Monthly Archives: May 2007

It’s Primary Day In Philly

The Next Mayor will be covering it live throughout the day. Pass along its voter information page and regularly visit its blog for updates as the day progresses.

Young Philly Politics is sure to be a place to visit regularly, as will Phillyblog.com’s forums.

Get out and vote!

If you have anything to share, links, commentary and news, post it to Philly Future and we will promote it to the home page.

Blakeley Cooper: “You can never lose hope”

Philadelphia Inquirer: Art Carey: Credit to Mom, mentors:

…The fire that incinerated the North Philadelphia rowhouse had begun in the basement, probably ignited by someone cooking crack. The house was inhabited at the time by Blakeley’s father, a man who had climbed high and fallen fast.

“My mother was very blunt,” Cooper remembers. “She said, ‘This is what drugs will do to you. You want to throw your life away? This is the end result.’ “

Cooper, then 5, was so impressed he made a vow: “I will be better than my father.”

In the years that followed, it became his mantra, especially in times of stress and discouragement. “It became the sole motivating force in all I did,” Cooper says.

Today, Cooper, 30, is a senior information technology engineer at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in Frazer, Chester County. His job is to devise code that enables computer systems to talk to each other. In night school at Wharton, he’s taking business courses and he plans to pursue an MBA.

But it could all have turned out so differently.

“I grew up on the same streets where murders have occurred,” he says. “But I was able to steer clear of that because I had people who had my best interests at heart and were willing to show me another way.”

How Cooper traveled from where he came from to where he is now is a testament to his innate drive and motivation, to that amalgam of traits and values we call “character.” But, as Cooper readily admits, he benefited also from family – in his case, a determined and dedicated single mother, and a civic-minded elderly couple who mentored and supported him.

A powerful story.

David Van Couvering: “I think I’m not alone in this belief”

From David Van Couvering ‘s Blog: Technology as a positive force:

You may have read my blog about my concerns around technology. At the same time, I also believe that if you are conscious and committed and vigilant about how you use it, technology can be a huge enabler for helping make a difference in people’s lives. That was actually one of the key reasons I chose computers as a career path when I first started in the mid-eighties.

You are not alone David.

Kent Newsome: “Who we really are is the best resume of all.”

Kent Newsome: A Little Perspective Can Set You Free:

People from my work life have discovered my blog. I knew it would happen when I started doing it. It’s always a little scary to put yourself out there. But as Ayelet says, we are who we are, and there is freedom and efficiency in just letting down your guard and trusting yourself. Who we really are is the best resume of all. Other than a few well-meaning jokes about my little online journal, I have never once had a negative reaction to my blog. And I have had more than a few people tell me that it makes them more comfortable to see who I am away from work.

We can’t change the blogosphere, and we can’t make others embrace our blogging philosophy. What we can do is try to see things from other points of view.

That’s what I’m going to do.

That’s pretty much where I am, and what I try to do every day. It’s good advice, that’s hard to keep.

The Norgs Unconference Statement Of Principles

Not all “old media” has turned against “new media”. The situation isn’t as bad as this discussion on Techmeme may present. Far from it.

Here is, what I am sure, is just a small example: On March 25, 2006 a group of about 40 technologists, bloggers, newspaper and media execs and business leaders got together to discuss the future of journalism and held an unconference in Philadelphia.

The history of the unconference and on going conversation can be found here, but an important artifact of that day has been missing online until now.

A statement of findings by those that came to the unconference and conversed.

There’s a lot here to chew on, as it walks the line between recognizing reality and finding a way to meet the needs of the future.

Some will find the following too general to be useful, others will think it nothing more than marketecture-PR-speak, others will be surprised that newspaper folks and bloggers, in a heated, intimate, discussion, came to conclusions as robust as these are.

I tend to think it it was great start, and I am working to gather the sign offs of those who attended the conference on what will be an evolving document.

The Norgs Unconference Statement Of Principles:

