Coming Soon at 1 p.m. Caramel Bella Live Blogging for CNN at Ted “Ideas Empowered” Conference

Today I will be blogging live for CNN at the Ted “Ideas Empowered” conference being held at USC. The stated goal:

“To bring together leading minds from USC and beyond to share ideas, hear entertaining and thought-provoking talks on important and surprising topics, and inspire innovation that will ultimately make real impact. A partial list of this year’s speakers and performers include a rock star that has sold more than 25 million albums, one of the creators of the most complex scientific instrument in the world, and an inventor who is restoring sight to the blind.”

The topic is somewhat of a mystery. To peak your interest a bit, I’ve been told we’re discussing issues like the Big Bang theory, saving the world, breeding fish, and a whole bunch of other topics.

Here is a sample of what you can expect to hear about from a previous conference in March.

Stay tuned. The event begins at 1 p.m. today (PST) / 4 p.m. (EST). Don’t miss my live blogging — get a heads up on what today’s thought leaders are thinking.

See you at 1 p.m.,

The Caramel Bella




Twitter..Life in 140 Characters or Less

twitter-window

Twitter. Twitter. Twitter. Hopefully by now, you’ve heard all about it. News on Twitter (the free microblogging service that let’s you send 140-character messages on whatever you want) is everywhere. It’s as if the media has twitter diarrhea because lately it’s all they are talking about. Reporters from all across the country are joining Twitter in droves and writing about their experiences like David Pogue of the NYT.

Now the media discussion has changed slightly from “hey, there’s this new service called Twitter” to it’s impact on the world of journalism. As Reuters reports, “News organizations are all a-twitter about Twitter: Is it a friend or a foe? Should it be embraced or eschewed? Will Twitter kill journalism or revive it?”

And then you have media outlets like the Financial Times that are trying to teach their readers about the culture and language of Twitter. You know, twitter messages are called “tweets.” The peeps who sign up to read your messages are “followers.” And when you send out someone else’s tweet, you are “re-tweeting.”(This is easily done by addressing your message to a follower by adding an “@” sign to their name, i.e., @faraichideya.)

And as interesting (or not) as this whole conversation about what Twitter is, the better question to ask is why are people using it? Why has Twitter caught on?

The media’s recent discussion and “discovery” is quite amusing to several of us (myself included), who has used Twitter for six months or more (called early adopters) because it used to be a new tool. There was something special about discovering it. Twitter’s long-time users have several reasons for loving and using the free, web-based service.

Like a lot of users, Danyel Smith (@danamo), editor of Vibe, (who I am a big fan of) started using the service because she was curious about it.

danamo

Others like novelist/music journalist/cultural critic Touré (@ToureX) thought it could help his professional writing skills.

tourex

BTW, he doesn’t really need any help in this area but it’s somehow endearing that he is continuously thinking about and working on his writing. It makes us think he is just like the rest of us, which is one of the beauties of Twitter. Unlike traditional media, which tends to be top-down or a one-way means of “them” telling “us” as readers something, Twitter creates a one-on-one conversation where anyone with a Twitter account can join in the conversation. It’s about two-way communication. Several journalists even started asking their Twitter followers if there were questions they wanted to ask in an important interview. Thus, it’s revolutionizing the way journalism is being done.

Many folks are joining because their favorite celebrities are on Twitter. There are few places in the world where you can talk to TV and movie stars like Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) and his wife Demi Moore (@mrskutcher)… and they might talk back. Twitter has given regular folks yet another window into the daily lives of stars through their Twitter streams. You can find all sorts of celebs from Britney Spears (@britneyspears) to Puff Daddy (@iamdiddy) to MC Hammer (@MCHammer) to Omarosa (@omarosa). They are all there – tweeting away!

twitterati

Gawker even started tracking Twitter accounts with their daily posting of the Twitterati. It’s hilarious and a reminder that people are broadcasting their thoughts out onto the Internet for anyone to read (unless you adjust your privacy settings). And now, a person’s tweets (Senators, writers, TV stars and regular people) have somehow become the news and fodder for the media? Interesting flip!

And there are thousands that are just like me, who also use Twitter because it helps us connect with people – new and old friends. It even helps you meet like-minded folks. Whatever you are into, there is someone on Twitter that likes the same thing. (And you can use Twitter’s search site to find posts on your favorite subject.)

Twitter also keeps you informed and quickly (if you follow the right folks). And you don’t have to check thousands of news sites or even go to a RSS feed service. If you are following @CNN or @Drudge_Report or other media sites and the reporters that have recently hopped on-board, you will be definitely be in the know. And if you downloaded Twitterific or Tweetie for your iPhone (or Twitterberry for your Blackberry), you have these conversations and breaking news at your fingertips.

