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March 31, 2005

The Poetry of LiveJournal

Matt says,

"I know that I only knew him for a day, and much of that time I was wasted and he was a little drunk, but I do remember liking it when I looked into his eyes and I liked it when he put his hand on my back when we were in the car to make sure I was doing okay. I really liked how he held my hair back when I was throwing up." -- Buffy06, LJ Poet Laureate

Comments (2) | Permasnark | Posted: 1:52 PM

Just for Tim

Matt says,

A new literary magazine hopes to bring the long tail of blogging to the world of scholarly criticism. May it fare well, and may it all be much, much shorter than this ridiculous inaugural post. (Glossary: Long tail.)

Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 11:46 AM

March 30, 2005

Even More Scenes from the Drug War

The RAND Corporation has released a report taking a comprehensive look at the effectiveness of US anti-drug policies. Asking, specifically, "Why do they suck so much?"

Short answer? 'Cause we mostly apply one solution -- incarceration -- to a thousand different problems. But that's not news. Here's some stuff the RAND study points out that struck me as enlightening. (I've also gotta plug the Mark A. R. Kleiman book Against Excess, available in its entirety online. It was prominently cited in the RAND study, so I searched for it, and there it was.)

... Read more ....
Posted March 30, 2005 at 8:41 | Comments (0) | Permasnark
File under: Snarkpolicy

March 29, 2005

Goodbye, MIDI Mozart

Robin says,

I just discovered I can send MP3s to my phone (they have to be very very small) so check it out -- this is the ringtone I always dreamed of but could never find (of course) in any of the little Verizon ringtone stores:

Bjork - Who Is It? (DJ RoSlo Ringtone Remix)

Comments (2) | Permasnark | Posted: 9:12 PM

Snapshots from the Uncanny Valley

Matt says,

This page contains the single freakiest animated gif I have ever seen. Even freakier than the bunchie.

Comments (3) | Permasnark | Posted: 3:07 PM

March 27, 2005

Wolfowitz at the World Bank

Robin says,

Sebastian Mallaby has a new column in the WaPo arguing that Wolfowitz is actually a good choice for World Bank prez because he makes it more likely that the U.S. will actually use the W.B. and its expertise effectively. I think I buy it.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 10:05 PM


Robin says,

WorldChanging on a new kind of pallet (you know, the things that forklifts, um, lift?) that's made out of cardboard (!) instead of wood.

WC sez that about 40% of all hardwood harvested in the U.S. is for pallets, and two-thirds of all pallets are only used once. Yeesh.

Yet another opportunity for greater a) environmental responsibility and b) economic efficiency!

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 10:00 PM
Tim's thoughts: What's remarkable about Halle Berry -- flipping the question for a moment -- is that she seems to... >>

A Landmark, Controversial Film Starring Bernie Mac

I have long thought that casting James Van der Beek as the lead in the movie Rules of Attraction was a giant missed opportunity. The lead character is supposed to be this sardonic, aloof, drugged-out playboy lusted after by almost everyone who sees him. The creators of the movie clearly cast Van der Beek in the role to subvert the loser-ish image he'd cultivated as Dawson in the television show "Dawson's Creek." (Dawson was on an image-remaking kick at the moment, having just come off the hit football movie Varsity Blues.) I never believed him for a second as the protagonist of RoA.

Everyone who's seen Cruel Intentions, Igby Goes Down, or Gosford Park knows that Ryan Phillippe exists on this earth for the sole purpose of playing that role. He's been decent to mediocre in everything else, but I just know he would have taken that role in that movie to some unimaginable height, making it much, much more than the fun, hot trifle of a film it ended up being.

Now Hollywood's gone and delivered Giant Missed Opportunity #2.

In June 1967, the Supreme Court handed down a hugely controversial unanimous opinion in Loving v. Virginia, forcing all the states to allow interracial marriage (at the time, 16 states banned it). That December, Hollywood came out with Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.

... Read more ....
Posted March 27, 2005 at 11:41 | Comments (5) | Permasnark
File under: Fairy-Tale Marriage

March 24, 2005

Ze Frank's New Game

Robin says,

I've just been sitting here in my apartment going "hmmmmmmmBOOP! ... hmmm... hmmm... BOOP BOOP BOOP!!!"

Here's why.

Comments (2) | Permasnark | Posted: 9:49 PM

March 23, 2005


Robin says,

... It's an ugly thing.

