Tuesday, February 28, 2006

War is Not Healthy for Soldiers and Other Living Things....

A recent Pentagon Study noted that 1 in 10 Iraq vets suffer a stress disorder of some kind.

The Army has their own perscription for treatment.

Makes me wonder about those of us whose Dads were WWII vets. Were we all raised by nutballs? Or were they right as rain because they fought the Good War?

Just a thought

Monday, February 27, 2006

Separate and Unequal: The Socio-Economic Digital Divide

This piece on unequal technology in Florida schools highlights what I have been saying for awhile: there is a distinct socio-economic digital divide in the United States that will end up leaving lots of children in the dust and unable to function in the new emerging ultra-tech economy.

And even if there are some great teachers like those in Holyoke and Athol, MA (featured in this report from local public radio station WFCR), who are trying to introduce blogging, and thus introduce the Internet and more to students in their communities, what will happen to those students after they complete those programs if their families are too poor to afford a home computer?

yeah, I've heard the old saw about kids going down to the public library to use computers....but, seriously, how many kids have the incentive to use the public library if their parents don't care about the public library?

Lots of assumptions are made about kids on the less affluent side of the digital divide--that they can buck their parents when it comes to learning technology, that they will be strong and self-motivated to do so, that they will be able to bully their parents into buying them computers....all I can say to this is that if you have never been poor, never lived in poor neighborhoods, never worked with poor people in low income jobs, you really have no clue what it's like to be poor. If you and your working poor family are also relying on food stamps and state-funded health clinics, no matter how much you love your children, no matter how much you may want them to get ahead, you won't be purchasing a computer any time soon...

and sometimes it's better to discourage a poor child than it is to encourage him or her to look beyond her world...mainly because you, the parent, can't bear the shame of not being able to provide for their future.

More and more, in our high-speed, ultra-tech world, we are seeing some kind of social Darwinism--survival of the wealthiest. In an economy that is becoming further and further polarized between service sector and tech sector jobs (with little to no manufacturing), what will happen to those who never got the opportunity to learn anything about technology? Can we expect that, once they have graduated from high school, individuals will have to take on the additional burden of a secondary or training school in order to get the skills necessary to get the most basic tech-centric job?

Talk about a cruel and unusual economy...and one that could escalate third world conditions in what is supposed to be the most wealthy country in the world.

Think about it....

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Tristan Louis has great analysis of the current Technorati 100 with the Technorati 100 of 5/05. Note how many blogs that were on the 5/05 100 are NOT on the current 100...and the surprising few that have withstood the test of time...

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Dave Sifry speculates about all those Asian kids in the Top 100:
Other notable trends include the growth of blogging in eastern Asia: last month, more posts were made in Japanese than in any other language - English-language posts represent about 28% of the blogosphere. In part, this is because Japanese bloggers tend to post lots of shorter entries, a habit that is spreading, Sifry says. "More people are using blogs as a sort of conversational medium, as opposed to the long-winded 'here's my 500 to 1,000-word essay' medium." As a result, the average number of links in each post is dropping.
(from The GuardianUnlimited)

I'd still like to know what the heck they're talking about!

(thanks Easton Ellsworth at BusinessBlogWire)

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in the blogosphere. Mike, you're just too cool.

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Betas! Get Yer Red Hot Betas Here!

I came across 2 new betas, a new feature, and one old beta this morning that are worth a looksee:

Bloggoggle: says it's a "directory of blogging professionals categorized and rated by their peers."

If there was *ever* a reason to scream "boys club! boys club!" this could conceivably be it. As with most betas, I went in to try to find out more about it, and found virtually nothing. And, given that the "A-list" is, in some ways as debatable as the whole notion of a "professional blogger" (I'll have more on that later) who's to say who's a "blogging professional", how that differs from a "professional blogger" and who doesn't make that cut. This might be just as hard as it is to determine who's a citizen journalist and who's a grassroots journalist, or a witness contributor.....

So, I signed up anyway.

BlogBurst is from the guys at Pluck (I met a bunch of them at BlogOn when they were demo-ing their Shadows social bookmarking tool.) Simply stated:
BlogBurst is a syndication service that places your blog on top-tier online destinations. You get visibility, audience reach and traffic, while publishers weave the rich and diverse fabric of the blogosphere into their sites.

It sounds like a great deal for boosting readership! If you think you've got stuff that people want to read, that is. Check out the blog they started to help explain the feature. Is my ego big enough to do it?? I don't know....;-)

Technorati's got their new Favorites feature,where you can build a list of 50 favorite blogs that other people can view. Derek Powazek explains it pretty well, and gives a list of 4 prominent bloggers enlisted to launch the feature. Anyone can use this feature--you don't have to be a top blogger. But it seems that it could end up being another place where we let each other know which of the top bloggers we read regularly. Personally, I like Technorati's BlogFinder better...

