Posts from September 2002

Heading for a blog primary:

Heading for a blog primary
: I have new competition in my bid for president via Fox and the blogosphere. This guy has a platform already. But who ever believes a platform?

Larry Summers, post-PC hero
: Harvard President Larry Summers is proving to be the hero of the post-PC era.

This week, he deftly, carefully, and even reluctantly asked whether all the anti-Israeli belching at Harvard and elsewhere in the academic left is a sign of a growing antisemitism.

But where anti-Semitism and views that are profoundly anti-Israeli have traditionally been the primary preserve of poorly educated right-wing populists, profoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities. Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent….

And some here at Harvard and some at universities across the country have called for the University to single out Israel among all nations as the lone country where it is inappropriate for any part of the university

Friendship: Nick Denton recommends Trillian

Friendship
: Nick Denton recommends Trillian — the UberIM that handles AOL, MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, and IRC all at once. I just started using it today and so far, I concur.

Nick also put up a screenshot of his chattin’ buddies and I’m flattered to see my name there.

But I can’t say anything about it. That would be tacky. Nick also says it’s not Etiquiettely Correct (EC) to thank a blogger for a blogroll link (and so even though I’m honored to be part of his selective list, I won’t say a thing, not a thing).

Wonder who’s on his speed dial.

: Which leads me to a whole new calculation of friendship in our modern age. Want to rank the people you really care about and vice versa? Add up these points:

– 1 point if the name is in your email address file.

– 2 points if the name is in your IM buddy list.

– 1 point if you gave them your secret, personal, nonwork email address.

– 1 point if you have what they tell you is their secret, personal, nonwork email address.

– 1 point if you bookmarked their blog.

– 2 points if you blogrolled their blog on your blog.

– 2 points if they blogrolled your blog on theirs.

– 1 point if you know their home phone number.

– 1 point if you gave them your home phone number.

– 3 points if you gave them your mobile phone number.

– 3 points if they gave you their mobile phone number.

– 10 bonus points if they ever sent you money on PayPal.

Now add it up and see who your true friends are.

Vote for me!
: I’m announcing my candidacy for President.

I’ve been thinking about the post below (ever since I posted it, 2 minutes ago), about Fox’ new reality show that will pick a presidential candidate.

And I’ve decided to run for your support as the candidate of the Blogosphere.

The rules say that I have to fill out questionnaires and submit a video and present the testimony of 50 members of my community who will support me.

Well, this is my community. Will you support me?

My qualifications? I’ll fill you in later. My policies? Ditto. I’m media-savvy; that’s what really counts to get started, right?

Vote for me!

(Or if you don’t, I’ll throw my support here or here or here or here but not here, cuz he’s a ferner.)

: Here’s one vote.

The guy who eats the sheep testicles gets to rule the world
: Variety reports that Fox is going to create a reality show to pick a presidential candidate.

“It’s like a cross between ‘The War Room’ and ‘American Idol,”‘ [producer R.J.] Cutler told Daily Variety. “We will be making available to every American who is qualified, by virtue of the Constitution, the opportunity to run for president.”

Just as “American Idol” went searching for undiscovered musical talent, Cutler said “American Candidate” will be on the hunt for untapped political and leadership skill.

“We’re trying to see if there’s a young Abe Lincoln out there, somebody whose vision could turn on the public in an exciting way,” he said.

The series will be seeking “the Jesse Venturas of the world, finding messages people want to hear,” added Kevin Reilly, FX’s president of entertainment. “Hopefully, we’ll find some very qualified civil servant who lacks a power base and maybe also a plumber from Detroit who (tells) it like it is.”

To land a slot on the show, applicants will have to fill out questionnaires, provide videotapes in which they explain why they would make a great president and put together a group of 50 supporters from their community who will serve as sponsors….

The number of semifinalists will be whittled down each week, based on a point system that will factor in competition results, live audience response and telephone/Internet voting. Each episode will originate from all-American locales such as Mount Rushmore or the Statue of Liberty.

The final episode will be an “American Candidate” convention, held on the National Mall in Washington around July 4, 2004 — about the same time the Republicans and Democrats will be prepping their conventions. In a live episode, viewers will then determine the winning candidate from among three finalists.

The winner will then decide whether to launch an official campaign. If he or she decides to make a run, a series of “War Room”-like specials will be produced following the candidate through Election Day.

This is brilliant. No, really, it is frigging brilliant!

This will help set the agenda in the next presidential election. Every big-party candidate will be compared with the candidates here; every “issue” will be contrasted with the issues discussed by the real people on this reality show; every American who wants to vote for “none of the above” will now have a candidate running on that slate.

It makes a statement about democracy (and its openness) and our parties (and their failures).

It is truly democratic.

And it will surely be entertaining (especially when, yes, scandals and skeletons are found in the pasts of the TV candidates, too).

You’ll hear pooh-poohing about this. Ignore it. This will be the best thing that could happen to democracy.

The Digitallenium
: On NPR this morning, a guy who’s trying to preserve artifacts and memories from an Indiana piano-turned-gramophone factory noted that the 19th century was the first that was photographed and the 20th was the first that was recorded.

And this leads to the obvious:

The 22nd century is the first to be digitized.

Nearly everything we do — our media, our communication, our memories — can be stored and searched and analyzed.

