Posts from March 21, 2004

Comment on comments

Comment on comments
: The discussion on SixApart’s proposed cross-site comment system continues here and here at

: More here at John’s.

: Haiko Hebig has some issues here; and SixApart’s Ben Trott answers him in the comments.

: Jay Allen says it replaces the MT Blacklist spam-fighting plug-in.

A challenge: How blogs can build democracy

A challenge: How blogs can build democracy

: The most important thing blogging companies can do to change the world and build democracy is to translate their tools into (this is my order of preference) Arabic, Chinese, Persian, Russian, other Asian languages, other Eastern European languages — for these are the parts of the world where the people need a voice to be heard.

When I saw Loic Le Meur at ETech, I pushed him on this idea — because his company was already international — and he got excited about it. Now Loic is the agent for SixApart in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (see the post directly below) and so I throw out to challenge to his new partners — since they are making their company international — and to their investor — who understands the power citizens media bring to emerging democracies — and to to other blogging companies.

I will never tire of telling the story of how one man, Hossein Derakhshan, aka Hoder, changed the world with one simple page that told Iranians how to use Blogger and how to post in Persian. Two years after creating those instructions, there are an estimated 100,000 Iranian blogs; the Iranian vice-president blogs; the Iranian president acknowledges them as a force; and Hoder and his cohort Pedram are working on even more amazing things. All this from one Johnny Appleseed of citizens’ media and democracy.

I will also never tire of telling the story of what a 24-year-old dentist in Baghad, Zeyad, and his friends are accomplishing in Iraq. Zeyad reports on an event ignored by major media; it’s picked up in a U.S. magazine read in the White House; and this week a major administration power quotes him and another of the bloggers he recruited. Power to the people.

But imagine what Zeyad and Hoder and their counterparts in China and African nations — and, we can only hope, closed societies like North Korea — could do if the tools of citizens’ media were available in their native languages.

It’s not as if this is without business benefit; I see lots of ads on Persian portals.

But these blogging companies should not have to bear the cost of this development on their own. They should get government grants — how better to help build nations and democracies — and foundation grants. And I’d contribute to a fund drive for this cause, wouldn’t you?

I learned from Zeyad that it doesn’t take much more than one person with something to say to make citizens’ media work in a new land. But we can help and we should.

SixApart’s empire grows

SixApart’s empire grows
: Loic Le Meur just made the big announcement about which he has been hinting: His French blogging company, UBlog, has become exclusive agent for SixApart — Movable Type and TypePad — in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

SixApart recently licensed its software to Japan’s NTT.

All of this, of course, has the fine hand of SixApart investor and angel in many senses of the word, Joi Ito.

TypePad is growing its linguistic base. It’s available in French and Spanish; German and Dutch are next. (See the next post above.)

Loic says UBlog will continue to distribute its free product in Europe and will offer upgrades to its current customers.

So we have Blogger now part of Google with its own business plan: Getting targeted pageviews for targeted ads.

And we have SixApart as a still-independent company with its own business plan: Licensing software and services in the blogging world.

And there are other, smaller players: Radio (big in education, with Salon, and elsewhere); 20six (another European player), a few enterprise business players. And Steve Hall reminds me not to forget the huge community-blogging tools: Livewire, Xanga, et al. Meanwhile, AOL’s blogging effort has not exactly taken over the world (I could tell them why but why bother). The portals and media companies have been generally clueless in this and probably should be; this is a grassroots media movement of the people and putting the tools in the hands of the people is what it’s all about.

Where this all shakes out is too soon to tell. New players could still enter (blogging software isn’t that complicated). Big companies could still buy existing players (now is the time to get into this).

And the field of blogging will grow as this functionality is used for everything from audio to video to corporate communications to family shopping lists.

But all players will have to keep in mind that more than with browsers or HTML or media players or any Internet technology, the practioners of this technology feel a real proprietary interest and responsibility for it; the best player will make sure to listen to bloggers and give them what they want; that will be the secret to success.

The Davester

The Davester
: David Weinberger says bloggers have changed his name. He has always been David but half the time, bloggers call him Dave. (I checked my archives and I was guilty of this about 10 percent of the time.) Not that David minds; he’s a nice guy. But it does demonstrate the familiarity this medium breeds.

The Daily Stern

The Daily Stern

: LA TIMES WORRIES: An LA Times editorial frets that the indecent indecency bills zooming through Congress are unconstitutional:

Washington cannot address a key reason why vulgarity too often reigns on radio and television: because it sells. Don’t like shock jock Howard Stern? Don’t listen to the show. The government’s current alternative is scarier than anything the deliberately provocative Stern could muster.

The pending Senate bill is a companion to chilling legislation recently passed in the House of Representatives that wrongly would put most of the policing burden on performers, raising fines from $11,000 to $500,000 for an initial indecency violation, regardless of their ability to pay, and removing earlier requirements that they first be issued a warning citation.

The top fine against them is nearly double the $275,000 that the Senate bill would permit the FCC to fine broadcasters for an initial indecency violation.

The bill’s draconian provisions against performers raise serious 1st Amendment free-speech guarantees, because even “indecent” speech has legal protection. However, even if the legislation were constitutional, the FCC’s past decisions demonstrate that it does not enforce its rules in any common-sense context….

The FCC’s recent enforcement of indecency laws is no less arbitrary. A discussion by Stern about raunchy sex practices draws tens of thousands of dollars in fines; a similar discussion on an afternoon TV talk show draws nothing.

Wimps. That’s Oprah. Oprah Winfrey.

: BUST OPRAH: Joe Territo — who filed a formal complaint with the FCC against Oprah — shows us a clueless letter from Dianne Feinstein trying (typical for her) to have it both ways: in favor of censorship and the First Amendment at the same time. That’s a Constitutional oxymoron.

: HENCEFORTH THE “F-WORD” SHALL BE KNOWN AS THE “-WORD”: Barney Lerten passes on this from The Well:


Will Examine Other Euphemisms, Slang Terms, and “Code Words”

WASHINGTON (Plausible News Service) — The Federal Communications

Commission, as part of its ongoing crackdown on obscenity following the

Janet Jackson Super Bowl debacle, has announced that the very term

“F-word,” which is used to refer to an obscene word for the sexual act,

will be banned from all broadcast media beginning July 1.

“Everybody knows what ‘F-word’ means,” said FCC Chairman Michael

Powell, describing the new regulations to the Congressional

Subcommittee on Moral Purity chaired by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL). “So

saying ‘F-word’ should be subject to the same kinds of sanctions as

saying — well, you know.”

Discussion among the Congresspeople present soon led to other

concerns. “Well, what about when people use words like ‘frigging’?”

asked Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC)….

: PREVIOUS DAILY STERN POSTS: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here.