"the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time..." -- Kerouac

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


I think the meta-uber-echt-ur theme really is "Is This (blogging, the class, your blogs) Anything?"

Keep reading each other.

Marc and Chris have some interesting stuff. Follow their links.


It looks like we'll have an amazing class if we can just recreate and get out into the middle of the room some of the material on your blogs, particularly the way you comment to one another. There seem to be a lot of amazing comments cycling among Brett, Elin, Joe, John, Holly, Bill (whom am I missing?). To say nothing of some of the people visiting you.

Eric the Fearless, as is his custom, has leapt into the crevasse to battle the Balrogs of mind and soul.

our blogs, ourselves

Even though she STILL hasn't learned to make her links work, Patti has nailed down a couple of this week's themes for class.
They have to do with our own experiences writing (and engineering!) blogs -- how did being a writer change being a student? -- and with our experiences interacting with other bloggers.

Here's Patti:

I took David Smith's comment to Colin to heart, "Personalized blogs are like lazy children... they may not be accomplishing much in the real world, but you hope they are osmotically gathering (emitting) some world-wisdom that will pay off some day, and at least today they aren't hating you." I have worked my blog around and around --trying to please an audience, my class and my professor. I decided with two more classes left that I would please myself and if I decide to retain and continue the blog it will be mine and mine alone. I may not have accomplished much through the blog but through others blogs I have learned so much.Here's a link to something that has crossed my mind, puzzling me these past few months--
I fixed the goddamned link for "swarm logic". Has this theory come true through "Blogging On"? Have 15 or so naive students become more tuned in to the blogosphere through our interaction within it rather than through watching it from afar? Some have willingly become a part of this ant hill, some of us have moved forward to our own ant hill while yet others have settled comfortably within a predisposed "frontier" place. I am still uncertain of where my particular place is--but I know one thing for certain--I will never be alone there--and neither will you!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Papoulis on "the personal"

My generous and talented colleague Prof. Irene Papoulis offers these observations on the personal nature of blog-writing. (I think they're very apt, especially as we consider, again, that blog-writing seems to involve a sensation of "performance" not present in other kinds of writing.)

I suppose your post today is tongue in cheek. But it makes me think about what personal means. People sometimes think that the only way to be "personal" is to tell stories aboutwhat happened to them or what they're feeling. (Not that I have anything against that--I teach personal-essay writing classes all the time and have thought a lot about the nature of the personal, and about why people, especially academics, denigrate what they scornfully call "confessional," etc.) But one thing that's great about your public self is the apparent honesty and even brazenness you bring to whatever it is you're looking at, including so much that isn't personal in the conventional sense. (I guess some people need to be more like that, some less. You seem to know what it means not to be like that, which gives your brazenness a kind of personal awareness that makes it seem less brazen, and maybe that's part of why it works.) So I'm just writing to say you already are quite personal. Not that your being more autobiographical or confessional on your blog wouldn't be interesting. I'm sure it would.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

More ... or less...on the assignment

Who would have thought that Aldon would have limned the connection between blogging and
Beckett? Sorry. Wrong Beckett.

Here is what Aldon, mistaking me for an organized professor, has said: "Colin’s students have a great exercise for the coming week. Colin writes, “I don't know EXACTLY what the theme is, just what I want you to read and think about, until we DO know what the theme is”. Well, perhaps that gets to some of it. It is about Emergence. The human condition is to read and think until we do know what the theme is. It is what we do while waiting, and blogs are yet another place where we read, write and think, while waiting. "

Yes! That's exactly what I was thinking. Yeah, that's the ticket.

I would also like to revisit, this week, the whole question of "the personal" in blogs, to say nothing of impudent Brett's final grade.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

I mean...

Is it clear from the below that I don't know EXACTLY what the theme is, just what I want you to read and think about, until we DO know what the theme is?

An idea emerges

OK. I think we're getting close to something.
(Didn't Letterman's writers used to do a feature called "Is This Anything?")
The trick is to make sure we don't wind up repeating stuff we've already done. But Aldon asks
an old question in a new way.

And I'll ask it in yet another way. Blogging is sort of the opposite of the proto-koan about the tree falling in the forest with nobody there to hear it. Blogging is an activity that appears isolative but is rather the opposite. It's shouting in a forest that has a thousand eyes and ears.

The artist's journey is meant to be lonely. Think of Sondheim's song Finishing the Hat, which by the way turns out to be the name of someone's blog. (Of course it does.)

But each blog artist meets his or her community while producing art, often of a deeply personal nature. (Please read this blog a bit.) So communities form. And the lonely job of the artist is somehow incorporated into the life of a tribe. Check this post from the same blog which echoes Elin's Thanksgiving blog-angst.

Aldon also cited this blogger whose raison détre seems to be the lighting of candles of community against the darkness of alone-ness. Look over her blog. The link I offered was just one example.

So what does all this hallooing in the canyons of cyberspace add up to? One answer can be had by reading all the class blogs, especially your comments to one another, especially about burning issues.

Is blogging changing the nature of communication? (and is it clear that when I embed a link, I really want you to read a lot of the site, especially, in this case, this, again?

Friday, November 25, 2005


Because of the remarkable nature of this course -- teaching about a literary, journalistic, anthropological, social form as it emerges -- I'm going to invite you to suggest ways in which we might spend our final two sessions. Dec. 1 is fast approaching, so if I don't hear anything cool in the next 24 hours -- or by 11 a.m. Saturday -- I'll post an assignment, a theme, etc.

