Thursday, September 29, 2005

I smell panic

More on the idea that weblogs, the internet, and CNN portend the death of newspapers. Even the Courant is running scared. It's hard to foresee that there would really be NO newspapers, but is that possible??

Monday, September 26, 2005

Where have I been?

Okay, how could it possibly have been a week since I last posted? Bad blogger...

I guess I've finally recovered from all the birthday festivities, time to get back to work.

Some random thoughts. The Prince guy refers to himself in the third person. Didn't MacArthur do that? Fairly weird thing. I guess in the blogdom, we can all be princes.

I found the blog carnival discussion pretty fascinating. From what I can discern, the key to being a carnival is the rotating editors. "Serious" blogs, like dKos, have a theme and a voice, but the idea that a carnival blog allows for differing editors to rotate through as the principal authorial voice does seem distinctly different from a plain ol' blog. Carnival is an interesting and descriptive word choice, as it does imply a certain friviolity, and certainly constant change. I wonder if carnival blogs might have less chance of developing that certain self-important "I am God" tone so many of the established blogs have developed.

Finally, the Reporters Without Borders site was a striking reminder that blogs really are the new frontier for many people. In the US, we tend to bicker over press bias, and White House censorship, but the bottom line is, we get to say pretty much whatever we want. For some many in other countries, blogs are perhaps the ONLY way that certain information and news can get disseminated to the rest of the world. The blogdome is pretty heady and powerful when you put it that way.

Monday, September 19, 2005

What's a web log?

I just read SMUG's definition of a blog. According to them (who are they?), it basically a compilation of links to other sites. This seems kinda narrow to me. Under this definition, Dooce, which has no links, is not a blog. What about dKos? It has links, but is more focused on internal threads and commentary. Hmmmm...

Sunday, September 18, 2005


I've been browsing on Daily Kos. This blogging thing can really suck up the time, can't it? My seven-year-olds are now complaining, "Are you blogging AGAIN?"

DK does seem to have a compilation of serious discussions on topical liberal political issues. I really enjoyed the dKopedia Hurrican Katrina timeline. When I read this site, I feel like I'm sitting in a Washington bar near the DNC headquarters listening to the conversations around me. It's intelligent, tries to take a fair view of both sides, but in the end, it's liberal politics (fortunately it goes along with my views, but I wonder -- why aren't any of the conservative blogs as popular?)

The bio posted by the dK creator was interesting...he was pretty frank about his point of view. I was curious why he gave a detailed list of his music recordings -- is he trying to get us to buy them?

The discussion threads are cool -- they let you get into the substance of the discussion more. It's like I pulled my chair up to the table in that bar I mentioned.

As an aside, I have to comment on how disheartening today's stories are on dK...our VP is a completely cold-hearted SOB, the polar ice caps are harkening a climatic Armegeddon, and Roberts could try to dismantle the last fifty years or so of civil rights protection on the Supreme Court. Maybe this is why Dooce is so popular...just poopy diapers and an off-beat Mormon.

Incidentially, dK brags that it's on of the top blogs on's worth the trip just to see the names of the top 100.

After the kids go to bed, I'm definitely checking out skippy the bush kangaroo.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Thinking Dooce

After Thursday's class, I went back and took another look at Dooce. I really do like the site. It's interesting, fairly-well written, and nice -- you know, pleasant and entertaining. It's not, however, earth-shattering. To me, it's an indication of how little else there is (that I can find) that is really COMPELLING. Fark and such are fun to click around, but you don't sit there and READ Fark. It's a site about other sites. Dooce is, on the other hand, kind of Seinfeld-like; it's a site about nothing. Nothing that is, except the humorous musing of a stay-at-home mom. When I go there, I find her stories and nothing else. Therefore, I will keep going there to read about her -- not to get links to other funky, weird, or gossipy stories. I'm not even sure that I'd be friends with Heather B. Armstrong if I lived near her, but I do feel like I know her somewhat, since I get to hear her (supposed) inner thoughts and musings. It's a site that has a name, a face, and a storyline...although not an agenda. She's not trying to convert me to any political cause (although she may try to sell me a camera and some clothes). I think its appeal is that it's always about the same thing; it has a consistent theme. In the chaos of the blogosphere, it's nice to have an on-going relationship with SOMETHING.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Hey blogging class -- FOOD

This is the site for us renagade members of the class who would like to start a "food chain" for class. The idea is that two people sign up to bring food for that night. It doesn't have to be anything very elaborate, but many of us have found bonding and late night comradery in those plastic tubs of hummus and slightly stale bagels.

I should add that this idea has a very lukewarm endorsement from our intrepid professor (sorry, Colin), but we think we can convert him to the beauty of the 8:00 pm pizza delivery.

If you're interested, please post a comment as to a day you'd be willing to bring something. Hopefully someone else will be willing to assist you. (The first ever blogged food chain?) No one should fee obligated to participate, of course.

