.: 2004 --> july
@ Email troubles: Alyssa, thanks for your nice note. It's a pleasure to meet a fellow Lady Hamilton aficionado (and third generation, no less!) To the world's oldest blogger: I watched your email flush out of my mailbox before I could stop it--would you kindly resend the note?
[ 07/03/04 ]
A study by Xerox recently found that people spend 30 percent of their workday just hunting for documents--and that 60 to 80 percent still feel they're missing the most important stuff. According to University of California at Berkeley estimates, we're producing 610 billion e-mails and 7.5 billion documents a year; in the midst of this swamp, Xerox discovered, workers feel they're being productive only half the time. [...]
Seven years ago, the Brooklyn-based writer David Shenk wrote the book Data Smog: Surviving the Information Glut, in which he pondered the central paradox of our era: A little information makes you smarter, but a ton of it leaves you confused. "It's worse than ever [today]," Shenk says. "We're getting more plugged in, but the level of distraction is increasing. And so the question is, are you going to be plugged in or not? If you decide not to be plugged in, you're separating yourself from culture."
[ 07/03/04 ]
@ The Museum Of Marketing Ideas.
Housed in a former Ferrari car dealership in a business park on Ann Arbor's south side, the 80,000-item collection is displayed on supermarket-style shelves. The museum-like place, which is not open to the general public, adds 500 items a month and contains products that date to the 1960s.
It is a treasure trove of pop culture and a 30-year history of American business marketing ingenuity, providing evidence of brilliant marketing ideas, spectacular flops, and either impeccably good or incredibly bad timing. [...]
"This is how you and I have lived our lives the last 25 to 30 years."
[ 07/03/04 ]
@ Scientific American: Lessons from the Wolf. Bringing the top predator back to Yellowstone has triggered a cascade of unanticipated changes in the park's ecosystem. [slithy popup!] (via medley)
The wolf introduction has had numerous unexpected effects as well. The animals' impact on the flora and fauna in the park has been profound. Indeed, the breadth of change has been so far-reaching that researchers from around the country have come to study the alterations. "Wolves are shaping what you see here," says Douglas W. Smith, leader of the Yellowstone Wolf Project. "In 30 years, when you drive through the park, it will look very different." [...]
Although the jury is still deliberating the effects of wolves, early evidence strongly suggests that the canids are unwitting restoration biologists. By simply doing what they do--mainly preying on elk--they are visiting great changes on the Yellowstone ecosystem. Many of the changes are positive for those things humans value, and for experts to accomplish some of these same goals would be hugely expensive.
[ 07/03/04 ]
@ In A Real Blockbuster, William Powers argues that the press should begin covering election campaigns as media productions instead of pretending that staged elements are only secondary. [more...]
We all know this is how it works. But our knowledge of the game doesn't diminish its power. To me, the mystery is why these elements don't get more attention from the media. As a culture, we are extremely sophisticated about the way image and sound work together in the movies to make us think and feel a certain way. Yet our political journalism feels like a remnant of the 1940s, with its creaky emphasis on electoral mechanics -- the swing-state obsession -- and earnest discussion of which Big Issue, the economy or the war, will matter most.
Sure, those things will matter. But it's the election movie itself, the enormous, costly multimedia production we'll all be watching every day for the next four months, that will really decide this campaign. And it deserves to be taken seriously and dissected on its own terms, the way we dissect Hollywood products.
Naturally, we want to believe the best about ourselves and the people who represent us. We vote on policy, not on production values! And our favored candidates--they speak from the heart--they wouldn't engage in crass emotional manipulation! And anyway, we understand media well enough to critically evaluate the messages we see.
We also have a tendency for binary thinking: either a candidate is sincere, or he is a cynical manipulator of public opinion. A little media literacy--which is what this kind of campaign coverage would provide--would enable us to more readily separate the message from its packaging. The medium is the message. And we wouldn't go to the movies if they didn't make us feel something. (via Campaign Desk)
[ 07/09/04 ]
@ Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools.
