I enjoyed BloggerCon and I'm glad I came, but this Stowe Boyd guy has pegged some of its flaws:
The format is problematic in reality. A lone session moderator begins with a presentation of various ideas on the topic, and then a free-for-all ensues, where the 50 to 250 people in the group raise their hands, ask a question, elaborate on some issue, or whatever. Often, you might have to wait 10 minutes or more to actually get to speak on some topic now 10 minutes cold.
However, Winer and the other conference insiders reserve the right to break into the flow of the sessions, and so Scoble, Searls, Steve Gillmor, and the like seem often to be having their conversation in the session and not the halls, but not everybody else.
Personally, I am not opposed to the seemingly undemocratic nature of this outcome. I believe that the quality of the conversation between these A-Listers is actually more illuminating than the "gee whiz, I'm just glad to be here" statements coming from the newbies. My recommendation would be to, however, salt the mix with more powerful dissenters and structure the latent debates inherent in the sessions so that the various points of view can come to light, and just drop the pretense that all utterances are equally worthy.
I figure there are a lot of tweaks that could be made to the structure(lessness) of the (un)conference which would alleviate some of the problems Boyd observed.
Here's one version of The Tyranny of Structurelessness, an essay I read not all that long after it was written--well, okay, a few years later, but in the late seventies--which has only grown on me over the years.
The article garnered a response, The tyranny of tyranny, which has also been running in my brain for a long time. I've gotten onto Jo Freeman's wavelentgh over the years, though there's still something to be said for Cathy Levine's response.
Here's that Kleiman guy again, saying the sort of sensible stuff that might stick liberals with political powre they'd have to exercise. Let's just ignore him, okay?
The problem, with gun ownership as with abortion, is that the presence of a group of people committed to ending the practice entirely makes those committed to defending the right to engage in it justly suspicious of small steps in the wrong direction.
That's not to say that liberalism doesn't have a political price. In fact we, as liberals, are committed to the rights of gays and atheists and to free choice on abortion. We're committed to limiting the severity of the criminal law to appropriate levels. We don't love the notion of bombing the hell out of the country's enemies, and we strongly disapprove of torture. That's part of what liberalism is, and I for one don't much want to compromise on any of it.
But that stuff will cost us fewer votes if liberals manage to figure out a way to convince the rest of the country that we're not trying to push our weird religious beliefs and practices down their throats.
That's the way you do it:
Writing about the community has also pulled me out of my house and deeper into the community. I've met many times more people locally in the last year than I'd met in my previous five years of living here. My mental rolodex is long since exploded. I've joined the Historical Society and the Town's Democratic Committee, and wound up the Chair of the Democratic Committee. Blogging always seems to end up making people participants, and that definitely has happened to me. It sure wasn't what I expected as I was setting up Movable Type!
So you think all the news is bad from the election? I think not:
Lupe Valdez, the first Hispanic, and the first lesbian to be elected to public office in Dallas County, won the sheriff's race by a two-point margin Tuesday.
Valdez grabbed the spot from her Republican opponent, Danny Chandler, with 51 percent of the vote. She is the first Democrat to win the post in three decades.
And here's what the high sheriff told the deputy:
Valdez said that she views her success as a win for everyone who has struggled.
ďItís a win for people who are trying to do their best no matter what category they are in,Ē Valdez said.
Due to an error in IP banning, all comments have been disabled for a while now. Thanks to the two readers who asked about this, comments are now re-enabled.
I thought I'd done something to offend the comment spammers. I guess banning all comments would do that. So it goes.
UPDATE: It took less than ten minutes to get the first comment spam after re-enabling comments.
That's what commenter James Withrow says over on MaxSpeak under one of Max's typically intelligent and well-worded posts:
There are some things you can compromise on, or blow off. I was never a gun control fanatic. Bazookas, sure. As crime control, gun control is jive. There is a household safety issue, and by the same token an issue of nanny-state paternalism. In this context, gun control is like smoking. People do it in their homes and endanger their children, and each other. Whaddya wanna do about it? Me, not much.
Partnership rights are a different matter, much like anti-discrimination in the realm of race. Some things are just too right. To some extent, the anti-gay marriage movement is one to curb the right of individuals to commit to each other and receive the same legal rights as husband and wife.
I'm in the Bay Area for a few days, and I've yet to visit a good friend of mine down in the Castro. The last time I saw him, in spring, he was already incredibly depressed by the political situation.
I know how he's going to feel--like a marked man by both sides. Bad enough that the right-wingers are at a peak (I believe the peak) of their power, that they got eleven states--including Oregon!--to outlaw gay marriage, that many of those states went further to outlaw civil unions, and that a few even made it against the law for governments to offer domestic partner benefits.
Worse yet to feel that much of the left is going to blame you for the election of George Bush, and even worse turn its back on you, on your fundamental human rights, your humanity itself.
Well, not me, and not anyone I can convince otherwise.
Max is right--this is a fundamental moral issue.
Even if, as Max suggests, we suppose for the sake of argument that gay marriage was the wedge issue that won the election for Bush, we can't back down on gay rights, any more than we could back down on civil rights. It's just wrong to discriminate against gays and lesbians. Betray them? No. That's giving up and admitting the 'publicans are right, that we are morally bankrupt.
Can't do it. Wouldn't be prudent.
I'm not going to argue any more with people about gay rights. I'm simply going to say, "You should be ashamed of yourself for saying that. It's immoral." Better phrasing welcomed.
Here I stand. I can do no other.
DS: Making money with blogs, and making money because of blogs. What is the business model of your phone? Your porch? Your driveway? Do you refuse you buy furniture which can't pay for itself? Do you write for readers, or do you deliver content to consumers? Are your readers an audience? Do you read you for your ads? Do you consider yourself a brand? (If so, would you please turn your badge around.) Would you stop in the middle of a conversation to deliver a commercial message? Would you take money to write about something you don't care about? Which noun best describes you: person, or medium? How does blogging increase your market value outside your blog? How much more or less Google Juice do you get by running advertising on your blog? How do you make money? Do you want blogging to help you do that? How? By exercising and enlarging your authority? Would you blog for a grant?
