Tech Swirl
bio: speaker/trainer on media, tech & politics [strategist & thought igniter in social media] esp. the #wmn #woc POV (Geekette '84)
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The first White House tweetup. I’ve been invited with a few others to be present for this event. This will be interesting to see how the questions will be asked and vetted. Is this Social Media savvy by the Obama administration or just another bump up for twitter. You decide, view it live,

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Submit your questions

Just tweet your questions with the hashtag #AskObama

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Get important updates and a reminder about the event the day before

Come back to this site

July 6th at 2pm EDT, 11am PDT, to watch President Obama respond live via webcast


12:05 pm, by digitalsista,

If you are not familiar with politics you will never know how often riders are in every bill. Much of our political process today is more about making a point versus doing what’s in the best interest of the country. I’ve spent 22 years in the political mecca and I’ve seen it all. The problem I have with this potential shut down is that this IS really about ideology as Senator Reid has sad, but it is also about making a point. No one really knows what the agencies do for the country, because they rarely spend the time doing their own research. At this point the cuts proposed are just about making a symbol of ideologies and not about what should really be done. We are missing that with all the noise..

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Climate Riders Invite a Midnight Shutdown

Urgent efforts to avert a government shutdown at midnight faltered yesterday over Republican initiatives to freeze climate rules, a challenge to the president’s environmental priorities at the outset of his re-election bid.

Controversial policy provisions meant to defund U.S. EPA’s rulemaking for greenhouse gas emissions and abortion programs are the key obstacles to negotiating a government funding package through September, Senate Democrats and administration officials said yesterday.

“The numbers are basically there,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said of the $33 billion that Democrats are willing to cut over the next six months. “The only thing holding up an agreement is ideology.”

Federal agencies are running on funding fumes, and the White House issued a stark warning to public employees that using BlackBerrys is forbidden during a shutdown. EPA officials, meanwhile, carved out a four-hour window for workers to rescue plants and other personal belongings from shuttered public buildings.

“It is illegal to volunteer,” Jeffrey Zients of the White House Office of Management and Budget, who’s overseeing shutdown plans, said of an estimated 800,000 public employees. “If there is a shutdown, it would have very real effects on the services the American people rely on, as well as on the economy as a whole.”


5:10 pm, by digitalsista,

These are the days that reminds me of all the years I’ve put in to making sure women of all backgrounds are seen in the same view as others in tech. These young ladies have definitely made me proud and will put a smile on my face for the rest of the day.

Hats off to Jonecia and Jazmine. Living proof stereotypes mean nothing. All it takes is determination and opportunity.

Spelman Students Beat Out Harvard and MIT for Best Mobile App

I just think it’s important to celebrate and raise up when our folks beat the odds and assumptions about what we’re capable of. In past challenges, students from places like Harvard and MIT won this technical challenge. Check out the hotness:

AT&T is pleased to announce that Jonecia Keels and Jazmine Miller of Spelman College, a historically black liberal arts college for women, have won the 2010 AT&T Big Mobile on Campus ChallengeSM with their next generation e-learning mobile application, HBCU Buddy.

HBCU Buddy is a mobile application created to educate and inform users, including both prospective and current college students, about Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) across the United States. It is a fully-fledged mobile service application that provides detailed information about each and every HBCU in the nation and integrates all facets of college life.

The application opens with a directory profiling each HBCU with information on academics, admissions, research, student life, alumni, among other details. After selecting a school, students can navigate through the school – literally – by accessing virtual tours of buildings, on-campus videos, and local GPS and directions.

HBCU Buddy can also provide students with customizable social networking features to connect with each other, their school and community. The application connects to social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, and integrates tools such as chat and calendar to help students stay informed. Students can use the application to follow the latest on school club and campus happenings, local events, hot spots around the community, and more.

Jonecia Keels and Jazmine Miller were recognized and awarded a $10,000 scholarship (divided between them) and a mobile device of their choice each at the Higher Ed Board of Advisors Meeting in Miami, Florida, on October 7, 2010.

