not know how you grew up or anything about that, but I know for a fact that you didn't grow up with the social media platforms which enable youth to bully each other online in addition to having to face bullying and the real and cyber effects of it in person. 
"But thanks to the rise of social media and the Internet, bullying is no longer confined to just school property or hours." 
I made no assumptions about you, I merely stated the fact that things are different today than they were before. I'm sorry that you misunderstood any of my points, but definitely ask you re-read them and the article and comment on what I said. I can continue to give my two cents as well as post links, quote articles and include facts, but the conversation's useless if you're just going to ignore all that and resort to personal experience, anecdote, and personal "thoughts" devoid the context of anyone else's reality but your own. 
It sounds like you have an axe to grind against children that are coddled and what's worse is that the implication is that suicide is something that they deserve because they can't deal with being bullied. Even if that were true (and I'd like to see any facts you have to back that up that all children who commit suicide from being bullied were coddled), being coddled isn't the fault of the child but the parent, and the next step in your logic would be that parents who coddle their children deserve to have their kids take their own lives for not making them tougher. I personally wouldn't wish that on anyone, regardless of what I think of their parenting style. 
You say we live in a society of excuses, but the irony is that you sure seem to be making excuses for why anyone but the bully is responsible for what happens in terms of others reactions as a result of their actions, which to me would be the logical place to start. I'd say that you're point of view is a bigger problem we have, a society where some people like to try to blame the victim. 
Maybe something to think about.
I take a note from Ender's Game in my discussions and debates, making the points to drive the nail in the coffin. But sometimes, when people are so stuck in what they want to believe, or get defensive when being criticized, or sometimes don't even realize what they said, they find a way to pivot and still have something to respond to. And this person did:
Him: Ummm ... Where did I say bullies escape all blame? Where did I say those who are bullied are to blame? Where did I say I have an axe to grind with children? Again you seem bent on connecting dots that aren't even there. You apparently feel passionate about this and i can respect that about but don't let it turn you into being unable to see the difference between what I actually wrote as opposed to what you think I meant.
To which my rule of 3 kicked in. I have a rule of 3 for a lot of things, and in this case it was that my next response, my third one, would be my final one. Say all that I have to say, address what I can, and hope some of it sinks in. It's a response of last resort where I don't beat around the bush (not that I was earlier). But for me it's a little bittersweet. It's where I realize that there is no exchange of critical thought happening, and that we are just two brick walls running into each other. That being said, this final exchange is where I fortify mine while knocking the other one down. And so my final response was:
Me:'s apparent you haven't thought about this as much as others, including myself, but trust that my comments have been in direct response to what you've typed (as I have nothing else to go on) and just because you never explicitly "blamed" anyone, that doesn't mean it wasn't implied. Regardless, I'll attempt once more to engage and respond to you on this, by answering what it seems like you think were rhetorical questions. 
To answer your 2nd question, I'll just start with your first comment: 
"I mean I get it but is it just me or do people seem to be such huge pussies nowadays. By todays standard half the shit I encountered or possibly did myself growing up could be considered bullying or being bullied. I didn't whine about it or kill myself I just manned up."
Hopefully that doesn't need to be explained, how you are putting the fault on those whore bullied. But I can do so if need be. 
To address your 3rd question, I didn't say you have an axe to grind with children, I said it seems like you have one (aka an issue with) children who are coddled (so don't take my words out of context), in which case I'll just quote your third comment: 
"I get that I really do I just think nowadays we live in a society of excuses. People don't man up, children are coddled and made to believe they're super special but when something comes along that shows them they're at best unexceptional at worst, they can't cope." 
Now to go back to your first question, you never say bullies escape all blame outright. But between you blaming children for being pussies in your first comment, and you not only reiterating that belief in your second comment but at the very most implying the parents as culpable, at no point do you mention those doing the bullying as factor in the situation, nor do you respond to the point I made and supported that bullying is worse now than its ever been.
Again, you don't ever say bullies are to blame, but the only ones you've mentioned are to blame are the pussies who don't man up and end up committing suicide (your first comment, paraphrased). 
I don't seem bent on connecting the dots. I just do. Unfortunately, it seems like you've resorted to projecting as you seem to be bent on ignoring good and valid points that unfortunately don't jive well with your own person world view. 
I'd ask you to not only carefully read what I wrote, but to read what you wrote as well and ask yourself what exactly it was you meant. Because if I got the wrong idea, then please correct me. But don't think any of my responses were completely baseless. 
I will say you're right on one thing. I am passionate about this issue, because I don't think it's fair to call children who don't have the tools and capacity you did, some of which end up taking their own lives, pussies. To which I'll end where I began, responding to your initial comment and reiterating that yes, it is just you.
I know I might've gone too far. I have a tendency to over-communicate rather than under-communicate. I'm not going to say that bullying's never existed before, but I do think people underestimate and misunderstand its causes and effects, particularly with Media 2.0