You've managed to put up an amazing number of slides without asking a question I'm interested in. So: Why do people blog?
DS: Rollo May says writers differ from other creative types by believing people really need to hear what they have to say. I think a lot of people who ought to be bloggers aren't--my sister, for instance. So this is a need some of us have. Do we want to monetize that?
I don't think there's one answer. I started using Frontpage to create a website and had never heard of weblogging. I was angry and I wanted to publish, and so I did, but I didn't want to make money. It destroys my ability to make money, this anger. To me, there's one sure way you could make money: Provide people like me the infrastructure. I don't think there's one answer.
DS: How many people are now in businesses they wouldn't be in if it weren't for blogging? Quite a few. How many are making money at it?
I run three blogs, one on photojournalism, one of political rants, and one designed to position me as a wise person who would come talk to you about health care. It's gotten me into places I wouldn't otherwise be. It also forces you to have an opinion about the news every day. I'm not sure, though, that the blog is a rational business decision--I'm not sure I've made more money with it than I would have without it.
DS: It's interesting--we think nothing of paying money to be entertained, but weblogging entertains us and we expect it to make us money.
How many people here would consider providing some form of subscription service? Extras--being able to customize your site, getting discounts on products, as so on.
DS: Do we have an answer?
I'm running a for-profit site, and it's been profitable from the first, and it's been making more money as we've gone on. It's possible, but you have to be as small and as niche-like as possible. You want to do something as specific as possible.
EC: There is an existing model--it's called a tip jar, and it works quite well for some people. So: How do I get rich? First, get half a million readers a day. Second, ask them for money.
This year, I had big-time user interface problems with PayPal--we've moved to Amazon. I've had a very good week this week, but tip jars are to pay that extra bandwidth bill. It's not as reliable as some would have you believe. It's also easier to get contributions for a partisan site, and that's not reliable. Sullivan has seen a drop-off since he opposed Bush. We're experimenting with some other methods.
Suppose you are making money on your site, and you allow people to comment on your site. Do you pay them?
It's an interesting question, but you have to look at it over time. If someone makes a lot of comments, you might bring them on as a guest blogger, then maybe a full-time contributor. They then might make money.
DS: I thought it was a provocative question because it reframes everything.
You don't pay for letters-to-the-editor.
There's a growing cynicism about shills. For instance, an automotive company that put out a blog supposedly by consumers.
DW: There are so many ways I want to challenge your thinking on this. Have you considered starting a business with people you would have never met without having a blog? For instance, I think I could get together a team that understands all the weaknesses of the iPod. If you're here to make money, then get busy making money. I've flowed hundreds of thousands of dollars through my blog by using it as a way to put out my ideas and get other people to give me input on their ideas. When you try to stretch a weblog to become a magazine or a newspaper, it's nickle-and-diming.
CN: The difference is that you're selling software. (DW: I was.) Okay, you're in the software business. (DW: No, I'm not.) I'm not selling anything on my site.
DW: I'm not selling anything on my blog. That's something you can do, too. You're selling your ideas.
CN: I'm in the business of selling words which express my ideas.
DW: I'm going to apply my model to your business. How would anybody find out about your brilliant ideas?
CN: You link to me, Dave. I'd rather see the blog make my money. That's a difference between the original model of weblogging and what I'm doing.
What I've been evangelizing for a while now is that weblogs are relationship management tools.
Your model, Dave, is that it's a new way to do networking. That only works for some period of time.
DW: Sometimes I'm trying to make money. Sometimes I'm trying to make something else.
I can't think of any better way to position myself than with a weblog. I think the aggregators asking you to come blog with them. I think you should ask them when you're approached like this, "Okay. Where's the contract? Show me the money." They'll disappear.
Most people can hope to get their hosting costs back, at this point.
I have a company with an excellent little product, but we can't figure out how to get it out. I worked for a year to get a story in a newspaper with a circulation of 2.3 million. We got a five-star review and thirty-two downloads. Scoble linked to us and we got four hundred downloads. There's money in helping your friends evangelize their products.
DS: I think you've made a lot of hay because you're such a good reader of weblogs.
On a forty-dollar book on Amazon, I make about two-fifty in royalties. I get about twice that from linking to it as an Amazon associate. You can make money serving people on the tail of the distribution curve.
People are willing to pay for attention, but that's from the people with high-traffic blogs?
Does it have to stay that way? Is this only current?
I think there's a model emerging here. There's the ability to make money from the blog itself. Then there's the ability to make money from having the blog in networking.
About not joining a blog network: If someone came to an a-list blogger and offered you five hundred a month to blog, you'd say no. For someone with a smaller audience, that might be a good deal.
DW: There was this e-mail exchange between Marc Cantor and Jason Calcanis. Is there more money in reviewing gadgets, or in creating gadgets?
DS: I was thinking about the type of people Malcolm Gladwell wrote about in The Tipping Point--many bloggers are all three of those types.
You put something up I was thinking about: Is your site a brand? How many of you want to make your site a brand.
One reason I read you people in my news aggregators is that you are my friends. I have an image of you and what you're going to write. You have different brands in my mind.
DS: How many of you think your parents gave you a brand? I worked in the ad industry--we got the word 'brand' from the cattle industry. We're doing something else here.
There are fourteen jobs on Monster that mention blogging. It's true on Dice, too. Someone values what you do. I have sympathy for people like Chris Nolan and other journalists because it's a hypercompetitive market.
I'm lucking enough to be paid a salary to blog. I was hired at a film company as an assistant. My boss saw my blog and promoted me to director of internet outreach. We do socially relevant films, so it makes sense for us to have a blog.
We talk about blogs like they're a monolithic thing--but you can do many different things with a blog. Blogging is a tool, a great new evolutionary tool to do a lot of things that have already existed.
There's more information on-line every day, and it's getting more difficult to sell content every day, for that reason.
If you're trying to make money as a journalistic blogger, then you might use ads and such on your site. You might also want to have links to sell things from your site.
I've made hundreds of thousands of dollars from weblogging doing product support sites. There's money in that.