And then there's Newsvine which is still generating interest and I have two beta invitations to use...

so go, play! have fun! that's what betas are all about!

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Murdoch Manipulates MySpace to Feed FoX

Further proof that it really didn't take a degree in rocket science (or a media analyist) to "predict" that Rupert Murdoch would use MySpace.com for exclusive dowloads of Fox Media products. (heck, all it *really* took was reading The Guardian...)

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Another Reason Not To Quit Your "Day Job"

More sobering news (this time from ZD Net on the economic weight of blogs:
For example, Darren Rowse, the guy behind ProBlogger — and 20 other blogs — conducted an informal survey in November 2005. Of the 1,205 people who answered — honestly or not — 45 bloggers reported an income in excess of $10,000 per month, while the vast majority was earning about $10 per month. If we assume that one million bloggers are making $120 per year, this is an annual market of $120 million. If we add similar programs — and the money made by Google and others — the global ad money generated by the blogosphere almost certainly doesn't exceed one billion dollars in one year

And y'all can probably bet that the 45 who make the Big Bucks are, more than likely, part of a blogging network. When I took a close look at the NYMag article, the majority of Big Bucks Bloggers were indeed part of a network. Career Counsellors always talk about the power of "networking" and, apparently, in the blogosphere, there's some economic power in it--group blogs create income for the individuals as well as allow those who blog for them ample time to persue other money-making endeavors.

Unless you're willing to lock yourself away and spend 80 hours a week just blogging--like Jossip's founder (see the NYMag article for his name--I'm too lazy to get it)....

There was a time when I was willing to dedicate 80 hours of my life to something. But that was 20 years ago when I could get by on 4 hours sleep.

So, if there's no money-making incentive to blog, why do it? Do it for the people you could meet--or even for the possible influence you might create. And if you have that desire to influence, you have to have focus and *network*--get to know people--in a genuine and honest way. Genuinely enjoy meeting and talking with all kinds of people, even if they're Really Big Shots and they seem kind of intimidating. Enjoy all those people who are smart and doing cool things--the ones who are where you're at and the ones who are somewhere else--because you never know when things may begin to shift....

Further Reading: Jay Small's got more thoughts on the whole blogs-ads-revenue thing.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Analyst sez MySpace may offer Fox downloads

Well, Duh! Analyist speculates that Murdoch could sell Fox downloads on Myspace. This was bloody well evident when Murdoch took over MySpace in July, then promptly blocked YouTube downloads--why else would he block YouTube other than to stifle competion. It was evident in January when I wrote on Murdock speaking at a tech and media conference in Arizona which was reported on in: The Guardian Business Section:

From the Guardian: "News Corporation will start offering video downloads on its recently acquired myspace.com as it focuses on creating "more content and better content," said the chief executive, Rupert Murdoch.
Speaking at a technology and media conference in Arizona, Mr Murdoch described the potential for News Corp's online businesses as "enormous", predicting revenues of $350-$400m by 2007.

"There will be millions of downloads a day probably," he told an audience at Citicorp's annual Entertainment, Media & Telecommunications Conference in Phoenix without offering further details."

Is it *really* any wonder that he'd offer Fox broadcast downloads?!? When ya stop for a moment to consider that shows like the OC are huge among teens, Murdoch's use of MySpace as a portal for Fox downloads was really a No Branier of the highest order.

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Sometimes Change is For the Good

So, there's about to be big, big changes at the Village Voice, the Queen of the Alt Weeklies.
Yes, the Voice has been, well, the voice of way-lefty politics in New York City, and the change to "more original reporting and “magazine-style journalism”" is going to hit the political reporters hardest--but, quite frankly, it might not be such a bad thing to change the Voice up a bit.

As an NYC club kid in the early '80's (before the term club kid was actually coined) I recall that the Voice stood for more than lefty politics. The reviews of clubs, of avant-garde movies, its easy-to-follow listings and huge ads for odd-ball retro movie houses, and its great coverage of the punk/new wave music scene made it a great read.

That hasn't been the Voice for quite awhile now. How, or why might that be the case?

Well, let's face a small fact about clublife (and creative life) in NYC--the AIDS epidemic killed a lot of the wonderful spirit that propelled so much innovation in art, music, movies and clubbing.

The times have changed. The issues have changed. What used to shock--gay men running around in chaps, hardhats and little else; and drag queens headlining wild stage shows, John Sex and Katy K?-- either doesn't exist any more or doesn't shock. The retro houses (with the exception of Cinema Village) have been bulldozed or regentrified. It's all so ho-hum, been-there-done-that...

...The last time I was in New York to partake of the "night life" I was stunned by the Abercrombie and Fitch-style of dress among the young, and when the two over-the-hill folks ( me and my escort--a former NY nightclub owner) were the flashiest people in the place, I realized something had definitely gone wrong in Clubland.