WorldChanging links to an Alternet interview with the awesome Michael Pollan, who talks about agriculture and high-fructose death butter corn syrup and more.

Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 6:46 PM
Robin's thoughts: Hey J.D.! I'm confused: a site like Flickr is certain... >>

The Grid?

We provide free storage and free bandwidth for your videos, audio files, photos, text or software. Forever. No catches.

J.D. Lasica, Marc Cantor, the Internet Archive, and the folks behind Drupal have launched, which they hope will become the hub of the grassroots media revolution. Robin's already posted EPIC up there, so we know that when 2014 actually rolls around, we can look back and laugh at how far our predictions diverged from reality, as we perform remote upgrades on our Digital Consciousness servers and sip calorie-free nanolattes in massively multiplayer gridcafés.

OurMedia already features a weekly guest editor, but I wonder how long it is before individual maverick editors spring up and assemble content streams of their own?

The to-do list for OurMedia v. 2 hints towards that happening pretty soon, with a list of features that includes:

  • Support for individual user playlists
  • Enhanced social networking features on each person's user page
  • Ratings and metatags
Posted March 23, 2005 at 7:08 | Comments (5) | Permasnark
File under: Media Galaxy

March 21, 2005


Robin says,

Jon Dube notes:

A new multimedia "citizen journalism" site called NowPublic is getting ready to launch. The site will allow readers to "assign" stories to reporters; sign up to be a reporter; file photographs, video and MP3s; and "build your own newsroom" and follow the news with "watchlists."

Well, that sounds sort've awesome, huh?

Comments (4) | Permasnark | Posted: 6:09 PM

NYT AFP Sues Google

Robin says,

Don't say we didn't warn you:

Reuters reports that Agence France Presse is suing Google in U.S. District Court, claiming that Google News uses AFP content -- images, headlines, stories -- without permission.
Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 8:33 AM

March 20, 2005

Matt's thoughts: Adding to Robin's list of video-game authors: Peter Molyneux, creator of the "god game" genre wit... >>

Games and Stories

Gamespot surprised me today with a long and detailed feature on storytelling in games by Greg Kasavin. From the intro:

I share the theory that the game industry is like a private eye who's so busy following the wrong lead that he lets his real target slip right through his fingers. Look at what games are doing: They're pushing more polygons and piling on more features. It's the equivalent of adding more explosions to an action movie; at some point, you start to get diminishing returns for your crazy budget even as the whole thing just turns dumb.

I think game designers should be pursuing a much more elusive objective: tapping into the true potential of this medium, using it to give the game player an eye-opening, virtually life-changing experience and turning the game player's world completely upside-down. And I believe the only way to accomplish this is through storytelling--using a game to tell a good story. This does not mean tacking a best-selling author onto a game as an afterthought; this means fundamentally constructing a game out of a story.

(Emphasis mine.)

Seriously, I am still waiting for games-as-literature. I just finished a book by Harold Bloom, the guy who argued that Shakespeare literally invented modern consciousness. That claim seems rather, er, extreme, but true or not, I'd love for people to be claiming the same thing about some game designer in a couple hundred years.

Posted March 20, 2005 at 8:57 | Comments (3) | Permasnark
File under: Video Games


Matt says,

A fat girl's rhapsody.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 7:52 PM

March 19, 2005

Matt's thoughts: Many people suffer because of diagnosis incorrectly put initially why that physicians do not hurr... >>

2005 National Mag Award Finalists

All right, just like last year, here's all the 2005 National Magazine Award finalists I could find online. Excerpts or articles behind subscription walls are in brackets (I'm not sure if all the Atlantic articles I bracketed are actually behind subscription walls; but I figured it was safer to assume, so try them even if you're not a subscriber.)

Vanity Fair was a strong contender in the awards this year, but puts none of its content online. (At least NMA-nominated columnist James Woolcott has a blog now.) If not for The New Yorker winning 10 nods and putting most of its content online, this list would be pretty useless. In fact, I didn't include the Photo Essay category, because The New Yorker's entry, "Democracy 2004" by Richard Avedon, is the only one available online.

If you come across anything I missed, add it in the comments!


Golf Digest:
- The Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate Buddies Trip

National Geographic Adventure:
- [ Grail Trails ]

O, The Oprah Magazine:
- Attention Shoppers!

