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Stateside with Rosalea: wishy, wiki, waka

Stateside with Rosalea Barker

wishy, wiki, waka

:: wish you were here :: I've died and gone to heaven. Fresh lychees are in stock at the local supermarket, and on a 25+ degree day in the Bay Area there's nothing nicer than sitting on a shaded balcony sipping on chilled pineapple juice with a dash of white zinfandel, and peeling the crinkly skin from those rosy little rascals from China to get at their succulently lucent white flesh.

Living in a suburb where I'm in the 2 percent minority definitely has its pluses at the food store. The "Ethnic Foods" aisle is for only the really expensive stuff because every aisle is crammed with goods from Latin America, Asia, and the Deep South to cater to the tastes of the majority ethnicities in the neighborhood. You even have the choice of soap powder from Mexico which cleans absolutely as well as Tide and Gleam at one tenth of the price.

:: wiki :: But I digress. I was going to write about Important Stuff, like learning how to use a wiki, which are all the rage here. Wiki are part of the whole collaborative social media trend that has popularised blogs, citizen journalism, and viewer created content on Current TV and Associated Content, where the number of hits your content gets moves you up or down the pay scale.

As you'd guess, "wiki" derives from a Polynesian word, wiki wiki, meaning informal or quick. Although the new meaning of the term is usually given as the software that's used to create community editable websites, in popular use wiki has come to mean the websites themselves.

The first wiki I saw was Wikipedia, a free multilingual encyclopedia. Its English version, started in 2001, boasts that contributors are currently working on 672,919 articles in the broad subject areas of culture, geography, history, life, mathematics, science, society, and technology. Their hardcore adherents are also in Germany at the first world conference of wiki-whackers (my term), with some sessions being streamed on the internet today. :: waka :: In approximately three hours' time I'll be watching the arrival of the waka at San Francisco's Aquatic Park, signally the beginning of the Maori arts exhibition at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. I'll be watching it on KRON4 television. I meant to be there at the actual event on Thursday morning at 6, but that was not to be.

There's an interesting description of the arrival and event on the San Francisco Chronicle's today. Just enter "Maori Marvels" or "Jeanne Cooper" in the search box. On Friday, the photo used for the Chron's Day in Pictures was stunning and seemed very influenced by Leon Narbey's cinematography for The Whale Rider (which had been shown several times the previous week on the local PBS station.)

Of all the arguments in favour of people making films that reflect how they really live, not to fit in with some other culture's standard of excellence, I think Paul Chinn's moody evocation of the waka's arrival on Thursday morning shows just how willing to learn the big foreign media can be if only they're given something to learn from.

Then again, I suppose it was a dark and foggy morning! To see the photo, search for maori13.jpg on the website, and then click on SFGate:Day in Pictures and scroll down to the last photograph.

To find out what Yerba Buena means go here:


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