Monthly Archives: July 2004

The September Project

The September Project is a collection of people, groups, and organizations working to create a day of engagement, a day of conversation, a day of democracy.

A friend of mine is working on The September Project to bring together people around the country on September 11 to “share and discuss ideas about democracy, citizenship, and patriotism through public talks, roundtables, and performances.” For the most part, these events will be taking place in public libraries. I think that’s pretty rad considering that libraries are public spaces dedicated to making information more accessible and librarians have been some of the greatest activists in the fight against government suppression of knowledge.

There are almost 200 events currently scheduled, with more popping up daily. This is a fun project to support, so if one’s not scheduled in your city, consider organizing it!

more diarists and Web logs

Not all journalists learn from bloggers. My cranky rant and op-ed went unnoticed by the NYTimes, who proceeded to run an article entitled Wry Hoaxes Enliven the World of Web Diarists that talks about “Web logs.”

I should note that i’m by no means upset with the authors of either NYTimes articles, as i’m fully aware that they are at the whim of their editorial stuff. Unlike Xeni, i don’t have a c’est la vie attitude about it. [Update: Xeni does not have this attitude and often stops working with editors who pull this shit. Apologies.]

One way of asserting power and marginalizing people is to own the language by reframing the terms of the oppressed into the terms of the privileged, thereby degrading the original terminology (think ‘liberal’). This is why one of the most powerful tactics of oppressed people is to reclaim their terminology, to own it as empowering (think ‘queer’). The US civil rights battles were ripe with oppressive uses and reclaiming of black terminology (think ‘nigger’).

One of the rules of anthropology is to always use the terms of the people. By reframing a people’s language into hegemonic terminology, the writer oppresses the people, owns the people. It is not only a lack of respect, but an attempt to assert authority and power.

This doesn’t just apply to anthropology. I continue to be cranky with the NYTimes.

sympathetic voices… going to NY?

Why is it that the only bloggers at the DNC are sympathetic to the Democratic party? What about other DNC attendees (other than protesters) – are they all sympathetic? Do non-sympathetic press cover the DNC?

It strikes me as odd that everything i’ve heard back from people at the DNC is from people who really believe in the Democratic party or people who are paid to not express their personal opinion. I realize that the bloggers with credentials are probably pawns of the DNC who want to employ them to get the word out further. But i want to hear rational critical voices… i want to hear what thinking Republicans think about the DNC.

I also had a realization this morning that i want to attend the RNC. I am not a good protester – i tend to get pretty upset with the type of herd mentality that emerges in those situations, even when i believe the values of the protest at my very core. So i figured that i wouldn’t go to New York next month. But what i realized is that i really want to be at the RNC, inside the RNC.

I want to talk to reporters about how their job works, how they perceive the bloggers. I want to talk to the passionate attendees about how they manage political information, about how they employ technology to share knowledge. More than anything, i want to be surrounded by thousands of people whose values and approaches to the world are fundamentally different than mine. It’s so humbling and eye-opening to talk directly to people who disagree with me, not to argue but to understand… to see the world from their perspective.

I think San Francisco is getting to me.

But seriously, i wonder if there’s any way that i’d be able to get into the RNC in New York. I wouldn’t want to go to attack or protest, but to understand. I think it could be quite humbling to see the world from a different perspective for a few days. And goddess only knows that it’d be far more mind-expanding than spending those days in the Black Rock Desert.

The New Blogocracy (Salon op-ed by moi)

The New Blogocracy is a Salon op-ed that i wrote based on the blog entry Demeaning Bloggers. I tried to go deeper into my feelings about pitting journalists against bloggers. I think that it’s a fun piece.

If you don’t have a Salon account, click the Free Day Pass. NARAL is definitely an organization worth supporting.

Oh, and i’ve also decided that i *lurve* having an editor, particularly one as constructive as Andrew Leonard.

i’ll double my contribution to Kerry if…

This morning, i got an email from a friend saying that he would double his contribution (i.e. give $500) to the Kerry contribution if 10 of his friends contributed. I contributed.

I’m going to return the favor. If 10 of you contribute directly to the Kerry-Edwards Campaign within 24 hours, i will double my contribution.

Note: I believe that Thursday is the last day for citizens to offer private contributions to Kerry; after that, it’s public-funding only!

Demeaning bloggers: the NYTimes is running scared

Blogging has terrified mainstream media for a while now. Journalists want to know if blogs are going to degrade their profession, open up new possibilities or otherwise challenge their authority. This also means that whenever the press writes about blogs, one must critically consider what biases are embedded in their reporting. This morning, the NYTimes took their bias to the headlines:

Web Diarists Are Now Official Members of Convention Press Corps

As i’ve written before, blogging is rhetorically situated between journalism and diarying. Most often, people label blogging as one or the other in order to degrade it. The NYTimes pulled this act today because they have a professional interest in portraying convention bloggers as “low-brow” and unworthy of reading, while the NYTimes will present the real “high-brow” convention story. By framing bloggers as diarists, the NYTimes is demanding that the reader see blogs as petty, childish and self-absorbed. They further perpetuate this view by pasting a picture of a youth on the front of the article to suggest that bloggers are all inexperienced and naive, further implying that their reports will not have the value of the more “adult” perspective of “real” journalists.

The entire spin of the article focuses on how bloggers are like children in a candy store – naive, inexperienced and overwhelmed by what is now available to them. The article focuses on the minutia of blogging, emphasizing that bloggers won’t really cover the real issues, but provide the “low-brow” gossip. (I somehow suspect that the NYTimes is far more likely to cover what various attendees are wearing than the bloggers.) The article does proceed to share its stance on bloggers through the voice of one subject: “I think that bloggers have put the issue of professionalism under attack.” (Not Jason Blair?)

I am horrified by this article. Not only does the NYTimes reveal their naivete about blogging, but they use their lack of clarity to demean a practice that they perceive as threatening. No wonder their professionalism is under attack.

[Also posted at M2M.]

cool camera phone?

OK… i may have succumbed. I’m going to be blogging SIGGRAPH and i really want a camera phone so that i can auto-Flickr-Blog. I mean, i could do it via a digital camera, but when i realized that i could email pictures to Flickr and it would automatically blog it, i was in heaven. This is the only way that i’m likely to photoblog and i know it. Specific purpose, target audience.

So, this means that i need to accept that i will purchase a camera phone. Crazy, eh? But the fact is that i know little about camera phones. I want one with a high enough quality that it will be reasonable for blogging. I don’t want a PDA device. I’m currently on Sprint. I’m always half tempted to switch, but i never do it… at least not in the last 7.5 years. Probably, i’d want a Sprint phone… and preferably one that didn’t cost a fortune.

One alternate option would be to buy the camera for my sidekick – anyone know anything about that?

Anyhow… i’d love thoughts and suggestions. If i’ve learned anything about gadgetry, it’s that everyone has an opinion.