Runner’s World:
- Fall Shoe Guide and Winter Shoe Guide

Sports Illustrated:
- [ 2004 Olympic Preview - Parts 1 , 2 ]


5280 Magazine:
- Conduct Unbecoming

The Chronicle of Higher Education:
- Degrees of Suspicion: Inside the Multimillion-Dollar World of Diploma Mills
- Special Report on Plagiarism

National Geographic Adventure:
- [ Stomping Grounds ]

The New Yorker:
- Dying in Darfur


5280 Magazine:
- Private Stites Should Have Been Saved

- [ Why We’re Losing the War on Cancer (and How to Win It) ]

Harper’s Magazine:
- Gambling with Abortion: Why Both Sides Think They Have Everything to Lose

The New Yorker:
- Torture at Abu Ghraib
- Chain of Command
- The Gray Zone

San Francisco:
- Innocence Lost


The Atlantic Monthly:
- [ A Sea Story ]

- [ Home ]

- The Wronged Man

Texas Monthly:
- They Came. They Sawed (Part 2)1

Vanity Fair:
- American Communion


The New Yorker:
- The Gift

Rolling Stone:
- The Twilight of Bob Guccione2

Sports Illustrated:
- Walking His Life Away

Vanity Fair:
- The Man Who Loved Grizzlies
- The Making of a Sniper


The Atlantic Monthly:
- [ How Serfdom Saved the Women’s Movement ]

- [ Please Stand By While the Age of Miracles Is Briefly Suspended ]

- Between a Woman and Her Doctor

National Geographic:
- [ Was Darwin Wrong? ]

The New Yorker:
- Last of the Metrozoids


National Journal:
- [ On Same-Sex Marriage, Bush Failed the Public and Himself ]
- Fix the McCain-Feingold Law. Oops—Can I Say That?
- [ Good Plan, Republicans. But It Didn’t Work In Britain ]

The New Yorker:
- Wars and Ideas
- The Political War
- Questions of Greatness

- The Wrong Diagnosis
- How Greedy Was My Valley
- What Goes Up…

Vanity Fair:
- A Prayer for Indonesia
- I Fought the Law
- The Gospel According to Mel
- The Bush Bunch
- Color Me Khaki
- Rummy on the Rocks


- The Restaurant Commandments
- The Thing That Ate New York
- Stick a Fork in Jean-Georges

The New Republic:
- [ Beyond Belief ]
- [ Firings ]
- [ Modern Immaturity ]

The New Yorker:
- Times Regained
- The Big One
- Will Power
- Bad Comma
- Nanook and Me
- The Unpolitical Animal

Vanity Fair:
- Makeover Madness
- The Laptop Brigade
- Bland Ambition


The Atlantic Monthly:
- [ An Incomplete Map of the Northern Polarity ]
- [ Foaling Season ]
- [ The One in White ]

Harper’s Magazine:
- Natasha
- Commission
- Introduction to Speech

The New Yorker:
- The Last Words on Earth
- Passion
- Old Boys, Old Girls

The Paris Review:
- The Fifth Wall
- The Wamsutter Wolf
- Everyone Else

The Virginia Quarterly Review:
- The Immortals
- Happy
- The Futurist

1 This is a link to the Google cache of the incomplete article, so it is a) unsatisfying and b) a likely candidate for link rot. Sad.
2 The N.M.A. finalist was an April article in Rolling Stone entitled "The Triumph of Bob Guccione," written by John Colapinto. This appears to be an April article from The Independent entitled "The Triumph of Bob Guccione," written by John Colapinto. I'm assuming the Indy reprinted the RS article.

Posted March 19, 2005 at 1:28 | Comments (2) | Permasnark
File under: Media Galaxy

March 18, 2005

Memory Masters

Matt says,

To attain the rank of grand master of memory, you must be able to perform three seemingly superhuman feats. You have to memorize 1,000 digits in under an hour, the precise order of 10 shuffled decks of playing cards in the same amount of time, and one shuffled deck in less than two minutes. -- Slate
Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 7:59 AM

March 17, 2005

The Road to EPIC, Mile 137

Matt says,

Adrian Holovaty, in a post about the potential role of metadata in news, advocates creating a database of isolated, metatagged facts pulled together by automated news-munching robots.

Comments (4) | Permasnark | Posted: 11:44 PM
Matt's thoughts: Correction: Andrew Warren of Jambase informs me that it's not Michael Franti at ... >>

Video Voting


So at INdTV (where I work), we've been running this "Pilot Project" contest to kick off our participatory TV model. It's a very small start -- just a glimmer of things to come -- but it actually generated some pretty cool stuff.

