New Media

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A Flood of Downing Street E-mail Alerts

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I've been flooded this week with e-mail notices about the upcoming Downing Street Memo Congressional hearings being held tomorrow initiated by Representative John Conyers (D-MI).

I think it's interesting to watch how these progressive grassroots organizations have helped keep this issue alive through the Internet. I'll pass along all of these e-mails for you to read through down below.

I used to consume about 90 minutes of political news a day, but I've parsed that down to about 10 minutes of scanning headlines per day with the rest of my 30 minutes of spent surfing blogs covering the New Media movement.

I pick up the slack by scanning the titles of e-mails that I'm sent by a number e-mail lists (mostly progressive but a few conservative).

If more opposition Congressmen and Senators pick up on this, then this story could have legs -- especially if more documentary evidence or testimony turns up tomorrow. Otherwise this story will have a hard time breaking out of progressive anti-war circles and into the mainstream consciousness.

I personally think the Downing Street documents contain some pretty compelling circumstantial evidence that the Bush Administration never took the United Nations weapons inspection process seriously. It reinforces the hypothesis that the US only went through the UN because Tony Blair's demanded it as one of two conditions for being a part of the Coalition of the Willing -- (the other being a concrete plan for Israel & Palestine).

The UK takes International Law seriously, and the US political establishment and therefore media don't think it's all that important. But these latest memos have helped introduce these International Law issues into the US media bubble where they have been almost universally ignored leading up to the war and up to the present moment.

After the Congressional resolution passed in early October 2002, war was seen as inevitable by the US media and the inconsistencies in the Bush administration's arguments presented at the UN and the ones presented at home were largely overlooked by a myopic US media.

A more detailed overview is here and here are all of my blog postings tagged International Law.

Plenty more about the latest Downing Street developments can be found in the flood e-mails listed below...

kentbye's picture

Citizen Journalism Implications of Blog Doc Controversy

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(UPDATE 6/7/05 6:08p.m. -- John Hart has posted a public reply on his website, and I'm a bit speechless. It is certainly not a very rational response to the whole situation. Below were my thoughts on what I saw developing with the project independent of any outside influence or input from Chuck Olsen.)

There could be a bit of a PR nightmare brewing for the 59 Bloggers documentary in pre-production that I mentioned a few days ago. Independent filmmaker Chuck Olsen titled his film Blogumentary and expressed concern to the 59 Bloggers director John Hart that there might be some confusion over loosely throwing around the "Blogumentary" meme on his site.

Hart sent back a curt e-mail telling Olsen, "Please don't bother me with this bullshit nonsense." Then Olsen published an excerpt from Hart's e-mail on his blog. Hart apparently threatened Olsen with some type of legal action for publishing the e-mail.

Then David Weinberger -- one of the potential interviewees for the 59 Bloggers film -- responded to the controversy by saying, "I've seen how this new guy responds to a civil inquiry, I have asked him to drop me from his list of interviewees."

Hart then backtracked and removed all references to "Blogumentary" on his website -- along with a lot of other background information. Here's Olsen's archival screenshot.

At this point, we're only hearing Olsen's side of the story because Hart is not keeping a production blog (Bad PR on Hart's part).

So I see four lessons for citizen journalism from this little episode:

1.) There's a difference between social capital and normative standards and institutional capital and legal standards
2.) There are ethical and legal issues with publishing e-mail correspondence
3. ) This may have implications for establishing credibility and building trust with potential interviewees for citizen journalists
4.) It's bad to write something in an e-mail correspondence that you wouldn't want published in The New York Times.

More details below...

kentbye's picture

iPod Catching & RSS Casting of MP3s

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Over in the comment sections of the Personal Democracy Forum podcasting page, etherson points out that MP3's posted to a website without an RSS feed are not really "podcasts." Podcasting could be better described as catching MP3's on your iPod by subscribing to a RSS syndication feed -- rather than casting MP3's out. The "casting" is really describing the RSS syndication aspect of the MP3 file, and the iPod is there just receiving the file -- you don't even have to have an iPod to receive or listen to podcasts.

As ZDnet's David Berlind says:

The incredibly ironic thing about the term podcasting is that the iPod pretty much stinks as a device that you’d "cast" your audio from. In no way does it come ready to record audio. For that, you need to add third party products to it and even after you do that at some reasonable cost, you’ll end up with limitations in the quality of audio you can record.

So even though there are lots of cool things you can do with an iPod, the fact that the iPod is associated with being able to easily record and "cast" out audio is a bit of a misnomer. It's a bit of a marketing coup for Apple that putting MP3's in RSS feeds is being widely described as "podcasting."