Cool tools really work. A cool tool can be any book, gadget, software, video, map, hardware, material, or website that is tried and true. I am chiefly interested in stuff that is extraordinary, better than similar products, little-known, and reliably useful for an individual or small group.
[ 07/09/04 ]
@ Bug Me Not allows you to bypass compulsory registration by providing valid logins and passwords for thousands of sites. There are even plugins for Firefox and IE. Now maybe I can start reading the LA Times again. (via cool tools)
[ 07/09/04 ]
@ Bad news for book publishers: A new survey finds that Americans of all demographic classes are reading less. [more...]
The survey, called Reading at Risk, [pdf] is based on data from "The Survey of Public Participation in the Arts," conducted by the Census Bureau in 2002. Among its findings are that fewer than half of Americans over 18 now read novels, short stories, plays or poetry; that the consumer pool for books of all kinds has diminished; and that the pace at which the nation is losing readers, especially young readers, is quickening. In addition it finds that the downward trend holds in virtually all demographic areas.
The NEA news release notes, however, that creative writing is up, and says:
The survey also studied the correlation between literary reading and other activities. For instance, literature readers watched an average of 2.7 hours of television each day, while people who do not read literary works watched an average of 3.1 hours daily [ed. note: an average difference of 24 minutes]. Adults who did not watch TV in a typical day are 48 percent more likely to be frequent readers - consuming from 12 to 49 books each year - than are those who watched one to three hours daily.
When I read figures like that, I always think 'Who has time for 2 hours of television a day?' But the truth is that the Internet is my television: I spend well over 3 hours a day online. This is the activity that sucks up my time to the detriment of other things. Television vs. reading is in part a competition between modes of activities, but it's also a simple matter of time management.
I know my reading is down--my reading of printed materials, that is. It has puzzled me for years. Since childhood, I have been an avid reader, but when I have a spare moment, I rarely want to sit down and read anymore. Until I started tracking the time I spend reading on the Web, I didn't realize that I am reading more than ever--hours of online reading every day, from weblogs to online news and magazines. No wonder I want to do something else when I get offline.
[ 07/09/04 ]
@ Paradoxically, it seems that reviewers are deluged with more books than they possibly can manage. Clearly, book publishers are going to have to craft a somewhat more focused strategy. Me? I think I might stroll down to the library and see if they have The Nature of Midnight or The Hell Screen. And it looks like I'm not the only one--Amazon's 'Customers who bought this book also bought' listing for The Nature of Midnight consists mainly of the books recommended in this article. (via dangerousmeta)
[ 07/09/04 ]
@ Today is a good day to call or email your Senator to register your opposition to codifying bigotry in the Constitution. Religions must have the right to determine their own terms for marriage as a sacred rite, and states must uphold the basic principle of equality before the law. Treating legal marriage and religious marriage as one thing just muddies up both.
[ 07/13/04 ]
@ Harlem's only finishing school teaches more than deportment: It also teaches students to manage the practical affairs of their lives. [slithy popup!]
[ 07/13/04 ]
@ You Are How You Eat. (via rc3.org)
[ 07/13/04 ]
@ A terrific 8-point list of considerations for choosing the most healthful food: Is there an organic advantage?
Both the American Chemical Society and the Organic Center for Education and Promotion have scientists looking at ways to investigate potential differences in organic vs. conventional food. Until they sort out the questions, here's what you need to know when considering the choice of organic vs. conventional food.
[ 07/13/04 ]
@ In transforming an abandoned 1850s warehouse into a stylish apartment complex, one couple has completed what they hope will be the first certified residential green building in Brooklyn.
Brown... started out with little interest in the environmental aspect of the project. "I've never been much of a political activist," he said. "All I knew about green building was, you know, yurts [and] structures made of tires and straw bales and stuff. It's not my thing." What Brown grew to appreciate was the economic and construction logic behind green building. "It was just amazing to find out how much better sustainable building functions than conventional building, how logical it is," he said. "I think of it more as 'high-performance' than eco-friendly."
