July 30, 2004
It's Over For the Moment
Technorati has finished the Election Watch site for now. It's not really complete by any means, but we worked 17 days straight on it, didn't finish everything we wanted to, but over the four days of the Democratic Convention, got about 4 million hits, and it was great that everybody worked so hard to make things stable and usable. Some of the guys spent nights in the office to make the deadlines, though most people would stay to the middle of the night, then go home and return early for the next round. Regardless, people gave it everything they had; Technorati folks are an extraordinarily talented and hardworking bunch.
It's nice too that the Republican Convention is a few weeks off, so that we can get back to solving some more of our stability and UI problems so that we can give the kind of service we have to for our users.
In addition, in the middle of that, I had to be away at BlogOn, the conference I helped organize last week at UC Berkeley. Though I spent a significant amount of my time there with three others getting Technorati work done. I hate splitting my time between two very intense projects... and I really felt like over the few days that it mattered.. I did them each in a half-asked manner. They were each 20 hour-a-day events, and I wasn't really giving either of them what they needed. I don't ever want to do that again. It was intensely unsatisfying.
But I'm pleased that despite my lack of singular focus, and doing less than all I could have done, both came off reasonably well. And the best part is now, after 17 days of round-the-clock work, I have three days to work out, recover, get a pedicure, read blogs, go to a couple of parties and movies, hang out with people I love.. and make delicious gourmet treats and drink nice wine.
July 28, 2004
danah boyd on The New Blogocracy
- As a practice, journalism espouses an air of objectivity, purporting to cover all sides of a debate, equally and with emotional distance. While few believe that journalists are unbiased, it is considered a respectable aim of the profession and readers expect them to be as objective as possible. Bloggers, on the other hand, have no such cultural code and their readers rarely hold them accountable for objectivity. In fact, what makes blogging confusing for many is that the practices encompassed by that term are quite diverse.
July 21, 2004
Technorati is Going to The Democratic Convention with CNN
CNN just announced that Technorati will joining them at the Democratic National Convention next week (I'll have a CNN press release to link to soon). Dave Sifry and I will be on-site in CNNís convention broadcast center, where Dave will provide regular on-air commentary on what bloggers are saying about politics and the convention (thousands of them, not just A-listers or convention credentialed bloggers). We are also going live with a politics site. Our new site will make it easier for people to see what political bloggers are saying about the convention and†CNN.com will link to this site, and weíll be updating the CNN site with the latest.
I'm incredibly honored to work with the rest of the folks at Technorati, because they are so good at what they do, even though what we are trying to present about blogs is so hard to do in terms of making blog information make sense to people. But I hope we can live up to your expectations, as bloggers, readers, the Thomas Paine's of the 21st century, as we talk to each to each other, and Technorati attempts to show the incredible conversations that compliment journalism, and adds to the discourse.
I hope we can do you justice and communicate well what blogging is about to people who don't know about this, and why your conversations matter. That they are passionate attempts to connect to people, and be heard, instead of the old consumer/customer model where we just hold our mouths open to passively receive content from mass broadcast media. That now, we are all participants and we want a voice and a place in the discourse at all levels, about whatever any individual blogger cares about, unfiltered, honest, and real. Cross your fingers that we can pull off showing people not on the internet why you matter. We hope we can make you proud.
Also, if you see some interesting post about what's happening at the convention, please email me at mary at hodder.org, with the subject line CONVENTION COVERAGE, because we need good quotes to show how powerful people's ideas are.
For some additional news on the Convention bloggers, see Adam Penenberg's Blogging Against Convention.
July 19, 2004
Social Media Article
Rachel Barron/East Bay Business Times did an article on social media and the BlogOn Conference. The print edition featured a box on BlogOn that is not online. But the article frames my thoughts on social media, as well as Jerry Michalski's, and features many examples of kinds of social media, companies using it as well as difficulties that have come up from not understanding it.
I really appreciate Rachel's work on this, and her featuring me so much, but more importantly, it is one of the first articles I've seen that tries to define social media as a media issue, a technology, and an interaction between people across the web. We need more of that!
July 14, 2004
Thank Goodness For Denise Howell
Whom, I so much want to meet. Last night, I had to miss the Innovation Summit's Fireside Chat with Michael Powell (okay, I heard there were 600 people there - so it must have been a hell of a fire...) due to an emergency. Anyway, her post on what happened is good stuff if you couldn't go, or could and want to continue the discussion in the blogosphere with Michael Powell, who has a new blog (2 posts so far!)
July 10, 2004
The Hughtrain Manifesto
July 06, 2004
Last night when I was walking home, a bus went by with one of those ads on the side. I never read them but for some reason, it caught my eye.
- Washington Mutual. Sign up on line for Free checking. Your chances for success are much higher than with online dating.
