Christian Crumlish (xian) Thu 28 Oct 04 14:04
(slipped with the same kernel)
Christian Crumlish (xian) Thu 28 Oct 04 15:18
re <44>, "Since it bears no official regulation, could blogging benefit as a medium (if not in its image) from the proposal of any sort of ethical code that might be attractive to mass adoption, a la Creative Commons?" I believe Rebecca Blood proposed just such a code in her Weblog Handbook. I think a wide discussion of ethical issues is a good ideas and perhaps some sort of open attempt to identify some key ethical guidelines that blogs could sign onto (say, by featuring a link to a site, as you say, a la Creative Commons) would be a worthy project, but I'm sure that there would also be a lot of resistance and people saying that this is antithetical to the way of blogging, which for some people means unedited voice of a person. In the profile of Markos Moultisas over at PDF today, the Brian Reich mentions how Zephyr Teachout blogged at BOPnews during the Dem convention that liberal bloggers should all voluntarily agree not to blog about clients or anyone they had a financial relationship with, at least during the convention. This was implictly aimed at Kos, whose Armstrong Zuniga firm (which, as I mentioned above, I am currently affiliated with) does not list its clients anywhere. Markos chafed at the implication that he should meet someone else's ethical standards and claimed that he needed to be free to blog about people he believed in, regardless of whether he had or appeared to have a conflict of interest. "Got any thoughts on what such a code should urge?" Well, I'd say that transparency is important. I try to note when I have conflicts of interest, but that's more to do with my own sense of how I earn credibility - I don't want to be viewed as a shill for advertisers or people paying for placement, etc. Beyond that, I'm not sure. Are there widely held codes of journalistic ethics? They might provide an easy checklist for bloggers to run down, saying yea to those standards that seem appropriate to blogging and nay to those that maybe make less sense in this distributed multitude.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 28 Oct 04 19:16
My response to Ari would be that you can't evaluate blogs by traditional media standards. Blogs are vetted and balanced by other blogs; the way to approach news via blogs is to read multiple perspectives on particular stories, rather than attending to one or two information channels that are supposedly objective and authoritative. Christian, you quote Kos on "open source politics," something Adam Greenfield has also been writing about (http://extremedemocracy.com/chapters/Chapter12-Greenfield.pdf). How does a software licensing concept relate to poltics, and to your thoughts about "the power of many"?
Ari Davidow (ari) Fri 29 Oct 04 04:56
I don't think I accept the idea that "Blogs are vetted and balanced by other blogs". That may be a good way to find blogs with which you might agree, or that might be interesting reading, but the fact that lots of people believe something or prefer something doesn't make it true or preferable to me. It does worry me that "all of my friends value this" replaces "I have some objective, or reasonably-objective way to evaluate this".
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 29 Oct 04 07:38
Ari, I think you're missing the conversational aspect of weblogs. The purpose of comments and trackbacks is to facilitate response, and respondents can post corrections and voice disagreements. Readers see comments, follow trackback and other links, also follow links in such aggregate services as blogdex, daypop, and technorati. It's a different way of processing information (and note that it doesn't include traditional "mediated" content, so it's part of the mix.) Reputation is an aspect of this, too: bloggers who post about current events but consistently make flaky posts will lose their following. The echo chamber you've mentioned is an acknowledged problem, but it's not just a problem with blogs. I think it's more about how people consume news: many search for perspectives they can agree with, while some prefer to be challenged. I see it as a social problem, and there are people who are trying to correct it, often with face to face facilitated gatherings where they hope to attract people with differing views and help them understand each other (e.g. Let's Talk America, http://www.letstalkamerica.org/). The hope is that, as people become more tolerant of and interested in views that differ from their own, dialogs will emerge. The Wikimedia folks are starting Wikinews, a current events version of Wikipedia: http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikinews It'll be interesting to see how that goes. Christian, I kind of lapsed my moderator role there for a minute... what are your thoughts?
