Thursday, December 08, 2011

Rick Perry Indugles in Political Asshattery--Blames Everyone But Catholics For Taking Prayer Out of Schools

As someone who still likes to wish people a Merry Christmas, and who, when asked, refers to herself as an "academic Catholic,"  and has lots of friends across a variety of denominations, not to mention someone who has gay family members and gay friends, I was horrifically offended by the following piece of  historically incorrect asshattery trotted out by Rick Perry:

Ok, so I guess Rick Perry is saying that I'm *not* a Christian. Perhaps he's right, if we think about our "religious heritage," the Lord's Prayer used to be said every morning in schools. But the version of the Lord's Prayer, or the Bible readings that sometimes accompanied it, were from the King James version of the Bible, a translation of the the Bible that is not only wholly Anglican Protestant, but has more to do with the political situation in the future Untied Kingdom than it does with Religion (see God's Secretaries by Adam Nicholson for clarification on that one.)

In fact, there were disputes about the use of the Bible in school classrooms dating back to the 1890's. For the majority of Americans who know so little about their own country's history, Roman Catholics were a religious minority which strenuously objected to the use of Protestant verses and prayers in public schools.

So, don't blame the atheists or liberals or Obama for taking prayer out of schools. Go ahead, blame the 19th Century Roman Catholics who felt it was a sin for their children to be forced to recite a Protestant version of the Lord's Prayer.  Go ahead.  It's putting the blame where it belongs, isn't it?

and for that matter, most Roman Catholics who support guys like Rick Perry because of his stand on gay rights and abortion, should be ordered to take a History of American Catholicism class and learn how the United States was never, ever, before the election of John F. Kennnedy, a welcoming haven for Roman Catholics.

In fact, I bet if you asked Mr. Perry, he might tell you that Roman Catholics aren't *real* Christians. Or that they worship the Pope. Or that they are "heathens" in some way....

Yes, we're not as outside the mainstream of American Protestant Christianity as, say the Mormons, but Roman Catholics aren't necessarily the same stripe of Christian as guys like Perry either.

If any group should be supporting liberal thinking, it's Roman Catholics, who should practice a whole lot of patience and tolerance and tend to their own gardens of faith rather than trying to insinuate themselves into that group of religious conservatives that might see eye to eye with them on abortion and gay rights, but will gladly sell out their religious freedom for the "right" to put Protestant-flavored prayers and values back into schools and homes.

I may not be much of a Catholic, but I'll be damned if anybody's going to judge me because I keep "idols" in my home and don't want to say a Protestant Lord's Prayer.

Like they used to.

Think about it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Debate: Women Journalists Bullied, Threatened with Violence, for Opinion Columns

Perhaps if Katie Roiphe were a journalist working online, she would have a better understanding of sexual harassment and wouldn't be asking "what on earth is that?" Because it seems that at the same time Roiphe was having a hissy over the allegations of sexual harassment against Republican candidate Herman Cain, some of here compatriots across the pond were dealing with some serious sexual harassment: bullying, and outright threats of sexual violence for blogging or writing opinions on topics considered sacrosanct by males (I won't refer to them as men because, frankly, their diatribes are very un-manly).

It started on November 3 with a column in the New Statesman by Helen Lewis Hasteley. In "You should have your tongue ripped out: the reality of sexual abuse online" Lewis Hasteley talked with nine female bloggers who detailed some of the abusive, misogynistic comments and the bloggers' reactions.

Most of what I read seemed all too familiar, and hearkened back to comments attacks on tech blogger Kathy Sierra in 2007 that lead to Sierra withdrawing from a keynote speaking engagement at a high level tech conference. I can't say, then, that I was shocked by the accounts in Lewis Hasteley's column. Rather, I was shocked by how this comment quoted by Lewis Hasteley appears to echo some of Roiphe's sentiments:
"Why is it that young females with three names and large hairdos are always haters of large, successful, popular producers, and always buy into every anti-capitalist myth produced by the government subsidized educational establishments? Are they (three-named females with large hair) really the most naive among us, or the most envious of success?" might paraphrase what Roiphe said in her column to echo the above sentiment thusly "why is it that every woman of any reasonable attractiveness buys into the vague descriptions of sexual harassment produced by liberal thinkers? are they really the most naive among us, or do they not get that the guys are just joking?"

