Thursday, May 26, 2005

I went to Blogsboro

I went to Blogsboro
...and all I got was this lousy t-shirt my picture on the front cover!

Yes Weekly:
New media gains national attention in Greensboro
There’s something happening here.

Oh, yes, there's something definitely happening in Blogsboro. Yes Weekly's Editor Brian Clarey and photographer Lee Adams have done a fantastic job of helping you to envision the social (blogging) scene at Panera's on Lawndale last Wenesday night. It was a warm and welcoming group on a warm Spring evening. Billy Jones, who has graciously organized and hosted the monthly Meet-Ups, was the first person I recognized when I arrived. Roch Smith fooled me..he'd shaved off his beard, so I didn't recognize him right off the bat. Because I'd only seen him in photos, I expected to see Roch as he'd appeared on the mysterious Mr. Sun's website. I tried to squeeze Mr. Sun's true identity out of Roch, by the way, but he wouldn't sing.
*Mr. Sun, your secret is safe with Roch.

I was invited to see the Revolution Mill Studios afterwards, and I found it to be quite an interesting evening. Tara Sue Clark is a vivacious and energetic idea-wielder who told us about the history and renovation of the mill and her plans for its future. Making internet users feel comfortable with blogging tools is something that comes naturally to her.

Ross Myers, sitting with us at the massive wood conference table in an airy room of glass and sturdy wooden beams, spoke of a potential for a prosperous future in the world of citizen's media. Ross is, to say the least, uncomfortable about the new "private box" into which he sees the traditional media attempting to put the blogosphere. He believes a true "Public Square" should be owned by the public and maintained in the interest of the public and not the special interests. Myers' ideas go far beyond the borders of the lovely community in which he lives and works. He has asked, if 10 men from six highly competitive New York newspapers could have met and agreed to work together…and within 100 years become one of the largest news gathering organizations in the world, what could 8 million people from all over the world accomplish in just a few years, given the technological advantages we have today? That, according to Ross, is the question the blogosphere needs to be addressing. With blogging, it's anyone's game. New business models are emerging.

My Idea Consultants colleague Nick Lewis said recently in his column titled "The Evolutionary Origins of the Weblog":
"The MSM is sustained through legal safeguards, readers and watchers who have no where else to turn, and revenue from ads. In contrast, the blogosphere’s growth is sustained by our natural desire for social belonging; to find meaning through cooperation towards common goals. Look at those two models again. Which is more likely to outlive the other?"

I know this topic has come up in Greensboro before. Much has been discussed. Ed Cone has asked:
"Is Roch [Smith] ethically wrong at 101? Are Ross and Tara ethically wrong to look at blog networks as a way to do affinity marketing?...This is not the old media world, where the success of one entity must come at the expense of another."
Anonymoses replied, (in his unmistakable Anonymosian way:)
" seem to be talking about sins of inclusion, which, if a sin at all, is at least a shared sin…which basically means you will only go to Heck, a bedroom community on the outskirts of Hell. Climate-controlled. WiFi…"
I love the idea of everyone in Blogsboro working cooperatively...flourishing financially...constantly striving to benefit all citizens within that community and beyond..providing citizens with a strong voice and a simple way to relay their message in this land of the free; this home of the brave; this abode of the entrepreneurial. With cooperation and ethical consideration, I believe they may succeed in being the pioneering success they dream of being. Sky's the limit.

I especially enjoyed speaking with Ron Newton, GED Tutor of the Year in 2004, whose SAT College Board Preparation blog is the only one of its kind in existence today.

Jerry McClough of ThatsWhatzUp was recently voted President of his child's Elementary School PTA.

Lewis Byers' Barbershop blog is a pretty hip idea. I'll be watching it closely to see how it evolves and grows.

Jay Ovittore, Sue, Chewie,JW, Lenslinger, Ben, F.S. Patrick, Michael, Jill Williams from Truth and Reconciliation...I enjoyed meeting you.

In January of this year, Ed Cone wrote:
"..Something is trying to happen in Greensboro. If you compare the weblog scene here and now to the situation one year ago, the progress is phenomenal. But it's an experiment. The people behind it are sincere and committed. It could falter, at least as a business proposition, which would lead some to say it failed. It may succeed in ways that the mass market or at least current understanding does not recognize as success.

It is what it is."
I think, for tonight, that is a fitting way to end this blogpost.

* See Yes Weekly's list of Greensboro's Top Ten Hometown Blogs. Congrats to all who made the Top Ten list and the Honorable Mention list.

