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Free Falling...

into myth, meaning and media

4.01.2004

The Story of Cassandra

"Have I missed the mark, or, like true archer, do I strike my quarry? Or am I prophet of lies, a babbler from door to door?" [Cassandra. Aeschylus, Agamemnon 1194]

Cassandra was a Greek seer who unfortunately lacked the power of persuasion, and hence was never believed. She is mentioned briefly in Homer's Iliad ( a trusted source of information on Greek myth) as the child of King Priam of Troy. She was apparently considered Priam's most beautiful daughter.

We first find the tale of Cassandra's legendary gifts in works of ancient Greek literature. According to one version of the story, Cassandra received the power to foretell the future from the god Apollo. Apparently, Apollo instructed the mortal woman and taught her about the art of prophecy because he had an ulterior motive - the god wished to win her affections. Cassandra accepted Apollo as a teacher, but not as a lover. Insulted by this refusal, he punished Cassandra. Apollo caused the gift that he gave Cassandra to be twisted, making everyone who heard her true and accurate foretellings of future events believe that they were hearing lies.

And indeed, the burden of Cassandra's "gift" is evident in mythology. She predicted the outcome of many disastrous events. In one memorable example, Cassandra announced the dire consequences of the Trojans accepting the infamous Wooden Horse from their Greek opponents. But as Apollo made certain, no one believed Cassandra when she warned her companions about the future. And this, in the end, was to be Cassandra's tragic fate.

The expression "Don't be such a Cassandra" comes from this myth. But surprisingly, Cassandra was one of the most popular names for babies all through the nineties.

posted by Anindita  # 10:33

3.01.2004

LinkedIn

LinkedIn claims that your "network is bigger than you think". A professional network that is very clear about it's purpose, LinkedIn does not encourage you to make friends, sell real estate, or find people to date. LinkedIn is driven by "invitations", which effectively act as the barriers and give better privacy control than a lot of the other social (or business) networks.

Features include job searches, contact searches, endorsements (which is something you get other contacts on the network to post on your page), and requests. While the basic functionality is not all that different from other social software, such as Ryze or Tribe, they have made a noticeable effort to keep the focus on a more professional kind of contact-building and sharing.

LinkedIn, active in 80 countries with 48,000 regular users, does not allow people to cold-call each other. Instead mutual contacts can vet whether they want to refer you.

CNN.com carried an article on LinkedIn: "LinkedIn, active in 80 countries with 48,000 regular users, does not allow people to cold-call each other. Instead mutual contacts can vet whether they want to refer you."We facilitate over 1,000 successful referrals per month. Our users accept three-quarters of all requests because they never hear from strangers," says Guericke."

PC Magazine says this about LinkedIn: "Executives should try LinkedIn. At best, it could be incredibly useful. At worst, the site guards your privacy and doesn't waste your time."

I like the fact that LinkedIn has a defined purpose that comes through clearly on the home page itself. On the downside, first-time networkers may find the interface a tad intimidating; Ryze is friendlier and easier to get to know if. Also, I wonder if any networking can really exist without the 'social' aspect creeping in somewhere. Whether we should allow this factor to creep in or not is something we have to decide.

Endorsements could be a problem. You have to get them from people who are on the network, and whom you have worked with professionally (this has to fit into some specific categories). What troubles me about this is that newbies don't get much of a chance in such a system. People who've been part of one industry or another for many years will naturally have a host of contacts willing to vouch for them but what about those who are starting off and need to network so that they can build that host of contacts. They have a chance of being left out in such a referral-driven system.

In which case, it is obvious that social software is sometimes as rigid and hierarchical as the real world - if not more.
posted by Anindita  # 17:32

2.28.2004

Movies to watch for:

MF Husain's Meenaxi: Tale of 3 Cities, which delves "into the limitless world of creative endeavor and the vicissitudes in the way of such endeavors." The movie, apparently, "approaches myriad aspects, the relationship between art, the real and the imagined being just one of them." What the film will actually be like, we'll have to wait and see.
posted by Anindita  # 15:15
Blogging as a form of journalism?

Online Journalism Review has a comprehensive article on Blogging as a Form of Journalism. The article explores both sides of the debate and establishes some degree of hopefulness. It also sheds perspective on a number of related issues - blogging as a demanding form of self expression, blogging as key to interactive discussion, etc. Glenn Fleishman, freelance reporter for the The New York Times says: "One of the most interesting things about blogs is how often they've made me change my mind about issues," he says. "There's something about the medium that lets people share opinions in a less judgmental way than when you interact with people in the real world."
posted by Anindita  # 14:57

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