Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Recently in the Media and Journalism Category


I first met Virginia in 2015 when she and I were on a panel with Fareed Zarkaria at the Connecticut Forum. Late last year, she and Panio from Heleo reached out to see if I'd join Virginia in a conversation over Skype. Heleo "curates compelling, candid conversations between writers and thinkers about their work, research, and interests." You can see their great summary of the conversation on their website.

After the conversation, I asked if I could repackage the audio as a Podcast which you can find on iTunes and SoundCloud.

Virginia and I had recently gotten each other's books and a wide ranging but super-fun conversation ensued. It definitely left me excited to talk to Virginia again and expanded the perspective - thinking about the Internet in the context of art and design - that she covers in her book. We talk about the media, the Internet (yes, I still capitalize "Internet"), design, art, culture and many other things.

Also, as I explore various modes of publishing conversations online, I find it fascinating running into others exploring this space too.

If you've finished reading Whiplash, definitely pick up MAGIC AND LOSS: The Internet as Art if you haven't already. It's great.

There seems to be some sort of general rule that technologies and systems like conversations on the Internet, the US democracy (and its capture by powerful financial interests), the Arab Spring movement and many other things that were wonderfully optimistic and positive at the beginning seem to begin to regress and fail as they scale or age. Most of these systems seem to evolve into systems that are resistant to redesign and overthrow as they adapt like some sophisticated virus or cancer. It's related to but harder to fix than the tragedy of the commons.

I want to write a longer post trying to understand this trend/effect, but I was curious about whether there was some work already in understanding this effect and whether there was already a name for this idea. If not, what we should call it, assuming people agree that it's a "thing"?

I recently visited and had a conversation with Limor "Lady Ada" Fried and Phil Torrone of Adafruit. I first met them about ten years ago at SxSW.

Limor is an MIT grad that we're super-proud of and Phil is an amazing pioneer in communications, hacking and many other things. Phil and Limor are two of my most favorite people and I aways get giddy just getting a chance to hang out with them. We discussed making, electronics, business, manufacturing, hacking, live video and more.

They've been doing live video daily for the last 10 years or so and are real pioneers in this medium as well. We used their setup to stream the video to Facebook Live and Periscope and posted the recordings on YouTube and the audio on SoundCloud and iTunes.

Seth Godin has taught me so much about communications, leadership, publishing and life that I thought that it was important to stream my conversation with Seth. As usual, it was a great conversation.

Seth is on the Media Lab Advisory Council.

I streamed it to Facebook Live and posted the video to YouTube and audio to SoundCloud and iTunes.

Sultan is the most interesting person I know in the United Arab Emirates. I met him in 2010 or so, soon after I had moved to Dubai. He had just been asked to "take a break" from his job as a journalist at The National, the main national newspaper, for being controversial. I helped him get started on Twitter and he taught me about the culture and politics of region.

He is now a Director's Fellow at the Media Lab and a good friend and advisor.

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with him and get an update and some overviews about the region - Arab Spring, arts, politics, media, culture.

I streamed it with my Mevo to Facebook Live and have posted a better quality video on YouTube and the audio on SoundCloud and iTunes.


Sitting at home and looking out the window was a bit other-worldly. A snowy day in April is rare even in Boston. I seem to have gotten myself sick again. (After being mostly immune to everything for years, I've had a series of colds and flues this year. More on my theories about this in another post.)

For the last few days, Boris, Daiji and I have been following in the footsteps of Dave Winer and have been trying to get my RSS feed from my Movable Type Blog to become compatible with Facebook Instant Articles so that it would be approved. We have been going back and forth with the Facebook team who have been friendly and responsive. I THINK we finally have it working.

So here we go. If you read this on Facebook on the app, you should see the thunderbolt mark and it should load really easily.

Thanks to Dave for getting me going on this thread and to Boris, Daiji and the folks at Facebook who helped out. My Open Web feels a bit more loved tonight than it did before.


This is what this page looks like on my iPhone.

We've been talking a lot about the importance of the Open Web and where Medium fits into the ecosystem of walled gardens and this Open Web. Evan Williams, founder and CEO of Medium, was nice enough to chat on Skype and allow me to post it. I've known Ev from the Blogger days and the Twitter days and have been a user of every one of his products and the conversation reminded me how much I enjoy having product conversations with Ev.

It sounds like while Medium has and is focused on creating a great authoring platform, Ev is more open to supporting the Open Web than some might have feared. Look forward to seeing support for more interoperability and working with them on it.

It looks like I can post to Medium from my blog using RSS by using IFTTT. I'm going to give this a try.

I like having my blog as the primary source and archive and am excited by different ways that we can then distribute/syndicate the content out.

The New York Times
Times to End Charges on Web Site

The New York Times will stop charging for access to parts of its Web site, effective at midnight Tuesday night, reflecting a growing view in the industry that subscription fees cannot outweigh the potential ad revenue from increased traffic on a free site.


Old school user generated media ads

A subway mirror with an ad. In Web20-ese that's "Advertising driven user generated media".

Some other bloggers at Brainstorm:

Ross Mayfield, Dan Gillmor, Rebecca MacKinnon, Gary Bolles

UPDATE: Diego Rodriguez is also blogging the event.

I was recently approached by a publisher who wants to translate my Chinese Anti-Japan Protests post and some of the comments into Japanese and publish them as a book. This site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license so legally they can do this without asking permission. However, I am worried that some people might be posting comments on this blog without being aware that their comments are also covered under this license. If you have contributed to the post and would not like to have your comments translated into Japanese and reprinted, please let me know. Any royalties or fees I might receive for this I will donate to Global Voices, which is the most relevant project to this post.


Wired magazine writes about the so-called phenomenon of podfading: When someone stops doing a podcast.

Reasons cited for stopping podcasts:
- Boredom
- No success
- Overwhelming success
- No money

Meanwhile, the US-based National Public Radio this week reached the milestone of 13 million podcasts downloaded just six months after it started podcasting.

At the pace mainstream media is entering the new media space, will today's star bloggers and podcasters be tomorrow's roadkill?

Note: I may cross-post comments on the IHT blog and they may be reproduced in the paper for publication.

Live Door, one of the large Internet portal/verticals run by the now well-known maverick Horiemon, was raided last night the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor's office on suspicion of illegal securities trading. (Japan Times artice) Apparently they raided around 6PM last night and were there until this morning. One person who was visiting for a meeting reported that he was not allowed to leave for a long time and had to leave his papers there. Unlike the US, Japanese courts do not have a "discovery" process and often have to rely on these surprise raids to get necessary documents. It makes for good TV News.

Horiemon has been rubbing old-school Japan the wrong way by challenging the establishment with clever financing and takeover attempts of the media etc. I can see how he would get targeted. On the other hand Japanese companies like his tend to be sloppy so I wouldn't be surprised if they find something. It would be unfortunate if they end up slapping Livedoor down since I think he was serving an important function in Japanese business and this looks like a typical set-up.

Thanks to iMorpheus for reminding that I should probably blog this.

UPDATE: I haven't confirmed this, but I just heard a rumor that the National TV Network (NHK) was reporting the raid before people at Live Door knew they were being raided. ;-)

UPDATE 2: Live Door is Skype's Japan partner.

UPDATE 3: Apparently the first notice Live Door got of the raid was when Network TV called for an interview. TV knew before they did.

As a journalist, I admit to having more than a passing interest in the future of media/publishing. For "next generation" publishing, I currently see two main technical developments...

-wireless connections for ubiquitous Internet, and

-smaller and easier-to-read screens,

...that are bringing two main social changes...

-increased trust/reliance on peer-to-peer communication, and

-a more conversational style of journalism that contrasts with the previous model (that more resembled lecturing).

You can see the changes already having a concrete effect, with U.S. news magazines responding to the Internet -- in part by cutting back their foreign staff and editions.

What other broad forces (social or technical or others) will lead the next generation of publishing?

(I cross-posted this conversation on the International Herald Tribune blog)


It is now official! The IHT blog has been launched.

Check it out.

Comments on the IHT Blog may be used in a column that will run in the International Herald Tribune's technology pages - print and Internet - if we get enough good comments.

Dan Gillmor has launched his Center for Citizen Media. According to his post on Bayophere, "Starting in 2006, I'll be putting together a nonprofit Center for Citizen Media. The goals are to study, encourage and help enable the emergent grassroots media sphere, with a major focus on citizen journalism." I have joined his board of advisors. Good luck Dan! I think this direction is perfect for Dan.


English was already the lingua franca of science, business and academia. Now English appears to be fast emerging as the media language of choice. Al Jazeera is preparing to debut a 24-hour news channel in English. A TV station in Russia also started English broadcasting this month (but got hacked down).

Recently, an ex-FIFA sports official praised the French newspaper, L'Equipe, for some of it's hard-hitting doping coverage, including revelations about Lance Armstrong. But, he added, they just don't get the same notice because their reporting is in French.

His implication: If news is not in English, it didn't happen.

Have you seen any examples of growing use of English in media or backlash against it?

Disclosure: This question is asked in preparation for writing a story for the IHT, so I may get back to you for follow-up.


The entire country of Macedonia will be covered by Wifi, according to an announcement by Strix Systems.

There could be many uses for unlimited ubiquitous broadband.

Some of my ideas:

- Wifi webcams filming from a flock of sheep could make a great art project.

- Wifi webcams facing the stove would confirm that nothing is still turned on.

What other Wifi devices could be useful? (Even if it adapts current technology).


Just read the newly crafted elevator pitch for Benetech in a letter from Jim Fruchterman, the CEO, Chairman and Founder.

His pitch:

Benetech creates technology that serves humanity by blending social conscience with Silicon Valley expertise. We build innovative solutions that have lasting impact on critical needs around the world.
Webcams and other digital communication could give ordinary people feedback on results acheived due to donation of their money and time.

This would give the power of oversight formerly reserved for wealthy philanthropists.

Does this hint toward disruptive digital technology underming the NGO world with individualized philanthropy that cuts out the middle men?


Highlights from my story on Lunarstorm, the giant Swedish online community.

Claiming a youth audience three times larger than MTV in Sweden, two times larger than the entire readership of all of the Swedish evening newspapers combined and more members logging on daily than the total number of young Swedes watching almost every television show, Lunarstorm has become an accidental media titan here.

Lunarstorm's impact on Swedish youth is widely recognized. Church leaders used the community to console young people in the aftermath of the Asian tsunami that killed more than 500 Swedes. Meanwhile, concerns over the safety of minors prompted creation of a full-time security staff of six to scour the site for predatory behavior.

The site's question of the day - polling for anything from your favorite potato chips to political parties - garners an average of 150,000 respondents, more than any poll in Sweden apart from the actual national elections themselves.

Can closed garden communities survive - even if free - or are they Compuserves amid a more broadly emergent digital lifestyle?


Recent thread on the types of blogs highlighted something that bothers me: The term Blogging has hit the use-by date.

Face it, the word "blog" does not have a beautiful sound.

More to the point, however, there are so many types of blog-like interactions that it is way too generic.

In the thread we arrived at three styles of blogging (they can be mixed in a single blog, of course):

1- Talk - distributed conversation that reaps ideas

2- Inform - links to interesting things

3- Opine - Puts forward viewpoints

Sam Tresler highlighted many uses for blogs:

- Organizational

- Personal

- Business

Can anyone think of a better term than blogging to describe what we are talking about?

Calling Abbi in the studio to coordinate...
Abbi from the Situation Room emailed me just as I was about to leave Croatia asking me to join Rebecca MacKinnon on a segment for the Situation Room today. (This is the second time. The first time was in August.) We just finished recording. It will air on CNN Domestic 7 PM Eastern Time on Saturday and 1 PM Eastern Time on Sunday. Rebecca talked about global voices and I talked about blogs being conversations. Nothing new to readers here, but felt good having a chance to say it on CNN. I also quoted Thomas Crampton's post about how the IHT only gets 30 letters to the editor while we often get more comments on blog posts.

Abbi who runs the segment that we were in reads our blogs and is totally into blogs and new technology. CNN is lucky to have her. Her segment has a refreshing style and is something new... something we didn't have last year as far as I know. At least some of the main stream media is working well with us. I just realized that I was on CNN talking about what Thomas from the IHT was saying on my blog. Holy MSM remix. That's a lot of progress from last year... at least from my perspective.


In studying blogs I have come to notice there are relatively few styles of postings.

In descending order of difficulty, they are:

Conversational: Asks for a response, implicitly or explicity. Often gets no responses but occasionally it hits a home run with a great discussion.

Informational: A "neat-o" style of posting that tells information but does not really encourage discussion. These tend to get links without comment. BoingBoing, Engadget, etc are very successful blogs of this sort.

Polemical: A posting that takes a strong opinion. These tend to get both responses and links. The responses, however, tend to be opinions. Can be dull unless you use it like a drunk leaning on a lamppost: More for support than shedding light.

Additions and comments welcome


Interesting post on the blog of PR man Richard Edelman about the future of media.

Extracted highlights:

* The largest 50 Web companies are attracting 96% of the ad spending on line.

* 9.5 million homes in the US now have TiVo or another digital video recorder. 64% of DVR users skip all ads and an additional 26% skip through most ads. The number of homes with DVRs is expected to triple in the next five years.

* Every dollar coming out of print advertising revenue for newspapers is replaced by only 33 cents online.

Changes to the media landscape are dramatic. I think many in the media industry have not yet internalized these numbers.


Dear All,

As happened in previous posting, I am happy to revisit the issue of my guest blogging on Joi's site.

Why blog with Joi?

As Joi mentioned, I am trying to fast-forward into new media. Whether covering war, disease outbreaks or eathquakes, I always head for the frontlines.

The frontlines in blogging include the readers of Joi's blog. Great ideas have emerged in discussions here on how to combine blogging with more traditional media.

If you want to shape traditional media's interaction with bloggers, please join the discussion. If not, excuse us and rest assured that I will not be here forever (see next question).

How long will I blog here?

I blog here at Joi's invitation and would never impose on his kindness. I will be launching the first-ever blog-based column of the IHT in the coming months and will migrate the bulk of my postings over to that blog over time.

Is someone here paid by the International Herald Tribune?

Absolutely yes! I am a full-time employee of the IHT/NYT and have been for more than a decade. (Details at Other than my salary, no money changes hands.

Back to topic: Blogs and Traditional media

Funny self-observation: Just realized that in my postings I have dropped the Posted by Thomas Crampton in favor of By Thomas Crampton. That makes my online byline similar to my print byline.

Also, my blogging style has changed over time. Specific quesitions get more useful responses than general ones broad ones. You need to know what you are looking for.

What other tips to encourage discussion?


