Events of note Just Shelley


Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Just had an earthquake — my first San Francisco earthquake.

Strange experience!

Not a biggie — but shook the apartment. I’ve never been through one of the Seattle quakes, so this was my first earthquake. The ground does roll, doesn’t it?

more on the quake at USGS and SF Gate.

Update — I was the first source online to report the quake. You can all pay me now…

Just found out the quake was a 5.2, and occurred at 10:01 in Gilroy, south of San Francisco. This is a significant quake without being overly dangerous. Enough to shake but not shatter.

Reports of water pipe breakage, that sort of thing. My apartment’s on landfill, which might account for the “rolling” impression. I actually felt it in my chair before it rattled the door. Felt as if the floor literally rolled under me.

Sorry if I’m going on, but this really was a unique experience for me…

BTW — You’ll all be glad to know that I looked out the window and the Bay Bridge is still standing 😉


Tin cup is out

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

At first I thought the Weblog Foundation was a joke, but additional reading showed me that, no, this guy’s serious. And so are the people who’ve been responding to the suggestion.

A Foundation that will do, among other things:

Provide honorariums for deserving webloggers
Provide hardware and software to support webloggers
Provide weblogging PR
Arrange corporate and other sponsors of weblogging

And so on…

And the response to the idea has been favorable — primarily from people who want to see themselves acknowledged as “professional” journalists because of their weblogging effort.

Professional weblogging. Doesn’t it just make you want to cry?

Not all the response on the idea has been supportive as can be seen at MetaFilter, not surprising that. Though I hesitate to provide buzz to a weblogging book competitor (she says with a smile) Rebecca Blood’s MeFi response is one of the best:

at this moment there are too many *excellent* weblogs for me to have time to read them all, and all of them are paying a little bit for the privilege of maintaining their sites.

so many professional writers seem to have the idea that good writers must be paid in order for writing to be worth their while–the web belies all that. *professional* writers need to be paid in order to be professional, but there are even some of them who are willing to do it on their weblogs for free.

Over at AKMA’sDorothea has been conducting an extensive makeover of the PreacherMan’s weblog. She’s not being paid for this effort. Instead, she’s doing this as an act of kindness, for fun, and with a sense of adventure.

Ultimately, Dorothea is acting as a member of a community, the same community that David Weinberger writes about:

Relativism need not be what we learn from our encounters with others. Respect and open-mindedness are more likely given the fact that the Internet as a technology teaches us one value more deeply than any other: the joy of being connected … which in some parlances is more accurately termed love.

Now if you’ll excuse me a moment, I have to go dust off my tin cup.


CNN article: Crap? Or clever?

The more I read the CNN article, the more I think that every last bit of it was deliberately contrived to generate noise among weblogging users. And a quick peek at Daypop and Blogdex only supports this.

If you deconstruct it, the interview is perfectly created to push at least one buzz button within each weblogger, regardless of your interest and type of weblog.

For instance, the following words:

There’s another one that actually is way cooler, far more sophisticated and allows you to add all sorts of graphical components and do all sorts of indexing and interesting diagnostic stuff. It’s called Radio Userland.

That will guarantee a link on Scripting News.

The fact that the interview only references Pitas and Userland’s Radio is going to capture the attention, and ire, of Blogger and Movable Type users. And not referencing Blogger just doesn’t make sense — of the weblogging tools most featured in the mainstream journalism publication articles the last few weeks, Blogger tops the lists.

Also consider the reference to what weblogs are:

What a blog typically is, is a collection of links out to interesting things out on the worldwide Web. The typical format is: link, tiny bit of commentary, and then a pointer to everyone else’s commentary. Sounds very simple — in fact, sounds so simple as to be not even very interesting, but in fact it’s incredibly interesting.

The “short blog” vs. “long blog” camps are legion. Is weblogging nothing more than links to stories? Or is weblogging original writing? Or both? Whatever your camp, the above paragraph is incendiary.

Then there’s the emphasis about weblogging’s relationship with journalism:

It’s totally democratic. It’s democratic journalism … it’s journalism by the masses.

That line should grab the “weblogging is a new form of journalism” crowd. The reference is also a grabber; something to hold on to as you shake the article apart.

The only thing missing to make the interview “complete”, is a reference to Google.

Add in the overuse of “cool”, the pubescent writing and speaking style — I just can’t believe that CNN would allow such inane drivel through the editorial process and on to the web.

I am left with the question: Was this a deliberate hack to generate buzz, as fodder for a more in-depth look at weblogging at a later time?

Regardless, our “one link one vote” approach to discussing the article has effectively pushed it up Daypop’s and Blogdex’s buzz sheets as one of the top weblogging stories of the day.



Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

In the comments attached to my previous posting on the weblogging’s influence on Google, I found the most telling line from Elaine:

So, with Googlewhacking, like lobbying, our sense of what’s ethical should prevail.

Our sense of what’s ethical? Our sense of “ethics” is ruled by bias, prejudice, bigotry, elitism, self-interest, and group membership. Our sense of ethics is flexible and to be abandoned on an event by event basis.

The inherent instability of our ethics from moment to moment is why we have laws — a method to crystallize the best of our ethical beliefs, to apply at times when our “ethical” practices morph into self-serving platitudes and behavior.

To some — not all — of the Palestinians, suicide bombings are “ethical”. To some — not all — of the Israelis, invasion of the Gaza strip because of the actions of an extremist organization that’s currently housed in Lebanon is “ethical”.

To some — not all — webloggers, bashing every Muslim country because of the actions of extremists is ethical. To some — not all — webloggers, bashing Jews because of the behavior of some extremists in Israel is ethical.

And among the so-called ethical webloggers, some have negatively categorized or labeled other webloggers based on expediency, bigotry, and other self serving needs.

I have said, and will continue to say:

Webloggers aren’t influencing decisions — they’re influencing the information that influences the decision, and that’s dangerous.

The dangers inherent with a mob mind are no less because the mind is connected via the Internet rather than gathered together in a field, rope in hand.

When weblogging fought back in defense of Operation Clambake, that was a noble act. That was a an attempt to redress a wrong by balancing the actions of one organization, the Church of Scientology, with the actions of another organization, the webloggers. And the status quo of Clambake’s appearance within the Google search results was upheld.

However, when the efforts of webloggers pushed Clambake’s rank to number one, the status quo was also changed — and not based on naturally occurring interests, but based on deliberate manipulation of the weblogger effect.

Was this ethical? Perhaps.

Perhaps in the long run, the actions of webloggers will be necessary in order to counter-act the actions of the church. The church seeks to directly influence Google results so that anti-Scientology web sites don’t show in the first few pages. The webloggers counter to ensure that at least one anti-Scientology web site shows within the first page of the results.

Both organizations are using the weaknesses of Google’s ranking algorithm to influence the flow of information.

How is this not dangerous?

Any manipulation of the flow of information — whether occurring through the censorship or manipulation of the mainstream media, through weblogging, through Google search results — is dangerous. Just because you see the manipulation as being on the side of angels, doesn’t lessen the danger.