Thursday, March 30, 2006

It's About The People

While I was walking around SXSWInteractive, I often got the feeling of a disconnect between the community of developers, the Tech Community, and the people, or the Users. At times there seemed to be a smugness among some of the Tech folks, as if all that mattered was tech and anything "virtual." As if Users were a "less than" group because we didn't design, develop, read code, etc.

But what Users do is effectively socialize. We bring a different level of human interaction to this tech-enhanced space. We talk. We talk about a lot of stuff. We might not give one whit about the difficulties of design, but we certainly do care about being civil towards one another in this space. We are interested in how the tools are used, and if they are used in an ethical manner. We are interested in helping people be social in this space and that we treat one another with civility.

So, when I read this post on Steve Yelvington's blog, I was heartened to see another soul bravely mention that all this technology-connectedness that we have is really a "human phenomenon"--that the technology is only a facilitator for keeping social connections alive across geographical space:
Today's young people are different from their elders in many ways, and one big difference is how they connect. Most interpersonal communications among today's youth are no longer face-to-face encounters, but rather mediated through technology -- instant messaging, SMS text messaging, and that old teenage favorite, the telephone. Often it's through all of them simultaneously. And, significantly, these technologies now are generally flat-rate services, insensitive to distance.

Youth may be able to bridge the gap between tech and user quite sufficiently. But what about the rest of us?

It's odd to sit here, at 45, and to see how I negotiate this tech space. I made friends with several folks at SXSW, the same way I'd made friends with folks at other conferences. We read one another's blogs and send each other email. We occasionally phone, but not often because we're separated by lots of miles. Feeling "stranded" as I often do out here in W. Mass, these new connections made thru burgeoning technology have enriched my life and decreased that floating existentialist angst that is part and parcel of post-modern life.

We are "networking"--but it's far more than just impersonal contact-gathering. It is creating new kinds of communities based on interests rather than on geographic distance.

Yet, in some way, I understand why the tech-geeks see this world only in the sense of tech. Western dualist thinking--with its black/white, good/bad judgement structure--keeps people fixated on one thing. Tech is King. And while I'm in many ways a Western thinker, it is my Buddhist studies that help me to see the value and the "reality" of the Internet World. I can look into my screen and I can see how it is vast--that there are so many millions of bloggers spread all over the world. And I can see how it is small--that so many of us, spread out across this landscape, can know one another and be friends with one another as if we were living across town from one another.

It is like the Wild West, where our closest neighbors are miles away, but we can talk loudly and clearly to them thru tin cans with string attached.

It is Tech--and Not Tech. It is User--and Not User. This WebWorld is a space between both, and each enhance one another.

It is not either/or. It is all and every.

Just a thought.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Don't Blow It Again!

In Slate today, Jack Shaffer morphs into Jim Brady's apologist and vastly underestimates two factors that played a part in the Domenech Debacle: Ben's age and his lack of journalistic ethics.

First, let me clarify that I'm not going to jump on the Brady-bashing bandwagon. Of all the editors that are working cyberspace, Brady's one of the more web-adept, and also one of the few interested in helping The People gain a voice in mainstream media.

But I will point out where Shafer's notions are screwed up.

So, once again, on Ben's age: does the voice of the people have to be someone young enough to be the son of a lot of the people? Sure, Shaffer can say:
Domenech's critics have cited his youth and relative lack of experience in their various excoriations, but promoting writers to do work beyond what their age and résumé would recommend isn't necessarily a bad idea. Look at the careers of Michael Kinsley, Michael Lewis, Cameron Crowe, Lester Bangs, and Ted Conover, who accomplished much in the field when still green. Or look at current tyro Joshua Foer, a former Slate intern. (I offer no comment other than this on the career of the young Stephen Glass

But dammit, Jack! There are more voices out here in the blogosphere that aren't young. Picking Domenech might have had more to do with looking at demographics that state that the 18-34 age group are the ones that get most of their news from the 'net, than it had to do with Ben being smarter than the average 24 year old bear.

Wouldn't it have made *some* sense to call on someone who's doing the whole citizen journalism thing, and maybe has some control not only over his/her partisan emotions but also a sense of ethics? Maybe someone who's a tad older and would be eternally grateful to have a second career in media?