  1. The ‘product’ of a newspaper isn’t the newspaper. In the sense that the ‘product’ of a musical act has never been the CD, or the Cassette, or the Album – mediums come and go – the music lives on.
  2. Newspapers are aggregates of information *and* relationships.
  3. Newspapers have been traditionally bounded by time and space. Inches on paper, space on news stands, the daily news cycle. The Web changes our relationship with time and space. The ‘audience’ isn’t confined by physical boundaries now, neither should the ‘newsroom’.
  4. Healthy democracies must have informed citizens. The reach and production of acts of journalism plays a major role.
  5. Lets be honest, most of the pieces in a newspaper aren’t acts of journalism, but these additional bits are almost as important.
  6. Newspapers – for a time – defined the ‘fourth estate’, having near monopoly over attention driving influence. They were influence intermediaries.
  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.
  8. The Internet and Web are a platform for collaborative communications and social/participatory media. Blogging, Citizen Journalism, message forums, email lists, Usenet, YouTube, Google, Digg, Slashdot, Flickr, Wikipedia, are just some examples of the many.
  9. The most successful Web services have recognized and utilized its participatory architecture. It’s a read/write Web. eBay, Amazon.com, Slashdot, Yahoo!, Google,MySpace, have all leveraged this and based their businesses upon it.
  10. As technical barriers have fallen, and broadband availability widened, different forms of participation have proliferated – text, software, images, music, and now movies.
  11. ‘Users’ of the Web are not passive consumers. They are ‘The People Formerly Known as the Audience’. They know more then you do.
  12. Acts of journalism can be produced by anyone and the Web blurs distinctions between the professional and the amateur.
  13. Producing certain successful (but not all) acts of journalism requires knowledge, skill, infrastructure (legal and financial), marketing and influence.
  14. The existence of ever increasing flows of media does not portend the same for acts of journalism.
  15. There is no news media versus blogging conflict. Blogging does not remove the pressures that existed on journalistic endeavors – corporations, politicians, forces of power – anyone who wants to manipulate a message – will try to do so.
  16. Journalists must become familiar with the medium they are communicating over. Editors have an important new role that will be embraced by someone, if not them.
  17. Participating on the Web means more then simply publishing files to a Web server. It means providing a means for those outside the organization, for the community, to participate in what you’ve published (link to, comment on, extend). It means going out of the confines of your Web presence and participating elsewhere.
  18. Authenticity, transparency, voice, and ultimately trust not only matter – they are central.
  19. Publishing systems and CMSes must be far more nimble. Stories are no longer static pieces that once published, are of no additional use. Collaboration must be enabled not only across a newsroom, but across the world, especially taking into account a newspaper’s existing community.
  20. Stories on the Web gain in value long after original publication. It’s the economics of the Long Tail. Reference archives – link to individual items prominently!
  21. Collections of stories, and our interactions with them, define communities.
  22. While birds of a virtual feather may flock together, this presents opportunities for those willing to provide new aggregates of news, opinion, and information.

Potential != Reality

I think technologists like myself sometimes get confused between something that is potential, versus something that is real.

Small (well not small…) example:

With this personal blog I have the *potential* of reaching anyone – across the entire world – with an Internet connection.

That’s amazing when you think about it for more than a split second.

It’s easy to get caught up on that empowering potential and miss the hard realities that define it.

It Doesn’t Rank

You won’t hear about it on Digg. It’s not on Newsvine. Good luck trying to find relevant links on del.icio.us. It’s nowhere to be found on popurls, or OriginalSignal. It’s not being talked about on the blogs Memeorandum, Megite or TailRank track. There isn’t a page on Wikipedia. And little reference on WikiNews. On Topix.com or Netscape.com, nary a peep.

Even the regional online community I help host, Philly Future has little posted.

Philadelphia’s larger community of aggregated local bloggers are talking, but maybe not with each other, and mostly to their own independent communities.

On Flickr there are over 70 photos, a few powerfully relevant. On YouTube much the same, and this offers hope.

What am I talking about? The rising tide of gun violence that is taking innocent lives by the day in Philadelphia.

You would think the obscene loss of life in our city would merit a few links, a few mentions, a few drops of interest.

But no. Not a whit. It doesn’t register. It doesn’t rank.

You could argue that there has been no ‘defining event’ to draw interest – like a mass murder.

Or that the national mainstream media (damn I hate that term) has largely ignored it as well.

But those excuses don’t detract from the fact that what’s happening here – and elsewhere in other urban centers across this nation – is news.

And that for some reason – our current social media environment – just looks the other way.

Mathew Ingram, when looking at Pew’s latest research on who is using participatory media, wonders if the Web is half full or half empty? Greg Searling at search engine land and Jordan McCollum answer, although not as bluntly as I.

We have a long way to go.

A long way to go for those who are weak and powerless to be given a voice here.

A long way to go for those who have no influence a representation here.

A long way to go for those who have no visibility a means to communicate their importance here.

A long way to go for the news that affects our *daily* lives, the kind that percolates slowly, needs context to be understood, and is about subject matter we may not care to know about, but should, to be produced and distributed here.

This may lead to a place that elites find so distasteful, so raw, so low brow, so mundane and reflective of *all* of human society, they go off to establish something shiny and new.

Maybe so.

But until then there is work to do.

Related: Anil Dash: “Those of you who are defending this status quo are defending a culture of failure”