Now we've got the ten finalists posted online; you can vote on your three faves. The top vote-getter will be $15,000 richer on April 4. That'll buy a lot of DV tape and Mountain Dew. (Everyone knows those are the two required ingredients for independent digital video.) (Actually, wait, is Mountain Dew old-school now? Everybody probably drinks Red Bull instead, huh?) (Mountain Holla?)

My personal favorite is the World of Warcraft piece, both because it's funny and well-shot and because it's a thoughtful look at a video game. If you read Snarkmarket regularly, you know I think there ought to be more of that.

Anyway, go watch and vote!

Posted March 17, 2005 at 10:12 | Comments (12) | Permasnark
File under: Media Galaxy

Why'd You Miss School Today?

Robin says,

Two words: Baboon crisis.

Via our secret correspondent from the monkey world.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 9:30 AM

March 16, 2005

Robin's thoughts: BTW, for the record, re-editing "Code" sounds like approximately zero fun. It's not even ... >>

Putting His Wiki Where His Mouth Is


First came Dan Gillmor, putting his book We the Media online a chapter at a time and inviting his readers to participate in the book's creation.

Now, Creative Commons mastermind Larry Lessig has taken his already-published book Code online as a wiki, and wants anyone who's willing to help turn it into Code v. 2:

Lawrence Lessig first published Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace in 1999. After five years in print and five years of changes in law, technology, and the context in which they reside, Code needs an update. But rather than do this alone, Professor Lessig is using this wiki to open the editing process to all, to draw upon the creativity and knowledge of the community. This is an online, collaborative book update; a first of its kind.

Once the the project nears completion, Professor Lessig will
take the contents of this wiki and ready it for publication. The
resulting book, Code v.2, will be published in late 2005 by Basic Books. All royalties, including the book advance, will be donated to Creative Commons.

Also intriguing is the platform he's chosen for this wiki, Jotspot, which I'd never heard of before, but looks pretty cool. One hurdle for Web neophytes who want to create wikis is the bit of technical knowledge it takes to figure out how to set one up and make it all work. Jotspot boasts that it's dispensed with those barriers to entry.

I am ever skeptical, but Jotspot's starting off with a good, semi-high-profile project. And I've often wondered if wikis would become ubiquitous if the technology got a bit more democratic.

Anyway, enough of this blathering, go re-write Code!

(Oh yeah, and the collaboratively-editing-chapters thing was also done by J.D. Lasica, whose site was where I discovered this tidbit.)

Posted March 16, 2005 at 8:39 | Comments (1) | Permasnark
File under: Media Galaxy

The M.I.A. Saga Continues

Robin says,

M.I.A. got postponed! Bummer. In the meantime, here's a magazine feature about her. She's so cool.

Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 6:20 PM

March 15, 2005

The Medium You Create By Consuming

Robin says,

More on Will Wright's new game:

He's sidestepped the whole idea of massive teams of content creators in favor of a system of building games based on player-content and emergence. The results are stunning.

It's an incredibly detailed, exciting write-up. If you're at all into video games, check this out.

Via Wonderland.

Comments (2) | Permasnark | Posted: 8:44 PM

Super M.I.A. Bros.

Robin says,

Boo, I'll miss the M.I.A. show in S.F. this Wednesday 'cause it's way, way sold out. But this M.I.A. vs. Super Mario Bros. mash-up is pretty fair consolation.

Also: Ciara vs. Paul Simon. Download this now. DO IT.

Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 12:16 AM

March 14, 2005


Matt says,

Good Lord. This is so cool. (Flickr account required for full coolness. Via Collision Detection.)

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 8:11 PM


Robin says,

Carol T Chung reports on Will Wright's new game, called "Spore":

You start off as this insignificant bit of bacteria and you grow and evolve through advantageous mutation [...] You go from being bacteria to a galactic god.

On the face of it, this is raddest ever, but then again, the problem with these sim games is the sometimes spurious assumptions made in the algorithms. Well, I guess by "problem" I mean "dissimilarity to actual bacteria → galactic god evolutionary processes," which is probably okay. So never mind, raddest ever.

Update: More deets from Gamespot.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 7:49 PM
Rob Sample's thoughts: Well, you've created a meme, cause I found you guys via a friend who emailed me the link to EPIC ... >>

PEJ Writes Up EPIC

OK, I wasn't going to link to the State of the News Media 2005 report that's been making the rounds, but then I took a look at the thing, and I saw that they start it off by describing EPIC:

In December 2004, a mock documentary about the future of news began making make the rounds of the nation's journalists and Web professionals.