Not to mention the rampant Disney-fication of midtown under Rudy Guliani (the only man ever to openly cheat on his wife, try to humiliate her in a divorce, and come out smelling like a rose)...

Yes, the times have changed. There's no "scene" like The Scene before AIDS and Rudy--The Scene that spawned CBGB's, and Rent and the Ramones and Basquiat and Keith Harring, and all that other great stuff that made even a bridge-and-tunnel kid feel like she was part of the demi-monde.

So, after a time, the Voice lost its voice. There was nothing really to report on any more--or at least nothing truly alternative to report on any more except, perhpas, the politics.

So, of course these new changes are going to make people freak--it's like being forced to acknowledge something so grand is definitely gone for good. Nat Hentoff sounds like he's having a hemorrhage, and I can't blame him--he's been a Voice stalwart and really shouldn't go. Yet even if Nat stays, the rest of the paper has to change, has to find its life's blood again.

Otherwise, it might end up more tattered and more faded--an ageing showgirl with no sparkle. And, eventually, like Joey Ramone, only a fond memory....

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Looking for a new and interesting way to get exposure?? Check out Forty Faces! I signed up a few months back and it's really neat to check the stats and see people coming in from the site. Also, it's fun to pop in and take a look at who's just posted--and go visit their blogs too!
Did Dick do the right thing? This week there's been a lot of ink poured on the Dick Cheney hunting-accident thing, but Jay Rosen has the best analysis of the situation. FWIW, I agree with Jay.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Hey! I'm in the Technorati Top 100 (thousand)!

Dave Sifry released more info on the State of the Blogosphere...the most fascinating thing is the Magic Middle where so much of us happen to be!

No more Long Tail! I'm in the Top 100,000 (personal blog: 53,011. This blog: 64,299 the personal blog seems to have lost some links somewhere along the line. very strange.)

Measuring the Magic Middle, though, highlights (as Dave notes) the social as well as information dissemination aspect of most blogs. It's never really an either/or situation.

Post Secret's "Zero to Hero" status is also very interesting to note. A blog that has no tech information and no political spewage--but does show people expressing their innermost thoughts in incredibly creative ways--did seem like a goofus idea. But I think there is, in many ways, a need for us (people) to tell someone our deepest, darkest secrets without revealing who we might be. This was, at one time, the appeal of the confessional. That we (people) are making these statements in tiny works of art--of personal expression--makes Post Secret a public art project. Along with the desire to expose a secret is also the desire to embellish, display, create a medium or surrounding for it.

There is something ultra-human about Post Secret-- more human than the majority of breast-beating blogs out there. And after reading so many of the posts, I can't imagine how any reader couldn't find a sliver of him/herself somewhere in all those thoughts.

I continue to be impressed with Post Secret--moreso than I could ever be with HufPo. (being a celebrity, calling on celebrities to blog for you, sending out press releases, and then never reciprocating links from thousands of "little people" kinda makes for some "ringer" status in the stats.)

But back to The State....actually, now that I'm part of the Magic Middle, I feel somewhat like I rose in social status, as superficial as it might seem. Still, it's kind of fun, and I'm not sure this 'bump' could have been predicted by anyone. (I'm not concerned about its long-term impact on me. there's more to life than my blogs ranks)

That's the thing with the blogosphere...no matter how many folks try to control it, channel it, or predict it, the vagaries of human nature and the desire to communicate with others are wild cards. All we can really do is sit back, watch, and wait.

Yet we still have the problem of information overload (something I mentioned in my response to Craig's later comment on the "Che and Fidel" post.) Technorati's whipped up a new feature that allows us to filter by authority. Features, though, are as good as the algorithms that power them as much as they are by the people who decide to use them. Over time, different people are going to use different filtering applications--who know if one will dominate or not. Overall, my sense about how some of us get linked (not all--look at the Chinese/Japanese kids) will depend on how much "authority" our voice has out of the blogosphere as much as it will with how much real-world networking and blog-promoting we do. In a world where report-talk is of slightly more value than rapport-talk, creative, emotive expression might never outweigh how much and what kind of information one disseminates.

Then again, the Asian kids *could* end up taking over the world thru manic social networking. Will the Technorati 100 one day be filled with LiveJournal and MySpace blogs? Now, that's a trend I'm very interested in watching unfold.


Another good reason why we need citizen journalists: Please follow this story about the devastating crash atPorter Square Books. If the legit press can't cover something like this, then the people have to pick up the slack.

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Che and Fidel in the Blogosphere

Somewhere along the line, Craig Newmark left the impression that people are going overboard with citizen journalism ("People have gotten too excited about citizen journalism, and they're not addressing the balance well.") and, I think, further gives the impression that there's a whole bunch of citizens just running around like Che and Fidel destabilizing the status quo...or at least that seems to be what's come across in this piece from CityPages ...

