Posts from March 9, 2004

My life, my blog

My life, my blog
: Neil McIntosh has a fascinating glimpse of a Nokia blogging application (not yet for the Web, foolishly) that captures all the content you produce on the road — photos, SMS, video — and turns it into a lifeblog.

Good riddance

Good riddance
: We are better off to be rid of him:

Abu Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian group that hijacked the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985 and killed a U.S. citizen, died in U.S. custody yesterday, a U.S. Defense Department official said.

They love us, they really love us

They love us, they really love us
: Soccer moms love the Internet, according to a study done for Disney [via Adrants]:

Eighty-four percent of mothers who use the Internet said that if they had to give up one type of media, they would miss the Internet more than any other source of information or entertainment…

Among the study’s other key findings: Moms now use the Internet almost twice as much as they watch TV, spending a total of 13.2 hours a week online versus 7.6 per week for TV. They use the Internet primarily as an information resource (86 percent placing it well ahead of TV and newspapers), secondarily as a source of entertainment (63 percent), and thirdly as an activity to engage their kids (43 percent).

The Internet outranks TV, radio, and magazines as a trusted source of information. Only newspapers were ranked higher, and then, only by 3 percent….

Blog fight!

Blog fight!
: The Denton/Calacanis Gizmodo/Engadget blog fight is picking up steam. Denton yesterday offered a transparent view of what happened. Today, in the comments here, Calacanis pulls a bitchslap in return:

Nick plays down the business of blogs for one reason: to pay people less. Trust me, Nick is not doing blogs just for the fun of it, or because he loves the medium. He is hiring people, putting up tons of google ad words, and spending money on expensive logos for a reason: he wants to make money. If he just wanted to do blogs for fun he would post to his personal blog and not be doing highly targeted, highly- profitable (read: porn and gadget) verticals.

That being said, there is nothing wrong with making this into a business. Who wouldn’t want to work from home blogging and make a living?! Nick is a great businessman and he is going to be very, very successful and I commend him, even if we have different styles.

But the real fight won’t occur at this level (it’s like reporting on a fight to get a new general manager at your TV station… who the hell cares?). The real fight will occur on the products. And Denton is upping the ante there; today, he had Cory Doctorow empty his gadget bag; that kind of original reporting from a lifestyle perspective will make Gizmodo more compelling and readable. Competition is good, eh?

Shorter is smarter

Shorter is smarter
: Halley Suitt has a post today about trying to teach people to blog and how it’s hard to convince them that most times, shorter is better. She was nice enough to link to a brief list of bloggers who usually keep it short (I’m disproving that today, though) and she emailed them all for their thoughts. Fascinating discussion ensued.

Dave Winer pointed to Lisa Williams’ post that compares Chinese and Western cooking and the division of labor (in China, the chef cuts the steak; here, we have to) to the growth of RSS (in old media, the editor cuts the steak for us; in a feed world, we the readers get to decide how to slice and dice it).

Cory Doctorow says he thinks of a post as — I love this — writing the nut graf, lede, and dek on a news story.

I like that so much because I think it captures the essence of the post-Internet newspaper or news property: It’s a better service to give people the lead and then let them link to depth if they want it.

The problem is that short gets a bad rep and rap. I think I’ve told this before, but I’ll tell it again: At People and Entertainment Weekly, when I started grading shows, fellow critics scolded me: “People won’t read your reviews; they’ll just read the grade.” And I said: So? If that’s all they want, then it is the ultimate in service and brevity to tell them what they want to know with just one letter.

What it takes to be a movement

What it takes to be a movement
: Micah Sifry is looking at what it takes to build a movement online (for a panel this weekend) and he did some great homework. He charted various organizations/movements against (1) Technorati links, (2) Yahoo groups (a so-so proxy for interactivity and community), and (3) MeetUp members. I’ll leave it to better sociological minds than mine to analyze the data. At a glance, I thought that to get a clean sweep across these three columns, one needs a candidate (or perhaps a person — a celebrity; see the Stern post below). But I’m not sure that’s true; a movement can wisely use all these tools. Or perhaps when it comes to movements, it’s a matter of different strokes for different folks; perhaps some movements work best with face-to-face meetings and others just can’t and shouldn’t support that. I think we are at the very genesis of the idea that a movement — whether a Presidential campaign or a lobbying cause or even a government in exile — can be built virtually and we’re only beginning to learn how. Sifry’s analysis is a fascinating view of this.

Touchy-feely fanaticism

Touchy-feely fanaticism
: David Brooks has a very odd column in today’s Times.