Maybe Roiphe should spend some time with Laurie Penny, who penned this poignant column detailing harassment she has received, and stated a clear, compelling reason why it needs to be ended:
"I believe the time for silence is over. If we want to build a truly fair and vibrant community of political debate and social exchange, online and offline, it's not enough to ignore harassment of women, LGBT people or people of colour who dare to have opinions. Free speech means being free to use technology and participate in public life without fear of abuse – and if the only people who can do so are white, straight men, the Internet is not as free as we'd like to believe."

Now, I can't say that the women who claim that Cain harassed them are making valid nor false claims. Yes, there's the "how many years does it take" question, the fact that Cain is running for the Republican nomination (which seems to bring out all the crazies with any kind of complaint) and the fact that high powered celebrity attorney Gloria Allred is representing at least one of the accusers that makes me raise a hairy eyebrow at these particular allegations. People are funny, and there are some who believe that the best time to say something about someone's behavior is when that person becomes a public figure. Which seems totally odd to me, but, hey, I have scruples....

That doesn't mean that sexual harassment doesn't happen, and it certainly happens in spades on the Internet.

In The Guardian, Vanessa Thorpe and Richard Rogers added their voices to the call to halt the bullying, intimidation, violent threats and such that are all forms of sexual harassment leveled against women journalists who voice their opinions. Thorpe and Rogers talked to Lanre Bakare who monitors comments at the Guardian, and attests to how even an article on European finance, with no mention of women's opinions, will bring out the misogynist in some men. Yet it is psychotherapist, psychoanalyst and writer Susie Orbach who calls the spades of sexually bullying comments the crude shovels that they are:
"The deeper question is the disenfranchisement of men who find themselves in such depraved circumstances that all they can do is expel the fury that's inside of them on to women. The reaction these men are having shows they are very, very threatened by something and that threat is to their masculinity.

"With sexual violence, what the victim is receiving is the self-hatred of the individual who is expressing that pain and upset that is inside of them in a very explosive manner."

And that's what it always comes down to: the guys who do this kind of thing, whether it be a comment on a woman's "tits," a grope in the back of a limo, or an horrific scenario spelled out in an online comment, it all comes from a kind of small man syndrome where a man's masculinity is somehow threatened by how a woman looks, what she says, or what she does for a living. I'm sorry for the guys who feel this way, that they are so threatened by women who think, but we shouldn't have to suck it up and shrink back to our little desks in corner cubbies. Nor should we try to beat them at their own sleazy game. The latter is a strategy that never, ever wins a woman any respect, and the former is no strategy at all.

And women need to stop being one another's worst enemies. For Roiphe, rather than berating women for who level sexual harassment complaints based on vague criteria, perhaps a better cause would be served to support women who are genuinely sexually harassed, bullied, threatened with violence or otherwise intimidated. Rather than weigh in on a cause celebre that will be well nigh meaningless by the time the next Presidential Election rolls around, perhaps do something to create a more clear and concise model of what is most certainly not appropriate and that no woman should have to tolerate. And if women like Roiphe don't care for the company or for supporting the voices of other intelligent women, then work with those small men to put their egos in check and just accept they ain't never gonna be the alpha dogs in the lot, no matter how much they intimidate women.

Think about it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mainstream Media Use Twitter as Broadcast Medium (and so do lots of others)

The Pew Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) issued an new report yesterday covering how mainstream media outlets make use of Twitter.

Not surprisingly, 93 percent of mainstream media outlets surveyed--this included print, network television, radio, and online-- use Twitter as another means of broadcasting their own information. The study surveyed 3,600 tweets from 13 major news organizations over the course of a week and found that while many news organizations offer a wide array of Twitter feeds--from one to a total of 98--most Twitter feeds were spewing links back to stories on the news outlets main sites.

