Posts from March 30, 2004

And good riddance

And good riddance
: There have been reports today that Steve Case wants to buy AOL back for $10 billion. The stories, incredibly don’t report the value of AOL at the time of the world’s biggest merger mistake, but from what I find about the value put on Time Warner and the value of the combined entity at its foolish height, it seems that AOL was then supposedly “worth” about 10 times what it’s “worth” now. I say, sell the turkey to the turkey.

Jack Meyers

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Whereabouts

Whereabouts
: I’ve been at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism all morning; here the rest of the day. Blogging light until later.

Feelings

Feelings
: Scott Rosenberg objects to my response to his praise for the Clarke apology. (My original post here; his here.) He said the apology filled a void in the national psyche; I said this isn’t about feelings, it’s war. Rosenberg today:

But surely war is one of the most emotionally intense experiences humankind has created. And how can we talk about “life and death” as if there are no “feelings” involved? What could be more emotional?

Tell me about it. I know those feelings well; my life has not been and will not be the same since surviving that day. I feel those feelings. And that’s why I object to Clarke exploiting them to make his rhetorical brownie points: I’ll apologize on behalf of the entire frigging U.S. government to make them look bad and me look good and you feel good. Crap.

Rosenberg goes further:

That doesn’t mean Bush couldn’t have stepped forward and admitted the obvious — that 9/11 represented a colossal failure of the American government to protect the American people. How could it not be? And why is it so hard just to say so and move on? Why did it take 2 1/2 years for any official to be able to bring him or herself to the point of uttering this plain fact?

Well, first, because it’s not a plain fact: There is no clear proof that anyone in any recent administration could have stopped this. Second, again, because these attacks were in no way our fault. Don’t ever forget that.

: (A different) Scott adds in the comments: Imagine if, instead of his Day of Infamy speech, FDR had gone on the radio to apologize for f’ing up and letting the Japanese bombers through to Pearl Harbor.

And and at that, these days, others would say that’s not enough; we should have understood the frustrations of the Japanese and Germans over their cramped living space and their jealousy at all our space and how we brought this on ourselves.

Am I becoming clear yet, Scott R? This is war. It’s not an encounter session. It’s war.

Free debate

Free debate

: After Lawrence Lessig put his new book up for free under the Creative Commons license, Akma came up with the great idea to have folks volunteer to read it as a permitted derivative work.

As I was reading the book via PDF on the flight yesterday, I got another idea for a derivative work:

Take a book and annotate it with contrary evidence and arguments and questions.

Call it the fisking edition.

Mind you, I’m not saying that because I’m going after Lessig or have any intention of doing that edition — he’s too damned smart and too good at arguing his ideas and, as I’ve said before, I’m too smart to find myself on the losing end of a debate with him even if I do disagree with him. Fisking is just an easy way to describe what I mean.

Or maybe I should call it the Talmudic editions.

I’d love to see someone who does know what he or she is talking about dive into the book and give me either more facts to help me make up my mind or more facts to help me make my arguments. I’d love to hear two sides.

I’d love to see Tim Blair create the annotated edition of any Michael Moore book. Or Matthew Yglesias create a civilized response to the rantings of Ann Coulter. Those would be pure entertainment. I wouldn’t mind taking on the blatherings of Republic.com. What books would you take on?

And once we take on these books, the authors can create their next derivative works, replying. And, I know, I’m creating a ringing endorsement of Creative Commons with this. But wouldn’t it be great to take a book and break it open at the spine for some back-and-forth?

Why not turn a book into a conversation?

: UPDATE: Inspired by this post and Ernie Miller‘s, Aaron Swartz has put the entire book into a wiki. Also way cool.

My suggestion was that people annotate the book.

A wiki also allows people to edit the book. Hmmmm. Not sure what Lessig would think of that. Not sure what I would think if I could no longer tell what came from him and what came from his debaters.

Heartfelt

Heartfelt
: As I was driving around the Chicago ‘burbs yesterday, I saw a big purple bus with gigantic letters on it happily announcing: “We’re spreading the word!” I thought, man, the Jesus squad has taken over! Then I got closer. It was an ad for antacid.

Automation

Automation
: Here’s the problem with automation: Topix presents this as the lead story (big headline, even) on its weblog news page: “I’m in Cambridge at the MIT/Harvard Brain Boot Camp this week, so blogging will be light for a few days.” Film of Carl Zimmer’s dinner at 11.

: But I joke. I’m hitting that blog roundup daily, and more.

Topix cofounder Rich Skrenta emails me this update:

Just a quick note to let you know that Topix.net is now crawling over 6,000 news sources, up from 3,600. Here is an approximate breakdown of the kinds of sources we are crawling:

24% Daily newspapers

19% AM & FM news radio stations

15% Weekly newspapers

15% B2B and consumer magazines

12% TV stations

9% College newspapers

5% Government websites

1% Weblogs

Piggybacking

Piggybacking
: The irony drips like syrup: AT&T is selling VOIP in New Jersey. So what once was the world’s largest telecommunications company is now reduced piggybacking on your cable modem bandwidth.