What do you think? Should I have even bothered? Does this sound like conversations you've had, and which side have you been on? What other high-profile incidents do you remember?

Please share in the comments, and let me know if this is an issue that you'd like to read more about,


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What's hate got to do with it? Last week's FRC shooting

Hey there,

So remember that shooting last week at the "Family Research Council"? I know, that was barely a week ago. And Legitimate Rape Gate blew up on Sunday. Not saying that we, as a collective, can't focus on more than one issue at a time. But Social Media, and the 24/7 news cycle it fosters certainly doesn't help.

Just in case, last Wednesday a man entered the lobby of the FRC and shot a guard in the arm, before he was restrained and arrested. A number of LGBT groups signed on to a statement that was almost immediately released:
"We were saddened to hear news of the shooting this morning at the offices of the Family Research Council. Our hearts go out to the shooting victim, his family, and his co-workers. 
The motivation and circumstances behind today’s tragedy are still unknown, but regardless of what emerges as the reason for this shooting, we utterly reject and condemn such violence. We wish for a swift and complete recovery for the victim of this terrible incident."
 View the statement and see which organizations signed on at GLAAD's website.

2 days after, FRC released a statement on its website, titled "After the Shooting, We're Still Standing". Contrasted with the joint sympathy from LGBT groups, for an organization that has actively demonized the LGBT community, if you read the statement, it doesn't take long before FRC's affirmation turns into accusation:
...I believe it was the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which has recklessly labeled groups like FRC that they disagree with as "hate groups," that created this hostile environment."
Unfortunately for them, SPLC is anything but reckless in its methods. SPLC has a great page on the Family Research Council breaking down in depth why the organization fits under the label of being a hate group. They also had a well-written response to FRC's attempt to pivot the focus of the incident:
Perkins’ accusation is outrageous. The SPLC has listed the FRC as a hate group since 2010 because it has knowingly spread false and denigrating propaganda about LGBT people — not, as some claim, because it opposes same-sex marriage. The FRC and its allies on the religious right are saying, in effect, that offering legitimate and fact-based criticism in a democratic society is tantamount to suggesting that the objects of criticism should be the targets of criminal violence. (read more)
Some conservatives have nonetheless jumped on the bandwagon and used this incident to criticize SPLC for "enabling" an act like this against an organization that supports traditional marriage, and as the tip of the iceberg of a larger war on religion. There's an article CNN put out, SPLC draws conservative ire, which discussed this. Part of the main complaint is that the FRC, in being labeled a hate group, shares the stage with white supremacist, neo-nazi, and other similar groups that might more readily come to mind.

But one of the best responses to this apples and oranges argument I've seen is up on The Christian Century, written by Steve Thorngate:
When the Southern Poverty Law Center listed the FRC as a hate group, I affirmed the SPLC's move (as did a Century editorial). Others protested, often contrasting the FRC with violent fringe groups. Hate, this argument seems to take as given, by definition lacks widespread support and engages in violence. 
But that's not the SPLC's definition. And the SPLC didn't simply lob the label "hate group" at the FRC and let people react as they may. It carefully and soberly spelled out its case: the FRC doesn't just criticize gays and lesbians, it speaks of them in totalizing and demonizing ways. And it relies on junk science to do this. According to the SPLC, this constitutes a form of hate. (read more)
To further my initial analogy, sure, even if this is a case of apples and oranges, they're both still fruit. No pun or irony intended, with really. Hate is hate, regardless of how it manifests itself.

