Election Coverage

At work until 2 a.m. last night managing the web-publishing component of the J-School’s 2002 election coverage. A huge effort – 60 students, 6 editor/professors, and 4 web techs. It all came down in the end to a real-life test of Movable Type in action, which passed with flying colors, despite a few limitations.

Amazingly, references to the O’Reilly blog entry found it’s way into a bunch of blogs today, resulting in birdhouse.org hitting #16 on blogdex, a first.

From there, discovered that scripting.com’s Dave Winer had totally misunderstood the point of our Movable Type project. My article was called “Fooling Movable Type.” His rejoinder was called “Who’s the Fool?,” which I found personally insulting. His choice of words is probably an indirect result of the fact that I didn’t choose his product Radio back when I was selecting blogging software for the J-School’s intellectual property class. Ironically, he’s the one who now looks the fool, since he apparently didn’t read my ORA piece very carefully – not sure how else he could have conflated our election coverage with the IP/weblog class discussed at ORA a few months ago.

This is significant because his criticism of our project assumes that ours is a blogging project, when it is not. We are producing collective news coverage of elections, and he is suggesting that each student author be given his/her own blog. Dave has absolutely no idea how intense the evening was, how many people are running around yelling, making corrections, updating stories over and over again. It was all we could do to keep it together as well as we did under one roof, and he’s suggesting we distribute the project among 60 separate blogs, aggregating them together at run-time. All I can say is, “Whatever.” Dave’s misunderstanding of the nature of our project is profound, but he nevertheless has the cojones to ask “Who’s the Fool?”

The mind reels.

I’m very proud of the 2002 election site – we published a good looking, well-oiled site in record time with experimental tools.

Music: Man or Astro-Man? :: Fractionalized Reception Of A Scrambled Transmission


Rented a disc of Groucho Marx’ old TV show “You Bet Your Life” b/w The Red Skelton Show. So strange the way the pacing of media and the national sense of humor have changed. You can see it looking back through every decade – get back to Hee Haw reruns and they’re barely funny, though I remember the family gathering around the tube in the 70s to watch Hee Haw and laugh… hard to imagine now what we thought was so rip-roaring.

We think of Groucho as some kind of genius, but his humor is actually banal by today’s standards, and the pace of the show is so slow. At the beginning the camera sits on a placard bearing his name for a full 15 seconds as Mr. Music Man plays a charming ditty — it’s excruciating to eyeballs fried by 21st century shotgun media. If someone appeared today working with Groucho-style humor and pacing, no one would notice.

Music: Cardiacs :: Cry Wet Smile Dry

Jackass, The Awful Truth

Last night went to see Jackass with Mike – first time out of the house in the evening without Amy since Miles arrived. Utterly tasteless, retarded, relentless, extreme beyond words. The kind of human horror show from which you can’t avert your eyes. I have a weird admiration for these guys – they don’t seem to think of themselves as artists, even though they warp boundaries by challenging assumptions. Meanwhile, I dislike them for lowering the bar of decency another few notches.

Then tonight rented season #1 of Michael Moore’s old TV show, “The Awful Truth” with Amy – if you never saw it, Moore took the formula from “Roger and Me” — giving big business a hard time — and ran with it. In one episode he gathered a bunch of ex-smokers who had lost their larynxes to cancer or smoking and took them to headquarters of tobacco companies to sing Christmas carols through their voiceboxes. Eery and powerful … just brilliant stuff.
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Danger Blogging

Mike Popovic has set up a communal blog for Danger hiptop users. The hiptop is this little Star Trek Communicator-type gadget with wireless networking, instant messaging, built-in camera, dinky keyboard, phone, entertainment apps, etc. They’re starting to market the hiptop as a way to blog from the road, photos and all.

This communal weblog also converts into a personal weblog system for anyone participating – just click the {*} symbol in the title area of a post to get all posts by that author. AND, just to make things interesting, Ficus and I are organizing a Photo-Scavenger hunt for Halloween. Over 50 folks will be running around, taking pics and posting them to their team blogs (not yet public). right now, they are using the private team blogs to organize themselves into an actual team. i am pretty sure this is a first.

Very cool. Almost enough to get me to consider a new gadget. Must… resist… temptation…

Music: Edith Piaf :: Mon Dieu

RSS at the Christian Science Monitor

I am becoming so dependent on my RSS reader (Net Newswire Lite) that I’m starting to not read sites that don’t provide a feed. It’s just too inconvenient to visit serial bookmarks every day… once you’ve seen the RSS light, it’s hard to go back. Now the Christian Science Monitor has unleashed what may be the largest RSS commitment of any mainstream news organization to date. You can pretty much access the entire publication via RSS now — powerful.

Music: Angelic Upstarts :: The murder of Liddle Towers

Oxygen Is Free

Great quote on the commoditization of words, courtesy the J-School’s not-yet-unveiled weblog on intellectual property (stay tuned):

Clay Shirky on the mass amateurization of publishing and why weblogs are as good as gold:

“Oxygen is more vital to human life than gold, but because air is abundant, oxygen is free. Weblogs make writing as abundant as air, with the same effect on price. Prior to the web, people paid for most of the words they read. Now, for a large and growing number of us, most of the words we read cost us nothing. ”

Music: Sonic Youth :: My Friend Goo

Blogger Hacked

News floating around this morning that the entire Blogger system has been badly hacked. Because it relies on FTP for site publishing and because most people have the same password for FTP as for the rest of their account, tens of thousands of people now have compromised internet accounts. As always, this is the achilles heel of big, centralized systems. This can’t happen to MovableType because there is no centralized server on which the system is based.

Kung-Log w/ iTunes Detection

Ask and ye shall … I asked the author of Kung-Log about the possibility of integrating Kung-Tunes‘ ability to detect iTunes’ current track (have been missing that little twist of LiveJournal hijinx), and he added it in v 1.5.4. Complete with full output format templating (I like simple). Hats off to Adriaan Tijsseling!

Music: King Floyd :: Groove Me

MovableType as CMS

Preparing a database-backed site for J-School students to produce election-night coverage, and it occurred to me that I might not be giving MovableType enough credit as a generic publishing solution rather than pure blogging tool. With some deeper modifications to templates, removal of comments and calendaring, rearranged permalinks etc., there’s no reason MovableType can’t function as a full CMS. The Categories feature plays perfectly for creating “Departments” for the site. So far so good, but there are two problems with the scenario.
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