The video, produced by two aspiring newsmen fresh from college, envisioned a nightmare scenario - by the year 2014, technology would effectively destroy traditional journalism.

In 2008, Google, the search engine company, would merge with, the giant online retailer, and in 2010 the new "Googlezon" would create a system edited entirely by computers that would strip individual facts and sentences from all content sources to create stories tailored to the tastes of each person.

A year later, The New York Times would sue Googlezon for copyright infringement and lose before the Supreme Court.

In 2014 Googlezon would take its computer formula a step further. Anyone on the Web would contribute whatever they knew or believed into a universal grid - a bouillabaisse of citizen blog, political propaganda, corporate spin and journalism. People would be paid according to the popularity of their contributions. Each consumer would get a one-of-a-kind news product each day based on his or her personal data.

"At its best, edited for the savviest readers," the system is "a summary of the world - deeper, broader and more nuanced than anything ever available before. But at its worst, and for too many, [it] is merely a collection of trivia, much of it untrue, all of it narrow, shallow and sensational."

That same year, the New York Times would fold its tent and become "a print-only newsletter for the elite and the elderly."

"It didn't have to be this way," the video concludes.

And it probably won't be.

Ha! (Oh, and "bouillabaisse"? Best word ever.)

Posted March 14, 2005 at 11:06 | Comments (8) | Permasnark
File under: EPIC, Journalism

March 13, 2005

Peter's thoughts: Why wouldn't he do The Reeve? Maybe it's more Snoop Dogg's style...... >>

The Canterbury Tizzales

Among the acts I had the pleasure of seeing at this weekend's Rogue Festival was a performance of the Canterbury Tales, told in rap (scroll down).

Baba Brinkman, a medieval-studies-grad-student-turned-professional-hip-hopper from Vancouver, laid down rhymes from the Pardoner, the Miller and the Wife of Bath in an Eminem-inflected lyrical flow, occasionally digressing from Chaucer to offer M.C.-ed treatises on hip-hop's place in the evolution of language and the history of oral storytelling.

He got a standing ovation and rave reviews from all in attendance. In fact, the reaction from the ladies seating behind me is probably best described as "orgasmic cooing."

So check out the videos and the audio samples, and definitely check this guy out if he comes to your town.

Posted March 13, 2005 at 7:16 | Comments (1) | Permasnark
File under: Gleeful Miscellany

American Analog Set

Robin says,

Adam Cohen on the new analogy-free SAT:

Obviously, every American should be able to write, and write well. But if forced to choose between a citizenry that can produce a good 25-minute writing sample or spot a bad analogy, we would be better off with a nation of analogists.

But then again... analogies are like soups.

Comments (5) | Permasnark | Posted: 4:47 PM


Matt says,

Have we all noted the new socially networked Netflix? Grand. Any Netflix users on here I can add to my friends pile?

Comments (3) | Permasnark | Posted: 2:08 AM

March 12, 2005

News from the Front Lines

Robin says,

Just saw this in Foreign Policy magazine: IRIN is a scrappy UN news service, feeding dispatches out of sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia. There's an RSS feed.

Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 2:36 PM

Upside to the Plague

Robin says,

Well, that's handy: Centuries of plague made 10% of Europeans safe from HIV. Also noted: "The plague" was probably not bubonic plague, but rather "a continuing series of epidemics of a lethal, viral, haemorrhagic fever." Eep.

Comments (3) | Permasnark | Posted: 2:21 PM

March 11, 2005

Illustrating the News

Matt says,

The case for comics journalism. (Via MetaFilter.)

Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 11:15 AM

March 10, 2005

kevin.'s thoughts: a coupla more links for ya: Gam... >>

Emily Dickinson: The Game

2005 Game Design Challenge: Imagine a game based on... Emily Dickinson.

Will Wright, creator of Simcity, came up with "USB Emily Dickinson":

[...] The idea was to stuff a virtual Dickinson into a USB drive and have her behave like a sort of complex Tamagotchi. When ever she is plugged into your computer she would send you emails, instant messages and basically annoy the shit out of you. Over time she would develop a personality and relationship with you. If she ended up becoming suicidal she would even have the option of deleting herself from the drive. [...]

AWESOME. Other cool ideas, too.

Posted March 10, 2005 at 5:43 | Comments (1) | Permasnark
File under: Video Games
Anonymous for good reason's thoughts: I was reading over your comments and a particular "publication" came to mind that I thought I wou... >>

Who's a Journalist?

