Monthly Archives: May 2007

Frank Paynter: “There is no room for prophets…”

Tabs from my browser…:

The moment the writers of the Gospels set down the words of Jesus they began to kill the message. There is no room for prophets within religious institutions – indeed within any institutions – for as Paul Tillich knew, all human institutions, including the church, are inherently demonic. Tribal societies persecute and silence prophets. Open societies tolerate them at their fringes, and our prophets today come not from the church but from our artists, poets and writers who follow their inner authority. Samuel Beckett’s voice is one of modernity’s most authentically religious. Beckett, like the author of Ecclesiastes, was a realist. He saw the pathetic, empty monuments we spend a lifetime building to ourselves. He knew, as we read in Ecclesiastes, that nothing is certain or permanent, real or unreal, and that the secret of wisdom is detachment without withdrawal, that, since death awaits us all, all is vanity, that we must give up on the childish notion that one is rewarded for virtue or wisdom.

A thought to ponder for the day. (actually a few…)

What’s exciting about Google Gears

A lot of folks are going gaga over Google Gears and its capability to enable partially connected web applications (web applications that can run offline).

Here is a paraphrase from a comment I left at Burningbird (Shelley Powers’s blog is one of my favorite places to discuss web technology and how it relates to society, politics, and more):

What really interests me about Google Gears is the local web server.

It’s the Dave Winer Fractional Horsepower HTTP Server idea (from back in 1997), that’s finally come of age.

Just what is possible when each of us have our own web servers, running on our desktops?

Immediately you think p2p heaven. But the possibilities for building collaborative apps is just massive.

I know, I know, for anyone who knows Perl, Python or Java, it’s never been too much of a big deal to spin up your own webserver, but this looks like it makes it more than simple – it makes it practical.

If I’m reading it right, you’ll need some form of centralized web app to co-ordinate collaboration across machines, which is no big deal.

The web’s about being connected. And it’s the online possibilities that Google Gears opens up that are rather mind boggling.

Dave Winer: “There’s always been too much made of death in the tech world”

Dave Winer: What is Web 3.0?:

…There’s always been too much made of death in the tech world, in fact newspapers are still published, you can pick one up at any airport or train station. Many people have them delivered at home. We often go to newspaper websites for the news. Sure, there are problems, and the world is changing, but imho, we’ll all do better if something called the San Francisco Chronicle continues to be published, even though the form of the newspaper will certainly change in the future. It would be a waste of a tradition, of a good coral reef, if newspapers really died. They need to change, and imho, when that change happens, we will safely be in the era of Web 3.0.

Congratulations!

Congratulations to Will Bunch whose book, “The News Fix: Ink-stained Wretches and Digital Rabble Rousers Reviving American Media” is available for pre-order at Amazon.com. Will Bunch, one of the terrific columnists at the Philadelphia Daily News, coined the term and kicked off the norgs conversation, when just under two years ago he broached the idea on his blog and courageously, openly, talked of re-inventing the news organization business.

Congratulations to the Winners of the Knight News Challenge who have been awarded grants to innovate in community news.

Comments from some winers and commentators:

holovaty.com: Knight Foundation grant

Placeblogger: Placeblogger Wins Knight News Challenge

Global Voices: Global Voices wins Knight Foundation News Challenge

Center for Citizen Media: Citizen Media and the Law a New Project

Recovering Journalist: Hyping Hyperlocal

Publishing 2.0: Knight Foundation Funds Innovation In Online Journalism And Civic-Minded Digital Media

Socialmedia.biz: News Challenge winners

I almost applied for the grant for Philly Future, however, it just didn’t feel like the right time for Philly Future, or for myself. Maybe next year.

Speaking of myself, congratulations to, ummm… me, for joining the Placeblogger advisory board. Philly Future is a placeblog. It’s a place blog of placeblogs :) And if PF can help, I hope, me and we, can be of some service.

Law of Data Smog 13: “Cyberspace is Republican.”

I made a few important edits to my post yesterday. Added links that gave context. Removed a typo here and there. Did you notice?

Well that’s your fault you see. You’re not media literate.

You are expected to revisit my posts to see edits and updates. As a good host, I should indicate my edits in one fashion or another (which I didn’t do).

See Dan Farber: Media literacy in a media saturated world.

Very, very related if you want to see the societal shift this is part of: BusinessWeek: “I Want My Safety Net”.

We are shifting risk from institutions, the producers of things, to the consumers of things.

