Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Consolidated Live Blogging From Open Source Media Launch

Now that I'm back to the land of full capability, I'm going to take the stuff I had to do on the fly from my Palm as separate posts and group it together here with formatting, typo corrections, and links. I'll also add brackets for information I couldn't get until this repost. My own instant opinions are throughout.

Imposter at Open Source- 10:17am
I've discovered the name of an unknown blog on my name tag.

[It's this one, in fact, which seems cool and well-developed. Once home, I went to check to find him in the new Open Source Media Blogroll and confirm my status as the uninvited crasher, but now I've discovered pleasantly that not he, but my little self is listed! Go Figure. I feel less like an imposter now, but this morning I was live-blogging like mad to prove my value since I felt bad about being a fraudulent guest. Back to the instantaneous reactions.]

Is the free pink grapefruit juice sweeter when I know someone else was supposed to be drinking it? Most people are dressed for business. I'm one of the funkier looking folks, and I think I'm scaled down. La Shawn Barber is blogging a table away, and Cathy Seipp is behind me. Andrew Breitbart is doing an introduction, and I've already met a table of nice people and another fiction writer [Tobias S. Buckell] whose blog is 100 times more trafficked than mine and still softsells the size of his readership. If only he knew how far down the rat tail I am. I am an unintended guest in a gilded banquet chair at a large table. I'm doing it live. Roger L. Simon, who I admire and enjoy, has just unfortunately said "paradigm". I'll forgive and keep listening. Hope you like the coverage.

Intro to OSM Site, The Manolo- 10:43am
Charles Johnson introduced the capabilities of the new OSM site after Roger L. Simon intro'd him and the other key backoffice and business development players. Of OSM's mission, interesting aspects for me were the error checking they're promising, the ability to highlight emerging bloggers, and the online rountables called blogjams. The news headlines [fed through Newstex whose liaison I met at lunch] will constantly upddate. The first was about Alan Greenspan, the second about a transvetite turbot. Perhaps it won't be as stuffy as the navy and black suits might imply. At least Charles Johnson was in jeans with a ponytail. I'm not really a fashion snob. It was just my first impression or seeing the other attendees- must trigger my memories of being a refugee from the Fortune 100. But I'd rather write today about what people have to say than how they look. That's why I blog without real name or photo, no? Now begins the fashion panel, hosted by the Madeira-rich voice of The Manolo, who is, of course, the man. [Unless, now that I consider it, the lag in response resulted from typing the answer and having someone with the lovely accented voice repeat it. Get Penn & Teller on the horn.]

Lags Stink, Make Comedy- 11:00am
Beauty/Fashion blogging panel includes a journalist [Elizabeth Hayt, product placement here] who doesn't read or like blogs, and thinks they're for rich people with too much spare time. She does have a book to pimp, and admits she's not sure why she's been asked to talk, but I think the open sharing of contrary opinions is supposed to be the point.

[Also present is makeup artist Kim Weinstein of I Am Pretty NYC, a blog that surprisingly intends to promote fewer makeup expenditures and less panic over appearance. Also, Never teh Bride (spelled right) from Manolo's Bride Blog who swears she's never seen him which the moderator calls an odd business model. Hello? Charlie's Angels! Rounding out is Kristen of Beauty Addict who is unapologetic and inspired by her expenditures.]

The Manolo is long distance, over IP I suspect, and can only answer the question before the current one which makes for the funny, if it disallows him to take a more active role. Questions on fashion are dumped into the void for him to address in later non sequitur. The Manolo was asked, and I hoped he'd advance beyond the terse, about the advertising and retail model of his blog network. The answer: "Lots and lots of suede."

What Is Evident- 11:04am
When talking about superficial subjects, to be funny sometimes requires addressing the subject deeply. The Manolo has the elegant wit to go for the pithy tip-in. The conversation has turned to blogging's mean-spiritedness. Is it funny or has it gone cruelly out of bounds. I have battery concerns. Is really the cesspool of vitriol?