The other bit of Jack's essay that just makes me want to scream:

Bad journalism, I fear, is a necessary byproduct of good journalism. Unlike the legal and medical professions, no guild or licensing board exists to prevent people from penning opinion columns or articles. This free entry means that nobody need present a credential if they want to spout off or report a piece or pursue a journalism career. The more authoritarian a society, the more likely it is to license journalists.

hello, Jack! have you missed all the back and forth debates about how "citizen journalists"--people who are blogging and use the term--have no right to call themselves journalists of any kind? Jack! where have you been lately! The journalism profession is, at this point in time, is clamping down on any "free entry" and lashing out at "amateurs" left and right. Might I point you in the direction of this nasty little piece in Poynter OnLine that talks about the "problem" of citizen journalists? Would you like me to bring up more sources from other organizations that are focused on the threats to journalistic credibility from the vast regions of the blogosphere?

Most bloggers know that what they are doing is, in large part, opinion. But with all the squawking from the journalistic community, you'd think that they have lost sight of what we all out here are acutely aware of. They're running around like chickens with their heads half-off, worrying about losing their jobs because of The People...

If the McClatchy/KnightRidder deal is any indication, journalists have more to fear from the sale of their papers than they do from "citizen journalists." But because they can't see the forest for the trees, they're lashing out and insisting that the journalism degree is what separates the journalist from the citizen/grassroots journalist.

Without the journalism degree--graduate or undergraduate--we The People have very little of what a newspaper editor might consider "credibility."

In other words, we out here in the blogosphere don't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting anywhere near an editorial column at a mainstream media publication if we are not in that vaunted 18-34 age demographic or if we do not have the requisite journalism credentials. It's the standard Catch 22, Jack--and if guys like Brady don't find their way around it, Mainstream Media is going to lose a golden opportunity to bring fresh blood that could save the vaunted, degree'd profession of journalism.

My best advice to Jim Brady, and to you, Jack Shafer is this: The new blood and the new voices are out there. But think outside the box: think beyond age *and* beyond professional degree. Now's the time. Don't blow it.

Also: Jay Rosen hasthis worthy read on the Domenech Debacle.


Pro-Lifers Pop Out Pregnant Princess to Prove Parenthood Point

Almost lost my breakfast over this one: an idealized sculpture of the pregnant Britney Spears giving birth...


Apparently, the pro-life movment is also pro-exploitation and assumes a heck of a lot on Spear's part:
Dedication of the life-sized statue celebrates the recent birth of Spears' baby boy, Sean, and applauds her decision of placing family before career. "A superstar at Britney's young age having a child is rare in today's celebrity culture. This dedication honors Britney for the rarity of her choice and bravery of her decision," said gallery co-director, Lincoln Capla. The dedication includes materials provided by Manhattan Right To Life Committee.

Britney placing family before career? Perhaps these guys forgot that she's in an upcoming episode of Will and Grace, and doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon...that's hardly putting family before career. Or is the ability to hire nannies somehow a way of putting family before career?

Then again, the pro-life movement seems to have a skewed idea of what family is--as it rarely supports any sort of services for young women after they have given birth. The pro-life movement's ideals about motherhood, like the statue, are frozen in the moment of childbirth. Everything afterward is subject to imagination and the good will of others.

Perhaps, though, if more young women actually see what happens in childbirth, they might think twice about getting pregnant. If young women look at the statue, and see another young women, at her most vulnerable, alone, with nothing other than the bearskin rug she may have got pregnant on, they might think twice about getting pregnant in the first place.

Or, was the intention of the artist Daniel Edwards, in showing what the Catholic Church would probably feel is a very private moment, thinking to create a secular Madonna icon?

And that, to some degree is my fear. That, in its zeal to push the idea of the glories of motherhood further into the Ameircan psyche, the pro-life movement will capitalize on pop culture's creation of paper gods and promote this vulgar piece as some sort of new religious iconography.

Rarely am I shocked or sickened by pop culture. Mostly, I'm just bored because I've seen it all before. But the vulgarity of this piece, which is perhaps more sickening and degrading than Andres Serrano's Piss Christ ever could be*, has me wondering what pathetic and exploitative level those that are pro-life will sink to in order to make a point.

*and I strongly doubt that there will be any serious art/theology discussions on the Spears sculpture--but there should be, given the propaganda context in which it was conceived and will be implemented. Freudian slip intended.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

We're Exempt! (from FEC regulations anyway)

Good news for political bloggers: the FEC isn't going to regulate blogger's political activities:
In a unanimous vote yesterday, the Federal Election Commission left unregulated almost all political activity on the Internet except for paid political advertisements. Campaigns buying such ads will have to use money raised under the limits of current federal campaign law.

Perhaps most important, the commission effectively granted media exemptions to bloggers and other activists using the Web to allow them to praise and criticize politicians, just as newspapers can, without fear of federal interference.

