Core Values

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Business Week:

With little effort, Arrington got dozens of sponsors, mostly Web 2.0 startups and VCs, to bankroll the party he held Friday at August Capital. So after a night of revelry, Arrington had pocketed an extra $50,000. Now that’s something to blog about.

Satire is dead in Silicon Valley

Exploitation 2.0

Just Shelley

Changing faces of Sci-Fi

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I am a huge science fiction fan; have been ever since I was a little kid. I remember how excited I was that a whole channel devoted to science fiction was going to be appearing on cable. At the time, I lived in Phoenix, and was one of those that pushed the local cable company into carrying it.

The channel has always had a mixed bag of content, good and bad. Currently listed among the good, at least in my opinion, are: Eureka, Dead Like Me, Stargate, Dr. Who, and Battlestar Galactica. The bad ranges from wrestling (of all things), to stupid ghost chasing, to movies on Saturday so awful they can’t even be counted as camp. The reasons behind such a disparity in programming is that the Sci-Fi channel is run by people who really don’t care about science fiction, and only care about ensuring the network is profitable.

Stargate was probably the channel’s most profitable show, and it celebrated it’s 200 birthday last week. Through Les I found it was canceled this week. Not surprising, as the writers had no where to go with the story line, and even the addition of Claudia Black as the wonderful “Vala” wasn’t enough to save the show. It is disappointing, because I thought the 200th episode and it’s associated documentary, were a kick and reflected some of the old humor and quirkiness of the show before it started getting too caught up in Defeating Bad Guys.

As for the spinoff of Stargate, Stargate: Atlantis, all I can say is block that dialing address.

On Tuesdays before wrestling (which, unfortunately, has ended up being the most watched show on the network), Sci-Fi added an old and a new show to the lineup: Showtime’s canceled Dead Like Me and the new Eureka (you can currently watch the premier show online at Sci-Fi).

Why a show like Dead Like Me was canceled, I don’t know, but I think it’s one of the finest shows I’ve seen. The premise is that people who die with unresolved issues become grim reapers who walk the streets, releasing souls from the bodies of the newly dead. Not a particularly interesting concept except these grim reapers have human form. They eat, drink, have jobs, emotional issues, and so on. The lead character is an 18 year old woman who goes by the name ‘George’, with an “I don’t give a damn” attitude, who is killed when she’s hit with a toilet seat from a falling Mir Space Station.

It’s both funny and thoughtful, and received several awards before being canceled. I’m assuming it didn’t make it due to to the fact it couldn’t find an audience. (A dominant, strong female cast is rather risky in the science fiction business, unless your cast is composed of sexy, blonde teens who can kill 23 vampires without breaking a nail, all before cheerleading practice. PS, I liked Buffy, but no denying she was boy candy.)

Eureka is about a federal marshal who accidentally stumbles across a town composed of geniuses who are engaged in secret research for the government. It’s ripe for innovation, and the regular cast members are compelling and interesting. I was somewhat hesitant about the show at first, primarily because it made the marshall into the town sheriff and boss over the existing deputy who happens to be a woman. However, air time is nicely divided between men and women, and the women have relatively strong positioning. Besides it has the old Max Headroom, Matt Frewer, as a very oddball pest control officer–what’s not to like?

(Well, the fact that some of the roles are borderline gender stereotypical, and what’s with the sexual tension between the lead characters? Men and women can work together without wanting to jump each others’ bones. This is getting old, and is one area where Dead Like Me and Battlestar Galactica have risen above such cheap theatrics.)

Then there is Battlestar Galactica returning this October. The show staged a rather astonishing twist in the storyline as a season ender, and I’m waiting with a great deal of interest to see how it deals with it when the show returns. This show also has a very strong female cast, as well as not being afraid to dive into the darker aspect of being human–usually demonstrated best by the non-human characters in the show.

I’m still somewhat ambivalent about the show. I admired how the show handled the subject of rape, but was less than enthralled with the coverage of forced pregnancy–which seemed to be just plopped in in order to be topical. It made no sense that a group of ships with limited resources and in immediate danger of destruction would worry overmuch about future population concerns.

Still, I like the characters on this show. They’re remarkably rich and fascinating, and I have no idea where the show is going to go. After decades of television watching, it’s not often I can’t guess a future story line.