But it might be interesting to be wiki, as opposed to hierarchical -- while still maintaining my power of life and death over you.

I do, however, wanna ride hard down the home stretch. You are blog warriors. Never forget that.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


these are just my handy reference notes for class
pay no atrtention to them
they're just i can walk in paperless.

From eric
It is an English-to-Hindi-to-English translation of the Hokey-Pokey.
"You place your entire being insideYou place your entire being outsideYou place your entire being inside and vibrate your entire being everywhereYou do the hokey pokey and revolve your being in a circleThat is the complete essense of everything."

So we’ll watch this, kind of to get us in the mood.


a framework for discussing something: (the arrival of my cable guys)

constructive media


fake RB

I would give her a job.

nyc blogger

Holly :Is Writing a Curiosity of the Past?The written word has survived over thousands of years, having come about from the basic human needs for communication, creating order, and preserving knowledge. Writing is culture's shining achievment. From the actual beginnings of the written word somewhere around 3100 BCE with the Sumerians, the Canaanites, and the creation of the first alphabet; the need for law and order, the 'discovery' of a universal god; the advent of the Torah and other sacred texts; archeology and the Bible - all of these things constitute and include the major characteristics of civilization.But with the more modern advent of the phonograh, telephone, television, video, instant text messaging, etc., are language arts in writing only one stage of our evolution? Five thousand plus years of evidence would prove a formidable foe, without question, but that doesn't mean the visual arts are no less powerful.Vlogs, born out of the written blog, might be the next logical step in a sort of evolutionary process of methods of communicational technology. Video representation tends to appeal more to people's emotions than to logical reasoning, and therein lies its own inherent problem. A society that runs on sheer emotion is terribly easy to manipulate. Emotion can be a very good thing, but there must be a balance between emotion and logic.With vlogging, and video, viewers don't need to make an effort to pose critical questions while they watch. And later reflection might not be forthcoming because once something is out of sight, it is often also out of mind. Media moguls and big business take advantage of this by pounding out the same brief message repetitively - whatever it is that they want the viewer to believe is what is communicated and all the thinking has already been done for you. Studies show that video representation comes at a cost of less comprehension when they are not supplemented by written text. Understanding is diminished and decisions based on knowledge absorbed via video is often not good enough when it comes to making vital decisions. Children, however, embrace the video format culture. It is immediate, requires a short attention span, and allows for the open-and-shut comprehension and thought process that accompanies traditional learning, reading, and writing. Used together, though, both can do certain things very well and learning can advance with the help of each one as long as people create time to think. As adults we know this. As children, we do not. Children today don't have the advantage of experiencing both and learning critical thinking because it's all being done for them. We are creating an "arcade-experience society," and I'm not so sure that's a good thing. With all of that said and done, I think vlogging is something that requires little perfection and even less thinking. It seems to me that vlogging is spontaneous - perhaps even impulsive. Many of the vlogs I looked at for class were downright silly. As entertainment they're fine. As detailed sources of legitimate information they are sorely lacking.

Erin -- on authenticity
Like with television, there are some vloggers that are there for entertianment, some that aim to inform, and others that strive to do a little of both. I felt as though in a lot of the blogs we read, particularly in some of the political ones, the writing was not always top notch and the "facts" the bloggers were presenting were not always well researched. We all seem to have distrusted many of the bloggers we've read for this reason. We didn't want to trust important information on things like current events from uncredited, unknown, unpaid sources. Introducing video eliminates some this problem to a certain extent when it comes to sharing information. It's easier to believe what you see than it is to believe what you read. Of course you can't trust everything (even Amanda of Rocket Boom didn't trust the video of the Mini Cooper robot she posted earlier this week), but I generally don't feel as distrusstful when watching blogs. When your face is actually on the screen and people can hear your voice, it's harder to hide. You lose some of that annonymnity that regular blogging offers.

Vlogs (sounds dirty)
Vlogs are creepy! They run totally counter to everything we have learned about blogging. We aren't dealing with disembodied people anymore. We now get to see and hear the people behind the opinions who we so readily trash. Enter, the man. I feel like I know him now so I am less inclined to weild my opinion so freely and make blanketed generalizations. Furthermore, here I am sitting with my labtop on my lab, in my cozy pink laura ashley vomitted in room and this guy is looking me in the eye telling me his opinions on vlogs. Totally breaking down the 3rd wall here. They are also harder to keep track of. you can skim words and pretty much get the content within the first two keystrokes of blatant republican or liberalism but you need to actually listen here. Vlogs are certainly not for the boring day at the office types who want some quick news. They are also not for the i spend all my time in the library types, like this girl, right here, because when you do actually get the thing to play, they don't play with volume/fellow patrons of the libes get mad when they do. So instead, now i have these guys in my bedroom. Jerry is currently getting me intimately acquainted with the blisters on his hand. He seems to have all the same mindless comments to make that most of the other bloggers we have, ie, "i go into a bar and i meet a girl" but becuase he litters it with interesting visuals, his tale is a lot more interesting-although it certainly makes me feel more awkward. He's actually quite painful, but in that indy film sort of way that makes you uncomfortable to watch yet you can't end it. Is it funny? My fave comment on his vlog being, "you need a girlfriend and no, your mother won't do." What if comments could be vloged. Wouldn't it be neat if you could record your comments and post them on other people's vlogs and then you would essentially be having a disconnected conversation. Talk about tripy! Rocketboom chick, Amanda says (once again, right to my face) that "I get some pretty crappy comments and to have some fun, I like to visualize the commenters"-now, she wouldn't have to. Although I think this would change the face of what people were saying. It's harder assuming a fake identity or a character when you're totally putting yourself out there. Does that alter what people are willing to say? It hasn't yet, but it seems that the genre is so different that generally people aren't saying, "Hi. I'm Will and here's why I don't like Bush"I also look at vlogers a lot more than bloggers. It seems to take a lot more time and effort so what's the general motivation? If it's fame it's certainly a very specific, less anonomyous sort of fame. I mean, Amanda Rocketboom has costume changes and everything. Does she have a tonuge ring (totally irrelevant). She's like a diet tina fey. Her comment from the "angry republican character is" i watch your show every day and i can't stand it but i can't help but keep watching becuase i keep hoping you'll change." it seems that this attitude fuels a lot of people-but weren't we saying in class that most of the gents reading blogs are looking into like minded blogs? It's different here though with vlogs because things have so much more flava! You are so much less limited to format. This Minnesota chick is also creepy. Are there no normal people who vlog? I guess they'd be just as boring as normal bloggers. Or maybe I'm just hypersensitive becuase it's late at night. Are these people using vlogs to get their cinematic "talents" out there just the way that amateur writers use blogs? some of this stuff is quite good. Has anyone been discovered yet?