Sure, we see tv stations like the Weather Channel and CNN incorporating commentary from Twitter, but news organizations overall do not appear to be making use of the conversational and information-sharing aspects of Twitter (although individual journalists make excellent use of Twitter, and have done so for some time.)

Big surprise? No. Most of us who are news consumers already know that this is how their own local tv affiliates and newspapers use their Twitter feeds. And some individuals use their Twitter accounts as ersatz RSS readers (an article on CNET discussed that as early as 2009.)

Yet do we think of turning to our Twitter newsfeeds during a time of an emergency--say like last week's Snowpocalypse in Massachusetts and Connecticut? Honestly, no. If the power's out, like it was for several days in my town, no one--not even the most tech-savvy among us--thought of checking the Twitter feeds of any of the local stations. Considering the extent of the power outage, many of us could access Twitter only from our smartphones. That being the case, most of us chose to check our Facebook feeds, where the feeds from the local TV, radio, and newspaper stations weren't saying a whole lot. Or at least a whole lot that we could see in our newsfeeds.

I can't, though, get all over the mainstream media for how it uses Twitter. The need to generate traffic to stimulate revenue is easily the main goal of a media outlet having a Twitter feed in the first place. Sure, one might say that it's all about serving a steady stream of current news and information, but really? That's an aspect, but so is driving traffic.

There's another aspect to this that also causes me to not return such a hard indictment against mainstream media for its Twitter use. Over the past 2 years, Twitter overall has been turning into little more than a broadcast medium for marketers, social media types, and others who want to aggressively promote their personal brands. Oh, some will share information, but when you see the same information, the same articles or YouTube videos, or blog posts shared by the same people, ad infinitum, it's easy to conclude that many are looking to establish themselves as in-the-know news and information sources above all others. Yes, there's much linking, and re-tweeting, and so forth, but very, very little conversation. And certainly very, very little in the way of connecting with others.

Twitter has, in many respects, turned into Ultimate Me Broadcast Media. The more followers you have, the more value one has in the Twittersphere because one's brand is more known than the brands of others. Or so it is assumed. The more round-the-clock tweeting one does, the more popular one becomes.

Well, not necessarily so. Popularity in the Twittersphere is a relative term. One may certainly have thousands of followers, but what is the overall quality of those followers? Are those followers really reading all those tweets and retweets and broadcast tweets? If the followers also have thousands of followers, one can hazard a pretty good bet that what is read is highly filtered and you, my dear status seeking twitter maven, may be the last one on the leader-board.

If you think about it, then, does Twitter really have the same relevance for making good connections and growing a productive community that it once had if so many are simply broadcasting to grow a company's brand or their personal brand? Not really.

It makes me wonder how many Twitter innovators and early adopters are now using Twitter. Have many, like me, experienced Twitter burn-out, and use it mostly to share links, thus leaving the conversations to Facebook or other forms of new media (or even old media, like email?) Has the value of Twitter for business marketing use decreased because of the changing ways in which individuals use Twitter? I'd hazard a guess that if there's little interaction, there will eventually be a change.

Then, is broadcast media doing something wrong by not interacting with its Twitter followers? No. Because mainstream media Twitter followers know what they are getting with a msm feed, and do not resent a lack of interaction. And besides, at least it's real information and not continued funhouse mirror self-promotion.

On a personal level, here's what I've seen and do with Twitter: I maintain a small following of mostly valuable individuals and business connections. Some of those individuals, though, have turned into shrill self-broadcasters, while others are still pretty good (esp. the journalists I happen to know.) Some of the businesses have abandoned their Twitter streams (perhaps the interns who started them moved on?) while others are still good to check for a sale from time to time. And do I care about the mainstream media Twitter feeds that I follow? To some degree, as they do indeed give me a heads up as to what's hot on their sites. That then spares me time from going over and having to hunt for stories. The other thing that keeps me occasionally posting are the people I know. Not the self-broadcasters, not the marketing efforts of various companies or public relations concerns, but the individuals who have things to say as much as they have information to share. Can or should mainstream media be like people? No, and we shouldn't expect it to be either.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Google Buys Zagat....So what does that mean for Yelp and Foursquare??

