Thursday, February 26, 2004

McLuhan: Government Contests

McLuhan's idea are now part of our global village. John Robb highlights one that I had forgotten: "that for every great problem there is someone that doesn't see it as a problem." So he proposes to get the government get involved in contests. Sounds crazy at first, but it is really a great idea with research to back it.

Dave to Harvard

Dave Weinberger is going to Harvard. I wonder if he applied for early admission? :)

Congratulations to Dave. A good fellow.

Forbes Magazine on RSS

I respect Forbes when it stays on business. So it is impressive to see Forbe's article on RSS.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Paige should never been appointed

I emailed some friends in the blogging community and they thought the Paige terrorist remark had already received enough publicity. Maybe. But I don't think they remember the debunking of the Houston Miracle by CBS. I didn't remember it either. I don't know if there is a third strike, but this certainly counts as two in my book.

Feedster has lots like this and this.

Paige should Resign

Calling teachers terrorist shows that Education Secretary Paige can not work with people or organizations that raise really concerns about fixing the No Child Left Behind law. He should resign. And if you agree, you can email Bush.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Lie about Bush volunteering to go to Vietnam

Another lie from a Bush spokesperson. If you are going to speak for the candidate and pose as an expert, be an expert and get the facts right. None of the documents released support that he volunteered and in fact they show he checked off "do not volunteer [Washington Post].Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: February 22, 2004 - February 28, 2004 Archives

Friday, February 20, 2004

Further Reading

Uniserv Academy Talk (Part 6)

Tools, Skills and other Communications Technology

Uniserv Academy Talk (Part 5)

A basket of tools you'll need.

  • Blog. Obviously you need a blog to start. You've started with Blogger, but look at Type Pad. More features, but it costs a small amount.
  • RSS Reader. You should be set up with Bloglines. But also try MyYahoo. And for the desktop I like FeedDemon.
  • Google Tool Bar. This lets you blog from any site. Highly recommended for this and other reasons.
  • Wireless laptop (optional). Makes it much easier to blog meetings.

Good skills will improve your blog.

  • Writing. Not everyone can come up with a good headline all the time. Copy is important and part of the formula. And good grammar and spelling.
  • HTML (optional). You really don't need to know HTML, but the more you know the better you can layout your blog and add features. But content is still more important.
  • Journalism. This is different than writing. And different than blogging. But I find the best bloggers at least understand journalism. And interesting topic to talk to reporters about.

Blogs and other Communications Technology

  • email. Is email private? More private than a blog and so often more appropriate. Also one-to-one. But no archives.
  • discussion boards. The best require a good moderator and require a critical mass of users. Therefore very hard to start and lots of work. They also tend to loss focus. But some are now adding RSS feeds.
  • group blogs. MetaFilter proves it can work. Need critical mass to keep it going.
  • audio blogging. A real option, especially from a cell phone on the way home after a meeting.

Grass Roots Publishing

Uniserv Academy Talk (Part 4)

Organizing is grass roots. So is blogging. So here are some concepts about what make a good blog. A different question than what is a blog.

  • Blog Meetings. You can not make every meeting and neither can your members, collegues or state staff. Or news reports. So blog the meeting and let the sunshine in. (insert music here. :) For example, I am rather certain that someone will blog the RA this year. Why not school board meetings? See Emerging Tech blogging example.
  • Content Expert. John Robb writes that there are ways to build a hot blog. All of them require a focus, so focus on your work. (Save personal for another blog.) Talk about organizing, new members, prof. dev. opportunties, etc.
  • Name dropper. Blogroll to state and state government sites, but also write about resouces.
  • Historical. Dave Winer has written a blog since 1997 and often in his daily posting link to post from years ago. History is a teacher.
  • Newsletter. Or a blog can start as simply a newsletter. But I think you'll find that it is so easy to update that it will evolve into more.

Feeds Network the Blogsphere

Uniserv Academy Talk (Part 3)

Blogs are good for MicroContent which contains one or more of the following: headline, content and link. This structure also makes up a feed. And by using tools that support feeds, you can save time and improve your blog and thus your work.

  • Feeds network blogs. There are too many blogs to visit every day. By using a feed or RSS reader you can read hundreds of blogs very quickly.
  • New Sources. New York Times, Baltimore Sun, etc. provide news via RSS.
  • Specialized. Like Yahoo stock reports (beta cancelled?), Yahoo news, Feedster searches, etc.
  • Source for blog material. They way "community" gets formed is by bloggers linking to other blogs. And if you find something interesting, blog it. For example, the blogging of a school board meeting.
  • NEA is looking. Nothing to announce, but we are looking at it. See Connect.
Blogged with w.bloggar

What is a blog?

Uniserv Academy Talk (Part 2)

You'll find links here, here, here and here trying to answer the question of "What is a blog?" Here's my take on it today.