So, there! Isn't it cool to know that blogging's got a "media exemption." Does that mean that we're now part of the evil mainstream media? perish the thought! but I'm sure we'll be happy with the exemption...

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Vaughn Ververs has a fabulous dissection of the Domenech debacle at According to Ververs' post, Domenech has resigned.

The Rise of the Citizen Marketer

This a.m., I left a comment at Buzzmachine that, at first glance, looks something like a non-sequitir...

However, the comment is in response to an idea that's been buzzing around the blogosphere for quite awhile now, forwarded by the Cluetrain Manifesto, and buzzed about in various blogs and wikis: that markets are conversations and that marketers need to build relationships with customers thru conversation.

As I said in the Buzzmachine comment, when I attended BlogOn, and listend to all the marketers hand-wringing over the idea that they might actually have to begin to talk with customers, I laughed and wanted to pat them all on the back and tell them that all they really need to do is go work retail at a high-end or very small retailer, because it is in both those environments that conversation and friendship with the customer is what keeps customers coming back.

Recently, in the print version Marie Claire Magazine, in the 101 How-Tos column, they passed along a similar piece of information from the customer side, which, in reality, is piece of shopping advice that grandmothers have passed along for generations:
"Cultivate Relationships: Treat your favoirte boutique's salesperson like a friend, and visit her often. Evien if it costs a little bit more to pick up a last-minute item there, do it: The store that knows you is the store that will alert you when they have a trunk show coming up or when the new collection arrives."

Even if the customer is chatting up the sales person just to get the good deal or the inside scoop, the customer isn't necessarily being phony if she also enjoys chatting with people. That's transparency.

On the sales side, people who work with people are used to chatting up the customer and being chatted up by the customer. They learn to do this in a genuine and transparent manner, with concern for the customer's needs and without the need for stilted corporate-speak. They know that the person chatting with them wants something and they aren't offended by this. If there is a click, the reciprocity helps both retailer and customer. Chatting and building friendships are the best way to create repeat customers.

This can be done face to face and it can now be done on-line--if marketers and retailers learn how to communicate in online environments.

The best way for a company to achieve relationships is to create sales staff and employees who enjoy working for the company and like the products--let employees try new products, give feedback, have contests/bonuses that reward brand loyalty. When the sales staff believes in the product, they don't need pre-packaged chitchat to sell it. The selling will come from the heart because they really, really like the product. And if you reward top sellers, they will keep selling.

If companies want to do this online, they need to engage employees who know online space as well as like the product.

If a company doesn't have employees that understand how to communicate online, then, perhaps there isn't a reason for the company to communicate online just yet. Or the companies might need to woo sales staff that knows exactly how to communicate in online environments.

Yet I wonder how all that seems so common sense to me, who only recently left retail, appears to be revolutionary rocket science to so many other people. Maybe I'm not getting some hidden subtleties of the whole deal--I haven't studied marketing or been in a marketing job. But, perhaps, like citizen journalism, it will be people who know how to sell and create relationships that will help marketing more than those with high powered marketing pedigrees.

Just a thought.

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

When to Quit Your Day Job

Being more of a creative type rather than a business/marketing/webdev type, I had no idea that the concepts of "don't quit your day job" and "live with less" were novel ideas to some folks. I'm sitting hear listening to the podcast of Jason Fried's talk at SXSWInteractive and realizing that there are, apparently, a whole group of folks, who, during the ".com" days, did all kinds of strange things like quit their jobs, write kick-ass business plans, get investor money, and rent out fantabulous offices with big aluminum signs...and that the old .com strategy might not work all that well for Web 2.0...

And all I keep wondering is how many of these budding web-app developers will have the wearwithall to take Fried's advice and live the life of a creative type....

Since I'm creative, I've never had the experience of having a huge office or a business plan and investors. I have lived with people yelling at me to not quit my day job or to get a day job; to stop being irresponsible or to get more responsible; to buy a condo and get more businessminded, etc. for most of my life. So, when I heard Fried speak, I thought "oh geeze Maria! here we go again!"

What is an old saw to me is, apparently, sage advice to a whole different group of people.

So, Fried's speech got me thinking....when, actually, might it be a good idea to quit your day job?

Honestly, if you're not burdened with major responsibilities the time to quit comes when the day job is more trouble than it's worth. For me, a free-agent with no major responsibilities, I was working a retail job that should have been nothing more than a part-time pasttime providing some kind of income while I was writing. Often I found my work coming home with me--a boss calling to check in with me about what happened on my shift, or to inform me about new products, or to come in and cover for a co-worker. I was so good at what I did--exceeding sales goals for 9 out of 12 months, receiving sales awards--I got moved up the management ladder.