David Kline (dkline) Fri 29 Oct 04 10:03
If you want to see a real "echo chamber" in action, take a look at how often major media outlets run a story just because other major media outlets have run the same story and deemed it thereby "a story." Look also at how often rumor, unsupported allegation, and outright misinformation is replicated ad nauseum by major media until it becomes conventional wisdom. The potential problems with unvetted, unmediated (by professional journalists) blog content are real, but I'm not sure they're any more real than they are within the major media. Personally, I still trust most NY Times reporting over most blog "reporting," but I've actually been surprised at how few errors crop up in major news/politics blogs.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 29 Oct 04 16:55
And how many crop up in stories in the Times.
Christian Crumlish (xian) Sat 30 Oct 04 10:28
Happy to have you step in, Jon! I'll try to catch up this weekend.... Today's my birthday (40) so I'll be staying offline most of the day. Will check in tomorrow while carving pumpkins and such.
David Gans (tnf) Sat 30 Oct 04 17:26
Happy birthday, xian! My birthday is 10/29, but I am WAY older than you.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 1 Nov 04 12:00
Heh, looks like birthday + Halloween was too much for Christian! But I'm sure he'll wander in any minute. Christian, Convio makes an interesting case study for technology to support campaigns and nonprofits using a customer relationship management approach. Could you discuss what you learned when you talked to Convio's CEO and looked at their approach?
Christian Crumlish (xian) Mon 1 Nov 04 22:11
birthday + Halloween + bronchitis (or pneumonia) it seems... spent all day at Kaiser today... antibiotics, steroids, codeine, blood test, chest x-ray anyway, apologies for falling behind. I will catch up ASAP. btw, tomorrow I and the rest of the staff of Personal Democracy Forum (http://personaldemocracy.com/) will be blogging the election all day.
David Gans (tnf) Mon 1 Nov 04 23:18
Feel better, xian!
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 2 Nov 04 05:39
Sorry to hear you were ill - we were afraid it was something like that! Do get well! We'll be blogging and posting images and videos as they come in at http://vidvote.org today, as well.
Christian Crumlish (xian) Tue 2 Nov 04 07:06
we'll be watching you. that site is part of my "beat." i'll be interested to see if flickr comes up with anything too.
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Tue 2 Nov 04 08:27
ACK! So sorry to hear you've been so sick, Christian. NOT a good way to spend one's birthday. sheesh!
Jamais Cascio, WorldChanger (cascio) Tue 2 Nov 04 08:31
Now you know the power of many microbes...
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 3 Nov 04 15:10
We told Christian to get well first, then resume the discussion here, which can run as long as we like. So we'll resume when he's recovered.
Christian Crumlish (xian) Thu 11 Nov 04 08:57
I'm all better (it was bronchitis but not pneumonia) and I'll get caught up on the backlog today. I hope we can still resume the conversation for a few more days, if only to get beyond politics at last!
David Kline (dkline) Thu 11 Nov 04 09:56
Great. We'd love to keep going here.
David Gans (tnf) Thu 11 Nov 04 09:57
Stay as long as you like!
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Fri 12 Nov 04 15:41
Christian, so glad to hear you're finally feeling better!
Christian Crumlish (xian) Tue 16 Nov 04 19:02
well, it's taken me longer to get back on the stick than i thought. still a little low energy, but i would very much like to continue this past the realm of pure politics and activism. here's some catching up: Jonl asked: Christian, you quote Kos on "open source politics," something Adam Greenfield has also been writing about (http://extremedemocracy.com/chapters/Chapter12-Greenfield.pdf). How does a software licensing concept relate to poltics, and to your thoughts about "the power of many"? Note also that Micah Sifry wrote about this exact same topic in the current Nation ("The Rise of Open-Source Politics - <http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20041122&s=sifry>). I think people are talking about two different (but related) things when they talk about open-source politics. One is literally the introduction of open-source software into the world of political and electoral technology. Applications we mentioned earlier, such as Civicspace and Advokit exemplify this approach. Most people, however, I think are using the open-source concept as a metaphor to really mean more "open" processes in general. More transparency, more accountability, less secrecy and self-dealing. Others, such as the Well's own <bluefire> point out that we're even further from having a kind of open-source *policy* process in which the masses are able to influence the positions and decisions of politicians and public servants. The grassroots part of the Dean campaign tried to get ideas moving from the fringes into the center, but with little success, imho. I relating it to the power of many by pointing out that something like Firefox could only conceivably threaten Internet Explorer by emerging from the open source Mozilla community that nurtured and improved and bug-tested it. If Microsoft feels threatened by Linux or even by the way that web-application-service-platform sites like Amazon and Google run largely on open-source and open-standards technologies, perhaps there are analogies in the world of politics in which hub-managed command-and-control pyramids may prove vulnerable to the many eyes of an open movement. We'll see. Metaphors are powerful but they have a way of leaving out the tricky bits.