See more at

1:24 pm, by digitalsista,

it’s been a minute since I checked in on @amplifytheweb I must say guys you are doing some great and interesting things

4:18 pm, by digitalsista,

It’s an interesting approach to a recent technology issue that has social implications. Driving while distracted is a problem but sending a message that texting kills is a bit farther than the truth. Drinking while driving kills; Putting on Make-up while driving kills; Speeding while turning around to yell at your children messing around in the back seat kills, Talking on a mobile phone that isn’t hands free kills; running red lights kills.

I can go on but I find some of these campaigns including Oprah’s recent “No Phone Zone” a complete distraction from the original problem which is “Driving While Distracted”

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‘Txting kills’ band sends a message

MASON CITY — Violators of the state’s new ban on texting while driving may be seeing pink.

Cerro Gordo County sheriff’s deputies are giving out pink thumb bracelets with the words “Txting Kills” imprinted on them to remind people not to text while they are driving.

Pam Ricke, sheriff’s department communications center supervisor, said the bracelets were provided through the Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau.

 “I don’t know how many times I’ve driven down the road and I’ve seen people texting,” Ricke said.

Cerro Gordo County Sheriff Kevin Pals said deputies have been handing out the bracelets with warnings. 

No tickets are being written for violations of the texting law in its first year.

“It’s a great awareness tool since most people text with their thumbs,” Pals said.

buy this photo JEFF HEINZ/The Globe Gazette "Txtng Kills" thumb bands are being given by Cerro Gordo County sheriff’s deputies to those who are caught texting while driving.

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3:37 pm, by digitalsista,

If you didn’t have enough time to promote your sessions or couldn’t find all the panels you were planning to vote for, you still have time.

Here are two sessions I’m involved in:
Social Media: The Pink Collar Ghetto of Tech?
Diverse panelists on a Heated topic in the industry

Lifecycles Tech & Society: Is 14yr Olds too Old?
We will be discussing tech trends and which cycles remain.

If you have some time vote and please leave a comment with your insights on what you think about them.

And to all the east coasters that means you have more time so no excuse 12:59 EST

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PanelPicker Voting Extended Through the Weekend!

pp_voting_open_front_extend_1.jpgWith so many great Music, Film and Interactive proposals to choose from, we thought our community could benefit from a PanelPicker voting extension! Now you will be able to continue browsing, voting and commenting until 11:59 CST Sunday, August 29 on which panels you think will be the best fit for the event in March.

Your input accounts for 30% of the decision-making process, (The SXSW Advisory Board accounts for 40% and the input of the SXSW staff accounts for the remaining 30%), so take some time to read the panels and help us create the best programming schedule possible for SXSW 2011!


10:03 am, by digitalsista,

Read Write Web has begun to take stories highlighting the work and risks of women in tech. There are women doing very cool things and this is just one opportunity to highlight them. If you know of any please submit them to @rww or Clair Cain Miller at the Times.

h/t to @rww for thinking about doing this and giving the upcoming summit a nod in the process. There will be some interesting women to get to know in tech who will be speaking there as well

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The technology press is full of stories of heroic men. In the startup economy, they often take the form of brave men who quit steady day jobs to join crazy startups. That’s an inspiring kind of story; I wrote about Louis Gray doing that earlier this week and really enjoyed sharing his news. (How Chris Messina Got a Job at Google is a related example.)

But what about women who make that kind of leap? There needs to be more stories told like that. I put out a call on Twitter and Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times said she too wants to tell more stories about brave women in technology. We live in an incredible time of cultural, economic and political change made possible by changing technology. That technology is being driven in many cases by women - so whose stories would you suggest we write about here on this blog?

Earlier this week, TechCrunch wrote about Christine Tsai leaving Google to join Dave McClure’s investment firm 500 Startups. This Spring, Alexa Andrzejewski left design firm Adaptive Path to work full time on her startup FoodSpotting. Those are cool stories, but we want more.

ReadWriteWeb’s own Audrey Watters has written about the challenges and upsides of incubating women entrepreneurs.

Perhaps the whole hero-style narrative is a bad idea, unhelpful to community collaboration just like Kaliya Hamlin argues the “war” metaphor is in rhetoric like “the identity war.” “I think what is seen as heroic is a narrative of the lone cowboy,” Hamlin said to me today. “Teams and communities who foster innovation and achieve together are often not seen and therefor not honored in the same way.”