Marc: the capitalist I know a couple for kids who have set up a tent, downtown, and they sell first run movies for $7.00. The movies have been filmed, usually opening night, with hand held cameras. Sometimes they have movies that have yet to open in Hartford, I saw "Get Rich or Die Trying" two weeks before it was at the Crown. After the first 30 seconds I cannot tell the difference between the product from these entrepreneurs and what I get at Blockbuster. Their business is booming. After looking at vlogs I can see the Napster style business model emerging. The faster the Internet becomes, the more people that get connected, the more people will get into vlogging. The more people in vlogging means bigger and better vlogs; therefore more corporate involvement.Believe it or not, Apple is leading the way for vloggers to eventually proliferate. Fans of iTunes represent an unstoppable force. Who wants to keep all those CDs if you can carry around 1,000 songs on an iPod and easily expand that library through the Internet? Not many I suspect. Nor is this growing army of Internet-savvy users going to stop at music. Not too far in the future an iVideo and perhaps an iTome, for downloading literature and audiobooks, respectively, will be available.Already, I can hear the distant wail of writers and producers and directors. But they better get used to it. People now expect to pick and choose. They have been doing it close to a decade with online versions of newspapers and magazines. Resistance will only embolden more pirates in Napster-like attempts to outflank the news and entertainment Establishment. What evidence shows that all the lawsuits have slowed music pirating? Sales continue to plummet, about 25% this year alone and the music industry rightfully blames illegal downloading.Hollywood is already starting to delve into the vlogging world. Famous producers and directors are starting their own vlogs and what will follow, ala David Lynch, will be vlogs for a fee. If the rich charge a fee, the poor will circumvent that fee and try to deliver it for a smaller fee, or, for free to the masses. The law says we can cut and paste without fear or reprisal so copying video will be an industry in itself. I only wish I could figure out the angle so I could make the money.

what are the mefeedia people TRYING to advance? what do they love? what is the philosophy?
Sometimes, it’s just about the cats

vogmaa manifesto [ in no particular order ]
a vog respects bandwidth
a vog is not streaming video (this is not the reinvention of television)
a vog uses performative video and/or audio
a vog is personal
a vog uses available technology
a vog experiments with writerly video and audio
a vog lies between writing and the televisual
a vog explores the proximate distance of words and moving media
a vog is dziga vertov with a mac and a modem
what the vogma guy thinks of the ipod
Video iPod
Filed under: Vogging Theory, Vogging Tools — @ 12:06 pm
Well, it happened. Lots of commentary, excitement in parts of the videoblogging community. Lets rake the coals, read the tea leaves, or whatever it is one says.
They will sell very well.
Eventually most people will realise that most of the time they just use their iPod for sound, and only very occassionally for video.
There will be a small group of videoblogging afficiandos who use it a lot for video, these will be a tiny minority.
This will happen because things like portable sound devices (we’ve had them ever since the transistor radio) work very well - we can easily do other things while listening to sound.
In the same period we have pretty much always had some form of portable TV - you often will see (hear) people at a picnic listening to a sporting broadcast, very very few are watching it on their portable TV (the attention economies are too different).In other words portable sound has always worked, portable televisual has not.
Podcasts (whether video or audio) are a step backwards because they break all the networked aspects that make the blog part of audio or videoblogging of interest and value:
You lose the context of the post, eg post title, date, time, and any accompanying text such as trackbacks, comments, links (are we inventing a new rich media language or are we just wannabe TV stars?)
You lose any possibility of connections between parts (the basic logic of blogs) since the iPod is network deaf and
The player supports zero interactivity (can you click on the link in the movie?)
It enforces the academy aspect ratio (4:3) for content
· So now we can all walk around with baby TV sets in our pockets to watch self contained episodic moments, bit like having a portable VCR that includes your library.
· A bit like a Walkman where the iPod represents a qualitative change because it now includes your archive
· The ability to carry your archive with you is the one innovation.
· Promotion of appropriate microcontent might be another, but it will all aspire to be a show reel and land you that job you always wanted making real movies.
Media that confuses portability with new forms misses the opportunity to invent something more than a genre.
Jerry – creating a “ pod” of appreciators

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

OK, so it was cooler than I might have guessed

This, this is the man. Watch his amazing handling of light and focus and music on the most recent posting. And then watch his "hard day." This is an artist getting very real! In a way that would have been virtually impossible before this medium existed!!! (No, I am NOT drunk or high.) And he perfectly combines randomness (a trope) with many of the other blog tropes.

