Monday, February 28, 2005
I think each medium has its Golden Age. I just bought Donald Theall's "The Virtual McLuhan" primarily because Edmund Carpenter wrote a very long appendix about the work he and McLuhan did at the University of Toronto and afterward. See if this passage has a ring to it.
For one brief moment, media were open, democratic. I recall another instance, this one personal. I discovered that the ancient Serpent Mound near Peterborough, though on government land, had been sub-divided. Tress had been cut. Bulldozzers stood ready. Officials ignored me. So I mounted a one-man media crusade. Officialdom closed ranks. On the last day I gambled. I was never certain, but I suspected a $3,000 bribe, at a low level. Higher-ups, I knew, feared the charge of cover-up. I called the provincial minister of Education. The moment I got through, I warned: "Destroy that mound and I'll wipe your fucking ass across every headline in the province." It worked, instantly. The place is now a park. I believe a plaque there honors those same officials.
I mention these two incidents to illustrate changes in media access. Today (in the U.S. at least), private citizens, unless they possess immense wealth, have little access to media. This wasn't true of Toronto in the 'fifties. Media were then open, competing, democratic. A remarkable moment. It didn't last. Power & profit got their act together. Form open market, media went to closed networks.
With several bloggers become regulars on television and the A-list position being firmed up, where are we now? Or with musicians on the radio?
WP. All this pressure on Iran refuses to acknowledge Iran's trump card: oil. The oil market, for the first time in its history, is capacity constrained. The reason: Chinese demand growth and a loss of 1-2 m barrels a day from Iraq (due to global guerrillas) have changed the market dynamic. In this new environment, any country with production capacity of more than 2 m barrels a day has the same power as the entirety of OPEC. Iran has that power. It could drive oil prices to $100 plus and subtract trillions from the global economy with a flip of a switch. Our lack of an energy policy limits our options with Iran.
Sunday, February 27, 2005
Michael Kinsley's article Bye-Bye, Housing Boom make the case that the run up in housing prices can not be sustained. It also points out that if LA Time, NY Time and Washington Post all agree prices will go up, then troubles ahead. This goes along with the belief that you can tell you are in a bubble when there are not skeptics left.
Now let's start talking about the impact before and after.
Monday, February 21, 2005
Friday, February 18, 2005
Monday, February 14, 2005
Washington Post and Examiner have recently had articles related to housing inflation. Today's Post article dealt with the problem Habitat for Humanity owners are having with rising property taxes Habitat for Humanity owners are having with rising property taxes. These are caused by the housing inflation.
Yesterday the Post Outlook ran Assess This: Why You Should Stop Whining and Learn to Love the Property Tax by David Runori who is having chat. So much of the recent anti-tax talk seems to like "throwing the baby out with the bath water." The problem is not property taxes but rather housing inflation. While I agree that property taxes are a good tax, I disagree that rising property values are "a good thing." Housing is not an investment like investing in the stock market. Everyone needs a place to call home, not everyone needs to invest in the stock market.
Friday, February 11, 2005
Regularly I hear a story about how a person was really helped out by their union. The other day I heard about a soldier who was called up to go to Iraq. His family was looking at a large loss of income for his wife and infant. His employer was going to do the minimum under the law and just hold his job. The union stepped in and made sure that his income did not drop and that he would be able to keep his family's home. The union, not management, came to the support of this soldier.
The recent blog conversations about writing4rss, stories that the mainstream media misses and journalism got me thinking about this story. Also about moving this forward.
First, following Halley Suitt's recommendation on blog writing, this tells the union message with a story. This is a great pro-family story. An American story. Second, as Dave Winer says, blogs should cover what the mainstream media is missing. These are what unions and their volunteers do for their members every day and the mainstream media does not cover it. Third, I heard this story, I did not see it reported as PressThink and my friends like to point out is important. I don't know all of the facts or even if this person really exists.
This story should be in Google, Feedster and Blogdigger if it is true. It should be reported with "all" of the facts. This would be the ideal world where the press reported all stories and spin was stopped by trained journalists.
So in this real world of blogs, talk radio and tabloids, how do we get close? We need more union locals blogging stories about their members. Locals are as close to the source as we can get and have a story to tell.
Calling all union bloggers!
Thursday, February 10, 2005
At BBS 2005 Halley Suitt presented on writing blogs. She had a list of "laws" which Debbie Weil wrote up. (Not sure if Halley will blog about them or not.) Good stuff.
Also, I agree with Debbie that you don't need to write every day, especially for RSS.
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
I was reading Debbie Weil's BlogWrite and her many links to RSS and Blogs. Decided I needed a short piece on writing for (RSS) feeds.