There are hints of other shows starting this fall on Sci-Fi that could be interesting. I actually started liking Dr. Who, with its campy special effects, and I believe it is returning in addition to Battlestar and the newer series. Because of the existing and possible future shows on Sci-Fi, I’m not quite ready to pull my cable, though I have canceled everything but basic service.

My biggest concern is that quality on TV never survives. Now that the Sci-Fi channel executives realize that “Who Wants to be a Superhero”, super cheap Saturday flicks, and wrestling are sure money makers, I’m sure they’ll drop Battlestar and the other shows that interest me. If they do, I’ll most likely drop cable. After all, I can download movies and television shows from the Net, and my Dell laptop has a better viewscreen than my smallish TV. Not to mention, I can connect my laptop to my TV in order to play movies or shows.

Which does make one wonder: when will the first internet-only video series be released?


A conversation in comments

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

“Is it a scary ride, Mommy? Will it go loop-de-loop and make me throw up?” “Let’s hope not, dear. If you get sick, we’ll just have to go home.”

Hugh MacLeod (comment315):

Actually Shelley, the more I read you, the less I think of you a champion of people whose voices don’t get heard enough [women, “D-Listers”, whoever], and more as somebody complicit in making sure they stay that way.

Yes, I’m sure somebody like Seth takes comfort in your words [the writing of which, you obviously have a talent for], but I don’t think you’re doing him any real long-term favors, either. Pity.

Shelley Powers (comment316):

Hugh, I have a headache and I don’t speak ‘cryptic’. Explain your comment, please.

Jeneane Sessum (comment317

sounds like he’s saying it’s your fault more people don’t link to non-a-listers AND that you’re at least partially responsible for non-a-listers staying non-a-listers.

wow. hugh thinks you are Very. Powerful.

I wonder who started the “Shelley is this” and “Shelley is that” club?

hrmmm. It’s all so puzzling. I mean, I just can’t think of … OH! Oh yah. okay. I recall it’s early origins… okay.

So it’s good to broad brush stroke folks who have been blogging both shits AND giggles since 00 as ‘this way’ or ‘that way,’ is that it? Is that how cultosphere will keep on without having to look back at any valid points from those who make them uncomfortable? Or piss them off? Or who, as Scoble might say of a blogger who disagrees, “play the ad hominem card”?

Good job, Hugh. How Cluetrainian of you.

Trackback from Chris’ quips (oops, that’s Chip’s Quips) (comment318:

[…] The Bb Gun » Blog Archive » Eat the Red Couch Shelley Powers proves that juvenile obnoxiousness is not the sole province of male bloggers. (tags: linklove blogging blogosphere alist) […]

Shelley Powers (comment320:

I had thought about doing another post, but I really am not feeling great tonight.

Jeneane, have you noticed that those who have benefited the most from this environment seem to be those who want to restrict it the most?

What did Mena Trott say that one time? I think that was shut up, too, wasn’t it?

“Sit down, shut up”

“You have to go to the conference before you can be critical of it”

Scoble’s assertion in comments about writing THE book on weblogging, and he can damn well define it as he wants, and no one else need bother

“You’re helping no one” — this one I’m assuming to be a variation of sit down and shut up.

The people who wrote the original posts and comments that touched all this off–Newsome, Seth, and Nick Carr–they weren’t saying that anyone had to change. They weren’t even writing angrily. They were just saying, that to write glowingly of this environment, that to say that every little boy and girl can grow up to be BoingBoing if they just write good enough, is a fallacy. One that could lead to disappointment.

What I’m trying to communicate is that maybe we should stop assuming that all little boys and girls that aren’t BoingBoing don’t have something to offer, or to say. Yes, I place some emphasis on the girls, but a quick glance at shows very clearly that something is wrong when so few women are listed.

(AOL CTO not withstanding, and frankly she has my sympathy.)

Who cares if they, we, anyone says these things? We’re not stopping anyone from disagreeing. We’re not even stopping people from going out dropping dewey eyed pronouncements (all the while, oddly enough, they ignore most everybody but the little circle they surround themeselves with).

Doc asked: what do you want us to do differently?

Nothing. No one is asking anyone to do anything differently. Least of all, sit down, and shut up.

Well, maybe one thing differently: listen.

Jeneane Sessum (comment322):

Shelley, I wish I had answers. I don’t.