Brown admired, for instance, the logic behind radiant heating. Embedded in the concrete floors (made of 45 percent recycled fly ash, the waste material from burned coal), the heating system warms up the flooring. The concrete floors, in turn, emanate heat upward into the lower seven feet of the room -- rather than the full 20-foot-high expanse of the lofty ceilings. [...]
Much of the construction material used in converting the warehouse, including the beams, bricks, doors, and window frames, were salvaged from the existing building. The kitchen cabinets are rehabbed lockers used by factory workers. All the tubs and pedestal sinks were purchased and delivered by a local scrap metal collector who roams the neighborhood in search of discarded fixtures. The couple's commitment to reuse castaway items cut down significantly on cost. The only new fixtures in the rental units are the energy-efficient appliances.
[ 07/13/04 ]
@ This was a previously-held record?
[ 07/13/04 ]
@ Here's a good non-hysterical article about the NEA study I linked to Friday.
[ 07/13/04 ]
@ Will you or can you be in Boston July 24 to the 30th? Do you want to be part of one of our nation's longest-standing cultural and political institutions? The Democratic National Convention needs volunteers. Pass it on.
[ 07/15/04 ]
@ Hearing babies exposed to sign language babble with their hands. The researcher claims this proves that babbling isn't a motor-skills exercise, but an attempt at communication.
[ 07/15/04 ]
@ The funniest thing I've read all year: Laws Concerning Food and Drink; Household Principles; Lamentations of the Father. (via Theory of the Daily)
Of the beasts of the field, and of the fishes of the sea, and of all foods that are acceptable in my sight you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the hoofed animals, broiled or ground into burgers, you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the cloven-hoofed animal, plain or with cheese, you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the cereal grains, of the corn and of the wheat and of the oats, and of all the cereals that are of bright color and unknown provenance you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the quiescently frozen dessert and of all frozen after-meal treats you may eat, but absolutely not in the living room. Of the juices and other beverages, yes, even of those in sippy-cups, you may drink, but not in the living room, neither may you carry such therein. Indeed, when you reach the place where the living room carpet begins, of any food or beverage there you may not eat, neither may you drink.
[ 07/15/04 ]
@ Like numerous white collar criminals before her, Martha Stewart has retained a sentencing consultant.
A former prisoner turned sentencing consultant... says many white-collar criminals are surprised to see so many drug dealers. "They are under the misconception that they are going to a country club... that they'll serve their time with lawyers and doctors," he says. Part of his job is to dispel those myths. "The biggest shock is that there is no such thing as a white-collar prison."
Many of his clients, accustomed to leading thousands of employees and setting their own rules, often are surprised by the "absolute loss of control," he says, such as the autonomy to choose what to do or what to wear.
[ 07/15/04 ]
@ Meanwhile, Martha is partying like it's 1999. [more...]
Far from going into seclusion after the outcome of her trial, Ms. Stewart is making the rounds of all the best parties in the city and at the beach, rubbing elbows with Tom Brokaw or Paris Hilton's parents, lifting a glass, nibbling a canapé, chortling at an A-list joke. She remains involved at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, where the August issue of her flagship magazine, Martha Stewart Living, has "Relax and enjoy!" as its cover theme.
As a long-time magazine subscriber, for me the most interesting part of this drama has been watching Martha Stewart Omnimedia transition from Martha-centric programming to content that is less reliant on her personal brand. Martha Stewart was charged on May 21, 2003. In July or August 2003 Martha Stewart Living's "Editor's Letter" began featuring a picture of that editor (previously the photo was of a craft, or a bit of a room, so as not to dilute the focus on the grand doyenne). Then in September 2003 it replaced "Martha's Calendar" with a feature called "Gentle Reminders".
Her trial began on January 27, 2004, accompanied by much hoo-haw from the press, and during this year she has all but disappeared from the articles in the magazine, where she was once a ubiquitous fixture. She has retained only a minor presence with her two regular "letters" at the beginning and end of the magazine. Indeed, her newest television show, Petkeeping with Marc Morrone is branded with someone else's name. Apparently these changes are more far-reaching than I realized:Her television show has been placed on hiatus, the company announced in May, and with the September issue, the name Martha Stewart will be shrunk to small type on the cover of the flagship magazine. A newer publication, Everyday Food, no longer carries any reference to Ms. Stewart.
