Gail Williams (gail) Sun 17 Oct 04 09:19
(Dan Mitchell's post has slipped ahead while I was posting, I should add that my question was posed to Dan Gilmor of course)
Christian Crumlish (xian) Sun 17 Oct 04 10:56
Note that we have a blog conference here on the Well too where the concept can be explored at great length.
gary (ggg) Sun 17 Oct 04 19:29
and while you're up, please clarify for a complete ignoramus like me, what RSS is / ain't...
Christian Crumlish (xian) Mon 18 Oct 04 01:17
Dan can step in if he likes, but RSS is a file format for syndication that is a "dialect" of XML, so it's another way to tag information in the sense that HTML is a way to tag information, but it's more concerned with structure (loosely: title, link, description, although there's more to it than that) than with presentation. It's used mainly as a way of notifying people of updates to a website (often a blog) and of exchanging headlines and links to articles between sites. It's become a way to read new entries from many different sites all in one program (usually called a news aggregrator or news reader). (see also http://www.x-pollen.com/many/wiki/newpom.php/RSS) Does that help or am I making things worse?
David Kline (dkline) Mon 18 Oct 04 11:43
I'm very intrigued with the recent comments about "localization" in blogging -- i.e., community or local journalism/information that helps people conduct their daily lives (which are lived locally, of course). If you find blogs wherever people are passionate about something, and if passionate people tend to be more influential and active in their communities (all other things being equal), then ergo might we not one day have localized blogs serving as, in effect, "collective organizers"? I can imagine a soccer Mom running a blog about her kids' team events, etc. Word comes down that City Hall plans to shut down the city-sponsored league because of cutbacks. Soccer Mom uses her blog to organize 100 parents to go down to City Hall and protest. Just one example. Does anyone know of any blogs in which ordinary people have managed to affect their own and their neighbors' daily lives in a community context? Full disclosure: I'm writing a book that, Insh'allah, will deal intelligently with this and related issues.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 18 Oct 04 14:42
I have comments on the last few posts (though I expect Dan G. will have even more to say)... <mitchell>, there's more than one way to consider blogs as potential competitors for traditional press. They may compete for ads, for one thing, but I think the real competition is for mindshare. If I read a dozen blogs a day, I'm less likely to read newspapers... I've channeled my attention elsewhere. Where reporting's concerned, I haven't heard many, if any, conversations proposing that blogs would replace newspapers for broad coverage of the news. They augment with different, usually personal perspectives. Some newspapers have blogs, some journalists have blogs, and some bloggers post items that would qualify as reporting. That's what I *think* Dan et al are saying, not that blogs are somehow a replacement for established news sources.
David Kline (dkline) Mon 18 Oct 04 14:52
Not to get away from my question about blogs as local "collective organizers" -- and I really hope Dan and others have ideas on that -- but I wanted to add two small cents to the discussion of whether blogging will relegate traditional media to the ashcan of history. 1) Didn't we hear something like that 10 years ago re: how new online media was turning Time Warner & Microsoft into dinosaurs who were just "re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic?" 2) Aside from all the other ways blogging can complement and influence and change Big Media (which is already happening), blogs may also soon enable new kinds of media products & services (in similar fashion to how the growing role of "voice" and "niche segmenting" helped create Fox News, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, etc. in TV).
Dan Gillmor (dangillmor) Tue 19 Oct 04 13:59
Folks, apologies for my absence; I've been backed up on other work. I'm just boarding a plane to give a talk in London and will work on replies on the flight. Look for updates tomorrow.