Does Meanness Win?- 11:15am
The panel wraps up with a disagreement. Is Meanness the essence of entertainment? The blog-dissing journalist versus the blogger who thinks magazines are just as mean as blogs in the ways they tell women how to look and what to think. She says some people want to be befriended and some to be bossed around, and she's just trying to say buy fewer lipsticks and be funny about it. We delve into the clubbiness of journalists and the journo on the dais stays calm to her credit. No evil pile-on ensued, despite the biases that might exist in the room. Onto the political panel.

Who Is a Journalist Panel?- 11:24am
David Corn [D.C. editor of The Nation and blogger] disusses the two aspects of journalism: spending time to gather and report fresh info that's not as readily available in addition to contexualizing and analyzing, which is more of what he sees blogger doing. Larry Kudlow's just arrived. Corn asserts that bloggers need the MSM to get info from the much-derided dinosaurs, but I wouldn't- and I don't think sensible people would- disagree with that. I DO need foreign bureaus and staff reporters and stringers to provide facts I can't get, but perhaps with more transparency. Do journalists really spend more time on their subjects? Do bloggers, as wretchard suggests, provide the role of specialized story collection and tracking in niches unprofitable to dedicate a pure journalism resource? How are these functions complementary?Richard Fernandez, formerly only known as Belmont Club's wretchard, likes that the blogger's identity doesn't provide any slack based on a perceived pedestal or masthead of authority.

Authority from Content- 11:35am
John Podheretz, columnist and blogger at NRO's Corner, claims authority not from his special skill or education, but from content. The premise of being assigned intellectual authority by virtue of being a quick writer needing little editing isn't valid to him. (wretchard also pointed out that many blogggers have such interesting day jobs with expertise that no journalist could acquire during single story coverage.) Kudlow wonders what's so wrong with opinion journalism? Won't it give us the universe of views to read and choose among? David Corn cites that blogging puts unequal voices on an equal status, which he thinks is good, despite my kneejerk perception that some voices seem to journalists more equal than others. He goes on to discuss niche coverage which allows sports fans not to have to sit through the rest of the news they don't want, but he's mourning loss of common ground for conversation in favor of intellectual ghettoes where we only read what we agree with. But I don't do that. If someone has a good point to make, I want to hear it, as long as it's substantive and grounded in something other than irrational (or worse, unclever) finger pointing. John P. says now people are acknowledging the niches they were always in, and more choices and voices are allowing greater participation for everyone.

Is anyone Reading? -11:47am
Toss me a comment at henway00 (that's two zeros)- at- to let me know if you're reading along or even interested. Tx.

[I didn't get any, you self-absorbed heretics.]

Claudia Rosett- 11:47am
She of the fantastic Oil-for-Food investigative journalism and columnist in the WSJ is talking about the vastly lowered transaction costs of reporting now that so much background is available online. Less boot leather journalism to get info and no need to physically travel or snail mail to sell your content has produced a lower value perception, so to speak, reflected in a proliferation of cheap sources of targeted information, like blogs. Kudlow acknowledges lowered barriers to entry. So how do we and why should we hold bloggers to a higher standard of accuracy and objectivity than the wild and wooly presidential debate coverage in the l1860s? To Wretchard: Is it enough to create a marketplace, should bloggers take more care? W. is singing my song. As blog traffic grows, your rep is your lifeblood and one becomes more accountable with the more eyes that read. The market corrects. John P. says caveat emptor, and that 90% of the people he worked with in the MSM were incompetent and carried by the top 10%. This was not widely known before, and all articles were treated like gold, rather than the first draft of history to be revised as we learn more and correct the errata. He tells an anecdote about the mythology of fact checking from his experience at Time. Corn asks whether we should intentionally misreport. [Of course not!, I say.] Rosett argues that it's not necessarily the largest organizations that do good research. Know your audience. Weekly World News knows it doesn't need to overly scrutinize its alien baby stories, If you market yourself as a place for facts, even the more rarified Truth, the stakes are much higher should you fail to deliver.

