Posts from September 2, 2004

What’s wrong with GoogleNews

What’s wrong with GoogleNews

: Strange crap like this pops up as the lead story today. Once again, GoogleNews gives prominence to fringe opinion sites, treating them like news sites (when I’ve suggested before that it would actually be compelling to create a service called GoogleViews and put them there) while ignoring blogs that at least link to news sources.

Dancin’ fools

Dancin’ fools

: John Perry Barlow gives us a report from the front (chorus) line of his dancing protests/theater/whatever:

After four missions, Dancing in the Streets has exceeded my fondest expectations…. We generally make the credentialed Republicans we encounter visibly nervous and spread good will and humor to most of the rest, including the police, who could well use it at the moment….

Republicans were hard to encounter at first. They are being quarantined behind the blue membrane of the NYPD (for whom my affection and respect has only increased through this experience). In addition, they spend much of their time inside the Garden having a lot less fun than we were. (As several of them told us.) Levels of engagement have increased with fine-tuning. The results vary, ranging from the Stepford husband whom we made so nervous that he walked into a plate glass window to the sweet young delegate from Oklahoma who tore off his tie and joined us for the balance of the evening.

Video, please.

FoxNews, the home team

FoxNews, the home team

: It’s utterly unsurprising to me that FoxNews beat the big three networks with this coverage of the Republican convention. Conservatives watching a conservative event want to see it with fellow conservatives.

Don’t start whining about an “echo chamber.” This is perfectly predictable, understandable, normal social behavior: When you’re watching a Yankees game, do you go to a Red Sox (or should I say Indians’?) bar? Of course, not. Did the Democrats rush to watch FoxNews’ coverage of their convention? No.

And don’t start wailing about “fragmentation.” Fragmentation is good; it means that people are finding what they want to find; it means the end of one-size-fits-all news reporting … and media … and politics … and marketing. The grand “shared experience” of media was an accident of having just three networks emerge and, at the same time, kill competitive newspapers.

The shared experience of unfragmented one-size-fits-all media lasted just a few decades in this country. Before that, conservatives read conservative papers, liberals liberal papers. And democracy survived. In fact, I’d argue that it prospered because there were more viewpoints, not fewer being heard.

Media execs should pay attention to this and change not just products but even business plans as a result.

The right to publicity

The right to publicity

: The New York Times complains today that “police tactics mute protestors and message” — even as, without acknowledging the obvious irony, the paper gives those protestors coverage right on its front page in that story and in a picture of a protestor against something global being carried out of Madison Square Garden.

Whoa. Let’s examine the assumptions behind this: The Times assumes that if you hold a demonstration, you have some right to coverage. How come? If 10 people or 100 people gather on a street corner and shout about something, is that necessarily newsworthy? Does that mean they represent a movement with a story that needs to be heard? Aren’t there better ways to measure the size of a movement these days?

Next, this assumes that mediated media is still the right, the only way to get a message across: that a movement has to shout on that corner and get arrested before Times and TV cameras to be heard. But in this new era of emerging unmediated media — that is, the internet — this is soon to be untrue. Going to all that trouble to perhaps get five seconds on TV or five sentences in print is not going to be the most effective and efficient way to get your message across.

MoveOn and Michael Moore and the Swifties are all more effective taking their message off the streets and online.

The Times’ next assumption is that it is somehow the job of the police to help these demonstrators get publicity by letting them get close to the Garden or by waiting for cameras to arrive before arresting them if they exercise civil disobedience. Of course, that’s wrong. It’s the job of the police to protect New York and it’s important and understandable that they are doing that swiftly and efficiently — because of the experience of both terrorism and of violent anti-globalism nuts in Seattle.

Let me be clear: I’m all in favor of exercising the fullest right to free speech and protest. But as I pondered here and here, what’s fascinating me about the scene in New York this week — to my surprise — is the role of these demonstrations in a new world of unmediated media where you don’t — or soon won’t — need mainstream media as the sole pipeline to the public and where our view of friends and enemies must radically change.

And his boats are really swift

And his boats are really swift

: Amazing commercial running in Jersey this week: Hyundai dealer Brad Benson comes in announcing that in the state’s time of need, he has decided to run for governor. A reporter’s voice asks whether he is a gay American. If gay means happy, he says, youbetcha — and anybody who comes to Brad’s Hyundai sale will be a gay American, too!

A to Zell

A to Zell

: Anybody note the irony that Zell Miller complains about Kerry as a flipflopper yet Miller is the biggest flipflopper of them all. Love Kerry. Hate Kerry. Love the Democrats. Love the Republicans. The man has clearly used this patented Jarvis product.

Choose Nukes

Choose Nukes

: I got behind a (slow) driver (in a van) from Florida this morning and saw his “Choose Life” license plate, through which the state has enabled $2.6 million to be raised for a thinly veiled anti-abortion group.

So why doesn’t anybody with a message have the right to both get that message on state plates and raise money?

How about the F Bush or F Kerry plates. I know many who’d buy Drop Out Ralph plates.

Hell, if I could get Nuke Islamofascist plates, I’d move to Florida. After the hurricane.

Blog appeal

Blog appeal

: The other night as we left PS122 after our blog panel, we saw one of the bloggers — young, handsome in a serious and pensive way — absolutely surrounded by beautiful young women hanging on his every sigh.

Blogroupies.

Damn. Why did they have blogs back in my day? Who’d have thought that punditry could get you laid?