Posts from May 5, 2004

Home again

Home again
: New Jersey’s favorite blogger, Debra Galant, is back home from the hospital and back online. Thank goodness.

The distributed marketplace

The distributed marketplace
: Clay Shirky rightfully and ruthlessly ridicules a “deeply crazy attempt to solve dating” called Socialgrid: You answer a questionnaire, which spits out code (XML/FOAF) you put on your blog so others can find you via Google. This execution is, well, cause of execution.

But there’s something bigger (and for some of us in some businesses, scarier) bubbling up here: The distributed marketplace. Forget sex (for the moment). Think jobs: Employers find employees via Google. Or think the distributed eBay: Who in the world is selling a used iPod or Mustang right now? Or real estate: The distributed roommate finder. Or Yellow Pages: The Google dream of local. Whenever one person wants to find another for a transaction of any sort, can the distributed network bring them together?

I don’t think Socialgrid — or Google — will own this ultimately. Other, more specialized efforts will create their own search engines or, like this one, piggyback on top of Google’s data base. And they will add value (anonymization; bidding for services; communication; content).

All of this is an extension of FOAF and of David Galbraith’s one-line bio and I’ve talked about it before; so have many others (who should take a look at the haughty intellectual property warning Clay quotes).

This is a step (or misstep) in a fundamental shift in society:

Bit by bit, marketplaces will decentralize.

The Daily Stern: Afternoon edition

The Daily Stern: Afternoon edition

: THE CHILL REACHES NEWS: See the earlier post today about Fox fearing FCC fines for airing the funeral of a war hero because the F word aired.

Now see this. CBS is threatening to take news off the air because, hey, news is live and unscripted and what happens if somebody says a bad word (when you have no list of the bad words that could get you fined):

CBS affiliates are telling the Federal Communications Commission that unless it changes its ruling about profanities on-air, many will have to stop doing news outside of the 10 p.m.-6 a.m. safe harbor for indecent speech.

Noncommercial stations, meanwhile, argued that the decision has caused them to significantly self-censor for the first time….

“Live newsgathering outside of the safe harbor will be a risk that many licensees can’t take,” the affiliates wrote the Federal Communications Commission.

That dire warning came in comments to the FCC as CBS Affiliates and major public TV stations joined the swelling chorus of boos for the FCC’s decision that it may now find the F-word indecent regardless of context, and fine broadcasters and artists potentially millions of dollars for saying that and other profanities on air.

In its petition, the CBS affiliates warn that the indecency crackdown will “fundamentally alter the manner in which local broadcasters engage in newsgathering.” (Already some stations, though not necessarily CBS stations–are buying equipment to delay newscasts. And on Monday, some Phoenix stations reported pulled the plug on news coverage of football player Pat Tillman’s memorial service when friends let forth with some locker-room language.)

The CBS affiliates also argued that they frequently don’t have the ability to alter programming provided by the networks. Even if the networks indemnify them financially, that will be little consolation if they have their licenses revoked, as the FCC has threatened to do for repeat offenders.

In a separate filing, the American Association of Public Television Stations as a group and the major noncom program producing stations, also expressed their concern over the decision’s affect on news, documentaries and cultural programs. They say that, for the first time, producers are engaging in “significant self-censorship out of fear of government penalty.

For instance, stations have deleted language from “Prime Suspect” on Masterpiece Theater (and been criticized for the deletions by viewers) and even had to consider whether to edit our a nude lithograph from Antiques Roadshow, even though the show had aired months before with no complaint….

The chill is on.

: WHAT IT IS: Ernie Miller calls Michael Powell cynical.

OOPS

OOPS
: I am away from my pc but I see in my comments I got taken in by the fake Google alerts pitch. I sit corrected.

: Now I’m at a desk and a landline. Thanks to the commenters for setting me straight (though certain of you you needn’t drip with such attitude, you know).

If I were Google, I’d sue these guys forthwith. They certainly fooled me into thinking they were a Google service and, as I said below, it sucks. It reflects badly on the Google brand.

And, yes, if this were a newspaper you were holding, you’d have to wait 24 hours to get a correction. Here, the readers corrected things immediately and I corrected from the road on my Treo.

Pay Google?

Pay Google?
: Google is trying to charge for its GoogleAlerts — up to $19.95 per month.