Or something to that effect (not sure if those were the exact words, but you get the point). I laughed all the way home. Anyway, I've heard from a couple of people that online dating sites are seeded with women's profiles, because there are so many more men than women. Is this true? The most reliable person who told me works for a company that has a huge site, multiple dating sites, actually, but they don't work in that division. So I'm not sure. I'd love to hear from people though as to whether this is true.
It's a Form of Social Media: Blogging AND Journalism
Blogging vs. Journalism has been done on the web and in on a million panels over the past few years, and it's pretty much been put to rest over the past two years, that it's not an either/or situation, but rather, something where blogs AND journalism need each other and interact pretty closely at this point, at least in an obvious way on the blog side, and in a more opaque way on the journalism side.
Blogs are not at all just one-way in their interaction, unlike journalism which is one way (though a couple of publications like Wired link out, and a few more have started, but it is extremely limited overall and they are still totally clueless about conversing with their audience so that doesn't happen much at all). It is the social interaction of blogs that makes them a conversation, a multi-way interaction, and while few journalism outlets link back, the public is discussing news articles whether journalists like it or not. Journalists can join in, or at least read their readers thoughts on the day the stories come out. Or they can ignore them and be unaware of the conversations as the occur, but it means they are out of the loop with their readers and other reporters who are online blogging and interacting with readers.
Trustability on the internet, particularly with regards to blogs, has been discussed quite a bit on the blogosphere and in traditional media. Basically, whenever any journalist makes a statement dismissing blogs as untrustworthy, they are generally dismissed, at least online, because first of all, blogs are tool, as is newsprint, and what you write is flexible. It can be accurate or inaccurate depending on the person or publication. But all anybody has to to say is "stephen glass" and "jayson blair" and the whole argument is moot (see Adam Penenberg/Wired's article from last week on New Media's Age of Anxiety which covers this issue of the public's ability with the internet to cover journalists and Fisk them if they get it wrong -- Penenberg has a pretty full list of examples of Journalists making things up, including the May 14, 2004 UPI story that references a poll on Journalists relative truthworthiness to other professions, a poll which he says doesn't exist. He was also the journalist at Forbes who broke the Stephen Glass plagiarism story to begin with as well. Also note in his story that he links to everything he can to support what he is saying -- practically a requirement for blogging, but also a form of social interaction, and not often done by journalists, though Wired is one of the few publications to do this -- and they should. I hope he's also checking out who links to his story to see what readers thought about it.)
As far as I am concerned, Doc Searls, Jenny Levine, Ed Felten, Donna Wentworth, Jay Rosen, Ernie Miller and Dan Gillmor are far more trustworthy and accurate in their blogs, and often sources of reporting, than the NY Times will ever be overall, for a couple of reasons. I'd take Ed's analysis of any copyright/security/DRM issue any day of the week of an NYT article on same. Reasons include: Firstly, if they screw up, they print a top of their blogs, an obvious mea culpa, that sits in the same spot on their blogs as the earlier piece they are correcting. Secondly, they have a body of knowledge and expertise that goes deeper than generalist reporters. And thirdly, they are absolutely upfront about their biases, letting readers decide how to take their assertions. Fourthly, their link to their sources to underlay their own authority. I could go on, but you get the point.
This is why I usually refuse to do news stories generally. Because almost everytime, I've been severely burned by inaccuracies by a generalist who is lazy about the big picture, going after something sensationalist instead of what is real -- taking the time to do something well so that the real story is shown for what is interesting about it or might be a bit complicated. Blogs often have to tell and retell, before trad media gets the hint, and then all of the sudden you see the reporters telling the real story in the mainstream press, but they do it as if they existed in a vacuum, with objectivity and no bias. So I find rules journalist's live by, editorial control, etc. to be disingenuous if held up as reasons why traditional journalism is better and more trustworthy than blogs. The bottom line is you are responsible for evaluating anything you read, no matter where it gets published. Doesn't matter if it's newsprint or online.
Also, the way we tell authority across blogs is not yet a set thing, and can include being a longtime reader, a personal recommendation from someone you trust, job status of the writer, inbound links, meme pushing, top 100 lists by other calculations than inbound links, posting history and context, etc. Additionally, to say that bloggers don't have to abide by any rules is false. Say something incorrect or dishonest on the internet, and the blogosphere will go after it with a vengeance and expose it. Matt Drudge already had a bad reputation before the Kerry intern thing, and now he is so dismissed. No one respects him and a lot of people removed him from their RSS readers and blogrolls. So there are far more severe corrective penalties, and far quicker, than what exists in traditional media. Again, it's the social, interactive form of this media, between blogging and journalism, that has led to this environment.
Regarding the issue of whether bloggers have editorial oversight, a few do, so it's not absolute as to what category of writer follows traditional rules, though most bloggers don't have editors. And most of the journalists I know spend most of their time with editors pitching stories, not getting editorial oversight on a finished story. In fact, Katie Hafner, among other journalists, shared a few stories with me, as she had turned them in, that I compared to what was published, and there was very little difference. To me the real issue here with journalists is an unwillingness to be transparent about sources (link to them!) and biases, and yet that attitude is sort of being unwound by blogging anyway, whether they like it or not.