But I digress. One other article I thought really put things into perspective was one from the Baltimore Sun, on the politicization of the incident:
The SPLC has its own mission and its own criteria for evaluating organizations. Whether it was right in calling the FRC a hate group is not a debate that gay rights leaders need to have. (read more)
And we're back where we started, with LGBT groups unanimously denouncing this violent act. In addition to that, Chad Griffin (president of the Human Rights Campaign) tactfully addressed the very issue brought up above a couple of days ago, in a Washington Post opinion piece, weighing in on the conversation that  has been happening while putting perspective and remaining relatively objective. I love the point that he ends with:
We welcome the calls for reasoned discourse about LGBT equality. But that discussion must be predicated on truth, not demonization. No right-thinking person can believe a difference of opinion is license to do harm. At least on that, all of us can agree. (read more).
There's much more than I can address here, anywhere from FRC threatening to sue the SPLC, to discussions of what constitutes hate. Thoughts or comments, please share them, as well as any other articles you've found compelling.

And if there are any topics, current news, or issues you'd like me to consider for upcoming LGBT Tuesday posts, please let me know,


Monday, August 20, 2012

Paul Ryan and the Meme'ing of life

Hey there,

So with the announcement of the presumptive (a technicality that just seems silly) Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's vice presidential pick, Paul Ryan, thought it'd be a good chance to look at the ripple effects in the social media pool. This is turning into one in a limited series of posts on Paul Ryan as he intersects with my own interests. Last week, I blogged about Paul Ryan & LGBT issues. Later this week I'll be blogging about his support (or lack of support) for the arts.

The first would be Paul Ryan's twitter account, or should I say accounts, as there are two. One he was using as a representative who's last tweet as of the time of this post was:
And one he is using as the Republican VP pick, who's first tweet was:
Not only does this mean that there were 6 days of Twitter silence, but it seems he's sacrificed one channel for the other. I would personally say that this would have been a great opportunity to show that he's still engaged in the work of his current office while campaigning, and that one doesn't have to choose. But it also seems that both accounts have been used to broadcast rather than for discourse, and while both are forms of engagement, I believe the latter more active engagement is where social media has its true value, rather than the former, more passive and traditional one.

Now where things get interesting for me are the memes and parodies that have been inspired by this pick. In fact, the main meme is actually a marriage with a previous one, the Ryan Gosling one. If you're not familiar with it, check out this article at Social Times from last year. If you're familiar with it (or read the link), the following will make sense in the context of humor:
Mashable actually has a piece from last week about the Paul Ryan Gosling meme:
“Have election season, will meme” would be an apt tagline for this year’s presidential election, as evidenced by the latest and so far greatest of Twitter political parody accounts, @PaulRyanGosling. (read more)
If you wanna see some gems, The Daily Beast highlighted some of the best ones. And in true form with the Ryan Gosling meme, which was visually driven (images with captions), there is a Paul Ryan Gosling Tumblr. The internets aside, this meme has apparently made a real world appearance. Jezebel has a piece about a Paul Ryan Gosling quote flown over an actual Paul Ryan rally.

As long as we're talking real world effects from the memes of cyberspace, Policymic has a piece on the pros and cons of this one:
...the “Paul Ryan Gosling” meme could be damaging to the Romney/Ryan ticket; especially, since one of the narratives Obama and the Democrats are going to hammer away is the GOP’s supposed “War on Women.” In this sense, the “Paul Ryan Gosling” Tumblr is pure evil genius. (read more)
And I'm sure it's just going to get more interesting over the next couple of months, especially once the debates start. One meme I personally hope to see more of is this one:

Yes, that would be RuPaul Ryan. A good note to end on, I think. Any Paul Ryan Gosling favorites you have? Definitely share them.

