It’s a book, it’s printed on demand

Extreme Democracy by Jon Lebkowsky , Mitch Ratcliffe (Book) in Books > Communication & Media > Media & Politics

Edited by Mitch Ratcliffe and Jon Lebkowsky, Extreme Democracy is a collection of writings by leading thinkers about the Internet’s impact on media and politics. Authors include Joichi Ito, James F. Moore, Clay Shirky, Mitch Ratcliffe, Steven Johnson, Ken White, Valdis Krebs, Ross Mayfield, David Weinberger, danah boyd, Philip J. Windley, Ph.D., Jon Lebkowsky, Adam Greenfield, Britt Blaser, Aldon Hynes, and Adina Levin.

At last, the collection Jon and I edited has made its way to the market. The PDF is free, but if you want the material goodness of a book that can be dog-eared, annotated and referred to with the awe that goes with such pulpy artifacts, you can order a copy for your home library, school library or briefcase.

Nicely put….

Politics from Left to Right: Nashville Noted:

See, on the web, quality doesn’t cost more than junk. Getting up and running isn’t some sort of equipment or cost nightmare. Finding an audience, however, takes a bit of work.

Chris Nolan chimes in on David Weinberger’s quitting his commentator gig at MSNBC. The discussion over at David’s blog is interesting for its almost universal condemnation of the MSM, but there’s no talk about the coup de gràce that an alternative media might apply to the bad old media. When the quiet discourse that Chris describes happening in post-Crossfire political discussions on the Web takes audience away—in the sense that it attracts a large audience on a regular basis that is measurable—then the media will actually follow the public and deliver a reasoned debate instead of screaming matches.

Can a thousand stars shine for long with no craft services table?

The Huffington Post is Arianna Huffington’s new blublication, staffed by an astonishing array of stars, journalists and commentators.

It’s easy to get a few postings from folks, but with no fees for the work it will be hard for the publication to sustain its “staff” of 300. Nevertheless, this is one of the most interesting efforts to come along in the application of blogging and RSS (though somewhat limited RSS, according to Dave, who doesn’t like the Atom placement). We’ll see what management chops Ms. Huffington brings to the game.

Steven Johnson’s excellent new book

Everything Bad is Good for You, the new book by Steven Johnson is a great read; I recommend it for anyone worried that we’re melting the culture with games, TV and movies.

The basic argument, that we’re learning complex problem-solving skills from the media we use, especially games and television, which are offering increasingly sophisticated narrative challenges. Johnson offers the ideas of probing and telescoping, the process of testing the rules in a situation and applying that knowledge to find creative solutions.

It will certainly be attacked as a naive defense of popular culture by those who don’t take the time to read. Johnson’s use of The Apprentice as a kind of the lowest common denominator rising to provide more complex narrative and information challenges compared to the “worst” programming of earlier eras will raise hackles, but his point is a sound one. We actually participate in much more complex thinking about the characters and conflicts than we did watching Gilligan’s Island.

There are some aspects of his argument that I don’t think hold up. He explains about presidential candidates appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show:

You can’t get a sense of a candidate’s mind reading skills [Johnson’s description of a candidate’s ability to appear empathetic] by watching them give a memorized stump speech, or seeing their thirty-second ads, or God knows reading their campaign blog posts. But what does give you that kind of information is the one-on-one television interview format—Meet the Press and Charlie Rose, of course, but probably more effectively, Oprah, because the format is more social and free-flowing.

Having covered some inspired political speakers, I disagree. I’ve watched an audience fall in love with a great speaker. That hasn’t changed since the time of Lincoln or Pericles, rather there are other venues in modern media in which even poor political performers are able to give the impression they have empathy for ordinary people.

A worthwhile read. Highly recommended.

What I’ve done now….

Another upgrade to the blog server and another change in this thing. After having launched RatcliffeBrowse under a different URL, I decided to roll it in here. There’s no reason why you should have to visit multiple sites or read more than one RSS feed.

The PSP is the next AM radio?

The New York Times > Business > Media & Advertising > Advertising: Latest Promotion Vehicle Is a Hand-Held Media Device. Will Anyone Watch?:

AS advertisers struggle to reach increasingly distracted and jaded American consumers, they have sought nontraditional vehicles for their ads, from elevators to cellphone screens.

Now Sony has given advertisers another venue to try: its PlayStation Portable, or PSP, a sleek hand-held game system that also plays movies and music.

Following on my Is the PSP the next iPod posting of last week, the ad world is already glomming onto the PSP for its video playback capability.

I am using my computer differently

Having installed Tiger, the new Mac OS X, and run it for a few days, I can say that Spotlight is changing the way I use the computer. The Finder, while I use it for organizing files, is irrelevant to finding those files later. Once they go into a folder, files are easily retrieved from the Spotlight search interface.

The widgets are a nice, if borrowed (read “stolen,” from Konfabulator) touch and Mail is much improved, mostly because of Spotlight integration—Smart mailboxes are a godsend. Safari would replace my RSS aggregators if it included a utility for importing OPML or existing RSS subscription lists and better support for podcasts.

One thing I had hoped, though, was that the problem I’ve had with the Display Preferences panel popping up repeatedly in short bursts during the day would be resolved by this upgrade. I cannot figure out what’s up with this. Reseating connectors and changing screen resolution have done nothing to resolve the problem.