Honestly, I'm sure about Craig's real view of "citizen journalists" (he gives a very broad explanation in the interview) but there seems to be some misunderstanding...(and it occurs not just with Craig, lots of people have a misunderstanding of citizen journalism.)

The fact of the matter is that most of the folks who encourage citizen journalism are or have been journalists themselves--like Dan Gillmor and Jeff Jarvis and a whole bunch of others. And probably the most famous citizen journalist, Joshua Micha Marshall (featured in the NYMag piece) is one of those guys who was a journalist before he made his mark as a citizen journalist.

Even non-marquee but well-respected names like Jeff Hess, Roxanne Cooper, and Amy Gahran have writing/journalism backgrounds.

Further, most of us who are more or less on the Citizen side of the phrase "citizen journalism" have mentors who have been in media or journalism. From the folks who blog at Masslive.com, to Baristanet and The Greensboro News-Record, we all have mentors of one sort of another. Even I have mentors.

Besides, people wouldn't be doing it, nor would they have found mentors, if there weren't forces of destiny who thought they had something worth developing and sharing with others.

Heck, it's not like we've banded together and invested in guillotines...or Cuban cigars...Give us a break, Craig!


links to make you think

Jay Small shares his experiences with ads...Jay's been blogging since '02, is a noted journalist and media executive....as I said, no guarantees

JD's got a link to a cheeky piece in Wired on making money from blogs. Advice: don't quit your day job. But if you really want to, try blogging about finance and sex. How about financial sex?? Or find a way to make finances sexy...

Terry Heaton's $.02 on the NYMag article. Here's his take on blogging(that's *so* right in *so* many ways: "Here in Nashville, for example, we have a vibrant blogging community, and that's exactly what it is. We talk about the news. We talk about life. We talk about pets and sports and spouses and shopping and who's doing what to whom. I can think of only one local blogger whose goal may have been to make the A-list, and I think that's probably representative of the blogosphere as a whole."

Steve Outing at Poynter parses out the Technorati 100--and if you're young and Japanese or Chinese (12/100) you've got just as good a chance of hitting the top as you might if you blog about politics (14/100). Apparently the Japanese and Chinese kids are going to take over the world, so no matter what the rest of us old folks blog about, we have probably no chance of breaking that top 100. oh well, such is life...


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

You Might Not Get There from Here...

I've been perusing Clive Thompson's article Blogs to Riches in New York Magazine about how YOU TOO CAN MAKE MONEY FROM BLOGGING!

Once again, readers get the usual cast of characters-- Marshall, the Gawker bunch, Huff'n'stuff--and a lot of math wiz mumbo-jumbo from Clay Shirky of NYU. It's all meant to convince us that if we blog hard enough, and fast enough, and are very cleaver, we, too can make loads of money from blogging!

Like listening to the folks at Amway...

The emphasis of the article though on big-money making from blogs is really only selling another pipe dream--something that sort of smells like someone fanning the flames of the latest take on the old Horatio Alger myth. Seriously. Even if you work really, really hard, pay good money for the latest schemes, follow the best advice, there are still no guarantees of success. Ever.

Perhaps the best advice was from Corey Doctorow of uber-blog BoingBoing: "“I always figured my life was fueling my blogging, so I didn’t want to be just a blogger...”

BoingBoing's got the numbers for its bloggers to just quit the world and go full time blog, but, from what Doctorow says that's not the point.

Kinda runs counter to Thompson's premise, doesn't it??

Y'all may be wondering, then, if the reason to blog isn't to make all that big, big money, is there any point to it? Emailing my friend Susan Mernit yesterday to thank her for a link, I mentioned some some snarking going on re the A-list (Thompson alludes to the sycophancy of the B & C list to the A-list). Susan said " To be honest, the best thing about blogging isn't the influence you acquire--it's the other smart people you get to know and talk with..."

That--right there--is the point of blogging. Too bad Clive fell for the numbers rather than the people.

FishbowlNY has a good $.02 also.

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Dissecting the Great Technorati Popularity Contest

What's the deal with the Technorati Top 100? And why is it that so many of us never make it to the Top 100? (implied facetiousness)

Being very interested in the latest incarnation of the Top 100, I did something I rarely do--I looked it up. Some of the blogs and bloggers--Dooce, Jarvis, Winer, Hewitt--have been blogging for awhile. In Blogyears, they're very, very old. That they're still doing it, consistently, for so many years is amazing. They go!

Still others that have been on the list for awhile--Boing-Boing for instance--are group blogs that function as more than just your average blog. They've got a lot going on to catch people's attention.

I was, though, interested in what types and kinds of blogs made up the 100. So, after looking at most of them--many of which crashed my lousy IE browser, I came to these conclusins:

Aggregators are hot--either news or tech aggregators. build a news/tech aggregator and you're guaranteed a spot

Blogs by more than one person are hot --lots of groups doing lots of aggregating, mostly on news and tech, with some gossip.

