Behind the Twitter Mad-ness –

Mad Men
Image via Wikipedia

In the digital media convergence concepts of particpatory culture, bottom up media, microblogging, and digital self, this is an interesting article that talks about the phenomenon where people tweet on twitter in the voice and persona of characters from the popular AMC TV show called MadMen.

The people behind three of the most mysterious Twitter accounts, those themed after the AMC television show “Mad Men,” have kept their identities a secret—until now.

So who are @PeggyOlson, @BettyDraper and @Roger_Sterling? Together, the characters from the halcyon days have more than 24,000 followers on the microblog and have written nearly 3,000 tweets, as posts on Twitter are called.

via Behind the Twitter Mad-ness –

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State of the Art –’s Kindle Goes From Good to Better –

Image representing Amazon Kindle as depicted i...
Image via CrunchBase

David Pogue talks about the Kindle in this article, which we talked about in class last time. However, he also talks about that quirky aspect of Convergence, in which older formats and newer formats don’t replace each other or even resemble each other directly, but are rather influenced heavily by one another, such that anything that comes after benefits from both existing.

So, for the thousandth time: is this the end of the printed book?

Don’t be silly.

The Kindle has the usual list of e-book perks: dictionary, text search, bookmarks, clippings, MP3 music playback and six type sizes (baby boomers, arise). No trees die to furnish paper for Kindle books, either.

But as traditionalists always point out, an e-book reader is a delicate piece of electronics. It can be lost, dropped or fried in the tub. You’d have to buy an awful lot of $10 best sellers to recoup the purchase price. If Amazon goes under or abandons the Kindle, you lose your entire library. And you can’t pass on or sell an e-book after you’ve read it.

via State of the Art –’s Kindle Goes From Good to Better –

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What Convergence? TV’s Hesitant March to the Net –

A potentially convergent interface

One possible mode of convergence

This is an interesting article that talks about the ways in which television makers may be trying to slow the ‘progress’ of convergence, citing consumer reluctance to surf on their TVs. I say, bring it on.

But perhaps the most surprising thing is not how long it is taking to get the Internet on TV but that, to some degree, that slow pace is deliberate. Television manufacturers simply do not seem to want it.

Sony’s stance is that consumers don’t want an Internet-like experience with their TVs, and we’re really not focused on bringing anything other than Internet video or widgets to our sets right now,” said Greg Belloni, a spokesman for Sony. Widgets is an industry term for narrow channels of Internet programming like YouTube.

Ditto for Sharp Electronics. “I don’t think that consumers are yet ready to access all content on the Internet on the TV,” said Bob Scaglione, senior vice president for marketing at the Sharp Electronics Marketing Company of America.

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Week 4 reading review (for February 17th, 2009)

1.  Provide a quick over view or summary of the readings  (3 – 5 sentences)   (8pts)

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

Is Google Making us Stupid talks about the idea that the way in which we gather information now is changing our ability to process information; it suggests that we are becoming less capable of processing deeper, longer works, and instead skimming along the surface of ideas, jumping from link to link, but never quite diving in.

Can Blogs Revolutionize Progressive Politics? discusses the ways in which blogging is giving voice to progressive politics while potentially further quieting the voices of more disconnected, rural, and uneducated people.

The ‘podcastWhy Podcasting Matters for your Organization (which is not actually a podcast in the form it was delivered) argues that no matter what your role, business, segment, or product that podcasting should be either a part of your campaign as a direct tool for building an audience or as a way of reaching someone else’s target audience as an advertiser. It also talks about the simplicity with which a podcast can be created, using simple free tools, a basic understanding of RSS feeds, and a hosted space for delivery.

2.  Clearly Identify what you feel are 3 key ideas in the readings (8pts)

In Is Google making us stupid? the key idea is that avid users of the service and others like it, as well as active users of the internet in general are having their minds and mental processes changed in the same way that the printing press, television, and other mediums have changed our expectations and interpretation of content. This author in particular is seeing a negative loss of the ability to comprehend and analyze deeper messages such as those found in reading tomes like War and Peace. Personally, I feel that the new skills and the old skills are both still necessary, and will greatly intermingle as we become more comfortable with the new skills societally.

War and Peace 1st part soviet poster
Image via Wikipedia

In Can Blogs Revolutionize Progressive Politics? the key point being delivered is that we need to continue to work to include those currently excluded from the new media, such as the uneducated, the rurally located, and those who are choosing to exclude themselves from new mediums at their own peril. Otherwise, we are simply making the audience for more traditional media (television, radio, newspaper) more segmented and only half-aware of the up to the second truths being delivered in the new media.

In Why Podcasting Matters for your Organization the main point is that podcasting is not just only for digitally oriented businesses, schools, and individuals, but for everyone, in the same way that blogging isn’t just for the “digerati” or “blogerati” but rather for everyone as both producer, consumer, and everywhere in between.