And after you watch a bit more of his art, try watching his blogito ergo sum. Although it's really sum, ergo blogito.

Also, this is a pretty funny and heartbreaking riff on quotidian alienation and estrangement. It's soooo wrong, but we've all been there. It's sort of de Chirico, married to Charlie Chaplin. Wait. You could say that about Beckett, too. Make sure you read some of the comments on this. They're crucial

This is not quite as essential.
OK, at 5 minutes it's LONG, but but I've paid $8.50 to see movies that did not blend humor, action and pedestrian safety so artfully.

If it halts, press the pause button, then press play. (Thank you, Aldon.)


Well, not really, but I urgently want you to browse
this amazing site which is considering many of the things we consider but is way ahead of us on a lot of stuff.
Especially look at this article which I think might open up our consideration of Vlogs, not just in terms of what they are but how they function "socially" and also whether they -- like other stuff we've considered -- represent a revolution in people freely sharing "ïnformation" (in the broadest sense of the word, in ways that used to be controlled by owners of media pipelines. Dig? I mean, is "Rocket Boom," just kind of SNL stripped from its corporate moorings? And didn't the MSM make that possible by letting SNL become such thin, puny gruel?

And this one just kind of asks that question in a different context.

Help Each Other

Anyone have any tips on getting videos to play? Some of you are having problems.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

More vlogs!!!!!!

This looks pretty comprehensive. He contacted us on a comment thread.


We gotta talk about moblogs.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

More Vlogs

I can see Bora is right. Rocket Boom is the Mercedes Benz of the genre. And here is a mainstream media report on RB.
Poke around on We Are The Media too.

Saturday, November 12, 2005


What are they? A definition!

I know almost nothing about all this. But I can already tell it's a booming form with lots of sites that kind of organize things.
This is one..

Here are a few early samples, but some of you may have much better ideas than I. Please post. And explore!!!

Bath Tub Yoga

Carl Weaver

A New York City Vlogger

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Keep on keeping on

Reminder: we're at the Tap tomorrow night!!!!

So the asssignment keeps expanding. Check out each other's suggestions in the comments thread. You folks came up with some cool stuff.
for my part, I'm enchanted with this woman even though I don't understand half of what she talks about. (She watches her site meter, so if you read her, she'll know.)

And here's a local prayerful link.

Monday, November 07, 2005

ok so...

Check out the comments on my previous post and go to those places too. Check out the Jewish blog Brett recommends. Let's let the blogoshpere teach us, as it apparently wants to.
If anybody esle has any specialty blogs worth noting, please post them as comments.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Brights Lights, Big City

This week we move -- possibly ill-advisedly -- to the back room of the Wood'n Tap on Sisson Avenue in Hartford.
This is what the syllabus says we should be doing:
Nov. 10. Specialties and special uses. Law. The arts. Medicine. Science. Yoga. Faith. How subcultures and interest groups find special uses for blogging.
But I think that's almost too big a topic. I'd like us to start off, anyway, reading blogs about faith -- all kinds of religious pursuits (inluding semi-sprititual stuff like yoga). If you've seen anything interesting, post some recommendatios or email them to me.
First starters, dip your toe in the world of Christian blogs:
do this serious one

this not-so-serious one

this impish one

and a more serious one

Also, click around and use some of the blog-studying blogs. See if you can figure how big a movement, on the internet, this is.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


these are just notes for tonight's class and wsill subsequently be taken down. pay no attention if you are not in the class or even if you are

i sort of tried to wiki you. that is take your stuff an arrange some of it together, as notes for class. we'll see.

THIS POST BY BRETT IS A TROPE OR IDIOM OF MODERN LIFE, DRIVEN MORE I THINK BY CELL PHONES...the constant revision of expectations of self in absentia

Another reason I'm glad to reach this week is that I think we're going to get a fully involved McE. It's clear that he's really involved in the so-called "Public Debate" so maybe we get some blood-and guts, a little fire in this weeks class.. Later

I'm mad as hell and i can't take it anymore THE END OF REPRESSED ANGER

standardization makes things easy -AND THAT INCLUDES NEWS

THIS IS FROM MARC. i have the same question. is it just my imagination or are the right blogs meaner?
The "blogging from the right" is exactly the reason I cannot read the majority of the conservative blogs. I cannot even read them. Moonbat Central is a perfect example. They think we are all idiots and need them to sort out the truth. Instead of just giving opinion they feel the need to have to translate what the other side is about. Moonbat Central is the group blog for David Horowitz's searchable, online database of the organized left. This is an actual page they use. It is just too "out there" for me. The Conservative Outpost is not even a is like a threat of war.

I was reminded of a topic that I've recently covered with my Speech & Communication class that is incredibly appropos when viewing the Daou Report:
I realize that most of the blogs I've read, and using the word 'most' is not hyperbole, are laden with some sort of propaganda. Not the kind of stuff that would make Hitler grin, much more innocuous than that, but present nonetheless. For those unaware with the true meaning of the word, propaganda is, by definition, "a method of persuasion that discourages people from thinking for themselves." How true, how true.

