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The dark side of the blog

My name is Will.  This is what I clicked.


Did you hear about of Barbara Walters and other ABC honchos on her Web site?  Leaving that lady's particular malfunction aside, the "here's their info, let them know what you think" blog tactic has taken a few dark turns lately.  Of course, the practice is not uncommon.  One example that comes to mind is Glenn recently encouraging readers to on behalf of an imprisoned blogger.  But lately the targets of some blog activism have been more specific.  Protest organizers, other bloggers, blog readers, bosses, school officials, law suit litigants, newspaper writers and editors...  And not just official contact info, but personal home addresses and phone numbers.

There are links to all of those examples, but to be honest, I'm afraid to get involved, even with a link.  What made me bring it up is the story of one campaign's subject .  By all accounts, bloggers were not this woman's biggest problem, but it does highlight the humanity at the other end of these missions.  Just in the time I was trying to think of what I'd write about this subject I also clicked this defense by someone of printing personal information of a political opponent, and then this story of .  (It's not possible to read the threats at this time, but the accused commenter and, as the subject of a retaliatory personal attack, she's now asking for mercy.)

Speaking of bloggers and the power they have when they organize, as the election season warms up, we're hearing more about "netroots."  Netroots is the Web activism that grew out of the Howard Dean campaign. The new strategy involves trying to influence the smaller, local elections, which means you'll be hearing more about it as the 2006 campaigns heat up:

  • Bloggers battle old-school media
  • Are the bloggers ?
  • Left’s bloggers try to

I heard that the new Superman wasn't .

?  Was revolting against the British a sound idea at the time?  Would you have felt it worth the sacrifice?

- at least all the ones I clicked.  But I wanted to point it out because it's clear that this will be a technique for using YouTube and other video upload services to trade whole movies.

.  Coming soon to a vacation tragedy near you.

Boom blogging continues:

  • :  ""The reporting by the blogosphere so far has been pretty one-sided and totally shoddy and unfair."
  • — makes some good points about the difficulty of jumping from online celebrity to mainstream celebrity.
  • "Yesterday’s public, dramatized “broadcast” by Amanda Congdon on the split between her and her Rocketboom partner, Andrew Baron, underscores a lack of business acumen, "
  • Calcanis: "This is a of how not to treat your talent (and frankly, how not to respond when you're treated bad)."
  • ? (or... other than Rocketboom and Ze Frank, what other vlogs are worth checking out?)
  • UPDATE:  The Huffington Post claims to have .

Lunch at the White House, .

Wow, did you read the other day?  It really puts into perspective the difficulty of bringing law and order to Iraq.  They seem to have a pretty established and satisfying DIY approach to justice right now.  I can't imagine them giving that up easily.

Little USB puppet when IM buddy comes online — It looks like one of those toys that stand up or collapse depending on how you push in the bottom.  It'd be cool if it actually did different things depending on the state of your computer.

Could it be ?

Joe Biden on : "You CANNOT go into a 7-11 or a Dunkin Donuts without an Indian accent."  By now you've seen this all over the news.  He was on TV yesterday something about the population being well rounded, not just engineers.  The video makes him look pretty obnoxious, but I'm not sure he's committed the offense people are accusing him of.  It's offensive to meet an Indian person and assume they work at 7-11 (or as an engineer; the offense is the assuming).  But if they actually do work at 7-11 and you notice, that's not offensive.  Anyone from Delaware want to write in and let us know if you find yourself buying a lot of Indian-American made donuts these days?

Speaking of politicians and their mouths, ?  It doesn't sound like kissing a child's belly is a Russian custom. 

— In case you hadn't considered the Supreme Court a spectator sport, this represents the diversion well.

Remember that essay asking what use municipal Wi-Fi would be?

  • Microsoft planning , working on MVNO for next year

is why your kid has elbow scabs.

— I've seen the tires puff up with centrifugal force, but I never realized how much they twist from the torque.

with people and get an interesting conversation.  I was expecting this to be a "how to make annoying people go away" article but really it's tips for engaging socially in a way that yields something more interesting than talking about the weather.