Slate editor Jacob Weisberg has a sweet little essay today granting press credentials to anybody who wants to be a journalist. I totally agree with Weisberg's sentiment, but I think he's asking the wrong question -- and I post this because I think a lot of "journalists" do.

"Who is a journalist?" strikes me as a fairly useless question, and not just since the arrival of the Internet. It seems to me we should be asking "what is journalism?"

Journalists derive the title exclusively from the function of journalism -- not how good they are at it, not what institution they represent, not what stories they cover -- but the bare fact of what they do. Judith Miller and Matt Cooper of Time can't claim any special place in American democracy from the word "journalist" appearing under their names on their business cards.

But the acts of gathering information, synthesizing, and disseminating that information publicly in an essentially verifiable report -- those acts, when done in tandem, can and should receive special protections, no matter the context in which they are performed.

It's journalism, not journalists, we should be struggling to protect. I think we sometimes lose that distinction (hat tip to Rebecca MacKinnon, who might agree with me). Whether bloggers constitute journalists is abstract and immaterial. What in newspapers and on blogs and on television constitutes journalism, now, that strikes me as a provocative question.

Despite 1) appearing in the San Francisco Chronicle, and 2) being funny, this, I would argue, is not journalism. Haul Jon Carroll's pajama-wearing ass into court and make him testify. This, however, strikes me as journalism. Others might quibble. But at least we'd have a good conversation.

Weisberg notes that bloggers are trying to have it both ways in terms of the law -- the folks being sued by Apple want to be treated like journalists, while those in danger of being regulated by the FEC want to be considered something else. "A more consistent stance would be to assert that the First Amendment should apply equally to everyone who practices journalism," Weisberg says, "Whenever and wherever they do it, and that political advocacy online should be treated consistently with advocacy offline."

An even more consistent stance would be to assert that the First Amendment should apply equally to all acts of journalism, no matter the source.

Posted March 10, 2005 at 3:30 | Comments (6) | Permasnark
File under: Journalism
rAchel's thoughts: Dear Aaron, But if she were asexual, she would by definition neither have desire nor need... >>

Message from Earth: Ikea couch, $75 o.b.o.

I know I've just been busting on NASA...


...but this is, admittedly, cool.

Posted March 10, 2005 at 1:01 | Comments (4) | Permasnark
File under: Gleeful Miscellany

March 9, 2005

That Ruby Sword of Blazing Fury Will Cost You $0.005

Robin says,

Ooh: Next-gen Xbox will include support for in-game micropayments.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 6:03 PM

Metatagging the Urbs

Matt says,

I realize that since it has now appeared in Newsweek, Yellow Arrow is a) no longer cool and b) tired. But as NBC's late-'90s summer rerun promotional department would say, "If you haven't seen it, it's New to You™!!"

Thanks to Katherine von Jan at Faith Popcorn's BrainReserve for pointing this out.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 11:34 AM

March 7, 2005

Robin's thoughts: Whatevs. If Photoshop had been called, you know, 'Moon Image Shop' until NASA released the code &... >>

The People's Budget


The above graph shows how Americans would reallocate the federal budget if given the chance, according to a PIPA survey of 1,200 adults (PDF). Kevin Drum, who pointed this study out, warns social-spending-happy liberals to chill, because if they actually proposed cutting the defense budget by a third and spending all that cash on education and renewable energy, they would quickly discover the heat of this country's fury.

It's unfortunate that "space program" and "science research" are lumped together on this graph (and nowhere to be found in the accompanying PDF). Because clearly, if I'd gotten my grubby little hands on this survey, NASA would become the NAA, and its budget would be approximately $959 million.* And the National Science Foundation would find its budget mysteriously expanded by about, oh, $14.5 billion or so.

I mean, take this page and multiply its coolness factor by 4. Is your mind blown yet?

Speaking of the NSF, check out the Digital Promise Project, a foundation that wants to create a sort of NSF for education. Together with the New America Foundation, Digital Promise is pushing a piece of legislation that would use the money from selling and licensing the public airwaves to create a trust fund devoted to R&D in the field of education.

I'm inclined to think that's pretty cool. Critics of the legislation launch their broadside with the question, "Must the government establish what amounts to a new Public Broadcasting System for the Internet?"

Pardon me, I seem to be drooling just ever so slightly.