The only other political meme that seems to have gained traction in recent time is the "Texts from Hillary" one. Are there any other political memes you've observed or remembered that compare?

Please comment with any of them, or just thoughts in general.

- JR

Sunday, August 19, 2012

It's not about class envy

Hey there,

So a friend of mine shared on Facebok a Politico piece, "Ryan’s mom is new face in Medicare wars". A friend of his replied with a response (and I'm paraphrasing) asking about all the rhetoric with regard to class envy, from his friends on the left. And he put it in the context of what is he supposed to teach his sons, if financial responsibility is a character flaw, and being rich is "demonized". To which I responded with this:
[My friend's friend]: I believe you've taken one word/label completely out of context from [my friend]'s comment. I'm not saying it doesn't have the tone you're justifiably reacting to, but I'd try to look at it without having a proverbial axe to grind. Because this isn't about class envy. 
In this context, I would say there's a difference between being "rich" and being "financially responsible", although I prefer the term "financially successful and upwardly mobile". I would also say that the matter is further complicated by one's responsibility to self, and one's responsibility to community. And there is the rub. 
I'll also say that I would warn you against implying that anyone who isn't making a profit professionally (i.e. saving more than their spending) implies that they're financially irresponsible. But that's a whole other bag of worms 
With [my friend]'s use, despite successfully amassing wealth, the implication is that because of Ms. Ryan's financial status, she probably won't be able to speak intelligently to people who aren't in her financial position, much less understand that because of their economic situation they might not have the freedom or options she has. 
So the other point with being responsible is that (again in this context) "rich" people see themselves financially responsible only for themselves, to which I will say that this is indeed a character flaw of such people, as they exist in their community. To beat dead horses, if money is power and with great power comes great responsibility, then I would conclude that the more one is financially successful, the more responsibility they have, as a member of their community, to others. 
And herein lies the rub. For "rich people", it is often perceived that not only is that responsibility a choice, but it's a choice that "rich" people don't make. Because when financially successfully people do make that choice, I believe we tend to call them philanthropists. 
So I would say bring your sons up with the ambition that you seem to have if not more, teach them the need to be financially responsible, but don't stop there. Let them know that it's not about how much they make, but what they decide to do with their financial success that will make them great.
Anyway, it was one of the FB posts where I realized I pretty much just wrote a substantial blog entry, and so wanted to share here. Due to respect for my friend's privacy, instead of linking to the original post, I had to copy mine in it's entirety here. And, to clarify, by no means am I saying that this post is a comprehensive definition of any of these terms. I'm merely breaking down the understanding and implication of "rich" in the context of this post and response.

With that, curious what others think, as I believe this is just scraping the surface of larger debates and discussions that have been going on in the public sphere. I realize that the idea of financial successful people having more responsibility to their community and society is a value judgement on my own part, to which I would attribute I get from my mom, and not just my Catholic upbringing, but really seeing her practice it.

She would practice it to the point where my dad would regularly joke (and it all comes from a place of love), about how many friends and families she helps and sometimes takes care of back in the Philippines. But if you know many older Filipinos, you would know that this is not an uncommon practice. What's remarkable is that it is practiced regardless of how much or how little they make.

But I digress, in this case, here in America, I believe that the difference between rich people and philanthropists, rich people think that being successful in and of itself is what makes you great while philanthropists believe that it doesn't stop there, and it is what you do with your succes that makes you great.

Would like to hear what you think, please let me know in the comments. Share any links that are relevant for you. And definitely share any examples that come to mind, or which you've experienced,


SXSW panels I recommend checking out

Hey there,

So I wanted to share some panels that have come up in my FB feed and twitter stream, proposals for next year's SXSW Interactive. If you're not familiar, here's a blurb from their page:
The 20th annual SXSW Interactive Festival will take place March 8-12, 2013 in Austin, Texas. An incubator of cutting-edge technologies and digital creativity, the event features five days of compelling presentations from the brightest minds in emerging technology, scores of exciting networking events hosted by industry leaders and an unbeatable line-up of special programs showcasing the best new websites, video games and startup ideas the community has to offer

Let me just point out that the following highlighted panels are not the result of any comprehensive vetting process. They are mostly people, and in one case an organization, that I've been fortunate enough to connect with in person.