It's a little late in the day to report this--as most of you probably know by now--but Google has purchased Zagat, known for its almost never-wrong restaurant ratings. Here's the announcement from Tim and Nina Zagat with a great nod to the consumer who has helped to make their guide great:
It is a testament to the knowledgeable consumers who contribute their opinions that Zagat Survey has become an internationally respected symbol of quality. Their experiences, distilled into numerical ratings and concise, witty, quote-filled reviews, will continue to provide accurate guidance for a wide range of leisure activities.

Much is being said all over the Internet about whether or not Google will keep Zagat's pay wall, whether the Zagat site will become a platform, etc. And that's great. But the real story is what's going to happen to Yelp, a direct competitor with Zagat. There are a couple of other things to note about the Zagat purchase (as Larry Dignan points out:

  • the purchase puts Google squarely in the content business (user-generated content, no less)

  • Google bolsters its ability to build out its local offerings

  • Will it cause more more search troubles for Yelp??

Buying Zagat also reaches into Google's mobile offerings: think of how Zagat info might be incorporated into Google Maps on the Android phone! It then becomes a big competitor to apps like Citysearch.

Because of this potential, there's been some talk about how the sale might impact Foursquare. Given the Pew Internet and American Life's latest survey on mobile and social location based services and their use, the perceived threat to Foursquare is small in comparison to the threat to Yelp. The bigger challenge to Foursquare is convincing the public that giving away location specific info is a good thing. Foursquare also might want to consider how to add some content value to its service. Not that this might greatly change people's reticence to share their locations.

Google+ might also be impacted by the purchase. Right now, scuttlebutt has it that many find the learning curve of G+ to be a hindrance to its regular use. But, if particular groups find that their user-generated content can quickly be incorporated into a service like Zagat, which has a high level of credibility with the public, then there may be an uptick in G+ use.

So, right now, watch out for what happens with Yelp now that Google has Zagat, as well as how Google perhaps re-engineers Zagat's paywall, other services, as well as how and where it accumulates new user-generated content. Oh, and then there's search: watch where Zagat info appears now in search vs. where Yelp info appears.

As for Foursquare: the Pew report says a lot more than the Google/Zagat merger.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

In which Jack Shafer is laid off, freemiums are considered, and a note about this blog

I don't know who the genius was who thought that giving away high quality written content on the web was a good idea, but I definitely remember when newspapers thought their websites would be cracking great promotion for their printed product. So,when I read Paul Carr's essay--Now Can We All Agree That The “High Quality Web Content” Experiment Has Failed? and a mention of Slate's decision to lay off Jack Shafer's and three others, well, there was a sense of "ha! I told you so!" as much as an accompanying feeling of dread....

Yes, it's been difficult for newspapers to make money, but it's been even more difficult for online publications to turn a profit and keep the best writers employed. Some are doing it by creating SEO tweaked headlines that lead to slideshows created from stock photography (or so I've been told is one of the tactics of the Huffington Post.) Others rely on free content contributions sorta-smart people (like Forbes has started doing.) Still a scant few others are working on a freemium model (like GigaOm) that gives readers more in-depth writing on niche topics like tech and business....

Carr looks at the advertising game as it relates to online content, and determines that too much cheap online content is being produced to generate income that quality, well-written online content just can't keep its numbers up to generate enough income to pay quality writers. Got to agree with Carr here. I've been looking at this situation too, from the unpaid-looking-to-get-paid angle, and there's not a lot in the way of markets to get paid anymore. When jobs appear for content production, they are usually linked to some type of web site development and social content development as well.

Simply writing for the web, for a web-based publication, just isn't paying any more.

Another reason is that journalistic content is competing with marketing content that masquerades as journalism. In my recent research into fashion journalism on the web (for a project I'd like to develop) I found a number of fashion blogs for women over 40 that were established to promote businesses of some sort. Other fashion blogs are simply income generators, with poorly written posts, product endorsements without disclosure, and all the rest.
Carr sums it up:
Out will go professional writers and church-and-state separation of content and commerce; in will come more Groupon-style “reader offers”, affiliate links behind every keyword and an Idiocracy of dumber and dumber linkbait. Ten ways to make extra income with Lady Gaga Sony Porn — Kittens!

