April 28, 2003

Blogging The Newshour

It's been some time since Newshour showed up at Dave & Busters to interview 4 of us bloggers in February. Samara Aberman, Media Reporter for the Newshour, said she had the idea for the story sometime ago. While no longer "new" news, Samara finally got her wish to do the story.

I remember the Meet Up occured shortly after the big snow storm. Only 2 of us, Samara, the camera guy and sound guy were there. We were rapping pretty well and about to get started. The other 2 showed up. While once the tape started rolling, I was the least dominent participant in the conversation (I was overcoming a bad cold, not to mention I rarely dominate a conversation -- just my style), we had a good round table.
Couldn’t do the live blogging. TV wasn’t meant to be blogged with all its sound bites. Even watching PBS. It’s a good thing for VCR’s. I know there are some awful spelling mistakes and no links. Sorry if I butchered anyone's name. I'll fix it up. I wanted to get this out as soon as possible.

Here’s what caught my eye:

“4 guys in a bar. In this case, 4 bloggers in a bar.” I like the start. Things that start in a bar couldn’t be all that bad ;)

James Robertson: “Weblogging is much the same thing as keeping a diary. It is a way of putting up your thoughts of what ever is going through your life that day. Sometimes I’m ranting, sometimes I’m saying this is kind of neat.”

Thomas Bascom: “So I look at blogging as a group of millions of people trying to share their message, writing passionately about what they’re interested in, telling stories.”

Cutting from the bar scene. Moving to the war in Iraq.

Newshour offers analysis:
-Weblogs offer alternative views.
-They are incredibly up-to-date (Command Post)
-Singular person perspectives: Salam Pax, Blogger in Iraq. Last entry the same day as when the power went out.
I think this gives first hand account of situation without the interference of editors and corporate interests.

Soapbox vs. New Interactive form of participatory journalism:
MSNBC Exec. Producer Joan Connell, selects and edits weblogs on MSNBC: Why people blog: “narcissism, creativity and a desire to connect with like-minded people.”

“That is what journalism is all about actually, in some ways. And it’s what creating communities is all about. That’s one of the great challenges to us as news gatherers and journalists. How do we discover information and share it in creative ways with people. Give them the information they need to make decisions in their lives as citizens.”

Newshour: Laced with edge and attitude. Hypertext is often included (and might I add imperative to interesting blogging). Subject matter as diverse as the internet itself. From classic cars to sex to knitting.

But it is the opinion journalism weblogs that can and have made a difference in the public policy arena … bringing down Trent Lott.

Joshua Marshall (Talking Points Memo): Mainstream media largely ignored the situation but bloggers kept the issue afloat. Talks about the status quo of journalism. Blogs kept the issue from dying.

News organization subsequently started covering the controversy. POWER of media.

Joan: The Lott issue gathered momentum – created a buzz through very grassroots movement.

Is weblogging journalism?
Joan: “One of the values we place on our own weblogs is that we edit our webloggers. Out their in the blogosphere often it goes from the mind of the blogger to the mind of the reader. And there’s no back up. And I would submit that that editing factor really is the factor that makes it journalism. Are you making a mistake here? Do you really want to say that? Do you really want to use that word? Is that libelous? All those basic journalism questions that we always ask.”

This is interesting to me because it’s almost exactly what Henry Copeland and I briefly discussed after DC DOT COMM in January …. He said much of the same.

However, this is where I disagree with Joan. Those are the “basic journalism questions that news media always ask?” (paraphrased). I think instead of saying the editor/writer structure makes MSNBC’s blogs real journalism and others not is somewhat of a biased statement to the existing (or shall I say old) hierarchy in the news media.

There are different types of journalism. The journalism that blogging brings to the table is a singular person, gonzo style. In the flesh, without hierarchical control. And to the point of several in the story, blogging is participatory journalism. I would even call it conversational journalism. Conversations do not hold the same characteristics as broadcast communication. I would argue that there is a mutual understanding between reader and writer in much the same way that our real world debates and converses.

