Thursday, September 25, 2008

Hack the debate?

Perhaps you've read Dan Gillmor's account of the comeuppance of "poor Joe Nacchio," a financial guy who happened to be speaking at an executive conference in 2002 when bloggers first flexed their muscles.

As Gillmor tells it in the introduction to his book, We the Media (available online), he and a couple other bloggers were live-blogging the event, commenting on Nacchio's speech. When Gillmor and another blogger started pointing out some discrepancies between what Nacchio was saying and what he had done, they noticed the audience started getting hostile. Turns out that a lot of them were following the blogs while listening to Nacchio's speech, and they didn't like what they were reading.

We could see something similar take place via microblogging during this Friday's presidential debate (or town hall session, if McCain pulls a no-show).

Current TV and Twitter are planning to run real-time twitter messages ("tweets") over Current TV's live broadcast of the debate. So instead of just listening, viewers can comment on what's being said and see what others are close to real time.

The Current TV website notes that it will broadcast "as many of your debate tweets as possible right over Obama & McCain, in real time, on our live broadcast."

If you want to take part, all you need is a Twitter account and an internet connection. Then just tweet to your heart's content...and add "#current" to your tweets so they'll be queued for broadcast. You can also follow these tweets by searching #current on Twitter search.

Check it out at:

Saturday, September 06, 2008

No Vista on my horizon

I can see why Microsoft is having to explain their new ad -- the one where Jerry Seinfeld runs into Bill Gates at a discount shoe store. I've already seen it several times many times (they seem to be blanketing the airwaves), and I still don't get the point.

I also don't get why anyone thinks this ad is going to give me warm, fuzzy feelings about Microsoft. Especially not with my latest Microsoft experience.

A couple weeks ago I got a call for help from my brother, a relatively new computer user with a new PC running Vista. He was trying to do something simple: Add a footer to his resume so it would say "page 2 of 2" on the second page. No big deal, right?

Well, apparently not if you have Vista.

It took me several minutes to figure out why my brother couldn't find the footer/header command on the drop-down "view" menu. It was because the menu bar wasn't there. I guess the geniuses at Microsoft decided that MS Word no longer needs a menu bar...which makes it a little more challenging to complete simple tasks.

So I asked my brother to try the keystroke command. No dice. Next, I googled "Vista" and "menu bar" and found a thriving cottage industry online offering software to restore your menu bar in Vista (for a small fee, of course).

My solution? I finally had my brother email mehis resume, so I could add a footer to his resume on my Mac, and send it back. That worked.

Seriously, what were the folks at Microsoft thinking?

I recently attended a WordCamp session (Wordpress, not MS Word) featuring Kathy Sierra, a programming instructor, game developer and blogger. In her presentation, Sierra pointed out that the faster people can get over the "I suck at it" threshold when learning new software (or anything else, for that matter), the happier they'll be with your products and your company.

So I have to ask: Why is Microsoft making people relearn how to use their software, which means forcing them to go through the "I suck at it" phase all over again. Doesn't seem like a good model for success to me.

Seriously, if they remove the menu bar from the Mac version of MS Office, I'll migrating. And I won't come back.

Keywords: advertising, Microsoft, Vista, Kathy Sierra, Wordcamp, Bill Gates, Jerry Seinfeld

Journalists arrested in St. Paul

You've probably heard about journalists being arrested in repressive nations like China. No big surprise, right? But what would you say if I told you it's happening in the United States of America too?

Find that hard to believe? Think things like that don't happen here? Then watch the video. You'll see Amy Goodman, an award-winning journalist, being arrested by St. Paul police as she was covering a protest outside the Republican National Convention on Monday.

Even though she was clearly identified as a journalist, Goodman was charged with "obstruction of a legal process and interference with a 'peace officer.'" Two of her producers were arrested for "suspicion of felony riot." Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now," a daily radio/TV program that airs on more than 700 stations nationwide.

A more honest charge would have been "covering news stories we don't want the public to see."

During the weeklong Republican National Convention, St. Paul police arrested and jailed 19 media workers, in addition to more than 800 protesters. Police used teargas and flash grenades against protesters.

So much for the First Amendment which, in case you need a refresher, reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
You can read Amy Goodman's account of her arrest here.

Keywords: First Amendment, media, journalism, RNC, MSM, Democracy Now, Amy Goodman

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Media matters

Yes, the media does matter. And so does the truth.

It was good to see a major media outlet like ABC News fact-checking aspiring VP Sarah Palin's speech to the Republican National Convention last night. As this ABC news article notes, Palin's speech "bent the truth on her record and on the opposition."

Not surprisingly, she left out the part about her remarkable skill at bringing home millions of "earmarked" federal dollars (our tax dollars at work!) to her community, and her support for the $398 million "bridge to nowhere." So much for being a "reformer."

Continuing his record of our-reporting most of the MSM, Jon Stewart of The Daily Show used Karl Rove and Bill O'Reilly's own words about candidate Palin to demonstrate their hypocrisy in defending her. Palin gets to demonstrate a fine veneer of hypocrisy too.

On a related front, the organization Media Matters for America has 'deconstructed' and charted the Republican smear campaign against Obama, calling it "Swiftboating 2.0" both for its resemblance to the 2004 smear campaign against John Kerry and for their use of web 2.0 techniques to spread the smears.

Media Matters notes:
Just as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth unleashed on the public a dossier of lies about John Kerry in 2004, this new campaign is on a mission to spread misinformation about a presidential candidate.

We call it "Swiftboating 2.0" not only because it is the latest model of a political smear campaign, but also because it shares features of "Web 2.0" sites like Facebook and MySpace: significant portions of the content are generated by ordinary people and are spread from peer to peer. Swiftboating 2.0 combines these new information pathways with traditional media -- books from conservative publishers, right-wing radio, and conservative pundits and strategists on television -- to spread the smears as widely as possible and force them into the mainstream media.
If you don't want to see America get suckered again, don't help spread the lies...instead, spread the word.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

More Photo Booth fun

Another day, another PhotoBooth pic. This time it's my rock 'n' roll class getting the "how to blog" demo, replete with a quick demo of how add PhotoBooth pic of yourself to your blog.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Blogging Lessons

Here I am in a 100W class showing students how to blog.