I guess I have a backwards way of thinking--my blog got me some opportunities, but those weren't what I was wanting to do.
JR: I don't know how you make money with a blog, but I know something about what bloggers know. If you get hired by a newspaper, you are drawing off the trust and reputation built by that newspaper over a century. When you start as a blogger, you start from zero. Because you have to build trust, some kind of reliability, and you learn some things about trust no one at that newspaper learns any more, because they don't have to think about it. That's what I'd want to hire as a businessman--what they learned about trust by building the blog.
It's not about brand, but about personality. I get a quarter of a million readers a month, and get single-dollar figures from the various means of making money with ads and associate programs and so on.
I've noticed an absence here--teens. Teens are all over blogs--they're on the internet all the time. Does anyone have any ideas about how to make money from that?
If you're going to try to get money from teens, well, teens don't have all that much money. What do you think they're going to pay for that they can get for free?
If you were offered one thousand dollars a month to promote something on your blog without compromising your integrity or inconveniencing your readers, would you do it?
(There was further discussion and it was very interesting, but here I lost the thread, partly because I involved myself in it, so let me end it on that note.)
Discussion leader: Ed Cone, journalist
EC wryly began: Since I don't have the answers on how to make this work, I'm allowed to lead this discussion. First, who here worked on an on-line campaign this year? (Various people gave their experiences.) Bottom line: So far, we have seen that on-line campaigns are an effective way of raising money. We have not seen the other, organizational benefits.
One thing that didn't work: As a voter, going to candidate's site, I saw the "What's new/What's happening" stuff take up real estate I would've like to see be more static content, on things like "How I would vote on this issue" from the candidate.
EC: Here's Erskine Bowles' web page, done entirely on weblogging software. What were static pages became weblog entries over time. Now, here's Jeff Thigpen's site--he used it to put out that kind of substance.
A lot of political blogs miss the point--they're talking at us, rather than engaging us in conversation. We're considering getting weblogging software to get the community invovled in running the campaign--not just comments, but involvement in scheduling, actually running the campaign.
EC: The Dean campaign had issues with getting the weblog campaigners and the traditional campaigners to work with each other.
In Nevada, huge swaths of nearly empty land, I was telling people what a wonderful place it would be for WiFi. They asked me, "What's WiFi?" So you know they're not only not blogging themselves, they're not reading weblogs, either. We talk to ourselves--we forgot about the rural people.
EC: North Carolina has a hundred counties, many of them rural, with no Democratic Party. I suggested we need a virtual party organization.
I met all these people in Iowa who said how much they'd done for Dean--at the end of the week, I realized all they'd done was go on-line and read the blog.
EC: You know what was the most effective on-line tool of the campaign? E-mail. It's not exciting, but it works.
In terms of the three networks, people have believed various things about the anchors. We thought the media criticism was too hacklike, so we built up credibility over time with various stories, none of which were ever challenged factually. When the memogate fiasco came along, we showed the idea of the objective media was ludicrous. I see now the American press is moving toward a more European model.
EC: And the Powerline guys, which with Instapundit and you at RatherBiased were instrumental in this, said this was the most important event of the campaign.
We need to make a distinction between the blogosphere as an independent entity and weblogs as an extension of the campaign. We've seen that the blogosphere is an information amplifier. It's also a mis-information amplifier--the exit poll situation, for instance.
EC: My friend David Hoggard started his in August before the election. He's still at it, and now he's building his constituency. Weblogs are the passionate voice of the individual--most campaigns just didn't get this.
What I saw I thought worked best in the last campaign was when a post came with an action item--if this angers you, this is what you can do about it. The Sinclair thing is the most obvious example--it could happen more if people designed their entries to do it.
My perspective on the whole thing is that the campaign's voice should be that of the candidate or of the campaign itself. On the Clark campaign, we gave every supporter a blog, and that became a community.
EC: You probably won't see a presidential or senatorial candidate do his own blogging, but it does have to come from the top.
In the Dean campaign, people began to think of the weblog as the voice of the weblogger, not the campaign. In the Clark campaign, we had four or five people weblogging, and they tended to become the voice--we decided to make the posts the voice of the campaign. It's important for the campaign to have a voice, but it's more important for the voice of the weblog to be the voice of the campaign.
The problem was the disconnect between the webloggers and the candidate. People didn't feel that they were in the same room as the candidate. A blog is just an amplifier for a voice. The corporate world is dealing with the same issue--do you want to have stars at Microsoft or Google?
Does the weblog scale up to the national campaign?
In a campaign, you've got the voice picked for you. Not the weblog way. The blogroll is a problem, too--look at how the Kerry campaign had to drop Daily Kos.
The candidate as product. Products are conversation. During the campaign, we Democrats lost the branding war. Nothing in the weblogs help us see that.
Here's what the Republicans did. The first thing they put up was links to the county chairs. If you go to the national Republican site, they do something similar.
JR: I have a story for you, and a bit of a challenge as well. At the DNC, they gave a breakfast for us. So Barack Obama comes to speak with us, and he's trailed by a lot of people. It showed us they thought it was important to speak with us. So, Barack Obama said he had a weblog and asked us for advice. I said, "Write it yourself." He said, "I'll do that once I find five or six more hours in the day." We said, "He doesn't get it." But also, we don't get it. We couldn't convince him it was worth his time. We need to find someone at the highest level possible to try this next year.
EC: Barack Obama had problems other candidates didn't--he had scaling problems the other guys could only dream of.
Let's brainstorm--how can we get someone high-level to blog?
EC: Look how they spend their time now. They call people and raise funds.
JR: If Barack Obama's site had content from him, you're telling me that wouldn't help his fundraising?
Immediately after the convention, the Kerry campaign dropped all but the alpha bloggers off their site. Politicians prioritize their media time. Perhaps the person who weblogs is the a person who speaks for the campaign.
EC: Carson in Oklahoma stood up to the Kos-basher. People are afraid of weblogs, of what might show up in comments. He had the courage to stand up.
Get politicians to blog off-campaign. Also, how Lessig did it--candidates as guest bloggers for a period of time.
EC: Larry, would you tell us about that experience.