Now, the FTC has stepped in to try to do something about the whole disclosure thing (the church-state separation of which Carr speaks.) Still, there are many ambitious marketing professionals dabbling in social media who have no knowledge of the FTC's regulations--yet are well aware of SEO tricks--and go right ahead with creating junk content.

So, where could things go from here? Carr is right in his assessment that the thirst for quality content on the web isn't going to go away. From my experience as part of the SIIA, the ONA, and a liveblogger for a number of Gaspedal's great social media marketing conferences, I can say that people within a number of industries beyond newspapers are interested in seeing quality content thrive on the web and see people get paid for it.

One strategy that has potential for the magazine industry (which is more of what Slate was like than a newspaper) that I have stood by is a freemium model, where either the print publication or the web publication will be paid for, while access to the other remains free. The New York Times, savvy about different digital forms, makes access on its apps available for those who subscribe to its digital content (which I do.) Some magazines are creating new content for the web, separate from their print content, which has the potential to drive readers to either one or the other. Right now, one magazine that does this sort of thing, More magazine, a beauty and fashion publication for women over 40, that features some different web content--which is some of the most lackluster online beauty content I have ever read. Recently, one piece of online content that did not clearly separate church and state was a pictorial on shapewear that read like an ad for Spanx (the only shapewear featured in the pictorial were Spanx products.) I left a comment telling them such, but there doesn't seem to be anyone home when it comes to listening to feedback through the comments, and spam comments are often left to linger beside legitimate, critical constructive or conversational comments.

The print magazine is only marginally better, with some recent layout changes that have made a snappier content presentation. It still features models that are way too thin, and some extremely sappy first person stories (then again, maybe sappy sells.)

However, we are still a few years away from knowing which strategy will be the best for creating the most income for quality content on the web. It may be a combined freemium strategy that links the web, mobile, social, and print, or maybe it will be something different altogether, and might just be relative to the niche audience of each niche publication.

Which leads me to a few words about this blog. Things here have been a bit aimless and inconsistent for quite some time here, and I even wondered why I keep this blog on life support. Over the years, this blog has been the vehicle for creating my reputation, for good or bad, and has been a place where I honed my particular conversational writing style (a style that, from what I've heard, takes a lot of people a long time to figure out.) It has, at various times, even created income for me--not through ads but through other perks like blogging gigs, etc..

Yet I believe that those times have moved on. There are new ways of publishing content on the web, some that limit distribution to social networks, while others expand it. Looking professional while still being considered "amateur" has become more important, which, in the long run, can be costly--if you consider looking professional to be a custom designed template with unique URL, at minimum.

It could be time for me to take a big step forward--to take my experience beyond the bounds of freelancing into a job that's more permanent and secure. I've loved being part of projects that have in some ways changed the ways we consider how journalism is produced, evaluated, and innovated--projects like Assignment Zero, Placeblogger, NewsTrust, and I've been very lucky to work with the likes of David Cohn, Lisa Williams, Jay Rosen, Fabrice Florin, Rory O'Connor, Andrew Nachison, and so many others. The experience I've gained from working alongside these visionaries has been invaluable.

It's like being that fabulous studio musician that has to go on and make her own record. Kind of like being the Cheryl Crowe of social media?

We'll see.....

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New York Times Limits Comment Characters from 5,000 to 2,000*

Yesterday, the New York Times announced that it would limit the number of characters that can be used to write a comment from 5,000 to 2,000. Aron Pilhofer, told The Wrap that:
"We've had one of the highest character limits known to humanity for a long time. We've gotten feedback from readers and frequent commenters, as well as internally, that our character limit is too high, that maybe we should force people to be a little more succinct.

"5,000 [characters] is a lot," he added. "That's not a comment, that's an article."

Later, Pilhofer explains that 5,000 character comments are time consuming to moderate. (The Times has always had some of the best community moderation out there.)

HOWEVER, the headline for The Wrap article says 5,000 words, which is vastly different from 5,000 characters. Now, some may think that 5,000 of *anything* is too high a number, but as to whether 5,000 characters constitutes an article is a tad debatable.