Live Blogging- 11:54am
I'm enjoying doing this, so I'll keep on, although no mail has arrived. Technorati: Please find this Pajamas Media/Open Source Media thread already. John P. talks about slander and libel as still in force, and Kudlow notes we'll all be held accountable. Corn discusses imposition of transparency a la transcripts. John P. talks about the imposition of modesty upon an industry which has styled itself as Olympian.

Will the Batteries Last (redux) ?- 11:56am
John P. talks about how experts can now get access to information at the speed of journalists and provide perhaps richer commentary immediately- example Volokh Conspiracy on Supreme Court rulings versus the old days when subscription to a special wire service was required and only news organizations bothered.

U.N. Grab for Internet Control- 12:06pm
Rosett says now that their eyes are on it, they'll try again, and bloggers must be the Paul Reveres to warn people about keeping this enormous bureaucratic arm from muscling in. From the audience, Austin Bay points out another factor is geographic dispersion as a difference of this new media in getting on-the-ground reports. I love hearing the scoop from cultural natives, not solely outsiders or those who may be fed the party line in controlled, limited access. There can even be reticence in sharing dirty laundry cross culturally, so people must report from the inside. I can see Judith Miller from where I'm sitting now. Kind of a tickle. Corn thinks people should try to be accurate and honest, if not objective, and bloggers must grapple with that and could learn from the MSM.

Has MSM Lost Killer App?- 12:20pm
Glenn Reynolds says that in trimming hard news coverage, which many consumers would like to see more, the MSM may have given up its irreplaceable bailiwick, "killer app" he said, just to substitute "attitude and zip," thus competing with every other person with an opinion, which is to say everyone. Corn and John P. point and counterpoint at various events in history and opine how they might have scrolled out differently had we blogs then.

Great Lunch and Company- 1:29pm
At a table with Austin Bay, wretchard, neo-neocon and Publius Pundit as blogdentities among other fine, engaged folks who I'll list as soon as I can decipher their name tags. Over actually tasty banquet chicken, we discussed issues for which we don't have answers. I'm always interested to spitball where things may go, and I got rambling about Everquest and online assets (I have more knowledge than I should here), the legal possession and trade of these identities. But we also discussed the possiblities to contest especially corrupted or degraded international media as a real alternative. Where most people in Zimbabwe aren't online, field blogging from there may have less affect there than it has on us, but when PowerLine- as I noticed catching up this morning- starts bouncing around the DDT issue, it gets way more traction than my puny rantings. Where will all this go? Hard to know but the breadth of imagination stirs the blood.

Keynote: Judith Miller- 1:40pm
Glenn Reynolds introduced her with the idea- related to lawyers and journalists- that anyone with half a brain wants a guild for its safety, support, and special privileges. Judith Miller begins with discussing a (rare for her) quote by Marx about the means of production changing consciousness. In current days, she says we see a change in consciousness fueling a change in production. She recaps the basics of her situation which I will not restate except to say her wording is careful, as I can understand. She refutes the stories of book contracts incenting her jail time, saying she couldn't track and rebut all the rumormongering from jail. She cites reporters she says are in danger of jail, and says the interest in gossip is drowning righteous questions about free speech and free media which should be raised. My first response: Isn't the fury about the wildness of blogging an attack on free media, too- must I defend a journalist at a paper as my only outlet for defense of free speech. She advocates support of a shield law which will protect all reporters and perhaps by umbrella some bloggers. Uninformed opinions, humor, nor vitriol (her words) would be covered, nor does she think they should be. Erma Bombeck in print- safe. A bloggy facsimile isn't. Serious content only. Who was it who said if you tell it worse than it is, they call it realism, and if you tell it as it is, it's satire?