But I didn't want to move up the management ladder--because moving up the management ladder meant I'd be climbing more real ladders (and I have a fear of heights.) The long hours and physical exertion of retail wasn't worth the 40% product discount either--not to mention all the interruptions were clouding my ability to think and write.

One must always weight the benefits and the consequences of quitting the day job before doing so. If the day job is sabotaging one's passion or new venture, then perhaps the wisest thing is quitting the day job.

There were places I needed to go, people I needed to meet, and things I needed to do that required I have an open, flexible schedule. Asking my boss for a few days off here and there to attend a conference was a major headache--not to mention that when I tried to talk to folks about what I was doing/where I was going, I got blank stares.

If there is no benefit to your creative life from your day job, then it's time to go. Yes, lots of folks enjoy the schizoid life of mild mannered worker bee by day and wild-eyed creative type at night. They like the idea that no one knows what they are up to, and that there's no common ground between one job and the other. Nobody I worked with cared a whit about what I was doing, and cared only about what I was doing for the job. Dealing with the split lead to paralyzing depression and massive wrter's block.

Sometimes the need to create, to nourish one's creative soul, to be around like minds, or to have the time to cogitate and explore, is more important than a paycheck, benefits, and co-workers who find you entertaining but essentially think you're a weirdo.

In July of '05, I quit my day job. People freaked. People are still freaking--as when two friends ripped me a new one about the "bubble" I'm living in and how I need to get a day job again. People are wondering how I'm surviving.

This, however, is where I discovered many a creative type's secret--the significant other.

We all need people to believe in us, who will support us in our creative endeavors. Yet, there are times when a pat on the back isn't enough--and someone else paying the bills is just what we need.

Now, I know I can hear people all over the place, not just in the tech world, crying "foul!" at this one. We should always be self-supporting, self-sustaining monoliths. Horatio Algers in the making. But if your significant other understands what you are doing, and is behind you at least 95%, then you might be able to quit your day job. Don't be like Nike though and just do it. This is a decision that the two of you have to make, and it cannot cause a major and serious burden to the significant other. Creative types sometimes can't see the forest for the trees, and just because you think you're on your way to some kind of prize, if you don't show any gains to your significant other, it could put some strain on the relationship.

Treat your significant other like an investor--and show some gains. The money that comes to one through a loving and generous gift is a far more valuable and precious investment than one that is made through a bank or group of strangers. Pay it back--maybe not literally, but in special ways. Make sure to show him/her something that he/she can be proud to talk about. What that something is, initially, might not be measurable in grand dollars and cents. That might be okay--but don't squander the gift! Make sure that, eventually, it will yield a profit of some kind that will enhance both your lives. If it is in grand dollars and cents, that's great. But if the dollars and cents aren't all that grand, make sure there are significant amounts of love, appreciation and other ephemerials that add up to make your lives good ones.

Sometimes it's simply not having a grouchy creative around that's worth the investment.

So, there you have it. There are indeed times when it is necessary to quit your day job--but knowing when to do that is far different, far more nuanced, for a creative than it is for a business or web type. If business and web types are going to create, they will, as Fried points out, have to learn to to live like creatives. Yet I'm still wondering if the folks Fried was talking to will understand that being creative isn't about big bucks right away--it's about peace of mind and the freedom to simply be. If all the material goods and the flashy image are far more important, then by all means stay in your job. If you can thrive on quenching your curiosity, being your authenic self, and love--and you know deep down that you can make something great out of all those ephemerals--then by all means quit your job. You have nothing to lose and a wonderful life to gain.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Or was it all just an innocent little mashup? The NYTimes coins the term Clooneygate and makes me want to smack myself in the head in disbelief. Did we really *need* that term any more than we need "Boz-blogging"?? puh-leeze!

WaPo Picks Uber-Wunderkind RedStater to Con-Blog has been under some populist pressure to find a conservative blogger to balance the rhetoric that slams them as being uber-lefty. And so, in picking uber-wunderkind Ben Domenech (co-founder of groupblog RedState, they believe they got it right... oh really??

Domenech's wapo blog Red American was launched today, with the opening statement: "This is a blog for the majority of Americans."