Blog post, maybe. Full-blown article, maybe not.

If Aron Pilhofer could clarify whether it's words or characters, that would be great....because readers may still be a bit confused by The Wrap's headline...

I can, though, empahtize with The Times moderators, who I'm sure have a high volume of comments to moderate and can devote only a certain amount of eyeball time to spend on one comment. It stands to reason that it makes good sense to limit the character count for the moderators benefit, thus decreasing the amount of time spent reviewing and leading to a speedier time in seeing one's post up on The Times' comments boards.

Whether or not 5,000 characters constitutes an article is a matter of opinion. Has anyone ever been given a character count from an editor? Usually, it's word count. Whether it's 2,000 or 5,000 words, both counts usually qualify as a full-lenght article.

So the Wrap's headline confuses on the matter of words and characters...which, coupled with Pilhofer's comment about articles and character count which could make the verbose commenter feel a bit put upon.

But perhaps in a good way...

Here's a couple of suggestions for The Times: would it be possible to make it so that there is an easier way for readers to submit articles? or is that asking too much? Right now, the gatekeeping mechanisms for getting published in the Times are pretty strict. Usually, one can't even get a pitch in without a connection. I'm sure, too, that to institute something like a reader's columns section would cost money, and there'd probably be a lot of disgruntled readers once they receive rejections, but perhaps it's worth a try?

Or maybe just encourage the long commenters to start their own blogs. The Times has, over the years, displayed links back to their articles, which encourages bloggers immensely. Or allow for html code in posts so that commenters could leave links back to full blown comments on their blogs. (to avoid spam links, they could do some sort of CAPTCHA or other automated service for grabbing spam posts.)

Overall, I don't think it's a *bad* thing that The Times is limiting characters in comments. I get it from a moderation perspective, and it makes total sense. However, the Times might want to consider ways to encourage commenters who want to extrapolate to either blog on their own or submit articles. But the Wrap should have been more careful in its headline. There is, after all, a HUGE difference between 5,000 words and 5,000 characters.

And I don't mean 2,000 various personalities who leave comments--who could also be considered "characters" ;)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Local Newspaper Experiments with Crowdsourcing in News Cafe

Can a local paper really get the community involved in the process of creating local news? If you ask John Paton, CEO of the Journal Register Co, the answer might be "yes." Mr. Paton was the keynote speaker at the 10th International Newsroom Summit held last week in Zurich, Switzerland, where he discussed about the company's "news cafe" experiment in Torrington, CT....

In this short recap of the conference, we get little info about the keynote (ok, it's a *short* recap, I know) other than repetition of the axiom (platitude?) "The crowd knows more than we do. . ."

Yadda, yadda, yadda....

I wonder, really, how well the experiment is working, if the "crowd" is really stepping up, and how the newsroom folks are handling the "crowd"....

Crowdsourced journalism isn't an easy thing to do, and the quality of the news can be affected by the quality of the crowd. If the crowd is doing newsgathering, and thus contributing to the news in some way, that would be innovative...but...

One of the biggest problems with doing anything "crowd" is managing said crowd. In order to achieve success, there needs to be good community guidelines and management. The Register Citizen folks held a meeting in December 2010 to discuss comment approval guidelines.
A very good discussion--esp. on the bit of not saying anything bad about businesses--appears in the comments to the post...

So, that's a good start, but I wonder where it went from there?? (any Register Citizen folks, please feel free to leave a comment....)

I also wonder if anyone at the Register Citizen read up on the subject of online community management, and, perhaps, informed the folks at the meeting that there are a great number of resources out there to help them develop suitable guidelines...

We don't need to re-invent the wheel here, folks. There's solid scholarship on online communities. Please, don't leave the public in the dark to fumble around and figure it out for themselves. IMO, there's something both unethical and dishonest when that's done.

As for the project itself, here's the site for The Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe Project, very nicely built on There's also a very niceOpenNewsroom Wiki

I am very interested to really know how this project is working out, and may have to take a trip to Torrington, CT to find out....