We’ve written about a number of specific women doing heroic or particularly interesting work in tech here on ReadWriteWeb. Here are 7 of my favorites - please let us know in comments or by email ( whose stories are especially compelling that we ought to be writing about. Send them today, tomorrow - and don’t stop sending us interesting stories about women, please. Of course there are more ways to have an awesome story than just to quit your job - that’s just what got me thinking about this. Please send whatever recommendations you can of women who have great stories that people ought to read.


8:34 am, by digitalsista,

Not exactly sure what to make of this as of yet but I do find the name choice very interesting.

Definition: a dispersion or spreading, as of people originally belonging to one nation or having a common culture.

This word has been commonly used to represent Jewish and African descendants leaving their ancestral country. In this case I’m sure this means leaving the common culture of FaceBook. Since the big privacy concern this team decided to create the alternative open source version of FaceBook. They only expected to raise $10k but look at where they are now. They are ready for a launch let’s see where this goes.

Still find the name very curious for many reasons.

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Facebook Alternative Diaspora Launches September 15

Diaspora, the much-hyped open source alternative to Facebook, will release its code to the world on September 15, but promises that its creators are just getting started.

Earlier this year, Facebook was embroiled in controversy after it made significant privacy changes. Users didn’t like having more of their information public, so they revolted.

During the height of the crisis, four NYU students decided to create an open source alternative to Facebook. Their goal was to raise $10,000 for their summer project, but dramatic interest helped them raise over $100,000 through donations. Even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg donated to the project.

Since then, the Diaspora team has been mostly silent, coding away on their project. However, in a blog post earlier today, they revealed that the project is on track for release on September 15.

“We have Diaspora working, we like it, and it will be open sourced on September 15th,” the Diaspora team said in its announcement.

Diaspora was originally intended to be just a summer project, but the high interest in the project has changed the team’s plans. Diaspora’s development schedule has been extended.

“We aren’t going to stop working after we release,” Diaspora stated in its blog post. “Ilya and Raphael are taking leave from NYU, and we will continue to develop and maintain Diaspora as a long term project.”

What will Diaspora look like? According to the team, it’s focusing on “on building clear, contextual sharing.” One of the open source social network’s features will be making it easy and intuitive for users to decide what content gets added and shared to their social circles.

We’re looking forward to seeing the final product and trying it ourselves. What do you think of the Diaspora project?


8:30 pm, by digitalsista,

This proves that Silicon Valley frowns up the innovation of tech that comes from either public government or the social justice nonprofit sector. I’m not completely shocked about that but it proves why there is such a disconnect with technology and the social aspect of people [users] and how they would truly use a product.

There should be a partnership in Social Tech that I haven’t seen happen yet and this piece may explain why. Software apps like Amplify and the team behind it gets the value of both. If you truly incorporate the social and tech you get a better quality product.

That leads me to diversity as well which Silicon Valley seems to have a void in many aspects but they love @chamillionaire so here is my video with him on that topic

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With apologies to AOL and Frank Gruber, few big tech hits have come out of Washington DC. Which is strange, because on paper, DC has those “ingredients” for a high-tech ecosystem that so-called experts love to tout.

It has money, it has universities, it has AOL which could theoretically spin smart coders off, it has a big, honking, recession-proof customer right there in the form of the government. And there are a ton of smart tech people in the city. On the book tour for Sarah’s last book, nearly 400 people came to the DC event where she did a signing—a record on the 15-city tour.

But for all these attributes, DC has struggled to define its tech scene as more than just AOL. That may be changing. There is a cadre of smart, young techies pulled in by the Obama campaign and its social-media-can-win-elections-after-all aftermath. A lot of those people are spinning into companies that hope to use SMS, Twitter and other basic social media tactics to do more than just win elections—to change the world.

What’s interesting about this world is how much of a mirror image it is to Silicon Valley. It’s about trying to take tools created here and use them in innovative ways. And it’s not about getting rich—many of the most innovative techies in DC are starting non-profits. Increasingly, DC techies aren’t trying to be another Silicon Valley—they are creating their own ecosystem that’s in tune with why people move to DC and what DC has that no other place has.

