June 16, 2009
I was stunned at how poor the Iran coverage was on cable news over the weekend. Then I saw this thought from Matthew Yglesias:
Whenever I find myself talking about new media to skeptics of an older generation who worry that the standards online are too debased, I try to remind people that the real debasing came with the rise of multi-channel cable news. In terms of the Iranian elections, the world’s top newspapers have the people on the ground reporting the main facts, and there’s lots of smart analysis from legitimate experts all over the web, but on television if it can’t be captured by two talking heads debating each other it’s like it never happened. (Hat tip to Jason Linkins, who also provided the emphasis.)I had noticed that CNN seems to show an awful lot of discussion between experts over each event -- often much more of that than direct coverage of the event itself But I'd never thought of it in quite the way Matthew puts it. Anyway, I turned on CNN this morning to see whether, for a change, they were covering Iran.
And they were -- kind of. There was some talking head being asked about whether Obama should be taking more of a stand in favor of the protestors. The guy's opinion was that he should.
The picture is being coming clearer. Generally CNN consists of one or more talking heads in a room, taking turns talking about whether the latest news event is being handled in accordance with their personal opinion. Proportionately speaking, there seems to be not all that much actual reporting of facts.
I still don't get the reason why this is happening. Maybe it's because people find it more enjoyable than actual reporting because it's a little like gossiping about the failures of the newsmakers? Or is it that and there's a tiny bit of "human drama" when the talking heads disagree -- kind of a combination of news and reality TV? Or could it simply be that it costs less than actual reporting? (They probably don't even have to pay the talking heads, who are happy to be there to publicize themselves.)
June 15, 2009
If you've been following developments in Iran, and particularly the Internet's essential role in reporting (and supporting) events, I don't have much to add.
If you haven't, I strongly suggest you go to Andrew Sullivan's blog and starting following him now -- as well taking a bit of time to look through his posts from the last couple of days. He's been doing a wonderful job. Far better than any mainstream news outlet, with the possible exception of the NY Times' Lede. (Although the Lede doesn't present as much detail and analysis as Sullivan does -- with the help of his readers and well-chosen links to other sources.)
One of Sullivan's readers sums up the key role Twitter is coming to play:
Ahmadinejad's and Khamenei's websites were taken down yesterday - I saw the latter go down within a couple of minutes because of a DDOS attack organised via Twitter. @StopAhmadi is a good source for tweets on this. The other important use of Twitter has been distribution of proxy addresses via Twitter. This would be how most video and pictures of today's rally have gotten out.
One amazing thing is that it seems at least conceivable that the protests would not have been as successful as they currently appear to be if Twitter didn't exist.
Sullivan suggests wearing green in support of the protesters. I think that's a great idea.
June 09, 2009
Most people reading this blog will know that I am a founder of the company that makes Flyfi.com (basically a vastly improved reboot of the old Goombah site).
In the last couple of weeks we have added enormously to the site, including improved recommendations. If you haven't checked it out, please do!
Here's a note I wrote to introduce it to some high school friends who I recently reconnected with on Facebook:
Hi Everyone. You may remember me playing my guitar in the hallowed halls of B.H.S. In college I became interested in math & computer technology, and in recent years, I've come full-circle by finally merging my interests. I've co-founded a music-oriented Internet startup. Our product is FlyFi.
Our VP/Industry Relations who, in a former life, earned 10 Grammy nominations as a producer, is now dedicated to using his industry connections for getting us the highest quality free music collection on the Internet. We've got great indie artists like Ani DiFranco, some well-known, others up-and-coming. Unlike some of our competing services you don't just hear the music for free -- you can also download many tracks as free legal MP3's.
My area of focus is our music recommendation technology, which lets you type in artists you like and get music out that you'll probably also like. I love music from many genres, from the Beatles to Beethoven to John Coltrane to Leonard Cohen. But I think there are underlying commonalities in the music I most love, regardless of genre. So we have statistical algorithms that try to find music that has those commonalities for each person's tastes.
Over the last 6 weeks or so, I've been completely wrapped up in putting the finishing touches on the first full release of FlyFi (which is why some of you may have noticed that my Facebook communication flow has dropped pretty much to zero). It's out now, ready for your perusal.
So, if you love music, go check out FlyFi.com!
June 06, 2009
One of my more unusual pastimes is making up Tom Swifties. Examples of my efforts in this area include:
"She said I look like a common farm animal!" Tom said sheepishly.and
"Those damned cannibals! They're seasoning us with lemon juice!" Tom said sourly.
The NY Times is having Tom Swifty contest this weekend. Submissions include:
"My men will never mutiny," said the Captain blithely."
In the esthetic of the Tom Swifty, I believe that significant demerits apply to those where the description of the act of speaking doesn't really match the tone of what is said, such as this Times submission:
"She's got my photo in her locket," said Tom independently.
and this one:
"What's under this green jello," Tom asked sublimely.
Here are two particularly fine submissions, from Chris Doyle:
"I'll just have to kill the king," Reggie sighed.
"May I have this dance?" Fred asked gingerly.”