We'll see...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Future of Media: Women and Minorities Need Not Apply...

Some of the most important conversations about where media, marketing, and technology are headed are often conducted behind closed doors, at conferences and panel discussions attended by industry insiders who received invitations or could afford to attend. Rarely, if ever, are the conversations or findings from these events reported or published where anyone might read them. As a result, certain attitudes that might perpetuate sexism and raceism might be allowed to continue unchecked and unquestioned....

It has always been part of the mission of this blog to expose and disclose what goes on at some of these hush-hush gatherings. Unfortunately, I missed a good one the other day--one that should have been reported on*: The Future of Media panel presented by the New America Foundation and held at their offices in Washington D.C. The panelists were Steve Coll, President of the NAF; Commissioner Michael Copps of the FCC; and Ted Koppel, Sr News Analyst at NPR.

All old (born sometime in the 1940's) white guys.

Let me note that this is not to say that the NAF deliberately chose not to include a woman and a minority in the discussion. But it does indeed raise the question why, if the recent joint FCC FTC report “Information Needs of Communities: The Changing Media Landscape in a Broadband Age" discusses the need of "diverse voices," that the panel did not include any diverse voices.

There does not seem to be any clear and compelling reason why a woman and minority--two diverse voices-- weren't included. There are many, many non-white, non-guys of the same generation (if we want to talk generations, too) who are as equally august as the gentlemen included here, who would have been great on this panel. They would have had the experience and direct information to answer questions regarding participation of these two diverse groups in the new digital media landscape.

This isn't a lone incidence of something like this: rather, it's endemic to closed-door conversations and many professional conferences. When the conversation about something so important as the future of media is occurring not just behind a closed door, but also among a group that has held sway over it for so long, one might be able to reach the conclusion that the discussions may, perhaps, be held merely as a way to pay lip-service to the changes in order to feel good about the perpetuation of the status quo.

I'd like to be fair to the New America Foundation and its efforts to hold some meaningful dialogue on the FCC's report, but it's awfully hard when it seems so much like the same old same old hush-hush hegemony.

Fortunately,NAF recorded the event. You can find A Conversation on the Future of Media here. Finding the FCC report itself, however, isn't as easy...go figure.

*although it may have been reported on C-Span. yeah, like most people watch that network...

See also: FCC Backs Away from Aiding Media
Less of less: FCC-commissioned report finds a "surprisingly small audience for local news traffic.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Wall St. Journal Reporter Takes Heat for Helping Us Know What They Know

For years now, tech entrepreneurs have been telling us not to worry about the information we upload to their sites, and advertisers have tried to assure us that they were collecting only that information that's necessary for them. In fact, we've been told that giving them all kinds of information is actually a *good* thing. That for the advertisers, giving us better targeted ads really helps us make better purchasing decisions. As for the entrepreneurs: well, all that data they collect on us helps them to earn money and keep providing us with services. Yet, many consumers and site participants (as well as gadget purchasers) don't quite know what sort of information is being gathered daily, with every click, as well as not knowing who's using that data and why....

That's why the "What They Know" series in the Wall Street Journal is really something of a public service.

Let's face it, being forthcoming about people's personal data, and what's being done with it, isn't necessarily in the best interest of those collecting it (and, if the companies are privately owned, they don't have to disclose a darned thing about what they collect.) And that's in part why WSJ reporter Julia Angwin was given a bit of shite about the series at the recent pii2011 conference.

I have steadfastly maintained that, often, the debates and discussions that go on at insider tech conferences (most of them are for "insiders") are important for anyone who uses the Internet to know about. Yet we rarely, if ever, hear about these discussions. Had more of the general populace known about some of the statements made regarding privacy--such as how "kids" don't care about online privacy and gladly give up information for nothing--there might have been more concerned voices raised well before 2011.

Groups are now feeling the heat, and are lashing out against the journalism that reported it.

It just figures.

Also check out FTC details mobile app privacy concerns on last week's hearings. There is strong concern for the amount of info collected from mobile devices IF the mobile device is in the hands of a person defined by law as a child. Some of the data collected could violate FTC regs on marketing to children...just sayin'....