November 30, 2005
Now That's a Beat
Lucy Morgan, possibly the most revered newspaper reporter in all of Florida, just retired. In commemoration, Poynter.org (holla!) has her original job description memo. Check it out even (especially?) if you're not super-interested in journalism -- it is both charming and shocking.
November 28, 2005
The New Procrastination
So I'm going to this conference on Saturday. Looks to be a room full of super-smart academics, lawyers, and technologists. And me.
We're all to write a short position paper ahead of time, so as to facilitate a running start on the conversation; it's only a day-long event. The papers were due today, and I got mine in, but without leeway to do what I really wanted to: post it here ahead of time.
That's the new procrastination: not waiting until the last minute (although I did that too), but specifically waiting until it is no longer reasonable to call on your blog readership for comments and critiques.
Anyway, at the conference, I'm on Panel 1, which aims to
review the wide range of what search engines do and their importance in the information ecosystem.
industry participants, computer scientists, and analysts will flag major trends in search engine technology and try to predict future developments, with the goal of pointing out those trends that will create new conflicts and new litigation.
I actually had a tough time with this; I didn't want to just make a bunch of random, breezy predictions about video search or super-cool maps or whatever. So I spent the day on Saturday trying to come up with something that really got me excited.
Position paper after the break. It's already turned in, but of course I'll have to talk about it (and other things) on Saturday, so comment! Comment!... Read more ....
The First AdWord Ever
Revealed: It was for a company called Lively Lobsters. Another great post on Xooglers.
Killed by a Kiss
November 27, 2005
Koppel's Last Nightline
I just got around to watching the final episode of Nightline by Ted Koppel and his team -- it's now transitioned to a new multi-anchor format. For their last show, Koppel & Co. revisited their interviews with Morrie Schwartz, the dying Brandeis professor who wanted to talk about death on TV. Mitch Albom saw the original interview -- and of course we all know what happened after that.
But the final episode was grand, and so is Koppel's style and the Nightline tradition. I'll miss it.
Hipster Norah Jones
Am I late to this party? This album has been lying around since April, and I'm only now discovering it? It's awesome! A+++ super-fast seller! will use again!!1!
November 26, 2005
The Elderly and the Internet
Got an email from the new-ish Oxford Internet Institute promoting an upcoming talk, and thought it was interesting enough to just copy and paste:
Computers with Internet access and training were given to Elderly Australians in a project to assess the impact on their quality of life. The interviews indicated that they loved the learning experience, were proud of their achievement and found the Internet to be a source of wonder and amazement as well as a good way to stay in touch with their loved ones. However, the questionnaire survey showed that their quality of life had decreased over the time, both absolutely and relative to a control group. What does this tell us about the Elderly and the Internet, and what does it tell us about qualitative and quantitative research.
I don't have any specific thoughts on the matter, other than... how interesting! Wish I could check it out.
More Than Meets the Eye
All Journalism, All the Time!
Sorry, one more j-related post: a blog entry by Google's recently-departed director of consumer marketing comparing Google to another former employer, the San Jose Mercury News. Interesting. As are many of the other posts on Doug Edwards' new blog. Checkitout.
November 23, 2005
Since we're talking about citizen/community journalism: Check out this wiki for the city of Davis, California. It's really slick! I love the assertive tagline: "The definitive resource for Davis, California."
Why is there no San Franciso wiki?
November 22, 2005
Three Rants ... Continued
PART III: Rick is totally right.
(First, see parts I & II.)
When we get past Rick's sniping at the blogosphere and the broad practice of "citizen journalism," he begins to make some points I completely agree with:
Some of the pioneer online efforts at community journalism sites suffer a different problem. At the same San Antonio conference, when the topic of super-local sites came up, display pages from NorthwestVoice.com of Bakersfield, Calif., and MyMissourian.com were projected on a screen. Lead stories included "Another Pet Missing, Perhaps Stolen," plus "New 'Harry Potter' is Magnificent," and pictures from a local family's summer vacation.
Even as unperfected news forms, blogs and citizen journalism are exerting great influence.At a later meeting, publishers of the two sites were candid about what Clyde Bentley of MyMissourian.com called the banal quality of many submissions. But both sites, by policy, accept anything contributors think worth posting, since participation is a big part of the point.