What options to refer to bloggers quoted in the International Herald Tribune blog-based technology page column?

- Shorter references make it easier on the reader
- Longer references make it easier for readers to track the person making comments and encourage the conversational-style that will hopefully develop

BUT Hyperlinks are not yet possible in the printed edition (sadly).

So options include:

- Use only the first name of the blogger (as many comments appear)
- Use the Blog/web address
- Include first name and blog address
- First name, blog address and a qualifying reference (author of XX book, etc)

What would make people more likely to participate? Concrete examples preferred.

PS: In preparing for the blog-based column for the International Herald Tribune I have spent vastly more time brainstorming and discussing issues here in Joi's blog than inside the newsroom. Thanks!


Been asking around the newsroom of the International Herald Tribune as to why we don't have a podcast of our best story of the day.

Problem: We don't have the in-house expertise right now to do podcast editing, but we came up with the concept of dial-in podcasting.

Business idea: Our far-flung reporters - and others eager for high quality podcasts - would call in their stories from the field (like we used to do to the recording room) to a high quality editing service that would splice together the best version and put a standard intro on the start and finish of each podcast. The podcast would then be automatically posted on our website. (Sounds ripe for an enterprising outsourcer!)

Any ideas?

The Nikkei
10:31 13Sep2005 NIKKEI Hakuhodo Teams Up With Russian Ad Agency

Note: I couldn't identify the Russian firm. This is just a guess. KMD

TOKYO (Nikkei)--Hakuhodo Inc. formed a business partnership Monday with Russian advertising agency Prior Advertising, joining the growing ranks of Japanese automakers, consumer electronics firms and other businesses moving into the country to tap its developing economy.

Through its partnership with Prior, Hakuhodo aims to secure orders from
Japanese companies operating in Russia.  The Russian firm, meanwhile, will handle accounts on Hakuhodo's introduction.

Through this joint effort, the partners will aim for sales of 500 million yen over the next year.

Prior, an independent advertising company, recorded sales of about 65 million dollars, or roughly 7.1 billion yen, in the year ended December 2004.

Dentsu Inc. (4324) in August reopened its Moscow branch, which was temporarily closed.  Through its collaboration with Prior, Hakuhodo aims to compete with Dentsu in the Russian market.

The Russian advertising market is continuing to show growth.  In 2004, it was worth about 420 billion yen, up 30% from the previous year.
     (The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Tuesday morning edition)

"Note: I couldn't identify the Russian firm. This is just a guess. KMD"? This sounds like a message from the reporter to the editor. Oops. ;-)

The Nikkei is one of the largest newspapers in Japan. I guess even they screw up sometimes... or maybe they're trying to make it sound a bit more "bloggy".


Looking for a model to follow in the IHT blog project and want to figure out what works.

The Guardian newspaper has a tech blog (check out their pipe-smoking tech editor).

But Technorati ranks Boing Boing the most popular blog by far. (Kudos, guys!)

Why do you read Boing Boing?

a - The frequent postings (up to 33 in one day, by my count)
b - The focus of stories?
c - Boing Boing should improve by . . .
d - Blog X is better than Boing Boing because . . .


Funny clash of perspectives in the International Herald Tribune newsroom!

In planning for my blog-based column, I chased down the actual number of letters to the editor we receive each day.

We receive at the IHT roughly 30 letters per day, of which 10-15 are usable, the letters editor said. We end up publishing roughly six.

Historical footnote: We formerly only accepted letters via post, then we accepted fax letters (by early 1990s) and now we almost exclusively receive letters via email.

For a daily newspaper printed in 31 print sites around the world and distributed in more than 150 countries, 30 letters per day struck me as very low, but several colleagues thought it was "a lot".

I sometimes get more than 20 responses - many publishable - for a single posting on this blog.

Once the blog-column is up and running I will be interested to see how many letters to the editor we can inspire. (For the newspaper as a whole, not just for the column.)

If you feel strongly about an article or issue, the email is and please mention this blog so we can get a sense of the level of blogger input.


Pitch to the editors of the International Herald Tribune about launching the paper's first blog-based column went well!! (Incorporating many of the ideas from this blog.)

Sounds like I might be the first-ever official blogger of the IHT.

Still wrestling with a variety of details - technical and editorial - for version 1.0. It will be rudimentary to begin with (and quite labor intensive for me).

Thanks for further ideas and I will be counting on readers here participating through this blog (or directly on the IHT site.)

How would you prefer to give submissions:

a- I edit them from a blog-like discussion?

b- People have a limited space (100 or 50 words) to give their take on something?


On Monday the Tech editor and I will pitch the blog column idea to the top editor of the International Herald Tribune.

Great suggestions when we discussed it here earlier.

Current thinking:

The Column: Of about 700 words will appear occasionally (until we can be sure quality is high enough) in the tech pages of the newspaper.

The Title: Lessons Learned; Digital Conversation; Any other ideas? (Actually, any other ideas might be a good name!)

The Form: Could be broken into three sections of roughly 200 words or one long column if interesting enough.

The Content: Would come from you. Best, I think, to ask people to submit 100 words on a given topic. That would enforce tight writing and avoid the impossible task of trying to summarize a blog discussion. People could submit multiple items, but none longer.

The Ideas: Would come from you. But the topic would need to stay relevant to the issue of technology, since that is where the column appears.

Any thoughts? I need a strong pitch for Monday morning!!!

Holy we the audience Batman! Dan's on the cover of Aera. Aera is probably Japan's biggest news magazine. Congratulations Dan! Although I will take credit for giving a copy of the book to Mr. Hattori at Asahi, many thanks to Asahi for getting Dan's book out in Japanese and giving him great coverage here. Seeing Dan on the cover of Aera really made my day. Maybe Japan's not that bad after all.

Posted by

After spending several days in the Paris suburbs and filing stories non-stop all day today, a few things struck me.

I have written about the first incident that sparked the riots and today's latest news (more violence already starting tonight and plans by French government to use curfew.)

The underlying feeling I got from the young people in Clichy-sous-Bois - where the troubles began - is total despair with no way out.

Seems there must be CK Prahalad opportunities for these young people to make a fortune - or at least a living - if they are given half a chance.

What ideas for businesses or projects that can bring hope to despairing young people in a high rise ghetto?

Are there successful models of what can be done?

Posted by

My minor hand operation this week highlighted to me how journalism/blogging are literally manual labor.

Also, my ability to tell many people about this injury reminds me of how repetitive strain injury/carpal tunnel syndrome only became something of broad public concern when the chattering classes (ie: white collar workers, including journalists) were hit due to their typing on computer keyboards.

Throughout the industrial revolution, however, the same problem had afflicted manual laborers who could not bring their problem to a wider audience. (Lately there seem to be fewer complaints about it here at the International Herald Tribune, perhaps because there is a greater understanding of ergonomics.)

Must be many examples of diseases that only became well known when they also became diseases of the rich. Any interesting ones?

Posted by Thomas Crampton

Tech editor of the International Herald Tribune seems open to publishing a column of blog-generated ideas.

I need topics of interest our newspaper's readers (wealthy global audience of frequent travelers with diverse interests in politics, economic and culture).

Conversations on this blog that might work have included my postings on Global Sociology of Online Shopping or Joi's post on ideas for new inflight software.

Input welcome on:

Layout - should it be in blog-style or reworked into a newspaper format. I tend to prefer reworking it, but my editor liked the idea of experimenting with a new formatting that might resemble an online chat.

Topics - Ideas for topics that would get the best response and interest our readers. I prefer things that are less about tech-issues than about ideas that may relate to technology.

Writing form - should it be written from a blog or could it be compiled on a wiki-style platform? This would require me to lay out the format and ask for people to help filling it in, but if someone has some appropriate social software platform, it might be fun to test the concept.

Online communities - A futher thought on the above concept is that it may be fun to involve specific online communities in writing guest columns. This would mean asking for the communities - friendster, asmallworld, openbc or another one. The idea would best to use a community with a particular purpose or outlook rather than a generic one. That would allow us to explore how these communities are different. Anyone senior enough at one of these communities should feel free to get in touch.

Posted by Thomas Crampton

Interesting venture launching in a few weeks by a group of Mainstream Media journalists in a blog. It is called Pajama's Media and has contributors from a number of mainstream outlets.

I think a cooperative blog is a good model - style - and would like to explore those possibilities myself. Seems to me the key is finding the right mix of people and then letting them loose.

My company - the International Herald Tribune and The New York Times - is not moving into the blog sphere as quickly as I would advocate.

That said, some colleagues are blogging on their own: Howard French in Shanghai, for example. Don't know of others.

Posted by Thomas Crampton

Three questions regarding the Committee to Protect Journalists today naming online journalist Shi Tao as a winner of the International Press Freedom Award.

His 10-year sentence to a Chinese prison came partly due to a disclosure about him by Yahoo!.

1- Do employees of Yahoo! feel responsible for/comfortable with this man going to prison? (Will they, for example, send care packages or join a letter-writing campaign petitioning the government of China for his release?)

2- How do users of Yahoo! feel about the company's privacy policies? (Or privacy policies of other Internet companies, for that matter.)

3- As a journalist who has had many police encounters in countries with nasty authoritarian dictatorships, I am always very concerned about the safety of those with whom I interact. Does online interaction lead to a sense of diminished responsibility? Do we need to see someone's face or visit their family at home to feel their pain?

Good post on Global Voices describing how Gaurav Sabnis made comments about an educational institution and receives threats to sue him for 30 billion rupees (45 rupees to a USD). Gaurav leave IBM but sticks behind his words and fights for his freedom of speech. This is an important issue where, as the GV post points out, the USP of the country is its open democracy.

It reminds me a bit of my incident...

via Suresh

Posted by Thomas Crampton

Inevitable with the narrow-casting of magazines that Germany now has a magazine about divorce.

Reminds me of the launch of a magazine in the US for gay parents. (Apologies for this being a Times Select link.)

These magazines, Rosenkrieg along with And Baby magazine, show how publishers often miss obvious socioeconomic groups due to prejudices or oversight.

Both gay parents and divorcing couples are willing to pay large sums of money for information relating to their situation and there are many advertisers keen to hit those demographics. For years, however, no magazines addressed those issues.

Be interesting to compare the categories of popular Blogsites with the available publications to see where the low barriers to entry of Blogs has discovered a demographic ripe for a glossy publication.

This once again shows the strength of interacting with consumers (readers) during conception of a project.

Posted by Thomas Crampton

As an employee of The New York Times Company, I probably should not raise this issue - but hey! - journalists are instinctive troublemakers.

What views on the decision by and to implement the Times Select paid subscriptions system for the highest profile columnists.

I fear we are giving room for new columnists to arise out of the Blogoshere to rival our own marquee names.

I have not thought enough about it, but I wonder if the opposite tactic might not be best. We give away the high profile columnists and charge for specific stories and local news that people cannot get elsewhere. The columnists increase our footprint and we cut out much of the blogosphere.

The problem, of course, is we need to find a way to pay for my salary and – very modest – expenses. Any thought on how to keep me in a job by earning money off our websites is much appreciated!

Posting by Thomas Crampton

Time for some reflection after more than a month of blogging here courtesy of Joi.

For my part, I have found Blogs are different from journalism because:

Involvement: In blogging you engage and try to spark conversations, not lecture. You succeed by getting feedback, not by writing something conclusive. A successful posting is a work in progress.

Timing: Not so important as I thought it would be. When I blog about a news article that I wrote three days earlier, the conversation takes off as if it were new. In that way, Blogs are more like a cocktail party conversation.

Tone: Blogs are more informal and personal. You are forced the kind of self-references that most news organizations try to beat out of journalists from birth.

Opinions: Blog postings work best with strong opinions in them. This is problematic for a journalist because we are supposed to avoid that. You can often get the same effect, however, by asking sharp questions.

Length: Postings are never longer than a few paragraphs and often broken into bullet point style (like this posting)

Reporting: I have not yet done any primary reporting in order to write a Blog posting. The most I do is look up things on the web and riff off knowledge or experience I already have.

Simple and quick: Blogging takes far less time than I expected. Since it is asynchronous communication, you can log on once or twice a day or take part more actively. Very much enjoy checking in with old postings to see how the conversation has evolved.

These thoughts came yesterday in London while participating at a conference organized by Accountability on a panel hosted by Michel Ogrizek, vice chairman of Edelman, the other panelists were David Weinberger of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School and John Lloyd of the Financial Times.

The audience and other panelists raised many great points - some of which I have plaguarized above - and we could only conclude that the interface between Blogs and journalism is a hot zone that will be fun to watch.

Additions and critiques to this list welcomed!

Global Voices Live Chat on Handbook for Bloggers & Cyber-Dissidents going on right now. Join us at #globalvoices on Freenode. For more information see the post on the Global Voices blog.

Update: Just ending now. Will post link to transcripts when they've been posted.

Update: The transcript of the IRC chat has been uploaded.

Karel just sent me an article he wrote for the Asahi about the recent election. I've posted it on my wiki.

Karel van Wolferen via email
Dear Joi,

The widespread -- and I mean truly widespread -- misconception that Japan has been pushed by Koizumi in a market-capitalism direction should teach us something about the function of the world's media as agents of ignorance. Like with subjects such as Iraq or Russia those who ought to know do not have a clue of what is actually going on.

Herewith my article as it appears this morning in the Asahi Shimbun.

best wishes


Will the Next Elections Save Japanese Democracy - by Karel van Wolferen - September 12, 2005

Dan Gillmor's in town and having a bloggers meetup at the Apple Store in Ginza from 20:00-21:00 on the 26th of September. I'm going to be out of town, but if you're around, it should be a lot of fun.

More info here.

I apologize to the people who are covering Katrina seriously and to all of the people who are affected by it. I just got this from Xeni and I think it's priceless.
SHEPARD SMITH: You’re live on FOX News Channel, what are you doing?

MAN: Walking my dogs.

SMITH: Why are you still here? I’m just curious.

MAN: None of your fucking business.

SMITH: Oh that was a good answer, wasn’t it? That was live on international television. Thanks so much for that. You know we apologize.

Xeni in IM
Cool. I love that SOME people in america are not media whores! Privacy before publicity.

UPDATE: Another funny TV moment. A CNN weatherman loses his cool while covering Hurricane Katrina... via Metafilter

Posted by Thomas Crampton

I wrote a story on the Global fund deciding to pull out of Myanmar on Friday.

The fund fights HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB, diseases that are the scourges of many developing nations. Click here for their press release.

The fund had been criticised by some for going into the country (some feared they could be seen as providing a support for the goverment) and they were also criticized for pulling out (they did not try hard enough).

Who is correct?

