Posts from November 2003

Memorial failure

Memorial failure
: Greg Allen says now what I said the other day: None of the memorial proposals for the World Trade Center is sufficient. He calls for throwing them all out and starting again. And he sends us to Clay Risen‘s story in the Observer, which argues that the proposals are all too influenced by Vietnam Memorial designer Maya Lin and do not have an adequate sense of the place.

Nor is there any attempt to tie the site into its surroundings, either the rest of Ground Zero or lower Manhattan as a whole…. Then again, context wasn

Nuff said

Nuff said
: Noam Chomsky gives a snoozy forum interview at (decrying power wherever it exists!). Here’s my favorite Q&A:

Washington, D.C.: Your writings and talks are generally very serious affairs. Do you have a humorous side? What sorts of things genuinely make you laugh?

Noam Chomsky: Playing with my grandchildren? Lots more. Frankly, I don’t like to respond to personal questions. I’m a private person. I don’t think it’s anyone’s business, apart from friends and family.

Yup, I think that answers it.

Who needs ombudsmen?

Who needs ombudsmen?
: David Weinberger fisks the Boston Globe on Dean today. Well, it’s not a true, rage-filled, gotcha fisk. It’s more a sigh-filled, disappointed dissection.

Vote for Hoder!

Vote for Hoder!
: Hossein Derakhshan, the Iranian weblog pioneer, has decided to run for the Iranian parliament!

See also the post below on the at-home primary. I suspect that weblogs give a person a small scent of power and can change their lives.

Hoder: Put up a tip jar for your campaign. I suspect there are no campaign spending limits in Iran, are there?

Update: In the comments, Sassan worries that this will put Hossein in jeopardy. I fear his incredible activities online could do that as well.

But if he merely tries to run — even if from afar, even if not allowed to, even if unable to campaign or win — sends a most powerful message:

Here is a man who has created a new political power base online.

We’ve joked about a blogger running for office in the U.S. Hoder is doing it.

We’ve joked about starting a revolution online. Hoder has done it.

I pray that Hoder does nothing to put himself at risk. But I stand in awe of what he has accomplished.

You WILL join a community because I said so!

You WILL join a community because I said so!
: Martyn Perks at Spiked [via Smart Mobs] tears into the BBC’s community venture iCan in a rich and telling analysis.

iCan is supposed to let people start movements.

Perks complains that there are too many rules: “Surely iCan should be renamed iCan’t. No wonder the current featured campaign is about banning chewing gum.”

He also complains about the anonymity of it, which he says will actually lead to much flouting of those rules and nasty chatter rather than real and constructive movements.

He complains about people meeting online rather than in person. I disagree with that one. I’m now more likely to meet and join up with fellow citizens online than I am at some tedious town meeting or political event.

But here are his most interesting complaints. First:

Here the BBC is addressing its future role, taking its cue from a political elite that is unable to connect with an uninterested population. From voter apathy to the police struggling to prove their accountability, we must suffer more attempts to coerce us into playing ball.

Right. Communities can be coercive. Back in the early days of online, executives of this new medium fretted about how to get everyone involved and if everyone didn’t start chatting with everyone else, they thought it all a failure. That’s clearly wrong-headed. But it’s a problem online and politicians and news people often share: They want to define what “involved” means. But they cannot and should not. We’ll get involved when we bloody well want to. And don’t insult us by assuming we’re dolts if we don’t do what you think we should do.

Perks’ last complaint is his most intriguing:

Also, reducing the effort needed to start a campaign will greatly reduce its impact. As if there aren’t enough charities and single-issue campaigns to deal with, iCan would continue to personalise and individualise our experience of the world…. Imagine it – a new campaign for every day of the year. In reality, iCan can’t deliver what it promises. The faith some have in iCan avoids tackling real issues head-on and belittles us with a safe, comfortable idyll. By playing village politics we will lose sight of how to better society through considered debate and, when necessary, confrontation.

Well, it’s not all about storming the barricades. Perks should not, in turn, belittle those who fight for an issue that matters to them in their town. But what interests me is the idea that you need some barrier, some speedbump to make a movement worthwhile and I think that’s true: Even with every new tool of this networked world, if you don’t convince people to join you and create a critical mass, you don’t have a movement; you have only blather.