If you played for Brazil, ?

"Americans represent 5% of the world's population but drive almost a third of its cars, which in turn account for nearly half the carbon dioxide pumped out of exhaust pipes into the atmosphere each year, ."  The report blames the cars themselves for being more polluting than other countries' cars - meaning all those SUVs.  I have to wonder if Americans drive more miles than folks in other countries, which would also explain why a third of the cars in the world are producing more than a third of the exhaust.

Customers used to being fawned over at retail stores may find the customer service experience through Craigslist .

Stephen Hawking asks Yahoo, "How can the human race survive the next hundred years?" and gets over .

, the crime fighting superhero (not a) mime.  I agree that it's surprising there aren't more real life superheroes.

"American nationalism, unlike American patriotism, is ."

— It's an underwater lake, but because its water is a different density, it still behaves like a lake, with a shore and waves and stuff.

— If YouTube is serving 70 million views a day and only 2 million of those are of the top 100, then most of the views are coming only a few at a time on a very large "long tail."

— I got through a few pictures for a score of 10962.  The screen also says that's the high score, but I never have the high score on these Web games, so that's probably incorrect.

"The video footage of George Bush singing that U2 used to open their Zoo TV Outside Broadcast Tour."

"My name is Kyle MacDonald and I traded ."  We've seen this when he was still in the early stages.  The news is that he finally finished the trading sequence to get himself a house.

"Audio4Fun is launching a new piece of voice changer software that's designed to stop female gamers ."  They're talking about the online games that enable players to talk with each other as they play.

More Mac ad backlash — The last theory we looked at was whether it's possible to be too cool for your own good, but I think the real problem with the ads is that people who are smug about knowing more about computers than you are annoying.  Thus, the cool kid is annoying and the dweeby guy is sympathetic.

"Publishers have the option to select 38 different genres they'd like to categorize their video in.  Google Video's website only lists 7 types..."  The others are .

I'm glad I'm not filthy stinking rich so I don't have to .  Yes, that's a relief.

that could catch on and no one can remember how it started.  It's a friendly competition to see who can find the most .

for bloggers.  (It's a .)


The story of the "" of Amanda Congdon is one of those tricky mixes of news and personal drama.  It's newsworthy that one of the most successful and pioneering video blogs, , has ceased production because its creators are having differences.  It's also newsworthy that the now-ex-host is .  Less newsworthy is the and about what differences caused the split, but of course, that's largely what's driving the story (and it's really driven, topping "most linked" lists and top search term lists everywhere).  The most interesting question to keep an eye on is whether the show/vlog will do equally well without her or if Congdon really was Rocketboom.

Speaking of rockets and booms, North Korea links I clicked:

  • — Their economy is what's bizarre.  Everything I've read about North Korea is that the people there are utterly destitute.  I don't understand how they even have the money for missile tests in the first place.
  • — Leans toward not panicking, but does a helpful job rounding up and comparing coverage in the process.

Here's a handy bit of advice, wait until after the lay-offs to hand out .

— I know camera phones are cool, but at this point I have to say, just use a camera.  This blog entry mentions the problem of light and focus with the longer lens but I think holding the thing still enough would be the biggest problem.

— I agree, the lady is skinny (lending a certain irony to the "dead man's chest" movie title), and I'm aware of the dangers of unrealistic body images in the media, but there is such a thing as skinny people.  I'm even in favor of exposing the manipulations that produce unrealistic body images in the media, but lately it seems like every thin woman has to deny having an eating disorder.

Folks are buzzing about Chinese or "."  Using the Web to organize, people with an interest in a product show up en masse at a store and demand the product be sold to them at a discount.  I'm not clear why it needs to be so confrontational.  Shouldn't someone just set up a wholesale purchasing site?

Whose Angels?  — All you need is a few people with matching vests and you've got yourself a motorcycle gang.

Video of the Day:  .

