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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Richard Fernandez, of Belmont Club/Pajamas Media, suggests:
I truly believe that ‘it is possible that in the long run the global public will come to rely on fellow Internet users to learn about the world more than it will from professional journalists.
I mostly followed the 2006 elections with PJM, and get most of my news from Instapundit, PJM and IMAO. I'm not sure if this is the wisest course (though IMAO, at least, is trustworthy). But I have found that when I'm talking to people in the office or at the local cafés, no one ever seems to be talking about anything I'm not familiar with.

Let's face it: Very few people have time to read the whole newspaper everyday. Most people, if they read a paper at all, skim their favorite section and the front page. When I was a religious newspaper reader, I read the front page, editorial page and comics, and not in that order. Most people I knew considered me informed then, too. The bottom line is that newspapers are still bound by a standard of publishing what's news according to a certain mindset about what a proper and respectable paper ought cover.

The typical blogger is not a newspaper editor. He or she highlights things of personal interest after skimming preferred corners of the internet the same way the traditional newspaper reader skimmed a few preferred sections. But the internet's big enough that there's a lot to be gleaned. If you find four or five bloggers with a mindset similar to yours, you get the equivalent of a newspaper with the sections you don't care about pulled out. Only there's a lot more depth within the areas you do care about, both because of the special perspectives and because of all those links waiting to be clicked.

There are some, of course, who worry that shrinking newspaper circulation or the reading of blogs that one likes/agrees with will lead to a fragmented culture without a common knowledge base. One wonders what planet they were living on before the internet. In my experience, pre-internet people read the stuff in the paper they cared about and skipped the rest. With the internet, they might be doing the same thing but they're able to pretty readily get a lot more information about the things they are interested in.

I like the internet, because I can set myself up with a half-dozen or dozen or even two dozen "newspapers" - only since they're bloggers, not reporters whose byline I might or might not recognize, I can get a feel for who they are, who I trust and who I find interesting at times but a little over the top at others.

With the Duke Lacrosse rape case, almost everything I've read has been from KC Johnson and Tom Maguire. That's not to say that I haven't seen the papers. They've quoted them plenty. But my newspaper editors are people who cover stories because they care about them, not because someone in J-school or the marketing department told them they should.

I'm not sure about Fernandez' idea if it means that the information will be gathered or assembled by fellow internet users. But if it means using fellow internet users as editors to decide which stories to read, I'm already there.

One question this leads to is what the revenue model should be for newspapers working online. It used to be that I checked the Washington Post and even the evil New York Times from time to time. I still read their stories, but now it's when fellow bloggers refer them. In this situation, if you want ad revenue, the key isn't building the Washington Post brand per se, but getting your reporters and editors to post the kind of stories bloggers will link and quote. And, in the long run, whatever they teach in J-school, if you want your online offerings to matter they're going to have to be either the kinds of items that either bloggers or portals like AOL choose to link, because if they aren't linked, there's no point in putting them up.

posted by gbarto at 11:43 PM  

A question about Nifong that I'm sure others have already asked...

If he pulled this stunt with the lacrosse team members, who else has been sent up with potentially exculpatory evidence withheld? If Nifong is so casual in dismissing minor mix-ups like violation of line-up procedures, failure to follow rules of fair play, side agreements to circumvent the release to evidence conflicting with his story line for a case, and if he seems not to realize he's done something wrong in this case, how much trust can one put in his past prosecutions?

As a general rule, I'm wary of lawsuits against government, since they wind up costing taxpayers, rather than the malefactors in government. However, Nifong was fairly handily re-elected by citizens who, if they did the slightest bit of reading, knew there were potentially some pretty big problems with Nifong. The question is, how big? While getting cases re-opened once a jury has ruled ain't easy, Nifong has done one helluva job of calling into question the work done by his office. Will Nifong's problems become a problem for his constituents?

posted by gbarto at 11:27 PM  

Kudos to California Senator Barbara Boxer, who has withdrawn an award to "citizen activist" Basim Elkarra after learning of his ties to CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations. As has been widely noted, the group's definition of promoting American-Islamic relations is for extremist Muslims to do nothing to bend to life in America, let everyday American Muslims who seem to have little trouble living peacefully in America be tarred with the same brush as their nutcase brothers in faith, and insist that the larger American population is Islamophobic unless it not only tolerates but outright lauds and tries to empathize with anything the extremists do, up to and including funding terrorist groups abroad.

The Bush administration put the same group in charge of helping the Transportation Safety Administration devise protocols that will allow Muslims to travel without being disturbed by insensitive security guards. We're wondering if they'll implement a similar program for the rest of us.

This is not going to happen every day, or even very often, but the TurkeyBlog wants to take this opportunity to point out where Barbara Boxer got something right that the Bush administration got terribly wrong. We hope she will send the Department of Homeland Security the information about CAIR that led her to rescind this award.

Story from HotAir (via Instapundit)

posted by gbarto at 1:21 PM  

Friday, December 29, 2006

Things you can't live without #63

Virginia Postrel has enough clout that she got hers for free in the mail. The TurkeyBlog, alas, had to wait... and wait... till Amazon finally came through. And today it did. We're talking about Roger von Oech's Ball of Whacks: A Creativity Tool for Innovators, and the question is how anybody ever managed to really waste an afternoon before this wonderful invention came along.

The "Ball of Whacks" consists of thirty little pyramids with magnets inside, and they come stuck together in the shape of a ball. The creator, Roger Van Oech, has already written a bunch of books assuming that creativity comes from getting A WHACK ON THE SIDE OF THE HEAD (click the link to buy). Springboarding off of that, he released the Creative Whack Pack (click that one too!). So when he came up with this pyramid contraption, he decided to extend the franchise by calling the pieces "whacks".

Because magnets have poles, and can repel as well as attract, the pieces go together in a variety of ways. It's just that none of those ways allow for what you're trying to do if you think too much or get too elaborate. These are to play with. If you stick pieces together and see what comes of it, you'll have a great time and be much refreshed when you move on to your next activity.

There remains the question of whether the "whacks" do in fact inspire creativity. I can only report that I've devised many imaginative reasons why the next item on my to-do list could wait until I'd tried one more configuration.

The "whacks" are easy to play with, by the way. The images below were shot in less than half an hour, plenty of time to make seven shapes (three shown), take 25 blurry photos, and reassemble the ball for the final image showing size (relative to my hand).

Be sure to click the link and order some for all your family and friends. You'll be expanding their horizons and helping the TurkeyBlogger. And yes, they're in stock at Amazon again. Order now!

posted by gbarto at 12:43 AM  

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gerald R. Ford, RIP

Gerald R. Ford was the only president to come from Michigan. And the only to attain that office without facing national elections. He faced plenty of other trials, however, and history will judge him kindly for how he handled most of them.

Today we love to talk about statesmen. Gerald R. Ford was a statesman. He made deeply unpopular but extremely necessary decisions that helped our country move beyond Watergate and Vietnam. His pardon of Nixon may have cost him re-election, but in removing the burden of Nixon's crimes - or taking their burden onto himself? - he freed us as a country to move forward.

To borrow a phrase from another president (or his ghostwriter, at least): a true profile in courage.


posted by gbarto at 8:10 AM  


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