BREAKING NEWS: Rumor is that general Maung Aye has ousted general Than Shwe. If true, we may see even more hardline actions by the government. Maung Aye already beat out general Than Shwe (considered one of the more open members of the ruling clique). now Maung Aye may have consolidated his power further.

In sum: Factions have long weakened Myanmar's military regime, but one of the tougher generals now appears to be consolidating power.

Anyone else have thoughts on Maung Aye?

Menezes Tube Afp
Earlier, I blogged about the Brazilian man who was shot by officers in the UK in the Stockwell subway who suspected him of being a suicide bomber. The reports has said that he was wearing suspicious clothing, that he ran away from the polices, etc. We had a lively discussion in the comments of that blog post. Mike B, just posted a link to an article in I don't know this publication so don't know the accuracy of their reporting, but they tell a different story.
Blunders led to police killing of an innocent man

Key points
• Leaked documents claim suspect was not running away when shot
• Earlier claims on suspect's dress and vaulting of barrier also challenged
• Revelations will add to embarrassment of Met Police over killing

Key quote
"As he walked out of my line of vision I checked the photographs and transmitted that it would be worth someone else having a look. I should point out that, as I observed this male exiting the block, I was in the process of relieving myself." - SURVEILLANCE OFFICER

According to this article, the man was not properly id'ed leaving the house by either the officer taking a pee or the next one. Somewhere along the way, they upgraded it to code red. According to interviews in the article, the victim didn't jump the gate and had actually sat down in the train before the police came and shot him 7 times in the head after grabbing him.

If this is true, this is pretty awful process on the police side and shoddy reporting by the media who tried to cast him as some sort of guy who was so suspicious that it was HIS fault and not the fault of the police.

Has this been reported anywhere else? I'd like to see any other reports. Also, does anyone know the reputation of

UPDATE: Some coverage by the BBC.

[Note from Joi: Please welcome my first guest blogger ever, Thomas Crampton from the International Herald Tribune I've blogged about him in the past.]

Posted by Thomas Crampton

Civil wars, deadly disease outbreaks, natural disasters and foreign cultures have been standard fare in my career of newspapering. Now, at the suggestion of Joi, I intend to enter a new foreign culture and experiment with a foray into Blogging. This marks the first Blog posting by this journalist.

Who am I?

My career has been pretty hard core international reporting: A foreign correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, reporting from five continents and on many major world events. While based out of Asia (Hong Kong and Bangkok), I covered the Asian financial crisis as it spread out of Thailand and across the region, the rise of China as a regional power and the SARS outbreak as it spread from Southern China around the world as well as Sudan's civil war as seen from the rebel-held south.

My favorite place to report from?

It is impossible to say which country is most memorable, but one of my favorite places in Asia is Burma/Myanmar, a country of wonderful people ruled by one of the world's most harsh dictatorships. As part of the integration between the newsrooms of the IHT and the NYTimes (full owner of the IHT since 2003), I worked in a variety of positions at The New York Times, reporting for the Metro desk on issues in New York, the Washington bureau on the presidential campaign trail with the Bush twins, with the vice president and conventions as well as for the National Desk, covering two of the three Florida hurricanes (I managed to go through the eye of both hurricanes.)

What gets me up in the morning?

I have a deep and enduring commitment to defending freedom of expression and speaking in defense of journalists persecuted for doing their job. In that light, I currently serve on the board of the Overseas Press Club, was elected president of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Hong Kong, and also elected president of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand.

Where am I now?

Based out of Paris since May, I have spent recent months covering cinema (a daily column on the Cannes film festival), media (French newspapers' attitude towards the European constitution) and various other events (release of French hostage in Iraq, Florence Aubenas.)

What is next?

Looking forward, the next permutation in the intersection of technology, culture and media fascinates me. For example, in recent months I have written about the sociology of mobile phones (how do different cultures use mobile phones?) the way a mobile phone ring tone beat out Coldplay on the UK charts and how ubiquitous Wifi may bring a new generation of wireless devices. My view is that understanding Blogs is crucial to all journalists and I want to learn about them the best way I know how: Reporting on the topic.

Joi encouraged me to also try starting a dialogue on his Blog. What topics?

Since I am based outside the US, I am particularly interested to know what is unique and different about Blogs in Europe, Asia and other parts of the world. I am also interested in individuals and companies that might be good to profile.

With a posting wordier and much more self-referential than what my editors would allow, I hereby enter the brave new world of Blogging!

The borg-like look that I have is the look of someone trying to hit command-shift-4
without moving my head or shaking the camera.
I just finished my short appearance on the "Situation Room", a new show on CNN hosted by Wolf Blitzer. I think today was the inaugural show.

The Situation Room, anchored by Wolf Blitzer, assembles top CNN correspondents, analysts, contributors and guests for complete, up-to-the minute coverage of the day's events. Modeled on the concept of the White House Situation Room, the program combines traditional reporting methods with the newest innovative online resources, making the entire process of newsgathering more transparent and placing the latest news and information at the viewers' fingertips. The Situation Room airs weekdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. (ET)

My interviewers were Abbi Tatton and Jacki Schechner.

Abbi initially contacted me for the interview because she had read the New York Times op ed. Interestingly, she found it via Jeff Jarvis at Buzzmachine, not in the paper. I answered two questions. The first question was about perception in Japan about the anniversary of the bombing. I pointed out that the Japanese news media were less obsessed about the anniversary ceremony than the Western media. The Japanese media were more focused on the failed vote in the Diet to pass Koizumi's Postal privatization bill. (Actually, I think Stewart on #joiito first noticed this.)

The segment started with Wolf Blitzer saying in the backchannel, "Make sure you explain what a web chat is because most people won't know what it is... We don't want people to think we're cheap." Well, it IS cheap. It's free. ;-) But what really is important about this is by using cheap Internet technology, they will be able to reach people all over the world on very short notice. I think that there are a lot of interesting possibilities and I hope they experiment with the format and break some new ground for CNN. Good luck folks and nice chatting with you!

I just finished an iChat AV video test with CNN in Washington DC. I will probably make a short appearance on CNN Domestic (US) sometime between 5:30PM and 6:00PM ET via iChat AV. It is pretty nifty that CNN is starting to do interviews by iChat. This surely expands the selection of people they can interview and makes it easier for the interviewees as well.

In the middle of my slightly insane two sleepless days at OSCON, I got an email from the New York Times asking me to write an op ed. They wanted me to write about my thoughts about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the bombing. They said the deadline was Friday. "You mean next Friday?" "No, the day after tomorrow." "Oh."

My mind was full of open source and the future of the Internet. The atomic bomb and World War II were definitely not on my mind. It would be an interesting challenge and it's not every day that the New York Times asks you to do an op ed, so I accepted.

Let me just say I'm glad I'm not a professional writer. I sat down a few times during the conference and tried to write something while sitting in the hall and chatting with people. It didn't work. At midnight, I sat down in front of my computer and stared at my screen and tried to forget about open source and think about the atom bomb. I was supposed to write about impressions from my generation and from a Japanese perspective. I first went on IM and interviewed a bunch of my Japanese friends to confirm my suspicion. No one was really thinking about the bombing of Hiroshima and didn't really have much of an impression.

Then, I remembered a few papers I had read recently and Googled around for recent articles. After about 30 minutes, my head was "in the space" and I was able to start writing. It only took about 30 minutes to finish the draft. Afterwards, I went to #joiito and had the channel help me edit it. (Thanks everyone.)

Initially, I had thought that I would only be able get this done if I disconnected my computer from the Internet. In fact, the Internet turned out to be a valuable resource in getting my head around my thoughts and then getting feedback from a bunch of eyeballs on the text.

The story will run in the New York Times on Sunday in the Op Ed section. If I'm lucky, the International Herald Tribune will pick it up. If you have a chance, let me know what you think. I'll post a link here as soon as I get it.

UPDATE: The article is now online.

UPDATE 2: The International Herald Tribune picked it up too...

Full transcript of press conference where the press batter McClellan about the Rove/Plame link. 41 questions about one issue in 35 minutes.

via Lessig

Dan Gillmor and crew have announced HonorTags. This builds on his citizen journalists pledge, but is basically a way to tag posts to describe context and role of the author. Currently they have: HonorTagJournalism, HonorTagProfessional, HonorTagAdvocate, HonorTagPersonal, HonorTagFiction, HonorTagUnTag. They are soliciting feedback. Maybe I should suggest HonorTagJoker.

Dan Gillmor has created a Citizen Journalist Pledge for contributors to Bayosphere.

Citizen Journalist Pledge

By submitting this form, I agree to be accurate, complete, fair and transparent in my postings on Bayosphere. I will operate with integrity.

I work in the community interest.

I report and produce news explaining the facts as fairly, thoroughly, accurately and openly as I can.

  • Fair: I'm always listening to and taking account of other viewpoints;
  • Thorough: I learn as much as I can in the time I have, and point to original sources when possible;
  • Accurate: I get it right, checking my facts, correcting errors promptly and incorporating new information I learn from the community;
  • Open: I explain my biases and conflicts, where appropriate.
I may also provide reviews (such as a critique of a movie or book) and commentary with a point of view based on facts, but I will have no significant financial or otherwise direct connection (membership, affiliation, close relationship, etc.) with an interested party.

If I do have such connections, I'll disclose them prominently, and my work may be labeled and/or categorized appropriately.

I agree, as an active member of this community, to help uphold the integrity of this pledge by challenging and reporting inappropriate postings or abuse.

I think this is a reasonable pledge. One real difference between a citizen journalist and someone who isn't is whether they make such a pledge or at least agree to adhere to principles like this. I will also agree to a pledge.

One modification that I would have to make is conflict of interest disclosures. We've talked about this quite a bit on this blog. At one time, I started disclosing conflicts on every post, but people thought it sounded boastful. Lately, I try to make it clear by saying "we" or "I" when it is an organization that I am involved in, but assume that most people who read my blog understand my primary affiliations. Most of them are disclosed on my wiki page. Any new affiliation or minor affiliation to something I am writing about will be prominently disclosed.

The only other type of article that may not fit "citizen journalism" are posts where irony or some joke is the point of the post. I used to think that such material would be obvious, but I find that irony is often missed an taken seriously. I don't have a good solution for this.

Hoder, our favorite Iranian blogger is going back to Iran. He needs our help to get there as well as possibly keep him out or get him out of jail. See his blog for details.

Dvorak reports that the leak about Apple switching from IBM PPC chips to Intel was leaked by someone at IBM to analysts who leaked it to CNet or someone close to CNet and then somehow the Wall Street Journal got the story. He wonders whether Apple was suing bloggers in anticipation of this announcement to try to plug the leaks. Dan Gillmor wonders whether Apple is going to sue CNet.

Technorati Tags:

Listening to Open Source Radio right now. Excellent...

I just heard an excellent presentation by Krishna Bharat of Google News. He explained how Google News works. It basically crawls news sites, finds "story clusters", ranks the sources, figures out how prominently each source is running the story, figures out whether its a big story or a little story, figures out geographic references, and builds the pages for the various geographic and language editions. He was talking to an audience of editors so there were many questions about how the "editing" process worked and many people couldn't seem to believe it was algorithmic. Some people seemed afraid that Google News would replace them. The point that he made and was clear from the process that he explained is that it uses the decisions that the editors of the various media make about what story to run and where in deciding how important a story was. It was basically aggregating the decisions of the editors, not replacing them. Without the editors and the "front page process" Google News couldn't decide what story to lead with. At least in its current form.

The derivative conclusion you can come to is that Google News is just amplifying or reinforcing systemic biases in MSM editorial and NOT helping to address these issues. I think this make Google News very news media friendly and also provides an opportunity for bloggers and projects like Global Voices to still have a very important role. I guess that if Google New started incorporating more of the alternative press, they could shift the bias.

During the discussion, Dan Gillmor pressed Krishna for more transparency on the algorithm and the list of sources and I seconded the motion.

Some good notes of the sessions on the editors blog.

I went to the CNN office on Sunset in LA today to record an interview for a program that Aaron Brown is doing. I talked about the evolution of media, Global Voices, spectrum deregulation, Gillian Caldwell and WITNESS, Creative Commons, BitTorrent and all of my favorite topics. It will be interesting to see what survives the editors. It's suppose to air Friday next week. It's likely that I will be out of CNN reach although it should be running internationally. If anyone sees it, let me know how it went. Thanks.

UPDATE: Regarding on-air time

Scheduled to air this coming Friday, June 3.  10 pm edt is start of our broadcast. Could be aired anytime before 11 pm edt. Don't know precisely.

Dan Gillmor has just launched his grassroots journalism site. "Bayosphere ...of, by and for the Bay Area."

Congratulations Dan!

I just visited my friend Tom Crampton, a reporter for the International Herald Tribute, who just moved to Paris. Today was his first day in the Paris office. He showed me the computer system that gave him access to all of the stories and pictures filed by reporters and photographers all over the world. The computer system also had all kinds of databases including the news wires. The stories had "slugs" which were the shorthand names of the stories named after the actual lead slugs they used to use. Some had notes that said, "DO NOT SPIKE" which comes from the spike that editors used to have on their desk that dumped stories were spiked onto. These slugs were printed up onto "skeds". They let me sit in on the editorial meeting where all of the editors got together and discussed what stories might lead and which stories ended up on the front and second pages. Many of the stories hadn't been written yet. What was interesting was that, at least during the this meeting, there was a lot of non-verbal communication. There was clearly a lot more thinking than talking going on. It was the sound of NPOV.

It is definitely unfair to compare this process to blogging, but there were similarities. I scan my news feeds in the morning. Then I look at what other blogs are posting. Then I think about various things that might come up during the day that I might blog about and decide what if anything I will blog. It's a lot about timing, context and a larger narrative.

Some of the issues about what to lead with and what to balance with remind me a bit of the Prix Ars Electronica jury process (which danah just blogged about) where we chose 1 Golden Nica, 2 Distinctions and 12 Honorary Mentions from 400+ nominations.

I snagged a copy of tomorrow's IHT Japan edition which is just now being printed. I will be able to read tomorrow's paper on my flight back to Japan, which seems pretty cool.

I talked to the editors about blogging and explained that I'm a big fan of the IHT and thought a lot about how bloggers can work together with MSM and what we could do to transform their business model and preserve their craft.

Joho the Blog
The spit fight that ended my career at MSNBC


They want reports on what moderate left and right wing bloggers — "Nothing out of the mainstream," the producer told me yesterday — say about a "major" topic. What the hell does that have to do with blogging? And when two of the producers yesterday independently suggested that I report on the blogosphere's reaction to a Vietnam veteran spitting on Jane Fonda, I blurted out — because the flu had lowered my normal Walls of Timidity — that this wasn't a job I'm comfortable with.

