Posts from December 2003

Something is cooking

Something is cooking
: TV news just showed a jam getting into Newark airport as every car goes through a security check. Something is up.

: UPDATES: Italy bans flights over Rome, for fear of attacks.

: Hamburg reportedly heads off a car-bomb attack.

: “Republican Rep. Christopher Shays, however, said people ought to avoid places like Times Square, calling it irresponsible for officials to make people think they don’t need to take precautions.

‘Secretary Ridge says just do what you normally do,’ Shays said. ‘If normally you go to Times Square, I wouldn’t do what you normally do. I wouldn’t go into places when you’re packed and where if there was panic, a lot of injuries would take place.'”

What Iraqis think

What Iraqis think
: Zeyad translates and posts the results of a fascinating poll of Iraqis conducted all over the country by the Iraqi Center for Research and Strategic Studies. Go see all the results. Some highlights:

1)What was your reaction to Saddam Hussein’s capture?

Overwhelming joy 59%

Shock and confusion 20%

Sadness 16%

None of my concern 5%…

3)Do you think that Saddam deserves a fair trial?

Yes 84%

No 16%

4)Do you prefer that Saddam be tried by:

An Iraqi court? 60%

An Iraqi court with International advisors? 15%

An International court of justice? 25%

5)What is the fair judgement you believe Saddam deserves?

Execution 56%

Imprisonment 25%

Clemency 19%

6)What do you think a speedy trial of Saddam would achieve?

It would prevent an internal schism or conflict 45%

It would ensure security and stability 30%

It would increase chaos 14%

It would help end the occupation 10%

Others 1%

7)How do you think Saddam’s capture would affect the resistance?

Decrease resistance activities 53%

Increase resistance activities 27%

Cessation of resistance 20%…

9)Which is more important to you?

Providing security 54.9%

Providing fuel 35.8%

Saddam’s capture 34.4%

Providing electricity 28.8%

Improving the economic situation 5.3%

10)Do you agree that those who suffered from the regime should be compensated?

Yes 12%

No 88%

And then they were asked whether a series of Saddam’s actions were crimes or were justified. They thought they all were crimes… except fighting Israel.

: MORE: Al-MuaJaha has a report from a visitor to Baghdad about life there:

The restaurant business in Iraq is booming, wherever you go, restaurants are full. Some of them even charge by U.S. dollars. Prices are high for local people and reasonable for foreigners who have dollars. An average price for any Iraqi or western dish is between 6000 ID, which is equivalent to $3 U.S. and 10000 ID or $5 U.S. Quality is getting better after the war: drinks are served in a very limited way, mainly imported beers. When I asked about our good beer, which we used to produce, I was surprised to learn that even the beer factories were looted, in addition to all the other factories….

Foreign restaurants, like Indian Chinese French, Italian English and American restaurants, are not yet there….

It is not likely foreign investors will open restaurants in Iraq at the present time and it may takes a long time.

However, when I asked about the giant American fast-food chain, MacDonald

Naked blogging

Naked blogging
: Jason Calacanis reports that Pud of F’d company has a new venture: anonymous instant photo-phone moblogging. Send your photo to pics@mobog.com and it will appear within a minute; ready for audience comments. No name, nothing fancy, naked moblogging. Oh, and yes, some of the photos will be sure to be of naked bloggers.

Jargon

Jargon
: Happened by the TV today when FoxNews was getting ready for Tommy Thompson’s press conference on the ephedra ban. The screen said: “FoxNews Alert: Waiting for newser on ephedra ban…”

Newser.

I’m not sure whether that was an intentional use of news jargon; the line changed a minute later to “news conference.”

But I think we’ll see more sharing of new biz jargon; it’s a way to make everyone feel like insiders.

Gotta love geeks

Gotta love geeks
: Bloggers can’t stop, even to eat.

Iran’s political earthquake

Iran’s political earthquake
: Hossein Derakhshan, Iran’s premier blogger, explains how the earthquake in Bam reveals the fundamental separation of the people of Iran from their government:

Nothing could ever show the real sense of diconnectivity and distrust between Iranian people and the Islamic regime, and its deeply dysfunctionality better than a devastating quake….

People inside and outside Iran are desperately trying to gather donations, but they don’t want to give the money to the government….