Where the news media has its shortcomings, conversational journalism can often times take up the slack. Pressure from advertisers and media monopoly self interests creates a bias in the news media.

John Irons: Blogging is about personal Expression: Try to become a better writer.

Me: Its really what the web is all about …. Each person having their own voice and the democrization of media.

Dick Riley, attorney, is a reader of weblogs. Emailed Joshua Marshal his thoughts on an entry he did on the naming of the department of Homeland Security. This is the participatory nature of blogging and the potential the internet holds. Readers and writers are much more intimately engaged.

Riley: “Sophisticated political commentary in bite-sized chunks….You get the opportunity to correspond in real time with the writers…. It’s an absolute conversation between political and cultural commentators and their readers.”

Weblogs are helping shape opinions and keeping the citizenry more engaged in political discourse.

NEWSHOUR Blogging Story to Air Tonight

The Jim Lehrer Newshour piece on blogs is airing tonight. I was interviewed along with 3 others at a recent DC Meet Up event a few months ago. From what I understand there are several other bloggers who were interviewed for the story.

I'll blog more after the show. A transcript will be posted here in the next couple of days.

April 23, 2003

The Artist, Stanley Kubrick

I was poking around Plastic this morning looking for something entirely different and came accross this interesting 1999 Harpers article on Kubrick's last film, Eyes Wide Shut which was linked off a Plastic discussion on Kubrick. I had originally thought the film was just okay. But I could there was something more than what I was picking up. This article gives me a new perspective on the film. The author Lee Spiegel gives an interesting commentary on how our culture has become one of "art-phobia."
No one has dwelled on the essential otherness of a work of art. There is, after all, that hackneyed but profound notion of a willing suspension of disbelief. Genuine art makes you stake your credulity on the patently counterfeit. It takes you by surprise. And for art to take you by surprise, you have to put yourself in the power of another world--the work of art--and in the power of another person--the artist.

Yet everything in our society, so saturated with economic imperatives, tells us not to surrender our interests even for a moment, tells us that the only forms of cultural expression we can trust are those that give us instant gratification, useful information, or a reflected image of ourselves. So we are flooded with the kind of art that deprecates attentiveness, tells us about the issues of the day, and corresponds to our own personalities. And if a genuine work of art appears that has none of these qualities, critics impose them anyway, for they fear that if they surrender themselves to the work's strangeness, they will seem vulnerable and naive and intellectually unreliable.

And how the marketing backfired:

Since the film's producers had mounted such an immensely noisy publicity campaign--Kubrick's last film; one of the world's greatest directors tackles the subject of sex, sex, sex by staging the most erotic orgy scene ever filmed; see Nicole Kidman nude; see Tom Cruise nude; see the couple married in real life make love on the screen--the critics had to show that they were not going to allow bullying commerce to determine their experience of the film. So they decided not to respond to the film. They decided to respond to the hype. And the result was that the hype totally determined their experience of the film.

April 22, 2003


What's worse than Al Gore trying to repeat?....Newt Gingrich, go back to your hole. (and I actually stood by a lot of what this guy did). Here too.

April 20, 2003

Corporate Blogs Make Personal Connection

There's been lots of chatter around Richard Karpinski's article on corporate blogging. With the ClickZ Blog Conference coming up in June, this area is going to start getting a lot of attention. I think it's about to tip ... (annoying how that's already become cliche). I think the article makes all the right points.

But something is incomplete. It's terrific that some companies are starting to use blogs as a means of marketing and/or communicating with their customers. These companies truly are pioneers. However I think there's even greater potential. Instead of blogging for customers, companies should be creating blog networks of customers. This is one of the things I give Dr. Pepper some credit for attempting. Call it jumping on the band wagon, but I think Richard's Interactive has got something right.

A hypothetical example: Take Lowe's, the home improvement store. Why not create an entire section of their website dedicated to stories their customers tell about home improvement? Mom at Home, Creating Home Decor, Jarrett House North and other blogs discussing home improvement projects could be integrated into the Lowe's site. Not only would Lowe's engage their customers but will help build their own network of blogs. It's not a closed system, but capitalizing on an existing one and helping to build upon it. Of course Lowe's should hop in the game with a couple blogs of their own from their experts.