Iraq Notes

Iraq Notes

A few quick notes on the Iraq War and our troops -

- The House of Representatives voted down a measure, by a 128 to 300 vote, that called on President Bush to devise a plan for a withdrawal from Iraq. It came in the form of an amendment to the $491 billion budget for the Pentagon that was passed on Wednesday night. It's important to note that the withdrawal amendment marks the first time that Congress has officially voted and debated legislation that deals with a withdrawal. Two-thirds of Democrats voted for it (why didn't they all?) and so did five Republicans (why didn't they all?) It's a dramatic shift from just a few months ago, when talk of a potential withdrawal was taboo for even the most progressive lawmakers. *thanks to Scrutiny Hooligans for the lead.

- The massive oil pipeline, which many believe is the real cause for the Bush administration's occupation of Iraq, was (rather quietly) opened for business yesterday in the central Asian republic of Azerbaijan. It provides the first direct link between the landlocked Caspian - thought to contain the world's third-largest oil and gas reserves - and the Mediterranean. It was built by a consortium led by British Petroleum and will take until August to fill completely. Then it will carry one per cent of the world's oil production every day. You can see further discussion about the pipeline at Democracy Now.

- Military bloggers are typing their place in history. C.B. is back home and writing a book. I knew he'd be famous from the first time I read him.

Tara Sue Clark and Ross Myers (seen with Instapundit in this photo) have created a Milblog news aggregator at:
They also featured a live Milblogger's conference session during this month's bloggercon in Nashville, TN. According to The Shu:
"Tara Sue and Ross caused a bit of a stir during the Military Blogging session by carrying the session live via audio and video. Through the use of some emerging technology in partnership with the VFW and Policlick’s new website were able to bring military bloggers around the world into the discussion during the session. Congrats to those folks for successfully putting that together."

Cross Burning in Durham N.C.

Cross Burnings in Durham N.C.
Checking my calendar - yes, it's 2005. I can't believe I'm writing this. At Pam's House Blend, she reports cross-burning incidents which occurred in Durham, N.C. last night.

Chayes: "It's a mistake to focus on the Newsweek article."

Chayes: "It's a mistake to focus on the Newsweek article."

A couple days ago, I'd posted about my doubts surrounding the Newsweek-Afghanistan riot connection. There is new information to cause me to further doubt the connection which, in my opinion, was all too hastily made by the Bush administration and others.

Laura Rozen reports that the events, which culminated in the deaths of the 15-18 alleged citizens of Afghanistan (of whom we still have no positive identity) after the infamous Isikoff Newsweek story, were not necessarily related to anything Isikoff had written.

Kandahar-based Sarah Chayes has written of the recent riots in Afghanistan in the New York Times:
"...Our unshakable conclusion has been that the adroit Pakistani intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, is planting operatives in the student body. These students can also provoke agitation at Pakistani officials' behest, while affording the government in Islamabad plausible deniability.

In both Kandahar and Kabul, alert Afghan government officials were able to calm demonstrations by holding discussions with student leaders, an indication of the degree to which protesters' actions were manipulated and not the result of spontaneous outrage.

In other words, it's a mistake to focus on the Newsweek article as the cause of the recent demonstrations in Afghanistan. Instead, the reason was President Hamid Karzai's May 8 announcement that Afghanistan would enter a long-term strategic partnership with the United States."

Mahablog has even more reasons why Newsweek shouldn't be blamed. She may even have provided sufficient investigatory groundwork for their vindication.

Can You Relate?

Can You Relate?

1975: Long hair
2005: Longing for hair

1975: KEG
2005: EKG

1975: Acid rock
2005: Acid reflux

1975: Moving to California because it's cool
2005: Moving to California because it's warm

1975: Trying to look like Marlon Brando or Liz Taylor
2005: Trying NOT to look like Marlon Brando or Liz Taylor

1975: Seeds and stems
2005: Roughage

1975: Hoping for a BMW
2005: Hoping for a BM

1975: The Grateful Dead
2005: Dr. Kevorkian

1975: Going to a new, hip joint
2005: Receiving a new hip joint

1975: Rolling Stones
2005: Kidney Stones

1975: Being called into the principal's office
2005: Calling the principal's office

1975: Screw the system
2005: Upgrade the system

1975: Disco
2005: Costco

1975: Parents begging you to get your hair cut
2005: Children begging you to get their heads shaved

1975: Passing the drivers' test
2005: Passing the vision test

1975: Whatever
2005: Depends

Mainstream Media Must Change or Die

Mainstream Media Must Change -
or Die

With the Advent of the Second Superpower,
It's Time for Significant Change

If They Don't, We Will!
Social Conscience Must Not Be Lost or Buried on Page 16 with the Bloomingdales ad

There's a buzz right now about writer/filmmaker Danny Schechter and the topic of Media Reform. There was a National Conference for Media Reform held last week in St Louis, featuring Bill Moyers, who allegedly gave a powerful speech on the topic.