THIS IS JOAL AND IT MADE ME WONDER WHY BLOGDOM SEEMS SO MUCH A PARADISE FALLEN IN THIS CONTEXT: It's not debate. I'm not even sure it's argument. The vast majority of these blogs cater exclusively to either the left or the right. They make little effort to engage in discussion with their political opposites. They're idealogues. Their writing belies their perception of politics as a zero-sum game. All that matters is beating the other guy. This should not be new to anyone. It's cliche by now.
This liberal blogger, in criticizing the undue influence of the religious right over the current administration, refers to Bush's political "base" as Al Qaeda. Yes, I get the joke. Al Qaeda means "The Base" in Arabic. This does not mean you can carelessly make analogies between your political opponents and mass murderers.
In this post, H-Bomb, talks about what he percieves as the decision of the Democractic Party to "officially" become anti-war. He doesn't even seem to think it's a bad thing. For him it's only relevant in that he believes it will help Republicans get elected.
I don't know if these blogs shape the public debate so much as reflect it. Maybe the country is so sharply divided poltically and geographically that everyone is used to preaching to the gospel, which reflects in our blogs. This is, of course, a generalization, but I don't think it's an unfair one. Most prominent political blogs seem not so much focused on convincing someone that a particular position is right or wrong so much as riling up the emotions of those already committed to one side or the other.

The truth about political debate on bloc is that there isn't any. People read blocs to reassure themselves that their point of view is correct and don't bother adding anything to the debate. If they are against something that a bloc has posted, they will only say nasty things and ignore other peoples comments An excellent example is a comment written by someone named Raven:"WHERE'S CINDY SHEEHAN? Go to this link and click "listen to broadcase" to hear her pathetic "speech" to an empty room filled with TWO foreign journalists. This is utterly pathetic. Now I know why you Democrats dumped this moron."This comment does not further any debate. It is a nasty, self righteous comment that is only meant to derail any serious debate. Blogs are filled with these kinds of nasty comments, it's the reason why many bloggers refuse comments.The truth is, when we feel as if we are anonymous, we get nasty and our base instincts come out in full force. We say all those nasty and stupid things that we normally filter out of conversation. The bloc world is an anonymous entity filled with comments by people who are writing out of furious anger and emotion, rather than logic.In an essay I wrote last year for rhetoric class, I argued that logic has no argument without emotion. Blogging has now convinced me that they rely on each other, and without a logical component, an emotional argument will fall flat. Most comments on blogs are emotional and lack any logical component.However, given that point, I will concede that certain blogs rearrange information to seem fresh. Firedoglake does an excellent job of taking news stories and adding their own commentary. But there is nothing added and nothing new to what they are saying. They are merely commenting on the comments. And now, I am commenting on the comments of the comments. How pathetic is that?

eric on innovation:Here's one thing blogs can do that MSM never could.

Chris : I thought the Daou Report has good intentions with the way it's structured by offering blogs from the "right" and "left". However, is it just me or does it seem as though neither side fosters an actual debate? Then again, how could they when each blog aims to propel the reader to one side of an argument or the other; all while using information provided by other sources (some of which you've probably already read!)? The apparent goal of all this: "I'm right, they're wrong". I keep thinking to myself: Where's the in-between though? Should it really be this "black" and "white" in the blogsophere?
It has gotten to the point where some bloggers are immediately gorging on what's directly in front of them, intending to be the first to throw it up on the web. Yeah, to them it may look like something new when they do this; to the viewers, a bit different than what they have seen in the past. Regardless, it's still all the same "food". Ultimately, some of these viewers feed on this information and spit it out again. Thus, the cycle is perpetuated.

BRETT The Daou Report has that effect on me. I wonder how I ever considered a blog without considering this blog. It is a fantastic read.In Socrates' well known dialogue Phaedrus, Plato discusses the necessity to have a dialogue rather than a lecture. In Socrates' time, famous lecturers would walk between towns delivering rousing speeches on issues. Socrates says "the only way to know truth is to not know truth, and therein find truth embedded in conversings with others." Most bloggers believe they know the truth already, and spout it constantly from their overly fattened, drunk on fame, heads. They are the idiotic lecturers Socrates discusses. They do not further any truth.However, The Daou Report is more of a conversation. For it is not one lucid opinion on a matter, but a hundred different lucid opinions. It is a marketplace of ideas, and not some trolls agreeing with each other and swearing if they don't. The Daou Report is quick, easy to read and insightful. It offers an amazing array of opinions that a reader can easily peruse through and make up their own mind. Propaganda does not live at The Daou Report; ideas do.Take for example, the current scooter craze out of Washington (personally I use a scooter to glide through the halls of work, but that's a different matter). The Daou Report has some insightful opinions for both sides regarding this matter. The double column effect creates a virtual debate feeling, as if the two sides were conversing at this point. Some excellent back and forth dialogue is happening on this page:"And they’re supposed to be the national security party. If you want ethics in government, don’t vote Republican. If you want to trust your government not to leak classified information to journalists for political gain, certainly don’t vote for Republicans.... " (Oliver Willis, left)"Scooter Libby has been indicted on five counts of perjury and obstruction of justice. That sounds bad, but compared to what White House insiders had feared, it’s really no big deal. Libby has resigned. The indictments do not play into Joe Wilson’s outsized ego as the “leaking the name of an undercover agent” isn’t covered under the indictment. Simply put, there was no crime there." (Ankle Biting Pundits, right)I'm excited by The Daou Report because it argues in a fantastic manner. It is not some journalistic hack who needs to yell and scream about stuff, it's a well composed and thought out process, which gives equal measure to any opinions. If only more blogs followed this model

MATT ON DAOU:First, he posts the US Constitution on his site with no explanation as to why it’s there. Reference material? It’s posting comes across as a bit self-rightous to me considering the lack of explanation or clear meaning. Sort of a “you should read this, moron” statement, at least to me. He also posts his site code. Also odd to me. In fact, on his menu bar, Daou has chosen to list the home page, the About page, the US Constiution, a Contact page, and tow pages of code. An odd assortment in my mind, with some clearly more important than others.I’m also interested in why he calls his postings (Triangle Parts 1 and 2 and The Ethics of Iraq) essays. Aren’t they really just long, well written blog posts? He invites comments on them after all.