Only problem is, I’ve found that GoogleAlert sucks. I’ve subscribed for a long time and I consistently fine that it misses tons of stuff.

Technorati beats Google’s pants off.

But Google is overdependent on advertising and for its IPO it’s following Yahoo’s lead and trying to eke out consumer revenue where it can.

I won’t buy it.

See correction above.

The Daily Stern

The Daily Stern

: LET’S CALL IT WHAT IT IS: CENSORSHIP: National Nanny Michael Powell addresses cable execs and one of them — at last — talks back.

Oxygen Media Inc. CEO and founder Geraldine Laybourne criticized the FCC’s enforcement effort during the National Cable & Telecommunications Assn.’s (NCTA) annual trade show.

“I don’t think we should use the word indecency; we should call it what it is: censorship,” Laybourne said Tuesday during one of the show’s panel discussions….

“I don’t agree with that,” Powell told reporters after his dialogue. “For 70 years, the country has had limits on broadcast television. To me censorship is prior restraint, and I don’t think anybody has been involved in that limitation on content.”

Well that’s a lie. Read the news, Chairman Powell: The evidence of the chill you have put on media is everywhere.

: WILL YOU FINE THE HERO, POWELL? The same story continues with something that should put Powell on the hot seat: The FCC has now ruled that a single utterance of the F word is now officially profanity and should be fined. So will they fine the family of Iraq War hero Pat Tillman?

The remarks came as News Corp. executives were worrying about the possible fallout from a memorial service for Pat Tillman, where his brother reportedly used a version of the word “f—” twice. The service for Tillman, the former Arizona Cardinals safety who was killed while serving as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan, was carried on some News Corp. cable channels and was broadcast on at least one News Corp. station, according to the executives.

“Who would have thought you needed a seven-second delay at a memorial service,” one News Corp. executive lamented. “We’re worried about it.”

Powell declined to say whether the commission would investigate the broadcast of the memorial service.

“We respond to complaints,” he said. “This isn’t some discretionary activity being administered by the agency because it feels like it. It’s a response to the American public.”

When asked directly about the Tillman memorial service, Powell declined to say whether the broadcast was considered indecent or not.

“I will never sit here and do hypotheticals about whether something is liable or not,” he said. “Our process has never been different. If we receive complaints about a broadcast, that will be investigated and a decision will be made, I think, responsibly.”

Well, then, someone should complain and then the FCC will be forced to fine a war hero’s family.

That, you see, is the position this idiotic move to censorship has put us in.

Hit Bono, hit the hero.

: NO FAINT PRAISE: On his show this morning, Stern thanked his audience for sending in now 1,900 complaints about Oprah to the FCC. He also said that even though he was glad the New York Times came out on his side of the fight for the First Amendment this week — as well it should — he is sick of seeing that support for him in media always comes with a grudging, ‘well, we have to defend even Howard Stern.’

So let me repeat here what I said in my story in The Nation (just to drive you anti-Sternies nutsier):

But it’s not just about sex and the religious right. It’s also about political correctness and the left. We live in an age of offense. The cardinal sin today is to offend; the clearest badge of victimhood is to be offended. Sadly, I hear some refuse to defend Stern and his speech because “he offends.” Well, the First Amendment is often defended on the backs of the offensive: Larry Flynt or the KKK. But I won’t lump Stern in with them. For, judged in the whole, Stern is not offensive.

Let me tell you why I am such a Howard Stern fan. Until I reviewed his show for TV Guide, I had heard the same snippets, quotes and characterizations you had. I thought he was best taken in small doses. But after listening to him for a few weeks, I discovered that, to the contrary, he is best taken in large doses. For then you discover that Stern is charming, likable, decent, funny, a talented entertainer, a great interviewer, and–more than anything–honest.

Stern is an antidote to all the overpackaged, smiley, phony, condescending pap of personality in American media and entertainment. In an age of predictable news (shouldn’t news be just the opposite?) and political correctness and numbing national rhetoric, Stern cuts through the crap and says what he thinks–and what many of us think. And that is incredibly refreshing. No, it’s liberating.

Howard also quoted Rudy Guliani asking publicly where Howard’s political friends are now. They should be there fighting for the First Amendment next to him. Media certainly should be.

: Here’s a Christian Science Monitor puff piece on Powell.