LL: The first person who came on was Dean. I think there was something...if you read Kucinich's posts, they were very Dennis. You got the feeling the Edwards posts were framed by the campaign. Dean's was set up so that it seemed that Dean was making the posts.
EC: I loved the way the Edwards campaign manipulated me as Edwards' wife posted comments on my blog.
I was paying attention when Jay said that to Obama. I gotta say that reading like your PR guy wrote the posts, it hurts you. They've got to get that it's the direct voice of the individual to the individual.
EC: There's Hogg's Blog. He's writing about his own life now, and local events, but he's going to run for something. He's running now, I think.
One thing that might work to get someone existing to blog would be to give donations to candidates for consistent blogging.
The thing that hits me as an outsider is how much people focus on the race for office. I think that's upside down in the blog world. Lessig, for instance, is an effective political blogger--he's building respect as he writes, and if he ran for office, I think people here would respond.
EC: It's time-consuming. You have to build over time.
What are blogs noticed for? Trent Lott, the Kerry war experience, what Bush did, Memogate. They raise what are essentially irrelevant issues. Kos is a great blog, but it's had exactly two posts in the last year on health care issues. We've got to raise the level of debate.
Two years ago, I was the IT guy for a member of the Democratic leadership. Campaigns are about staying on message. They're about control--control of the candidate's time, of who the candidate is talking to. When we talk about the idea of the candidate blogging, we're talking about a new kind of candidate. Now they understand the technology of handshaking--that's a different sort of technology. They don't spend a lot of time writing--they don't have a lot of time to write. The cycle is now a lot faster. Things will have to change. Look at the last two weeks of the presidential campaign--how they kept reshuffling their schedules. They couldn't do that twenty years ago.
EC: I asked Matt Gross why Bowles didn't use Meetup--he said they were already local. I think that might've been a mistake--it could have been very effective in those hundred counties.
EC: The role of blogs in distributing the exit polls.
I think we've overestimated the impact of the exit polls. Did anyone here change their mind over those polls?
SR: I think exit polls are inside trivia. We also know that about half the population believe we found WMD. We've developed these tools of dismantling authority--that's a good thing. We now have an administration which is trying to create its own authoritativeness, its own reality. What can we do to defend ourselves, create our own authorities, against those people.
EC: Maybe if we were'nt in the blog age, sixty-three percent would have believed it.
Two models at work--the traditional broadcast model and the distributed model. The Republicans have distributed models that work--the churches, for instance--but they accept hierarchy, and become an amplifier for the message from above them. Now, we know that the local source is the best source for information. Do we have local sources parsing the information and the news for us? A Democrat said I wish we had the grassroots organizations that the Republicans have--sixty, seventy million people attending religious services every Wednesday and Thursday.
EC: Rebeecca McKinnon has been talking about using the web to enable existing organizations.
RM: How do you help, for instance, Human Rights Watch use RSS and weblogging to be more effective at what they do? Many of those people are working in places where there isn't a culture of working on-line.
LL: One of the biggest problems that we who lost in this election felt was how difficult it was to persuade people on the other side because there was no context in which to persuade them. The great thing about both broadcasting and villiages is you had to hear things you didn't want to hear, to deal with people you didn't like. You had to deal with that. Weblogs can help you avoid that. I get comments on my weblog from people who don't want to hear things about politics.
ZR: We, the good guys, have this amazing network--it just doesn't work. It sucks. And at the same time you have the blogosphere. How do I get toolsets in these people's hands? How do we get these open source tools--content management, donation management--up there. The blogosphere works because it's decentralized. We should be applying that to our conceptions of politics.
An observation from someone who is a registered independent and voted for George Bush, this group seems very partisan. A lot of this conversation is self-referential--if we had better tools, we would have won more. I don't know that's necessarily the right discussion. I think only half the country is represented here, that people feel the Republicans lied and cheated their way to victory.
EC: I think you raise a valid point--all the technology in the world can't of itself make a candidate win. I don't think Bowles would have beaten Burr if he'd just started blogging in 1994. But how can you get these tools into the right hands.
(continues) I don't think you can tell Barack Obama he needed to blog--he did okay.
EC: Not all of us get to run against Alan Keyes.
(continues) At the last Bloggercon, I met people from the Democratic bloggers, then went out to speak to the Republicans about how they saw it. Perhaps the correct answer is that hierarchy works.
EC: I don't think that's heresy. Would anyone here argue that point?
DW: I would. I think it's crap.
EC: Darn it, we're out of time. Thank you all for coming.
SR: How many of you are bloggers? About eighty percent. How many of you are journalists? (A fair number of hands.) How many think of yourselves as "real" journalists? (About the same number of hands.) Let's not talk about "Is blogging journalism?"
SR: There's been kind of a holy war between journalists and bloggers. This can be an interesting discussion, but it can also be a distraction. Let's ask instead what each group can learn from each other. I'm going to throw out a few interesting questions, then open it up.
SR: Journalists can learn from bloggers about how to blur the line between the personal and the professional. How to improvise in real time. How to talk with the "people formerly known as readers"? And humility.
SR: One thing bloggers can learn from working journalists is how hard it is to go out and research a story. Another is the nature of accountability. Bloggers begin from a position of autonomy, but as a community begins for form around a blog, that changes. Another is the value of editing. And finally, the value of humility.
One of the things about blogging is that we don't have access, so we do a lot of going through documents of the web. I understand that's old-school journalism.
SR: At Salon, we have more access than bloggers but much less than the Washington Post. Bloggers have the advantage of numbers and distributed work.
What is the process of journalism? Blogging versus journalism is really small publisher versus large publisher. How do we put the same journalistic standards onto everyone?
SR: A lot of people hear this sort of talk and view it as some sort of licensing scheme.
Much of the talk about journalistic practices comes from people who have an agenda.
I think (as a PR person) most traditional journalists are sell-outs. Bloggers are great because they give the point of view of users. Start your own blogs not as PR but as a means of getting feedback.
SR: We might say that advocacy and journalism have gotten all tied up, and many people don't trust that any more.