Blogs by single individuals aren't as hot--the ones that are hot are done by tech geeks or 20-somethings. goes to show that geeks and kids rule the blogosphere (implied facetiousness again!)

Blogs about Tech definitely rule! alot of tech advice, tech news, Google watching (search engine and mathematical), web design stuff.

And everybody loves Gossip but, seriously, do I really care about Brad Pitt's belly lint? Perhaps I don't, but a lot of navel gazers apparently do.

the Right has far better cred than the Left kind of sad that the highest-rated new "liberal" blog is presided over by a former "right-winger." If she was ever was a right-winger at all. I'm sure Tim Russert wonders, too.

So, my conclusion--it's pretty much a popularity contest. If you have what it takes to construct your blog along certain lines--a news/tech aggregator with some of your best friends--I'm sure you'd shoot right up to the top! well, maybe not the Top per se but at least somewhere near it.

I just keep thinking of something a bodhisattva once told me: In life, there are no guarantees....

Kristof and O'Reilly snit reaches new level of absurity.

What these two aren't realizing is that for each of them to be successful, they both have to be "experts," which then means that neither of them has any real world, real life perspective. O'Reilly's head is so far up his ass that he probably has no idea where Sudan is, and Kristof is so busy worrying about the problems of the world that he can't even see the human detritis on his own doorstep.

It's just too damned funny to watch titans swipe at each other like a two chicks catfighting in a biker bar. Now all we need is a few beers for the house.

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Apparenlty, Jim Brady and I have a lot in common! Don't worry Jim, some folks didn't like my opinions either.

Funny how a particular low-readership nobody in the blogosphere can have something in common with both Craig Newmark *and* the Washington Post in the same week! my god that's funny!!

I will have more on this later today...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

come on! did you really think I'd change the name without getting another url??

There is, however, a tad more to the end of the name experiment, and, in the effort to be transparent, I'll tell the tale: Via a link on Slate I found Snarksmith. Penned by Michael Weiss and Nic Duquette (who's orignally from The Middle of Nowhere), Snarksmith is doesn't engage in what would normally be considered "snark." There's very little sense of catty plastiscene Joan Rivers urging insults. Rather, there was commentary that had the "what the heck were they thinking?" tone, with the majority of the stories smart and sharp in their observations.

So, to the critics who pretty much told me that I have no right to call this blog Snarkaholic--go take a look at Snarksmith

(yeah, and then you can tell me how much I have no right to do what I'm doing because I've never been a managing editor...yadda, yadda, yadda, I'm not listening...I'm a David flinging stones at the Establishment Goliaths, so get over it.)

And a funny coincidence....our blogs came about around the same time. As to the chicken-egg argument, who knows. I had no idea these guys existed before yesterday, and I doubt they even know who I am. But they are Commrades in Smart Snark. And that's what counts the most.

Who knows...maybe there's a way for the lowly amateur snarker to work with these august snarkers? (never know unless you pitch it)

Oh, they also have a great definition of snark--which kind of adds to the contention that it ain't what so many Joan Rivers wannabees and finger-snapping fashionistas think it is.
I will be experimenting with new titles for this blog over the next few days

Blogs sometimes take on personalities, or personnas of their own, and it's time to see how this one might be morphed.

You Can't Do That In Here!: Anonymity, Transparency, and the Snark

Is snarky blogging just a reflection of the world outside the box--or is there something else that propels it? And what do we really think of transparent snarkers? Jay Small, a veteran newspaper guy who's resume lists a boatload of interactive/internet experience, uses what's going on at digg.com and Newsvine to make some important observations regarding snarkiness in on-line communities:
Real online communities, however, wind up being even dirtier than real world communities. I know some "citizen media" advocates say we should get used to bad behavior, because Web worlds simply mirror reality. They don't. They're worse, because the risks for bad behavior online are minor compared to the risks for similar behavior face-to-face.....

...Online, far too many people speak up only for self-interests, and those interests are often not relevant to the rest of the community. People become insulting, argumentative and even hateful, hiding behind flimsy user profiles and virtual reputations they're more than willing to sacrifice to the altar of the flame.

It's very easy to be anonymous and be negative--and to give the impression that you are just calling it as you see it. In fact, it seems that we often like people who are anonymously nasty and snarky--never needing to retract their words. Anonymity actually guarantees that they need not retract their words. Anonymity can even garner some notoriety and popularity--there is some entertainment value in the anonymous snark and it is rewarded (note
Jolie in NYC and David Lat of Underneath Their Robes, not to mention Wonkette, Snappy the Clam, etc.)

Yet we don't necessarily like it when we know the snarkers. When the snarkers are transparent, the snarker has to make sure that everyone knows he/she is only joking...