That being said, I'm not receiving any compensation from any of of the people or organizations I mention below.

I also don't believe in coincidence, and I'm grateful to know those I've crossed paths with. Because people, in general, are up to amazing things.  With that, here are some panels I recommend checking out.

  • Minerva Project & 2tor CEOs: Future of Higher Ed - "Higher education is transforming before our eyes. Universities and colleges are under increasing pressure to stay relevant during the current digital revolution. But with a plethora of options, ranging from...(read more)"
  • College Vs. UnCollege: Are Degrees Worth It? - "In the Information Age, where knowledge has become ubiquitously accessible and informal education courses and certificates have blossomed, do formal college degrees still offer enough...(read more)"
  • My connection - I sing with a guy who works at 2tor, a company which has a representative on each panel proposed. You can check them out at their website previously linked, or also on Facebook.
Health, health care, and patient advocacy
  • Crowds for Care - "Who Controls what new drugs, treatments, and tech will emerge to improve care? Until now, the answer was only giant corporations and government committees because they control the funding. In July 2012, Patients and Doctors began funding the healthcare innovations that they care about through Crowdfunding, creating a huge wave of support that the corporations and government love because...(read more)"
  • My connection - Regina Holliday, she is one of the speakers on the panel. I met this wonderful woman at the first Social Justice Camp DC. In a related note, if you'd like to see the FB note I posted after the first night of this event, you can check it out here. You can found out more about her at her blog, as well as follow her on Twitter, and connect with her on Facebook. I encourage you to do any, if not all, of the above.
Nonprofits & social media
  • We <3 Social Data! But What Do We Do With It? - "Lots of nonprofits are buying social data, giving them an unprecedented amount of information about individual supporters. But once you have it, what do you do with it?" (Read more)
  • My connection - one of the panelists is with Small Act, who's tag line really sums up what they do, "Make a big impact in social media". I've gone to a couple of free trainings at the Foundation Center in DC, led by a small act employee, the wonderful Annie Lynsen who's position is Director of Awesomeness. And awesome is what anything they're involved with is guaranteed to be. You can follow them on Twitter and like them on Facebook.
  • Smooth Scrum: Lessons from the Theatre - "The last few decades of the American theater have seen a rapid growth in the number of ‘devising ensembles’—playwrights, actors, directors, and designers working together in collaborative groups to develop plays. It's agile development for the American stage. Instead of beginning with a script...(read more)
  • Here's a video embedded on the proposal page:
  • My connection - This is actually a second degree one, but the DC Theatre community is small like that, which I love. When I put it out on Twitter that I would be blogging about this, a fellow DC artist, friend, and social media rockstar, Chelsey (aka @chelseydc) tweeted back
     And I did. Well, Gwydion actually got to me first, and let me know about his proposal, which I promptly found and voted for. You can follow him on Twitter.
So there's that. I hope this helps you sift through the multitude of proposals if you've been in it, and if not, I hope this is a good start. And if there's any that you're involved with or support, certainly share them in the comments. But don't just copy & paste the link. At least say a little bit about how you're involved or connected.

And for any other friends who have proposals, let me know. Also, I want to go!! If anyone is looking to have someone help out and work with their social media presence before and during, hit me up :-)

- JR

Friday, August 17, 2012

Links I shared today

Hey there,

Trying out a little experiment. Because of the nuggets of time I know I view social media feeds in, I wanted to amalgamate what I've shared today so far (mainly on Facebook & Twitter), for anyone that might've missed any of it so far.

As you might know, my content (both personal and shared) tends to focus on the arts, LGBT issues, nonprofit stuff, politics & policy, and social media, plus random funnies here and there with a dollop of geeky nerdery. And honestly, this selection is partly just the roll of the social media die, and is by no means objective. That being said, I do my best to post and share particularly compelling and timely content.

