Archive for May, 2011

How adulthood actually works

May 31, 2011 Leave a comment

David Brooks on the way adulthood works: “Most successful young people don’t look inside and then plan a life. They look outside and find a problem, which summons their life…. Most people don’t form a self and then lead a life. They are called by a problem, and the self is constructed gradually by their calling.”

Engaging the paper’s site

May 25, 2011 Leave a comment

I would engage much more deeply with our city paper’s website if 1) a long-time subscriber like me didn’t have to pay again to use the archive, which feels unfriendly to one’s best customers, and 2) the writers of the most thoughtful and well-written letters to the editor were given guest blog spots for a month or two, greatly extending the range of voices on the site.

Links for the May 2011 FACET presentation on radio essays

May 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Michiana Chronicles archive with 465 essays in full text and two years of audio.

WVPE Listener Commentary audio archive. [Or, at the WVPE home page: Click on Programs > Audio Archive]

Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations directory with links.

Six radio essays by Eileen Bender: Political PinLame Duck CitizensFillibusterPetitionChildren’s BooksInauguration Tales

Taxonomy of linking

May 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Needed: a taxonomy of the many kinds of links that could then help us explore their differing value for users and their various roles in civic and other collaborative work.

For example, in his article on Matt Drudge’s linking skills, David Carr links to sites with a stake in the practice of linking rather than, say, to writers with ideas about how linking works. He uses the web’s linking power to point to examples, then, rather than to enter explicitly into a sort of a conversation, underway for several years, about his topic.

His article does link and does have a place in the useful history of writing about how linking works. But his own linking practice in this piece (possibly dictated by his employer, the NY Times) suggests, perhaps attracts or even helps to shape, an audience more likely to feel informed about the topic than to engage in its development. If so, then Carr’s links may quietly support the authority of the paper and neglect the collaborative possibilities that are already alive in the topic.

That’s a very quick example, I hope, of taxonomy at work: seeing the types, then considering the value of their differences. This is a small extension of yesterday’s posting on Carr’s piece. Earlier today on Twitter, @Chanders @harrisj and @markcoddington were stirring on this topic of linking.

Link logic

May 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Send them away, send them all away… The logic of sending people away from your site, as practiced by the Drudge Report.  David Carr explains their success this way:

A big part of the reason he is such an effective aggregator for both audiences and news sites is that he actually acts like one. Behemoth aggregators like Yahoo News and The Huffington Post have become more like fun houses that are easy to get into and tough to get out of. Most of the time, the summary of an article is all people want, and surfers don’t bother to click on the link. But on The Drudge Report, there is just a delicious but bare-bones headline, there for the clicking. It’s the opposite of sticky, which means his links actually kick up significant traffic for other sites.

I’ve lived the Drudge effect. Over a decade ago, I was working at, a media news site, and wrote about a poll that had taken place on one of the presidential candidates’ planes that seemed to suggest a liberal bias among the campaign press. Mr. Drudge liked it, for obvious reasons. Our servers melted as we stood back in wonder, staring at what the linked economy meant and how one guy in a fedora seemed to know something we didn’t. He still does.

Via Jay Rosen, who is probably quoting his partner Dave Winer in this tweet: “People come back to places that send them away.”

In 2005, Winer wrote:

Now the fundamental law of the Internet seems to be the more you send them away the more they come back. It’s why link-filled blogs do better than introverts. It may seem counter-intuitive — it’s the new intuition, the new way of thinking. The Internet kicks your ass until you get it. It’s called linking and it works.

People come back to places that send them away. Memorize that one.

Winer also refers to this older formulation of the matter.

Carr’s article displays the sometimes not-very-ambitious approach to linking of some newspapers. The NY Times always links to other articles by the same author, no matter the topic, so that’s there at the start. But in the body of the article, we see five links to sites that have sought large audiences, such as the Washington Post–in other words, examples. But his article is about linking as a strategy, a topic that has been addressed for years in the blogosphere and elsewhere. No links to that region here, however. So the Times takes a pretty mechanical view of linking in this piece, linking to people and organizations, not to concepts in collaborative development. Yet isn’t the heart of the web not mechanical links to organizations but the movement of concepts to and fro? In other words, if you link to the wrong thing, the static thing, you prove that you’re not getting it. Not getting the living web.

Facebook for your next political action

May 12, 2011 Leave a comment

More than 49,000 people tell Facebook that they will attend Saturday’s class-related metro protest in Brazil.

The silence of others

May 11, 2011 Leave a comment

The powerful love the silence of others, and the powerful love to listen. On 5/11/11, Freedom ♡ (@tweets4peace) writes:

“#childhoodmemories Probably before learning my abc I knew I couldn’t say a word about Syrian politics or Assad family.” [ ]

And this:

“Families have been asked to go into the streets as homes are searched. Also many state security are situated on top of the buildings. #syria” [ ]

Three tweets on little messages that matter

May 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Emily Bell on “the live updating stream of thought and reaction” that is available to most of us: @EmilyBell

This “live updating stream of thought and reaction” matters as it hooks into lives, groups, and institutions. @EmilyBell

Schools in a democracy should teach citizens how to create “little messages that matter” in this way.

One ring to rule them all

May 10, 2011 1 comment

Žižek on the ongoing commercialization, that is, destruction, of the Open Web, where “Everything thus becomes accessible, but only as mediated through a company which owns it all.” Via @evgenymorozov. Some, such as Dave Winer, call this the creation of a silo or walled garden.

Amplify, celebrate, harness

May 6, 2011 Leave a comment

I notice that the Guardian’s editorial this week celebrating 190 years of the paper’s existence manages to stay calm about what to call these people who participate in new ways in the work of informing others. In the last paragraph, the writer acknowledges that in this time of industry revolution, the names change, necessarily, as roles change, calling “users” those who an earlier generation of journalists would have called “readers” and noting that whatever their name they are not so interested in the largely passive role that papers customarily assigned their readers. Still calm, the editorial writer asserts a string of core journalistic values that are unchanged by the upheaval in news distribution, and then the writer quickly and quietly names the more deeply revolutionary fact: that journalism is finding within its grasp “the ability to amplify, celebrate and harness other voices” that would previously have found no audience and no civic use.

The passage itself:

In March the Guardian was read by the largest audience in its history – more than 49 million unique users, as Scott didn’t call his readers. He thought of his paper as a pulpit. Readers today are less taken with sermons. Technology has revolutionised the way news is distributed – but also the ability to amplify, celebrate and harness other voices. The next 10 years – between now and our bicentenary – will see even more rapid and radical changes in the media. It is good to pause and reflect that the things that matter most – truthfulness, free thought, honest reporting, a plurality of opinion, a belief in fairness, justice and, most crucially, independence – do not change.

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has been refining his claims for the new journalism in a series of speeches over the last few years, including one in which he describes a new “joint authority” that no doubt owes its power to the traditional skills of professional journalists, the tools that create opportunities for worthy acts of independent reporting as well as collaboration by tens of thousands of non-professionals, and the additional value that can be created when the professionals help amplify and perhaps even guide that reporting alongside their own.