  • A blog is to the web like a poem is to a book. A book is just sheets of paper between a cover. It could be a book of poems, a novel or a dictionary. In other words, a blog is not a web site in the traditional sense.
  • Web sites link in, blogs link out Look at the home page for The White House or NEA. The links take you deeper into the site. Links on blogs like Shifted Librarian take you out. So is it take out or eat in? :)
  • Micro Content works on blogs. Ever hear a sound byte in a newspaper? Some ideas don't work in different media as McLuhan taught us. The term Micro Content is being use to draw a distinction. Can you suggest other forms?
  • Beyond content better blogs have other features. Autodiscovery, permalinks, referrer logs, comments, categories, blog rolls and other lists can make better blogs. But as the saying goes, "the poor carpenter blames his tools." Some of the top blogs use Blogger while other bloggers like TypePad.
  • Search Engines. Google loves blogs some much they bought Blogger. Understand that Google ranking which is all important (to some) depends on links and that is what blogs provide.
  • Feeds or RSS. IMHO having a blog without a feed is like a fax machine that is not plugged in. [More next].

Uniserv Academy Talk (Part 1)

I'm talking today to about 30 new fields staff for NEA from around the country. These Uniservs want to know about blogs and organizing. The first thing I'll be asking is "Who is going to blog my talk?" I'll edit this later to link to that blog. Posted using Blogger

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Open Primaries

Obviously Gov. Dean and Joe Trippi are looking for some direction. So are the thousands of Dean volunteers. Here's my suggestion.

I think the goal should be to have every Presidential Primary in the US an Open Primary by 2007.

Think about it. Independents out number big D democrats - I think. At a minimum, we are the swing vote. So why do we have to vote in November for two candidates nominated by the minorities and swayed by special interests and extremists. The minority parties should not dominate the majority.

I'm tired of it. I want every state to have open primaries. This is the biggest, most dramatic change I think we can make without getting caught up in ideology and the slime. I hope you agree. Is open?

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

"Chandler Wins!"

Chandler Wins!

Joe Trippi is talking on his blog about changing America. And it can be done.

Look at it from a business marketing perspective: Let's knock off Brand X. That brand already owns it market and you don't take it head on. Rather you define a new market and start small. So if Deaniacs and others want to make a difference, I believe that you look at places where a new marketing position can be defined.

Now I don't know where that is. But I would guess it is in the swing states. And it is with Congressional races as described. Just as Presidential races have a coattail effect, so too can Congressional races have a coattail effect. I'm sure that there are 10 or 20 Congressional candidates that deserve the Internet spotlight. Let's start looking for more Chandlers.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

It may take 30 minutes for Yahoo! Big guys win, again.

Jeremy Zawodny's comments about Atom versus RSS debate may prove my point. It took Yahoo 30 minutes to be compatible with both Atom and RSS. I wish that is all it would take for my small effort with Bletter Form. Complication helps the big companies.

"Google spurns RSS for rising blog format"

I hate the fact that Google has decided to support Atom versus RSS as reported in the CNET/ZDNET story. Of course Blogger users have known about this for a while.

Let me explain why I hate it. Not that RSS is better than Atom or vice versa. For most people, it doesn't matter now or for the next year or two. Why it bothers me is that it raises the barrier for developers. It takes much more effort now to write code that supports both. Product development will cost more and the small guy will not be able to compete with the deep pockets of the OS company. And part of the cost is the time to get a product to market.

As I said before, what is the point! I'll continue to develop products, but will take longer which reduces the chance of success. I'll do a Bletter Form-Atom in the future, but it might be too late. Ugg.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Joe Trippi starts a new blog

Joe Trippi, former campaign chairman of the Dean Campaign has started a new blog with RSS feed. I'm still trying to figure out what when wrong the two weeks before Iowa.

Not that Joe said this, but at the Emerging Democracy conference it was pointed out that most where white male. So what that the choir in the blogs?

Monday, February 09, 2004

Rearview Mirror: Downloading Waste

Supply and demand. Money is made by filling demand. The RIAA seems to want to kill demand instead of making money. It is a shame. Musicians could use wider distribution than the mega-record companies can provide. Some artists take a stand that record companies don't have the artists' best interests at heart (or in the pocketbook).

This is a perfect example of living in the rear view mirror as McLuhan would say.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Hockey Disclaimer

You must keep up your sense of humor as a hockey dad.

Influence F: Edmund Carpenter

Eskimos, culture, anthropology and McLuhan.

We forget that one of the great advances in the last 50 years of academic work is interdisciplinary study. It use to be that the English Professor protected his turf and the Biology teacher dare not interfere. Carpenter, the anthropologist, worked with McLuhan, the English Professor, to create Explorations (Journal) and more. The troubles it caused at University of Toronto are discussed openly. Both produced better work because of it. [One summer at the U of T library I got to read a construction paper edition of Counter Blast that they had worked.]

Edmund Carpenter books are wonderful. They Become What They Beheld [1970] is then next best book after McLuhan's Understanding Media. From the foreward, it is clear that McLuhan contributed much to the book. And the photography makes it very accessible.

Much closer to Carpenter's anthropologic center is his book Oh, What a Blow That Phantom Gave Me [1972]which is completely "reprinted" on the web. Still fresh today. Still providing insight into patterns of culture.