Generally, whenever a news organization or longtime media professional announces a shiny new "citizen journalism" initiative, I've been underwhelmed by the result. It's like they give everyone in town a blog and aggregate 'em all under a folksy, feel-good banner and bam! "Community news."
Giving everyone a blog is awesome. Media orgs should absolutely do that. More voices speaking up means a better society, period.
Networking those blogs? Also a fantastic idea.
Lumping all the blogs together and proclaiming it news? Um.... Read more ....
November 21, 2005
Local Gal Makes Good
Aside from providing an incredibly well-informed perspective on Fresno's downtown development and arts-and-entertainment news, it occurred to me this weekend that Jarah is a fantastic editor. On the Fresno Famous blog, Sour Grapes, Jarah puled together bits and pieces of Fresno's mediasphere that matched my information needs better than any other editor in Fresno could. I think citizen editing hasn't been paid enough attention, but it's as vital a function as citizen reporting is. And it can happen on multiple levels, from the collective story judgment of a broad community (see Digg and Tech Memeorandum) to super-savvy individuals like Jarah.
This I Believe
There's agnosticism ("I don't know"), and atheism ("I don't believe"), but is there a special word for the aggressive and assertive disbelief in god? That's what Penn Gillette has. From a neat-sounding NPR series where people articulate their beliefs; you can subscribe to a feed.
Update: Yow, there is a lot of blog-buzz about this piece. Track it on Technorati.
Scan This Man's Books
For Mr. Verba, the decision to support Google's plan was not easy or obvious. He has a unique perspective on the legal and intellectual debate because his various professional roles connect him to every aspect of the creation and use of books.
"It's been dominating my life for the last year and a half," said Mr. Verba, a prominent political scientist who has been a professor at Harvard for more than 30 years. Even now, he is cautious about the implications of the ambitious project.
Interesting character, complex perspective. Way to go, NYT!
November 20, 2005
Google as Wal-Mart
If you love Google-ology, then you gotta read this column by Robert X. Cringely!
P.S. When I was little my dad would bring home issues of "InfoWorld," an IT-business magazine, and the only part I cared about (or could understand, really) was Robert X. Cringely's column in the back. I have loved him ever since.
November 19, 2005
Of Flying Pasta Monsters and Loneliness
A dream-ish prose poem of reasonable length, by Haruki Murakami, on spaghetti.
November 18, 2005
Three Rants on Rick
PART I: Rick, read more blogs.
Rick Edmonds, a buddy of mine and Robin's, takes the nascent "citizen journalism" movement to account in an article for Poynter Online. I'm rather disappointed. Where's Rick's typically razor-sharp, data-heavy commentary on the outlook of the journalism industry? This seems like Yet Another Meandering Rant Against Blogs. How could someone so smart produce something so wrongheaded?
I can't blame Rick at all. His rant reflects how other folks from Big Media -- including CitJ triumphalists -- have come to view participatory media. And it gives me the opportunity to launch my own rant(s). Sorry, Rick.... Read more ....
Your New Obsession
If there is one thing you must never, never do, it's press this button.
November 17, 2005
Elementary, My Dear Blogger
Oh, TOO cool: A Stanford program is publishing Sherlock Holmes stories as they were originally serialized in The Strand magazine. You can get them via real mail (!) or e-mail -- and it's free!
Mo' Laptops, Mo' Problems
Hey, they unveiled the prototype of those $100 laptops we've blogged about before.
In the Washington Post, Seymour Papert says: "It will change ... the way children everywhere think about themselves in relation to the world."
CNN's story quotes Nicholas Negroponte like this: "One laptop per child: Children are your most precious resource, and they can do a lot of self-learning and peer-to-peer teaching. Bingo. End of story."
But Ben Vershbow at if:book says:
Sorry to be so snide, but we were watching the live webcast from Tunis yesterday... it's hard not to laugh at the leaders of the free world bumbling over this day-glo gadget, this glorified Trapper Keeper cum jack-in-the-box (Annan ended up breaking the hand crank), with barely a word devoted to what educational content will actually go inside, or to how teachers plan to construct lessons around these new toys. In the end, it's going to come down to them. Good teachers, who know computers, may be able to put the laptops to good use. But somehow I'm getting visions of stacks of unused or busted laptops, cast aside like so many neon bricks.