What makes the blogosphere interesting to me is not that there are moderate left and right voices talking about mainstream topics. Mainstream major stories are about issues such as freakish celebrity pedophiles, a spit match over a fight from 30 years ago that the press is hoping to revive, and whatever unfortunate child has been reported missing and presumed (better for the story) murdered. I'm in the blogosphere to escape from this degradation of values.


So, fuck it. I quit.

I can't begin to imagine how hard MSM'ing about blogs is. It reminds me of the line from Jon Stewart on his show about blogging, "And that's CNN reporting on why blogs are much more interesting than CNN." (The quote from memory might be slightly inaccurate.)

Dan Gillmor on Grassroots Journalism
More Bad Behavior by 'Journalists'
Wall Street Journal (subscription)
How Companies Pay TV Experts For On-Air Product Mentions. Plugs Come Amid News Shows And Appear Impartial; Pacts Are Rarely Disclosed
Once again, we read a story of improper activities by people who appear to be journalists.

The most depressing part of this story isn't the individual behavior, though that's bad enough. It's the way these commentators' big-network employers -- maybe that should be enablers -- go through such contortions of logic to defend what's going on.

This is depressing. How can these people shake their fingers at us about our lack of blogging ethics. Would any blogger get away with secretly taking money for mentions?

The Stanford Center for Internet and Society filed an amicus brief today which I signed together with a number of others. Go CIS!

Amicus Brief Asks for Legal Rights for Internet Journalists

CIS filed an amicus brief today on behalf of The First Amendment Project, Internet journalists and bloggers and others asking the court in the Apple v. Does case to treat online publishers the same rights as their colleagues who publish in more traditional formats. Download file

Yesterday, I had a meeting with some of the Italian Indymedia community at a squat. In most countries squatters are considered criminals and local law has very little tolerance for them. In Italy, the squat scene is the center of a lot of the sub-culture and alternative media. After years of resistance, many of the squats on property which was owned by the local government have been officially recognized by the municipalities in various degrees. The squats have events including debates and parties. They have kitchens, living quarters, and in the case of the squat I went to last night, a computer lab (called "hacks" this one named "bugs") that teaches people how to switch from Microsoft to Linux and allows free Internet access to anyone who wants to drop by.

After the chat in the bugs hack, we went to dinner at a centro sociale called Casale Podere Rosa. It was similar to a squat except the people don't live there. The place we went to was on the upscale end. The food was excellent and they had lots of posters and pamphlets describing the organic farming methods they used to grow their produce.

Internet penetration in Italy is quite low and the Berlusconi media machine controls most of what people see. On the other hand, the left wing are fighting hand and fist (literally) with the right wing radicals. Free speech was something that people were fighting for, in many cases outside of the law. At a tactical level, my discussion about freedom of expression and our "Infrastructure of Democracy" idea of fighting bad speech with more good speech sounded a bit idealistic. What was interesting to me was the power and the energy of the alternative media movement. It reminds me of my theory on good alternative music. When there is a huge force pressing down on freedoms, sub-cultures with more creativity and power are likely to form.

One of the things I'm going to talk about on the panel today is the addition of al-Manar, the satellite TV station of Lebanon-based Hezbollah to the Terrorist Exclusion List on December 17, 2004. The TEL limits immigration for foreigners associated with organizations on the list. This is not the worst of the various lists to be on, but according to Jack Shafer, they are the first media company to be added to this list. My understanding is that al-Manar represents the Hezbollah party in Lebanon. It is an official party with democratically elected politicians. While the content of al-Manar may be objectionable to many people, stifling the voice of a democratically elected party in a foreign country by calling them terrorists goes against the spirit of freedom of expression. The US constitution's First Amendment rights only cover Americans, but I believe that in a democracy the competition of ideas and free speech should combat beliefs that it does not agree with - more speech and debate, not censorship.

Another issue is the chilling effect that this has. Although talking about or talking to people from al-Manar might not land you on the Terrorist Exclusion List, it could easily land you on the no-fly or similar list and cause you to be perpetually harassed when traveling in the US. I imagine that people from al-Manar will have a very difficult time finding anyone to talk to or have lunch with. I feel a chill running down my spine just writing this post.

Today I'll be attending the Atocha Workshop.

On March 11th 2005 the Atocha Workshop on Global Terrorism, hosted by the Safe Democracy Foundation, will create a repository of original thinking on Global Terrorism that will continue to be fed weekly in the form of a weblog by creative thinkers on the subject from around the world.

The launching event will take place at the Atocha Train Station on March 11th, 2005 at the restaurant Samarkanda. Here, in in an atmosphere that will encourage creative thinking, around 200 people will participate as policy proponents, webloggers or as public; all will be engaged in the discussion of the proposed policies.

The program is online. It should be quite interesting. I heard a rumor that it will be broadcast live on CNN, but I'll try to confirm this.

I will be on a panel from 15:10-15:55 about Media Misperception and The War on Terror (Conference Room). The other panelists are: Mario Bettencourt Resendes - Publisher Diario de Noticias, Nick Fielding - Senior Reporter of the London Sunday Times, Rebecca MacKinnon - Fellow at the Berkman Center at Harvard University, Ahmed Rashid - Author of ‘Taliban’ and ‘Jihad’, Dr. Steve Gorelick - Vice President for Institutional Advancement of The CUNY Graduate Center.

The International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security organizers have restricted press access. The press are restricted to a separate area and don't have access directly to the conference. This is one case where bloggers are lucky not to be considered "press". Having said that, I think they should give the press access to this conference. I guess they can join the IRC channel or read our blogs...

Unfortunately, I'm too busy participating to be blogging it well right now. I hope SOMEONE is blogging this.

David Weinberger: As Jon Stewart would say, "Washington Post - You read it here 12th."

UPDATE: I appears that too many press were invited and the couldn't all fit. It appears that the root of the problem is a logistical one rather than restriction for the sake of it...

Our workshop on Friday is supposed to be broadcast live on CNN. I'll post more details when I have them.

Mark Frauenfelder @ Boing Boing Blog
U.N. landmine commerical won't air in US.

A U.N. commercial depicts American girls playing in a soccer match. A girl steps on a landmine and there's a big explosion. Kids get blown apart. CNN and other networks don't want to air the ad.

 Images2 Landmines2The explosion appears to kill and injure some girls, sparking panic and chaos among parents and other children. Shrieks of horror are heard through much of the spot, and a father is shown cradling his daughter's lifeless body, moments after celebrating a goal she had scored.

It closes with a tag line reading: "If there were landmines here, would you stand for them anywhere? Help the U.N. eradicate landmines everywhere."

You can view the ad here. (Here's a torrent file). Link and another Link
First, there was news that:
But on Monday, the Americans created turmoil by announcing that the United States would not join an otherwise universal consensus unless the document was amended to say that it did not create "any new international human rights" or "include the right to abortion."
(via Jonas)

Now this.

I remember at a recent meeting, a senior diplomat we were meeting with said that the U.N. Personnel Landmine Treaty would not have happened if it weren't for Internet and email. He talked about how the Net opened many of these previously closed treaty making processes to NGOs and individuals. It appears that the US is doing what it can to marginalize these multilateral processes. This also reminds me of how important video is. You can say landmine all you want, but a video has impact beyond words. I really think that video blogging will evolve into an important part of our dialog. I wish more news agencies would provide us with material to use to create citizen video commentary. Maybe CNN can ban it, but we can still distribute it on the Internet.

David Weinberger
The news from

The NY Times famously moves stories from their original links to new ones in the for-pay archive after a week. As a result, important stories exit the public sphere, and the newspaper of record becomes the newspaper of broken links. [See Note at end.] So, starting in April, is going to publish thousands of topic pages, each aggregating the content from the 10 million articles in its archive, going back to 1851, including graphics and multimedia resources. Topics that get their own page might include Boston, Terrorism, Cloning, the Cuban Missile Crisis and Condoleeza Rice. News stories will link to these topic pages. And — the Times must hope — these pages, with their big fat permanent addresses, may start rising in Google's rankings.

Very interesting. The problem is, these topic pages will link to articles you still have to pay for to see. It feels like a big tease. On the other hand, it's better than nothing and they do need to experiment with business models. See David's post for more analysis. I look forward to seeing what they have in store for us. Anyway, good for them for giving something new a shot.

Tulsa paper threatens to sue blogger over posting excerpts of its stories and links to its site. Tulsa paper needs to get a clue.

Blogger Michael Bates: "I believe I have respected the World's copyrights within the fair-use exemption. Let the World name the specific articles in which it alleges that I have exceeded fair use. I have violated no law by directing readers to the Tulsa World's own website to read the Tulsa World's own content as the World itself presents it."

Hmm. Is this a job for the Media Bloggers Association?

via Rebecca

Reminds me a bit about the deep linking debate in years past, but even more stupid. Maybe a long time ago clueless people could get away with shaking their fist at fair use, but these days it just makes you look even more clueless. The Media Bloggers Association sounds like a good idea though. Maybe we can make a special hall of fame for stupid letters to bloggers.

Make Logo3
MAKE is a mook (hybrid magazine/book) and a website for do-it-youself gadgety hacking published by O'Reilly. The team is my favorite do-it-yourself hacker Philip Torrone, Mark Frauenfelder of Boing Boing and Dale Dougherty from O'Reilly. Phillip tells me there will be a lot of audio and video coming, but it looks great already. Looking forward to getting my hands of the first issue and seeing what they have in store for us!

We just had an IRC chat organized by Wikinews to talk about how bloggers and Wikinews could work together. If you don't know about Wikinews, it is an effort by the people behind Wikipedia to use many of the same principles behind Wikipedia to run a news site. They've had an early success with their scoop of the unrest in Belize.

Anyway, it was a very productive discussion. You can see the logs online. There is a page about Wikinews and Blog collaboration, but it's still pretty skimpy. A few ideas that came out:

Exchange IM addresses between active members in both communities to coordinate stories. (See page of IM addresses for Wikipedians.)

Create an RSS/Atom feed of new stories and hopefully for different tags from Wikinews.

MetaWeblog or Atom API to allow bloggers to post to some section of Wikinews using blogging tools.

Wikinews should accept trackbacks. They need someone to help write a trackback plugin for MediaWiki. Let them know if you can help.

Rony Abovitz blogged that Eason Jordan of CNN accused the U.S. military of murdering journalists in Iraq during a panel at Davos. The official summary does not reflect these comments. Rebecca MacKinnon, former CNN journalist who worked for Jordon corroborates the assertion by Abovitz. Little Green Football is tracking this in detail.

UPDATE: A MUST READ update from Rony Abovitz.

Halley interviews Dan Gillmor on Memory Lane. Two of my favorite people. Dan, as usual, presents a balanced view on blogging and journalism.

Jay Rosen questions whether Dan Rather has ACTUALLY learned his lesson.

A Short Letter to Dan Rather

"So I kind of resent your attitude toward your numerous critics who operate their own self-published sites on the Web. They were being more accurate than you were, much of the time. I don't speak for them, but I know my own archive." Plus: Lose the spokesperson, Dan. Hire your own blogger.

Dear Dan Rather: "Lest anyone have any doubt," you said in your statement yesterday, "I have read the report, I take it seriously, and I shall keep its lessons well in mind."

I'm afraid I still have my doubts. Perhaps these would be lessened if, for example, you had bothered to spell out which lessons you saw for yourself, and for CBS News in the review panel's report.

* Was it the lesson about the deadly consequences of dismissing criticism because you think you know the motivations of the critics?
* Was the lesson that a prudent journalist ought to fear and respect the fact-checking powers of the Internet?
* Or was it that by stretching yourself thin you had stretched thin the credibility of the very network you thought you were serving by taking so many assignments?
* Maybe the lesson is not to apologize when you think you did nothing wrong.

Dan Gillmor also chimes in.

UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis has more good stuff on this.

Dan Gillmor on Grassroots Journalism
Arrogance at Apple
CNet: Apple suit foreshadows coming products.

Apple on Tuesday sued the publisher of Mac enthusiast site Think Secret and other unnamed individuals, alleging that recent postings on the site contain Apple trade secrets, according to court documents seen by CNET The suit, filed Tuesday in the Superior Court of Santa Clara County, Calif., aims to identify who is leaking the information and to get an injunction preventing further release of trade secrets. However, in filing the suit, Apple identifies specific articles that contain trade secrets, indicating that at least parts of those reports are on the mark.

This is disturbing on many grounds. Apple claims (see the end of the story) that it's not trying to suppress free speech. Bull. That's precisely what the company is doing here, well beyond keeping internal secrets.

This reeks of corporate misbehavior. I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me that Apple's only legitimate legal beef is with its employees or contractors who are leaking the information to Think Secret and other rumor sites.

I'm fairly sure of this: If the party leaking information to Think Secret had sent it, say, to the San Jose Mercury News or New York Times, and had those publications run the news, Apple wouldn't be suing them. Both have deep enough pockets to defend themselves.

This is my understanding too. Even if the source is "tainted" if a journalist receives the information unencumbered, they can print it. If this were not the case, there would be little recourse for whistle-blowers who usually are breaking some sort of contract at a local level for a higher good. Going after the news site is "pushing around the little guy" I think.

UPDATE: EFF is stepping in to help according to Boing Boing.

UPDATE with links from Donna Wentworth

EFF Is Not Representing Think Secret (Donna Wentworth)

The mistake is understandable. Here's our press release; EFF's clients are the publishers of AppleInsider and PowerPage. It's important to note that the facts in these cases are different.

Update: The New York Times has clearly written, informative coverage [reg. req.]; NewsFactor also has something solid.

Update #2: The legal documents are now up at the EFF site.

Good article in BusinessWeek about the future of the New York Times. (Requires registration.) The Times is facing a crisis.

...NYT Co.'s stock is trading at about 40, down 25% from its high of 53.80 in mid-2002 and has trailed the shares of many other newspaper companies for a good year and a half. "Their numbers in this recovery are bordering on the abysmal," says Douglas Arthur, Morgan Stanley's (MWD ) senior publishing analyst.


There are those who contend that the paper has been permanently diminished, along with the rest of what now is dismissively known in some circles as "MSM," mainstream media.


Advertising accounts for almost all of the digital operation's revenues, but disagreement rages within the company over whether should emulate The Wall Street Journal and begin charging a subscription fee. Undoubtedly, many of the site's 18 million unique monthly visitors would flee if hit with a $39.95 or even a $9.95 monthly charge. One camp within the NYT Co. argues that such a massive loss of Web traffic would cost the Times dearly in the long run, both by shrinking the audience for its journalism and by depriving it of untold millions in ad revenue. The counterargument is that the Times would more than make up for lost ad dollars by boosting circulation revenue -- both from online fees and new print subscriptions paid for by people who now read for free on the Web.