3.  Support your summary and/or key points with three specific references to the readings (7pts)

In Is Google making us stupid? the author quotes a study that provides some evidence for the idea that our minds are changing as a result of using the internet:

It is clear that readers are not reading online in the traditional sense; indeed there are signs that new forms of ‘reading’ are emerging as users ‘power browse’ horizontally through titles, contents pages, and abstracts going for quick wins. It almost seems like they go online to avoid reading in the traditional sense.

In Can Blogs Revolutionize Progressive Politics? the author poses the issues we encounter by seeing blogs as a true vox populi:

At a time when the visible digital divide may be shrinking as increasing numbers of Americans come online, it may be replaced by an invisible version that benefits those who are well

XO with Internet connection, Khairat (India)
Image via Wikipedia

educated, well connected and organized.

In Why Podcasting Matters for your Organization the author talks very specifically about the idea that everybody should be podcasting, no matter how large or small their audience, no matter their intent. Click to hear the excerpt from the assignment that exemplifies this idea:

Excerpt from Audio assignment.

4.  Identify the most difficult or challenging concept for you from this week’s readings.  Saying “I don’t know” or “nothing was difficult” is not an adequate response. (8pts)

In Is Google making us stupid? the author makes broad assumptions about users of the new media, and I always tend to bristle at the idea that any two people are the same, much less an entire society. The most difficult concept here for me is believing that technology can have dramatically negative effects when my own experience has been so much a means to the opposite ends.

In Can Blogs Revolutionize Progressive Politics? the most difficult concept for me is getting my mind around how we can invite diversity into the blogosphere. I personally have found that if someone doesn’t want to blog, sees a blog as a specific thing that is immobile in its definition, or if they don’t see their own view as publishable material, they simply won’t blog.  I also already have some white male guilt, so the fact that I’m such an avid blogger makes me feel like I’m somehow doing something wrong by adding to the statistic, and I don’t feel like I should feel guity for participating.

In Why Podcasting Matters for your Organization the most difficult concept for me was wondering how to help people get past the ideas of RSS, hosting, and media production in the execution of podcasts. I’ve tried many times, but the nomenclature, familiarity, and technology get in the way.

Koenig's 1814 steam-powered printing press
Image via Wikipedia

5.  Provide 2 or 3 discussion questions for us to talk about in class (6pts)

In Is Google making us stupid? the end of the article talks about how Gutenberg’s press, and even the typewriter have had a similar mind altering effect on the authors. With this in mind, would we be better off as a society without either of those things in the long term, or are we in the short evolutional space where using tools like Google are relatively awkward because we are SO new to them?

In Can Blogs Revolutionize Progressive Politics? the idea that diversity needs to be introduced to blogging; just because anybody can blog doesn’t mean everyone will blog. How can we get the heretofore unheard voices and unpublished thoughts into the blogosphere so that we can enjoy a more complete cultural view?

In Why Podcasting Matters for your Organization the idea is introduced that podcasting has such a low threshold of entry that anyone can do it. Why isn’t everyone doing it?

6. Discuss how this week’s readings might relate to your upcoming presentation, paper or to the “real world.” Here too, saying “I don’t know” or “it does not apply” is not an adequate response.  (8pts)

In Is Google making us stupid? the concepts have strengthened my view that technology is a tool like fire, a hammer, or a calculator. It can be used to smash, burn, and cheat, or it can be used to cook a wonderful palate changing meal, build the most magnificent palace, or help us determine the calculations to send humans to Mars.

Manager of Mars Explor...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

In Can Blogs Revolutionize Progressive Politics? the charge is made that we are not doing enough to bring the diverse voice to the mic, and that we are not doing enough to create an audience for the myriad of bloggers that already exist. I’d argue that in past mediums, and in life itself, that media and species evolve according to the fitness of the species, the ability of the medium to transform content into audience thought, and a masterful execution. I think that it will work out in the end, somehow, and that we should stop worrying and just blog, already.

In Why Podcasting Matters for your Organization we learn that everyone should be using these tools. As an advocate of this idea, I know from experience that wanting others to use the technology isn’t enough. It has to be useful for them, it has to be easy to use, it has to be seen as a common practice, it has to be supported, and there has to be an intrinsic reward. Otherwise, consider it forced.

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Crossing a line with Live streaming?

Diagram of Streaming Multicast
Image via Wikipedia

A new father decided to stream the birth of his child on the internet, and some blogs following the story are asking if it ‘crosses a line’? I wonder, since there, again, is no editing going on in the blogosphere, whether it matters if it crosses a line. Perhaps a better question would be, how will this new found empowerment of consumer turned producer sans editor affect the ways in which we consider what is objectionable in the media. That is, when we are the media.