And obviously, if you have something interesting to say or sell, you should be using Twitter. Except beware, no one likes a constant self-promoter. The Twitter world is all about the give and take of information… you know, sharing. It feels like a conversation (although at times a bit scattered), but a talk nonetheless.

The merits of Twitter and its impact on media will be debated for years to come. But with technology giants, like Google (@Google) joining the Twitter fray, isn’t it time you checked it out for yourself. Don’t take my word for it or the thousands of media folks ranting or raving about it. See for yourself.. You may become a Tweetering fool that neglects their Facebook account for a bit (or is that just me).

Note: post also appears on HuffingtonPost and Pop+Politics




CB’s Review: “The Devil’s Highway”: A Hellish Journey

devils-highway-2

Do you know what it’s like to be so excited about a story that you run to tell everyone you know about it? And in your excitement, you may repeat yourself a lot. Or you may tend to over-explain something that may be relatively obvious to others. Or perhaps, the story is so emotionally titillating that you relay it a bit out of order and in an incoherent manner at times. Or even worse, can you remember being so thrilled by your story that you even give away the ending first? Luis Alberto Urrea makes all of these mistakes in his zest to tell the story of the Yuma 14, the Mexican immigrants, who died in 2001 while attempting to cross the brutal Arizona desert in The Devil’s Highway.

Although delivered in a confusing and long-winded manner, author Urrea spends 220 pages describing the complex illegal immigration and border situation between the United States and Mexico through the story of the Wellton 26 (also known as the Yuma 14). Seeking to explain the multilayered, multifaceted elements of illegal immigration, Urrea, a reporter, presents a multitude of viewpoints and characters to reflect the complexity of the issue. From Border Patrol accounts to the walkers who braved the desert to the coyotes and guides who smuggled them across the border, Urrea haphazardly presents their stories, which are often left incomplete.

His kaleidoscope storytelling begs the reader to organize and assemble the facts and information on his or her own into a comprehensible and moving tale of the 14 economic migrants who died during their walk across the “Camino del Diablo” and the 12 others who narrowly escaped death.

Somewhere in Urrea’s attempt to provide a full picture of the tragedy of the Mexican immigrants who got lost in the Southwestern desert, he forgot that his readers understand the very meaning of the word “desert” – hot areas that receive very little precipitation. He repeatedly describes, and often over-describes, the Arizona desert and its harsh conditions. The only thing left for him to do was to provide additional maps throughout the book to correspond with the number of descriptions of the terrain. And yes, that would be overdoing it.

(more…)




CB’s Daily News Break: No Surprise It’s Barack Obama

And Time magazine’s Man of the Year is…(drum roll, please): President-elect, Barack Obama. As if there was any surprise that Obama would be selected. The general consensus in the media world (bloggers and mainstream) is that his choice is one big DUH.

Time magazine wrote, “Obama overcame a lack of experience, a funny name, two candidates who are political institutions, and the racial divide to become the 44th President of the United States.” America’s next president has dominated the headlines since his nomination for the presidency. It’s only fitting that he would take this coveted award too.

And did you check out Obama’s (dare I say hot) photos from his freshman year at Occidental College included in the Time magazine pictorial? A sneak peek is below but you should see them for yourself.

But what about Time magazine’s runner-ups? Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was on the short list to win Time’s Wo(man) of the Year. No. Really? Well, this soccer mom did take America by storm. Others under consideration included Secretary of State Henry Paulson, France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy, and creator of the opening ceremonies (The Birds Nest) at the Beijing Olympics, Zhang Yimou.

In other non-Obama related news….The United States’ first-ever complete (80%) face transplant was performed on a woman at The Cleveland Clinic. The woman, who was described as horribly disfigured, now has the face of a donated female cadaver. The patient only retained her own chin, lower lip, forehead and upper eyes. Before the operation, the patient couldn’t smile, taste or smell due to an accident. Since the surgeons also grafted facial nerves and muscles, the woman will be able to smile and perform normal face functions. “Our patient was called names and humiliated,” said Dr. Maria Siemionow, who led that team that performed the 22-hour operation two weeks ago. “You need the face to face the world.”

And on the allegedly corrupt Illinois Governor front. According to an ABC News report Wednesday, Blagojevich is going to break his silence and tell his side of the story in a press conference toward the end of the week. Although arrested over a week ago, Blago hasn’t responded to the charges that he tried to sell President-elect Obama’s former Senate seat. The governor said he couldn’t wait to address the people of Illinois.

And the sad, sad American dollar. The U.S. currency has “declined the most against the euro since the 15-nation currency’s 1999 debut.” And the dollar is at a new 13-year low versus the yen despite an almost zero percent interest rates. Perhaps, the dollar’s value has something to do with America’s increasing budget deficits, which isn’t actually prompting more global investors. Although, the dollar is $1.4437 per euro, the U.S. could be looking at a $1.50 exchange rate for 1 euro or more! Uh-oh, the current economic plans don’t appear to be working. Attention Bernanke: The dollar is sinking.