Forbes Magazine has as it's cover article on the Nov. 14 issue "The Attack of the Blogs". To make sure you don't miss the bias of this "balanced" view, the introductory sub-headline reads "Web logs are the prized platform of an online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies , libel, and invective. Their potent allies in this pursuit include Google and Yahoo."The poster child that Daniel Lyons uses for "victim" in his article is Gregory Halpern, whose company, Circle Group Holdings, was hyped from $2 to $8.50 per share.Halpern did this by posting pictures of himself online with famous people , including Steve Forbes. He was then "victimized" by a blogger who, with some allies, attacked Circle Group with a mixture of accurate and inaccurate "information" , resulting in the stock dropping below $1 per share and wiping out Halpern's instant $90 million dollar fortune. I could sympathize with his plight, except that (1) it seems unlikely that if the company had any real, measurable value sophisticated investors would not recognize it and run the stock back up after the false blogs were exposed and (2)Halpern's response to the attack was to hire "Financial Wire"(Gayle Essary) to blog back, not on facts but on a very personal level. So much for the high road.The article contained several interesting tidbits, however. Steven Downs, an executive at Ingersoll-Rand, complained,"A blogger can make any statement, about anybody, and you can't control it". Downs found this to be a "difficult thing". I think it's the whole point of a democratic system. You're living in America, Downs.Lyons, the article's writer, has a slew of suggestions for fighting back against bloggers. These iclude "build a blog swarm", "bash back", "attack the host (service provider)", and "sue the blogger". Don't you just love it when a idealist takes the high road?

pack journalism: eric
Here's one bit I found particularly interesting:
Note that this model is absolutely mute as to why one blog might be preferred over another. Perhaps some writing is simply better than average (a preference for quality), perhaps people want the recommendations of others (a preference for marketing), perhaps there is value in reading the same blogs as your friends (a preference for "solidarity goods", things best enjoyed by a group).
It could be all three, or some other effect entirely, and it could be different for different readers and different writers. What matters is that any tendency towards agreement in diverse and free systems, however small and for whatever reason, can create power law distributions.It seems to wish away the real substance of the problem. That is to say, power law describes that preferences in the blogosphere exist in a way that is socially ubiquitous, but what I really want to know is why things turn out this way (exactly what __ is saying this model can't/won't tell us). In other words: people are sheep. Why are people sheep? Beats me.

JOHN ON, KIND OF, EVERYTHING:While impressed with many aspects of Daou Report yesterday, I wanted to explore more of Salon to help gain insight into the role such sites are playing in the shaping of public debate. What I observed in other site features, especially the blog box, leads me to more firmly believe that this type of blogging is having a profound impact on public debate by allowing many of the previously voiceless to exert significant pressure on the agenda-setting process and bring immediacy to the vetting of information. But to anyone who thinks that by "open sourcing" blogging is bringing greater transparency to the process, I would suggest that transparency can be an illusion and critical thinking is as necessary as ever.Even Daou, who invites submissions, warns he cannot use everything. So, what criteria is applied -- besides the 12-hour rule? Could he choose the more ludicrous right-wing posts for the purpose of favorable comparisons? I don't really see evidence of that, but I certainly like to proceed with caution. Even most blogs with their frequent and undisguised links to other sources appear to be completely above board in making their points, but often there is little attempt to track a meme to its original source -- if known. So, I see transparency to a point but we all still need to focus to see to the core.So, by helping to drive the political agenda and by driving immediacy like it's never been driven before, blogs have changed the process for good. But I don't think blogs will become as dominant a source of information as many postulate. Right now, many political/public policy blogs are really singing to their own choirs. Yes, the mainstream media is just outside listening closely, but I doubt the congregation is going to draw from any other sects. To a certain extent, this type of blogging is a direct outgrowth of the political extremism that has grown so dramatically in the last 15 years, as a result of gerrymandering, etc. To these constituents, a medium that wholeheartedly supports their agendas is, oh, so gratifying. Those blogs that appear to evenly offer up a real conversation and debate of the issues are, in my view, either veiling their true agendas or never going to be as popular as the more openly partisan.

Elin (this is more a comment on speed of blogs, i think): When the Today Show broke the story about Harriet Miers withdrawing her nomination this morning, they of course pulled in a resident "expert" news wonk, Howard Fineman of Newsweek. To be honest, I'm not familiar with Mr. Fineman or his work, and I'm sure he is a fine man. What caught my ear was that as he was discussing the withdrawal, he said, "As I said online yesterday, we strongly suspected this was coming...."