These recent ‘declarations’ by some top bloggers seem to be a way of getting comments and links–i think we used to call it link baiting, but now it’s smart networking. Make it a conference track and call it a day.

IMHO, Doc = accidental a-list. he’s be doing what he does (and would be and will) long before any lists and tries harder than — i’ll say any a-list male and most a-list females — to do the right thing. Like, if frank paynter graduates to a-list, he’d be a doc.

I will name names as far as who i think is listening and thinking about this stuff, same as i will name names of those who I think don’t give a shit. Doc does give a shit.

What could they do differently? Maybe Holy RSS has the answer — maybe to deliver a cross section of posts from blogosphere, balanced by male and female bloggers and tagged with other b-z list characteristics, like ethnic diversity, global/local location of blogger, etc., to the inbox of the a-list each day. Maybe even with highlighted sections of posts that may be of interest, pre-filled hyperlinks, and even suggested response posts–pro and con.

Hey, let’s just automate the WHOLE THING and go on a long vacation!

Shelley Powers (comment323):

Lots of people say Doc’s a nice guy, and he is more than willing to link around to other folks. But Jeneane, have you ever noticed that Doc does not debate women?

I’ve seen him debate Dave Rogers dozens of times. I’ve seen him debate David Weinberger and AKMA and others. I’ve seen him link to women, but he never debates them. The most he’ll do with women who don’t agree with him is link them, with some vague comment of ‘interesting’ and moves on.

What does this show? That for all that Doc would be appalled to be considered sexist, he really doesn’t value women’s contributions to the discussions as much as he values men’s.

It’s not enough to link. Why can’t the stupid A list realize that the issue is less fame and links, and more being acknowledged that people’s opinions have worth EVEN if the people aren’t ranked as highly as they way — or don’t have balls for that matter?

Stowe Boyd discusses the recent stuff and references the Times article on fame and dismisses much of this as based on fame. Yet people who write anonymously are just as frustrated. Why? Because we all want to have an equal chance to be part of the conversation. Isn’t this what we’ve been promised? Isn’t this what Doc and David and Winer and the new horde of controllers have all promised? Stick with us, help us make this into a power, and you will have your say.

Hogwash. What’s happened is that a new breed of purely self-serving marketing dweebs moved in, took over, and are siphoning the power of blogging, like a spider sucks the juice out of a fly.

We have been told so much it’s engraved on our butts how this is an egalitarian environment, where any boy and girl and be heard. We now know this is a lie. Being heard in this environment, is no different than being heard in almost any environment: it has less to do with quality and more to do with marketing ability. And not just marketing ability: there is a strong sense of preserving specific patterns of accessibility.

Hugh will come back and say, well why not? Why shouldn’t those with the marketing skills be heard over those who spend less time on marketing?

Because we were promised this would all be different. But it’s not—it’s the same old crap we’ve always had. Where’s the great and noble universe spoken of glowingly by the Dan Gilmores and the Jay Rosen’s? The Docs and the Davids?

But all things balance and there is justice after all.

We webloggers hyped Snakes on a Plane, and we helped it some at the box office, but no where near as much as we assumed we would with all our hype. We webloggers gave money and hype to Dean and he couldn’t even win one primary. The only reason the Democratic party gives us the time of day, now, is we’re good for donations. But, for all they massage our egos, they don’t really think much of us as influencers.

We’re a niche. Webloggers will always be a niche. And that’s just fine for the vast majority of webloggers and journalists, the ones who have decided that they don’t care if the A list pays attention to them or not. So in a way, the A list is a niche within a niche: given some attention in the back pages of the main stream media, but rarely having any influence beyond an occasional issue or story.

We’re a place for second string professionals like Jeff Jarvis and Michelle Malkin to carve themselves out a kingdom and feel all proud of their top of the heap status. Go down the street, ask any 1000 people if they’ve heard of them and I bet most would just look at you. If you ask the person if they’ve heard of weblogging and they say yes, chances are its because they have a high school or junior high kid who has a weblog or journal. But before we make a leap that this younger generation will fuel a great weblogging uprising, these same kids also have had, in the past, hula hoops and go go boots. It’s unlikely that most youthful efforts into weblogging will last into adulthood.