Iraqi Journalist Throws Shoes at Bush

Although having someone look at the bottom of your shoe is one of the BIGGEST insults in Arab culture, Bush says he was not offended when an Iraqi journalist (Muntadhar al-Zaidi, a reporter for the TV channel Al-Baghdadia) threw his shoes at him on Sunday. The journalist also called Bush a “dog” for all of the death and terror he imposed upon the Iraqi people. Is Bush simply not aware of the meaning of the shoe throwing? Or does Bush still refuse to believe that the war has done more harm than good in Iraq? For some Iraqis, Bush’s farewell visit couldn’t come a moment too soon.

-The Caramel Bella




Charlotte Say Hello to Uptown Magazine

Uptown magazine is expanding their local edition publishing efforts. In addition to their national publication, they will begin publishing a Charlotte version the first week in February. Uptown is a luxury, lifestyle publication geared toward influential African Americans within the ages of 25-44. The fabulous publication has local editions in New York, DC, Chicago and Atlanta. Hey Uptown, where is the Los Angeles version!!! We’re waiting…

Check out Keija Minor on Uptown.




Why Oh Why NPR? Not “News & Notes”

A fellow blogger over at Culture Kitchen tells it straight about NPR’s recent cuts. Over the past couple of days, it has become known that NPR cut two shows: “Day to Day” and “News & Notes.” According to Culture Kitchen, both of these shows were the network’s effort to reach out to new listeners. “Day to Day” was a midday show that sought younger listeners. And “News & Notes,” hosted by Farai Chideya (a friend), delivered the news commentary for the day from a much-needed African American perspective.

Honestly, I am personally bummed out by the decision. I have friends there who have lost their jobs. And I have fellow aspiring journalist colleagues who had hoped to work there. For some, NPR was the last place of hope for encouraging new and diverse voices, and a strong possibility for a job. I hope this economy improves so that NPR and other media can deliver its promise of representing all of the voices in the American community.

-The Caramel Bella




Letterman’s Top Ten Excuses For Palin’s Turkey Slaughter Interview

In the spirit of Thanksgiving around the corner, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin pardoned a turkey. However, during her turkey-themed interview, the cameraman catches a poor turkey being slaughtered in the background (which Palin appears not to notice) in the now-infamous video. Well, funny man David Letterman’s “Top Ten” list Monday gave Palin’s excuses for the turkey kill, which poked fun at her foreign policy (in)experience and earlier Katie Couric interview among other campaign blunders.




Six Apart Offers Bailout Program for Journalists — Including Me

With the economy in serious trouble, automakers and financial institutions are seeking a government bailout. And the banks and financial folks got one to the tune of $700 billion. Well, The New York Times recently reported that Six Apart, the maker of Moveable Type blogs called TypePad, has created a bailout program of their own: “The Journalist Bailout Program.” (Spoiler alert—they interviewed me!)

The new initiative is designed to help journalists who recently lost their jobs get back on their feet. Once accepted into the program, Six Apart will give 20 to 30 individuals a TypePad pro blog with full technical support (worth about $150 a year), inclusion in its advertising program (which is an opportunity to earn money) and his or her blog featured on Blogs.com, a blog aggregator site. Six Apart’s Moveable Type software and platform is used by some great sites like Barack Obama’s campaign site, The Washington Post, and NPR—just to name a few. This is a huge gesture and generous offering for struggling journalists who may need both financial and technical help to start blogging.

About a week or so ago, I saw a Tweet about the program. (I’m a bigger Twitter user and advocate.) So, I immediately clicked on the link and saw blogger and Six Apart vice president, Anil Dash’s, blog post about the opportunity.

(more…)




Couric Gives Letterman the Details on Her Palin Interview

Many of us saw and held our breath as Republican vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, conducted one of her first on-camera interviews following her nomination with Katie Couric a couple of months ago. There were several moments during the questioning that Palin was stumped and had a difficult time answering the questions. Couric talks for the first time about the interview on “The Dave Letterman Show” recently. Check out the clip from the interview.




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My Maltese puppy; lazy Sunday mornings; a day at the Beach; Yoga; breakfast anytime of the day; my gurls (and you know who you are); my family (I’m a daddy’s girl); making new friends; Los Angeles & Washington, DC; ocean views; Anguilla; healthy foods that don’t taste healthy; politics; "greenie" things; meditating; natural curls and movies.

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Bad drivers, cranky and moody people, lack of sleep, crime, filth

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  • profileCARAMEL BELLA: This is my place to write about my adventures and mis-adventures in this thing called life. I discuss my passions: the environment, politics, art & culture, writing as well as yoga, health and spirituality. The one thing you can expect from this blog is that it is not what you expected. Thanks for reading! To reach me email thecaramelbella at gmail.

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