Take a look at Mark Cuban's snark on Phil Jackson. Jackson apparently made some comments in the press about Cuban, and Cuban is responding on his blog in a major snarkback. The snarkback has a certain entertainment value--on top of being Cuban's way of responding to Jackson. Cuban, however, employs a great strategy with this concluding comment:
Of course I don't truly believe that I own Phil. This is all tongue in cheek, but that won't prevent me from walking up to him and saying “Boo” to see if he jumps, just to find out for sure :)

Cuban knows the consequences of being transparent and snarking--and must make sure his snark is understood to be only a joke. If it wasn't, he might lose face with the public--be considered a "nasty man" or a "sore sport" or any other term we can think of. Jackson-worshippers would come out of the woodwork and load his blog with lots and lots of "you should apologize to Phil" comments.

If he were anonymous, and blogged in the third person, he wouldn't have to do anything beyond the snark--and some people might just appreciate it, thinking "man! that guy's really got Jackson's number!"

See the difference??

Yet can we demand that everyone who wants to be snarky must be transparent--when the anonymity almost guarantees a certain entertainment value? Can we even demand that everyone who participates in on-line communities must be transparent? If internet communities ask participants to be transparent in order to participate, they risk hearing the "free speech" comments and the fear-of-government-censorship comments--even when what the individual intends to post has nothing to do with the kind of speech that would justify fearing any censorship.

It's not censorship that people fear--they actually fear not being popular. If their only means to popularity is to snark, then they will do it in a manner that will not have any consequences--by being anonymous.

Because nobody wants to be unpopular and lose face with their peers. We all know that one from high school.

Think about it.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A Few More Good Thoughts on Anonymous Comments

Blog comments as football game trash-talking is a great piece by Tom Sherman...he's noticed a few things about anonymous comments I'd like to pass along(btw, these points are additions to Amy Gahran's Top 10 Reasons Why Blogs are Awkward Conversation Tools):

Anonymous commenting.
Not necessarily a bad thing, but makes for a lot of "one and done" visits to your website with potentially inflammatory comments. At least that's the kind of stuff I get!

Masquerading as other people.
You can use a central authentication system like TypeKey, but that will cut down on the conversation. (On second thought, that might be a good thing.)

No standard for HTML or formatting.
This creates a lot of confusing about what's allowed, what's not allowed, and how to format things. It makes the process much less efficient and potentially frustrating.

Moderation by one person as opposed to a community.
If you piss him/her off, your comments can be deleted or modifed. There are no set standards, and the blog is usually run on a whim.

Do people care about the conversation?
Oftentimes, folks who leave a comment are directing their feedback at the author. It could just as well be in an email. They don't care whether other commenters reply or not.

Thanks, Tom , for helping me sort an anonymous problem out

In regards to my anonymous commenter in the preceeding post, I was able to trace back, thru my stats, that it's a troll. Someone went thru a heck of alot of trouble to read a heck of a lot about me in order to push some buttons. I'll maintain that if this person wasn't a troll, he/she would let me know directly how he/she felt, probably via email.

Esp. if it was a gentleman who truly felt the need to mentor and be of help.

Trolling is as curious a psychological phenomenon as snarky blogs. Think about it: the most popular snarky blogs are, more often than not, anonymous--not pseudonymous where you might be able to find a thing or two out about the person--but totally anonymous. I think of blogs like Snappy the Clam and Miss Snark. It's a very odd thing that we don't mind when someone is anonymous and says something negative, but that some folks feel a sense of self-righteous indignation when the person is transparent and says something negative. There is a need to scold and to correct. It's one thing when the person correcting and scolding is transparent--odder, though, is the anonymous person's self-righteous need to scold and correct.

If we think about it, an anonymous scolding kind of amouts to very little other than a power-play between the two people involved.

I am remembering an old phrase from my newsgroup/forum days: "Don't feed the Trolls."

And a new one in the blogosphere: "Don't even give them access."

Feeding a Troll, or Having Lunch With a Friend? The Conundrum of the Anonymous Comment

Yesterday's post was an experiment. I wanted to push a boundary. I wanted to see if I still had the freedom to be "the rabble" and still be able to lob a tomato or two.

And while I don't know who the "anonymous" poster is, I do know that my own position as far as being an Average Jane Blogger ain't totally what it used to be.

Anonymous' comments may have been a way to intimidate--to have a certain power over me.

Then again, maybe they weren't.

Without any meta-filters--facial expressions, vocal tones, gender cues, or a name--to figure out what's truly going on, knowing how to consider a comment, and if to trust the commenter, is difficult.

It's like trying to figure out if you're feeding a troll who just wants to prove a point and have power....or if you are having an exchange with a friend or someone who will have an impact on you at some point, and really might be trying to be polite.

Usually I assume that people who are important folks will email me directly and let me know if they think I'm off-base. But, they, like me, might be trying to engage in their own commenting experiments--or have their own reasons for not wanting me to know who they are. For some folks, there's always the top-down communication thing, and the peer-to-peer thing is only a bit of lip-service.

