Posts from November 22, 2004

From the front

From the front

: Kevin Sites finally gets to tell his story of the tape of a shooting.

So here, ultimately, is how it all plays out: when the Iraqi man in the mosque posed a threat, he was your enemy; when he was subdued he was your responsibility; when he was killed in front of my eyes and my camera — the story of his death became my responsibility.

The burdens of war, as you so well know, are unforgiving for all of us.

Are they celebrating in Holland?

Are they celebrating in Holland?

: This is Islam Awareness Week.

Oh, I think we’re plenty aware already.

Blog ethics

Blog ethics

: My sneaky friend Nick Denton nominated me to join Jason Calicanis in setting up a Blog Ethics Committee. I had to let this sink in. Here’s my response:

We don’t need a committee. We don’t need an authority figure or moral guidepost.

This is a distributed world, a world owned by the whole. We are ruled by the wisdom of the crowd.

The most I might go for would be a blog ethics wiki, in which all bloggers get the chance to contribute their collective wisdom and conscience to a debate over what’s right.

Besides, the rules of ethics in publishing are really quite simple. As they relate to advertising, I’d start here:

1. No one can buy your editorial voice or space.

2. Anything that is bought should be clearly identified so the audience would not be confused about its source.

3. Be transparent about any relationships you have that could affect what you say and about anything you receive related to what you say.

4. Be open. Be honest.

That pretty much covers the waterfront. If you get more specific than that, your knickers get knotted over every new kind of ad or freebie. It’s really quite simple; it’s common sense. Your credibility is your only asset; if you sell or or screw it up, you don’t get it back.

On other fronts:

We can debate until the elephants and donkeys come home about disclosing your own political prespective and bias. That’s up to you. ‘

You need to follow the law — whether you like the law or not — regarding copyright and trademark and if you don’t, that’s your risk.

You can set your own rules about answering and quoting email and tolerating commenters, anonymous or otherwise.

There, I just saved myself a committee meeting.

Supporting Spirit of America and Arabic blogging: Money meets the mouth

Supporting Spirit of America and Arabic blogging: Money meets the mouth

soalogo.gif: Spirit of America — the great charity that lets Americans help Iraqis, people to people — is about to come out with something I think can change the world: Arabic-language blog tools.

At the same time, SoA has issued a challenge to bloggers to raise money. Roger L. Simon jumped the gun and got there early. So I’m determined to catch up.

Here is what you can do:

1. Contribute to the Buzzmachine team. I’ve decided to put the money behind the Arabic blogging tool because I think it’s a worthy project and I pushed for it to be done. I seeded it with the first $500.

2. Join the Buzzmachine team. Just sign up your blog to add into the pool.

3. Start your own fund or team by clicking here.

It’s always important to emphasize that Spirit of America isn’t about left or right, anti- or pro-war. It’s about people. It’s about Americans helping Iraqis realize the dreams of any people for freedom and democracy and free speech.

This is a new breed of charity that identifies need on the ground and that lets you decide where to put your donations. SoA is also helping Iraqi bloggers start the Friends of Democracy. It is funding TV stations in Iraq. It is sending over tools and sewing machines. It is doing great work. And I can tell you how much I trust and respect the people behind this charity because I’ve gotten to know them — Jim Hake, Kerry Dupont, and others — and their good work.

: Now let me talk for a minute about the Arabic blogging tool.

Not long after I first discovered Hoder and the Iranian weblog revolution, I wished for blogging in Iraq and Zeyad emailed me and then started HealingIraq. He introduced blogging to others, and that led to IraqTheModel, among others. They have made a difference, helping us all see Iraq from the perspective of citizens and building bridges with us. But they blog in English.

To bring the full power of citizens’ media to a people, it has to be available in their native language. Zeyad recently emailed me again and said he’s getting ready to blog in Arabic. That will be even more important. The folks at SixApart have generously volunteered to help him with a bilingual blog. I just got email saying that Blogger is going to help him figure it out. The new Spirit of America tool is being built by iUpload (full disclosure: we’re working with them at Advance Internet). The more the merrier.

Hoder helped people in Iran blog in Persian by giving them instruction in using the English-language Blogger. How much better it will be when he and Zeyad and the IraqTheModel brothers can spread the power of this new people’s medium in their native languages.

I firmly believe that once people start publishing and communicating in not just Iraq but Saudi Arabia and Jordan and the rest of the Arab world, we will finally hear the voices of real people and discover that we share many interests and needs. Bridges will be built. Power will be challenged. Old ways will meet new. Understanding will grow. When citizens can speak, good things happen.

It’s not just about Arabic blogs in Iraq, of course. It’s about the world. Spirit of America is starting with Arabic and plans to move to Persian. And Blogger has announced that it will be available in new languages: French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese, Brazilian Portuguese, and Korean. That, too, will be helpful.

And then we will look to bilingual bloggers to translate the best of citizens’ media from around the world.

See Biz Stone’s blogging tours of the world (part I and II). Blogging is worldwide. And that is a good thing.

The chill on free speech, continued

The chill on free speech, continued

: Here is yet another chill on free speech caused by the FCC’s and Congress’ efforts to control and censor our speech:

A radio personality I won’t name told me that the company for which he/she works is trying to require him/her to indemnify them against any FCC fines — including not only fines against the performer but against the company.

This means that under the current bills festering in Congress, this poor schmo would be liable for between $1 million (that is, $500k fines for the performer and the company) to $6 million (that is, $3 million each) per day.

I would (a) recite nursery rhymes, (b) go to satellite and hope these prigs, prudes, and fools did not follow, or (c) find a new career in aluminum siding.

On the air

On the air
: I’ll be on Brian Leherer’s show on WNYC today to talk about the FCC and free speech.