Thursday, August 09, 2007

New Google Feature Could Change the Face of Print Reporting

On Tuesday, Google announced a new feature in which subjects of news articles will be able to respond to what was written about then, and also the reporter can then respond back or update the story. Currently in the testing phase, the feature depends on a Google News employee checking the identity of the author before posting any response:

If the identity of the author is confirmed, the response is posted on the same page as the story search results.

The feature helps the Google news site evolve from being solely an aggregator of news articles to a forum where news subjects - even the journalists who wrote the stories - can respond publicly to criticism. The company emphasized that the feature is in the testing phase but could be expanded to include other regions and languages.

I don't know about anyone else out there, but I find this to be a thrilling new development in that print news stories will become more of an interactive medium before radio and TV has even fully embraced the possibilities that are obviously out there.

Like anything, I guess this could be used for evil, but I have a feeling that with a strong author checking feature, the responses of scientists and professionals will be taken more seriously than those of wingnuts or say, lying governmental officials. This will be a separate feature from the one already offered that directs the reader to computer generated algorithms that are applicable to the story. According to Google's announcement:

We'll be trying out a mechanism for publishing comments from a special subset of readers: those people or organizations who were actual participants in the story in question. Our long-term vision is that any participant will be able to send in their comments, and we'll show them next to the articles about the story. Comments will be published in full, without any edits, but marked as "comments" so readers know it's the individuals perspective, rather than part of a journalist's report.

I've always predicted that the future of broadcasting lies in the interactive medium that used to be such a big draw on certain Air America Radio shows such as Morning Sedition, and that still plays a big part in what is left of the Sam Seder Show. People all over the world are drawn to the more interactive mediums, and they also want to see many sides of the same story. This is a new dimension to the comments section that we have become used to, and a welcome peek at the future of information dissemination.

Since we know how badly the press has fallen down on the job in the past years, it seems like a good thing that, along with intrepid bloggers breaking stories that used to be the sole domain of "professional" newsfolk, we will also have a major news service offering the subjects of stories the opportunity to provide clarifying information if they feel it is necessary. It won't be long before every news outlet will have to offer this sort of service, in an arena where every American must take hold of the information, or misinformation being shovelled at them at every turn.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The AFL-CIO Debate....

...reported, as no other blogger could, by Driftglass...Check here for the blow by blow, in the room, craziness, of our wonderful democratic system sorting its big messy self out....
I love this...go and read!!


Edwards, Obama, Clinton, Lobbyists, and Campaign Reform...Money Talks... But Who is it Speaking For?

Digitotalitarians Unite!!

Here we go again.
Welcome Home!

Lets get one thing straight; No money is clean. I'm sure that the headlines about Edwards and Obama accepting donations from large corporations, and whatever the earth shattering revelations are in this world of overly literal campaigns and an undereducated populace that can only take in information in sound byte form, are interesting, but the fact, until there are actual facts that mean something, seems to be that this is a concocted line of what-ifs and maybes that don't add up to much.

We are frozen. Its as if, in this political atmosphere, no one should deviate from their position of 6 years ago, and no one should grow and change at all. I'm afraid of anyone who has learned nothing during this administration, much less the Bill Clinton Administration! But, besides the Rove instilled fear of the awe inspiring "flip-flop," I don't even see that as the issue here.
What I see happening is some form of desperate extrapolation to comb through every donation to try to connect it to some lobbyist...or the corporations that they represent.