There is a grain (maybe several grains) of cagey wisdom there, and some useful caution. All the same, I'm excited to see what happens with these things.
(if:book features some of the most thorough thinking around. I totally recommend the feed.)
Update: Great, detailed on-the-scene interview with the CTO of the $100 laptop project by Andy Carvin. I love the internet!
November 16, 2005
Blogging a Book
Holy jeez, it's like a perfect storm of things I am interested in: NYU media prof Mitch Stephens, whose book the rise of the image the fall of the word had a big influence on me, is going to write a new book about the history of atheism... and blog the process!
If a Nintendo Revolution was involved I would be all set.
Grateful to Granny
Really, only grannies clip coupons and scrutinize sub-penny disparities in price between cross-town supermarket rivals.
Come Back To Me, Misbegotten Sons of Street Fighter II
It is a spurious argument, perhaps, but an appealing one. It did not always used to be the case that normal people had a PS2 and 12-year-old monster-trading boys had a Gamecube. Nintendo used to rock for all ages.
The larger point in hello, nintendo's blogpost is about the potential radness of the Revolution's controller, mentioned here before. It really is amazing that nobody else stopped to think, Hey, we're making a brand new game console... maybe we should change the controller. Funny how some assumptions are just sooo deep.
November 12, 2005
David Vise peers into the soul of Google for The Washington Post's Sunday Outlook section, and finds some stuff I didn't even know was going on. (Googling your genes?) Good, quick read.
Well That's Tempting
The Institute for the Future of the Book has the run-down: Marjane Satrapi is blogging in pseudo-comics format... for the NYT's subscription-only service!
All together, like Darth Vader: NOOOOOOO!
Satrapi wrote the great and illuminating Persepolis. If the NYT puts all the comics journalism behind the subscription wall I just might... gulp... have to subscribe.
November 11, 2005
Head to Head
This head-to-head headline showdown between two tech sites, called digg vs dot, is sublime. Why does this not exist for, say, the WaPo vs. the NYT?
Of course I actually hate the scoop-obsessed part of news culture, but hey, if it's gonna persist, why not actually keep score?
November 10, 2005
Waiting for the Mozilla Phone
Here is a long O'Reilly blogpost that sums up some recent developments in the world of telephone software. Let me strongly second the author's argument that if we had an open, hackable mobile network, things would get awesome really fast.
Have I mentioned I hate my Verizon phone?
November 9, 2005
Watchmen: Absolute Edition
Wow, I didn't know there was a fancy new hardback edition of Watchmen, the greatest graphic novel produced by mankind to date. (TIME called it one of the 100 greatest novels, graphic or not, of the century -- nice.)
I note it because I was actually just flipping through Watchmen last night, marveling as I always do at its really peculiar and appealing vibe. I guess it's probably just the vibe of the '80s... but there is something very nostalgic about it, too. If you've read the book, I'm curious to hear if you know what I mean.
CSSVista: Live CSS editing with Internet Explorer and Firefox simultaneously. Hoooott. [/geek] [oh wait]
Yet Another View of the Future
This one's from 1987, made for Apple. And you know what? It's not all that outlandish.
November 8, 2005
"Ever Since I Saw That Crazy Flash Movie..."
Ruminations from Rupert Murdoch on offering high-speed internet in the US, because "when consumers begin using new high-definition home-video cameras, they will want more two-way bandwidth."
Frankly, we will continue to take full credit for any and all of Murdoch's moves into the internet realm.
Down and To the Right
Mainstream media in decline. News at 11. Or... not.
November 4, 2005
Hummers As Far As the Eye Can See
Hey, I think this might actually be citizen journalism: A blogger in Southern California discovers the local Hummer dealer's secret stockpile... a parking lot full of unsold inventory.
It is meant to be a metaphor for an economy in flux.