On March 5, 2004, Martha Stewart's was convicted on all charges. The May, 2004 issue of Martha Stewart Living features a "Letter from Martha" that thanks readers for their outpouring of support and reassures them that the magazine will go on as before, whatever Martha's role. But the tour de force is in Margaret Roach's "Editor's Letter:"
Martha... [taught] me to do things by hand, to make things from scratch--even in an era of go-go-go, when people were simply not bothering anymore. She founded a vital and ongoing creative movement that elevated the power of the handmade article, whether a homemade birthday cake or a pinecone wreath or family scrapbook. She put the arts back into domestic arts, saving it from an unwarranted reputation as old-fashioned drudgery. In the process, cooking and gardening, entertaining and crafts, decorating and collecting, and all the other aspects of homekeeping that are part of Martha Stewart Living became infused with the power to lend a sense of self-esteem to those who participate in them.
Damage control, contextualization, historical positioning: This is myth-making - or branding, as we so prosaically call it these days - at its finest. I think we have more to learn from Martha than cleaning and crafting. I'm definitely looking forward to watching her company respond to her sentencing, prison term, and subsequent release. Martha Stewart is hard-working, smart, and ambitious. How will she reinvent herself then?
[ 07/15/04 ]
@ Electoralvote.com transforms current poll data to project electoral college votes.
[ 07/16/04 ]
@ A little weekend reading: The Christian Science Monitor is doing a 5-part series on red and blue America. [more...]
This is a construct that interests me. It's popular with the media because it plays into their structural biases and gives them clear players in a complicated situation. It's popular with the Conservative leadership because it plays into their grand narrative of citizens with good American values fighting against an liberal elite that is trying to dominate them (see my last post today for a smart exposition of this narrative.)
For your convenience, here is a visual representation of the purple map spoken of in the first article (and a reversed color county-by-county map of the 2000 election results.) The CSM has a very nice interactive map in the sidebar--be sure to take a look.
Part 1: Inside red-and-blue America: A look at America's polarized electorate lays out the many factors--from gerrymandering to migration to technology--that have contributed to todays divide, and asks whether partisanship is really a danger to democracy.
According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, public interest in this election is much higher than at a similar point four year ago: 58 percent of voters say they are giving "quite a lot" of thought to the election, versus 46 percent in 2000. And 63 percent say it "really matters" who wins, versus 45 percent in 2000.
During the 1960s and '70s, by contrast, political analysts worried that partisanship was in a dangerous decline. In 1968, George Wallace famously charged there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between the two parties - and many voters seemed to agree with him, as rates of participation steadily dropped.
Part 2: Republican America: How Georgia Went Red discusses the historical and cultural reasons for the South's shift from Democratic to Republican.
Just a little over a decade ago, Georgia had a Democratic governor, two Democratic senators, and one Republican House member out of 10. Today, those numbers are almost reversed: There are eight Republican representatives to five Democrats - a ratio that would be even higher were it not for Democratic gerrymandering. The state has a Republican governor, one Republican senator, and a retiring Democratic senator, Zell Miller, who has endorsed President Bush.
Commenters always mention the shift of Democratic segregationists to the Republican party as one shaping factor. I would speculate that this Democratic alignment was--not to oversimplify things--an artifact of the Southern distaste for Republican Abraham Lincoln and the carpetbaggers that migrated South once the Civil War was over. Cultural biases die hard; perhaps historical wrongs die harder. Few people will forgive being put into a position of utter powerlessness and taken advantage of.
Part 3: Suburb shift turns state blue discusses the diversity of Democrats in Illinois and the rise of the fiscally conservative, socially more liberal Democrat.
Luvie Myers is a case in point. She's the mother of three teenagers, the wife of a consultant, who's lived most of her life in Winnetka, an upscale suburb on Chicago's North Shore. Throughout the 1980s, Ms. Myers was a Republican, voting twice for Reagan and for the first President Bush. "He was a class act. Patrician, sensible, educated, very experienced in government - a lot like someone who would live in Winnetka," she says.
