Tuesday, January 31, 2012

On Writing - Realization & Change

I had... well, I had thought I was pretty close to complete w/ Part 1 of Darkness Before Light - the current title of my story.  Upon reflection and some recent feedback, I think I've been aiming far too grand for my first story.

Originally had I planned a series of "short" stories to form an over all story, similar to the Bolos! novels.  But I think that was an artifact of my own impatience and now I am refocusing on telling the entire story behind Part 1.

Previously I had a climactic battle between my two main groups, the Terrans and Draconians.  It ended with a scene many years later of a worn out character.  The story after the battle is missing.

Reading _The Hunger Games_ last week helped with assimilating this, too.  Collins does such a good job of beating the snot out of her protagonists, but still making them challenged & likable, that I realized I was missing much of that.  There wasn't any characters that really had meat to them, although in my mind, I felt that they did.

The problem was that none of the meat is written.  The last scene had the most emotion in it and it was probably one of my favorite scenes to write.  But what of the 20K words before it?  Lots of action, giant robots, rail cannons, laser beams, plasma, and people dying - but not much character.  Those scenes have merit and I'm keeping them, but the story around them is missing.

So now I'm going back to fill in the blanks between Chapters 3 & 4 of Part 1, Darkness Before Light.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

SOPA = Dead [UPDATED 01.20.12] On Activism: Did the SOPA / PIPA blackout succeed?

Well, yesterday was interesting and exciting all at the same time.  It was the first major virtual protest that the internet created and organized, largely through the efforts of Reddit.com and Wikipedia.com.

But did it succeed?  The fall out from this is going to be very interesting.

Here are some bullets:
Wired.com's homepage during the blackout, January 18th, 2012.

And what are some of the responses?
Meanwhile, after the Obama Administration posted a note leading up to the black out on January 18th saying it would not support any legislation which limited Rights, brought out the ire of the moguls in Hollywood.
“God knows how much money we’ve given to Obama and the Democrats and yet they’re not supporting our interests. There’s been no greater supporters of him than we’ve been from the first day and the first fundraisers continuing until he was elected. We all were pleased. And, at its heart institutionally, Hollywood supports the Democrats. Now we need the administration to support us. This is a very important time for Hollywood."
If this doesn't illustrate the dangers of unlimited campaign funding, I'm not sure what does.  They give a politician a bunch of cash then they expect that everything they want to do is done.  That is bought politics.

The goal of the protest was to raise awareness about legislation that could change the way the internet operates.  In that, it was very successful.  From my own Facebook news feed and Google+ stream, quite a few people seemed to find out about SOPA and PIPA yesterday.  Quite a few friends on Facebook also contacted their Senators and Congressmen/women to voice their dissent.

That backlash apparently swayed more than a quarter of the Senate to come out in opposition against these bills.  That is no small feat.  It should make the lobbyists on Capitol Hill worry, too.  New Media is changing everything, and that is truly the heart of this battle.  It's not copyright versus illegal sharing.

This is Old media versus New media, the print publication vs. the internet, the record label vs. self distribution, the middle-man vs. the consumer.  This is about adaptation versus stagnation.

We're seeing New media start to stretch its muscles, realize that it can organize people into a cause, illustrate the impact that lobbyist-written legislation can have.  It can demonstrate who is bought and who isn't.  If this is just the first crash of a series of waves, than I would expect some rough seas coming up in this year.  It's an election year with many hot-button issues - from campaign finance reform to the wealth gap between the ultra rich and the shrinking middle class.

The internet is going to continue to influence and press politics.  People have to realize that as much as my generation, the 20 to 30-somethings, are ingrained in the internet, we are nothing compared to the generation behind us.  As they move from college into the world and politics begin to become a focus for them, the old method of lobbyists in DC controlling the strings will start to turn.  They will be raising money through sites like Reddit, educating through Wikipedia, and fact-checking for themselves, not buying what mainstream media is telling them.

This battle will be the first in a long series of confrontations.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

On Government: Response from Scott Rigell regarding SOPA.

So I've contacted Representative Rigell twice regarding SOPA, once in November and again in early December.  I was initially a bit excited & curious to see his response when I saw it pop into my email, hoping for a "I'm going to argue against SOPA" type of message.  Unfortunately, I was disappointed as it is just a canned response.

The email follows:

Dear Mr. Goodwin,

Thank you very much for contacting me to express your views on the issues facing our country.  I value and give careful consideration to the good counsel that I receive from you and all those whom I have the privilege to represent in Congress.  I refer to that good counsel as the "wisdom of the district."

As you may know, each session, Congress considers approximately ten thousand bills involving a wide array of issues. As your Congressman, it is my duty to ensure that your views and those of everyone in the 2nd District of Virginia are represented here in Washington. It is the ideas, opinions, and personal stories that you share with me that allow me to be a successful Representative. 

It is truly an honor to represent the people of Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Hampton, and the Eastern Shore, and I greatly appreciate your feedback.  I will work hard to bring the values of the 2nd Congressional District to Washington.

It is important to me that I keep you fully informed regarding how I am representing you in Congress, so please visit my website Rigell.house.gov and sign up for my e-newsletter.  I also encourage you to join me on Facebook at facebook.com/RepScottRigell. Both sites feature timely updates on the votes I am taking on the House floor.

In closing, please know that I consider it a high honor to serve and represent you and your family in Congress.

Mindful that I work for you, I remain
Yours in Freedom,

Scott Rigell
Member of Congress

Mr. Rigell doesn't say, one way or another, what his view is on the bill.  I'm going to interpret this, however, as implicit support.  If you do not say you are in opposition, then I think the only safe course is to assume support and to continue attempts to influence.

Other information:
 A quick search of reddit reveals the views of quite a few Representatives and Senators, both in support or opposition.