One of my prized books is Carpenter's Eskimo (which unfortuately is boxed up while I remodel my house). I was always interested in getting to the core of what is human. It seemed to me that they answer my be with Eskimo culture given the barenness of their enviroment. Carpenter's study of Eskimo culture was eye openning in what it told us about our culture.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

What is the point?

Mark Pilgrim published a very detailed list of why different versions of RSS are not compatible. If his point was to help developers make sure their software is compatible with all versions, then great. But the article seems to be written out of anger.

Can some one tell the boys to play fair? Thanks for the detail, but no thanks for the attitude.

Influence E: John Lilly

Whales and dolphins may be smarter than us.

This was revolutionary stuff. Conventional wisdom was that humans were different from animals because we had language. John Lilly popularized the concept that we are not alone. We didn't need to explore outer space to find intelligent life. We weren't so different.

He was also a more scientific approach to looking at drugs as mind expanding. Programming and Metaprogramming of the Human Bio-computer [1967] was written well before the common meme that we are computers. And his work with sensory deprivation tanks inspired the movie Altered States [1980].

I still play the 'cogitate' tape loop from Big Sur for people even though most people don't get it.

While I never did get a chance to try a tank, Lilly showed what it was like out on the edge.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Influence D: Stewart Brand

Everyone read The Whole Earth Catalog. It was the guide to the new age.

It was more than a guide for me. I took the model and published imMEDIAte at my college. It was a guide to all the resources for being creative at the University. For example, where to get printing, etc. And Stewart Brand's openness talking about the business was the best part (see Salli Raspberry - Influence B). Access was the key word.

After the WEC and few years, the Co-Evolution Quarterly came out (first as a supplement Harpers). This magazine had a catalog component but focused more on article. Some time later it became the Whole Earth Magazine, which is still struggling to publish. Many of the writers and editors that were critical to the success of Wired Magazine where first working with Stewart at WEM. (I once proposed an article to him about using spare payload space on satellites to launch a Geo-Sync satellite that constantly beamed back a picture of the earth.)

While Whole Earth was a significant influence, Stewart also wrote two great books (How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built [1995] and II cybernetic frontiers [1974]). The former got me interested in architecture again and I'm now doing a major remodel of my house. The later let me know that I wasn't really dumb starting the first software mail order company in 1978.

And then maybe the biggest influence on our online lives: The Well.

Stewart was definitely on the bus!

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Influence C: Al Ries

Obviously, there are more ads today than yesteryear. People are still talking about the Super Bowl ads and those were a few days ago. And behind all of the ads is marketing.

Positioning is the book that makes sense of the bombardment of ads. While McLuhan makes you look at ads, Ries explains what is behind them. I was recently asked by a co-worker for a good book on marketing and I reached for this one. (However, I've always thought brands can support flavors.)

I wrote a web application a few years ago that combined the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, the 22 Immutable Laws of Branding and the 11 Immutable Laws of the Internet. I think these are great guides. And now that wikis are emerging, I may have to revise this program.

Ries' more recent books are still great. Focus is a good re-read. The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR helps even the smallest business. (I hope my loaned copy is returned some day.)

If your world intersects with marketing, branding or PR, read Ries.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Influence B: Seven Laws of Money

Sallie Rasberry and Michael Phillips wrote The Seven Laws of Money in the 70s that still influence culture today. For example, the first law "Do It" sounds very much like the slogan from Nike.

This is the first book I remember that uses "Laws" for the structure of the content. Since then you see it frequently and I used it recently to write about the Seven Laws of Blogging. So even the structure has had an influence.

Obviously, you can buy the recent edition of the book from Amazon, but you'll miss the poems by ... and the comments from Sallie Rasberry. So I suggest looking for the original edition.

On the web Seeing Money has a list of the laws.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Influence A: Marshall McLuhan

Since discovering McLuhan in high school, it is rare that a day goes by without me seeing the world differently because of his teachings. Even the ABCEDmindendness name for this blog came from his highlighting this James Joyce pun.

Recent thinking about McLuhan suggests that you must read him like a poet and not as an English professor. This is a good approach towards his middle books. However, I think even today people can pick up and read Understanding Media, his best known and early work, or The Laws of Media, his last work. And I suggest you do.

In the 90s, McLuhan was rediscovered mostly because he was annointed the Patron Saint of Wired magazine, which is an example of how his ideas still apply today. Another is that terrorists use violence because they have no identity. I could go on.

The official McLuhan site is a good place to start on the web. The recent film, not yet on DVD, McLuhan's Wake is also good. I'm working on a "lesson plan" for a Culture, Technology and Laws of Media class that should make it onto the web in the next year. (maybe in a wiki).

So McLuhan is my primary influence.

Influences A-Z

For the next few weeks, I thought I'd write up the influences on my ABCEDmindedness life. This part of my life excludes influences like families and friends.

I plan to highlight authors, musicians, tools and more. And there may be some events and more. You'll see over the next four weeks.