— On the news that now intends to build a city-wide Wi-Fi system, the question arises, who cares?  I admit that I love the idea of city-wide Wi-Fi but I've never actually schlepped my computer to a park bench to log on.  I think the utility of a connected city will become more clear as portable devices develop and proliferate.

" is a service that watches comments/follow-ups on Blog posts, Digg submissions, Flickr pictures, and many other types of content. When ever there is an update, such as a new follow-up or comment, Commentful notifies you instantly."

After reading about it in a few places, I finally found pictures of the .  It's much less racist when viewed in the context of the other two in the series.

— What explains the trend toward McMansions and generally larger houses?  Expensive land?  Post 9/11 safety?  Isolation as relief from overcrowded cities?

— "The 60-year-old may have Foreign Accent Syndrome."  (???)

The anti-Lieberman movement in Connecticut is pretty amazing.  I don't think I've ever seen (not counting protest marches).

Researchers are developing tools to thwart the .  I don't know how widely these kinds of videos are bought and sold.  I've only seen a couple and there were terrible, but basically someone goes to the movies with a camcorder and records the movie off the screen, makes copies and sells them on the street.  I understand that good ones come out pretty clean, but bad ones have the backs of people's heads and audience noise.  Anyway, they're trying to ruin those recordings by putting in extra frames that the audience can't see but that show up on the camcorder recording.  I wonder what the subliminal psychological impact is of having "illegal copy" warnings flashed for two hours at imperceptible speeds.

Cool phone trick — I can't seem to get to work, but worked great.  Note that the number to call and the caller ID number can't be the same.  Also note the warning: "Use your head - don't be a jerk."

Speaking of don't be a jerk,

A Russian SSBN (submarine) .  I tried to find this on the hoax sites and nothing came up.  Could it be real?

"You find here my own experiences I made , essentially about alternative living, mainly temporary buildings or housing, and links to alike sites."

— A round up of child health blogging.

— I don't imagine it matters to your quality of sleep, and hopefully it doesn't mess up your brainwaves, but damn if it's not the coolest thing to look at.  (And no, I'm not a big enough nerd to make any references to a carbon frozen Han Solo.  ... D'oh!)

.  I've never heard of the User Profile Hive Cleanup service.  I'm going to ask my IT guy about it tomorrow.

The New Yorker review of doesn't buy into the concept whole heartedly.  It does do a good job of summarizing the idea though if you're not already familiar with it (if the book has any marketing behind it, "long tail" will be the summer buzz word butchered by cable news talking heads.

Commuter Click: — Billmon demonstrates why bloggers are a threat to the established pundit class with this genuinely interesting essay.

— This is an hour long documentary from 1995.  The filmmaker took in raw news feeds by satellite and scrutinized the bits that happen between commercials and before the cameras are officially rolling.  Includes the coaching of Pat Robertson and his famous "that guy was a homo" line.  It's slow to start, and I kept waiting for shocking "gotcha" clips (like the ubiquitous "" clip or the recent by Chris Matthews over Tom Delay), but as you watch (and yes, I watched the whole hour) the big picture of the media/politics sausage factory starts to come into focus.  It's not really a Michael Moore agenda film so much as an effort to peel back the veneer on political TV news journalism.  Downloadable version .  I also clicked the .

— These lists come up periodically.  I don't agree with everything on the list, but it's fun to see them, particularly if you were around when there was such a thing as flipping through albums at the record store.  NOTE:  Contains two tiny-but-still-there photos of full-frontally nude couples (one of them being John and Yoko).

- Etch-A-Sketch art

on religion and politics.  Everyone says this guy's the future, so I try to pay attention to these.


I didn't post at the end of last week because I moved to a new apartment.  Is there a more distressing thing to do that doesn't involve someone getting sick or dying?  Strangely, the cable/Internet guy (Time Warner Cable) showed up promptly and took care of business.  I didn't even have to reconfigure my Wi-Fi router.  The Times didn't miss a beat and even overlapped on Saturday so I got a paper at each apartment.  Electricity?  Check.  We were even able to get Fresh Direct to deliver groceries on move-in day.  So who's slacking?  Verizon.  Hello?  10-15 days to activate my phone?  What year is this?