The expectation is that since we are all now producers, we must individually keep BS meters up and running at all times, otherwise, it’s our own damn fault if we get fooled by something.

While people point to blogs as the primary purveyors of this kind of thought, in actuality, it seems prevalent in all forms of media.

Scott Rosenberg: Amateur hour:

…saying the answer to the crisis in journalism today is “better media literacy” is like saying the answer to the crisis in education is “better learning skills.”

He says this sarcastically but the redistribution of risk is a trend in everything from the food we give our dogs, to the education we give our children, from what we expect from our government (just re-look at Katrina), to the relationships we have with our neighbors.

The lesson – keep your guard up. You are on your own. Trust nothing and no one except yourself.

Good or bad? You decide.

The title of this post refers to a “law of data smog” in David Shenk’s terrific book, “Data Smog”. He was referring to the libertarian impulse that was prevalent in the late 90s Republican movement. He should have said “Cyberspace is Libertarian” and it would have been timeless.

Update:David Shenk posts a comment in this post’s thread that in the paperback version of “Data Smog” he put down Law 13 of Data Smog to be “Cyberspace is Libertarian” instead of “Cyberspace is Republican”!

The battle between old and new media rages on… really? REALLY?

This morning I read a few posts, about a conference session and a panel at Berkley, that focussed on “Web 2.0″, online journalism, and amateur participation.

While the topics discussed at both meetings seemed to overlap with many of those we discussed at the norgs unconference, I couldn’t help but feel that the folks involved are far behind the discussion that’s been ongoing in Philly.

So much so, I actually felt a bit sad. So wound up they are in false choices and pointing fingers. Jeff Jarvis had a recent, heated thread on the subject.

Read for yourself at down the avenue and Union Square Ventures (who has yet to approve my following comment – update:comment approved, good old spam filtering :)).

I posted the following at both blogs, and fully expect to be ignored or put down, because what we did in Philly was to stop pointing fingers. We stopped preaching to each other. And we listened (read Jeff Jarvis’s take here and here).

For some weird reason, folks on either side of this debate, don’t seem to care for that.

My comment:

————————————

I wish I was at this event.

We had a similar event in Philadelphia last year that was focussed on news journalism and the web. It sounds like it covered related territory. (link).

Fact of the matter is, there is room enough for numerous approaches to filtering/finding news.

Algorithmic – Memeorandum, Google News

By the crowd – Digg, Newsvine.

By a single unpaid editor – A blogger.

By communities of unpaid editors – A genre specific slice of the blogosphere.

By a news organization – A newspaper with staffed editors – Yahoo News, Salon, Slate.

By hybrid community/editor efforts – Slashdot, Indymedia.

There seems to be an effort on the parts of some to create some false conflicts between these approaches. To promote one approach over the other as the *ultimate solution*.

That’s a shame really, because in the dust of that are people becoming less and less informed (check out the latest Pew research) while wealth and fortune flow from one kind of media organization to another.

We can do far better. All of us can. My bet is that will happen when groups of us decide to put down our guns and work together.

Karl
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Chronicle cutting 25% of jobs in its newsroom: Links and Commentary

We’ve seen this story before. Newspaper announces cuts. Pundits and experts speak out about how to fix things. Then, more cuts, then, a sell off. It doesn’t need to be that way.

SFGate.com: Chronicle to cut 25% of jobs in newsroom:

To cut costs and try to adapt to a changing media marketplace, The Chronicle will trim 25 percent of its newsroom staff by the end of the summer.

IP Democracy: Why Can’t Newspapers Get With the Program?:

If somehow the newspaper industry just understood that even now the Internet is still the wild west, they’d take the journalists they’re jettisoning and instead use them to create new web-based businesses.

Dan Gillmor: San Francisco Paper Whacks Jobs:

When Hearst bought the Chronicle years ago, it pledged to keep all the employees from the old Chronicle. Then it brought the SF Examiner employees along, and had what can only be called a bloated staff.

But the paper did improve – wow, did it improve.

The city always deserved a vastly better paper than it had. It still deserves a better paper, but the positive change has been incredible since the Hearst buyout.

Yet that didn’t translate to subscribers – circulation kept dropping, in part due to deliberate corporate decisions, and advertising didn’t recover after the burst of the tech bubble and the increasing inroads from classified-ad competitors that work better for buyers and sellers. The newspaper was said to be losing $1 million a week a year ago, an amazing number. I’ve heard that the losses were slowing, but obviously not enough to matter. (For the record, we get the Chronicle – and several other papers – delivered to our door each morning when we’re home.)