The advantage to Lowe's: They not only become associated with their customers, but they become highly entrenched with them. The more they are honestly engaged, the better their brand equity... or brand value.

April 18, 2003

Peoople. Globe Alive is Google for finding people: The World Live Web

Not since I discovered blogging have I been as thrilled with a new idea on the internet as I am now with Globe Alive. Created by Doc Searl's son, Allen, Globe Alive realizes the next level of potential the internet processes. Interestingly, Doc didn't know about his son's venture until about a month ago.

The search site helps find people who can answer your questions. Instead of finding static pages, you are connected to people who are online and ready to respond. Once the site is packed with people it will be an incredible tool. The proud father has much more to say.

I do wonder if this would be better served on a p2p platform like Gnuetella?

April 17, 2003

Why did that chicken cross the road?

I know it's been slow here lately. Here's an email I got from a friend today that really cracked me up:
Why did that chicken cross the road?


We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to
know if the chicken is on our side of the road or not. The chicken is
either with us or it is against us. There is no middle ground here.


Now at the left of the screen, you clearly see the satellite image of
the chicken crossing the road.


We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been
allowed access to the other side of the road.

MOHAMMED ALDOURI (Iraq ambassador)

The chicken did not cross the road. This is a compl ete fabrication. We
don't even have a chicken.


This was an unprovoked act of rebellion and we were quite justified in
dropping 50 tons of nerve gas on it


The chicken's habitat on the original side of the road had been
polluted by unchecked industrialist greed. The chicken did not reach the
unspoiled habitat on the other side of the road because it was crushed
by the wheels of a gas-guzzling SUV.


To steal a job from a decent, hard-working American.


I don't know why the chicken crossed the road, but I'll bet it was
getting a government grant to cross the road, and I 'll bet someone out
there is already forming a support group to help chickens with
crossing-the-road syndrome. Can you believe this? How much more of
this can real Americans take? Chickens crossing the road paid for by
their tax dollars, and when I say tax dollars, I'm talking about your
money, money the government took from you to build roads for chickens
to cross.


No one called to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a
standing order at the farmer's market to sell my eggs when the price
dropped to a certain level. No little bird gave me any insider


Because the chicken was gay! Isn't it obvious? Can't you people see the

plain truth in front of your face? The chicken was going to the other
side. That's what they call it -- the other side. Yes, my friends, that
chicken is gay. And, if you eat that chicken, you will become gay too.
I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that
liberal media whitewashes with seemingly harmless phrases like the
other side.


Did the chicken cross the road?
Did he cross it with a toad?
Yes, The chicken crossed the road,
But why it crossed, I've not been told!


To die. In the rain. Alone.


I envision a world where all chickens will be free to cross roads
without having their motives called into question.


In my day, we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Someone told
us that the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough for us.


Isn't that interesting? In a few moments we will be listening to the
chicken tell, for the first time, the heart-warming story of how it
experienced a serious case of molting and went on to accomplish its
life-long dream of crossing the road.


Imagine all the chickens crossing roads in peace.


It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.


It was an historical inevitability.


I may not agree with what the chicken did, but I will defend to the
death its right to do it.


What chicken?


To boldly go where no chicken has gone before.


You saw it cross the road with your own eyes! How many more chickens
have to cross before you believe it?


The fact that you are at all concerned that the chicken crossed the road
reveals your underlying sexual insecurity.


I have just released eChicken 20 03, which will not only cross roads,
will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your checkbook
- and Internet Explorer is an inextricable part of eChicken.


Did the chicken really cross the road or did the road move beneath
the chicken?


I did not cross the road with THAT chicken. What do you mean by chicken?
Could you define chicken, please?


I missed one?

April 07, 2003

Washington Post reports marketer trying to fight spam is being taken to court.