Posts from February 24, 2004

Next generation blogging tools

Next generation blogging tools
: Answering Dave Winer’s invitation and challenge, here is a first wishlist of functionalityi for the next generation of blogging tools (more to come):

: A tool so incredibly simple any child or non-Internet, non-PC user could figure out immediately how to use it: Oh, I put this there and I can get to it from anywhere.

“This” can be text, a photo, a sound, a video, a shopping list, a school paper, anything.

“Put” can mean type or drag-and-drop or even the dreaded “browse.”

“Get” can mean that from a simple address on a simple page, I can find this thing again or send my friends there to find it.

“Anywhere” means it should be accessible from the web or mobile phones or RSS or whatever.

: The tool should be easily translated into ANY language on earth. That is how we will change this world, when blogging tools work in Arabic and Korean and Chinese of various stripes and Balkan languages and such.

: Distributed posting. My blog should be not only what I put on my blog but what I put elsewhere — a comment on your blog, an article in the paper, a review on Amazon, a song on iTunes. My blog should be able to aggregate all the things I create anywhere with nothing more than a simple identification that it’s mine.

: I want to be able to publish video easily but without going bankrupt on bandwidth (p2p time).

: I want a one-size-fits-all ping: Ping this site and it will, in turn, ping everybody else. Pinging is getting to be time-consuming. No reason it can’t be standardized and worked out in a cooperative P2P relationship among all the pingees.

: Jay Rosen‘s request: He wants the tool to list all the links he uses (because, he says, this will create the curriculum for a course).

: I also want the tool to compile all the links I use to tell me which sites are the most fruitful for my linking; this is another way to prioritize and value my blogroll.

: Make it easy to post from any mobile device at any length with any media type.

: Make it easy to read from any mobile device.

: Give me very, very powerful tools for managing comments: Let me see all comments, all comments today, all comments from a given commenter, all comments that use this word…

: Let readers see just comments from those who use their identities (or all comments).

: Allow the option of threaded comments (to deal with the size of a BlogFor America).

: The problem with tracking blog links is that we assume they are all positive. Of course, many are negative. We want to capture that difference. Technorati has a suggested standard but it requires tagging smarts. Build it into the tool: Instead of one link button, give me three: positive, negative, neutral.

: I want to drag and drop material from a web page into my blog post: Put this here, put that there. I’d like split-screen blogging: web page on the right; blog post in the same browser on the left (so I don’t have to keep toggling back and forth) and I can mark anything and drop it over with a link included.

: Failing the idea above, I want somebody to get a good means of multiple cut-and-pastes, so I can in one swoop get all the quotes and links I want from a web page and insert them into my browswer in whatever order makes sense (without having to remember them all). So let me cut a dozen quotes and links and then show them to me in my blog tool and let me insert each easily. That is far more fluid that what I have to do now: go to browser, cut, go to blog, paste, go to browser, cut, go to blog, paste….

: For the good of this new medium and industry, create standard traffic measurement for weblogs so we know who reads what when. We want to know that for our egos. Advertisers will want to know that. We can show the way for every other medium, online and off, and create great and standard reporting tools. It will benefit everyone.

: Create hooks for each post that can be used — at the blogger’s will, of course — for targeted searching and targeted ad calls (e.g., find all posts this guy wrote about this; put ads on posts this guy wrote about that).

: Extend David Galbraith‘s one-line-bio to allow bloggers to put up resumes and life stories and personal ads, whatever they choose. Let them describe themselves as well as their work and let them be found.

: Create automated, intuitive categorization of posts, with manual override (e.g., let the system guess that this post is about blogging and technology).

: Find new words that will make sense to the world for “RSS” and “permanlink” and “XML” and “blogroll.”

: Let me reverse-subscribe my blog — that is, let me contribute it or certain posts to a conference blog without anyone having to go to the effort to compile and aggregate posts from that conference. If I wanted to say that I have a relevant blog for an event or a cause or a candidate, let me join in with one click (and if someone is running or moderating that aggregation, let them decide whether to let me into the club).

: When I come to something interesting, I often wonder whether it has already been blogged to death (and what others are saying about it) before I decide whether I want to blog it. So I’d like to see a distributed Technorati, a page rank with substance: When looking at a NY TImes story, I see that 23 bloggers have blogged it and with a click, I can see who has blogged it and what they say.

What else?

: UPDATE: Add Howard Rheingold’s good request for better blog comments, including the ability to subscribe to a thread and keep the discussion going.