He attacks Mitch Albom and his touchy-feely ilk. And I’m jiggy with that. I can’t stand Deepak et al filling bookshelves and PBS at pledge time and minds with their self-indulgent pap.

But then Brooks quite oddly decides to compare and contrast Albom with Mel Gibson. And if that’s all he did, I wouldn’t necessarily agree but I wouldn’t be posting about it. Except he goes one step further: He uses Gibson as a proxy for religoius fundamentalism and fanaticism (I still won’t argue) but even then still says Albom et al are more dangerous.

Who worries you most, Mel Gibson or Mitch Albom? Do you fear Gibson, the religious zealot, the man accused of narrow sectarianism and anti-Semitism, or Albom, the guy who writes sweet best sellers like “Tuesdays With Morrie” and “The Five People You Meet in Heaven?”

I worry about Albom more, because while religious dogmatism is always a danger, it is less of a problem for us today than the soft-core spirituality that is its opposite. As any tour around the TV dial will make abundantly clear, we do not live in Mel Gibson’s fire-and-brimstone universe. Instead, we live in a psychobabble nation. We’ve got more to fear from the easygoing narcissism that is so much part of the atmosphere nobody even thinks to protest or get angry about it.

Have you read the news the last two and a half years, Mr. Brooks? I’d say that religous dogmatism — fundamentalism and fanaticism — is a well-proven danger! It is causing wars and hate crimes and terrorism and, some would say (see below), peril to the Constitution. To lump Gibson in with all that is odd enough but then to dismiss all that as trivial against the crap-think of Albom et al is most odd.

The daily Stern: SternSpace

The daily Stern: SternSpace

: Howard Stern is mobilizing his audience to vote his way in this election (against Bush and any Congressmen setting themselves up as our moral jury).

Well, then, he needs SternSpace. What Howard Dean et al built and every presidential candidate then (tried) to use, Stern — or any celebrity activist — could use to mobilize fans and followers. The elements are now obvious:

> A weblog to inform his audience — especially those who cannot now hear him thanks to Clear Channel. It should report on what Stern is saying, on his stand on candidates, on schedules of concerts and rallies, on news from the FCC or candidates. Any volunteers?

> Weblog comments or a forum, where his audience can come together, meet, plan, and talk about their man.

> MeetUps. See yesterday’s daily Stern post; there already is a MeetUp for Stern fans and it’s essentially unused now. All Stern has to do is promote it once and all of a sudden, Stern fans everywhere will be meeting (at bars; forget the cafes).

> Audio and video. Stern can’t and won’t stream his show on the Internet, for that would undercut his radio stations. But he could put up a few segments on this topic as MP3s; I guarantee they would be spread all over the Internet in an instant.

> Merchandise. Stern has always refused to rip off his audience with Stern mugs. But this is different: It’s a movement. And movements need bumperstickers, T-shirts, and buttons to show how big the movement is. Stern can use CafePress.

> Digital stuff. Stern’s audience creates brilliant song parodies and such. So set them loose on the cause (a la MoveOn): Have them create commercials and songs and posters and just give them a placee to share all that.

All this can be set up in a day: A TypePad weblog, a MeetUp, a page with audio and video files, a store. (Bababooey: I’ll tell you everything you need to know.)

This needs to be about more than Stern, of course, to draw a larger digital coalition of those against Bush and Clear Channel and censorship.

Of course, if Stern can do this, any famous person with the ability to promote a cause and a URL can do the same. Celebrity gains new power.

: Stern said this morning that his FCC sources say Michael Powell is “freaking out” that all this could have an impact on the election and so he is thinking about holding off on the fines until after the election.

Stern acknowledges that some may accuse him of crying wolf, but remember that the Wall Street Journal also reported that the FCC is working on fines. And a wolf — that is, Clear Channel — has already bitten him.

So Stern — who had a real impact on the elections of Christie Todd Whitman and George Pataki — now turns to political action. Watch out.

: This is about much more than Stern, of course. It is a cause.

Sandra Tsing Loh has been bitten by the wolf. She was fired by the LA NPR station, KCRW, because the F word got out on one of her commentaries.

Last night on Marketplace, she finally talked about it.

As it turns out, her commentary — on knitting, she says, knitting! — was supposed to include a bleep over her saying the F word. Fell between audio cracks; she or an engineer or producer slipped up and the F word wasn’t bleeped.

And she was fired. Zero tolerance, you know.

This is absurd and it is an indication of how we’re going too far with this moral chill.

The blurb for her commentary says:

The controversy over Janet Jackson’s