The insularity of the traditional media--how to dissolve that.
Many blogs spend their time attacking journalists who they disagree with. Most of us know who Springsteen is, but not who he publishes for.
SR: The resistance of traditional journalism organizations to staffers weblogging. The NPR/Slate controversy.
The tools for newsgathering are no longer kept in newsrooms--they're on tables in this room. It's interesting when bloggers who haven't come up through journalism talk abou their tools--they take those tools for granted. What about the responsible use of those tools.
SR: A lot of the tools are, but...Consider the Rom Suskind article, the quote about the "reality-based" community. This piece crystalized many things for me. Bloggers couldn't have written that story.
On the other hand, the discussion of Bush's use of the Dred Scott decision--that was open to bloggers.
SR: There's a difference between the inside view and the outside view.
Inside and outside sources are both important to understand. We were taught to go to the source--get as close to the company, the Pentagon, as possible.
Compare the diffference between journalism in the US and other countries. We shouldn't use the US system as the gold standard.
Blogs and local journalism. A local guy called me up one day about a controlled burn near his house that scared the heck out of his wife. He went and spoke to the fire chief, then published it on his blog. Not a seminal moment, but it was journalism. What if something goes bad with one of these burns in the future? Also, the responsibility that he had not to be a jerk to the fire chief, not to screw it up for the rest of the bloggers.
There is value in the meta-analysis, being a step away from the source. Being near your source is like having Stockholm Syndrome.
SR: The world of traditional journalism likes zero-sum games. They make exciting stories. It's hard to break out of that mindset. The rise of blogging doesn't mean the downfall of traditional journalism.
Local journalism: I live on a street with a lot of crime, right behind the San Francicso Chronicle. They never write about it. I have a neighbor with a blog who documents this crime on his weblog--he's doing a better job on this than the Chronicle. Also, localism isn't necessarily about place. Everyone in this room has better contacts with developers than most journalists. If you do a story about a software problem and talk with a company, you'll get aq lot of talking poitns from PR people. If you talk to a programmer, you'll hear "No, no--that's because of a kernel panic, and then this is what happens."
After spending ten years working overseas with CNNN, I got interested in how to write stories out in the rest of the world which the traditional media is not interested in. I'd like to know what ordinary Iranians think about the nuclear crisis.
SR: Every person who is running a traditional news organization is facing a limited number of resources. Pages, reporters, air time.
I've run a listserv for some time for the discussion of journalistic ethics. What I'm hearing here is an either/or discussion. we need to think of ways to complement each other. I hesitated to start blogging because I didnít want to be part of the blogging community and to write about blogging.
I find this ďus versus themĒ talk misplaced. This is the audience wanting to talk back. There are risks involved in this, in linking to non-professionals, but itís happening. Itís going to be an ecosystem. Most of the people out there arenít going to become journalists. Most of them just want to be commenters.
SR: There are a lot of people here who think of themselves as journlists.
DW: I think that some of us don't feel dependent on you any more to get our information out. If you've spent a lifetime becoming an expert in an area, quoted in major outlets and your views mangled, you're going to want to route around it. Where we get to work with each other--well, I hear most of the "us versus them" talk coming from journalism--but where we get to work with each other is, when we talk to you, we want you to link to us.
People want to understand the difference between letting every reader have a blog and having a blog where editors speak. How do we create a form which allows us to let the editors speak but also lets the readers speak. The movement past "us versus them" comes from this new hybrid form.
Blogging works like marginal social groups and gentrification. A blogger gets interested in an area--becomes an expert--then becomes a professional journalist. The guy who lives behind the Chronicle--he's going to be a story soon, now that people have heard about him.
There's a difference between hard news and analysis and opinion. Bloggers tend to blend from hard news to opinion.
SR: At Salon, trying to tell if a piece is news or opinion is often impossible. Over time, people will become less hung up on those labels than on whether the facts are accurate and the opinions are coherent.
Astroturfing through blogging. Drudge.
SR: Journalists are sponsored through their advertisers. Sometimes the wall between editorial and business works, sometimes it doesn't.
JR: The great thing about blogging journalists is that it's denaturalizing their world. The journalist expects the well-rounded info diet to begin with news, then analysis, and finally opinion. What blogging is doing is showing that's just a convention. Lots of people get engaged in the world through argument, and that argument drives them to find information. People get engaged through bloggers' opinions, and then go from there to find news. That might be a more natural way for them to proceed.
We see the blogosphere as having a good effect on our democratic process. I'd like to see that happen with journalists. I find it painful now to write for traditional media, because a lot of the rules don't make sense. You have the insularity of the mass media, where they don't link past the journalistic world, versus the community of the blogosphere.
The idea which comes from blogging is that you have to be either transparent with your views, or you have to be very good at being objective.
Advocacy journalism--this isn't a new development.
What about libel law and jurisdiction? Also, local sources--why would anyone ever talk to a PR person? It's like listening to a Gardner report.
SR: It helps to channel the fifty million people who want to talk to you if you're Bill Gates.
People use PR people because the stories get mangled in the press fairly often unless the PR people are there to help get them straight.
The intermediaries aren't going away, they're being replaced.
SR: There are more of them, and they're getting paid in different ways.
DW: Someone ought to do a blind experiment on writing. The reporter writes down his opinion, then writes the story. Then let the readers tell you what the opinion is. I think we'll get it right.
Discussion leader: Jay Rosen, PressThink, NYU professor of journalism
- Why should academics blog?
- What changes for academics when they blog
- What's the potential effect of blogging on the academic world
- Why do academics make good bloggers (if they do)
- Blogs versus Blackboard and other course management systems
- Publish or perish: How can blogs affect this? What effect on promotion policies
- How do blogs affect the value of attending a university
- How can blogging be made more attractive to academics
- Types and styles of blogging: Who should be the audience for academic blogging?
- Blogs a student learning tools
- Connecting academia to applications
- What tools can math/science bloggers use for non-ASCII information? More broadly, getting around disciplinary stumbling blocks
- What aggregation tools are appropriate for academic use?
- What should the university's policy be for blogging? How can the university proceed with blogging?
