Archive for July, 2007
Here’s the video I shot of Michael Moore during his appearance on Talk of the Nation yesterday. It’s basically a five-minute highlight real taken from the 22 minutes of footage I shot of him. The raw clips are also being posted on YouTube. You can also find a higher-resolution version on the NPR Blog of the Nation site. -andy
Documentary maker and all-around provocateur Michael Moore came by NPR’s DC studios today for an interview on Talk of the Nation. The show invited me to shoot some video of him and take some pictures, too. This pic shows Moore posing with executive producer Sue Goodwin (top left) and other members of the TOTN crew. (I just love the grin on Barrie Hardymon’s face in the center of the photo.)
Moore was at the studio with two of his assistants for about 30 minutes. I got to hang out with them and Sue Goodwin in the green room prior to the on-air interview. While I’d hoped to shoot some casual footage of everyone hanging out, Moore requested I didn’t. “Look at me,” he said, slouching on the couch. “Seven weeks straight of this – exhausted.” He was very nice about it, though, and I didn’t want to start things on the wrong foot. So I put the cameras down until Barrie and the others came in to introduce themselves and pose for few quick pictures with him, which he was happy to do at that point.
In between, we all talked about all sorts of things, including the upcoming 40th anniversary of Who drummer Keith Moon crashing his car into the Flint, Michigan Holiday Inn swimming pool. Moore asked me if I’d seen Sicko yet, and I convinced I hadn’t, explaining I was waiting for it to play at our local theatre as a matinee for those of us who have to bring screaming infants along with us. “I know what that’s all about,” he said, telling a story of all the evil eyes he and his wife would get when they’d bring their baby girl to DC’s Uptown Theatre in Cleveland Park, when they couldn’t afford to pay a baby sitter for the night.
When the time came for him to go on-air, I took off my shoes and followed him into the studio. Since I’d be moving around while shooting video of him, I didn’t want my shoes to make any noise while I walked around the studio. Thankfully, the 20-minute interview passed without any major incidents. No one mention Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and I didn’t accidentally collide into any furniture.
Once it was over, Moore said his goodbyes to the production team, signed an autograph for an intern, then headed out to another studio for an interview with News & Notes.
Right now I’m still exporting the footage I shot. I’ll let you know when it’s ready for viewing. -andy
In case you haven’t heard the news, Sajani Shakya, the Kumari of Bhaktapur, Nepal is being reinstated as a living goddess. Sajani received enormous attention in the press after losing her status as a living goddess because of her recent goodwill tour of the United States. Kumaris are young Buddhist girls who are selected to serve as living goddesses until they reach puberty. In Sajani’s case, she was effectively “fired” for defiling herself by coming to the United States.
Negotiations with Nepali religious authorities to restore her status had been going on for over a week, according to Marc Hawker, co-producer of the documentary Living Goddess. Marc and his colleagues had brought Sajani to the US for the premiere of their documentary, so they felt compelled to assist her when religious authorities said they would remove her. When I spoke with Marc last weekend, film director Ishbel Whitaker had already been in Nepal for a week trying to work out the details, while Sajani awaited the results in India. Marc said he was flying out to join them for her return to Nepal, at which point she would fly back “as a bona fida goddess.” They didn’t want news of the deal to leak out until she returned home, in order for her family to avoid a media circus.
I can only imagine that Sajani and her family must be quite relieved. Marc says he’ll try to get me some pictures from her homecoming. I’ll be sure to post them if he does. -andy
Tomorrow morning I’ll be heading to the airport at the crack of dawn for a quick daytrip to Boston. I’ll be giving a speech at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library on the impact of Web 2.0 and social media on journalism, particularly coverage of election 2008. Here’s a draft of the powerpoint presentation I plan to share with the audience. I wish I could stay longer, particularly because the Open Society Institute is convening a forum on youth media in Cambridge, with some of my favorite people and thinkers, including Ethan Zuckerman, Dina Mehta, Jennifer Corriero and Danah Boyd. Unfortunately, as soon as my speech is done, I need to bury my head in proposal writing and related meetings. Such is life…. -andy
The Associated Press is now reporting that Intel and MIT’s One Laptop Per Child initiative have reached an accord. The two entities have been bashing each other in the press for some time now, dissing each other’s technology like an east coast-west coast rap war. Now, the AP says that Intel will actually be joining the OLPC board and contribute funding to the development of its so-called $100 laptop.