People don't read web pages like they read newspapers. Likewise people don't read RSS feeds like they read web pages. All three require a different way to write.
Look at most home pages. Lots of blurbs about content you need to drill down to. Your eyes have to scan each blurb to get to the one that might be of interest. As writers, we understand this when we compose a page.
In the feed world, which includes blogs, we write one piece of content at a time instead of an entire page. This microcontent might be read in a blog, in a blog archive, in Bloglines, in FeedDemon on your desktop, in a Feedster or Blogdigger search, in a Technorati tag or sent in an email. You don't need to know all of these new "Googles", but you must recognize that you are writing microcontent and are no longer composing a web page. Many readers will never see your corporate logo, your branding elements, your navigation, or your supporting content. For example, I don't know in what context you will read this.
People found your web page with Google. With RSS feeds they find and hopefully read your microcontent.
Monday, February 07, 2005
Had another great talk with Dave Winer at the Scripting News Brunch Scripting News Brunch in VA this morning. A real geek fest of us with day jobs and internet projects the rest of the time.
I was very interested in Dave's work on a new outliner. He offered no timetable so I'll just have to wait a while or go back to some antique outliners.
Towards the end of the brunch, talked turned to news reporters not being able to report on their parent companies. While this was generally a good conversation, and this is not a complaint or a remark about Dave's comments, we must be careful to respect professionals. A trained reporter has skills that the majority of bloggers don't have. The methods of fact checking, allowing comments prior to publishing and more are skills. Questioning a reporter's objectivity is too often a means to tear down the profession. More about this later.
Also some talk about a Maryland (?) blogger con. I'll keep listening for more on that.
Most people had interesting projects and I'll provide posts on each on in the coming days.
Thanks to Dave for hosting. Nice to meet everyone.
Saturday, February 05, 2005
Housing Inflation, Super power China and Terrorism.
Maybe this is a guy thing. Or an engineer thing. For me, newspapers, news programs and news blogs should be reporting on the big threats to our society. You report so we can fix them. From my reading of the Washington Post, Express and Examiner; from my listening to NPR, WTOP, WMAL and Air America; from watching limited amounts of TV/Cable News, three important stories are relegated below everyday political spin news.
Housing Inflation. I'm not convinced that there is a housing bubble, but I certainly know there is inflation of housing prices across the US and in Europe. In the 80's we saw the devastation that monetary inflation caused and then took action to tame it. When monetary inflation started there was little alarm but the impact hit and became the top concern for a long time. The Federal Reserve is still fearful of monetary inflation.
Housing has much more inertia than money. You spend money every day but only buy a house every eight years on average. So is taking much longer for people to personally experience this problem. And regrettably it will take much longer to find a solution and the impact will be felt for a long, long time.
While the impacts and disruption of housing inflation are wide spread, I'll just mention one. How can anyone's kids afford to live in the same suburban town they grew up in? And if young adults are not living in the suburbs, who works in the retail stores in the suburbs? Obviously this prompts many, many more questions. The impact is local, national and worldwide.
Super Power China. The US promotes free trade as the alternative to violent nationalism. This has been our policy since World War Two, though some may argue. Regardless, you think we'd prepare ourselves for the "next war" because it looks like we've won the free trade issue.
I use the term "next war" because when we think of super powers we think of nukes. But in the next war, the super powers are not competing with us on the battlefield but in the global marketplace. China has become the other economic force in the world. Look at how they influence the price of oil. Look at their trade balance with us. Look at the cost they will have to reclaim their environment. They are the other Super Power. Are we prepared?
Terrorism. Sure the war on terror is front page news, but that coverage is looking at it through Viet Nam glasses. Global or network terrorism is fighting in the "free trade" world. Targets are rarely battleships but rather economic infrastructure. John Robb's Global Guerrillas blog is excellent coverage on the subject. Surprising that his perspective is not also covered by the mainstream press. We need more reporters working on this.
I've taken Jay Rosen's RSS feed for a while. If you take a look at PRESSthink, it is not your usual blurb writing. His reports on the Blogging & Journalism Conference were excellent reporting. As he says in the intro, he believes in "the word press."
And I really like the design of the skin (the stuff around the blog entries).
Friday, February 04, 2005
Republicans have no problem saying one thing and doing another. The Bush administration says that accountability is important. But look at the bitter divided between the parties with the Rice and Gonzales confirmations. Apparently there were no mistakes in judgment in Iraq ("Mission Accomplished"). Otherwise the infamous Buck Would Have Stopped Here instead of keeping going by these nominations.
Were all a little poorer with these confirmations.