The role of blogging in academia:
Do we now live in a post-scarcity world for means of distributing information?
Is it to open the classroom to more fully to the students? Does it threaten the accumulation of knowledge and the university's role as a gatekeeper of knowledge?
What can blogging do to enable student, especially in community colleges?
JR: I've noticed that some of my posts would be, if someone read every link, a course. The links would constitute a syllabus. Where is the tool which enables me to publish that syllabus?
A tool for management of course paperwork. Research enablement. Collaborative workspaces.
Blogging is not a substitute for pegagogy, on-line or otherwise. It's a means of demonstrating the value of the university.
What changes for academics when they blog? What changes for universities?
The audience changes. Instead of student/professor, anybody can walk in. (Sometimes a problem--comments, for instance.)
JR: It's broadly available, and it's interactive. More a seminar than a lecture.
The ease of communicating with a blog, compared to peer-reviewed journals.
JR: The difficult of publishing there makes them prestigious. The academic world has created value through scarcity.
It changes the dynamic of the discourse. I was just on a bulletin board invaded by people jazzed about the election, calling us homos and pinkos and suggesting we should go back under our rocks. It can make the discourse less civil.
JR: It exposes the academic discourse, doesn't it?
Journalists and universities as gatekeepers.
Should there be reputation sysems in academic blogging?
JR: There's a reputation system in academia, and in academic publishing. There's an article for someone in comparing reputation systems.
The role of editors is enhanced by blogging.
JR: The role of peer review will stay, but the peer community may expand.
Should journals have blogs?
JR: How would that work? You're assuming they'll be on-line, right?
Among the people I work with, we'll get together and talk about a paper that just came out. Then we'll send a note to the author discussing it.
A challenge to reputation systems is googling.
JR: It would be a mistake to assume blogging will overturn the academic review system. If anything, the peer reviewed journals may be more important, because they will be the only source of authoritative knowledge. On the other hand, try googling 'convention coverage' and see what comes up first. That post has forty-five links. That'll be hard to beat.
Style and formatting
How can we organize blogs so they are a better fit to the lifestyle of the academic? Is consistency desireable? Or should each person have their own style? Do you want an aggregation tool which makes a consistent academic interface from diverse styles of blogging?
JR: How do you know when you are a member of a field? Let's look at Crooked Timber.
Part of the beauty of blogging is that people gravitate to the tools they like. The challenge would be having some content management system which has a layer which allows the consistent interface.
It seems that we have a form.
JR: But is it the only form we need? Why not have, instead of a blogroll, "These are my influences. These are my great professors."
I started to blog because it's such an efficient way of providing information. Instead of footnote, hyperlinks. Overlay a paragraph over a graphic. Is academia resistant to making information more accessible, more entertaining?
JR: The link is the footnote, updated. Academics should be great bloggers: To be a great footnoter is to be a great linker.
As a librarian, I'm wondering about tools for academic bloggers. How should be archive and make available their results, in two years, five years, ten years.
JR: That's going to be an ongoing, huge problem.
I have the luxury of writing my own tools. Some of my blogs are for limited groups. I found that very useful.
JR: In a seminar, we have the ability to say, "There's a prerequisite for this seminar." How do we do that in blogging? If we want to have a conversation that has a prerequisite, how do you do that in blogging? One of blogging's beauties is that there aren't any prerequisites--but that's also a problem. Right now, I'm under attack by a person who wants to shut down my comments section--and it's working. I've got comments turned on right now. The barriers to entry are gone. We don't have a solution for that right now--and I'm pissed at the software people right now, because they don't have a solution for that right now.
The amount of time it takes to maintain a blog--can it become a distraction from the proper role of an academic? Your situation with the troll, for instance.
JR: Number one question people ask me: How do you find the time to do this? Unless it becomes integrated into the role of an academic, this will be a problem.
How does it affect the insularity of academia? How does it affect the ability of people to speak to you?
JR: I get emails like crazy from people, some of whom I might've been inclined to talk to, some not. A lot of people in academia don't want that sort of exposure. Mutually incomprehensible languages are not a side-effect of academia, but a requirement. This is extremely disruptive for many academic fields (not journalism, but others). We repel those we don't want to speak to with language.
Also, is it a new thing, this accusation of liberal bias in academia?
How do you feel about being translated, into other languages or dialects?
JR: If I can't check the translation, I don't want it.
It's very difficult to write for multiple audiences.
JR: In a discipline where the writing is an integral part of what you do, it's difficult to be translated.
The disruption is a good thing. The assumption used to be that the public intellectual spoke to people--that's no longer the assumption.
JR: You'll see whether it carries the day in how universities and faculties consider blogging in the light of tenure and promotion.
I see that in the sciences, but what about policy? If someone is getting recognition in the outside world, that provides a market pressure.
To say "I don't want people to translate my work" won't work. People will put yoru text into Babelfish and get a result that's an order of magnitude worse.
JR: People put my posts, three thousand words in whole, on their site. I want people to come to my house.
Sometimes people with mobile devices can't get to your house.
JR: I don't necessarily want to reach everyone in the world.
In this age, what students do is make digital media, but it's sort of closed-off. How would it affect things if these documents were more available?
JR: Could be the greatest boon to plagarism ever. Also, Rebecca Blood points out that it used to be expensive to produce final products for publication. Now it's not. How can we tell the difference between what's been worked over and is ready, and what just appears to be that way?
JR: Universities have always been about the control of knowledge. Blogging is almost an attack on the DNA of academia. You'll see great resistance to this.
It's a sad story:
Richard Hongisto, whose often-turbulent, two-decade career as a San Francisco public servant included a 1977 jail stint when, as sheriff, he refused to evict elderly tenants from a Chinatown hotel, died Thursday. He was 67.
He did lead a turbulent life, but look at the good he did:
In 1961, he joined the San Francisco Police Department. During his eight years in the department, Hongisto became the only white officer to testify on behalf of a federal lawsuit that alleged discrimination against black officers.
"By testifying, he was courageous, and he gave a huge amount of heart and spirit to the Officers for Justice,'' an organization that had an almost entirely African American membership, said Robert Gnaizda, an attorney in the case.
