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Business

She returns

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After six days, Princess Leia has returned home. She had some sort of adventure, is missing her collar but is sleeping happily on her familial bed.

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Brilliant Human Achievement

That's some symbolism

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Crosses vandalized at antiwar mom’s Texas camp site – Yahoo! News:

A pickup truck ran over wooden crosses erected at anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan’s campsite on Monday night, in the latest sign of tension over the peace vigil outside vacationing President George W. Bush’s Texas ranch.

Now that’s the right for you—if they don’t agree with someone’s criticism of the President, they run over a bunch of crosses representing the fallen in Iraq. Where, exactly, is the limit of decency for these “patriots”? I see now, that they must go this far, what they are fighting must be truly horrible.
A mother grieving over her son must be treated with no mercy…. As Bush told the Austin Statesman on Saturday of his need to put the Sheehan controversy behind him: “I have to get on with my life.” Thank God there was a patriot with a pickup truck to send that message to selfish Cindy Sheehan. Thank God.

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Impolitic Life

Back on the radio, again

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I spent an hour with Rob and Dana Greenlee on WebTalk Radio last week. Hear here.

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Impolitic Life

Evolve to last, revolt to take just one shot at change

<![CDATA[The Doc Searls Weblog : Saturday, August 13, 2005: Answering my comments of the other day, Doc says:

The only way that works, until we build the tech to make it happen in a better way, is voluntary payment, which supports both public radio and Doug’s IT Conversations.

I think the best first step is to make that as easy and efficient as possible.

Meanwhile, most of us will make do with the familiar inefficiencies of what we’ve known all our lives.

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Amen, generally we do not revolt, we evolve. Doc and I have had this conversation several times in person, too. He’s a wise guy, as compared to a wiseguy, but I want to point out that there are several approaches that are already breaking down the barriers to access to premium content, including my longtime friends at Audible, which added Opie and Anthony during the last few days.

All payment is voluntary, the challenge is finding the right combination of payment, convenience and reach that enables a creative person or group thrive (not just survive) on their work.

Doc also quotes extensively from Doug Kaye’s recent essay on public radio, which includes this passage:

Podcasting is to public radio what Garage Band and Pro Tools are to the music industry. Large recording studios are closing left and right because musicians – good ones – can produce great music in small project studios or even in their apartments. Moby is just one of the better-known examples. But more important than the stars are all the lesser-known artists. Because of iTunes and GarageBand.com, a significant portion of the market is shifting towards the long tail. The traditional music industry can only survive to the extent that it can support these new forms of production and distribution, and the same is true for public radio.

The distribution component is only part of the challenge, folks. At ON24 we gutted the production economies of broadcast news and still couldn’t make the system fly because there was not a sufficiently large number of advertisers or paying audience willing to embrace an economic model that would support the delivery of news. We found broadcast television producing at a cost of, at a very minimum, $8,500 and managed to do the same quality content for 1/10th that price; we drove the production of audio reports below the typical cost of an NPR piece. But it still didn’t fly, because we were not asking for enough from the market for the value we created—we got what we asked for, but it wasn’t enough. And we never asked the viewer to pay, though we might have done so and been laughed at, because most of the audience won’t pay, thinking advertising should support their programming, even as they pay subscription fees for magazines full of advertising.

I think we have a very long way to go, but the direct payment approach is just one way to solve the problem. We need economic models that justify what companies for advertising in order to reach people with specific interests, not just one miraculous solution.

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The world is for- and not-for-profit; most of the debate about content these days is “free” vs. “fee,” when we need to look at the whole spectrum for models that fit the whole catalog of human knowledge.

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Business

Princess Leia is missing

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Our dog, Princess Leia (we have a guinea pig named “Ewok,” too) is missing. She got out of the yard, past the subterranean electronic dog fence and all, a couple days back. If you’re anywhere near Lakewood, Washington, and see a white standard poodle on the loose, drop me a line. The kids are frantic.

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Brilliant Human Achievement

You Republican singles be careful….

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Brilliant Human Achievement

Platitudes from the ranch

<![CDATA[Bush to mother who lost son in Iraq: ‘I grieve’ – Yahoo! News:

“I grieve for every death,” Bush said as Cindy Sheehan remained camped out about five miles away. For six days she has been demanding Bush meet with her about her son, Casey Austin Sheehan, an Army specialist killed in combat in Baghdad in April 2004.

“It breaks my heart to think about a family weeping over the loss of a loved one. I understand the anguish that some feel about the death that takes place,” Bush said.

But, he added, “Pulling the troops out would send a terrible signal to the enemy.”

The President needs to recognize that “grieving” is a shared experience, so saying that he grieves while refusing to face the woman whom he is talking about is the kind of cowardice that typifies tyrants. America, as a democracy, has a tradition of sharing burdens. That is what makes the country great. We pull together.
When President Bush links the demands of a mother to his foreign policy decisions, he demonstrates how completely he sets himself apart from the nation he purports to lead. If, instead of hiding military deaths (Bush hasn’t attended any funerals for the fallen in Iraq or allowed photographs of the dead returning home in caskets) Mr. Bush walked among the grieving who are angry with him, talked with them and made peace with them—which is the peace they need and want, not for a pullout of troops from a country that has been pushed into chaos by his policies—that would be an act of leadership.
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I’m reading The Bonus Army, by Paul Dickson and Thomas B. Allen, about the WWI vets who marched on Washington beginning in 1932 to get their veterans’ benefits and am struck by the parallels. The Hoover administration pressured the newsreel companies not to report on the Bonus Marchers, so the public did not see the squalid conditions in which these men and their families were living. Hoover holed up in the White House until he authorized a botched military job of evicting the marchers led by the always dangerous Douglas MacArthur, even as the marchers were already in the process of moving out peacefully under the guidance of a humane D.C. police chief and former WWI general, Pelham Glassford.
At one point, a Washington dame grande laments that Warren G. Harding wasn’t alive, because he would have waded into the crowd and made each man a friend with a short speech instead of hiding away from the veterans. Bush, like Hoover, is crafting a society of the rich few served by the many and cannot fool the people with pronouncements about his compassion from behind the walls of his ranch.

