Posts from February 21, 2004

If it’s not linked, does it exist?

If it’s not linked, does it exist?
: Terry Teachout has a good piece on the necessary ethics of linking. But he first makes an important point about the future of media and the necessity of links: We depend on our blog friends to find the good stuff for us and if they don’t, we aren’t likely to read it.

BloggerCon, the sequel

BloggerCon, the sequel
: Dave Winer tells us in the comments below (to the post about conference panels) that the next BloggerCon will be on April 10. I’ll be there. And maybe I’ll finally have a meal with Joi Ito!

Microsoft wish list

Microsoft wish list
: Dave Winer spoke at Microsoft a week ago and he was asked what he wants the IE group to do. From Joshua Allen’s notes:

A: Two main things: 1) Make it easy to subscribe to a feed with a single click, regardless of users choice of aggregator. Needs browser support, cooperation of aggegator vendors. 2) Also make it easier to create posts from within browser, regardless of choice of blog server.

Anen to that.

Introductions to Iranian bloggers…

Introductions to Iranian bloggers…
: I have a few introductions to make to Iranian bloggers (the world is fascinated by what you’re doing and wants to meet you).

: First, meet Stuart Hughes, a BBC journalist and a nice guy, is in Tehran covering the “elections.” I’ve urged him to do the story of the Iranian blog community; he wants to if he has time before his visa runs out.

If you’re interested in meeting Stuart, please email me and I will pass it onto Stuart.

I’ve also made an email introduction between Stuart and Hoder. Hoder linked to Stuart; Stuart saw that and tried to read Hoder’s blog but it was being blocked in Iran. (That’s why I’m posting all this here, since I know some of you read this blog.)

: Second, meet Claire Berlinski. Claire is the first person I know who wrote a novel and put it online, where it was discovered by a big publisher and now her book is in bookstores.

Claire is working on a new novel called Lion Eyes about a mysterious Persian blogger who may be real or may be a plant — that’s the mystery. Claire is also very interested in Iran. She wrote to me in email:

The novel will, I hope, illustrate some of the ways that the Internet and weblogging are changing Iranian political culture. I want to make this book as realistic as possible, and to that end, was hoping to consult with Persian bloggers about some of the problems and constraints they face. To give the character maximum versimillitude, I’m hoping to ask them about some of the textural details of their lives. I’d like to be in regular contact with Iranians who can answer questions like these: What can you see from your window? What are they selling in the markets near your home? What do you eat for breakfast? What newspapers do you read? How much do you pay for a quart of milk? What do you do for fun on the weekends? What Internet sites do you visit? How does your family feel about your blog? How has blogging changed your life? The point of this would be to garner realistic details for the novel and to create a convincing character who thinks and behaves like a young, Western-educated Iranian blogger….

I think in the end it will — at least I hope it will — raise interest among non-Iranians about these issues.

If you would like to help Claire — from Iran or from safer climes as expats — please email her at or you can email me and I’ll pass it on.

: If a kind Persian speaker would be good enough to translate all this into Persian, I’ll put it up on the blog here.

Video from Tehran

Video from Tehran
: Stuart Hughes of the BBC got into Tehran to cover the election. He filed a video report for us on his blog. (Which only makes me wish that more bloggers from Iran and Iraq and elsewhere in the world could and would put up video on their blogs).

: UPDATE: Lady Sun was interviewed for the AP story on Iranian blogs and here’s her reaction.

: And here’s a new English-language Iranian blog from a friend of Lady Sun’s.

Beyond the panel discussion

Beyond the panel discussion
: I sat on a panel yesterday with the best possible panelists — people of stature with experience and plenty to contribute; the best possible moderator — who knew how to keep the discussion going; and the best possible audience — with interested people who asked good questions.

But it struck me that we need to move beyond the form of the panel discussion — because we can.

When I ran a panel at BloggerCon, Dave Winer got me break the form by insisting it wasn’t a panel; everyone in the room had plenty to contribute and was part of the discussion; there was no panel or everyone was on the panel.

At ETech and Bloggercon, I’ve watched the back-channel discussion on IRC (particularly Joi Ito‘s channel) with fascination.