Quitting the force after department brass refused to give him a leave, Hongisto ran for sheriff in 1971, won and went on to serve two terms. He recruited minorities, appointed the first openly gay deputy and worked to improve jail conditions.
Barry Melton, former lead guitarist for the rock band Country Joe and the Fish, a longtime friend of Hongisto and now the public defender of Yolo County, said Hongisto pushed rehabilitation programs, "and for that, people around the country will remain eternally grateful.''
In April 1977 Hongisto, who had a great fondness for publicity and controversy, attracted national headlines when he refused a court order to evict mostly elderly Chinese and Filipinos from the International Hotel, a building at Jackson and Kearny streets where a new development was planned.
He served five days in jail for contempt and later participated in the eviction, saying it was the most distasteful job he had performed in public office...
Back in San Francisco, he ran for supervisor and was elected to the first of three terms. On the board, he co-wrote the city's domestic-partners law...
He wasn't perfect, but that's the one of the prices of public service. Sometimes you don't get to be who you want to be, either due to conflicts of conscience of the press of events.
In any event, it's a lesser world without him.
Here's what John Belisarius has to say about the election and its aftermath:
The true scope, the genuinely impressive magnitude of the Democrats' success this year can be expressed in a single sentence: In 2004 the Dems accomplished in 8 months what it took the Goldwater-Reagan conservative movement over a decade to achieve.
Last December, the Democratic party was internally divided, unsure about its message, uncertain how to talk about war and foreign affairs, financially dependent on donations from corporations and affluent donors and only beginning to build a grass-roots voter mobilization campaign. There was great anger and energy among the party's core supporters, but it seemed extremely unlikely that the party as a whole would be able to agree upon a message, unite around a candidate and mount a serious challenge to a personally popular wartime president whose approval ratings hovered close to 60%.
Yet, by the time John Kerry addressed the Democratic convention in July, he was leading a political party that had become firmly united, was supported by new and powerful grass-roots mechanisms for fund raising and internet organizing (pioneered by Howard Dean and his supporters) and which was building a new voter mobilization network that was reconnecting the party with its political base.
There you go again:
A fully nude Ben Affleck was doing push-ups in the middle of the dance floor as dozens of Homosexual Redneck Prairie-Dog Killers--a key Dean constituency--clapped with joy. Janeane Garofalo swung from a chandelier clad in naught but a bowtie--stolen, she bragged, from Tucker Carlson...
...But Dean has the people on his side, at least for now, and those people are in no mood for partisan bickering--not after all they've been through together. He's promised them a lot, but nothing specific beyond his Churchillian appropriation of "blood, sweat, tears, and national health care, and a gun if you'd like one, and gay sex, sure, that's fine too."
The genius of Dean's campaign is that it bridged a supposed great divide in this country, showing it for what it was and shoving it back in the face of the media machers and oligarchs who cooked up the sham in the first place. He decried what he called a "ruling-class-generated campaign to keep ordinary, if weird, Americans at one another's throats over largely personal and generally inconsequential issues over identity."
Daddy's rifle in my hand felt reassurin'
He told me, Red means run, son, numbers add up to nothin'
But when the first shot hit the dock I saw it comin'
Raised my rifle to my eye
Never stopped to wonder why.
Then I saw black, and my face splashed in the sky.
But this is the song I'm hearing in my head today:
They were hiding behind hay bales,
They were planting in the full moon
They had given all they had for something new
But the light of day was on them,
They could see the thrashers coming
And the water shone like diamonds in the dew.
Lots of sense in this post, from Max Sawicky, and even a little bit of good news:
9. Tell me something good. O.K. I will. Ballot initiatives to raise state minimum wages won in Florida and Nevada. Go figure.
If 9/11 didn't realign the electorate, what will?
And as a commenter points out:
Nixon won relection too.
Link; The Washington Monthly
It ain't much in the greater scheme of things, but it's a thrill anyway: Lawrence Lessig
As always, Max is making a ton of sense. I've bolded a couple of urgent sentences:
To get its legs back, the anti-globalization movement has to do a few big things:
1. Change its name. The 'globalization' in question is really the sway of corporations in world politics, which thwarts progressive internationalism. I think Doug Henwood's treatment of this in After the New Economy is the right tack.
2. Ditch the antediluvian sectarians, meaning ANSWER. You can't prevent assorted goofballs from showing up at demonstrations, but you don't have to co-sponsor events with them.
3. Synthesize. Work out the coherence of concerns about the environment, the global sway of corporations, outsourcing, and labor standards. Instead of Teamsters and turtles, we need Teamster-like turtles and turtle-like Teamsters.
4. Organize. A huge left mobilization is going to show its face tomorrow. It may have to persist for some days if the outcome is in doubt. After a decent rest, however, the goal should be to find ways to channel this into sustained independent political activity.
Link: MaxSpeak, You Listen!
But she's no technophobe:
(from JS Online: The Sequel: Five ways the election could end up in court)
And only last week in Florida - which decided to move to electronic voting - we witnessed the spectacle of outgoing Palm Beach County elections official Theresa LaPore (of butterfly ballot fame) explaining away a computer crash that forced a pre-election test of electronic voting machines to be postponed.
Ain't democracy wonderful?
Nobody besides ourselves and our armed, embadged friends, that is:
A widely published investigative journalist was tackled, punched and arrested Sunday afternoon by a Palm Beach County sheriff's deputy who tried to confiscate his camera outside the elections supervisor's headquarters.
About 600 people were standing in line waiting to vote early when James S. Henry was charged with disorderly conduct for taking photos of waiting voters about 3:30 p.m. outside the main elections office on Military Trail near West Palm Beach.
And what sort of treatment did he get? Nothing out of the ordinary:
When Deputy Al Cinque tried to grab Henry's camera, Henry ran about 100 feet across the pavement on the side of the elections office before he was tackled by the deputy.
Cinque yelled at Henry, "Hold still, stop moving," after he pinned Henry on the pavement, punched him in the back and grabbed Henry's left arm to put a handcuff on his wrist.