Sulzberger declines to take a side in this debate, but sounds as if he is leaning toward a pay site. "It gets to the issue of how comfortable are we training a generation of readers to get quality information for free," he says. "That is troubling."

What's a platform agnostic to do? The New York Times, like all print publications, faces a quandary. A majority of the paper's readership now views the paper online, but the company still derives 90% of its revenues from newspapering. "The business model that seems to justify the expense of producing quality journalism is the one that isn't growing, and the one that is growing -- the Internet -- isn't producing enough revenue to produce journalism of the same quality," says John Battelle, a co-founder of Wired and other magazines and Web sites.

Interesting perspectives. Would people pay for the New York Times online? Some. I wouldn't. They have some great stuff and I read the paper version of the IHT and the NYT when I'm offline, like on an airplane, but there are so many free sources of information and ways to get to information online that the incremental value added by the New York Times on my news consumption habits wouldn't be worth the hassle and the price. I really believe there is great value in the brand and the organization that is the New York Times, but I'm not sure what the business model is. I'm sure the world is better off with The New York Times, but how do they survive? People can make fun of bloggers, but blogs are growing and the metrics show that The New York Times is not. Is the New York Times the only "MSM" doing poorly or is everyone in trouble?

I've said this before, but I believe there is a role for MSM and that blogging is not a replacement, but rather something that can support MSM by adding more voices, view points and feedback. On the other hand, from a business model perspective, I'm not sure how blogging can help MSM. It's really an amateur revolution and it's probably going to have to look like the sometimes awkward but sometimes successful dance that Open Source does with businesses in order to be successful.

via Susan Crawford (and NOT via browsing BusinessWeek)

Dan Gillmor who recently left the Merc has a new blog called Dan Gillmor on Grassroots Journalism. Go Dan!

EPIC 2014

In the year 2014, The New York Times has gone offlne.

The Fourth Estate's fortunes have waned.

What happened to the news?

And what is EPIC?

An image of the future of journalism as a historical movie. Well done and rather interesting perspective on how it might go wrong.

Took a few tries to get it to load.

via Dean and Jessica

OhmyNews International interviews Dan Gillmor about his new project.

via Howard's

There is an interesting discussion going on on MetaFilter about a very graphic video of what appears to be French soldiers shooting at civilians in Cote d'Ivoire. The discussion starts with understandable outrage, but some people begin to question the authenticity of the video and question whether it might be propaganda from the Gbagbo government. There is more and more political video on the Internet and it clearly is more emotional than text. Well respected groups such as Witness have been using video to expose human rights issues for awhile now. It will be interesting to see if/when/how not so respectable groups begin using video on the Internet for political issues or to spin the truth.

I can't conclude either way about exactly what is going on after watching this video. (Warning 100MB and very graphic.)

via Ethan

UPDATE: tao posts a link to an interview of French military on Swiss TV in Real Video format. Can someone who speaks French tell us what they are saying?

Image via email, not sure of origin
The image above shows all of the major Japanese TV networks broadcasting live coverage of the recent earthquake in Niigata prefecture. The square in the middle shows TV Tokyo broadcasting something about crab rice bowls. Oops.
Jay Rosen
The Coming Apart of An Ordered World: Bloggers Notebook, Election Eve

"About the performance of journalists in 2004 it will be asked, post-election: How good a job did the press do? But Big Journalism was in a different situation in politics and the world during this campaign. The post-mortems should be about that. Also: will the press even have this job in 08?"

Rebecca MacKinnon, the former Tokyo bureau chief of CNN writes about why CNN is broken. She writes that although there is pressure from the administration to spin stories, most of it comes down to pure commercial interests. It also reminds me that "freedom of the press" in the US constitution was referring to people like Thomas Paine, not mega-corporations like CNN/Time Warner.

Rebecca MacKinnon
Priorities of American Global TV:
Humanity, National Interest, or Commercial Profit?

...When Richard Parsons, the CEO of CNN's parent company Time Warner visited Tokyo in the fall of 2003, he held a Q&A session with a group of Time Warner's Tokyo-based managers whose work ranges from movies, to music sales, to online services, and also to news. I asked him whether he viewed Time Warner's news properties - such as CNN and TIME magazine - to have a special social responsibility for educating the public about current events, or whether CNN was just another commodity like any other product or service sold by Time Warner. He replied that he does not view CNN any differently from any other company owned by Time Warner.


When I started working for CNN in 1992, things were different. Those were what longtime CNN employees now refer to as the "old days" when the network was run directly by Ted Turner, before the 1996 merger of Turner Broadcasting and Time Warner. "When CNN reported to me, if we needed more money for Kosovo or Baghdad, we'd find it," Ted Turner wrote in the July/August 2004 issue of Washington Monthly. "If we had to bust the budget, we busted the budget. We put journalism first, and that's how we built CNN into something the world wanted to watch." He blames the current situation on the concentration of news media in the hands of a small number of mega-corporations, and blames U.S. government regulators for allowing this to happen. "The loss of independent operators hurts both the media business and its citizen-customers," he argues. "When the ownership of these firms passes to people under pressure to show quick financial results in order to justify the purchase, the corporate emphasis instantly shifts from taking risks to taking profits. When that happens, quality suffers, localism suffers, and democracy itself suffers."

Rebecca MacKinnon is a the former bureau chief for CNN in Japan and now a fellow at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet & Society. She's one of the people I turn to when trying to understand the future of journalism and she writes about some of the difficulties Wikinews will have and provides some thoughtful suggestions.

Angela, Dan and Ross have blogged about Wikinews so I assume the idea is "out" and I can blog about it. Wikinews would be to journalism what Wikipedia is to encyclopedias. Reports and articles would be written by a community wiki-style and would follow the Wikipedia rule of Neutral Point of View (NPOV). There would be controls in place to decide when an article was "finished" and a lot of thought has gone into the workflow of how this would work. The idea of accreditation of contributors has also been proposed.

I've been spending some time hanging out on IRC with the Wikipedia community ever since I met Jimmy Wales and a few Wikipedians in Linz. I've worked on a few articles, but I'm fascinated as much by the community as the product of their efforts.

That's why I'm against Wikimedia doing Wikinews. I think Wikinews is a great idea and a noble experiment. Someone should do it. I'm just worried that it will change the tone of the Wikipedian "bookworms for the common good" community. Competing with encyclopedias is very different from competing against journalists. it reminds me of the Jack Handy quote: "To me, boxing is like a ballet, except there's no music, no choreography, and the dancers hit each other."

On the other hand, who would have thought Wikipedia itself would have worked in the beginning. To their credit, they do have some rather politically charged articles that have managed to stay quite NPOV, but pumping a consistent flow of these out is another matter. I've posted more thorough comments on the Talk:Wikinews page.

In any case, it looks from the votes like the project will happen, so I will support and participate in any way that I can.

I blogged earlier about the very negative reaction that the Japanese taken hostage in Iraq received in Japan. The main reason was that when the parents asked for their release, they didn't apologize to the Japanese government and even denounced the war. I believe it was a rather unfortunately, but understandable reaction in the context of Japanese culture for the Japanese to say, "we told you to stay away from there, and how dare you cause such shame on Japan without even apologizing."

I recently talked to someone involved in the Arab press and learned that if the parents had apologized and sucked up to the Japanese government, there was a good chance that the hostages would not have been released. So if I had to choose between whether my children were released alive or whether they would be happily received by the Japanese government, I think I'd choose to have my children live. Whether it was done on purpose or not, their parents made the right decision.

Then there is the story of the Australian journalist who was freed because a Google search revealed he was not CIA or a US contractor.

I don't think that all of the kidnappers are smart and politically motivated and ethical, but they are clearly sending a signal that their targets are not all random.

Cory Doctorow @ Boing Boing
Jon Stewart on his Crossfire appearance

Here's a clip form Jon Stewart's Daily Show monologue following on his now-legendary Crossfire appearance in which he post-mortems his performance. Very good stuff.

Link, Crossfire's response

(via Waxy!)

Jon Stewart
They said I wasn't being funny. And I said to them, "I know that, but tomorrow I will go back to being funny, and your show will still blow."

Thanks Cory and Waxy!

Craig of Craig's list says: "now The Daily Show is my most trusted source of news." It maybe tongue-in-cheek but it's not far from the truth.

The amazing thing is, the only reason I am able to watch it at all is because of P2P filesharing / Bittorrent. I think file sharing of videos is a key component of freedom of speech and public discourse when so much attention is focused on television. Although we can dance around singing "fair use", is there any chance news programs can make their content available via Creative Commons for people to share so those of us not in America and have better access to your "public discourse"?

'Daily Show' viewers ace political quiz
Survey reveals late-night TV viewers better informed
By Bryan Long for CNN.

via Lisa Rein

Xeni Jardin @ Boing Boing
Jon Stewart's Crossfire appearance on bittorrent

BoingBoing reader bryan says, "Jon Stewart blasted the hosts on CNN's Crossfire for hurting the democratic process instead of helping. He also calls Tucker Carlson a dick. Bittorrent: Link, and transcript here.

BoingBoing reader Hal points us to Salon's coverage (Link), and describes the interview/buttkicking alternately: "Tucker Carlson gets his ass handed to him on a platter -- without falafel to sweeten the taste."

Here's an alternate BitTorrent link: Link. (Thanks, yatta)

Crossfire is an a nonconstructive form of "talk show" and represented the divisive and shallow television media news and politics of today. I'm glad Jon Stewart had the guts to point this out and call them on it. Yay Jon! And yay for Bittorrent too!

Dave's posted some great charts.

Chart of the number of Technorati inbound link sources plotting Big Media vs. Blogs. More info this chart on Dave Sifry's blog.

Chart of the growth in number of blogs tracked by Technorati which reflects total number of "public" blogs.

Chart of number of new blogs per day showing acceleration.

More info on last two charts also on Dave Sifry's blog.

Chart of number of new posts per day.

More info on this chart also on Dave Sifry's blog.

Yes! The woman speaking ahead of me gave the history of television and talked about Steamboat Willie. What an excellent segue-way into my Creative Commons "creativity is built on the past" riff. Steamboat Willie, as you will know if you read Free Culture, is the Walt Disney rip-off parody of Buster Keaton's Steamboat Bill Jr. and the first successful Mickey Mouse animation. Lessig likes to call this parody and remix creativity "Walt Disney creativity". The panel is about innovation and creativity in digital television and I'm going to talk about going beyond interactive television and allowing people to interact with the content as creators and considering the use of creative commons in the television context.

UPDATE: It was fun. Since "freedom of the press" was invoked by a previous speaker, I got a chance to point out that the US founding fathers were probably referring more to giving the people a voice and not about protecting multi-national media conglomerates.

People have been reporting about the FBI ordering a hosting provider, Rackspace, with offices in the US and the UK to seize at least two servers from Indymedia's UK datacenter. Indymedia is a well known edgy alternative news site which was established to provide grassroots coverage of the WTO protests in Seattle. It has grown into a multinational resource for some hardcore journalism including a lot of work on the Diebold and the Patroit Act issues. The reports as well as Indymedia's page on this story say that the FBI has not provided a reason for the seizure to Indymedia. The statement from Rackspace says:

In the present matter regarding Indymedia, Rackspace Managed Hosting, a U.S. based company with offices in London, is acting in compliance with a court order pursuant to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), which establishes procedures for countries to assist each other in investigations such as international terrorism, kidnapping and money laundering. Rackspace responded to a Commissioner’s subpoena, duly issued under Title 28, United States Code, Section 1782 in an investigation that did not arise in the United States. Rackspace is acting as a good corporate citizen and is cooperating with international law enforcement authorities. The court prohibits Rackspace from commenting further on this matter.
In past, Indymedia has done stuff like posting photos of undercover police officers. However, according to Indymedia, the "FBI asked for the Nantes post on swiss police to be removed, but admitted no laws were violated". This time the FBI has not told them what they've done wrong and Rackspace is under a gag order so they can't even tell Indymedia exactly what hardware they removed.

This implies that some non-US entity had the FBI force an action in the UK under MLAT. This means that Indymedia is being suspected of engaging in international terrorism, kidnapping or money laundering. I've seen some extreme reporting on Indymedia, but terrorism, kidnapping or money laundering? I guess the definition of "terrorism" has been expanded to meet popular demand these days, but come on... really?

This reminds me of toywar. A group of Swiss artists established in 1994 who are Golden Nica award winners from my Ars Electronica jury in 1996 call themselves etoy. Later, Etoys, founded in 1998 tried to take the domain by force. They got a temporary injunction against the web site because a judge in LA agreed that it was confusing to customers of Etoys. Network Soutions complied and went beyond their call of duty and shut down email as well for good measure. Swiss artists can be sued in a US court and having their email shut down by a US registrar.

My point is, be careful where your data lives...

UPDATE: is speculating that it is because Indymedia published the identities of the RNC delegates.

UPDATE2: It appears that maybe it wasn't the RNC, but the photos of the police officers according to Cryptome.

UPDATE3: imajes has an written a letter to his MPs. Maybe others should do the same.

Jay Rosen blogs about Nick Coleman's "classic" anti-blog piece Blogged down in Web fantasy. Both are worth reading, Coleman's piece just for yuks.

Jay Rosen
For me the funniest part of Coleman's column was the way he wrote it knowing he was to get ripped by the bloggers he was ridiculing. It's the Struck a Nerve Fantasy in opinion writing. I'm sure some of you recognize it.

X publishes something graceless and unconvincing, but extremely polemical. Everyone hates it because it's bad writing. Friends of the argument are not friends of the piece. So X has almost no defenders. The reactions come in. X's piece gets ripped because it's aggressive, mean and wrong.

But X walks away satisfied: looks like I struck a nerve, says X to self. And the greater the hostility back, the bigger the nerve struck!

This is exactly what Dvorak does, except he usually does a 180 at the end. Strike a nerve to get attention and dive right in. For instance, he slams blogging, then starts merrily blogging himself.

I think crumudgening is used in politics to create diversions. Some authors like Dvorak use it to get attention. Sometimes it's not crumudgening, but sincere stupidity. The problem is that it is sometimes hard to tell which unless you know the person. On the other hand...

Robert J. Hanlon
Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

UPDATE: Weird... the Coleman piece just went behind a registration wall. I was able to read it just a few minutes ago without registration.