However, the reason is pretty clear: When a government can run the whole country only by the oil and gas income, it doesn’t have to answer its people’s needs; it only thinks about its own needs. (In 2004, Iran will have $16 billion revenue from oil export, while it only depends on approximately 18% of citizen’s taxes.)

So it’s not important for the government that tens of thousands of lives are lost in road accidents every year, or millions are living in homes poorly resistible against any earthquake bigger than 5 Richter, or millions are open to different kinds of cancer because of the poisonously polluted air of Tehran, etc.

But they are pretty concerned about their own power and the threat from their own enemies; so they are always ready to spend a whole year of oil income, $16 billion, to achieve nuclear technology to use it as defensive weapons.

Why such a state ever bothers to care about the people’s needs when it doesn’t need their taxes and therefore their votes? Unless the power gets in the hands of real elected people, and the state is run by people’s taxes, nothing will ever change; the state will have its own goals (to defend itself) and people have their own (to simply survive).

Media man

Media man

: FCC Chairman Michael Powell sits down with the San Jose Mercury News and out come some pearls of wisdom.

He illustrates the real shift in media and telecommunications:

The most powerful paradigm shift is the fact that applications are not woven into the platforms. . . .

Now to be a phone company, you don’t have to weave tightly the voice service into the infrastructure. You can ride it on top of the infrastructure. So if you’re a Vonage, you own no infrastructure. You own no trucks. You roll to no one’s house. They turn voice into a application and shoot it across one of these platforms. And, suddenly, you’re in your business.

And that’s why if you’re the music industry, you’re scared. And if you’re the television studio, movie industry, you’re scared. And if you’re an incumbent infrastructure carrier, you’d better be scared. Because this application separation is the most important paradigm shift in the history of communications, and will change things forever. . . . I have no problem if a big and venerable company no longer exists tomorrow, as long as that value is transferred somewhere else in the economy.

That idea of the application (or content) being separate from the platform is the architecture of the age.

It’s what HTML, XML, and RSS are all about: content is separate from display and thus displayed anywhere.

Not to be tiresome and link everything to the local angle of blogs, but they, too, fit this model: Blogs ride on top of the infrastructure of others, without reporting structures or pressmen or trucks.

Politics now fit the model, too: Howard Dean used open-source tools to create a new, distributed campaign infrastruture apart from the DNC’s infrastructure.

Hell, it’s true even of terrorism: Bin Laden didn’t need to run a country to reap change; he rides atop our infastructure.

On media ownership, Powell says:

There is no question that there are an order of magnitude more media choices than at any time in our nation’s history.

I don’t know when this golden age was that everyone is benchmarking from. TV started by being dominated by three networks and three networks only, and it has done nothing but dilute since then. . . . Where was it more concentrated?

And we’ve had the invention of cable television, satellite television, the Internet. So you may disagree where to draw the line, but to argue for a line on the idea that the market is 10 times more concentrated than sometime . . . then you’re just willing to have a debate not rooted in factual reality.

Exactly. [via IWantMedia]

We’re in USA Today

We’re in USA Today
: Kathy Kiely writes a fine overview of blogs’ impact on politics in USA Today today. Haven’t picked up the paper yet, but it appears to be the Page 1 cover story. Kiely talked to lots and lots of people, bloggers and political beasts (“Veterans of the political scene admit they’re having some trouble adjusting. ‘When I first got up here, I thought blogging was an Irish dance,’ says Tricia Enright, a longtime Capitol Hill press secretary…). It’s a well-reported piece that tells people why they should pay attention.

: Tim Windsor, the blogless deputy GM of the Baltimore Sun‘s site, emails this reaction to the USA Today story:

To your comment about “influencing influencers,” I think that blogs are currently the Velvet Underground of publishing. As someone once noted (Lester Bangs perhaps?), the Velvets had a huge influence over the development of rock music because, while they didn’t sell many records, everybody who bought one of their records went on to form a band.

I like that.

: Tim now says the quote may be Brian Eno. See the comments.

: Here’s the USA Today page 1.

: UPDATE: More fame (no fortune) as the BBC World Service Go Digital calls 2003 The Year of the Blog. Audio here. [via Blog Herald]

: UPDATE: Tom Mangan complains about the loneliness of blogging. I don’t see it that way. I see it as a very social activity.