Archive for October, 2004

Lucky seven and the big four-oh

October 30, 2004

So does life really begin at forty?
Given that I’ve just started playing music this year, maybe so.
This is also the 7th birthday of my online journal in its various incarnations.
I’ll be offline most of today.
Up to Point Reyes later.
All I want for my birthday is to see the last of that guy with the mysterious thing on his back.

The whole world is watching

October 28, 2004

Greg Palast reports a man videotaping early voters in Florida
Steve Garfield will be watching the polls and posting his findings on his video blog as he did in Massachusetts during the primaries, when he checked the compliance of campaign workers with voting regulations (150 Feet).
Jon Lebkowski points me to a new site called Video Vote vigil, a grassroots effort to document voter intimidation.
(Personally, I don’t think they should use that newly distributed video of Governor Bush horsing around as their hook. I suspect Bush’s gubernatorial “the finger” video is probably giving him a percentage point or so in swing states. It’s one of his funnier, more natural moments, and it reminds me of the old Bill Graham giving the finger photo they now display at the Fillmore.)

See you in SF tonight?

October 28, 2004

I’ll be at the Technorati Party in SF, Thursday Oct 28 party this evening. I never added it to my event calendar feed since I wasn’t sure it was OK to enter it over there.
I’m still looking for a good virtual book tour management system!
I may stick a box of my books in the trunk in case anyone wants a copy.
Hey, looks like Upcoming just added a new most popular metros and events page. Power-law discussion leading to long-tail discussion here we come.

Is Kos a public figure?

October 28, 2004

House Majority Whip Tom DeLay notes that Daily Kos is supporting his opponent, Mr. Morrison (one of the Kos Dozen), asserting

“Mr. Morrison also has taken money and is working with the Daily Kos, which is an organization that raises money for fighters against the U.S. in Iraq.”

Markos laughsthis off (Daily Kos :: TX-22: DeLay is losing it), but I wonder if he should be pursuing his legal options. It sounds like DeLay is accusing the popular left-wing blog site of treason without any basis for saying so.
This seems similar to Hasert’s insinuations against Soros, but Soros is clearly a public figure (yet he himself sent a letter demanding a retraction). Is Moulitsas?

Extreme democracy in the house

October 28, 2004

The essay collection, Extreme Democracy, edited by Mitch Ratliffe and Jon Lebkowsky, has been coming out in PDF form published via the book’s blog. (I imagine there’s a wiki in the works as well.)
Adina Levin’s chapter on Campaign Tools should be required reading for any activist.
(Now I’m off to Personal Democracy Forum to blog it over there too.)

Coolness quotient for cities based on blogs, craigslist, Upcoming, and Meetup

October 27, 2004

Rob Goodspeed correlates creativity and online culture on his blog (On "Cool Cities" and Blogs):

My theory: cities with the richest local online culture (measured in number of blogs, and use of a select group of other geographically-bound websites) will reflect those cities with the highest numbers of creative class people.

He also notes that as a critical mass of people become able to present themselves online, the old idea that the Internet inherently transcends geography is now complemented by a proliferation of local, neighborhood-centered groupings.

Although the internet was initially treated as a global affair, limited only by language (and perhaps not even that), recently geographic logic has emerged in the medium. New technologies have allowed for a flowering of locally-based online communities.
This has been made possible both by an increase in the size and use of the internet, but also by new technologies which make it easier to generate webpages. One of the most important developments was a variety of software programs which enabled people to create weblogs with little to no specialized technical skills. Blogs have lowered the barrier for more than an elite participation in creating content for the web.

(via Waxy Links)

Lessons learned from the Sinclair boycott

October 26, 2004

Jon Stahl looks at the success of the online campaign to punish the Sinclair TV network for planning to make its affiliates air an anti-Kerry film under the rubric of news (A new network takes on an old one… and wins!).
The network aired a watered-down, balanced show that included clips of a pro-Kerry film and even looked into Bush’s Texas Air National Guard record.)
Stahl asks, “What lessons does this hold for future “rapid response” campaigns?” and suggests a few:

  1. Don’t agonize over which tactics are best – try ’em all and continually report back on what seems to be working. In this fight, we quickly figured out that going after advertisers worked well.
  2. Use technology tools to quickly aggregate information and make it available to everyone. In this case, one person put together a quick, simple database where folks could report in on Sinclair advertisers. This allowed a massive, distributed boycott to take shape overnight.
  3. All of this stuff is way easier when you can leverage already-existing media interest. But you can amplify your voice through the blogosphere.
  4. You can win. So fight.