Christian Crumlish (xian) Tue 16 Nov 04 19:07
In (54), Ari said, I don't think I accept the idea that "Blogs are vetted and balanced by other blogs". That may be a good way to find blogs with which you might agree, or that might be interesting reading, but the fact that lots of people believe something or prefer something doesn't make it true or preferable to me. It does worry me that "all of my friends value this" replaces "I have some objective, or reasonably-objective way to evaluate this." I'd question whether external metrics of authority have ever been objective or even reasonably objective, but I grant that "emergent authority" is an alien and worrisome concept for those of us who grew up with experts and encyclopedias and intellectuals and kings and such. I think the idea that blogs are cross-checked by other blogs does not just mean that groups of likeminded people clump together to endorse their own realities but that contrarian and adversarial blogs challenge the assumptions and errors in the blogs they disagree with and in so doing create a tension or a sort of dialectic that can potentially strengthen or make more robust the ideas and information shared online. However, it's always contingent. Even if wikipedia continues to get more and more accurate and correct in some areas, you won't necessarily know if the part you're reading is flawed or was recently vandalized or is an unchecked hoax or something. We may have to get used to the idea of being suspicious of all information that we can't check directly ourselves. In (56) David Kline pointed out If you want to see a real "echo chamber" in action, take a look at how often major media outlets run a story just because other major media outlets have run the same story and deemed it thereby "a story." Look also at how often rumor, unsupported allegation, and outright misinformation is replicated ad nauseum by major media until it becomes conventional wisdom. I have to agree with this. I don't think that traditional professional publishing is in any way immune to groupthink and the promulgation of unexamined assumptions.
Christian Crumlish (xian) Tue 16 Nov 04 19:13
Thanks for the birthday wishes. They tell me life begins at 40, but a few days after my birthday while I was sick with the pseudo-pneumonia my celebration was cut short by the disheartening election results. In a way I was better off in a codeine 'n' antibiotics medicated state as everything seemed so unreal, including the repeat of false hopes earlier in the election day. I don't think tnf is waaay older than me. Although I'm willing to believe 40 is young for the time being.
Christian Crumlish (xian) Tue 16 Nov 04 19:18
Re Jon's last question before my "hiatus": "Christian, Convio makes an interesting case study for technology to support campaigns and nonprofits using a customer relationship management approach. Could you discuss what you learned when you talked to Convio's CEO and looked at their approach?" Mostly what I noticed was that it was part of the .org diaspora that took place after the dotcom bubble crashed. Specifically that Convio founder Vinay Baghat was volunteering at his local public tv station and was appalled at the slips-of-paper approach they were using to track pledges. He realized that the nonprofits often have very low "repeat business" rates and generally don't keep good enough track of their existing supporters, so he imported his knowledge of customer-relationship management software and processes to develop the equivalnet for nonprofits and activist organizations. Instead of tracking customers and trying to upsell them, this software is geared toward involving supporters: yes, getting them to donate (fundraising) but also getting them to pass along alerts and ideally climb the involvement ladder to the point that they are taking actions in the real world to support the mission of the organization. In my book I call this kind of application ARM (for "activist relationship management") software. Going back to the open-source question from before, Convio is proprietary and may eventually be subject to open-source competition. One of the articles I'm working on for Personal Democracy Forum is a straight-up price comparison among many of the major political-consulting / technology service providers.
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