Today, more than 90% of large companies use open source technology, and yet the largest software companies in the world are still proprietary vendors. Might we see something similar with social media? Taking out the handful of obvious winners like Facebook and Twitter, will the social impact—the change in how we donate money, talk to friends, live life and participate in government—be ultimately greater than the returns to shareholders?

We asked Scott Goodstein of Revolution Messaging—one of these digital do-gooders– to be our guest this week on Why Is This News? to talk about these trends. Sarah met Goodstein on a recent trip with the State Department to Colombia, where she also met other impressive digital do-gooders like Josh Nesbit from FrontlineSMS Medic and Maria Theresa Kumar of Voto Latino. Goodstein recently finished building a hate-crime alert system for the NAACP.


3:00 pm, by digitalsista,

Yes, this is a shameless clipping of my post about the 90th Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote on BlogHer. Can you imagine a time when there was politics with out women involved? There were African Americans who fought for this amendment even though they didn’t receive unfettered access to voting until 45 years later in the Voting Rights Act. It is indeed an important day.

Today, voting and political leaders are influenced through social media, accessing the power of social media can change political tides in an instant. I’m using these platforms to allow others to ask questions of the Administration through blogs, twitter, and web casting. Do you have any questions you want me to ask? Let me know by 7PM EST today.

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A Woman’s Right to Vote: What Would You Ask the White House 90 Years After the 19th Amendment?

It’s been 90 years since women earned the right to vote. Yes! I mean earned it.

The suffragettes — Alice Paul, Susan B. Anthony, and many more — rallied, marched, were imprisoned, starved themselves in order to have a say in the way our government votes. The final voting by the Senate was after the National Women’s Party urged voters not to vote for anti-suffrage candidates.

Although the amendment was finally passed, it didn’t mean ALL women could vote. There were suffragettes who weren’t allowed on the front lines because of race, but who still supported the fight in passing the amendment — Ida B. Wells, among others. Due to the tensions of that time among those who were also abolitionists, challenges about race after slavery made their contributions very complicated. Wells formed the first Black women’s suffrage club in 1913 and created a stir when she refused to stay in the back of the lines during the March on Washington. Maya Angelou shares her perspective on why she believes there were challenges during this time, describing some of the simple differences that black and white women experienced in this video.

Now that a woman’s right to vote has progressed to a woman’s right to run for office, we see new challenges. We make up only 18% of political leaders, as reported by the White House Project. Most women can come up with plenty of reasons why they shouldn’t run, but even bloggers can become political leaders, such as Jill Miller Zimon, who shared her story recently at the 2010 BlogHer conference.

Rallying women’s voices in the blogosphere to affect policy is a recent phenomenon, but it’s just as important as rallying in the field. Many political candidates are very engaged and eager to talk with bloggers and other online community organizers. However, we must remember not every community member is online. Many people struggle in impoverished environments, and as such, are typically the most affected by political decisions. Access to the power of social media can determine who can influence voting and which issues will be addressed and/or recognized.

As a call to action, this is your opportunity to get some answers to questions important to you! I have been given the chance to visit the White House Council on Women and Girls as a BlogHer interviewer, moderating a 30-minute chat with Tina Tchen, Deputy Assistant to the President & Director of the Office of Public Engagement. We’ll talk about honoring the historic moment of the 19th Amendment and celebrating the 90th anniversary of a women’s right to vote, and I’ll be asking her your questions.

What questions would YOU like to ask the administration? What changes would you like to see for women?

Here are the key areas I would like you to focus your questions:

  • The history of women’s suffrage and the accomplishments and the challenges of the past 90 years.
  • The view of the power of bloggers and their social capital, particularly women, as influencers in the political process by the Administration.
  • The Administration’s — and the Council for Women and Girls’ — goals on listening to the voices of non-middle-class women who don’t necessarily have tools to build social capital.
  • The Administration’s plans to address the issues for women and the economy including equal pay, small business owners, flexible work, et cetera.
  • Are there any issues that are important to you as a woman voter that this administration should know about?

1:35 pm, by digitalsista,