Wow. That's the shortest hyperbolism I've read in awhile! Has Domenech looked at Bush's approval rating these days? Has he noticed that even some conservatives have come out against Bush's position on Iraq? It's not that the majority of Americans are conservative, it's that the Democrats haven't given most people a viable presidential candidate in recent years. Domenech's youthful opinoins obviously bespeaks of a boy who spends a lot of time in hallowed halls, and not a lot of time actually talking to individuals who label themselves neocons. If he did, he'd find an awful lot of disaffected liberals who are not necessarily wholehearted supporters of the Republican agenda as much as they are disgusted with what they see as a Democratic party that has lost its sense of reason and teters on what they feel is the dangerous the edge of "looney left."

In a two party system where there is no middle groun--and, in effect, no reason-- many people will lean toward the group they believe they might be able to help effect change. Prior to the latest expressions of Bush's power-madness, many felt the Right would be more amenable to finding a middle ground than the Left, and shifted in that direction. At this point, it is the right-wing legislators who voted against the Dubai ports deal, not any conservative zeitgeist nor any love of Bush, that is keeping neocons.

That's hardly evidence that the country is conservative in the manner Domenech states.

However, if a viable Democrat appears, someone who offers a new world view, not a rehash of the 1960's or the Clinton administration, and did not sound like "looney Left," I would hedge a bet that man neocons flip the switch and become neo-neoliberals.

The "growth of conservative America" that Domenech says is occurring, could flip quicker than the boy's next birthday for many other reasons--if the heathcare situation worsened (and it is--daily), if we have another natural disaster along the lines of Katrina before the election, if the situation in Iraq were revealed (finally) to be a civil war...

Best advice from an older woman to a young man--don't count your chickens, sweetie.

Yet what is also vexing about Domenech is his age and credentials. While one can view a listing of all Domenech's publishing creds on his blog, I wonder if he is only 24--looks like he could be older. And isn't there a somewhat offensive pretentious component to a young man who uses the pseudonymn Augustine? The religion scholar in me giggled at that one...but I see where WaPo's trying to catch the youth audience with this choice....

how that will rate with many neocons, who've come upon their choice at middle-age, will be quite interesting to watch....

and, indeed we will watch...

(mucho thanks to sean's post on the matter...)

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Here are my initial impressions of what it was for me at SXSWInteractive. Will have a panel update in the near future.

Back-blogging an event is a bit nervewracking. I need a laptop.

Friday, March 17, 2006

More on HufPo and Clooney: Keeping the Power in the Hands of the Powerful.

Snarksmithy Michael Weiss tackles the HufPo/Clooney kerfuffle...and comes up with
something else from the L.A. Times...that supposedly supports Huffington's claim that Clooney knew all along about the faux blog and that somebody associated with Clooney approved of it...

Yet even if one of the lower life forms in Clooney's publicists' office gave the Go Ahead on the faux blog, the fact that it was a faux blog patched together from a whole bunch of other sources--answers to questions taken our of context and paraded around as statements-- and paraded around as a blog proper still calls into serious question HufPo's blogging ethics.

At the rate things are going, no one's going to be able to trust blogs anymore than they can trust the legit press. Thanks a bunch, Arianna--guess you're on your way to achieving your goal of keeping the Power in the hands of the Powerful.

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

HufPo Messes with Ethics and Commits Hatchet Job on Clooney Quotes

George Clooney calls attention to HufPo's blatant slice and dice of his words, thus proving now more than ever what most of us have already figured out about Huffington--that she knows just as much about basic ethics as she does about blogging....

This is what happens when you get people with humungous egos and no sense of the blogosphere, trying to blog--you have them giving inappropriate advice to friends and then screwing with their words when they won't follow your dictate. Making up The Rules as she goes along:
Though she sought Clooney's approval, "I didn't need permission because his statements are in the public domain." Nor did she think she needed to credit the source of the statements.

Very similar to this other group of dopes.

Amazing how she didn't think there'd be a problem quoting someone out of context (another point missed from journalism 101) When you're blogging, you're in a different game than journalism, and, more than ever, you need to be careful, ask permission, not slice-and-dice someone's words to fit a preconceived agenda, etc.

Out here in the blogosphere, it's not about your ego. If you aren't a bona fide jouno, which is how bloggers (celebrity or not) are viewed, you've got to be very, very careful. Scrupulously careful. Your own opinion is one thing--monkeying with the words of another person to shore up what you think they should say is something totally different.

When Huffington tried to blow it off as a "misunderstanding," Clooney's publicist Stan Rosenfield called it like it is:
"It's not a misunderstanding, it's misrepresentation," he said. "She knows what she was doing. She was saying to people that she had George Clooney's blog and was printing it. George Clooney does not make statements. He answers questions."
(from here)

And that, my dears, is the crux of the matter.

