Graduation: I went to a

: I went to a high school graduation tonight (no, not my own).

I was surprised — and perhaps I should not have been — that every single speech by every single kid — and there were lots of them speaking — focused on 9.11, on the impact on their year and their lives and the country and the future.

: By the way, at the start of the ceremony, we said the pledge of allegience. Yes, I said it. Nobody was compelling me to and so I did.

I [select one: do/do not] pledge allegiance…
: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declared recitation of the pledge of allegiance in schools unconstitutional because of the words “under God.”

I expect packs of conservative jackels to come out of their caves with fang bared on this one.

But I also expect that this is the true test of the libertarians out there: I can’t see how they could agree with the government compelling anyone to pledge anything, eh?

When I was in school, in the Vietnam era, I was one of those obnoxious kids who refused to say it and I stand by that right now. The government at any level should not compel me to pledge anything, including God; that would be unAmerican. And I’m not libertarian.

Say it ain’t so
: Matt Welch is taking a break.

Give me liberty or give me blog
: Two guys are studying the impact on top-down media of blogs and other such bottoms-up media. Their study is not out yet, but the preview looks interesting. The study comes from Shayne Bowman and Chris Willis; the preview from Dale Peskin:

Bowman and Willis are exploring a shift in thinking about the mainstream press that is not merely generational or technological, but societal. It considers how a civic-minded citizen-press, not unlike the one at the time of the American Revolution, may impact the set of journalistic values that have been in place in the United States for about 150 years. It examines the principle of the press as privileged, trusted, informed intermediary of the news, and whether it can endure in an interconnected world where individuals have inexpensive, frequently equal, sometimes advantageous access to news and its sources. It tests the notion of “journalist as expert” in an empowered society of specialists and a global, collective intelligence.

Do not think for a second that there will be no value to (a) real reporting and real facts and (b) credibility in the media future. They will stay valuable and their purveyors — newspapers, magazines, broadcast news — with them.

Still, these guys make a point from the other perspective, the perspective that matters — especially online: from the perspective of the audience. I like the sound of “civic-minded citizen-press.” Now we’ve been hearing about this press of the people for sometime and often, it has not been so high-fallutin’; it has been shrill or tacky or worse. But that was on usenet and forums and chats and personal web pages.

Blogs are different. They add the element of quality to the citizen press. As I said to a reporter who called me on this topic the other day, blogs are edited products. And blogs and their links live within a system of self-selection in which the cream rises, quality wins. The best blogs get linked to and get traffic; the worst ones done.

And though real reporting, real facts, and real credibility still have value, this bottoms-up press also adds value; it selects and summarizes and links to and packages and adds perspective to all that real news; it saves us time and it lets us here another voice, the voice of the people. It is the beginning of a citzen press.

More mallaise
: I went to techxny (formerly PC Expo) — a hardware show — in New York today. Beyond sad. Below depressing. The show was way smaller than it used to be — a third of its former self. The attendance was down. Most disturbing: There was no innovation, no development. There was no new there.

Our economy needs help.