Posts from May 31, 2004

The future of news

The future of news

: The Editors Weblog is blogging a worldwide confab of newspaper editors in Turkey (to which I wish I’d managed to finagle an invite). A report on the future of news by Andrew Nachison and Dale Peskin of the American Press Institute, who propose three new models for news:

The first is called the “know-trust network” — a personal community where informal networks are exchanging news, information and conversation. “They are becoming the principle means of learning and discovery,” said Mr. Peskin and they could eclipse traditional media.

The second is referred to a digital everything. “All news and information will need to be virtual, digital and mobile,” he said.

And the third proposition is the power of an individual person. “The individual — not large institutions, will exert unprecedented power,” he said.

Not sure what it all means. I’ll wait for the PowerPoint.

: Meanwhile, Australian media man Brandan Hopkins responded to Warren Buffett’s pessimistic outlook on the newspaper biz:

“Buffett said, ‘the economics of newspapers in the United States are very close to certain to deteriorate over the next 10 to 20 years.’ This would be due to increased competition for advertising dollars from other media. Now, you ignore Warren Buffett at your peril. But I think it is relevant that he singled out United States newspapers, which in general have not kept pace with the product developments being seen elsewhere in the world. US

newspaper houses must innovate to survive.”

More, please.

: And Dean Wright, editor of and Jean-Louis Cebri

Spirit of America

Spirit of America

: Please go and read Dan Gillmor’s wonderful column on Spirit of America. I’m going to have much more to say about this tomorrow…..



: Two once-anonymous bloggers have taken off their masks.

Patterico — the guy who got the LA Times to cover stories they should be covering — let Mark Glaser print his real name in the story about bloggers’ influence on big media. He’s Patrick Frey. There, that didn’t hurt, did it?

Armed Liberal just revealed himself to be Marc Danziger, who just signed onto be COO of Spirit of America (more on that shortly). Danziger said that as we discussed the need for transparency in this endeavor (and, see below, in media and business and government) it was time to come out.

A few weeks ago, I speculated that Atrios, now unemployed, would take off his mask and he left a comment saying he just might. And he should.

I know we’ve had this debate on anonymity many times over. But I say again that in this new medium that values and demands transparency, openness, and honesty from government, politics, journalism, business, and the academe, it’s hypocritical to hide behind a chicken’s mask of anonymity.

And in this medium whose greatest liability is the conversational terrorism of comment trolls, it’s dangerous to give them cover by demanding cover yourself.

I have much more respect for writers who are willing to put their monikers where their mouths are. I have no respect whatsoever for trolls who snipe and run into their rat holes of anonymity.

The excuses for not revealing your identify are — let’s be honest — rare. If you have the courage of your convictions, then follow the examples of Danziger and Frey. Reveal yourselves.

I can stop anytime, really

I can stop anytime, really

: Fred Wilson reacts to the NY Times story on blogging as an addiction:

The basic gist of the article is that blogging is an addiction and the people who do it are nuts. At least that’s what I took from the piece.

It’s not surprising that the New York Times would take this tack on blogging. I remember when the Internet was new on the scene back in the mid-90s and the New York Times was constantly talking about all the sex fiends trying to pick up kids on the Internet. The idea that there are new forms of media that they don’t understand is inherently terrifying to the people who run the large newspapers. And so their coverage of new forms of media are inherently biased negatively.

And Scoble, the most addicted blogger I know, also responds:

My response? I’m addicted. But let’s compare addictions:

Blogging vs. Illegal Drugs. Drugs are illegal, so you can get thrown in jail. So far blogging has remained legal in the US (if you’re blogging in countries like Iran or China, though, watch out). Drugs make you feel good. Blogging makes me feel good. Drugs eventually reduce your brain size. Blogs make your brain bigger. Drugs make you feel crappy the next day. Blogging doesn’t have a hangover, unless you count all the comments and email that a good blog generates. Drugs cost lots of money and you have to visit substandard neighborhoods to get them. Blogs are free (or almost so).