Mark Frauenfelder @ Boing Boing
WSJ reporter confirms authenticity of her letter to friends about horrific conditions in Iraq

Farnaz Fassihi, a Wall Street Journal correspondent in Iraq, confirmed that a widely-redistributed letter she emailed to friends about the nightmarish situation in Iraq was indeed written by her. Too bad the WSJ doesn't allow this reporter to write these kinds of stories for the paper.

"Iraqis say that thanks to America they got freedom in exchange for insecurity," Fassihi wrote (among much else) in the letter. "Guess what? They say they'd take security over freedom any day, even if it means having a dictator ruler." And: "Despite President Bush's rosy assessments, Iraq remains a disaster. If under Saddam it was a 'potential' threat, under the Americans it has been transformed to 'imminent and active threat,' a foreign policy failure bound to haunt the United States for decades to come.

...Making clear what can only, at best, appear between lines in her published dispatches, Fassihi concluded, "One could argue that Iraq is already lost beyond salvation. For those of us on the ground it's hard to imagine what if any thing could salvage it from its violent downward spiral. The genie of terrorism, chaos and mayhem has been unleashed onto this country as a result of American mistakes and it can't be put back into a bottle."


Unlike the US Army in my previous post, the WSJ stood up for her.
Editor & Publisher
After she confirmed writing the letter on Wednesday, Paul Steiger, editor of the Wall Street Journal, stood up for her, telling the New York Post that her "private opinions have in no way distorted her coverage, which has been a model of intelligent and courageous reporting, and scrupulous accuracy and fairness."
Continue reading to see a copy of the email.

Farnaz Fassihi
Being a foreign correspondent in Baghdad these days is like being under virtual house arrest. Forget about the reasons that lured me to this job: a chance to see the world, explore the exotic, meet new people in far away lands, discover their ways and tell stories that could make a difference.

Little by little, day-by-day, being based in Iraq has defied all those reasons. I am house bound. I leave when I have a very good reason to and a scheduled interview. I avoid going to people's homes and never walk in the streets. I can't go grocery shopping any more, can't eat in restaurants, can't strike a conversation with strangers, can't look for stories, can't drive in any thing but a full armored car, can't go to scenes of breaking news stories, can't be stuck in traffic, can't speak English outside, can't take a road trip, can't say I'm an American, can't linger at checkpoints, can't be curious about what people are saying, doing, feeling. And can't and can't.

There has been one too many close calls, including a car bomb so near our house that it blew out all the windows. So now my most pressing concern every day is not to write a kick-ass story but to stay alive and make sure our Iraqi employees stay alive. In Baghdad I am a security personnel first, a reporter second.

It's hard to pinpoint when the turning point exactly began. Was it April when the Fallujah fell out of the grasp of the Americans? Was it when Moqtada and Jish Mahdi declared war on the U.S. military? Was it when Sadr City, home to ten percent of Iraq's population, became a nightly battlefield for the Americans? Or was it when the insurgency began spreading from isolated pockets in the Sunni triangle to include most of Iraq? Despite President Bush's rosy assessments, Iraq remains a disaster. If under Saddam it was a potential threat, under the Americans it has been transformed to imminent and active threat, a foreign policy failure bound to haunt the United States for decades to come.

Iraqis like to call this mess the situation. When asked how are things? they reply: the situation is very bad.

What they mean by situation is this: the Iraqi government doesn't control most Iraqi cities, there are several car bombs going off each day around the country killing and injuring scores of innocent people, the country's roads are becoming impassable and littered by hundreds of landmines and explosive devices aimed to kill American soldiers, there are assassinations, kidnappings and beheadings. The situation, basically, means a raging barbaric guerilla war.

In four days, 110 people died and over 300 got injured in Baghdad alone. The numbers are so shocking that the ministry of health, which was attempting an exercise of public transparency by releasing the numbers-- has now stopped disclosing them.

Insurgents now attack Americans 87 times a day.

A friend drove thru the Shiite slum of Sadr City yesterday. He said young men were openly placing improvised explosive devices into the ground. They melt a shallow hole into the asphalt, dig the explosive, cover it with dirt and put an old tire or plastic can over it to signal to the locals this is booby-trapped. He said on the main roads of Sadr City, there were a dozen landmines per every ten yards. His car snaked and swirled to avoid driving over them. Behind the walls sits an angry Iraqi ready to detonate them as soon as an American convoy gets near. This is in Shiite land, the population that was supposed to love America for liberating Iraq.

For journalists the significant turning point came with the wave of abduction and kidnappings. Only two weeks ago we felt safe around Baghdad because foreigners were being abducted on the roads and highways between towns. Then came a frantic phone call from a journalist female friend at 11 p.m. telling me two Italian women had been abducted from their homes in broad daylight. Then the two Americans, who got beheaded this week and the Brit, were abducted from their homes in a residential neighborhood. They were supplying the entire block with round the clock electricity from their generator to win friends. The abductors grabbed one of them at 6 a.m. when he came out to switch on the generator; his beheaded body was thrown back near the neighborhoods. The insurgency, we are told, is rampant with no signs of calming down. If any thing, it is growing stronger, organized and more sophisticated every day. The various elements within it -- baathists, criminals, nationalists and Al Qaeda -- are cooperating and coordinating.

I went to an emergency meeting for foreign correspondents with the military and embassy to discuss the kidnappings. We were somberly told our fate would largely depend on where we were in the kidnapping chain once it was determined we were missing. Here is how it goes: criminal gangs grab you and sell you up to Baathists in Fallujah, who will in turn sell you to Al Qaeda. In turn, cash and weapons flow the other way from Al Qaeda to the Baathisst to the criminals. My friend Georges, the French journalist snatched on the road to Najaf, has been missing for a month with no word on release or whether he is still alive.

America's last hope for a quick exit? The Iraqi police and National Guard units we are spending billions of dollars to train. The cops are being murdered by the dozens every dayÜover 700 to date -- and the insurgents are infiltrating their ranks. The problem is so serious that the U.S. military has allocated $6 million dollars to buy out 30,000 cops they just trained to get rid of them quietly.

As for reconstruction: firstly it's so unsafe for foreigners to operate that almost all projects have come to a halt. After two years, of the $18 billion Congress appropriated for Iraq reconstruction only about $1 billion or so has been spent and a chuck has now been reallocated for improving security, a sign of just how bad things are going here.

Oil dreams? Insurgents disrupt oil flow routinely as a result of sabotage and oil prices have hit record high of $49 a barrel.

Who did this war exactly benefit? Was it worth it? Are we safer because Saddam is holed up and Al Qaeda is running around in Iraq?

Iraqis say that thanks to America they got freedom in exchange for insecurity. Guess what? They say they'd take security over freedom any day, even if it means having a dictator ruler.

I heard an educated Iraqi say today that if Saddam Hussein were allowed to run for elections he would get the majority of the vote. This is truly sad.

Then I went to see an Iraqi scholar this week to talk to him about elections here. He has been trying to educate the public on the importance of voting. He said, "President Bush wanted to turn Iraq into a democracy that would be an example for the Middle East. Forget about democracy, forget about being a model for the region, we have to salvage Iraq before all is lost."

One could argue that Iraq is already lost beyond salvation. For those of us on the ground it's hard to imagine what if any thing could salvage it from its violent downward spiral.

The genie of terrorism, chaos and mayhem has been unleashed onto this country as a result of American mistakes and it can't be put back into a bottle.

The Iraqi government is talking about having elections in three months while half of the country remains a no go zone -- out of the hands of the government and the Americans and out of reach of journalists. In the other half, the disenchanted population is too terrified to show up at polling stations. The Sunnis have already said they'd boycott elections, leaving the stage open for polarized government of Kurds and Shiites that will not be deemed as legitimate and will most certainly lead to civil war.

I asked a 28-year-old engineer if he and his family would participate in the Iraqi elections since it was the first time Iraqis could to some degree elect a leadership. His response summed it all: "Go and vote and risk being blown into pieces or followed by the insurgents and murdered for cooperating with the Americans? For what? To practice democracy? Are you joking?"

Ethan explains that although Wikipedia tries to maintain an neutral point of view (NPOV), it is inherently systemically biased by its demographic to pay more attention to articles that the contributors know about and research from sources which are available online. Xed, a Wikipedian has tried to address this systemic bias with a new project called the "Committee Regarding Overcoming Serious Systemic Bias On Wikipedia" or CROSSBOW.

From draft CROSSBOW manifesto
Wikipedia has a number of systemic biases, mostly deriving from the demographics of our participant base, the heavy bias towards online research, and the (generally commendable) tendency to "write what you know". Systemic bias is not to be confused with systematic bias. The latter just means "thoroughgoing bias". Systemic bias means that there are structural reasons why Wikipedia gives certain topics much better coverage than others. As of this writing, Wikipedia is disproportionately white and male; disproportionately American; disproportionately written by people from white collar backgrounds. We do not think this is a result of a conspiracy - it is largely a result of self-selection - but it has effects not all of which are beneficial, and which need to be looked at and (in some cases) countered.

Wikipedia is biased toward over-inclusion of certain material pertaining to (for example) science fiction, contemporary youth culture, contemporary U.S. and UK culture in general, and anything already well covered in the English-langauge portion of the Internet. These excessive inclusions are relatively harmless: at worst, people look at some of these articles and say "this is silly, why is it in an encyclopedia?" Of far greater (and more detrimental) consequence, these same biases lead to minimal or non-existent treatment of topics of great importance. One example is that, as of this writing, the Congo Civil War, possibly the largest war since World War II has claimed over 3 million lives, but one would be hard pressed to learn much about it from Wikipedia. In fact, there is more information on a fictional plant.

They are planning a variety of projects to try to address the bias. If you are interested and can help, you should.

Our good friend Andrew Orlowski points out that as Wikipedia tries to get more distribution on smaller devices such as mobile phones, they need to be wary of the size of the database and the framework in order to be more inclusive than just web oriented techies or in his words, "Californian techno-utopians, wiki-fiddlers."

So the most useful thing the Wikipedia project could do is not write another adoring 20,000 word article on our good friend Joi Ito (the spiritual leader), or "memes", but nail down a simple lightweight framework that librarians, schools, churches and small businesses could use as an annotation and broadcast channel.

This is another way to address the bias. Move to non-web devices too, although in this article Andrew is talking about "Questions like 'What's the kid's soccer schedule?', and 'Is Thursday street cleaning day on Geary?'" I do agree that Wikipedians should be spending their time writing about the Congo Civil War instead of writing a 20,000 word article on me.

Operation American Repression?

An Army officer in Iraq who wrote a highly critical article on the administration's conduct of the war is being investigated for disloyalty -- if charged and convicted, he could get 20 years.

Sept. 29, 2004 | An Army Reserve staff sergeant who last week wrote a critical analysis of the United States' prospects in Iraq now faces possible disciplinary action for disloyalty and insubordination. If charges are bought and the officer is found guilty, he could face 20 years in prison. It would be the first such disloyalty prosecution since the Vietnam War.

The essay that sparked the military investigation is titled "Why We Cannot Win" and was posted Sept. 20 on the conservative antiwar Web site Written by Al Lorentz, a non-commissioned officer from Texas with nearly 20 years in the Army who is serving in Iraq, the essay offers a bleak assessment of America's chances for success in Iraq.

The Essay, Why We Cannot Win is still on the

I don't understand. How can writing an essay like this send you to jail for 20 years?

Gary Lerhaupt
Uncovered: The War on Iraq - Interviews Torrent

In a follow-up to the licensing of the Outfoxed movie under a Creative Commons license, Robert Greenwald has also agreed to release the interviews from his previous movie, Uncovered: The War on Iraq under the Creative Commons. The files can be downloaded directly (also available in higher quality format) from, or you can join the torrent hosted on at uncovered_interviews.torrent.

Hopefully we can match the over 700 downloads of Outfoxed that its torrent has already generated. Either way, the truth is free.

(free as in beer AND as in freedom)

Yay! Thanks Gary! And hats off to Robert Greenwald for actually doing what Moore talked about with F 9/11. I think that P2P and political documentaries is an amazing new channel for political activism and free speech.

Here's another Iraq war video. This one appears to be a strike on a group of people walking down a street in Fallujah. Does anyone else have more information on this video? Has it been aired on any TV network?

If they are civilians, it's quite disturbing. The "aw dude" in the audio doesn't seem like a very appropriate reaction.

The embedded Windows Media Player window didn't work for me in Firefox on OS X, but worked fine in Internet Explorer. You can also use this link to view it directly in Windows Media Player.

Via Paul

I've never actually picked up and read The New York Post. I first heard about it when their front page story was: "Kerry's Choice, Dem picks Gephardt as VP candidate" and now this.

Reader Mike Harris says, "The New York Post is reporting that it was spray paint, instead of a water-soluble chalk mixture. Users might want to ask that they correct their reporting. The online edition/news editor's name is Chris Shaw, at"
I wonder where they get their facts?

Al Fasoldt, staff writer at The Post-Standard in Syracuse, writes about how untrustworthy Wikipedia is based on an oh-so-trustworthy email from a librarian. Mr. Fasoldt asserts that Wikipedia is not a verifiable authority and that it is it is not trustworthy. Mike from Techdirt tries to explain Wikipedia to Mr. Fasoldt and receives insults in return. For those of you who haven't yet taken a good look at Wikipedia, you should. It is a community built encyclopedia where anyone can edit any of the 300,000+ articles in it. The fact that anyone can edit the pages appears to be why people like Mr. Fasoldt question its authority, but that is that exact reason that it has authority. Any comments that are extreme or not true just do not survive on Wikipedia. In fact, on very heated topics, you can see the back and forth negotiation of wordings by people with different views on a topic until, in many cases, a neutral and mutually agreeable wording is put in place and all parties are satisfied. Tradition authority is gained through a combination of talent, hard work and politics. Wikipedia and many open source projects gain their authority through the collective scrutiny of thousands of people. Although it depends a bit on the field, the question is whether something is more likely to be true coming from a source whose resume sounds authoritative or a source that has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people (with the ability to comment) and has survived.

I believe that Wikipedia is helping to revive the encyclopedia as a form and it hurts me to hear such ignorant criticisms. Having said that, Kara Swisher of the Wall Street Journal, Dan Gillmor of the Mercury News and many others have already written tons about Wikipedia so maybe I'm overreacting to an isolated case of ignorance and insulting the knowledge of my readers in the process...

Anyway, I was on the jury which gave Wikipedia the Golden Nica this year, the highest prize in the Digital Communities category for Prix Ars Electronica. I will be going to Linz, Austria next week to attend the festival and will be meeting the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales. More on Wikipedia then.

via Boing Boing

David Weinberger blogs about George Bush denouncing 527 groups. David links to Roji pointing out that this is a serious flip-flop from his original position.