  • Aids Walk Portland - support the Portland Gay Mens Chorus fundraiser but going to my friend Ricky's page. He originally had a $100 goal but people were so eager to support that he increased it to $200!!- donate here
  • Late Night with Jimmy Fallon - so Joshua Bennett is someone I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with here in DC, and he recently moved to NYC. He's barely been there, he is one of the dancers in the following clip, Battle of the Instand Dance Crews, Part 1 - watch on Hulu here
Social Media
And this, Cirque du Soleil's Totem at the National Harbor here near DC :-)

And I just got home, so who knows what else I'll share this evening!!

- JR

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Gabby Douglas & public art in VA

Hey there,

It's Arts, Dance, Music & Theatre Thursday and for today's post, I wanted to post on a mural recently done of Gabby Douglas in her home town of Virginia Beach.

Wikipedia's Mural entry gives a good perspective on the history and significance of murals:
Murals are important in that they bring art into the public sphere...A city benefits by the beauty of a work of art. (read more)
In Washington, DC in particular, murals have been used as a tool for community building. In fact, there's an organization called Murals DC which is dedicated to that:
Initiated in 2007 by Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, the project has resulted in the creation of over thirty murals that reflect the character, culture, and history of neighborhoods in the District (read more)
That being said, when I heard about the mural Todd and Eric Lindbergh did to celebrate Gabrielle Douglas' Olympic achievements, I could only think what I wonderful example of a community celebrating through art.

The brothers actually have a mural company called Talent Murals in Virginia Beach, Gabby's hometown, and they shared in front of the piece on their Facebook page.

In case you didn't know, Gabby currently resides in Iowa. But hometown pride is all about where you came from. And Gabby actually returned to Virginia Beach this evening.

The Virginia Pilot actually did an interview with Todd Lindbergh as it was being finished last week:

And Gabby, at her age, has shown tremendous poise and maturity. I say at her age, and not for her age, because I've seen people twice, thrice as old act half as mature. I also say that because she's had to deal with some immature and off-topic...focus. Rather than talk about her accomplishment a vocal few had to discuss her hair and insinuate that because she didn't treat or relax it, that she wasn't taking care of her appearance. Well, she responded quite gracefully, of which the below is just a portion:
“I don’t think people should be worried about that. We’re all champions and we’re all winners. I just say that it’s kind of, a stupid and crazy thought to think about my hair.”
Fortunately, she's had so much more positive than negative feedback, and all you have to do is follow her Twitter account. She's got 680,000 followers as of the time of this post and I'm sure it's still growing. You see her engaged not just by tweeting about what she's up to, but being gracious in RT'ing and responding to others. My favorite one  is the following:
Which brings us full circle, a wonderful example of a work of public art. In this case done by members of a community to celebrate the accomplishments of one of their own. Hoping Gabby gets to see it in person while she's there.

Any favorites from murals in your community? Please share. And keep an eye out for next week's Art, Dance, Music & Theatre Thursday blog, the GOP VP's nominee record on the arts,

- JR

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Burlesque DC

Hey there,

First off, I just want to start here: the video below is NOT burlesque (wow, did that really come out almost 2 years ago, already??):

Yes, I did see it, and loved it for what it was: a movie staring Cher and Christina Aguilera that had singing and dancing

Back to Burlesque, the art form. If you Google it, some definitions pop up on the first page of results, among links related to the movie. Those definitions include:

  • Wikipedia - ...a literary, dramatic or musical work intended to cause laughter by caricaturing the manner or spirit of serious works, or by ludicrous treatment of their subjects. The word derives from the Italian burlesco, which itself derives from the Italian burla – a joke, ridicule or mockery (read more
  • - an artistic composition, especially literary or dramatic, that,for the sake of laughter, vulgarizes lofty material or treats ordinary material with mock dignity (read more)

Slate had a piece on burlesque, by Sasha Watson, "Real Burlesque Is So Much Sexier Than the Movie", and says at one point:
The word burlesque for a long time meant comedic imitation or exaggeration, in both theater and literature. To "burlesque" someone is to spoof them with bawdy, earthy jokes and barbs. (read more)
All that being said, I can't think of better city for there to be a burlesque scene than Washington, DC. Google "burlesque" and "Washington, DC" and one of the top sites on the first page will be the Red Palace, the love child of what were once two separate venues, The Red & The Black and the Palace of Wonders.