Our man in SoCal definitely has an agenda: Take a look at the title of his blog. But all the same, he's recorded some revealing, almost poetic, images.
I've seen links to the 30,000 calorie sandwich floating around... but I didn't realize it was an MSU alum who crafted the monster.
(The 154 tablespoons of canola oil is really the killer, isn't it?)
Culture of Fear
Pretty great essay by danah boyd on teens, school, LiveJournal crackdowns, and fear.
(Via the 'Pulse.)
November 3, 2005
730 Days Later
Two interesting things:
One: On precisely this day in 2003, I wrote Snarkmarket's very first post. In it, I noted Snarkmarket's origins (as with many smart things, it began with Matt) and promised talk of politics, movies, video games, journalism, and miscellany. No warning was given that the Briefly Noted box would one day reign supreme.
Two: This post -- this one right here -- is number 1,000!
CAN YOU BELIEVE IT??
To commemorate both milestones, we are rolling out a few new features, all designed to highlight the most transcendently awesome part of Snarkmarket: the comments.
First: Matt, whose CSS skills have somehow become Batman-like over the past two years, has invented a new style for comments on Briefly Noted entries. We were happy with the comment boxes that appear alongside normal entries, and wanted to make Briefly Noted entries sort've 'light up' in their own way when someone chimes in. You'll see it below if you scroll down a bit; isn't that cool?
Second: I, whose RSS skills are the result of typing 'RSS' into Google just now, have whipped up a comments feed, so you can keep tabs on the Snark-conversation in the feedreader of your choice. It doesn't exactly work the way I want it to yet, but it's functional, so go ahead and subscribe and I'll keep tweaking it.
Still to come: Revamped Snarkmarks. Plus a secret project.
You know, one of the things that led me into the world-o'-blogs in the first place was the sharp disappointment I felt whenever I'd write a column back in college or sometimes even a feature story at Poynter and not hear a peep from the audience. 'The audience.' Exactly.
In contrast, the conversation here at Snarkmarket has exceeded any expectation I ever had for it. It is truly a delight to click my little bookmark every morning and see what's new and who's saying what. So thanks, once again, for hanging out with us here.
Now, after the break -- the headlines of some of the many draft posts we've abandoned unfinished on the server over the past two years!... Read more ....
The Reality-Based Conservative
A fascinating New Yorker article last week profiled one of the many claimants to the title of forefather of modern conservatism, Peter Viereck. The article talks about how far conservatism has drifted from Viereck's ideals, and how some of his greatest fears about the movement have been realized. But the profile ends with an extraordinary passage from one of Viereck's lectures. It struck me as a wonderful summation of the value and mission of what many of us do, so I'll share it with you:
What causes the greatest crimes in history? The greatest bloodshed? The most murders? I would say two things: sincere love and a sincere devotion to liberty. ... If you kill out of love or for a perfect utopia, you never stop killing because human nature is always imperfect. Robespierre, rightly called "the incorruptible," was more sincere than Danton and always found somebody deviating just a little bit from true liberty. ...
I can think of nothing more gallant, even though again and again we fail, than attempting to get at the facts; attempting to tell things as they really are. For at least reality, though never fully attained, can be defined. Reality is that which, when you don't believe in it, doesn't go away.
Featuring Artie: The World's Strongest Man?
The Adventures of Pete & Pete is coming to DVD! That's awesome! That show was surreal in the best way.
Privacy Is a Conversation
Pop Quiz: What is the meaning of the word "privately" in this sentence when the context is the front page of The Washington Post?
Top White House aides are privately discussing the future of Karl Rove, with some expressing doubt that President Bush can move beyond the damaging CIA leak case as long as his closest political strategist remains in the administration.
Wait, seriously? The US has more people incarcerated than China? The highest absolute number of prisoners in the world and the highest per-capita?
November 2, 2005
Nerds in Paradise
We just launched a video feed page for Current -- now you can watch a sampling of our on-air programming, either in your browser or by subscribing to the feed in iTunes, FireANT, et al. It's cool.
But in particular I want to point out one of our first sample picks: Nerds in Paradise, a short piece about Comic-Con, the grand gathering of all things geektacular. It might be my single favorite thing on Current. You can watch it in Flash on the feed page or download it here. Seriously, I love it.