What do you think our take-homes should be?

(via Micah Sifry’s blog at Personal Democracy)

Towards a more nuanced view of the role of blogs in political journalism

October 26, 2004

Over at Personal Democracy Forum (disclosure: I am a contributing editor there), Jed Miller takes issue with the sensationalism in the way that blogs have been covered in the media this season (It’s a Spitball! It’s a Filter!):

Maybe I’m oversensitive after all the is-not/is-too-ism of the political season, but it seems to me that sober assessments like Jack Rosenthal’s pinch-hit in NYT’s public editor column serve much more purpose than stories like the recent NYT Magazine piece, which was squarely in the blogs-as-circus camp, for all its good points.
If bloggers and blog-watchers are going to promote the fact that collaborative media adds nuance and memory to the public discourse, we can’t frame the argument in the oversimplified terms that are now the stock-and-trade of the decaying traditional media stronghold.

Inkwell interview in full swing

October 26, 2004

Just a reminder that a public interview is underway in the Well’s Inkwell conference (The Power of Many: Many in the inkwell).
So far, the discussion has been pretty wide ranging and everyone is welcome to participate.

Social media the next killer platform?

October 25, 2004

Adam Bosworth writes:

The platform of this decade isn’t going to be around controlling hardware resources and rich UI. Nor do I think you’re going to be able to charge for the platform per se. Instead, it is going to be around access to community, collaboration, and content. And it is going to be mass market in the way that the web is mass market, in the way that the iPod is mass market, in the way that a TV is mass market. Which means I think that it is going to be around services, not around boxes. I postulate, still, that 95% of the UI required for this world will be delivered over the browser for the same reason that we all still use a steering wheel in a car or have stayed with

<<  >>

for so long. Everybody gets it. But this will, by definition, be an open platform because the main value it has is in delivering information and communication. Notice that the big players, Amazon, eBay, and Google have already opened up their information through Web API’s. It is Open Data coupled with Open Communication built on top of Open Source that will drive the future, not Longhorn.

Dare Obasanjo comments:

When I read Adam Bosworth’s post this weekend, it became clear to me that folks at Google have come to the same conclusion or soon will once Adam is done with them.
So where do we begin? It seems prudent to provide my definition of social software so we are all on the same page. Social software is any software that enables people to interact with one another. To me there are five broad classes of social software. There is software that enables

  1. Communication (IM, Email, SMS, etc)
  2. Experience Sharing (Blogs, Photo albums, shared link libraries such as
  3. Discovery of Old and New Contacts (, online personals such as, social networking sites such as Friendster, etc)
  4. Relationship Management (Orkut, Friendster, etc)
  5. Collaborative or Competitive Gaming (MMORPGs, online versions of traditional games such as Chess & Checkers, team-based or free-for-all First Person Shooters, etc)

Interacting with the aforementioned forms of software is the bulk of the computing experience for a large number of computer users especially the younger generation (teens and people in their early twenties). The major opportunity in this space is that no one has yet created a cohesive experience that ties together the five major classes of social software. Instead the space is currently fragmented. Google definitely realizes this opportunity and is aggressively pursuing entering these areas as is evidenced by their foray into GMail, Blogger, Orkut, Picasa, and most recently Google Groups 2.
However Google has so far shown an inability to tie these together into a cohesive and thus “sticky” experience. On the other hand Yahoo! has been better at creating a more integrated experience and thus a better online one-stop-shop (aka portal) but has been cautious in venturing into the newer avenues in social software such as blogs or social networking. And then there’s MSN and AOL….
This foray by Google into building the social software platform is definitely an interesting challenge to Microsoft both in the short term (MSN) and in the long term (Windows). This should be fun to watch.