Keynote Continued- 1:51pm
Not sure last post went through, but I wanted to say the comment about satire was mine if it wasn't clear. Miller gives her rules of journalism which all have to do with honesty, dedication to correcting mistakes, publishing denials, and one that bugged me: contacting a subject before writing about them. Like Glenn Reynolds said earlier, sometimes I toss out things which have been said elsewhere but which may not be true, and I try to be clear about what I don't know. But if neither Judith Miller nor any other major figure who I might write about will take my calls, I don't get to comment of have an opinion?

The Money Quote- 1:57pm
"There's a difference between a shoe leather reporter and a thumbsucker... and we confuse them at our peril." MSM, in Miller's view, may have been too open in using online sources and material thus aiding the confusion. I found it condescending, especially since so many more bits and bytes and synapses are used than shoe leather these days. You may diasgree. Questions included: What about the fact that her testimony would not have protected her under the shield law.? I wish I could provide the answer, but I was reconstituting this blogeaten entry. Others asked about the zealousness of Fitzgerald and whether things would have been different had the NYT editors also been subpoenaed. No definitive answers, but who could expect or give one?

Impressed by Journalists- 1:59pm
I don't agree with all the views expressed about the unique specialness of journalistic practice by the MSM reps, but their willingness to put themselves forward for a discussion with so many who might virulently disagree is admirable.

Senator John Cornyn of Texas Speaks- 2:03pm
I didn't realize he'd be speaking but it's good he's connecting. He admits he checks the blogs to find out "what's really going on." He calls himself a fan of open government especially with access to records so the governed may know and consent to how they're being governed. Freedom of Information laws, sunshine laws are also a concern. Believes the presumption that if a citizen asks for government information, he ought to get it without a runaround and wrangling.

Cornyn and Leahy-2:07pm
Joined together to support a national type of sunshine law. Believes bloggers shouldn't be constrained in any way citizens aren't typically, They shouldn't be disadvantaged compared to MSM. Another blogger-pamphleteer comparison, and he clarifies that bloggers are a respectable, vibrant part of a free press. He looks forward to helping blogosphere and citizens interested in free information, and opposes stifling blogs under guise of campaign finance reform. As painful as the commentary can be, it's part of a vibrant democracy. Because we're not pleased with every bit of content isn't an excuse for the gov't to jump in and regulate.

Questions for Senator- 2:12pm
Will internet be subject to FEC regulation in a way other media isn't? Evan Coyne Maloney cites (until now, I've been misspelling as sites in a dyslexic fit today) examples of his own film made after the election which could have been illegal in October while Michael Moore seems immune. Cornyn would like to see unfiltered, unedited speech, but is concerned about inviting Congress to further intervene to counteract some of the problem online applications of McCain-Feingold. The blogosphere should be used as a model for all political speech and advance from that position rather than looking for ways to extend the regulation.

Protection for Cell Photographers- 2:20pm
Cornyn believes someone taking a phone picture of a public figure and publishing it online should be protected, and wonders whether anyone should have special protection, especially in favor of another group doing the same kind of activities. Someone asked whether the Senator sees "no difference" between a person with "decades of experience" in "the craft", but Cornyn sees no logical way to differentiate them. He talked about majoring in Journalism before finding out the pay scale for a cub reporter. He also cites the many recent offenses exposed by the blogosphere against the supposedly high standards of career journalists. He sees the blogosphere as a way to help us recapture the historic intent of America's Founders with respect to an informed, freespeaking populace. Whew! Lunch's over- party later!

Hope you found this at all interesting and that I didn't mangle the substance of ideas by paraphrasing. If you were present, and I got something wrong, let me know. That's the point, right?

fascinating development- 2:26pm
the elevators from the sixty fourth floor aren't working. trapped like rats without a shift key.
[They were fixed about five minutes after the post. No biggie.]

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