WaPo Does Video and... It's Lovely
Washingtonpost.com has a new video podcast feed suitable for use with iTunes. Today's installment -- "Conversations about Rosa Parks" -- is sort've shockingly quiet and lovely. Very un-newsy, if you know what I mean. Well done.
Big Wood Table at 300kbps
NBC will stream the Nightly News online. Ho-hum.
You know what I really want to download? Charlie Rose. That show gets people that just don't show up anywhere else on TV: Tonight, for instance, it's a U.N. Under-Secretary-General and Anne Rice. (Not at the same time.) Yesterday was a huge roundable about bird flu and Ray Kurzweil. That's good stuff!
But the thing is, I am never, ever in the mood to watch it at 11:00 at night. And more to the point, the interviews have a great shelf-life -- as evidenced by the fact that they dig them out of the archive to play on TV all the time. It would be so great to have random access to all the interviews anytime.
The Heights of Pop
I totally agree with Michael Idov's words on t.A.T.u. and the recent spate of critically acclaimed guilty pleasure pop music. "All the Things She Said" was a wonderful song containing, as Idov says, "at least five distinct parts, each catchier than the other." I'm happy critics recognize this. And having utterly fallen for Kelly Clarkson during the first American Idol, I'm thrilled that she's recorded such a universally beloved gem of trash-pop as "Since U Been Gone," even if I don't much care for the song itself. I look forward to hearing t.A.T.u.'s new album. May they never jump the shark.
November 1, 2005
Speaking Out of School
Although Bill Cosby delivered his notorious remarks about black society in front of a largely black crowd, the ruling complaint was that he'd aired our culture's dirty laundry in public. But could his speech have been effective in any other place? If he'd been speaking at a mid-sized black church with no reporters present, was there any chance his comments would have carried outside the room?
The charge of airing dirty laundry has been levelled many times at director Deepa Mehta, although not often as violently as with her latest film, Water. The film concerns the plight of Hindu widows in parts of India, who to this day are sometimes relegated to poverty after the deaths of their husbands, unable to work or remarry. When Mehta first tried to film Water, a group of Hindu fundamentalists trashed the set, destroying all prints. The director spent years raising the money to shoot the film again under heavy secrecy in Sri Lanka.
Now, Water is complete (trailer), and the charges of cultural treachery are circling, even among those who might agree with the moral particulars of Mehta's message. Read the comments on this Sepia Mutiny thread, and you will find some very valid criticisms of Mehta's message and the way she delivers it. "Mehta thus does not engage with feminist concerns around dominant conventions of beauty, colour and feminine roles; rather, she reinforces them," one commenter quotes from a review. "The shiny patina of exotica is what saves Mehta from being recognized as the mediocrity that she is," another commenter writes.
The root charge strongly resembles that levelled against Cosby -- Mehta's playing up the culture's dysfunction to curry favor with an audience outside of it. But put in this light, the charges have a potency the anti-Cosby remarks didn't to me. Suddenly I can sympathize with all those white journalists who scratched their heads at that story and wondered, "What do I do with this?"
Given that Mehta's Fire is one of my favorite pieces of LGBT cinema, I feel like I can defend that film from within my own cultural framework. But does any part of Water belong to me?
The film describes legitimate problems in India that demonstrably persist. The film is peddling the same tired, negative images of India that foreign reporters find when they drop in sniffing for a good story. Outside the cultural framework the film represents, do we have the right to cast judgment? And on whom do we cast it?
Dylan Thomas Reads
This recording of Dylan Thomas reading his most famous poem is possibly the first time hearing a poet recite his work didn't disappoint me. Utterly excellent. This is from Boing Boing a while back. Boing Boing later linked to Thomas' reading of his poem "Lament," 'cause they're awesome like that.
Michael Specter's excellent article in last week's New Yorker about Africa, malaria, and the quest for a vaccine is sadly not online. But a gallery of incredible related photos by Samantha Appleton is online, and highly recommended.
PS: Today was my first extended tour through Flickr Explore. I plan to have a different computer desktop every day now. It's frickn amazing.