There are issues that we could influence, but they’re not glamorous enough. We don’t want to influence a state senate race; we want the President or nothing at all. We bitched about Apple and iPod city, and then were completely willing to go, “Cool” when given a PR report from the company that all is well. More, we joked about how ‘good’ the people in China have it. (Now, where’s that new video iPod–gimme!) Our combined weblogging ego leads us to believe we can change the world, and we want nothing less. Where we could do good, we can’t focus our attention long enough to start making an impact. (We have the attention spans of gnats.)

But you know, it’s OK to be part of a niche population who likes to write to a journal online. We do it to share, to communicate, to write, to publish to whatever. And for every Shel Israel who professes to hold this environment dear (while promoting his book, you did buy his book didn’t you), there are a hundred, a thousand people who are quietly, happily writing online without worry about fame and fortune. They’re the winners, because they have something no one can give and no one can take away. People like Arrington, Scoble, Israel, Malik, Kawasaki must be scared to death on a daily basis of losing their weblogging fame, because what would they be without it?

That’s, in a way, the revenge of weblogging: knowing that the A list are nothing than noisy ducks, quaking in a barrel. “Look at me!” they warble, and think they have power. We know we don’t have power; they don’t have a friggen clue.

Mommy, that was fun! Can we go for another ride? Can we? Can we?” “Mommy?” “Mommy?” Don’t you feel good Mommy?


A new look for Script.aculu.os

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

The popular Ajax library, has a new look. It moves away from the traditional Ajax pastels into earthier tones, and uses four bubbles to represent four main menu areas. The site navigation is quite clear, and the information you would want is immediately apparent.

Scriptaculous main web page

I tested the site and it validates, and looking at the source, it should be text-to-speech accessible. Rather than use H1 headers for every menu block and div elements for each item, it might have been better, semantically, to use one H1 for the main title, only, H2 elements for the four main menu titles and unordered lists for the menu items. Other than these quibbles it’s accessible and valid, easy to navigate, and a refreshing change from lime green and rounded corners if…


If you have JavaScript turned on. I have the extremely popular Firefox extension Noscript installed and enabled, which suppresses JavaScript at every site until the site is ‘whitelisted’–marked as scripts allowed. When I followed the link at Ajaxian to the site, this is what I saw:

scriptaculous main web page with scripting turned off

Not much there, other than a “go away and come back when you have shirt, shoes, and tie on” message.

The content of the front page, as well as several other sections of the site (such as the documentation wiki) could easily be made accessible to people with scripting disabled. Why, then, shut the door so completely?

The creators state in the message that displays when scripting is disabled that since the site is about a library that’s built in JavaScript, it doesn’t make sense for any of it to be available for those who have JavaScript disabled. I can understand this, but I think what the creators have forgotten is that they have to earn the trust of the web page reader, first, before the reader might be willing to open the gates. It’s difficult for trust to be earned if the reader can’t access anything other than a Paypal button, a link to a syndication feed, and credit for the company that built the page.

Of course, the creators could say that everyone knows who they are and what is–after all, look at who is using the library. That’s just it: you can’t assume that everyone knows the site, the library, or who the creators are. For those who don’t, the information is buried behind the NOSCRIPT wall. As for the list of sites that use the library, it’s also hidden behind the NOSCRIPT wall.

No one debates the necessity of letting people know they need to have JavaScript enabled when an application is dependent on JavaScript. However, I see little in the front page that demonstrates that the use of JavaScript is anything more than just a way to add a little eye candy to the page. Eye candy is good, eye candy is fine, but eye candy shouldn’t be the only thing served for dinner.

Years ago during an acting class, I did a routine where I pantomimed being a bomb squad officer defusing a bomb. Afterwards, my teacher told me my acting was terrific and deserved an ‘A’. However, he also told me I had forgot to tie my hair back and he could only see half my face. Since he could only see half my face, he could only give me half my grade, and I got a ‘C’.

I like and it’s one of the Ajax libraries I covered in the last chapter of Learning JavaScript. I like the new site and it’s rather innovative design. I liked that they made sure the site could validate. However, because of the NOSCRIPT wall in the very first page, I can only give the new web site a ‘C’, for Could have done better.

update Gucci was one of the sites that uses the library. Try visiting that company’s main page with script turned off. Then try it with script turned on. I actually preferred the site with script turned off. I think it might end up being top contender for my Worst Use of JavaScript at a Site award.