But she feels differently about Bush's son, and abhors the current Republican Party. The turning point for her was the rise of the culture wars. "In the 1980's, those conservative people who spent all their time telling you how to live your life were kind of on the fringe," she says. "Now you feel like the Republican platform has espoused these ideas that to me are institutionalized bigotry. I can't stand it."
It's true that the last election was as close as it can be. It's true that partisans on both sides have become increasingly vitriolic. But I'm still wondering if this particular construct actually describe what's happening on the ground. And whether it is or isn't useful in understanding the differences that divide the American people.
Unless there is an utter rout in the upcoming election, I can't see the media abandoning this narrative--it's too useful as a storytelling device. And Conservatives certainly won't--whatever the outcome, they will continue to position themselves as the voice of a beleaguered majority.
Oh, and isn't it time for serious journalists to stop saying things like "Bush, the first president in 112 years to win the electoral but not the popular vote"? In fact, Mr. Gore--once the votes were counted--won both.
[ 07/16/04 ]
@ In the 2001 article The Map Gets Another Look, Jonathan Lilienkamp asserts that "just 1.38% of Bush voters nation-wide changing their votes, or 2.79% additional Democrats or fewer Republican votes" (strategically placed) would transform the Red map to Blue.
[ 07/16/04 ]
@ On the uses of failure. I'm surprised so many liberal bloggers failed to understand that this vote turned out exactly as planned.
[ 07/16/04 ]
@ Just two links today: The CSM series on red and blue America concludes.
Part 4: Different News for Different Views examines the rise of partisan media and its effect on the electorate's growing polarization.
While others admit the growing politicization of news does create potential problems, they instead see the emergence of new sources of information as a welcome expansion of the nation's political dialogue. To them, the high-voltage talk shows and websites are signs of a public increasingly engaged on important issues - from Iraq to the role of religion in society.
Indeed, most Americans who tune into these alternative sources still tap into mainstream media as well. In addition to listening to "Democracy Now," Mr. Boland reads three newspapers a day. And Mr. Cunningham looks forward to the NRA's Cam & Company show so he can compare it with what he sees on the nightly news.
Part 5: Even in a swing state, views are hardened.
Directly next door, Mr. Costanzo's son Michael runs a sporting-goods store, where he outfits local Little League teams. He's more staunchly conservative than his father. There's "nothing" he doesn't like about Bush, whom he regards as "a good, religious man." Although Kerry is Roman Catholic like himself, Costanzo thinks the candidate is "not much of a Christian," since he supports abortion rights, something Costanzo opposes. A strong proponent of the Iraq war - "if we don't fight it overseas, we're going to be speaking Arabic in this country" - he says that if Kerry wins, he'll be "pretty upset."
Costanzo knows his views cause friction among some of his neighbors: "I'm pretty conservative for this area," he admits. "Democrats have a hard time talking to me." He recalls a recent "screaming" match he had with an ex-girlfriend about Iraq. But he's equally frustrated by what he sees as many union members' unthinking loyalty to the Democratic Party. They're "basically puppets" of the union leaders, blindly buying into arguments that they could lose their jobs, he says. "They're just scared."
[ 07/20/04 ]
@ Upscale families seeking a simpler life have given rise to a new class of back-to-the-landers who express their passion for simplicity by consuming a pricey new category of goods.
Oppies can be found on the fringes of any affluent, liberal metropolitan area - "wherever there's a Whole Foods, there's a pocket," Ms. Rodale said. But perhaps no region has proved to be a more perfect laboratory of oppie living than the mid-Hudson Valley, a postcard-perfect rural terrain 100 miles from New York City. Eco-minded businesses in the region are flourishing. The sleek but green Swedish cosmetics company Face Stockholm operates its United States headquarters in Hudson, after moving from SoHo. There are self-styled organic restaurants and markets, few of them cheap, everywhere. A few blocks from Face Stockholm, Hudson River Farm Market, which opened in December, serves as a local organic Zabar's of sorts (all its produce in season is raised locally by small farmers). Nearby in Livingston, oppies congregate over organic muffins Saturday morning at the Rural Gourmet at Sunset Meadows. [...]