: It should come as no surprise at all that Alternet picked up John Lee’s kneejerk hate speech. You’d think they would not want to devalue the word “racist” with this casual crap. But then, it’s Alternet.

Gay marriage and Bush

Gay marriage and Bush
: If I ever harbored a thought of voting for George Bush (which I am not sure I honestly ever did) it disappeared today when he went ahead with threats to try to enact a constitutional amendment against gay marriage. Good God, you harp against those who would extend the Constitution to mold it to their beliefs and here you vow to amend it to do just that. You say you want less involvement and interference from government and yet you bring government into the bedroom. You talk about bringing the people together and yet you will set upon a long war to drive us apart. You deny that you are ruled by religion but you would have your religion rule us.

The passion

The passion
: I have not seen Mel Gibson’s Passion and certainly don’t want to but probably will feel as if I need to so I can write about the film rather than write about those who are writing about it.

Today’s reviews are disturbing because Gibson wanted so badly to make his movie disturbing. He told Diane Sawyer last week that he wanted it to be shocking; he wants to emphasize the pain and sacrifice of Christ.

I’m not sure why.

Does making us 20 percent more disgusted make us 20 percent more holy? Does it make us 20 percent more angry? 20 percent more humble? 20 percent more grateful? Why revel in the violence so?

Judging by the reviews, it doesn’t seem to enlighten us more on the meaning of the crucifixion.

I’ve never fully bought the idea that Christ had to die for our sins. Had to? That would make it seem as if God planned and willed that; hard to believe a father would do that to his son (and that doesn’t speak well for our fraternal relationship, does it?). And I still can’t fathom the logic of dying for our sins — why, because God demanded some vengeance?

Only lately have I come to view the crucifixion in a new light: It is the ultimate guarantee of our free will. If God would not intervene in our murder of his son, then he would let us get away with anything. He would let us get away with the Holocaust, by the way. We are that free.

Whatever your interpretation of the crucifixion and the resurrection, I’m not sure how they are better served by recording and dramatizing and amplifying the violence of it (if not to make us angrier at those who perpetrated the act). Still, violence was Gibson’s goal and judging from the reviews, he succeeded. A.O. Scott’s review in tomorrow’s Times:

“The Passion of the Christ” is so relentlessly focused on the savagery of Jesus’ final hours that this film seems to arise less from love than from wrath, and to succeed more in assaulting the spirit than in uplifting it. Mr. Gibson has constructed an unnerving and painful spectacle that is also, in the end, a depressing one. It is disheartening to see a film made with evident and abundant religious conviction that is at the same time so utterly lacking in grace….

His version of the Gospels is harrowingly violent; the final hour of “The Passion of the Christ” essentially consists of a man being beaten, tortured and killed in graphic and lingering detail. Once he is taken into custody, Jesus (Jim Caviezel) is cuffed and kicked and then, much more systematically, flogged, first with stiff canes and then with leather whips tipped with sharp stones and glass shards. By the time the crown of thorns is pounded onto his head and the cross loaded onto his shoulders, he is all but unrecognizable, a mass of flayed and bloody flesh, barely able to stand, moaning and howling in pain.

And here’s Jonathan Foreman in the NY Post:

In “Passion,” the relish for pain and bloody cruelty that has marked his career as both a director and an actor – a relish that would almost be sensual in the hands of a less vulgar artist – boils over into a full-blown fetish.

The relentless whippings, beatings and scourgings (the latter is barely mentioned in the Gospels but takes up a whole reel of film) start early and then intensify, in slow-motion and close-up, with the impact of each blow amped up like in “Rocky.”

Eventually, “Passion” becomes a kind of pornographic catalog of Christ’s suffering. And like pornography, it’s initially powerful but eventually becomes numbing.

This would matter less if there was much else in the film besides blows and slashes accompanied by gasps of pain and ribbons of blood. (The procession to Calvary is a kind of orgy of savagery.)

What distinguishes the film from the long tradition of gruesome martyrology in religious art is its lack of any sense of the meaning or reason for Christ’s sacrifice.

The message of Jesus’ death is all but drowned in Gibson’s morbid enthusiasm for shots of metal tearing flesh, as if Christ was crucified so that Gibson – along with his hard-working make-up and sound people – could indulge his obsession with torture.

Help: Mail problem while using AOL as ISP

Help: Mail problem while using AOL as ISP
: I’m away, forced to use AOL as my ISP (sadly) and now I suddenly can’t use any of my email programs or mail servers to send email; none can connect to my SMTP servers. I seem to remember an AOL issue here (of course). Any advice??