"There are two ways that blogs could enhance public debate:-- they could broaden it to include other subjects not on the mainstream radar screen." If blogs enhanced...then they would then become the Internet! Blogs are not to broaden. Blogs are the ultimate in Guerilla Political Science/Guerilla Marketing. Plot, hit, and get out. There is no time for thinking about the mainstream...the key is to think about the want to "matter" for just a moment. In relation to the blogosphere, Harriet Miers is not just in the rear view mirror, she is in the rear view mirror of the F-16 that flew by yesterday. Blogs do not give one "15 minutes" of fame they work in "15 nanosecond" blocks. The World Wide Web is for deepening the existing debate.

bora sent this to holly but the thing about the link would interest eric:


BRETT:In his article "Galaxy Quest: Wikipedia is a real-life Hitchhiker's Guide: huge, nerdy, and imprecise," Paul Boutin attacks this problem with Wikipedia head on, comparing it to the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy:"Like the Guide's lengthy entries on drinking, Wikipedia mirrors the interests of its writers rather than its readers. You'll find more on Slashdot than The New Yorker. The entry for Cory Doctorow is three times as long as the one for E.L. Doctorow. Film buffs have yet to post a page on Through a Glass Darkly; they're too busy tweaking the seven-part entry on Tron."So it goes. While the initial nerdiness of blogging is being supplanted by common folks just wanting to write, Wikipedia is not changing. Those of us who are writing in the blog world because we want to write will not catch the encyclopedic editing fever. Wikipedia will remain the sole outpost of the original inhabitors of the internet, and while that may not be a bad thing, it certainly means Wikipedia will not continue to grow and be innovative. Rather than being Douglas Adams' glorious Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, it will be more an Encyclopedia Galactica. And if you got that reference, you're probably off to revise an article on the mating habits of cockateels.

Elin I just spent some time cruising around Wikipedia and Flu Wiki. While I tend to get very cynical when I read the political stuff, I'm feeling a little verklempt about the wiki stuff. It's seems like a world motivated by mostly "pure" intentions. When I consider the time and energy it takes to maintain a site like that, and to think that people do it for no other reason than a desire to pass along info...well, I am moved.Look at Flu Wiki. From what I can see, its purpose is to inform and motivate. While motivating is "political" in some sense, the whole import of the wiki sites is different than other sites (are these blogs??), especially when they are contrasted with the Salon-type stuff.

holly's brain on wiki
The Wisdom of CrowdsIn what has been called "a radical experiment in trust," Wikipedia, Flickr, and sites like these apply the notion that entries can be added by any web user, edited by any other, and so collectively produce a most efficient method of checks and balances. This represents a profound change in content creation. It has been termed folksonomy and is described as "a style of collaborative categorization of sites using freely chosen associations that the brain itself uses." By relying on code as defined by Clotaire Rapaille, if we allow for retrieval along natural axes, we overlap associations. On the web, this initiates a sort of "viral marketing," or recommendations proliferated directly from one user to another. And according to Tim O'Reilly of O'Reilly Media, Inc., network effects from user contributions are the key to market domination.A blog is a live web page and its dynamic is driven by its links. These links become the architecture of participation - an open source community - whereby the users add immeasurable value to the delivery of information.The blogosphere is equivalent to a global brain. So the question becomes "What makes some ideas and thoughts proliferate, and not others?" Well, to answer at least part of that question, we can again refer to Rapaille's 'Cultural Code.' Every culture has a set of beliefs - a mental category - which is basically the first set of mental connections we make. They are the first imprints we gain into our social worlds. Eventually, this system becomes unconscious, and is employed throughout our lives. So the information that spreads - that we spread - has gravitational cores of set principles and practices that, tied together, form a sort of solar system that represents in some way some or all of those principles at varying degrees from that core system.Are blogs transforming society by making it more 'open source?' I would surmise that yes, bloggers now constitute a world in which those who were once only part of the audience have now become part of the people who decide what's important. The interactivity of the blogosphere has its own filtering system, too, and this now becomes a two-fold problem for the mainstream media. There now exists more competition for immediate information, editing it, and reporting it. It's almost as if no hard boundaries exist - and that opens up a whole lot of 'source' and a whole lot of 'freedom'... definately a potentially frightening proposition.

what makes Chris verklempt:

While perusing through I was drawn to the "Coummunity" section so I decided to investigate before jumping right into Daou. I immediately received information pertaining to The Well and Table Talk -- both are very cool.
My first thought as I read through them: I feel as though I'm a part of a holistic community rather than trying to be accepted into "one or the other". More importantly, the comments are what prompted the debate, rather than just the blog itself...what a concept!

brett to holly:
Is the blogosphere then forcing news stories to emerge and disappear quickly. I seem to remember a time when news stories and scandals would linger for weeks and months. Now they disappear in days. When was the last time we heard of the disappearance of that poor girl in Aruba (Natalee)? The residue of the internet is forcing news programs to move quickly between stories to find the next big scandal/murder/kidnapping, etc.