The new "locals" - that is, the transplants - now drive an organically based subeconomy. "Hudson Valley is now definitely a center of organic living," Mr. Novi said. The influx has driven up property costs and sometimes created friction with native residents over development issues, like a proposed cement plant in Greenport. Critics of the newcomers, and some self-aware oppies themselves, point out the contradiction of relying on part-time city careers to prop up lives in a rural utopia. [ed. note: cf the grand Conservative narrative]
It is deliciously consumerist to upscale simplicity, but there are far less expensive ways to live more sustainably. Start by serving one vegetarian dinner a week (try The Passionate Vegetarian or Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone if you're stumped for ideas), turning off the lights in empty rooms, and finding a local co-op, where you will be able to buy organic and bulk foods for much less than in your local supermarket.
[ 07/22/04 ]
@ Want to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil? Hang out your laundry
The average American family devotes 5 to 6 percent of its annual electric budget to the motor and heating coils inside its clothes dryer. Undampening your socks ties you into the vast world energy grid, with its legacy of mountaintop-removal coal mining, terrorist-vulnerable natural gas pipelines and all the rest. Which is OK - right? - because we all need dry socks.
But in fact we all had dry socks long before the invention of the clothes dryer. As late as 1960, according to Northwest Environment Watch, fewer than 20 percent of American households had automatic dryers.
[ 07/22/04 ]
@ Barefoot solar engineers (via worldchanging)
Gulab Devi, 45, of Harmara village in Rajasthan's Ajmer district comes across as the quintessential rural woman from Rajasthan. Dressed in the traditional ghagra-choli (long skirt and blouse), Gulab is the sole bread-earner for her four children and her ailing husband who hasn't had a job in the 24 years of their marriage.
Gulab is completely illiterate. Ask her what she does for a living, and she'll tell you she makes electronic circuits and chargers for solar lighting panels. And before you start wondering whether you heard wrong, she'll tell you that she also installs and maintains handpumps, water tanks and pipelines. Not only is she running her household comfortably with her salary from this work, she is also one of the most respected members of her community.
[ 07/22/04 ]
@ I am volunteering at the Democratic National Convention this week. I'm looking forward to it: I've never been to a political convention before. From what I know of my schedule, I likely won't have time to update my weblog during the next week. While my duties will leave me little time to post here, the tradeoff should be access to events and areas which would, were I credentialled, be off limits.
[ 07/24/04 ]
@ You probably have heard that the Democratic National Convention has credentialled some bloggers to cover the event. I did not apply--I was more interested in seeing the convention from the inside than from a carefully controlled vantage point. My perception is that the Democrats are regarding the bloggers more as adjunct PR people than as the 'press'--but when you think about it, that's pretty much how they regard journalists, too. I'm not sure just what access the bloggers will be granted (I know that inside Fleet Center, the bloggers are located separately from the professional media) but I've been giving it some thought, and I have some advice for the bloggers who have been credentialled to cover this event. [more...]
- Make friends with a media liaison. The media liaisons are there to ensure that the press has something to write about. They provide schedules of events. They suggest stories for the press to cover. They distribute talking points. Introduce yourself to someone who looks friendly and be just as nice as can be. They are your access to the things that will be happening during this week. Cultivate one media liaison for the week, and be sure to thank them when they do you a favor.
- Make friends with a professional journalist. The journalists who are covering the event may have covered other conventions, or at least they know journalists who have. Find someone who looks friendly and quietly make them your mentor. Knowing someone who knows the drill will make your week at the convention more pleasant and more productive.
- Observe the pros. Watch what the pros do. If you can, listen to them talk amongst themselves. Pay attention to the DNC message, the press interpretation of that message, and then make your own call.
- Share your information about the convention with the other bloggers. This isn't an event where there is likely to be any 'breaking news'--it's too carefully scripted for that. So create a bloggers network to share information with each other. Individually cultivating various media and journalist contacts will make your network more robust.