Cinque then jerked Henry, 54, to his feet by his left arm and slammed his body against a parked car, where the deputy punched him again as Henry tried to hand him identification cards that were later found on the pavement.
And it's nice to see the officials are getting their story straight:
As for Henry, St. John said: "From what I understand, this man (Henry) was taking photos of people in line close up. He was ordered by the deputy to stop and to move to the media tent...
"He said something inappropriate to the deputy, like 'screw you,' then took a picture of the deputy. He then took off running and tripped and fell in the parking lot."
In fact, Cinque tackled Henry in the parking lot a few feet from a Post reporter and Warren, the British journalist.
"That's not what the deputy told me," St. John said.
LePore spokesman Marty Rogol described Henry as "a so-called investigative reporter who gave people phony credentials."
Told that Henry had been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post and other publications, Rogol said Henry had presented "Xeroxed credentials that looked phony and were not accepted" by the deputy who arrested him.
Acceptance is so important in these uncertain times.
Turns out this is the guy behind electoral-vote.com. He'll be familiar to any of you who took CSCI or CENG degrees (or worked in a textbook store!) There's lots to read on and linked from his newly-posted FAQ, but this gives me the creeps:
Many people have told me that if [insert name of candidate] wins or there is a draft, they are going to leave the country. If you really mean it and are interested in getting a Masters degree in Computer Systems, you might consider a Masters program I am running. It focuses on operating systems, networks, distributed computing, parallel computing, grids, multiagent systems and other systems areas. Knowledgeable observers consider my group to be one of the top three systems groups in Europe...
It's not what he says, but the matter-of-fact way in which he says it, that squicks me.
Link: The Votemaster FAQ
Look for the links to sound files from Peel Sessions recordings:
Every Peel broadcast seemed to include a couple of homemade records that somebody had pressed in an edition of 400 copies, for which he'd carefully read out a mail-order address.
If you are black and a resident of Florida, work out two or three alternate routes to your polling place to avoid police checkpoints.
"I don't know why he has such a thing for loofahs, but they don't feel good. I don't know why he can't give them up,' she said. "Maybe it's because he's abrasive, too."
I've not heard anyone say that about Dylan before, I don't think, but now I'm old, so I don't see why I'm surprised:
But if things happen as they ought to and Dylan produces another two or three volumes before he dies, what we'll have on the shelf and in our hands will be not merely the best Dylan book but one of the great American books.
(Aside: Speaking of crankiness, here's mine: If The American Prospect has a preferred citation, why doesn't it show up in the <title>?
Enough fun. My serious message. Don't bother voting. Think about converting to Islam, and not the wishy-washy kind. Ban abortion, stone adulterers (there's gotta be something you do to that O'Reilly guy), outlaw homosexuality, mandatory religious observance, censor pornography, screen literature for blasphemy, forget about your Bill of Rights, no satanic scientific research on stem cells. Now I know Bush is making an effort in all of these directions, but frankly it's pathetic. You gotta get more serious. You need an Islamic Coalition. If you don't, I can't be responsible. Oh and I almost forgot. Don't forget the Jews. They killed your Savior, don't you know? It was in the movies.
...this makes up for it, and more: Eminem: Mosh
By choosing to write these stories that met these "objective" tests, the decision was also made not to write about something else. It's in this sense that I say that objectivity leads to a subtle but really powerful self-censorship.
That's in both versions (see below). This is only in the long version, which is well worth your time:
Journalism scholars including David Mindich, in his book Just the Facts, have studied the Timesí coverage of lynching in detail and found that in virtually all stories, the horror of lynching was scrupulously balanced with the nearly equally horrible crime of sexual assault...
...The convention for writing the lynching story remained in place until well into the 20th century. The assumed fact of rape was balanced against the known fact of a lynching. It was a case of determining which of these two evils was the lesser, and which the greater...
This was neutrality of an insidious kind.
Link: The End of Objectivity
first seen in an edited version, with public comments, at PressThink: "Our Code is Falling to Pieces." Doug McGill on the Fading Mystique of an Objective Press
Lawrence Lessig on supporting Kerry:
There is an aspect of George Bush that has made it hard to come to this view. I've had no doubt about his policies -- except for his views on trade (the steel tariffs embarrassment notwithstanding), I'm against them. But his character (as we see it) has a feature that is rare in politicians, and that as a liberal, I long for. As Bush likes to say, even if you disagree with him, you know where he stands. He's flip-flopped of course (see facts 88-92 on The Nation's 100 Facts about Bush), but on core positions, he has remained firm.
This is a feature in a politician, not a bug. It was the great disappointment of Clinton that heat would melt any resolve. Loyalty was a weakness. Commitment to an ideal that was unpopular was simply a prelude to a changing commitment.
Bush is different in this respect. It is a certain stubbornness, no doubt, but when stubbornness reflects principles, it is a rare virtue for a politician. It is how we like to remember Reagan. It's what gave Lincoln the strength to risk everything for the Union.
But ultimately the question is what this stubbornness is a commitment to. One can respect a man committed to values one disagrees with, but that respect depends upon believing that it is really values that constitute the disagreement.
You figure he watched West Wing last night?
Link: Lawrence Lessig
We are forming this Goth Republican Band to help elect George Bush to continue the sadness. His actions facilitate our morbid fascination and the beauty of enduring pain. Many people lead unhappy lives and that is sad. Bush will continue the sadness. He knows that gentle people are excellent for spanking. His foreign policy is the best, he spanks the world and the unseen one knows it deserves it, so beautifully dirty, grimy and perverse.
I saw this, too, and got a good laugh out of it myself:
We have here the moral sensibility of a biscuit.
Let's see. David Duke: the Ku Klux Klan, night-riders, cross-burnings, Nazi-philia, wack-job racial theories. John Edwards: trade policies to block outsourcing of jobs presently located in the U.S., a.k.a. "xenophobia." (sic) Moral clarity, what? We grieve for the youth of U of Rochester.
Read the whole thing and follow the links for context, or simply enjoy:
I personally pray the Rapture comes before Nov. 2 and that it takes Bush and his cronies to Hell to do some nation-building.