JP on WIKIIn theory, I think this is an amazing site. I love the idea of a community of thinkers all working together, challenging one another, working towards a common goal. The site and process of Wikis are built upon the idea that two heads are better than one, and so on, which often proves to be highly effective. I am curious and intrigued to see how this concept plays out when attempting to proactively solve the problem of a wide spread public health epidemic. On one hand, this may be the most efficient way to work out a very sensitive and difficult problem, on the other, when do too many cooks spoil the broth? This concept of community has definitely been successful in other areas, such as the Wikipedia, which has resulted in an extremely interesting and well rounded resource. FluWiki has definitely been successful in the information gathering and sharing portion of their goal. I learned more about influenza in the twenty or so minutes I spent reading their site than I have in 23 years of getting the flu. The site is definitely easy to navigate as well, which is a huge plus for some one like myself who comes to the table with virtually no information. What remains to be seen is how successful they will be at developing a potentially successful strategy to 1) prevent and 2) handle a nation health epidemic, and unfortunately we have no way of knowing that at this point. That said, their intentions certainly are noble and for everyone's sake, it would be pretty amazing if a community of strangers was/is able to come together to share information, ideas and strategies and solve a major issue of our times. If they could be successful with on FluWiki, what else could they solve? It is a pretty exciting possibility.

JOHN :the Flu Wiki, which may seem at a glance like a jumble of information but which really shows a cyber-community coming together to truly broaden a discussion. There is no need to do focus groups or surveys to determine what content is most meaningful to users because the users are in the driver's seat. The content here is so rich and multi-dimensional, from discussion forums and brainstorming hubs to expert predictions and factual charts.What's going on, it seems to me, is an attempt to exert influence, if not control, over the flow of information and on a potential crisis itself. Ever distrustful of official sources, certainly since the armed feds tried to hunt down ET, we can share information and resources as a community of similarly focused verminophobes. The need to share and tap into conventional wisdom is as old as folk or home remedies themselves. Here it satisfies the yearnings of vast communities more connected by Internet networks than by shared property lines. The experts are here, too, but this collaborative project has produced an amazingly diverse resource.

brie: on a different kind of shareable information:
One of the postings said, "In the cover article of this month's Forbes, the mag exposes blogs as "the prized platform of an online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective." This helps to get to the heart of some of this weeks issues. While I don't agree with this statement necessarily, blogs do have a tendency to perpetuate rumors that are taken as truth which explains their bad rap in shaping identities of people. It's a lot easier for someone like me, who isn't very informed, to read a bloggers opinion of a political figure and to take that as truth and make that my own opinion. Yes, it's ignorant, but if you're looking for quick cocktail party banter on why Bush is a screw up, it's a lot quicker to quote a blog than it is to read a newspaper that claims (claim being the operative) to be neautral.

BACKGROUND: A report last week by Advertising Age Editor at LargeBradley Johnson noted that about 35 million workers -- or one in fourpeople in the U.S. labor force -- spend an average of 3.5 hours, or 9%,of each work day reading blogs. This blogification of workplace time isno minor concern -- the total losses across the national work force areestimated to be the equivalent of 551,000 years of paid time that isbeing spent on blogs via the employer's own computer systems. Anotherimportant point was that the time spent reading blogs on the job was inaddition to the time already spent surfing the Web in personal pursuits.The debate appears to be one of reasonable limits. At what point, or atwhat length of time, does the use of company assets for personalactivities become unreasonable? And is the problem likely to become aneven greater one as more and more TV content goes online, becomingeasily accessible from one's office computer? Do employers need to findne!w ways to police their computer systems?> THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: Should employers allow their staff to read blogsin the workplace?> VOTE & COMMENT for possible publication in next week's print editionof Advertising Age at

was going to post this a long time ago, but I never got around to it. It seem appropriate now. The following is something Barack Obama posted on Daily Kos a while back.
There is one way, over the long haul, to guarantee the appointment of judges that are sensitive to issues of social justice, and that is to win the right to appoint them by recapturing the presidency and the Senate. And I don't believe we get there by vilifying good allies, with a lifetime record of battling for progressive causes, over one vote or position. I am convinced that, our mutual frustrations and strongly-held beliefs notwithstanding, the strategy driving much of Democratic advocacy, and the tone of much of our rhetoric, is an impediment to creating a workable progressive majority in this country.
According to the storyline that drives many advocacy groups and Democratic activists - a storyline often reflected in comments on this blog - we are up against a sharply partisan, radically conservative, take-no-prisoners Republican party. They have beaten us twice by energizing their base with red meat rhetoric and single-minded devotion and discipline to their agenda. In order to beat them, it is necessary for Democrats to get some backbone, give as good as they get, brook no compromise, drive out Democrats who are interested in "appeasing" the right wing, and enforce a more clearly progressive agenda. The country, finally knowing what we stand for and seeing a sharp contrast, will rally to our side and thereby usher in a new progressive era.

Is blogdom getting stodgy?

In the paper about blog diversity and "power laws,"there was rfeverence to a blog called "diveintomark" which the blogger turns out to have shut down because he decided blogging was no longer anything special.

And this:

Addendum: #David Sifry, creator of the, has created the Technorati Interesting Newcomers List, in part spurred by this article. The list is designed to flag people with low overall link numbers, but who have done something to merit a sharp increase in links, as a way of making the system more dynamic.

no longer exists.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

R U As Bored As I M?

I continue to find the "public debate"blogs a bit of a chore. Remember Timothy Crouse's characterization of "pack journalism?" Now we have pack blogagalism, with a whole bunch of bloggers chasing the same scrap or two of insight

However, at the level of rhetoric, they may be doing some ineresting things.

And then Aldon, watching from on high, urges us to think about the means by which diversity can be maintained, possibly outside the scope of A-list blogs. Also, thank you Aldon, we have to think about how blogs are read, not just how they are written.

Lastly, it's almost always a mistake, I am discovering, to think of blogs as self-contained narrative, instead of as networks. Note the similarity of the chart there to the thing I keep drawing, obsessively, like a minor X-Files character, on the board.