Like many of us, I’ve been fooling around with social networking sites for a while now. Somehow, though, I never really got the whole Web 2.0 thing. It seemed fun, but a lot less important than the Wired magazines of the world made it out to be. More like a blend of narcissism and lazy socializing than an online revolution.
And then along came the Facebook meme known as “25 Random Things.” On its face another exercise in online navel-gazing, the Things, a kind of chain letter in which participants list 25 things about themselves they think friends may be surprised to learn, quickly became a national sensation. Fewer than two weeks after they first appeared, the notes prompted a flood of stories in media outlets from blogs to the New York Times to the CBS Evening News. People—millions of them—were finding something ineffable yet intensely powerful about the process.
In Chinatown one recent night, a stray reference to the Things prompted an outpouring of thoughts and discussion about what it had meant to people—some of them people I didn’t even know. For the first time, I—and apparently many others around the country—saw social media delivering on its promise: to bring people closer together.
A day or two later, I was looking at my Twitter account when I came across Georgette Deemer’s page. Deemer is the spokeswoman for the state House majority and an avid Twitterer—that day, she wasn’t missing a beat: offering updates on just-completed hearings, previews of legislative activity over the coming and days and an ongoing stream of chatter with reporters, lawmakers and various other friends. There was something about Deemer’s updates that, in just a few dozen keystrokes, managed to convey volumes of valuable information about important issues while remaining human and accessible. Somewhere between those two moments, I got it: An exploration of the ways social media are remaking the relationships between government, media and the public appears in “Leg 2.0,” below.
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With GMO debate heating up in Hawaii, we’re lucky to have Jeffrey Smith paying a visit to the Islands this week. Smith, the author of Seeds of Deception, is an outspoken critic of both the companies advancing GMO foods and of the government’s regulatory approach toward them. He’ll be speaking at the Waialua Community Association on Sunday evening and at Church of the Crossroads on Monday, with both appearances starting at 6pm. We’re happy to have a great Q & A with Smith available exclusively on our Web site this week.
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Few cities can boast a richer or more diverse community of printmakers than can Honolulu, and this week, the 81st Honolulu Printmakers Exhibition gives these artists their annual moment in the sun. Don’t miss a chance to stop by tonight’s opening reception at the Academy Art Center at Linekona, from 5pm-7pm. —Ragnar Carlson