Leaving aside the fact that Branch ignored the advice of the attending nurse, who asked him to turn it off (many hospitals prohibit any video taping in surgery rooms for malpractice reasons), doesn’t this make you cringe just a little bit? There’s no question that everyone has the right to determine how far he or she wants to go in sharing their private lives on the internet, but I imagine a lot of people will deem live streaming a child’s birth inappropriate. Are there no private moments left anymore?
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Video: “Plane crashed a few blocks from my house. I filmed it.” – Boing Boing

YouTube, LLC
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In our classroom talks about producer/consumer relationships, top down/bottom up media, and unedited releases, there are lots of issues with that lack of editing. For example, here, on one of my favorite blogs, boingboing, there is was a video posted of the Buffalo plane crash to YouTube. There is something to be said for the timestamp of the upload, which is approximately the same time that the major networks broke the news, which brings into question the power of the networks to report any faster than, well, you. However, the other thing that rises very quickly to the forefront is whether an editor (a traditional editor who is afraid of lawsuits, loss of readership, etc.) would post the same video. There are some critiques of this blog for doing just that in the discussion after the video, which is no longer available, because youtube removed it.

Isn’t boingboing supposed to the directory of wonderful things? What’s so wonderful about posting videos of plane crashes? And I’m not even going into the ethics/motivation of doing this either. After all, there is nothing to be learned/understood by watching or posting this video. Just some shaky footage.

via Video: “Plane crashed a few blocks from my house. I filmed it.” – Boing Boing.

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Artist Files Lawsuit Against The Associated Press Over Image of Obama –

Image by gunthert via Flickr

In a pre-emptive strike, the street artist Shepard Fairey filed a lawsuit on Monday against The Associated Press, asking a federal judge to declare that he is protected from copyright infringement claims in his use of a news photograph as the basis for a now ubiquitous campaign poster image of President Obama.

via Artist Files Lawsuit Against The Associated Press Over Image of Obama –

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Seth’s Blog: Solving a different problem


As usual, Seth makes a great point. The convergence happens naturally, and often there is a evolutionary aspect to the curve of adoption. Sometimes, though, there’s just no comparison. In a way, it’s surprising that we who have internet access at high speeds still have televisions and cables around today. I ask again, when will NBC take down their transmitter, and just use their routers?

If the telephone guys had set out to make something that did what the telegraph does, but better, they probably would have failed. Instead, they solved a different problem, in such an overwhelmingly useful way that they eliminated the feature set of the competition.

The list of examples is long (YouTube vs. television, web vs. newspapers, Nike vs. sneakers). Your turn.

via Seth’s Blog: Solving a different problem.

Once Again, The AP Tries To Redefine Fair Use; Goes After Shepard Fairey For Obama Poster


One of the things about convergence and the ability for unedited, unfiltered (by traditional means) creativity, is that the long standing power bases, editors and filters will feel threatened, and indeed may be threatened by the new found power of the new bottom up creators. Case in point is the Associated Press’ attack on Shepard Fairey’s iconic image based on an AP image of Barack Obama, and the idea that due to transformation, the new image may be considered original, and the originator of the AP image may just have to realize that good starts are just that, and that collective intelligence applies to images too.

The Associated Press is on the wrong of a fair use argument again. It is actually going after artist Shepard Fairey for his iconic Obama poster, which it recently discovered was based on an AP news photograph by Mannie Garcia. The poster is clearly based on that photograph (see comparison at left), but this is exactly the kind of use of copyrighted works that is meant to be protected.

The poster is art. The image it is based on has been sufficiently transformed that even the AP did not know it owned the copyright to the underlying work until a few weeks ago. And Fairey says he hasn’t made any money from the poster, although others have. You can buy the image on posters, stickers, coffee mugs and T-Shirts, and copies of the poster signed by Fairey sell for thousands of dollars. Still, the AP is wants money from Fairey.

via Once Again, The AP Tries To Redefine Fair Use; Goes After Shepard Fairey For Obama Poster.

How to Use the New FriendFeed Search for Social Media Intelligence – ReadWriteWeb


This is a great example of the power of collective intelligence. When you strap a search engine on top of a tool like friendfeed you get to sift through all of the items of a whole bunch of networks using filters of all sorts. What a great tool!

FriendFeed, a cross-network activity aggregator built by ex-Googlers and more fun to use than the phrase “cross-network activity aggregator” might imply, launched a powerful new search tool today. Want to discover particularly interesting conversations or people in your networks? Want to pick out just the noisiest conversations online about your brand? Want to find some really crazy stuff that’s only discoverable through FriendFeed? The investigative possibilities that FriendFeed now offers are quite impressive, if you can bring just a little creativity to your search query construction.

via How to Use the New FriendFeed Search for Social Media Intelligence – ReadWriteWeb.