With just a little added software, I think someone could blow up and reinvent the panel discussion:

1. Give the entire audience a back channel (and, of course, wi-fi). Give them a chat channel and wiki so they can share comments and resources.

2. Display that back-channel to all, including the panel (and don’t be bothered by a little good-natured heckling).

3. Allow the audience to post questions from the first moment and allow the audience to prioritize those questions. (A wiki could do that.)

4. Put on the panel an advocate of the back-channel who acts as another moderator and brings up the good questions and arguments and refererences from the audience, including those not in the room.

5. Whenever possible, webcast the panel and the back-channel to get more expert input from the world.

6. Create a simple ap that allows the audience to vote on topics of interest for the panel: discuss this first, then that, then that.

7. That ap should also allow the audience to vote on whether they want more or less on a topic: keep talking about this or move on, please (or, yes, every panelist should answer the same question or, no, don’t bother).

8. If the panel has guts, it could allow the audience to vote on favorite panelists (from whom do we want to hear more?).

9. With or without technology, as soon as possible, open the discussion to all.

Somebody clever could take open-source functionality and package it for conference givers. I’ll take a cut.

Sharing knowledge

Sharing knowledge
: I happened upon a PBS discussion show called Uncommon Knowledge that’s tackling the issues of the lack of democracy in the Arab world. The host just quoted an amazing stat from the U.N.: “Fewer books have been tranlsated into Arabic in the last 1,000 years than are translated into Spanish in a year.” I wish we were teaching our children Arabic.

: The show and the discussion were great. Unfortunately, I can’t find a transcript or video of the show past the 2003 season. Drat.

: Note again Juan Cole’s very worthy project to translate great works of western democracy into Arabic. Go contribute here.

Old vs. news: I

Old vs. news: I
: Yesterday, by fate — or kismet — I attended two panel discussions at NYU that tried to see what’s next for media from two perspectives: the past and the future.

As I mentioned below, I was on a panel for MBA students from across the country called “Beyond the Printed Page.” Some heavyweights — Kelly Conlin, president of Primedia; Bruce Hallett, president of Sports Ilustrated, Paul Rossi, publisher of; Thomas Carley, president of NYTimes News Services — shared their valuable experience with extending their products, brands, and revenue in the internet, TV, and such.

At the end, Eric Garland, the moderator, asked the obligatory question about the fate of print. We’d all been joking that the students — faced with a choice of sexier panels about music, TV, and children’s entertainment — wouldn’t show up for dusty old print (many did). So Garland cued the whither-print discussion. Hallett said that these are not mature businesses and are still developing and growing; the rest nodded.

I’d said earlier that we are in for a fundamental restructuring — with an endless supply of content that could be viewed as competition or, better, as a new source of diverse viewpoints and deeper relationships; I did my citizens’-media boogie (you’ve watched that dance before so I’ll spare you).

And as I left, I got email from Jay Rosen saying that he and Anil Dash would be speaking to a group at the NYU Law School on how weblogs are changing the world (I blogged it, below). Jay talked eloquently, as always, on the fundamental restructuring of content. There was a lot of excitement about the Iranian and Iraqi bloggers. The place buzzed.

When I got home, I told my wife about it over dinner and said it was a rather stark contrast: old v. new, big v. small, drone v. buzz. She nodded but also chuckled and said it’s too bad there’s no money in this blog thing. She’s right (she always is).

And so now it hits me that the big boys aren’t going to take this phenomenon seriously until they see its economic power. They’ll think it’s cute that citizens’ media powered Howard Dean or will power revolution in Iran. But what they care about is money.

They will notice when a Denton steals an advertiser from them or shows up in market research as a better competitor or sells his company to one of them for a few mil.

It’s about money. If we want this new medium to be taken seriously and if we want it to get the resources it needs to develop with more tools and talent, then we do need to get serious about money (which means, among many other things, creating standards for measuring the size of the medium).

I don’t want to see the buzz of the second panel turn into the drone of the first (that will come in a generation or two). I just want to see the buzz grow.