* "National Aeronautics Administration." None of this hoity-toity space crap. Leave that to Burt Rutan and Richard Branson.

Posted March 7, 2005 at 8:27 | Comments (12) | Permasnark
File under: Snarkpolicy

Rock Star

Robin says,

The AP reports:

Treasury Secretary John Snow on Sunday would not rule out the idea of Irish singer Bono, an activist on debt relief and AIDS, making the short list of potential candidates to lead the World Bank even though an American is expected to get the job.

Okay, this is never going to happen, but if it did, let me just say for the record that I would be so behind it. Seriously.

In reality I think the next World Bank prez is going to be Peter McPherson, former president of MSU and, before that, Bank of America honcho and chief of USAID, the foreign-aid divison of the State Department. (He's also the one not paying attention in this picture.) Recently he served as interim finance minister for the first-wave American government in Iraq. McPherson is a super-smart administrator but frankly not a strong public presence, which I suspect is fine by the Bush administration for this role.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 6:30 PM

March 6, 2005

Peg's thoughts: Adrian's stuff at is pretty sophisticated on this level.... >>

A++++ Super-Fast Shipping! Will Use Again!!!!

I just got back from another conference on the future of news, where many cool thoughts were exchanged that will find their way to this blog in due time.

There, I got to chat briefly with Karen Stephenson, who gave a presentation on organizational trust structures. As Malcolm Gladwell describes her work:

Stephenson studies social networks. She goes into a company--her clients include J.P. Morgan, the Los Angeles Police Department, T.R.W., and I.B.M.--and distributes a questionnaire to its employees, asking about which people they have contact with. Whom do you like to spend time with? Whom do you talk to about new ideas? Where do you go to get expert advice? Every name in the company becomes a dot on a graph, and Stephenson draws lines between all those who have regular contact with each other. Stephenson likens her graphs to X-rays, and her role to that of a radiologist. What she's depicting is the firm's invisible inner mechanisms, the relationships and networks and patterns of trust that arise as people work together over time, and that are hidden beneath the organization chart. Once, for example, Stephenson was doing an "X-ray" of a Head Start organization. The agency was mostly female, and when Stephenson analyzed her networks she found that new hires and male staffers were profoundly isolated, communicating with the rest of the organization through only a handful of women. "I looked at tenure in the organization, office ties, demographic data. I couldn't see what tied the women together, and why the men were talking only to these women," Stephenson recalls. "Nor could the president of the organization. She gave me a couple of ideas. She said, `Sorry I can't figure it out.' Finally, she asked me to read the names again, and I could hear her stop, and she said, `My God, I know what it is. All those women are smokers.'" The X- ray revealed that the men--locked out of the formal power structure of the organization--were trying to gain access and influence by hanging out in the smoking area with some of the more senior women.

This fascinated me because I'm beginning to take a serious interest in Internet trust currencies -- everything from eBay trusted merchants to the LinkFilter system of hits and points.

The other day, a poster on the MetaFilter ombudsite MetaTalk suggested a complicated post rating system founded on the principles of battle in online role-playing games:

Metafilter hitpoints! We all get 5000 to start. Once you level up via unattacked thread posting, you can cast healing spells on your favorite, but inexplicably hated MeFi pals, or do double damage with Fireballs. Anybody who reaches zero has their account closed, unless someone ells resurrects you by sacrificing 3/4 of their remaining points.

It inspired a long thread of quality snark.

But there might be a journalism-related nugget in here. I was in a small group session with Jeff Jarvis where we came up with a model for a future news organization that highly resembles some of Robin and my EPIC prototypes from early 2004. (Karen Stephenson, Andreas Neus and I are three of the folks whose names Jeff Jarvis has forgotten in the past 48 hours. Sad!)

One of the four planks of our news model was this idea of trust aggregation:

Let's say that five people cover the school board. Whom do you trust? It might be the one with the most links, or the most positive reviews, or the most traffic, or the most experience, or the fewest corrections and complaints, or the one who has the contempt of the people in power you hate, or perhaps training, or even editing. It may also be the reporter -- staff or independent -- who is the most transparent, who tells you how she votes so you can judge her reporting. Trust is your decision. We report; you decide.

The model Robin and I were batting around was a little better, I think, though more complicated. Who has the time to go around picking every news source they trust or don't trust? And 'sort by corrections' seems to lack nuance. Ours was a distributed trust system, involving the weighting of trust (or influence, I'd say) -- if I like your stuff, then those whom you like are rated-up accordingly in this system. Anonymous sources became losers in our media environment because without a trusted identity to trade on, they don't make it into many stories.