Now, I could turn around and say that I'm not going to be intimidated by an anonymous poster who may be projecting his bad mood on to me. Yet, still, maybe I should consider the advice of someone who I know is a trusted and authoritative voice in the journalistic community (no, I'm not dropping names--just not polite), who I asked for a bit of career advice, who said I might want to consider 86'ing this blog and write "smart and newsy" from now on.

I may or may not truly care who the anonymous commenter is, but I know who the other advice-giver is--and while I never really kowtowed to folks who seems to relish pointing out how inferior I am, I know that the other guy has a much better perspective of who I am and what I can do.

I know too, that the adviser would never, *ever* take the kind of tone with me that the anonymous poster did--even if he felt I was horrifically off base. And he'd email before he left a comment in that tone, too. That's just the kind of guy he is.

So, when someone comments anonymously, in some respects, I must decide whether to feed the troll or if I'm having lunch with a trusted friend and adviser. I can't tell from the comments, but I know from the email.

This is, though, far from over.

Stay tuned...

p.s: I've been looking at my stats...and checking them twice... figure it out from there.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

If Bonnie Fuller can lecture at Columbia why the heck can't I?? Oh, I forgot--she's a jounralist and I'm just a lowly citizen with a few big fat opinions....perhaps if I spent my time watching Oprah's stomach and writing about it, rather than *thinking* about media and ethics, I might get that Columbia lectureship.

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Dave Sifry talks about tags in his latest State of the Blogosphere report.

Very good news on tagging!

Yet I wonder when the stats will take into account the number of blogs abandoned vs. the number of blogs created?

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Friday, February 03, 2006

Damned if You Do...Damned if You Don't....

Over at Buzzmachine, Jeff wrote a piece dissing an article that didn't sing the praises of Craigslist.

So I wrote a comment or two--and, apperently what I said wasn't all that well-liked. Still, I'm surprised to now see a Craigslist for Western Mass and wonder how long it's been rolling around over there (it's kind of tough to pinpoint when a new category appears on Craigslist unless you troll it often.) Going thru some of W. Mass's categories, though, it still seems under-utilized--so I do wonder its effect on newspapers out here.

Yet, there was an odd expreience in the comments section. I had, on another post here, made a snarky little comment about this place being a 'backwater'. (the comment was removed because it appears to have misled some people in a way I did not intend.)

Still--the blog is Snarkaholic. It means I sometimes say cutting things to test the waters, to push the envelope, to even see what the public's reaction will be. And a lot of the times I may not literally mean what I say.

So, I'm sure you're thinking "then why say it at all?"

Because I'm trying to learn about communication styles out here. Because I'm trying to see where the boundaries of civility are, how far a woman can push them, what will happen...if a woman can be as ascerbic as a man on some issues, or whether or not she must always be conciliatory and take the majority opinion...if the blogosphere is really very masculine and combative as some maintain...to figure out what the "jones" is that some people get from incivility.

And I'm learning a lot more than I thought I would--not just about incivility. There's a lot to be learned about class and caste, about whether or not there can be true peer-to-peer communication between individuals who, outside of the blogosphere, might not be peers at all. I'm learning a great deal about the masculine nature of the blogosphere and who the real men are. I'm learning that a woman's survival out here could very well be contingent on how nice and smart she is rather than how quick and barbed her opinions might get (unless, for some, you are on a certain side of the political fence.)

I've learned that self-censoring because of what appears to be the majority opinion is just not the right thing to do--that there is no way to know all the varieties of opinion that course thru all those wires and all those other screens.

And that emoticons just might be, to a greater or lesser degree, most important when all you have are words on a screen.

I'm tired. I'm going to take a nap.

no, it's not a backwater out here...but it ain't Silicon Valley either. It is what it is.

there was a little problem with comments, but they're back on....
James Frey's not alone...Anne Applebaum in Fashions in Falsehood unmasks a whole bunch of others who, one way or another, and even more blatantly, fudged their memoirs, including Lillian Hellman. Amazing how so many of those who commintted fiction in the name of fact won awards.

3 Week Summer Blogging Course in Western Massachusetts

Major Announcement: I will be teaching a 3-week course on blogging at Holyoke Community College this summer.

The emphasis won't be on how to make yourself famous (or infamous) by shooting your mouth off--it will be on teaching people how to build their own blogs and how to communicate effectively with media and with others in the blogosphere. This is incredibly important as most people who blog will end up as Long Tail bloggers--but there is still good reason to blog even if you are rumbling around in the Long Tail.

I am also hoping to reach parents of children that blog--so that they understand what their kids might be doing, why they do it, and where it just might be going...

Mucho thanks to Dean Ken White--who has an open mind to blogging and can see its value as a communication tool.