I found the right answer to my wife as she launched an intervention. I explained that just because the laptop was on my lap, that didn’t mean I was blogging. This is how I read the paper. It’s the same as her sitting on the couch reading a magazine.

It worked.

You’re welcome.

Joi’s love letter

Joi’s love letter

: The AP writes a most admiring feature on Joi Ito.

Democracy sprouts

Democracy sprouts
: Zeyad observes the growing pains of democracy in Iraq:

We had an interesting meeting at the clinic a few days ago. The director asked all employees to her room where we were politely asked to be seated by two people who mentioned that they were from the governorate office, but I suspect they work for the CPA. A middle-aged woman in Hijab and a tall skinny fellow wearing thick glasses.

They were supposed to gather information and our opinions on several issues regarding the future Iraqi government, they were touring hospitals, schools, and clinics to meet with people. I don’t know why but the situation felt rather awkward and funny, apparently I wasn’t the only one because I noticed that everyone else was smiling. They asked us a few questions about democracy, federalism, the form of the government, etc. I also felt that the two people who were lecturing us were in bad need themselves for someone to lecture and explain a couple of things to them. Toward the end of the meeting, the woman in Hijab progressed more and more into fiery talk until it was all reduced to recycled common rhetoric, that was when I started yawning occasionally glancing at my watch. As soon as I heard her mention “Sayyid Sistani (Allah preserve him)”, I began to think that discussion was futile.

It was nice however to watch the other employees talk, the discussion went something like this:

“How do you see the future of Iraq?” the woman asked us.

“There’s no use in anything” our biologist whined morbidly, “Iraqis don’t deserve a democracy. We need a firm ruler to prevent chaos, anything else is useless”.

“Yes, a firm and just leader” the registrar added, “We don’t want any new mass graves”.

“So you are already quite hopeless?” the woman asked them.

My boss was having a hard time trying to conceal her giggles. I was grinning from ear to ear as well.

“Excuse me, but I think what Iraq needs at the moment is martial laws” ,this was one of my colleagues. “Every nation implements martial laws at such times, it might sound violent at first, but there have to be some firm steps taken to put an end to the lawlessness and anarchy”.

“But don’t you think some innocents would also be caught up in it?” the man in glasses asked her.

“Not quite.. ” a medical aide chimed in. “When you catch someone guilty like a looter or a bandit I say HANG HIM on the spot!”. The evident glee in which he pronounced the words ‘hang him’ made me a bit uneasy.

“So what do you think about federalism?”

“No federalism”, “No no”, “Of course not” seemed to echo from all around the room.

“Do you understand what federalism is?” the fellow in glasses asked them, “Do you think it’s a ploy to divide Iraq?” he offered (it looked like that was what he thought).

“Yes yes”, the others replied in unison.

This was where I had to enter the discussion. “Do you actually believe the Kurds are going to agree to anything less than federalism?”, everyone remained silent. “I mean they have been virtually independent for 13 years. Why would they give that up?”. Some of them nodded in agreement.

“Yes, but Dr., they just want to seperate from Iraq” the medical aide said.

“They didn’t say so, even though they have that right. The Kurdish leaders have stated on many occasions that they aren’t interested in seperation, they just don’t want to be second class citizens”. This seemed to have convinced them and they let it go at that.

“So what do you think about the Transitional Adminstrative Law? Is it appropriate for the new Iraq? Has anyone read it?”.

No one had read it of course. I gave them a brief explanation about the rights and freedoms granted by the document, they seemed impressed but they objected to the article stating that two thirds of the population of any three governorates could annul the permanent constitution. Some heated discussion followed and we agreed in the end that the law was temporary and could be modified by a future sovereign government and that overall it was a very progressive constitution, while keeping in mind that constitutions are merely ink on paper and that Iraq had some good constitutions in the past, but that proper enforcement of the constitution was the most important issue.

: And eavesdrop on this conversation reported by blogger Ali about a picture of Sadr hanging in his hospital:

-Now how am I supposed to have my dinner with this person pointing at me!? Do you really think this is a picture that should be put in a cafeteria??

My friend smiled and said,

-Shh, lower your voice! I