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Brilliant Human Achievement Impolitic Life

It seemed like just good fun until someone got killed….

<![CDATA[The Doc Searls Weblog : Thursday, August 11, 2005:

I believe the cause is one I’ve been harping on for many years: a fatal split between commercial broadcasting’s customers and consumers. If Dave and I (and millions of others) actually paid CNN directly for their goods, they’d feel more accountable. They’d have a real market relationship with real people, and not with numbers from a ratings book.

Okay, I read Dave’s lament, too, and while I agree with him that CNN is awful, I can’t help thinking that he has lectured people on the evils of commercializing podcasts, castigated blogs for inserting advertising, and generally fought any effort to link the news to the economic incentives that would provide producers with direct feedback.
So, for all the folks who rag on MSM and at the same time decry any effort to attach a business model to content: how the fuck are you guys going to pay for the news so that the news providers can reestablish the connection with customers? Last I heard, a person who isn’t paying is not a customer.
Yes, the media companies involved add a lot of overhead to the delivery of news. Yes, there are perspectives embedded in the news because it is impossible to perceive an event without interpreting it. Yes, yes, yes, there are problems galore. But I don’t buy that a wikinews article (like this or this) that relies on “facts” grabbed from other news sources is “reporting”—it’s editing, but that’s what so many bloggers and podcasters say they want to do without.
Collecting data from other sources isn’t reporting. Pressing public relations events on bloggers isn’t more democratic, it’s the extension of old propaganda techniques to another layer of influencer. Syndicating self-referential musings (like my own) doesn’t constitute a new paradigm, just more of the same bad writing/content that we’re choking on at CNN. (The “This is CNN” bumpers on programming might as well be “I am a blogger, hear my personal brand roar,” because every time a blogger condemns “MSM” they do so at the peril of parodying themselves.)
The ironies pile up so fast in the midst of this rapid evolutionary phase in the history of media that I get seasick reading about how bad some media is and other media isn’t, when it all is the same old shit. Going to make your own news is very different than reporting it; so let’s be clear about the distinction between action and journalism. If you want to be famous for changing the world, choose how you are going to do it. The metalogue about media evolution, alas, is rife with poor metaphor, loose logic and shoddy economics.
Yes, I realize I have a bad attitude, though I base these comments on actually having tried or actually having built a few media businesses and it isn’t easy, ever, no matter how the economics have changed.
Once someone acknowledges that good reporting is valuable and needs to be compensated in a form that lets people dedicate their lives (I mistyped “livers” at first, then realized that alcohol was always important in the newsroom, so, yes, we must dedicate our livers, as well) to pursuing stories personally, with all the wasted time that goes with tracking down the facts and finding their significance, then we might begin to have a serious discussion about the new market relationships.
There’s nothing on the line, folks, because no one can hope to earn their livelihood in a world without business models. So, without resorting to a call for universal amateurism that requires discarding the economic system we live in today (the typical “boil the ocean” business plan), I reiterate my question: How do you create a measurable connection between producer and customer, one with sufficient transparency and give-and-take that enables a debate that would actually improve the value, truth and usefulness of the news today?

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Brilliant Human Achievement

Judicial independence at risk, says Justice Breyer

<![CDATA[law.com – Article:

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer said Tuesday in Chicago that rulings on difficult subjects like gay rights and the death penalty have left courts vulnerable to political attacks that are threatening judicial independence.

Breyer urged lawyers to help educate people about court responsibility to be an independent decision-maker.

“If you say seven or eight or nine members of the Supreme Court feel there’s a problem … you’re right,” he told the American Bar Association. “It’s this edge on a lot of issues.”

Following a liberal era, which was ironically focused and consummated by Earl Warren, a Republican appointee, the Supreme Court has become the target of neoconservative investment—in getting justices placed on the court and influencing debates within the court—in order to reverse the rulings of the past 50 years.
Unfortunately for the neocons, the rulings of the middle and late 20th Century do reflect the American mainstream and were not the result of politicking by liberals. To insist that justices appointed today reflect a strictly neocon fundamentalist position is at odds with longstanding complaints of judicial activism the Right has used to attack Democratic-appointed judges because those views are held by a small minority of the population.
The typical American is flexible and, basically, liberal—believing in an individual’s right to choose their course on topics of controversy rather than allowing the state to dictate the limits of choice in opinion, birth, death and everything else that defines our lives—and not interested in living in a society made by a Christian fundamentalism.

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Business

Vacated, at last

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I spent the last week in the car and at Disneyland with the kids. We surprised my daughter on her birthday with a card that said “Let’s go to Disneyland, get in the car.” The car was packed and, except for a lot of calls and a meeting on the way, I actually took time off for the first time in several years.

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It’s surprising how much thinking you can get done on a 17-hour drive from Anaheim to home. My kids are amazed I took time away from the office, not to mention that Disneyland is a magical place where Dad doesn’t say “No” anywhere near as often.]]>