I volunteer to bring on Thursday, 9/29.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bleary-eyed from blogging (true confessions)

I tried an experiment and failed miserably. This confirms that I am either (1) blog-challenged (most likely); or (2) the blogosphere is not quite the Mecca of cutting-edge news it's been cracked up to be.

I heard yesterday that Osama Bin Laden reportedly (as told to a London newspaper by a U.S. Army officer) is ill and is seeking medical treatment. I heard this on the always edgy Today Show. I then decided to see if there was any blogtalk to be found on this report.

I couldn't find nuthin'. I came up with nil on said rumor, even using the brand-new blog-search feature on Google. I did, however, find this extremely bizarre, funny, and slightly scary blog called Osama's Bin Bloggin'. It looks bereft and abandoned,so maybe its blog-master is also away seeking medical attention.

My utter failure (not just "failure," but "UTTER" failure) to find anything on the Osama-is-sick rumor could be a symptom of my poor blog-searching skills. However, since I'm probably more computer literature than the average American (hey, I have my own BLOG, for crying out loud), this means the greater blogdom just isn't not yet a reliable source of info-rumor-innuendo. I mean, I couldn't even find a rumor that was on the Today Show!

Or I just suck at blogging.

Regrettably, Nile

P.S. Why didn't that U.S. Army officer call the Washington Post? Why do we have to hear about this from London?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Sort of a long story

After looking around at some other blogs, I made some changes, including changes to the name and address of my blog. No real reason, other than the realization that I CAN change them, and also, with the ability to change settings, edit prior postings, etc., a blogger can revise her history at will, ad nauseum, and no one is the wiser. Mistake? Misquote? Spelling error? Not any more. With nothing but a wisp of cyber shadow, poof, it's all gone. The implications of that are, to me, rather frightening. Let's say someone wants to post some real trash on his site, something completely outrageous, libelous, and scandalous. Then, damage done, the blogger can disappear, or simply "edit" history. Unless someone printed it out, where's the proof, the trail? And even if someone did print it out, I can tell you from my lawyerly perspective that it would be extremely difficult to authenticate (i.e., prove who wrote it, and when). The bottome line is the lack of accountability, or even traceability, is frightening. It's the ultimate anonymous source.

Monday, September 12, 2005


This blogging link discusses why people blog. The "author" (director? chief blogmeister?) opines that there are seven reasons why people blog: self-documentation, improving writing, self-expression, medium appeal, information, passing time, and socialization.

I have another reason: self-aggrandizement. Perhaps that's part of self-documentation, but I question whether we all don't want to be some sort of celebrity, even if it's as a cyber being. We all want a following, don't we?

By the way, did you know that if you spell-check your blog, "blog" is not a recognized word in the spell-checker???

Sunday, September 11, 2005

More dead newspaper talk

Responding to the last (first...only) post, I agree that the internet and CNN are full of rumor and innuendo. However, IS the newspaper a more somber and thoughtful review of the day's events? Or is it just (mostly) reporters summarizing the latest rumor/innuendo from the internet at the time they go to press?

I agree that newspapers have more fact-checking and more time for reflection than your average blogger (who may be rushing to write SOMETHING on her computer, before hitting "send"), and hence more credibility. However, it doesn't seem to me that this credibility is exclusively the domain of the print media. On-line sources can, and probably will, develop some way to better filter rumor from reality. When this happens, it seems that the function of the newspaper may be limited.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Is the newspaper dead?

This was one of the provocative questions posted by Jay Rosen's site. Given how fast info is transmitted via the internet...especially through blogs...this doesn't seem to be such a ridiculous question. Right now we basically count on the newspaper to organize and digest the day's information and deliver it to us in a "here's what important" format. However, with the news cycle now happening so a matter of minutes or hours...the newspaper is already several cycles behind before it hits our doorsteps. Perhaps it just a matter of time before widespread computer access -- like having a computer always on in the kitchen -- makes on-line sources our primary newspaper. When really big stuff is unfolding, like 9/11 or Katrina, I look to on-line sources, as well as CNN, for continuous updates. By the time the newspaper arrives, its info is really old news.

Friday, September 09, 2005

So I looked around a bit...

I just took my first random tour of the blogdom. My initial impression is that there is a lot of baaaaaad punctuation out there. I guess when you can anonymously post your most private thoughts and feelings to zillions of people, details like that don't matter. As predicted, I have chewed up a couple hours looking around, although I don't have anything to show for it, other than a flare-up of carpal tunnel. Next time, I'll have to try to think of something more substantive to say. Go Red Sox.

Can you hear me now?

Okay, I believe that I am officially a blogger. Where do I get the tee shirt? This blog is required as part of a graduate course that I am taking. Therefore, I may occasionally post something mildly academic to ensure that I am meeting the course requirements. I am calling this blog "Thorton" after one of my favorite authors, Thornton Wilder. He wrote "The Bridge of San Luis Rey," which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1920-something. It's about a monk's attempt to explain the seeming randomness of life. I have to admire anyone who's willing to take that on.