I imagine in our system one could also sort by corrections.

But the MetaTalk post inspires me to think there might be even more imaginative trust structures out there we could learn from. Who might be the smokers in EPIC's trust ecology?

Posted March 6, 2005 at 10:40 | Comments (1) | Permasnark
File under: Society/Culture

March 5, 2005

'This is Pernicious in Every Way'

Robin says,

Dan Gillmor has a sharp summary of recent goings-on re: bloggers' legal status this morning.

This thing about regulating blogposts as political contributions is whack. And also indicative of the errant direction of our campaign finance law: Rather than try to keep all the money out, we should be trying to get more money in. Lots more.

If every American contributed a crisp twenty to the candidate of her choice (and linked to that candidate on her blog! woo!) the cash generated could totally compete with the few hundred million that corporations cough up. The logic of "keep the money out" is what leads us to stupid conclusions like blogposts-as-contributions. Again I say: whack.

Comments (2) | Permasnark | Posted: 11:22 AM

Those Came From Where??

Robin says,

Matt Yglesias reminded me of this 1999 Wired article about containerized shipping -- possibly the most interesting thing ever. Every time I drive past the Port of Oakland and see all the multi-hued containers stacked up, by mind gets slightly expanded.

Comments (2) | Permasnark | Posted: 9:55 AM

March 4, 2005


Robin says,

SFist does these little interviews with local cool folk, and they are often quite good. This week's is no exception. The subject, Jeff Chang, wrote a neat-lookin' book: Can't Stop Won't Stop, a history of the hip-hop generation. Apparently it is "one of the most urgent and passionate histories of popular music ever written." Nice!

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 6:07 PM

March 3, 2005

ldblake's thoughts: "eminence gris" is a reference to "the elephant in the room"... the looming subject that is never... >>

Apparently I Get Last Place in the Search Bee

I just saw the term "eminence gris" in a blog-post and I don't know what it means. (Well, I mean, I get the gist, but I feel like there is probably some cool connotation I am missing.)

But I can't find a definition anywhere! Not through Google, not on Merriam-Webster, not in the Wiktionary.

Ironic that I saw it on a a blog about search.

Any tips? At this point I'm interested not only in the definition, but also in the meta-level of how to find it.

Posted March 3, 2005 at 10:36 | Comments (5) | Permasnark
File under: Gleeful Miscellany

Saheli Gets MeFied

Matt says,

Whoa! Frequent Snarketeer Saheli draws much MetaFilter love! Although I can't claim to exactly understand the generator of said love.

Comments (2) | Permasnark | Posted: 9:09 PM

A Story in Two Acts

Robin says,

Act One.

Act Two.

Comments (2) | Permasnark | Posted: 9:00 AM

March 2, 2005

So True

Robin says,

Jeff Cz.: "Snark often contains more truth than objectivity."

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 9:31 PM


Robin says,

Definition: "This is a word for the act of jumping down internet rabbit holes, following one link to another, with overtones of procrastination."

Example (from a comment): "cyberhypercavicunicucunctatalinkus is what has happened when you're reading about BGP on wikipedia when you start work, to check a single fact, and you've just been tapped on the shoulder by a co-worker asking if you're coming to lunch, and you realise you know what the Prandtl-Glauert singularity is, and how to feed horses."

Neologism courtesy of Saheli*

Comments (2) | Permasnark | Posted: 7:01 PM

Uh, Yeah: Bad Idea, Newsweek

Robin says,

For its current cover, Newsweek put Martha Stewart's head on a model's body a little too deftly. I blog this only because a) I saw this mag on the racks yesterday, b) I totally thought the photo was real, and c) I am not dumb.

Comments (2) | Permasnark | Posted: 9:14 AM

March 1, 2005

Cool Hunting


I think it would be fantastic fun to be a "cool hunter," a la the protagonist in William Gibson's book "Pattern Recognition" or Josh Rubin, who is real, and who has a blog called, um, Cool Hunting.

That's where I spotted the image above; it's by NYC-based illustrator Elliott Golden, whose portfolio is absolutely jam-packed with fresh-looking art. It's kinda retro but kinda not, and the colors all have this amazing washed-out fuzz to them.

Another artist after the break.

... Read more ....
Posted March 1, 2005 at 9:23 | Comments (0) | Permasnark
File under: Recommended
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