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Strategic Board aggregates "technology blogs and news."

ended up there the other day in someone's search for "Jon Stewart." that was weird.

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Wikipedians: Wild AND Whacky!

Check this out: The Lowell Sun On Line reports how congerssional staffers changed Wikipedia entries: The staff of U.S. Rep Marty Meehan wiped out references to his broken term-limits pledge as well as information about his huge campaign war chest in an independent biography of the Lowell Democrat on a Web site that bills itself as the "world's largest encyclopedia," The Sun has learned.

They were, however, delightfully bipartisan: "One edit listed White House press secretary Scott McClellan under the entry for "douche." Another said of Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma) that: "Coburn was voted the most annoying Senator by his peers in Congress. This was due to Senator Coburn being a huge douche-bag."

All this kinda blows apart the idea that Wikipedia's just as good as Brittanica--and also reminds me a heck of a lot of Mao's China--where, if y'all don't remember, we used to criticize for altering photographs when people were excommunicated from Mao's presence (I kid you not--go look it up.) We really don't have to go that far back though--it's been reported recently that China forbids access to information about the Tiananmen Square massacre probably because it's easier to manipulate Google to do its bidding than to hack all the sites that have info on the massacre.

Wikipedia blocks the IP addys of the offenders. That's nice, but I'm not sure it's really going to change some views on Wikipedia's credibility--esp. when it comes to the U.S. Congress.

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Clusty is another new search engine (I think.) It uses its "award winning Clustering Engine to organize search results into folders grouping similar items together."

Intersting. The results were kind of mixed. It's worth checking out though.

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Blogdigger now has better local aggregation! discovered I was in their search/system the other day...they are definitely gaining speed from last time I saw them. Way to go, guys!

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Death of Mrs. King and Ending an Era

Coretta Scott King passed away yesterday. And within me there is a great, great sense of an ideal slipping away, never to be seen again...

The 60's were a terrible time. Being a child during that time was horrific and confusing--there was the Civil Rights Movement, the Anti-War movement, three assasinationg (Dr. King's, along with John and Bobby Kennedy), protests where people were beaten (and at Kent State even killed.) There were National Guard troops on the front steps of the Capitol, and riots in our cities.

Mrs. King was beautiful, and strong,and noble--more admirable, to me, than the glamourous Jackie Kennedy, whose image was that of a pretty wife without much opinion of her own. Mrs. King did not just stand by her husband's side--she had her own life, her own convictions. It was beautiful that those convictins, that life, dovetailed with Dr. King's, and they were able to work together for what they believed. Theirs was a very special bond. After his death, she carried the torch of his message, even as the world changed and so many seemed to no longer care.

Now, I am not much of a political person--although there are many who might debate that point. Quite frankly, I hate politics--mostly because from the minute I was born, on John Kennedy's inauguration, there was controversy. Childhood consisted of watching the VietNam war with my father--watching young men blown up and bleeding every night. Learning to read the paper around the age of 7, trying to understand why all those black people, who were marching peacefully, were being attacked with water cannons and dogs, when all they wanted was the right to be considered part of the American Dream.

Trying to understand why so many people hated a man who was so peaceful, and had a dream for children--not just his own, but me too.

He died. Mrs. King, who I remember, tried to keep his legacy. But women's voices, no matter how strong and clear, are often lost in the cacophony of rhetoric. And, over the years, Mrs. King's voice was, while always strong, lost in the court of public opinion--or at least it was not as strong as her husband's had been.

But that's just life--the worst of human nature in the political realm--unfortunately.

I wonder, though, what do we do now? How do we move forward from the death of Mrs. King, which seems so much like The End. Think about it--who, really, is left from that era?

It's not just the death of courageous people like Mrs. King. It's what they stood for--which, too, is dying. The Right, under the guidance of Reagan, decided it wanted act like Dr. Who and turn time back to those "kinder, gentler" eras, the ones that weren't so kind to people like Dr. and Mrs. King. The Left has degenerated into absurity--it is now a party where a man like Dr. King would be circumspect because of his faith (faith--and religion--are destructive in the eyes of the left, and Verboten).

There would be no place for people like Dr. and Mrs. King in this century. and that is what hurts the most about her death.

Where do we go from here? Where do we go when so many people either want to go back in time or censor/dismiss a person because of his/her beliefs? Where is the Reason that guided people like Dr. and Mrs. King? Reason is gone--from both the Left and the Right.

and without Reason balacing Faith and Faith balancing Reason, we deny the world, we deny the people of our country, an essential ability to create effective change.

I am sad. And I cry. Not just for the loss of Mrs. King. But for the loss of an era, and out of a kind of fear and dread because a Light of Faith and Reason, possibly the last of that kind of Light, is now extinguished.

And I wonder--can we find our Way from here? I don't know....and I worry...who will lead us away from the Right's march backward in time and the Left's abandonment of reason and faith....I wonder...

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