More from the AP:
Under their new partnership, Intel and One Laptop Per Child might seek ways to package their computers together for overseas governments. For example, Intel’s Classmate, which has to be plugged in, might be an option for urban settings, while the XO laptops, which use very little power and can be mechanically recharged by hand, could go into rural districts.
“There are an awful lot of educational scenarios between K and 12,” said William Swope, Intel’s director of corporate affairs. “We don’t think all those are going to be served by any one form factor, by any one technology, by any one product.”
Walter Bender, who oversees software and content for One Laptop Per Child, said the biggest benefit for his group would be Intel’s work with the project on future technical developments. That will deepen the pool of software and hardware designers available to perfect the XO machines.
“It’s a big problem, more than 15 people at OLPC can do all by themselves,” Bender said. “Getting more talent lined up to help us is only a plus.”
All I can say is this: Hallelujah.
For several years now, I’ve been screaming a particular mantra. When it comes to global development, different tools work best in different circumstances. There is no one single magic bullet, technological or otherwise, that will solve the ills of poverty, corruption or educational inequity. Sure, mobile phones have spread like wildfire throughout the developing world and are helping countries make important leaps. But that doesn’t mean those countries shouldn’t explore using telecentres or low-cost laptops for different situations. Try telling a small-business owner in Ghana that they can only use their mobile phone for all of their productivity needs. And sometimes technology isn’t the answer at all, either – we shouldn’t be afraid to admit that when that’s the case.
Similarly, you can’t expect a single branded device, even one created by entities as talented as Intel or MIT, to suit the needs of every development challenge in a particular country. Like the AP article notes, technological needs in an urban context differ from tech needs in a rural context. Classroom settings and business settings are different. The needs of an NGO working in a refugee camp are different from the needs of officials working in a governmental office headquarters.
With Intel and OLPC coming together and acknowledging that their devices will have pros and cons depending on the circumstance, countries that embrace their technologies will hopefully be able to make smarter, more strategic choices. Less time will be wasted in debating whether a government should by this tool or that one as the sole answer to all of their needs, simply because the person pitching the tool is well-resourced or charismatic. Imagine if we could get mobile phone manufacturers, Microsoft, free/open source advocates, etc., to adopt similar mindsets.
Different tools for different circumstances. Perhaps we’re making some progress. -andy
Shocking news out of Nepal today – Sajani Shakya, the Kumari of Bhaktapur, has actually been fired for visiting the United States.
As you may recall, I blogged about Sajani’s visit a couple of weeks ago when she was in Silver Spring, Maryland for the Silverdocs festival. Kumaris are young Buddhist girls from Nepal who are selected at a young age to serve as “living goddesses” until they reach puberty. They participate in Hindu rituals – there’s a lot of overlap between the two religions in Nepal – and are revered by the local population. Some Kumaris live very cloistered lives, but Sajani was allowed to live with her parents and go to school. So when she had the chance to visit the United States, she took it. And now she’s actually lost her job because of it.
“We have already begun looking for a new girl to replace the current Kumari,” said Jaya Prasad Regmi, head of the committee that selects the Bhaktapur Kumari. “Our tradition does not allow the living goddess to travel to other countries…. Her father has said that it was a mistake as they did not get permission from concerned authorities to take her abroad.”
Sajani is still traveling abroad; I can only imagine how she’s taking the news. When she was in the DC area, she even talked about how upset she’ll be when she’s no longer Kumari. I can only imagine she never dreamed it would be this soon. -andy
In the first part of the video, Dennis Kucinich is asked about anti-hate speech legislation, which the questioner frames as "chipping away at your constitutional First Amendment rights," irritating Kucinich. In the second part of the video, a person in the crowd of reporters harangues Bill Richardson about his participation in the Bohemian Grove Club, which the questioner refers to as place that conducts "mock human sacrifice." The questioner refuses to let up, even as reporters and bloggers in the crowd tell him to leave it alone. -andy