Posts from September 2003

2+2=48

2+2=48
: A great bit of 2+2ing from Ken Sands:

Bruce Willis, the self-appointed Bob Hope of the Iraq conflict, visited a remote desert outpost Friday to meet with a small number of U.S. troops monitoring the border with Iran. Here’s one quote:

“I feel a lot of pride for these guys out here. If I was a little younger, I would be out here with them,” the 48-year-old actor told The Associated Press.

Ken then proceeds to list the brave men of 50 or thereabouts who have given their live for freedom in Iraq.

My Bloggercon panel

My Bloggercon panel
: Dave Winer just asked me to play host to the Day 2 Bloggercon session on weblogs in presidential politics. So far, Ed Cone and Dan Gillmor have signed on; others soon. But the panel is really the entire room. In my words, I’ll be Phil Donahue (in Dave’s word, Oprah) asking everyone not just to critique what the candidates are and aren’t doing right with weblogs in their campaigns — it’s still too soon to write the real reviews, no? — but instead to imagine the real power and impact of weblogs on presidential politics (and state and local politics as well): What can and should not only candidates — and media — but also voters be doing with weblogs to bring more information, action, organization, and impact to politics? I’d like to start the discussion here and now; leave comments; send links. See you in Cambridge….

Blogging the Don’t-Bee way

Blogging the Don’t-Bee way
Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune blogger, has excellent advice for any major media organization itching to join the revolution:

To edit a blog almost instantly and whenever the blogger wants to post would require an expenditure of resources from the sponsoring publication that dwarfs the income — right now, essentially zero in the free-access info-market of the web.

Yet to edit a blog conventionally — putting it into a comparatively slow, one-way pipeline toward publication — robs it of its essential blogness. It takes a potentially fresh new medium that, as Andrew Sullivan has pointed out, is a hybrid of talk radio and print, and turns it back into just more old medium….

In reality, what needs to emerge here if the j-blog isn’t going to die at birth, is an understanding on the part of editors and readers that, procedurally, a blog is much more like an appearance on a TV panel program or talk-radio show than it is a fully sanctioned, completely vetted declaration in cold type.

My fellow columnists and I frequently appear on radio and television and offer live (and in many cases broadcast on the internet), unedited statements under the color of our publications. Several Tribune staffers even have their own radio shows. We give speeches. We respond to e-mail and letters in writing. We give interviews to the New York Times.

And almost never is the substance and wording of such communication approved in advance by minders or editors.

Very, very rarely — never in my case — this freedom causes real problems.

Pretenders to populism

Pretenders to populism
: Folks are piling on Jason Calacanis for his opening act in blogs and this inspired Tony Perkins, who was also piled on at a recent blog conference for his faux blog Always On, to write a what-I’ve-learned piece. The answer is not much.

I have finally learned what a blog is. (Thank you Dave Winer!) It is an amateur author who posts a regular diary on his own site that is unedited, spontaneous, and generally comments on and links to other blog sites. I think the key attribute is the establishment of an individual voice that provides an alternative to traditional media.

Well, actually, I could contest that definition but it’s not worth the effort. Perkins admits that his magazine-that-couldn’t-afford-paper is really not a blog and so he has learned something.

Now the last thing we need in this new world is an instant orthodoxy of what is and what isn’t a blog, a new us-vs.-them wall down the world. That serves no one.

But what does matter is that the weblog revolution not be mischaracterized — co-opted, that is — to audiences that matter, namely: the audience itself; and advertisers (who, if they think they’re paying for a blog when they’re not won’t then pay for what is really a blog); and media (who, if they think they’re writing about blogs when they’re not won’t end up writing about what is really a blog).

: Perkins continues to try to get revolutionary ruboff from the blogging community and his alleged proximity to it:

The bottom line as I see it is the original blogging community represents the early-adopters of a movement that will eventually radicalize the entire media industry. Some time off in the future, if major media brands do not open up their content to more participation, readers will just not trust them, and they will go elsewhere.

Perhaps AO is one of the first commercial brands to borrow on the blogging tradition in this regard. So on one hand, we appreciate our founding fathers, but on the other hand we need to massage and build upon what you have shown us to make it more commercially viable.

Well, first, pardon me for playing PC PC (that is, personal computering politically correct) but “early adopter” is just another condescending way to say “loser geek.” It’s another way to say, “thanks, kids, now let the grownups take over.” It’s another way for Perkins to come off like a pompous ass. But fine; no news there.

And, second, I disagree with his assumption that blogging will somehow grow up to be a part of all major media. No, it won’t necessarily and neither should it necessarily. The internet is the first medium owned by its audience and weblogging is the means that is giving that audience its voice. What’s important about weblogging is not that big media may do it but that the people are doing it.

I’m a big-media guy and I’m a blogger and the reason that I keep them separate is that when I blog, I’m little media — nanomedia — and proud. That’s what this is all about.

The success of this medium — artistically, functionally, commercially, politically — will come not from big guys taking it over and not from little guys trying to become big guys but instead from the congregation of all the little guys ending up with a voice louder than the big guys’.

Whitey, dead

Whitey, dead
: Whitey, from Leave it to Beaver, is dead, leaving a heckuva story behind:

Demons chased Stanley Fafara from Hollywood to Portland, tormenting him while he spiraled into a hand-to-mouth existence on the street. Over time, he lost everything — family, money, dignity — to heroin, pills and booze. But friends said that Fafara — a child actor who had a continuing role as “Whitey” on the “Leave It to Beaver” television show — was at peace with himself Saturday when he died.