Jack Kessler (kessler) Tue 19 Oct 04 15:46
There are a lot _more_ bloggers than there are mainstream media journalists, which is what attracts me to blogs, for both breadth and depth. Mainstream media has become so narrow: I feel as though I am reading the same story over and over again, cruising from one tv or radio channel to another, or from one newspaper to another. Blogs need "layering", though, like the mainstream media provides: editors, and competitors, and publishers worried about the bottom line, and all of the other discipline-sources which keep media from running off its deep end into brainless tirades about nothing. That was Usenet, or what it became. I like loosely-moderated lists, primarily because they avoid the Usenet blather. Only so many hours in a day... So yes blogs can replace mainstream media easily, for me. I'd really enjoy the greater breadth and depth. But only if they incorporate hardnosed editing, and careful research, and good writing: most don't, so far -- all of that is expensive, and takes time to develop, but I have my fingers crossed. An example of a good blog which I've used is Larry Lessig's -- http://www.lessig.org/blog/ -- also the Dean Campaign's blog last year, which was well-structured and conveyed both useful information and good discussion, I thought. An example of a bad blog has been Kerry's, which tends to get filled with congratulatory rah-rah one-liners and announcements -- also the Kerry econference, which got invaded by trolls and wingnuts too much -- but then maybe that's just politics. A blog needs a dynamic balance of open-ness and discipline to be really useful, for me. I mostly like The WELL... One thing you might discuss here -- perhaps you do in your book, Dan? -- is blogging as a means of tapping into greater _international_ news, breadth & depth. US mainstream media does a pretty poor job, IMHO, of providing international news coverage. Also, conventional coverage overseas is expensive: I'd think blogs would be the cheapest way to obtain news from any overseas niche not well-covered by Murdoch & minions -- most exciting coverage I've seen, recently, of events like Red Square, or Manila "people power", has come from the Internet. That plus Seymour Hersh, as always... does Hersh have a blog?... Somebody pls sell us on the following: Seymour Hersh's blog, Robert Kaplan's blog, James Fallows' blog, Lewis Lapham's blog... PJO'Rourke's blog... Dave Barry already has one... I'll bet writers like this will be able to get personal online advertising support, for their blogs, once online advertising's recovery really gets under way: maybe they can steal some account revenue from Yahoo's surge.
Christian Crumlish (xian) Tue 19 Oct 04 16:44
I'm enjoying James Wolcott's catty new blog.
Dan Gillmor (dangillmor) Wed 20 Oct 04 05:32
OK, some replies: Dan Mitchell said (post #41), <<One thing that is usually left out of discussions like this is local news, which is really what most newspapers do -- and blogs aren't really good for that, unless they simply link to a bunch of local media, which doesn't really count as "coverage." Do you address this at all in your book, Dan? And what is your take on the future of local dailies?>> I do address this, and I think blogs have great potential for filling a major cap. Newspapers, especially in larger markets, can't begin to deal with all the local news that needs to be covered. We just don't have the staff. But I'd like to see papers offer blogs to citizens, encouraging them to cover the local news we can't do. We wouldn't endorse what they write, or vouch for its accuracy, but I'd argue that some coverage is better than none at all. My take on the future of local dailies is mixed. True local news will always have an audience. But the business model of newspapers is under attack. I don't know how we'll do in the end, but I would hate to see papers disappear. Gail (post #50), The RSS explosion has serious disruptive potential. It's a much more efficient way to read a number of sites. It's a better way to distribute some kinds of information (I'd love to see PR folks only do RSS feeds of their press releases, for example, and stop blasting out spam-like e-mail to people like me.) I try not to get caught up in the "is blogging journalism" argument. The answer is Yes in some cases, No in others. Some blogs are clearly journalism by any measure you want to name. I see this less as a competition issue than a symbiosis: Bloggers inform journalists and vice versa. Christian, thanks for that summary of what RSS stands for and does. David (55 and 58), We know that blogs can brilliantly serve niches, and even attract advertising. Localization is another niche if you think of it that way. The soccer mom who keeps the community informed is definitely spreading news of a sort. Note that in this circumstance the news is something formerly spread via other means, and this is just a more efficient way (for other parents who have computers, anyway). Jeff Jarvis (buzzmachine.com) has been talking a lot about what he calls "hyper-local news," of which this is one example. I'm pretty jazzed by the possibilities, too, I must say. It's essential to remember, too, that blogs are only one form of citizens media. Niche audio and video programming are going to be an incredible source of news and entertainment in the future. Finding it may be the most difficult part, but the tools for creating professional-looking movies and music are coming down fast in cost while coming up faster in quality.
Christian Crumlish (xian) Wed 20 Oct 04 09:57
You lead to a good question. When everyone can produce original stories and/or and remix their incoming media feeds (example: http://monkeyvortex.com/radio/005823.html), how will we ever find the good stuff?
David Kline (dkline) Wed 20 Oct 04 10:50
Attention: Calling all visionary technologists!