The podcasting revolution really has more to do with other technological innovation that has brought the barrier to entry for broadcasting audio completely down. Doc Searls told me in an intervew at PDF that people now how the power to produce their own culture, and that the centralized points of mass media-produced culture are going away.

The Personal Democracy Forum podcasting operation fell into the trap of posting MP3s on their site without the RSS feed aspect of it, and it caused a bit of a ruckus in the comments section.

kentbye's picture

Bridging the Technology & Filmmaking Gap

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My wife just asked me why I'm posting so many details about the mundane day-to-day stuff that I'm dealing with.

The first reason is for transparency sake -- Sometimes I'm debugging a problem and the site goes silent. I think it's better to keep everyone informed with what's going on even when there bad news or if I'm pulling my hair out trying to get something to work that probably has a really simple solution.

I also assume that a lot of the people reading this are skimming the posts for what they find interesting.

I also wanted to document the process for how I go about making this film for others who might want to try a similar approach.

kentbye's picture

Drupal's Promising Adoption Rate

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Here are a few reassuring observations that I'll pass along. There seems to be a lot of buzz building around Drupal. Moby now uses Drupal for his website -- his webmasters have done a great job making it "Not look like Drupal." Dan Gillmor launched his new project Bayosphere on Drupal, and explains why here. There's also of course.

Here's a list of Drupal sites & CivicSpace sites

kentbye's picture

Grant Strategy for Future of New Media Video

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Another reason why I'm cutting together a short video featuring many leaders of the new media movement is because my film advisor Brian Newman suggested that I reach out to the film world with what I'm doing.

I don't think the film industry understands folksonomy, Drupal, wikis, open source & non-hierarchical grassroots collaboration. Brian informs me that they understand short videos or audio pieces that are incorporated into the site. It's hard for film folks to digest a lot of the other stuff that I've been writing about.

So I'm working on a short film that can provide some metaphors for what I'm trying to accomplish with this site that can appeal to a broader audience. I've had a number of people tell me, "I read your blog, but I can't understand what you're talking about." Having other people say what I've been writing about should provide some useful metaphors.

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Themes for the Future of New Media

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Using the tagging technique in Final Cut Pro described here, I was able to come up with a number of major themes from the interviews that I conducted with 13 leaders of the new media movement at the Personal Democracy Forum.

* Internet revolution was in the Demand Side and not just the Supply Side.
* Audience are not just consumers, they're now producers
* Audiences can now supply their own demand.
* Audience wants more choice and control
* Markets are conversations
* Journalism is becoming more of a conversation than a lecture.

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Killer CivicSpace Apps on the Horizon

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I attended a CivicSpace User Summit in NYC after the Personal Democracy Forum, and there were a couple of really exciting expansions to the Drupal/CivicSpace platform coming down the pipe.

The first was OpenNetwork.TV that CivicActions was contracted to do. OpenNetwork.TV is still password protected, but we got a sneak peak at the user summit. WOW! It's going to take what's possible with Drupal/CivicSpace to the next level.

UPDATE: CivicSpace Labs is not responsible for the development of the Drupal modules for CivicActions' Aaron Pava merely gave us a demo of at the CivicSpace User Summit.
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Cline's Upcoming Analysis & Scaling Collaborative Journalism

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Dr. Cline informs me that his analysis of The Echo Chamber's Jay Rosen's interview is nearing completion and will be posted here soon.

Cline's long-form analysis are well-suited for his Rhetorica blog, and it will definitely be helpful to me in finding the emergent themes within the 40+ hours of interview footage.

In the larger context of this collaborative, open source project, long-form analyses would only be scalable to a couple of dozen participants. If 30 or 100 or 1000 people wanted to start doing similar analyses, then it'd start to be just as much work to condense the analyses into actionable information than it would to condense the actual interviews into a coherent film.

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Rise of Stand-Alone Video Journalism

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JD Lasica links to an interview from Lost Remote talking about the rise of stand-alone video journalists.

LOST REMOTE: What is a video journalist?
ROSENBLUM: A Videojournalist is a television reporter who works alone with a small digital camera and laptop edit the way a print journalist works with a pad and pencil or a laptop. This is about reporting and authorship. As anyone can pick up a pencil and paper and try to write (or a typewriter or a wordprocessor), so we also encourage anyone with the urge and a vision to pick up a camera and an edit system and see that they can make. This is, after all, how most writers get started. TV should be the same.
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