The bottom line is people are fed up with bad journalism and so blogs are a nice complimentary addition to get additional information on a story, fact checking, and for adding more complexity to the discourse. It is because of linking, which is the basis for online conversation across blogs, and our ability to find those who links to us, that makes the blog AND journalism social media equation different than what existed before the internet, between journalism and the public. Journalism used to be a very one-way affair (despite letters to the editor which relied on a big time lag, and a different place for publishing the letters than the articles discussed in the letters -- front page verses page D9). Neither form, blogging or journalism, is a replacement for the other. In fact, they need each other and could not exist or live without each other at this point. Bloggers rely heavily on the reporting done in news stories, and Journalists often rely on stories bubbling up on the blogosphere -- for both framing and a pointer to sources and events. But far more important is the social interaction and increased quality of discourse that occurs now that the internet with the rapid interactive quality of personal publishing is possible with the social technology tool that is blogging, as it mixes with traditional media.
July 02, 2004
Can I Just Say One Thing About My Time?
So Monday night I made a really nice dinner, Merquez lamb sausage, black bean salad with sweet onions and heirloom tomatos, sweet corn and fennel. All farmer's market organic stuff. Yummy. And fresh lemony guacomole, homemade chips, etc. Yummy wine brought back from Spain.
And you know what was so cool? I wasn't tired or guilty of not working! It's sooooo cool because in the past four years, I can't remember cooking anything, and not being either exhausted (read: on break from school) or feeling guilty in some way for not working on something (read: taking a break and worrying about all the work that was due). This is so great! Then, the next night, a SIMS friend (who just started at Yahoo) and I had dinner, which consisted of wine and take out at Delores Park, sitting on the grass watching the fog roll across the city. And I told her about this, and we agreed that again, it was so cool that we could hang out for dinner, without having to go home and work for hours later that night and we weren't tired and it was so easy and fun.
I love this!
danah boyd on social technologies and metaphor
- Sociable technologies are all built on metaphors. They are often an attempt to model a set of practices already known in everyday life. Yet, as models, the technologies are not the same as the metaphors on which they are based. The result is an entirely new form that encourages entirely new practices....
- My frustration with academics, press and conference organizers exists because the primary way to handle these new technologies is to address them in metaphoric terms. This perspective comes from a distanced vantage point.
- What is special (and magnificently more frustrating) about blogs is that they stem from many metaphors, including newspapers/magazines, journals/diaries, and log notebooks. No wonder people are up in arms screaming that it's not like a newspaper, it's like a diary! or vice versa. They're both right and wrong. If you're stuck in a metaphoric understanding of blogging, the conflicting metaphors are problematic and discount your approach to the system....
- This is precisely why it's bloody hard to study/discuss these technologies without being a practitioner. Distance is valuable as a researcher, but it's also limiting. You need to engage with the culture at a deep level in order to study it. Because digital technology cultures are so peculiar, you need to be involved at an intimate level. Being a lurker is just not the same. It is the practice of engaging with these technologies that makes you able to move beyond the metaphor.
Okay, I've practically quoted the whole thing, but you get the idea. You should really read her whole post, as it's the usual insightful social-technical observation from her. And it's why we are having the bootcamp at the BlogOn Conference. Because you can't sit around talking about "rss" or "blogs" or "social networks" as terms when you don't use them, don't know what it means to interact with people through them, don't see personally that by acting one way, or another, what the implications are for those actions.
In fact, I spent two hours on the phone with a business reporter yesterday, explaining what social media is, giving examples, frameworks, exposing to this woman what to her is invisible activity on the web, and yet, upon exposure, she suddenly got a little of it. I was also laying out why companies need to engage with social media so they can converse with the people formerly known as their customers, but the main thing I kept coming back to about the conference was that if you are going to have a business with social media, you must engage personally, and not from a distance.
There is using a social technology to see how the technology works (blog as a tool, social network as a tool, etc) as well as how the interaction is (blog as interaction, social network as interaction between people). They are just tools in a way, but the word, "blog" for example, gets used to describe the tool, the output of a single blogger, the writing within a post, the interaction across blogs, and on and on. The happens because people who are engaging in it, as well as those who are not, need a common word to describe the tool and activity and interaction and output. But blog represents all these very different things, and then of course, what is in a blog user's head, as a framework for the tool and activity and interaction and output is very different than the framework in the head of a non-engager, a lurker who is distanced and unfamiliar with all the aspects "blog" represents.
So the bootcamp is an attempt to get a few people using the tools, interacting with each other in the room through the tools, interacting with those outside the room, and seeing the results. It comes from my belief that using is imperative to understanding the many aspects of these technologies, and from my experience that seeing how exciting the interaction is only comes from using.