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Archive for October, 2003

Ito bits

by henrycopeland
Friday, October 31st, 2003

I met Joi Ito briefly at Bloggercon. He more than lives up to his reputation — he’s smart, charming, impassioned and humble.

He visits Disney Tokyo with his daughter: “When we encountered crowds I realized that my behavior was a bit different than most of the people, but obviously not unique. I would avoid crowds and try to go in the opposite direction of crowds. If I noticed I was near the front of a crowd or ahead of a crowd, I would accelerate and try to stay ahead. Otherwise I would change course or go the other direction. If there were lines, I would choose the shortest one. I saw some people doing exactly the opposite. Even though there were ticket windows open, they would go to where people were lined up. If there was a crowd, it often attracted more people. Even if people were ahead of the pack, they walked slowly and were engulfed by the crowd.”

He defends journalists: “I think we should stop picking on professional traditional journalists. I think that if journalists need help from their editors to write, (in the case of Japan) want life-time employment, need someone to protect them in court, need paper boys to reach their readers and need a brand to provide legitimacy, I think they should be allowed to do this. I think it’s mean to pick on them too much…”

Prague fall

by henrycopeland
Friday, October 31st, 2003

Doug Arellanes gives a 45 second overview of Prague’s touristic pleasures. .

TViscerated families

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, October 29th, 2003

A new study by the Kaiser Foundation finds that 65% of children live in homes where television is on half the time or more. 43% of four to six-year-olds have a set in their bed room. 36% live in a home where the television is always or nearly always on — and these tots are about half as likely to know how to read. (Of course, I couldn’t read until I was seven and got to watch nothing but Wild Kingdom and Disney once a week on an ancient wood-paneled television that stood on four legs.) (PDF summary of study.)

Print publishers squack as online metrics infect their ad sales

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, October 28th, 2003

Ad Age reports on the higher standards being set by advertisers and the indignant response of publishers. “We are in business, in part, to serve the media buyers,” said Thomas O. Ryder, chairman-CEO of Reader’s Digest Association and newly elected chairman of Magazine Publishers of America. “But there is a point at which this becomes silly and counterproductive, and we are rapidly approaching that point.” (Marketingwonk.)

Server outage…

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, October 28th, 2003

The server where adstrips are cached is down right now. I’m not sure why and am trying to get the issue resolved.

If you are a blogger, for now the best solution is to take your adstrip javascript down. We’ll credit advertisers for the outage. For the future, the best solution is to use our blogger-side adstrip caching scripts, which we are happy to walk you through setting up.

I’m sorry about the problem and look forward to having it resolved in coming hours. (Update: as of 8.15, we are live again. Sorry for the trouble. More tomorrow.)

Blog campaign coverage

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, October 28th, 2003

In less than 24 hours, Josh Marshall raises 4864.00 to cover expenses as he blogs live from the Democratic primary in New Hampshire.

“Blogs Emerge As Hot New Ad Medium, Albeit With Trepidation”

by henrycopeland
Monday, October 27th, 2003

Great overview of blog advertising by Kate Kaye in Mediapost.

The grey lady blogs!

by henrycopeland
Monday, October 27th, 2003

The New York Times has hired its first fulltime blogger, Daniel Okrent.

Most newspapers would call the new guy an ombudsman. And even though the NYT folks are calling Okrent “a public editor,” he’s a b-l-o-g-g-e-r.

Okrent won’t be edited. He has no newspaper experience. “He will be given an unfettered opportunity to address readers’ comments about The Times’s coverage, to raise questions of his own and to write about such matters, in commentaries that will be published in the newspaper as often as he sees fit.”

Arthur Sulzberger Jr, the paper’s publisher, says “Working at its best, it’s a highway with two-way traffic.”

Here’s my question:

“Dear Mr. Ombudsman and Mr. Sulzberger,

Isn’t an $120,000-a-year ombudsman/public editor an anachronism, now that the paper has 750 bloggers scrutinizing its pages and publishing their thoughts 24/7 for free?

Yours truly,


I’m mystified. What purpose does an official critic serve today? What kind of two-way street has 18 wheelers going in one direction and a lone tricycle (occasionally!) going the other?

With hundreds of questions being raised daily on blogs, would it be it be better to let reporters and editors who create the news answer these questions themselves?

Perhaps reposing questions and underwriting/packaging official criticism in a finite space make it easier to ignore the gushers of unofficial criticism, even to ignore the relativism and indeterminancy that undergird journalism? Perhaps there are other rationales. I’ll say it again: I am mystified.

This is another tiny slice of the history of the sister concepts of “public” and “publish,” I think. For hundreds of years, the definitions of “public” and “publish” have been evolving. In the earliest days, the public space was the town common or church steps, and to publish (make public) was to post a notice in that space, where any and all would likely see it. As towns grew into cities and public spaces evolved, multiplied and subdivided, the only entities who could effectively “publish” were those with printing presses and the financial wherewithal to distribute their publications. Later, print publishers were joined in this monopoly by broadcasters with expensive equipment and licenses.

Late in this media history, the “ombudsman” was invented by publishers who had become embarrassed by their monopoly over the public space.

But now, the public space, the space most anyone and everyone can see and have in common, is once again public — anyone can publish. Thanks to the Internet and spontaneous networks among millions of bloggers, the public space is much larger and more porous, and traditional publishers are just one current in a sea of information.

The ombudsman can be hung up in some museum of artifacts with the buggy whip. Sorry, Mr. Okrent.

Tina loves blogs

by henrycopeland
Thursday, October 23rd, 2003

Renowned editor Tina Brown, via a Washington Post chat: “I love the blog.s Think they are really channging the collective voice of journalism. People are sick of mediated coverage. They like the noholds barred appraoch.” (Via Jeff Jarvis.)

Remember: journalism ain’t publishing

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, October 21st, 2003

In the comments on this Buzzmachine post, Dave Winer, author of Scripting News, asks: “Who says that blogging is going to overthrow journalism?”

Certainly not I, Dave. Does anyone think there won’t a healthy trade done in reporting on information of public interest for, at least, the next millennium?

What I can say is that blogging will overthrow/surpass traditional publishing — with its first, second and third generation owners, title-encrusted executives, executive saunas, multiple layers of bureacracy, ombudsmanists, ad reps, ad rep Porsches…

The organizing principle and profit engine of newspaper publishing for the last 350 years has been control of distribution.

Moore’s law has liquidated that control. All sorts of technology — cheap servers, cheap bandwidth, cheap blog CMS, Google, ubiquitous devices for online reading, cyclonic blog networks — combine to collapse publishing’s fundemental barrier to entry. (As Jeff puts, the gatekeeper is dead.)

There’s only one barrier remaining — a machine can’t be funny or eloquent or cutting or wise. Moore’s law gives us a glut of bandwidth and CPUs but not creativity. Which means authors are the last remaining publishing players with any pricing leverage.

In fact, Dave, nobody should think that “journalism” is going to be overthrown by blogs. Quite the contrary: journalism is the only part of today’s media economy that will thrive.

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