Christian Crumlish (xian) Wed 20 Oct 04 14:21
not to go too far off-topic, but here's another remix of the third debate: http://zoka.com/4thdebate/
virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Wed 20 Oct 04 18:18
I'll bite, Christian: We find the Good Stuff by being social. We have friends and acquaintances and online buddies and folks we read/subscribe to and rely on. And they point us at stuff. The folks we return to are the ones who point at Good-to-us Stuff. (And that's where we perhaps inevitably end up with power laws and audiences that vary orders of magnitude in size from "A Listers" down to me and below.)
from JOHN ADAMS (tnf) Thu 21 Oct 04 06:45
Couple of posts from John Adams that slipped through the inkwell-hosts' fingers inadvertently: From: John Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Sun Oct 17, 2004 12:21:07 PM US/Eastern To: email@example.com Subject: In asnwer to #38: While many disagree about the difference between a blog and a website... ...and even though this leaves out many prominent blogs which I read (Dave Winer [who explicitly disagrees with me on this point] at http://www.scripting.com/, Josh Marshall at http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/, John Packzowski at www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/business/columnists/gmsv/, and the staff of _The American Prospect_ at http://www.prospect.org/weblog/, to name four), I believe the key to a weblog is the comments section. If you send Martha Stewart an e-mail, she reads it, or someone on her staff reads it, and maybe it ends up on her "notes" page: http://www.marthatalks.com/notes/index.html . If you could post a comment on her weblog (which you can't), everyone who cared to read the site could read what you said, and (if they cared to) respond to you. This is what makes some weblogs, such as the Nielsen-Haydens' (http://nielsenhayden.com/electrolite/ and http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/) a group effort, even though they're run by individuals (okay, in this case, run by a couple. There are other examples, but they are such a _good_ example, and so worth reading, and so likely to appeal to readers here, that I'll use them as the example.). So, Dan, how is this going to scale? When Kevin Drum moved from his CalPundit weblog to Political Animal at http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/, the size of the comments sections seems (I should count this, y'know?) seems to have about doubled. Are commented weblogs going to disobey the power law curve by topping out once they get a sufficiently large number of regular, prolific commenters? Will commenter registration make a qualitative change (aside from reducing trolling, nudge nudge wink wink say no more), or just move the point where the curve bends? All the best, John A From: John Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Sun Oct 17, 2004 11:56:08 AM US/Eastern To: email@example.com Subject: In answer to #39: To find journalist' blogs... ...or any other sort of blog, really, try http://www.technorati.com/ or (and this is my favorite method) ask your friends or look on other's websites, like Dan's weblog. He's got a fair number of other journalists' weblogs in his blogroll. Then see who _they_ have on their blogrolls, If you pull on one thread, you'll get yourself a nice ball of yarn. All the best, John A
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 21 Oct 04 20:05
Dan, thinking about the supposed power law distribution and this conversation about "how to find the good stuff," I'm wondering if, while writing the book, you gained any insight into how people interact with blogs? I suspect that attempts to get a handle on that question have been too linear in their approach, that the actual behavior of readers involves a lot of bouncing around, not necessarily focusing on the supposed a-lists. I also suspect that the blogs most linked via blogrolls are not necessarily the most widely read. Thoughts?
Gail Williams (gail) Fri 22 Oct 04 10:32
I want to say that I really appreciate the readable narrative tracing the history of the community, technical, legal and commercial evolution of online information sharing in your book. The parts that covered things I know well were simple and accurate, and the sections about things I didn't know were full of great anecdotes. I think this is the book I want to give to the next person who says "I haven't been keeping up with all this newfangled stuff beyond email." It's a wonderful way to get the big picture social context.
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Fri 22 Oct 04 14:21
Dan and Jon, it's already been two weeks since this discussion officially launched. Time just zoomed by! I want to thank you, Dan, for joining us and to tell you how much we appreciate your visit. If you can stay and continue this conversation we'd be delighted to have you. Even though the virtual spotlight has turned to other guests, this topic will remain open and additional discussion is more than welcome.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 22 Oct 04 14:43
Thanks to Christian, too! (Heh... I know you meant "Dan and Christian.")
Christian Crumlish (xian) Fri 22 Oct 04 15:02
heh... no worries. i enjoyed it. now off to lobby dgillmor to stick around the Well for the rest of his visitor's pass allotment!
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 22 Oct 04 15:06
Yeah, we could always ENFORCE his visitor's pass.
from ROBERT WORRILL (tnf) Sun 24 Oct 04 05:39
Robert Worrill writes: With regard to the question: how will we ever find the good stuff? Go here: http://blogdex.net/ http://www.daypop.com/top/ http://www.popdex.com/ http://del.icio.us/ http://www.monkeyfilter.com/ http://www.metafilter.com/ for a start.
Dan Gillmor (dangillmor) Wed 27 Oct 04 13:56
I'm not going anywhere...this is too much fun, even though I wish I had more time for it. More answers in a day or so (I'm under water with work right now...)
Christian Crumlish (xian) Wed 27 Oct 04 13:57
all hail asychronicity!
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