So, I now love George Clooney more than I did before--good looks and some good sense!

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I get back from SXSWInteractive and my excellent co-panelist Grace Davis emails to tell me that I'm quoted in Time Magazine's Blogwatch column.

how about that?? somebody in High Places kinda likes me I guess!

Friday, March 10, 2006

I'm off to SXSWInteractive--where I will be speaking on the "Us-Them: a blog conversation guide" panel. and yes, I will be speaking about getting flamed. Seriously--how often does it happen where an individual has the same experience as a big media outlet??

you can click the button on the sidebar for more info...I wonder how long it will take for conference burnout to cause me to hide in my room...

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Secret of Chinese Bloggers

From NPR this a.m.: Chinese bloggers don't care about politics. The majority of bloggers in China are female, single, and talk about themselves. Jasmine Gu, a blogger, says "We don't care about politics."

Ah the Freedom To Be Frivolous!

(via Smart Mobs)

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Converging at SXSWInteractive

Along with my fellow SXSW panelists, (all of whom I'm looking forward to meeteing, some for the first, and some again) I will be meeting up with Sean Coon of connecting*the*dots... who you can hear in this great interview with Kent Bye of The Echo Chamber Project.

Sean is an incredible guy and was a great "ear" during the whole Jane Hamsher stuff--I think I bent that ear for about an hour that day and he's still talking to me :-)

Yet it wasn't the first time we'd bent each other's ears--and often talked about the numinous quality of the Internet's virtual terrain, and the beauty of being able to connect with like minds across miles and miles of terra firma. Our convergence will be fascinating.

And They Thought They Were So Smart--Bloggers Expose Egos for Crafty Wal-Mart P/R Campaign

If they weren't so stupid I'd have to laugh...Apparently, according to a report in the NYTimes Wal-Mart's been sneaking press releases to certain corporate friendly bloggers...

Under assault as never before, Wal-Mart is increasingly looking beyond the mainstream media and working directly with bloggers, feeding them exclusive nuggets of news, suggesting topics for postings and even inviting them to visit its corporate headquarters.

But the strategy raises questions about what bloggers, who pride themselves on independence, should disclose to readers. Wal-Mart, the nation's largest private employer, has been forthright with bloggers about the origins of its communications, and the company and its public relations firm, Edelman, say they do not compensate the bloggers.

And the bloggers involved here are either too dumb to the notions of plaigarizing:

But some bloggers have posted information from Wal-Mart, at times word for word, without revealing where it came from.

Or too stupidly egotistical to know the difference between a press release that bunches of people get, and what might be considered a confidential or exclusive source:
John McAdams, a political science professor at Marquette University who runs the Marquette Warrior blog, recently posted three links about union activity in the same order as he received them from Mr. Manson (the "blogger" who's an account exec for W-M). Mr. McAdams acknowledged that he worked from Wal-Mart's links and that he did not disclose his contact with Mr. Manson.

"I usually do not reveal where I get a tip or a lead on a story," he said, adding that journalists often do not disclose where they get ideas for stories either.

That last quote is inaine in many ways: first, if you get a tip or a lead, give the person, or persons credit for it, esp. if it's another blogger. That's not just transparency, but it's good blog relations. Further, what difference does it make if you reveal the source--esp. if you reveal it in a hyperlink? Get real! This ain't Watergate, or Rathergate, or the whole thing on the Dubai port deal or the leaked Katrina tapes....

This is freaking P/R for Wal-Mart, folks! Get a grip!

All I can say to Mr. McAdams is reign in your ego--put it aside, give the people who give you tips credit and learn to intuit a piece of crafty p/r.

If there is one thing that will kill political bloggers, it's big fat egos that make them think they're the Second Coming of Matt Drudge. Oh, puh-leeze!

And in this quote, from another fool who got the Wal-Mart stuff:
Asked in a telephone interview about the resemblance of his postings to Mr. Manson's, Mr. Pickrell said: "I probably cut and paste a little bit and I should not have," adding that "I try to write my posting in my own words."

Just use quotes, idiot! Nobody's going to get mad at you, or drum you out of the Bloggers Union if you use quotes! and, if you do, please provide a hyperlink to the original story somewhere in your blog...

Glenn Reynolds said it best:
"If I reprint something, I say where it came from. A blog is about your voice, it seems to me, not somebody else's."
(Reynolds also noted this is a "basic tenent" in the blogosphere...acutally, it's basic common sense.)