We're all wading in the same pool here, folks, in that we could all be lobbyists, if you're gonna count the individual lawyer donations as a lump and the people who work for drug companies as a lump. Isn't that so many apples and oranges until every lawyer that has given cash to Edwards gets together and hires some guy to hand the money over in the interest of an issue or a set of issues? Then couldn't all individual blogger donations or Mom donations to Obama or Edwards also be called special interest contributions? Don't we all have special interests in whatever our pet issues are? So, where do you draw the line in tracing this stuff and who decides when a lobby is a lobby if its not formal? Its surely a slippery slope and I doubt that any candidate wants to have to pick apart every donation that comes in before there is some meaningful reform of campaign financing and lobbying, but isn't it safe to say that these lobby's are only formal if they are in fact formalized?.
But the wider message seems to me to be that Obama and Edwards don't want to accept donations from the overt lobbying population that has grown into a monster, and that Clinton is, as usual, carefully parsing her words to be sure to be so inclusive as to recognize that every lobby firm and every large corporation employs Americans. Now, that would be meaningful if deregulation had not allowed the top management and CEO culture to raid logical business structure, and suck all the money upwards....I don't believe that a Phillip Morris Lobby represents the guys who run the factory machines, and certainly not the pickers; probably not even the secretaries or administrators. So, when she says that she is supporting all Americans with her take on the lobby issue, she is saying that she supports the top tier of earners, because without corporate regulation back in place, there is no worker lobby of much substance out there....and certainly there is not a Phillip Morris Lobby that includes a Phillip Morris worker's lobby, representing the fact that the little guys will lose their jobs if big tobacco is hurt...This is all about corporations pushing their agendas forward so that the top guys can get really rich, really quick before the rules change again. And its clear to any of us in the real world out here that the agendas of large corporations largely do not represent the working people of America.
See, the bigger idea here doesn't have much to do with some donation that slipped past or some gotcha that Matt Drudge is looking for. its about the big picture and the desire to change things fundamentally. To assume that this stuff might effect you positively, beyond the fact that you may get killed by some drug or law that has been pushed through to your detriment, is fantasy and as likely as winning the lottery and having to deal with the "death tax" or a windfall tax. No, the conversation that Clinton is having that includes all Americans means all rich Americans, because this lobbying stuff is what goes on behind closed doors in the halls of power. To call it out is to open those doors and let some air in...and if that means that someone is out there looking through every contribution record to the Obama and Edwards campaigns, then so be it.

Lets try tying the fortunes of the top tier of corporate America to the fortunes of the bottom tier, and then revisit what the lobby is. How 'bout everyone gets a raise and that the big guys pay windfall taxes out the wazoo into funds set up for those who have lost their jobs due to technological advances that have allowed those windfalls? Don't get me started on outsourcing! How 'bout tying worker happiness and ability to achieve the American dream to how much a CEO can take home?...These guys will still surely get rich, but just not as rich...At some point its all just so much zeros on a statement anyway, isn't it?

Its a pretty bold move for Edwards and Obama to keep hammering this point, because surely it puts up the red flag to all the diggers out there to get to work to find the one bad contribution or person that works on a campaign who used to be a lobbyist...but, its an issue that needs to be addressed and I'm happy that its coming up. I'm also glad that we get a glimpse into the real Clinton, because her non-answers are rather frightening and it almost as if one tiny crack might let a ton of sludge loose that will not only be bad for the party, but dangerous for America.

I'm not perfect..OK, if you must know, I went to Wal-Mart some months ago and I bought some chinos for the kids that were probably made in China. I drive a Jeep that guzzles more gas than it should. I use air conditioning...hell, I love air conditioning! There are reasons for these things but I am not going to make excuses or go on about my carbon offsets. As I go along in life, I can certainly say that I've modified and changed and I am going to continue to do so. I need and want the tools to do that with, like a real hybrid truck that can get up my driveway in the winter. I expect that of anyone who is growing up in this life, and I certainly expect it of our leaders. We need the tools to make real choices and sacrifices, and we need leaders who aren't afraid to offer them. The deregulation thing has not worked out...lets just face it, change it, and move on.
And try really hard to look at who is profiting from these issues and leaving them as they stand. The hardest thing is probably to look at our own lives and to realize that some of the maintenance of the status quo by us is built on the fantasy that we might one day be in the class of the same people who benefit from these things.

Which brings me back to education. If we don't educate our kids, and ourselves, to think critically, make decisions, have ethics and morals, then how can we expect anything to get done?
What ever happened to that line of education? I think its gone in a haze of political correctness and some crazy tie-in between those things and religious upbringing. This idea is not true and doesn't fly. If we are so caught in political correctness that we cant even look to the past and talk about what was wrong or right with the way things went, then we are a country of sheep being groomed to be the rabble, while the elite get whats theirs.
No kid should leave the American school system without some critical real-life skills, decision making, and an idea of how great minds thought throughout history, and how the same is not only possible for them but expected of them!! Without that the American dream is dead and we might as well just prepare for the rapture.(...not!)

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