The Chronicle’s website has been among the most progressive anywhere, and it reflects the dilemma many publishers face. The site is free, with no registration requirements. There are ads, but not enough revenue to make up for the whacks to the print advertising that are hard to stop. The archives are also free and open – which I have to believe is on balance a revenue booster over the paywalled archives at most other local papers.

Reflections of a Newsosaur: Staff cuts won’t cure Chron woes:

The Chronicle’s year-to-date deficit of $165,563 per day is roughly equivalent to the annual pay and benefits of two journeyman reporters. If the paper continued losing money at the same rate every day for the rest of the year, it could fire every journalist in the joint and still not break even.

With continuing uncontrolled losses of this magnitude, the Chronicle, if it were a standalone company, would be going out of business.

The only reason the Chronicle is still around is the continuing forbearance of the Hearst Corp., a family-owned, $7 billion-a-year media conglomerate whose other newspaper, magazine and broadcasting interests are sufficiently profitable to effectively subsidize the struggling newspaper.

Not directly related, but worth a read or re-read:

Recovering Journalist: Betting on the Future:

Or this, from a Microsoft exec: “This is about the opportunity,” said Kevin Johnson, president of Microsoft’s platforms and services division. “We believe that there are tens of billions of dollars in economic value that can be generated in this industry, and we are committed to getting a bigger share of it.”

Bingo. We’re in the very early stages of Web advertising, and there’s nothing but growth ahead. That’s what Microsoft, Google and others know, and are betting on–while newspaper execs complain that the online business can’t seem to catch up to the losses on the print side.

Oh, and why didn’t a big newspaper company, or perhaps a consortium of them, step forward and buy DoubleClick or aQuantive? Good question. It would have been a very smart acquisition, a real bet on the future. The technology companies seem to have that vision. The newspaper companies apparently don’t.

A few years ago, I was privy to a conversation among board members of a newspaper-centric media outfit about the possibility of buying a major Web company (I have to fudge a few details here to protect confidences). One short-sighted board member protested, “It would cost us hundreds of millions of dollars.” But a smarter exec said, “Yeah, but if we don’t do it, in a year it will cost us a couple billion dollars.” He couldn’t convince the others, and it turns out he guessed low: The Web company was sold a year later for several billion dollars–to another technology company. Once again, the newspaper industry failed to pull the trigger on the future. Some things never change.

Publishing 2.0: The New Vertically Integrated Media And Advertising:

It’s clear now that the media and advertising industries, which thanks to Google and Web 2.0 now include the software industry, will be dominated by a new breed of company – the vertically integrated media and advertising company. Google’s AdWords created a new model by combining a media company – Google’s search results and its network of AdSense affiliate websites – with an advertising agency, i.e. advertisers buy ads directly from Google through its AdWords platform. Google also revolutionized the media and advertising business by introducing a data-driven dynamic marketplace into what had once been a market based largely on human relationships.

Doc Searls: How to Save Newspapers:

Informing is not the same as “delivering information”. Inform is derived from the verb to form. When you inform me, you form me. You enlarge that which makes me most human: what I know. I am, to some degree, authored by you.

What we call “authority” is the right we give others to author us, to enlarge us.

The human need to increase what we know, and to help each other do the same, is what the Net at its best is all about. Yeah, it’s about other things. But it needs to be respected as an accessory to our humanity. And terms like “social media”, forgive me, don’t do that. (At least not for me.)

norgs.pbwiki.com: The Norgs Unconference Statement Of Principles:

7. The Internet ‘disintermediates.’ Business models based on scarcity of media and high barriers to production and distribution, are not only threatened, but are terminal. It’s change or die time for broadcast TV, traditional record companies, and yes, newspaper companies.

Community/Social Media/Social Software Must Reads This Week

fortuitous: Matthew Haughey: Some Community Tips for 2007 – Seven tips on how to run a successful community

Dare Obasanjo: “Social” is More Important Than “Software” in Social Software

InformationWeek: Cory Doctorow: How To Keep Hostile Jerks From Taking Over Your Online Community

Derek Powazek: The Real Story of JPG Magazine (Metafilter thread)

Mathew Ingram: Community is the hard part

Jeff Jarvis: Smartest media quote of the year

NYTimes: Clive Thompson: Sex, Drugs and Updating Your Blog

Blog Law: 12 Important U.S. Laws Every Blogger Needs to Know