How this affects our lives will be the subject of NPR reports in about a hundred years.

Wag nags: Mags’ flags sag — gag! — as rags snag Dag bags, mailbags lag
: Here’s an embarrassingly naive piece complaining about how magazine cover design has fallen.

There’s one reason and one reason only: Newsstand sales. Yes, celebrities sell; that’s why they’re there. Yes, coverbillings sell; that’s why they’re there. It’s marketing. It’s business. This is the same sort of person who whines about movies being in color. Hey, progress hurts.

Nonetheless, the piece does give us a nice sampling of some beautiful old covers.

If you want to see (and buy) lots of great old covers (from my employer, Conde Nast), go to CondeNastArt.com. [via BoingBoing]

Warspamming
: VNU reports that Nokia warns of a new trend — warspamming:

Another problem that has presented itself in recent weeks is that of ‘warspamming’. Simply by logging into an unprotected wireless network and finding an open simple mail transfer protocol port, spammers can send their messages to 10 million names while remaining completely anonymous, as well as avoiding heavy bandwidth costs.

[via Corante]

Damn
: Wood s lot is doing off the air. No idea why. Maybe the amazing Woodman needs a life or a meal; he found phenomenal stuff, excerpted it wisely, and designed it beautifully. Damn. [via Follow me]

Great moments in pop culture
: I can’t tell apart their smokey, been-around-the-track voices but either Courtney Love or Houston the porn star just said on Howard Stern that her dog died from eating her sample breast implant.

J-school OD: Here’s lots more

J-school OD
: Here’s lots more about the Columbia J-school navel-mining, this from nearby NYU. [via Romenesko]

News: the new pornography: A

News: the new pornography
: A new study says that news is the No. 1 Corporate Timewaster online, beating porn and the other porn, shopping. 23 percent of surveyed workers said news is the most addictive online content. [via I Want Media]

: Nick Denton says IM is the root of all goofing off.

I’m glad somebody’s happy
: Everybody I know is grousing… about work, the economy, stocks, neighbors, even church.

But Ev is happy.

Free speech loses something in the translation
: Emmanuelle (sporting a sporty new design) relays reports of a bizarre trial in bizarre France, accusing writer Michel Houellebecq of incitement to religious hatred for saying what he thought about Islam:

Yesterday in court, Houellebecq denied inciting racism, but argued that

The United States of Amedia

The United States of Amedia

: Study media and you will study America.

You will study what America thinks and likes and watches and reads and says. Especially today — in the era of the Internet, the first medium owned by its audience — you will find us reflected in our media. We are what we watch.

That is my advice for the Columbia Journalism School as it gazes at its navel, trying to decide its fate.

That is the same advice Michael Wolff gives in a smart (as usual) column in New York this week about Columbia’s School of Journalism. The university’s new president recently halted the search for a new dean of the J-school and instead ordered a search of (or for) the soul of the school: What should a journalism school teach today? he asked. Wolff answers.

Wolff advises that they study “media,” not “journalism.” It’s good advice.

“Journalism” is a synonym for “what editors think you should know.” It is a deadening word. It is castor oil in dense, dark bottles of type. “Media,” on the other hand, is a synonym for “what we the audience want.” It is lively and colorful and provocative and entertaining and actually interesting.

Journalism is inward looking; it’s inside baseball; it’s about us and how we do what we do in the business of journalism. Media is outward looking; it’s about listening to the audience.

Journalism is a craft, a trade, a skill. I went to J-school and I did learn things there (mostly from a sports writer who taught us how to write crime stories and also from actually working on newspapers). I learned how to write a lead and ask a question; I learned the tricks of my trade. But then I became a TV critic and started a magazine about media and now I oversee a bunch of eagerly interactive web sites, which is really just about playing host to the audience’s party. I made the shift from journalism to media long ago and never regretted it.

For media is the study of the people. Media reflects what the audience thinks (contrary to common assumption, media does not lead; media follows). To study media, you have to respect that audience; you have to care what the audience thinks; you must listen. And once you pass that barricade of snobbishness, you will see that we the audience have good taste (given half a chance to watch good shows, we will), and good sense (how many idiots have we voted out of office?), and even intelligence (note my screed on HBO, below).

To study media, you will have to leave other prejudices behind — for example, that TV is a cultural wasteland (rubbish; TV produces more quality entertainment than movies and books combined today); or that the mass audience has nothing to say (look at weblogs especially or at the forums on my site and you will eavesdrop on amazing conversations).

If you study media, you will find yourself studying much more. You will get to the very core of democracy and how we as a nation come to decisions (whether that is electing presidents or starting wars or ending them). You will understand the very essence of commerce and capitalism and how we make choices and calculate value (read: brands). You will get a new window on our society and its every aspect (e.g., the state of the modern family and of religion and of education and of work).

All this was true before, but it is truer now with the Internet. For now, at last, the audience itself has a medium and a voice. Now there is something worth studying.

: And please don’t send me email reminding me that “media” is/are plural. I used to be a copy editor, too. It just doesn’t sound right to say “media are” in a discussion such as this.

And the winner izzzzzzzz…
: The Online Journalism Awards finalists are announced. How boring, as the name indicates.

My baby’s new dad
: Entertainment Weekly has a new editor.