Monthly Archives: November 2008

Smoky good times at Social Cigar

It’s been a little more than seven months since we last wrote about the Social Cigar network, and it’s only gotten better since, with a new look and new content.

Let out a carefully cultured chuckle as you browse the photos, some of which are truly brilliant. Intellectual aficionados can find a whole group dedicated to matching cigars and wine, and if you feel the need to keep your lungs in good shape, there’s a group about fitness, with cigars thrown in as “stress reducers.”

The videos page is still more diverse, with a crazy Jamaican tour guide waxing a silly poetic about smoking “etiquette” and a presentation on cigar rolling from the world record holder for “longest hand-rolled cigar.” And of course, the forum is chock full of industry news, smokes of the day, and plenty of general cigar talk.

So if you’ve ever been one who gets a glint in your eye at the sight of a fine cigar shop, you’ve got a new destination. Sit back, get out the smoking jacket and enjoy in style at Social Cigar.

Ride with Skate Surf Snow

Packing up your surfboard for the winter isn’t so bad when you can trade it in for your snowboard. At Skate Surf Snow, it’s all about you being on your board, no matter what the season.

The network is a place for manufacturers, retailers and consumers to promote and discuss all things related to skate, surf and snow. Want to show off or buy the latest gear for your board? Check out the blogs for product information and links to other specialty Web sites.

Pick up tips for the surf, slopes or park in the forum section. Recent posts discuss ways to customize your surfboard or the lastest clothing line by Shaun White. With snowboard season around the corner, be sure to hit Skate Surf Snow before you hit the slopes!

Students Speak Out loud and clear

Students Speak Out is a network where students, teachers and Minnesota residents can constructively discuss ideas and solutions for Minneapolis Public Schools. The network aims to thwart the decline in high school enrollment since 2001.

To see the work Students Speak Out has done so far, check out the network’s archive section. An introductory video as well as the 07-08 year in review highlight the progress to date. Not surprisingly, the forum is very active. Students and teachers discuss anything from politics to essays, extracurricular activities to school lunches.

Students use the video section to spread their ideas. The Peace by Piece video visits four youth organizations. The organizations each work towards ending High School violence using art projects, dance events and mentoring programs. Another video dives into questions about bullying and how both teachers and students can prevent it.

If you have ideas you want heard, share and collaborate on Students Speak Out!

Find your groove at MyDeejaySpace

Ever since we last blogged about the MyDeejaySpace network back in March, we haven’t been able to stop grooving to their beats, and neither has the network, which has quintupled in size up to almost 10,000 members!

MyDeejaySpace is eager to help you get “over” — they’ll make you a featured member if you’re a good contributor, and they keep updated monthly charts of the top music in various dance genres so you can keep on top of what’s hot. If you want immediate exposure, submit a track to the built-in network radio player, which reports over 10,000 visitors daily!

Better still, MyDeejaySpace also has resources to make you better at what you do, like video tutorials of how to use mixing equipment and a guide to free DJ software. And if you’re looking for inspiration, the videos page is full of practice sessions and music videos to get your brain going.

MyDeejaySpace is truly the one-stop shop for the modern, web-savvy DJ. It’ll give the tools, it’ll give you the skills, and then it’ll give you listeners once you’re pumping out mixes. Get ready to quit your day job!

Creativity grows at Visual Artists Forum

When you started out finger painting as a kid, did you feel yourself channeling an inner talent that you’ve used to this day? Or, do you just like art? The Visual Artists Forum network delivers.

The Visual Artists forum also brings out unique and rich interactions between its members, like this literally poetic self-introduction by a new member that’s graciously received. Everyone’s out to help each other, in ways as simple as taking the time to post opportunities to share your art and as complex as describing research into easy and economical ways to copyright your work.

Of course, this all goes along with the posting of some truly incredible art. Particularly worth seeing is the recent Daily Keemo series, with a new and interestingly stylized piece each day on the blog with a story to go with it! You’ll even find some members posting pieces for sale, so you can add a little more decoration to your home.

Whether you’re an art creator or art appreciator, or paintbrush virtuoso or enthusiastic amateur, you’ll find a lot to make you smile at the Virtual Artists Forum. Visit for support in your own endeavors, and visit to be amazed by the truly incredible oeuvres of the current members.