What we are often doing in blogging is writing short essays. Kind of like in college. So, if you're writing an essay, and you want to use information someone gave you, you have to reference that information. This is Comp 101. Following suit, this is Blogging 101.

And, heck, even if your essay is, perhaps, a piece that's like a newspaper article, where you have information you received from another source, isn't it the right journalistic thing to mention that source?? And if it's something that will "blow the lid" off something else, shouldn't you look up or ask someone how to deal with it if you're unsure??

As I said, all we got here is a bunch of Wal-Mart propaganda, and these fools think they're dealing in the bigtime. All a bunch of ego hurting the rest of us...

Even if you happen to get something Big Time, ask the person if they want to be "on the record" or off. Knowing that you are not a journalist in the same sense as someone working for a newspaper--in that you don't have the organized structure to support what you are doing, or an editor to ask what to do in the situation-- ask the on/off record question. If the person you are speaking with says he/she wants it "off the record," then simply respect that person's wishes. Once again, put your bloddy blog ego aside. Whatever scoop you think you're getting by publishing something someone told you "off the record" won't earn you any brownie points in the hallowed halls you might be trying to break into with your blogging.

And word gets around. You let "off the record" comments leak out, you certainly won't get anyone important to talk to you. You won't be trusted.

Trust, quite frankly, is all you got out here when you're "just a blogger." Trust is also something that has to be earned. When you earn it, it's precious. BigShots' trust is what just might give you cred somewhere down the pike...

So, if BigShots end up okay-ing what they said or gave to you for "on the record"--quote the person, reference them, link to their blog or website or whatever. Make sure you've got their words right. Don't be a jerk about it and claim it as your own when it ain't--because when it comes down to it, you're really NOT in the "journalistic profession" in the proper sense, and you could end up shooting yourself somewhere other than your foot...

When it's hare enough to get cred out here in the blogosphere, we don't need big-ego fools like the ones mentioned above getting all the headlines and making the rest of us look bad.

Keywords: Trust and transparency. If you want cred, and you want to be real, lean 'em and use 'em. The Wal-Mar shills, apparently, forgot 'em.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

MySpace Offers Film and Video Uploads

Got an email announcing MySpace Film (for filmmakers to network with industry types) and Fun Videos for those not necessarily filmmakers, but who are making films of some kind anyway...

Check out Women Love a Man in a Kilt. It's true, I tell you...all too true...

and The Polish Body Shot...I don't necessarily endorse the ethinic reference, but this definitely reminds me of friends I had when I was about their age...

as I've said before, the more things change, the more they stay the same...only now we can videotape them and broadcast them across the globe. Technology is wonderful!

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Monday, March 06, 2006

(courtesy of Anne Taintor)
MySpace--THE MOVIE absolutely hysterical!

Twenty years ago, when my first ex-husband was in film school, we made a couple of films that were shown in one of the many New York City film collectives. Back then, we had to shoot the film, develop it, manually edit it, try to manually sych the sound-track, and beg-and-plead for showings well before we could think about distribution. Nowadays, with new technology, kids have it so much easier! The best result is that a young someone with talent can get in there a lot quicker and sooner than in the past.

Could make an old person jealous ;-) but I can't stop laughing my ass off...just got me thinking "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

Read more at Lost Remote

Where's the community?

This a.m. Rafat Ali has the best post on where our (bloggers) "community" comes from...

Community comes from so many different places. It isn't just the people who comment, or the people who link, or those we meet, or those who simply read. It's everybody. Rafat gets that.
That's the beauty of this medium and our model: the open-sources media ethic, as I have repeated endlessly over the years. Learning by iterations, by doing it

Yes, we learn by doing. Because we're human. He gets that too.

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Link Love on a Friday Afternoon...

Lisa Stone wrote this great piece on the various SXSWInteractive panels that have women members! There are about 101 women speaking at SXSWInteractive this year--more than 1/3 more than in previous years. (that cover's from the Houston Chronicle)

Check out nice little feature from a group of young folks in Slovenia. They read me first-now I read them. I love the way the web can get so many of us, in so many parts of the globe, together and interacting. That's the beauty of it all.

Steve Rubel documents his Edelman Odyssey. This is why I love Steve Rubel. This is why lots of folks love Steve Rubel. I just hope the next time I'm in the same conference room with Steve Rubel that I have the guts to go up and say 'hi' to him. It might be harder to do than taking a flaming from irate Hamsherites.

This wiki-fied site for the Center for Media and Democracy is a must for The People Sometimes Called Citizen Journalists (from JD recounting Dan Gillmor. JD also suggests Media 2.0 rather than That-hotly contested-Term for The People. I would still like to suggest opening up A Dialogue between The People and The Journalists, and let us start to hash it out.)