In fact, the Red Palace has a show coming up this Saturday, Strip Club Time Machine Burlesque, presented by Sticky Buns Burlesque. I have to admit, my own burlesque experience has been somewhat limited. I performed with two female burlesque dancers as a filler act for part of an evening length performance of one acts. More recently, my friend Jeremy hosted a local burlesque artist's birthday party at Phase 1, with his Mx. May Nads character (like her on Facebook). Keep an eye out, I'll be blogging about him this Friday.

Burlesque & Belly Laughs
Presented as part of the 2012
Capital Fringe Festival
And then most recently, that same burlesque artist, Lola, was part of a show in this year's Capital Fringe Festival, Burlesque & Belly Laughs. The show was great, and neat as it paired an improv troupe with a group of burlesque performers. And it got a 4.5 star review at DC Metro Theater Arts.

Not only did I love the show, but Lola came by the other day to hang out with Jeremy and myself, to discuss what she's got cooking in the proverbial kitchen. I'll definitely share more later, but in the meantime, check out and bookmark her website, as well as any of the other artists/venues I mentioned earlier.

Because DC's got a burlesque scene.

- JR

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Paul Ryan on LGBT Isuues

Hey there,

So if you're part of and/or involved with the LGBT community now you've probably seen the Human Rights Campaign's response to the GOP's VP nomination by now:

Let's go ahead and assume that there aren't only 4 things one should know about Paul Ryan, but these are the ones HRC highlighted.

Erwin de Leon, a researcher and writer in the DC area, wrote a piece for Nonprofit Quarterly, "Ryan, Romney’s VP Pick, Stirs Viral Response from LGBT Group", and among the points of his article, I love the point he ends with, explaining the promptness with which HRC responded to the announcement.
If Romney, Ryan and most of the Republican Party didn’t adopt anti-LGBT positions, then perhaps they wouldn’t have such determined and energized opponents. (read more)
One issue that has come up is the larger conversation in terms of what LGBT issues are. This has prompted numerous exchanges all over the internets and social media, such as the one below, between Dan Savage and Chris Barron:

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. To be fair the exchange was more in depth than this selection, and I gotta give props to Dan Savage for RT'ing tweets that might be critical or disagree with him.

But personal thoughts and opinions aside, I recommend reading craigkg's piece on the Daily Kos, "ABC News: Ryan more pro-LGBT than GOP; Reality: not so much". He breaks down Paul Ryan's policy history into facts based on legislative voting records, which HRC turns into a scorecard for members of congress:
[Paul Ryan's] scores, in order for the 111th through 107th Congresses are, in order: Zero, 10, Zero, Zero, Zero. That's on a 100 point scale. (read more)
So...there's that. And don't mistake me, I don't think anyone should be a single issue voter, and I'm actually going to be blogging soon about Paul Ryan's support for the arts. If anything, it's curious when a person belongs to different groups & communities whose interests sometimes come into conflict with each other. Ultimately, I believe it's the duty of every individual to inform themselves, which is what I'm just beginning to do.

I suppose I've been fortunate that I have not been in that situation, and all the various communities I'm a part of, the different aspects of my individual identity, more or less exist in harmony with each other in my own life.

Any other articles you recommend checking out about Paul Ryan and his stance or history on LGBT issues? Let me know. Are you a member of the LGBT community that supports him? Please share why.

Also, coming up next week for Social Media Monday, I'll be blogging about Paul Ryan and the response his nomination had in social media. Definitely let me know if you've seen any particular memes are parody accounts on twitter, as well,

Until next time,