David's point is that on the one hand, the 527 groups represent a way to buy influence. On the other hand, limiting the ability for a 527 group to be formed and express a point of view is limiting free speech.

I think the reason we have this conflict is the nature of media today. It shouldn't cost millions of dollars to get your message out; the system should be transparent enough so we know who is behind those messages; and most importantly, those messages should spark dialog and lies and stupidity should be smacked down as fast as urban legends on snopes. The problem with allowing money to buy "free speech" is that the speech is asymmetrical and not deliberative. ...yet.

The first ChangeThis manifestos are up. They're definitely worth reading and commenting on. I have the honor of being one of the advisors who gets to read them and make comments before they come out.

Over the years I've become quite friendly with many professional journalists. It's interesting that two of my best friends are journalists and they both have told me, "the only bad thing about becoming your friend is that I can't write about you any more." As a blogger, I don't think I have any trouble writing about my friends if I explain my relationship. The issue of professionalism aside, I think the first person tone of blogging makes it easier to write about your friends in the context of providing information. It's probably much harder or impossible to write about your friends objectively in third person.

Dan Gillmor's , We the Media was published under a Creative Commons license. You can download the entire book in PDF format on the O'Reilly page. It's an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 License.


Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds has sent an open letter to Thomas Kean, the Chairman of the 9/11 Commission continuing to up the ante on allegations of a massive coverup.

August 1, 2004


Dear Chairman Kean:

Unfortunately, I find your report seriously flawed in its failure to address serious intelligence issues that I am aware of, which have been confirmed, and which as a witness to the commission, I made you aware of. Thus, I must assume that other serious issues that I am not aware of were in the same manner omitted from your report.

Considering what is at stake, our national security, we are entitled to demand answers to unanswered questions, and to ask for clarification of issues that were ignored and/or omitted from the report.

Thanks to Richard for the tip

Jason Calacanis claims to have discovered that for $300 to $400, you can buy an editorial on, one of the most popular blogs. In an email exchange with Jason, a sales person Gogi (who Drew, who runs Fark explains is a 3rd party ad sales rep) writes:

However, if you look at any news source, they are influenced by PR agencies, wine & dine’s and similar events. Take a look at the Graydon Carter as example #1. I challenge you to find a pure editorial voice in news today.

Also, its not news, its ;-) We run stories that we know are false, run satire, try not to let our personal political views affect the content and often include adult-natured items in the daily roundup. We don’t hold ourselves to the same standards as the NYT, and I would urge you not to either.

Just as we're trying to prove how "pure" bloggers are, it appears that maybe one of our own has "sold out". As Jason points out, it wouldn't have been bad if the purchased editorials were marked as advertising. I agree with Jason, that people probably would have happily clicked on them if they looked interesting. What sucks is that they didn't disclose this before.

Drew Curtis posts a comment on Jason's blog explaining that Gogi doesn't represent Fark. He says, "I am personally not interested in compromising the quality of the site, hence no pop-up ads or take-overs." but doesn't really deny the editorial sponsorship issue directly and Jason says he is not convinced until he hears from Gogi.

It's unclear at this point, whether Fark really is selling editorials and how much influence this Gogi guy has, but 1) the email from Gogi is pretty bad and 2) it would be nice for Drew to explain his policy. Some of the Fark readers commenting on Jason's blog says to cut Drew some slack...

Dan Gillmor's We the Media has hit the selves. O'Reilly, the publisher, has created a blog for it. I just posted my review on

Talking Points Memo

See CNN's Breaking News Alert: "Security forces have captured a high-level al Qaeda operative in a raid in central Pakistan, Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat said."

Then, after you see that, remember that we noted in May and then The New Republic reported out extensively early this month, that this White House has been telling the Pakistanis for months that they wanted to see a big-time al Qaida leader -- hopefully bin Laden -- produced during the Democratic convention.


via Glenn

I think the DNC could turn into a key moment in the discussion about bloggers versus journalists. I've generally been rather low-key on this issue, taking a position that bloggers and mass media should work together and that bloggers and professional journalists had different strengths and weaknesses. I am getting a sense that an increasing number of professional journalists are beginning to feel threatened or at least seem to be trying to belittle bloggers as a source of news.

Jeff Jarvis addresses this question today by quoting Tom Rosenstiel on the question, what is a journalist?

Tom Rosenstiel - Boston Globe

- A journalist tries to tell the literal truth and get the facts right, does not pass along rumors, engages in verifying, and makes that verification process as transparent as possible.
- A journalist's goal is to inspire public discussion, not to help one side win or lose. One who tries to do the latter is an activist.
- Neutrality is not a core principle of journalism. But the commitment to facts, to public consideration, and to independence from faction, is.
- A journalist's loyalty to his or her audience, even above employer, is paramount.
Under this definition, a lot of what we are calling media or press is not journalism and I DARE any professional journalist to try to defend any big media company of sticking to the definition above without fail.

I've been interviewing a lot of professional journalists about "What is journalism? What makes a good journalist?" They usually talk about vetting sources, portraying things accurately, and other things that any blogger who is used to being ripped to shreds in comments by their readers on their blog do as second nature. My conclusion is that much of good journalism is just common sense, and I would even assert that compared to journalists who don't write in their name, have fact-check desks to do their fact-checking and editors to fix their grammar, bloggers are much more accountable and have to take it in the face compared to their anonymous counterparts in the mass media.

Is mass media more rigorous than blogs? Remember the "Rumsfeld bans phone cameras" story that UPI and AFP ran and all the media picked up? Xeni at Boing Boing called the defense department and debunked the story and I updated my entry as a lot of the mass media were still going to press with the story. Did they print any corrections? I didn't see any. And this isn't an isolated incident. I've seen many cases where blogs have fact-checked and vetted stories that the media have just passed over.

I'm not blaming the mass media for their lack of ability be as nibble as blogs, but characterizing bloggers as a bunch of amateurs with no news value is really silly. Particularly annoying are the articles that seem to be picking a fight with the blogs. Maybe as Mahatma Ghandi said, "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." Dan, maybe you and "We the Media" better get over here before the real fighting starts.

As always, I like David Weinberger's. perspective on this.

David Weinberger
For example, after the breakfast, the bloggers were swarmed by the media. "You know one difference between you and us," said a friendly guy from NPR, "We don't applaud for the speakers." But, heck, it was Howard Dean and I'll be damned if I'm not going to stand and clap for him.

Poor poor FOX.

Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO, Fox News Network
Any news organization that doesn’t support our position on copyright is crazy. Next week, we could take a month’s worth of video from CNN International and do a documentary “Why does CNN hate America?” You wouldn’t even have to do the hatchet job Outfoxed was. You damn well could run it without editing. CNN International, Al-Jazeera and BBC are the same in how they report-mostly that America is wrong and bad. Everybody should stand up and say these people don’t have the right to take our product anymore. They don’t have a right to take a year’s worth of Dan Rather or Ted Koppel and edit it any way they want. It puts journalism at risk.
If someone thinks CNN or Al-Jazeera is doing a bad job, they should say it. Using clips of news programming to criticize a network is totally game I think. Although news has become entertainment, I don't think it should be controlled in the same way that creative content should be. I think that fair use should be applied liberally. The press and the news media should encourage critical debate. I think that a network that has a monopoly on millions of eyeballs should be fair game for documentaries like Outfoxed.

Via Lessig

Lessig writes an open letter to Bill O'Reilly from the FOX News show The Factor. Lessig has been blogging a lot about OutFoxed, Richard Greenwald's film criticizing FOX News. Lessig links to a clip from the film, the original interview with Jeremy Glick and the offending anti-war ad. He takes on point by point the series of false accusations that O'Reilly has been making about Glick in an unfair smear campaign against his Glick.

Lawrence Lessig
Mr. O'Reilly, please just stop.

Mr. O'Reilly,

You have declared a "war" on the New York Times. That's good for you, good for them, and good for our democracy: Strong opinions deserve strong spokesmen. Your battle will help sharpen a debate about matters important to the Republic.

But in waging this "war," you are continuing to abuse a man whom you have wronged, and to whom you owe an apology.

On February 4, 2003, Jeremy Glick was your guest on THE FACTOR. Glick had lost his father in the attack of 9/11. He had also signed an ad criticizing the war in Iraq. You were "surprised" that one who had lost his father could oppose that war. And so you had him on your show, presumably to ask him why. (Here's a clip from Outfoxed putting this story together.)

You might not remember precisely what you said on that interview, or more importantly, what Jeremy Glick said. So here's a copy that you can watch. Nor may you remember precisely what the ad that Jeremy Glick signed said. Here's a copy that you can read. And when you've watched what was actually said, and read what was actually written, I'm sure you will see that the statements you continue to make about Jeremy Glick are just plain false. Not Bill Clinton "depends upon what is is" false, but false the way most Americans learned growing up: just not true.

Please read Lessig's entire post.


Doonesbury to be dropped from 38 newspapers.

Now you've really gone and done it Larry. Do you believe in conspiracies? Me either....


Sifry's Alerts
Technorati and CNN

A few minutes ago CNN announced that Technorati will be providing real-time analysis of the political blogosphere at next week's Democratic National Convention. I will be on-site in CNN's convention broadcast center, along with Mary Hodder, and I'll be providing regular on-air commentary on what bloggers are saying about politics and the convention. And on Sunday, July 25, we'll launch a new section of our site for political coverage: This site will make it easy for bloggers, journalists, and anyone interested in politics to see the postings of the most linked-to political bloggers, to track the ideas with the fastest-growing buzz, and to monitor conversations in thousands of other political blogs. will link to this site, and we'll be updating the CNN site with the latest from the blogosphere.

Great news for us at Technorati and hats-off to CNN for taking this leap. Hopefully this will help people view blogging as a more "legitimate" source of news.

It's interesting to note that it was CNN which broke the big 3 TV network monopoly on news editorial by feeding local TV the raw video feeds, allowing them to edit the news themselves. Similarly, CNN providing bloggers the ability to reach the public directly may have an impact on the way media edits their news.

Obviously, incentive to just be faster, isn't better. I think we're going to get a chance to see whether Technorati authority management and the ability for blogs to fact check and manage news will be able to provide viewers of CNN with additional insight.

UPDATE: Here's the press release from CNN.

Mark @ Boing Boing
Bill O'Reilly enjoys ordering his guests and others to "shut up"

This video commercial starts out with a quote from talk show host Bill O'Reilly making the claim that he has told a guest to "shut up" only one time in six years. The rest of the commercial shows clips of Mr. O'Reilly telling people to shut up. Link [Quicktime] (Via Horkulated)

This looks like a partial trailer or something for OutFoxed that Larry Lessig's been blogging about. I just ordered it on Amazon. Jon Lebkowsky talks about his experience watching it with friends.

Seth Godin's new project, ChangeThis is a project to have interesting people write short "manifestos". Seth's working on creating a new form of literature. It's looks like something between a paper, a blog post and a marketing presentation with a message. It will be interesting to see how this takes off. It looks interesting to me. They have a blog, "Read and Pass".

Halley writes about it over on Worthwhile.

wtmcoverNoticed a beta version of a blog for Dan Gillmor's new book We the Media in my Technorati cosmos. ;-)

I am expecting this blog to be required reading in the same way Smart Mobs has become for me. I think this idea of having blogs to keep the ball rolling after publishing a book is a great idea.

Ted Turner dinner interview. It was a great interview and quite funny. Worth a read.

This was a dinner talk and it was quite noisy so my notes are a bit sketchy, but here are some tidbits. My notes may be a bit inaccurate...

Q: What are you doing now that you don't have a job.

A: I worked for 50 years. I'm a philanthropist and I don't have as money as I used to so I march. I march for the rights of women.

The nuclear arms in the US and Russia are still on hair-trigger alert and I'm working to disarm these weapons.

Q: Who would you want to become the president of the US?

A: I'm for whoever speaks to our survival not our demise.

Q: So Who?

A: Who do you think?

The invasion of Iraq was the biggest debacle in the history of the world... except maybe the AOL Time-Warner merger.

They can't even get Haiti right, how are they going to get Iraq right?

It cost $200B. $100B to bomb it and $100B to rebuild it. All just to find some guy hiding in a foxhole...

Wars may have worked in the past, but now we have pro-football. Before there wasn't anything to be excited about so War was exciting. War isn't fun anymore.

9/11 wouldn't have happened if I had been president. We were having a cold war with Russia when I went to Russia to produce the Good Will Games. A few years later, the Berlin Wall came down.

My net worth went from 10-11B to 1B and a half.

The AOL Time-Warner merger was bullshit.

Q: You were quoted as saying that signing was as good as having sex for the first time.

A: I was just being a team player. It wasn't really. It was the stupidest move I've ever seen. Almost as stupid as the war on Iraq.

It was good for me. I ended up with 10% of the stock in AOL/TW. I was friendly with two other people who owned 10% each so it was OK for me.

But I probably shouldn't have done it. Gerald Levine was like Rasputin. He was my enemy. But he said he was my best friend. I said to him, "Gerald, I've never been to your home." But I was a team player. I always pulled for the team.

Q: Can you start a new empire from now?

A: No. I'm too old/tired.

I'm doing Bison.

Q: Why Bison?

A: Why not? They are the original American cattle. The meat has 1/2 as much fat as beef. I am going into the restaurant business and philanthropy.

I thought I could make a difference. I don't have enough money so I make speeches and make appearances.

Philanthropy is important. It's not about giving to the local church or orphanage. You have to shift to more important things. I've also wanted to be a fire chief.

Rupert Murdoch is is a bad journalist. Sloppy journalist. He runs Britain. I asked Tony Blair why he was allowed to have so much influence and Tony Blair said, "I wouldn't have my job without Rupert." He wants to rule the world. He has Britain, almost has Australia and he would like the US. He has no interest in helping anyone, in charity. He won't even give you an interview. He's not interesting in whether what he is doing is right or wrong.

The $1M / yr I was getting as Vice Chairman was just hush money.

Q: What would you have said?

A: A lot. Not of your business.

I was in New Mexico and Gerald Levine called me and said "I'm replacing you." "The hell with your contract." "I can sue you." "All you'll get is your salary. No discussion."

I helped get Lord of the Rings made. I said yes. A $300M decision. You have to have guts, but you have to be right. The president's got guts, but he's wrong.

You also need vision. My vision comes from thinking. I don't watch TV.

We split the money with Jim Baker 50/50. We used to open the envelops together as they came in because we didn't trust each other.

Boing Boing
Fahrenheit 911 factchecks

Here are Michael Moore's extensive factchecking notes on Fahrenheit 911. Link (via Kottke)

What a good idea. Media sites should put factchecking notes online too.