That's it...kiss, kiss...have a good night!

WaPo Gets!

In an effort to expand interactivity, washington now has a partnership with

The Post already has a deal with Technorati where blogs that link to Post stories are listed along with the story. I've actually had some hits from posts I wrote on WaPo articles, so it really works. Even if you say something not so nice about WaPo, your post will still show up! How's that for open communication! Blogging and linkins are better ways of getting their attention than flaming Jim Brady (who *must* own several pairs of asbestos jammies by now)...

The deal just gives bloggers one more way to have our way with WaPo.

When you think about it, how cool is that??

It's a lot better than what the New York Times did when it took its best content and put it behind the pay-per-view walls of Times Select--where we have the priviledge of interacting for a fee. Kinda makes you feel like your patronizing an old-fashioned peepshow...with "escorts" rather than streetwalkers on the other side of the plexiglass...

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

So, HufPo's offering a journalism scholarship--I'm serious...check out the link...I dare you...

Blogs: They're not just for trashing the boss anymore

Businessweek articleBig Brother is Reading You discusses how we, the bloggers, are being viewed and re-viewed by not just our fellow bloggers, but by school officials, bosses, etc. But the article's tone emphasizes the negatives of blogging and makes it look like we're all doing this just to trash our bosses--and will all get fired for it. Ubiquitous generalizations like "getting fired for blog entries is so common now..." are annoying. It would be nice to see phrases like this backed up with some solid figures on the numbers. Or is this just a Silicon Valley phenomenon?

The piece notes that Dooce's traffic's doubled, but also neglects to mention that Dooce is now known for being a parenting authority more than she is known for being "dooced."

There is also little mention how blogs are, for many, becoming an integral part of their professional identities. A little better research on the part of Businessweek on this phenomenon, rather then perpetuating the old saws about anonymity and trashing the boss, would be greatly appreciated.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Journalists Debating "Citizen Journalism" is Like the Sound of One Hand Clapping

In her Everyday Ethics column, Kelly McBride at Poynter online would like us to consider the term "citizen journalist" and its uses. The problem is that McBride's post is, basically, preaching to the choir (journalists)--and the choir is responding. Has anyone ever considered that reasonable and fair debate/discussion of the term "citizen journalism" should include the citizens and journalists who claim the term as much as the journalists who dislike them?

Otherwise, it's all the sound of one hand clapping--a pointless, one-sided rant.

Now, I know that I'm capable of random acts of citizen journalism, and I even know some folks whose work can be considered good "citizen journalism." None of us take The Term lightly, and often wonder if we should use it or find some better term. But we're certainly not a bunch of Gomer Pyles with no clue on how to put a coherent thesis statement together, or can't quite figure out "who, what when, where and why," or have the brains to know the difference between a piece of p.r. and an article--as the strain of pure snobbery in many of the comments on McBride's blog appear to assert.

Most of us who tackle The Term have a passion for writing, and, yes, might even have degrees in subjects like English or political science or any other field of study that requires a lot of writing in order to complete the course requirements.

Yet there are also some journalists who blog, who either no longer work in or work on a limited basis in journalism proper and refer to themselves and their new endeavors as "citizen journalism." Where does all this debate put them? And why are their voices also absent in debates like the one on McBride's blog?

So, are the former journalists-now-citizens wrong to use the term? Are folks like me who just like to write, and write well, wrong for using the term?

Or is this all just a lot of splitting hairs because some folks who spent a lot of money on a professional school don't like being challenged one single solitary bit, even when the challenges come from within their own ranks?

Tom Simpson at Webfeed Central has this to say about the McBride post: "They (journalists) really want in on the action, but the way that they’re trying to do it is parallel with the way the RIAA is alienating its customer base, in my opinion. Disagreeing about the term used has very little effect in denying the fact that it’s happening. If you want to “toss out” the term “Citizen Journalism”, go right ahead! User generated content is becoming more and more relevant, while spoon-fed content from newspapers, radio, and television are increasingly just becoming “talking points” for the larger conversation."

Until an open debate of the term "citizen journalism" can be established between all parties that have a vested interest in The Term's use, pieces like McBride's end up as pontificating by the Powers That Be--and that, in itself, is neither fair, honest, nor ethical.

note: I am aware that the c.j. term gets discussed at press and blogging conferences. yet many people who do c.j. don't have access to these conferences because they are often far too costly for the average person to attend.