- After the convention, share your information with the next wave. A different set of bloggers will likely be credentialled for the Republican National Convention. Don't make them reinvent the wheel. Keep good notes about your experience, whether or not you choose to publish them online during the event. After the convention, post them to your site (hopefully aggregated at ConventionBloggers.com) or to some centralized spot. Give each new wave the information they need to do their work better than you did.
- Understand the role you've been given. From the perspective of the DNC, you (bloggers, conventioneers, and press) are a giant public relations engine. You are there to distribute their message to the masses. They will give you a carefully controlled message in the hopes that you will 'report' it as fact. Understand exactly where their loyalties and intentions lie.
- Choose the role you will play. What do you like to write about? There are as many different weblogs as there are people. No matter what the DNC wants you to write about, instead, play to your own strengths. You might write about how the media covers these events; you might write about the event itself--how the spectacle is calibrated to its various audiences (the press, the delegates, the party faithful, and the public); you might write about the human side of the convention, focusing on your own reactions to events, or writing about the people you meet; you might even want to try your hand at reporting. Don't feel that you need to try to replicate conventional coverage, in fact you will surely be more successful if you don't try. The joy of a weblog is that you can write anything, any way you want. Do it.
- Participate. Don't accept second class citizenship. Whatever your access, even if it's not prime, make the most of it. If you find yourself at a press conference and you want to ask a question, ask it. (You'll probably ask more pointed questions than the pros, anyway. We need more of that.) If you want to interview someone in particular, see if a media liaison can arrange it for you. John Kerry will probably not be available; Dennis Kucinich might be. It won't hurt to ask.
- Learn from your predecessors. David Steven did an outstanding weblog at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, covering an amazing range of issues and events, and interviewing numerous luminaries. Perhaps you would like to do something similar.
The days are long-gone when anything at all can happen at a political convention. Conventions today are tightly scripted events, so I don't expect anyone, credentialled bloggers or professional press, to uncover a secret or to scoop anyone else. The DNC blogs will be interesting, if only from a novelty point of view. It may turn out that the bloggers are completely in over their heads--but even if that turns out to be true, this will by no means have been a failure. If it takes the non-professionals 2 conventions (or 12) to figure out their most effective role, so what? Political parties and the media have been symbiotically working out their dance steps for decades. The only way weblogs can fail in covering the conventions is if they fall into the same dance themselves.
[ 07/24/04 ]
@ In Boston, the National Park Service (I presume) hires costumed actors to wander the streets of the historic section of town answering questions and giving tourists information about the sights. As I passed the McDonalds, I noticed a fellow sitting in the window drinking a cup of coffee with Ben Franklin.
[ 07/24/04 ]
@ Just a word to the wise: Yesterday security at the DNC was confiscating umbrellas, any bottles of water, and even one girl's rape whistle. Also, for the bloggers, get there early: the media line was taking up to 3 hours to get through security.
[ 07/25/04 ]
@ Update: At noon today, the line was about 45 minutes long. And here is the list of items security will not allow through the gates.
[ 07/25/04 ]
@ My connectivity ia almost non-existent. Thanks to the convention bloggers for hosting us last night--the hall was jammed. We spent the evening comparing impressions with an old friend, Jessamyn West and a new one: weblog pioneer Dave Winer. Dave was a media machine, writing, doing audio posts, and posting some terrific photos throughout the evening. It was fun.
[ 07/29/04 ]
@ We got back at about midnight yesterday. Waiting in the airport to catch our plane, I couldn't remember which city we were in. I looked around the airport and felt I was in my natural environment. It didn't seem right to be headed home. Once we got in, I still didn't feel tired, but the minute I put my head on the pillow I began to dream about the convention. This morning my husband told me he had dreamt about trying to get one of our cats up to a restricted level of the convention hall. We are still trying to process it all.
[ 07/31/04 ]
@ John Perry Barlow: Dance Dance Revolution (via scripting news)
[ 07/24/04 ]