Scripting News
"No one was listening," said the NPR...

"No one was listening," said the NPR announcer, as she introduced the guy who posted the note on Tuesday morning about the new Edwards decals on the Kerry campaign plane. No one was listening, except for the people who were.

Clearly no one reads blogs...

I'm going to be doing a Summer Reading Series interview for NPR this week. I should list all of the blogs people should read this summer. ;-)

Some people have been critical about the lack of fact checking and vetting I do before I post an article or a link. I've argued that my posts are really the beginning of a discussion and not a definitive assertion or the final word. I really think about my blog as a group effort with the people who comment here.

I was reading Yochai Benkler's paper, "Coase's Penguin, or Linux and the Nature of the Firm", (which I highly recommend) and saw a reference to this from Slashdot's FAQ which I think sums up my feelings as well.

Q: How do you verify the accuracy of Slashdot stories?

A: We don't. You do. :) If something seems outrageous, we might look for some corroboration, but as a rule, we regard this as the responsibility of the submitter and the audience. This is why it's important to read comments. You might find something that refutes, or supports, the story in the main.

Agreed, a blog is a bit different from slashdot, but please. Read the comments. That's where most of the really interesting stuff goes on.

Better late then never. The State Department announced Tuesday that their report that terror has been decreasing was in fact incorrect. Terror actually ROSE in 2003. However, they are still arguing that they are "winning the war on terror." (AP/NY Times - Amended Report Shows Terror Rose in 2003)

On our home front, the Japanese diet passed the controversial pension bill (the pension that 1/3 of the cabinet members have been shown to have evaded at some point). It is shown that an inflated fertility rate was used for the bill to show rosier numbers and lower, more accurate numbers that had been finalized for more than 2 weeks by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry were withheld. Public sentiment has already been very negative about the pension system. The government had been pushing this new bill, were paying commissions to retired bureaucrats to collect such pensions from normal citizens, and the politicians themselves not paying. Now this. (Japan Times -
Inflated fertility rate used for pension bills

What surprises me is the stupidity of these lies. Neither of these lies were likely to remain unchallenged. Did these people believe that they could just fudge numbers to make some false short-term point. Amazing.

Dan Gillmor
Iran's Net Censorship
Hoder points me to "Stop Censoring Us" -- a site about the increasing level of government intervention in what was emerging as relatively free speech in Iran. I'm not sure what individuals outside Iran can do about this except to offer support to the Iranians who want to speak their minds.
I once sat next to a guy from Sun Federal, a Sun Microsystems subsidiary, who was on his way back from selling a filtering system to a government. I think that most of this censorship technology is built in the US. I guess it makes sense, but it's interesting that there is very little discussion about this. (At least as far as I know...)
Cory @ Boing Boing
Enron traders gloating about screwing California

CBS has got hold of tapes of conversations between Enron employees during the California rolling blackouts. The conversations are amazing, basically a bunch of crooks gloating about the savage rogering they're giving to the people of California and how much money they're making. This has put fresh fire into the bellies of lawmakers who have renewed their vows to decapitate Enron's management and stake their heads on pikes outside of every polling place before election day.

Employee 1: "All the money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers in California?

Employee 2: "Yeah, Grandma Millie man.

Employee 1: "Yeah, now she wants her f-----g money back for all the power you've charged right up, jammed right up her a—for f-----g $250 a megawatt hour."


(via Making Light)

Sometimes I worry about privacy and security. Sometime I wonder if it is good that Japan does not have "discovery" (in the legal sense). Then I see stuff like this and I'm glad we have investigative journalism and they have the right to make such things public.

Dan Gilmor blogs about this too.

Thanks to all of the newspapers that picked up the somewhat embarrassingly nice article by Yuri Kageyama of AP. AP syndication is really amazing.

One thing. The article doesn't contain links to Six Apart, Movable Type and TypePad mentioned in the article.

The CNN "Transcript: Ashcroft, Mueller news conference" story has travel ads from Overture. "Targeted" advertising at its best.

via redheadatwork

UPDATE: Hmm... Seems the travel ads are gone now. ;-)

I blogged about a woman taking a motorcycle through Chernobyl and her web page. It looks like it was a fraud.

Neil Gaiman
A fraud exposed, and a true thing...

Found this on the forum - thought you might find it interesting. You'd wonder why somebody would go to the lengths to fake something like this.

Chornobyl "Ghost Town" story is a fabrication TOP
e-POSHTA subscriber Mary Mycio writes:

I am based in Kyiv and writing a book about Chornobyl for the Joseph Henry Press. Several sources have sent me links to the "Ghost Town" photo essay included in the last e-POSHTA mailing. Though it was full of factual errors, I did find the notion of lone young woman riding her motorcycle through the evacuated Zone of Alienation to be intriguing and asked about it when I visited there two days ago.

I am sorry to report that much of Elena's story is not true. She did not travel around the zone by herself on a motorcycle. Motorcycles are banned in the zone, as is wandering around alone, without an escort from the zone administration. She made one trip there with her husband and a friend. They traveled in a Chornobyl car that picked them up in Kyiv.

This sucks. It was such a cool story. One thing that I realized when thinking about this is, how do you fact check the fact check on something that so far away... Is there anything other than this post to e-POSHTA debunking this story?

via Xeni @ Boing Boing

The Mirror ran a story about British soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners with photos. There is a lot of question about the legitimacy of the photos. The BBC has a organized list of the claims against their authenticity and the rebuttals.

BBC News
What the papers say

The Express says soldiers who originally tried to sell the story of mistreatment were told it would be "worth a fortune if there were corroborating pictures and weeks later they produced them".

This sort of commercial and unethical behavior by the media is really disgusting. I guess The Mirror is still standing by their claims, but it seems like they are in a pretty weak position now.

Thanks to everyone on IRC for chasing this one down.


Dan Gillmor
Fake Photos Editor Bounced

  • BBC: Editor sacked over 'hoax' photos. Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan has been sacked after the newspaper conceded photos of British soldiers abusing an Iraqi were fake.
  • Appropriately.

    Speaking of racial stereotypes... Here's a cartoon of bloggers writing about the the impeachment in Korea from a Korean newspaper. On the other hand, at least they're reading the blogs.

    via dda on IRC

    NKzone, the North Korean blog needs citizen bloggers to cover the Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR) in Tokyo on Feb 22 and two human rights events in Seoul on Feb 23. If you're available, please help us out.

    Bloggers will be reporters tomorrow in Iran

    I'm trying to encourage Iranian blogger to go out tomorrow, the election day, and report what they see and hear in their city and blog it. I also plan to gather all posts related to it in one place either in my own Persian blog or in Sobhaneh, the collective news blog.

    I also consider a place in iranFilter for those Iranian who know English to provide translations the reports that are gathered in Persian.

    This can be the 9/11 for Persian blogosphere. It's the first event that potentially engages every body in every city in Iran and blogs can play a huge role in reporting the news, rumors, and all those things that traditional journalists usually miss.

    Iranian bloggers do not vote tomorrow, but the blog.

    Update: special page on iranFilter is now set up and it's ready for Persian bloggers' covereage on the election day. Please help us by translating whatever you find interesting in Persian sources into English.

    A very important day for Iran and a chance for blogs to make a difference. has started a campaign to petition the movie industry to vote against "Lost In Translation" for the Academy Awards.

    My sister blogs about the negative depictions of Japanese in "Lost in Translation". She links to a UK Guardian and New York Times article that point out similar issues with the movie.

    When I first saw the movie, I thought it was funny. After reading the articles and the asianmediawatch site and thinking about how much influence Hollywood has on the way the world views cultures, I can see their point.

    Shelly asks the question "What part of you, the writer, is part of a community? Where, within yourself, does community leave off and you begin?" and says, "But I guess we're accountable to each other, and that's the most dangerous censorship of all -- it's the censorship of the commons." This is an interesting question that Shelley has pointed out to me and I have been thinking about. In the comments on Shelley's blog, Doc ties it to the notion of the "echo chamber," the effect where we're all just talking to each other oblivious to the outside world. Many people blame the failures of the Dean campaign to this "echo chamber" and point to this "echo chamber" as a problem that is prevalent on blogs. I do see the risks, but I don't think criticizing the existence of communities or friendships is the solution. I think that communities and friendship are the foundations of trust and love and I do not agree that an aggregate of facts and single voices are the solution to finding the "ultimate truth" in writing.

    I believe that communities and the feeling of community are an essential part of the equation, but that the goal is to bridge many communities and try to expand one's notion of community the largest possible size.

    For instance, I believe that you can feel your ultimate loyalty to your family, company, city, state, race, religion, nation, type of government or the world. I believe that by putting your loyalty at the highest level allows you to be a global citizen and helps you recognize the importance of whistle-blowers who are often betraying local loyalties for a higher good. I believe that the whole notion of civil rights is a struggle to elevate and increase the emotional size of the community we identify with.

    One way to increase the size of the community one identifies with is to participate in multiple communities or to include members from others communities. This is an important part of the "caring problem" that Ethan and I often talk about. I often quote Jack Kemp who once said that, "it doesn't matter what you know if you don't care." One of the problems that mass media faces is that they can report on Iraq, Iran and Africa, but most people don't identify with the people there and they don't care. Salam Pax showed that a single blogger with a voice can increase the caring. Salam Pax is part of our community and we are proud of him and we care about him. Through his eyes, we see Iraq as part of our world and because of him, other Iraqi bloggers have joined our community.

    I think the key is to understand that it's not just like a high school. In high school, there is group of friends and everyone spends all of their time concerned about being in that group or not in that group. My life is a jumble of relationships and memberships in a great variety of sometimes conflicting communities of all different sizes and doesn't feel like high school to me. As Ross has pointed out, these can be roughly grouped into three sizes. Big power-law shaped groupings, which are political, medium sized groupings which are social, and smaller groups which are strong-tie/family/close-friend groups. My sister used the word, "Full-Time Intimate Community".

    The behavior at each of these levels is quite different and it is when we collapse the context that we get in trouble. Comments made between intimate friends are different from the comments that are suitable for a discussion at a cocktail party. Comments made at a cocktail party are often not suitable for a public speech. One of the problems we have on blogs is that all three of these contexts are often collapsed into one blog.

    On the notion of "censorship of the commons," I guess I'd disagree with Shelley. I think censorship by a minority of people with influence over the majority is much more dangerous than "censorship of the commons." If the commons represents a general consensus of the views of the community you choose to participate in, they should have some influence over you. I think censorship is really bad when it is exercised from a position of authority, especially one that has the ability to assert such authority through force. I am personally pulled in many directions from all of the communities I participate in and these tensions are interesting and useful. I see them less as censorship and more as points of view that help me triangulate. My traditional Japanese community, my crypto/security community, my feminist friends, my liberal political community and my latte-drinking, orkut-loving, IRC-addicted community all have opinions about what I write. I think about what their opinions will be when I write and I find that this helps me look at any issue from a variety of perspectives. They are each echo chambers in their own way, but I try to escape this echo chamber not by denying their existence or their influence over me, but by recognizing them and using a combination of communities to help me and my readers triangulate.

    Rebecca, from CNN, who is now at Harvard on sabattical, has just launched a new blog about North Korea. It's an cool experiment in blogging/journalism by someone who has a lot of on-the-ground experience covering difficult topics like this.

    This is an experiment in interactive, participatory journalism. And in the new age of internet web-blogging, we are ALL journalists.

    NKzone is NOT a conventional news or information website. Our members will build NKzone collectively with unique, personal, and (whenever possible) first-hand insights about the world's most mysterious country. Please approach this site not as a "viewer" or "reader", but as a "participant" and "contributor." NKzone is non-partisan. It seeks to generate interest and debate about North Korea. It seeks to include many clashing views. It is not advocating a particular cause, other than the desire that people be better informed about North Korea.

    As a former student, I sure wish I had had (via Seb) when I was in school. I would have had a lot to say and I would have felt justified. Maybe I wouldn't have had to start our underground newspaper. On the other hand, I can see how this might be abused. There are some thoughtful comments from many people about the "Adopt A Reporter" idea over on PressThink. This is not a new issue, but an old issue that continues to accelerate. As Loic points out, blogging helps you manage your own identity instead of leaving it up to others. Having said that, any notion that you can "control" your identity is a myth.

    Over at Chanpon, someone blogged about a teacher from my high school who passed away. Some students posted some allegations in the comments. Obviously, since the teacher was dead, he couldn't defend himself. On the other hand, the students obviously felt justified and there are very few opportunities for students to speak up about their teachers. We ended up removing the entry and the comments. It was a very difficult decision, but we did what we thought was right. Blogs and other forms of publishing come with a great deal of responsibility and it is very difficult to judge what is right and wrong. That is why we need to think about justice and how we can make the institution of blogs and the Internet just. The technology influences what we can do and how people use it. Having said that, just as with politicians, we get what we deserve. Unless we have a strong sense of justice and speak up, we'll end up with bad technologies in the same way we end up with bad politicians.

    Three chief executive officer participants at the World Economic Forum prepare public Internet blogs about their experiences in the ultra-exclusive retreat of the world's wealthy and powerful. Seated from left to right Loic Le Meur, CEO of Ublog, a Paris-based blog company; Yat Siu, CEO of Outblaze, a Hong Kong-based email service company and Joichi Ito, CEO of Neoteny Company Limited, a Japan-based venture capital firm.

    No... I'm not about to punch Loic. My fist is an expression of our solidarity. -- Joi
    Thomas Crampton's article in the International Herald Tribune about us blogging Davos just came out. The IHT may be a good blog, but it sure does take a long time to post articles...
    Thomas Crampton @ IHT
    With bloggers inside, Davos secrets are out
    Tell-all accounts proliferate on the Web

    DAVOS, Switzerland This year the barbarians were not protesting at the gates of the World Economic Forum; they were inside and blogging.

    The World Economic Forum has posted a pdf summary of the blogging panel. As usual, the tone isn't the same as what I experienced and they got most of what I said, but I think my emphasis was a bit different. I hope Loic gets his video transcript up so you can decide interpret it yourself.

    billmon at Whiskey Bar is blogging from Davos. I wonder who he/she is. I looked up "Bill Mon" and last name "Billmon" in the directory and I couldn't find a listing. I couldn't find his/her real name on the blog either. Is Whiskey Bar a pseudonymous blog by a professional journalist?

    Thanks for the link Abe. I think billmon is presenting an interesting view. I'm focused primarily on hanging out with people I like and going to sessions that I'm interested in so billmon's view is probably a good way to see another side of Davos.

    Introduced Thomas to Sergey. Joi helping h