Teaching people to dream

There’s no other way to say it: Planetariums rock.

It’s an amazing experience to be able to see the starry night sky or travel through the cosmos — all from within the confines of a domed theater. For planetarium operators, the place to talk about their favorite out-of-this-world experience is The Planetarium Network.

Groups allow the planetarians (yes, that’s what they are called!) to find other operators with similar interests. A planetarium is a fantastic place to expose students to the cosmos, especially those who might not otherwise ever see a clear night sky. The Astronomy Classroom Connection is working on ways to integrate classroom work and time under the dome. For those who don’t have a full-sized planetarium to work with, there’s the portable dome group, for those who work with mini-planetariums.

It’s easy to soar in to the cosmos without even leaving the ground when you visit a planetarium. The people who make that experience possible — the planetarians — are learning, networking and trading ideas at The Planetarium Network.

Smart Girl Politics creating a new discourse

Sarah Palin may not be our vice president-elect, but her candidacy certainly inspired a new breed of political woman. Smart Girl Politics is the network for conservative women who want to create a new discourse within the Republican Party.

Network members are blogging about their ideas and discussing their goals for both the network and the future of the Republican Party. The Republican Party might traditionally be associated with older, white men, but the members of this network are anything but. Check out this post, where an African-American woman explains why she’s proud to be a conservative. Other members are tracking the travels of Sarah Palin and trading ideas about the government bailout.

Teri C, the network creator writes, “As an organization we chose to make our voices heard in the Republican party. We may not agree on how to solve every issue, but we believe in core conservative principles.” If this sounds like you — smart, female and commited to a new vision of what being a Republican is — than make sure you proclaim yourself part of the Smart Girl Politics set.

Show some equine love at Peruvian Horse World

Maybe it’s a leftover urge from a childhood spent wanting to be a cowboy, but I have a thing for horses. The Peruvian Paso horse might not be a prime candidate for rounding up dogies, but the Peruvian Horse World network proves that it sure is a beautiful breed.

Peruvian Horse World is the ideal stop whether you’re an owner or a rider, with content ranging from a group discussing sidesaddle riding at the competition level to advanced analysis of diseases that Pasos might contract. It’s immediately clear that the network’s members take their horses seriously, and you can find plenty of competition recordings in the videos section.

This makes Peruvian Horse World really cool for both the really experienced and those really new to Pasos. If you’re a veteran, you’ll find plenty of fellow old hands to chat with among the more than 350 members, and if you’re brand new, you’ll be exposed very quickly to a very large world of breeding and riding. Oh, and if you just think horses are beautiful, the photo gallery will make you deliriously happy.

So, if there’s even an inch of equestrian in you, make a point of riding over to Peruvian Horse World!

Spell out the Scramble

Scramble brings your favorite spelling games right to Your Social Network on Ning.

Add it to your profile page and let the games begin! The object of the game is to collect the greatest number of letter tiles before the clock stops. Not only can you acquire these tiles by spelling out your own words, you can also perform a “steal” where you make a word from tiles in your opponent’s previous word.

Scramble games include a dealer (the computer) and up to three opponents. You can also chat with your opponents throughout the game. Not sure if you are ready to challenge your friends? Practice as much as you want with bots until you are up to the competition.

I recently spoke with Stewart Allan, Scramble’s creator, to find out more about this OpenSocial application. Check out his interview after the jump!

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Everything’s Going to the Dogs

Sit. Stay. Help.

The homeless pet population in the United States is growing every day, and the current economic conditions aren’t helping. Going to the Dogs (and its sister network Going to the Cats) are social networks for people involved in the animal-rescue community. Network members post information urgent information about pets looking for a new home, all with the hopes that they can help the four-legged-friends find permanent homes.

The sad truth: There’s always another animal looking for a new home. The network forums are used to post info about adoptable animals, ongoing rescue efforts and petitions that activists can sign. The best posts, however, are those with happy endings, where members share inspiring stories of animals who were rescued or adopted.

It doesn’t matter what state you live in; there’s plenty of animals looking for a new home. Get involved by attending an event, or join the network to discover how you can help a helpless pet find a place to call home.