Anyway, what I clicked:

.  More .  Is it just me or does it sound like he's doing a poor job re-explaining some lobbyist double-talk about why net neutrality is bad?

Speaking of ridiculous government slowness, "In an effort to fight the war on terror, the Air Force is putting up $450,000 for a three year study of...."

— Actually, they should and so should the rest of us.  It's an interesting exploration of "granfalloon tactics" in marketing.  To my mind, it's their use in politics that is more dangerous and offensive.

Speaking of social psychology with political implications, check out the performed at this summer camp.

Speaking of scientific studies of the political mind, "A recent shows that our political predilections are a product of unconscious confirmation bias."

I think is meant to be scary because Microsoft can see what you're IMing, but to me it's scary because it shows all the ways to defeat filters that are meant to protect people from clicking links they shouldn't be clicking.

Amplify you cell phone alarm with .

Wow, the MSN Encarta AI bot is .

Trailer for .  Make sure you aren't drinking anything when it gets to the sunbathing part.

— A British filmmaker comes to America and runs into a frustrating mix of security concerns, lawsuit paranoia, and special interest legislation.  He ends up pretty sour on the U.S. but I thought it was more funny than offensive.  If you're sensitive to U.S. bashing, you might want to skip it.

Speaking of losing hearts and minds, the State Department might want to have .  If we're rejecting someone, it'd be nice if we did it in a way that didn't produce an anti-U.S. propagandist.  What I wondered after reading this is what the point of the visa process is.  Couldn't the person go through this scrutiny at the embassy in their own country?  If the guy's going to lie to get into the U.S., he's going to do it wherever they ask the questions.  Anyway, hopefully others take the lesson not to avoid the U.S. but to immigrate here with a straight story.

Is a of blog titles and necessarily a sign of an end to the blog bubble?

Blogging the Mexican election

  • More still from .

The very first

on Google maps.  I clicked it between stages so I'm not sure about how well the "live" part works, but cool idea.  I'll come back later to see if that hear rate reading really works (I'm skeptical).

Commuter/Beachgoer click: Sy Hersh's new piece on and the behind-the-scenes politics at play.


Video of the Day:  — Trick shotgun shooting.  Not sure what the deal is with the corny stripper/softcore porn/Miami Vice music in the background.

Inventor who lives in what appears to be a Tardis describes a "" that never runs out of juice.

:  A start-up right-wing radio station staffed by a coalition of bloggers.  For all the talk about the threats of blogs to the journalism industry, the real threat is to the pundit industry.

"Researchers have discovered that cellulose, the ubiquitous building block of the plant kingdom, . Delicate sheets of cellulose with electrodes attached could be used to make microrobots, biodegradable sensors, and paper airplanes that flap like birds."

— Legislators notice mysterious pains disappear from neck and extremities. (just kidding)

— Nothing you wouldn't have guessed, but interesting to see catalogued.

downloaded (free) eBooks.

Here's an :  "On March 30, Minnesota Timberwolves center Eddie Griffin was drunk and masturbating when he crashed his luxury SUV into a parked Suburban outside a store in Minneapolis, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday by the man whose Suburban was hit in the crash."

What that guy needs is a self driving car: that would give Herbie a run for its money

Speaking of new technology and keeping your hands where I can see them, using a is pretty ridiculous, but the idea of a flexible keyboard itself isn't.

Speaking of flexible technology, how about ?  These are project though, not a flexible screen, which would be cooler.  On the other hand, projecting video games could also be really cool if they did it on the side of a building.

And speaking of fast fingers, here's a .  In three tries I scored 80.2 wpm, 86.35, and 93.06.  The test text keeps changing but there are some things you pick up as you re-take the test.  Single space after periods, for example.

(part 2 comes on Wednesday).