Media Matters has launched a "Hands Off Public Broadcasting" campaign. PBS is the last bastion of independent journalism, free from political or commercial pressure, and their targeting for becoming an ideologue's oasis for just another Conservative point of view must be resisted with great public pressure.

Josh Shear discusses Danny Schecter's proposal for a Media and Democracy Act, stating:
"...[Schechter] gives only one idea for funding any of his ideas: charging a tax on advertising, which would fund public broadcasting. Somehow, I just don't see a tax on advertising ever making it through Congress, but even if it does, Schechter's ideas need a lot more funding, and the people who most need to be the recipients of most of that funding certainly can't afford higher tax rates or to make sudden in-kind gifts to public library or education systems. Maybe the couple of hundred billion dollars we're spending on this failed foray into Iraq could be better used."
Still, Shear recommends an updated Fairness Doctrine, saying that "properly written, a new Fairness Doctrine could even foster growth of new political parties in the U.S. If media outlets are forced to cover small-party candidates, those candidates would gain more exposure, and presumably win some converts. That could lead to coalitions and compromise in government."

The Common Ills showcases Schecter's thoughts, along with Stephen Dunifer's "The Folly of Media Reform."

I want you to listen to Dunifer - and listen to him closely.
"....most advocates of reform fail to recognize that every citizen of the United States is the target of an ongoing psychological warfare campaign. It is terra-forming of the human internal landscape. An old movement slogan had it right, "It is hard to fight an enemy who has an outpost in your head". When someone is carpet bombing your mind every second, minute and hour of the day, blowing the hell of out of your sense of self-esteem, self-identity and self-worth, would any intelligent, free thinking person believe that media reform aspirin is the solution and cure? No way!.... Our only option is to continue to create our own systems of media and information."

It's time to open our eyes and to turn the old dinosaur over on its ear. We have a framework for freedom and democracy in America and we are the ones who are squandering that freedom by standing by and allowing owners and editors of MSM to stuff our heads with careless, unconscientious garbage. I don't wish to be an amoral trash receptacle and I don't want our children to have to endure what we currently endure from MSM owners and editors. Our country; our children; citizens of our world - they are all far too valuable to allow the mainstream media to control the discussion in this, the most influential, powerful, and enriched nation on the face of the Earth.

A change must surely come.

In America today, thanks to the Founding Fathers, a revolution does not have to be won with blood; but it does still require sweat and tears. We can sit back and whine about the mainstream media or we can work together to find a way to get the most important issues out front (and recruit market support) in the form of a citizen's press.

Jason Miller (ZNET) recently said (and I agree):
"While much of the mainstream media is corrupted by the influence of government and corporate interests, there are still mainstream journalists who practice a high degree of journalistic integrity, and who do challenge the prevailing social ideals with their stories and opinions. To make a sweeping dismissal of every journalist employed by a mainstream newspaper or television network would be both unrealistic and unfair."
I certainly do not intend to demean great journalists employed by MSM. It is the nature of the beast from which they draw their pay that I have come to distrust, with good reason.

An example: The story of the Downing Street memo, and it's burial in the back pages of the mainstream media, was the last straw as far as I'm concerned. If we cannot have a media who will put a proper priority on the all-important issue of a government who has willingly taken us to unnecessary war, then I think it's time to drive them into the ground and plant our own seeds. If people knew they could turn to a media source where they could be trusted to see the facts and think for themselves; where they could find meaning through realism, community, and cooperation toward our common goals, I believe the new model would overtake the mainstream model within a short time. Why? Because the citizens, themselves, would have an important voice in the venture. I could just see many talented mainstream journalists jumping ship and helping to create something better - with the willing support of an ethical business market.

A strong, respected, and informed America is only as good as its citizens. I think citizens are getting the short shrift by the mainstream media because, overconfident in their power over the markets, they think they can get away with it. How much longer will we let them? And how much longer will American Business contribute to a media whose owners and editors willingly choose to keep the citizens of our country in the dark on social-conscience issues that are important to our lives and the lives of our children?