Archive for November 21st, 2003

Rorschach Test for the Blogosphere

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A recent white paper released
by Perseus Development Corp. has the Blogosphere all astir. Last night
I heard it described by one of its authors as "a Rorschach inkblot of
the blogging world." John C. Dvorak of PC Magazine has a rabidly
anti-blog interpretation
which has been questioned
by Steve Gilmore
of eWeek, among
others.

The Dowbrigade has an observation or two which seem to have escaped
the profundity of the pundits (too obvious, perhaps):

Perseus claims to have polled over 80% of the 5 million blogs it estimates
exist, and Dvorak makes much of the finding that over half of these blogs
are not posting anymore, and that fully 25% were "one day wonders" The Dowbrigade
wonders how many of those were unsuccessful embryonic attempts to start
blogs on buggy or inadequate software and sites. The Dowbrigade News
was our fifth attempt to start a blog, and we have left a trail of electronic
detritus across the ‘Sphere, in sites like blogger.com, Blogspot and
Blog City.

We are responsible for two blogs on the Adam Curry affiliated SchoolBlogs
site which were created to demonstrate to separate classes how easy it
was to do (after numerous unsuccessful attempts which may or may not
count in the Perseus total). Blogging 101 from BloggerCon left three
brand new blogs out there somewhere.  None
of these blogs have been updated since the day they were created.  All
of them presumably were counted by the Perseus study.

Until the free-blog sites position one-click "Delete this Blog" buttons
on all new blogs these rough drafts and prototypes will continue to litter
the landscape.

Dvorak also gloats over what he sees as a sign that even inveterate
bloggers are tiring of the medium:

Meanwhile, the abandonment rate appears to
be eating into well-established blogs: Over 132,000 blogs are abandoned
after a year of constant updating.

We wonder how many of these "abandonments" were the results of success
rather than failure? How many were sites originally set up on blogspot
or other free sites and whose owners eventually reserved domain names
of their own and moved up to the major leagues of blogging? Or like the
Dowbrigade, found a home on a hosted server like blogs.law.harvard.edu?
How many changed names, hosts or service providers, and thus entered
the ranks of "abandoned"?

Finally this:

Perseus thinks that most blogs have an audience of about 12 readers.

This may be true, but it is entirely beside the point. First of all,
if this average takes into account the 50% of blogs which have been "abandoned"
(or never really utilized by their creators) then the average number
of readers of the remaining "real" blogs would be 24.  But
more important if the Blogosphere is ever going to offer a viable alternative
to the Major Media Monopoly is needs to act like a neural network and
a cognitive filter for information which bubbles up from the bottom into
collective consciousness.

The Blogosphere is like a circulatory system for information within
the body politic.  Not
all of the conduits can be or should be arteries.  Some are capillaries,
relatively tiny information streams reaching into every nook and cranny
of both the
physical and virtual worlds, and funneling streams of data onward and
upward, potentially into the very heart and mind of the collective body
politic.

Hopefully, someday whenever a newsworthy event or idea happens there
will be a blogger nearby.  The ideas and information streams which
resonate within whichever corner of the blogging universe they originate
in will be picked up and relayed, by nodes with increasingly high rates
of connectivity and flow.  Information objects which are timely,
informative, uniquely positioned, well-written or aesthetically designed
will float to the top and eventually come to the attention of a significant
proportion of the wired public.

This at least is the Dowbrigade’s vision of how the whole thing could
work out. How quickly and efficiently the Blogosphere could function
as a "news" medium without centralized design and control (anathema to
this paradigm) remain to be
seen. However,
the technology and ethos are spreading like a virus and we believe that
unfolding events will increasingly expose the inadequacy of the conventional
media and the desperate need for an alternative.

Doncha Hate It When That Happens?

ø

WASHINGTON
(AP) — Researchers studying rocks from Antarctica have found chemical
evidence that a huge meteorite smashed the Earth 251 million years ago
and caused the greatest extinction event in the planet’s history, killing
about 90 percent of all life.

Scientists believe the extinction, which scientists call the Permian-Triassic
event, came some 185 million years before a similar meteorite collision
with the planet killed off the dinosaurs.

The violence of the impact would have caused a huge fireball and sent
billions of tons of dust into the atmosphere, enough to darken the
sun for months. It also would have laid down a layer of dust bearing
the same chemical composition as the meteorite.

from
CNN

Somebody Give That Woman a Hand

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Bethany
Hamilton, 13, rising surfing star who lost her arm to a tiger shark while
surfing on Halloween is interviewed on Wed.
Nov. 18, 2003, at Kilauea, Hawaii. She said, ‘I wasn’t that scared.’
Hamilton said she will continue to surf and the worst part of losing
her arm to a shark was seeing her loved ones cry.

from The Boston Globe

Tell Us the Truth Tour – Breaking the Media Monopoly

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"WHEN PRESIDENTS AND POLITICIANS LIE, IT IS THE JOB OF THE PRESS
TO EXPOSE AND CHALLENGE THOSE LIES. WHEN THE PRESS FAILS, THE LIES BECOME
LAW. THE POINT OF THE TELL US THE TRUTH TOUR IS TO HELP OTHERS MAKE THESE
CONNECTIONS, AND TO SHOW THEM THAT ACTIVISM CAN CHANGE THE POLICIES OF
THIS COUNTRY."
Tom Morello, lead guitarist Rage Against the Machine

There is a growing awareness around the world that the global stream
of consciousness has been hijacked by a small clique of Major Media Moguls.
As we in the Blogosphere strive to break that monstrous monopoly from
the bottom up, we can easily forget that there are others, many others,
presently disconnected and uncoordinated, working towards the same goals.  It
is the aim of the current media regieme to keep us that way.  It
is our responsibility, destiny and only hope to find each other and unite
to throw off the bonds of informational tyranny.

One such concurrent stream is the "Tell the Truth Tour", an amalgym
of high-consciousness rockers and alternative media indies, which aims
to kick some Major Media ass while kicking out the jams.

It’s caravan of acts — featuring Tom Morello (of Audioslave and Rage
Against the Machine), Billy Bragg, Steve Earle, and Lester Chambers —
has come
together to slam ”corporate globalization” and ”media consolidation”
for its effect on the average citizen, says Morello.

Tell Us the Truth Tour Web site

story from the Boston Globe

Ashcroft Prepares Mass Arrests for Cyber-Crime

ø

WASHINGTON
— Attorney General John Ashcroft said Thursday that law-enforcement
agents had arrested 125 suspects in a crackdown on Internet crimes ranging
from hacking and software piracy to credit card fraud and selling stolen
goods over the Internet.

The investigation, begun Oct. 1 and dubbed Operation Cyber Sweep, involved
police from Ghana to Southern California and uncovered 125,000 victims
who had lost more than $100 million, he told a news conference. Seventy
indictments to date have led to arrests or convictions of 125 people,
with more expected as the probe continues.

"The information superhighway should be a conduit for communication,
information and commerce, not an expressway for crime," Ashcroft
said.

The Dowbrigade may be off the web for a while, as we need to rush home
and depurify our trusty iLamp by deleting questionable versions of Word,
Office, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, FileMaker Pro, Flash, MasterChef, Tony
Hawk and
Aliens vs. Predator. Meanwhile, Mr. Ashcroft, would you like to see my
official registration email from SerialBox?

from Wired News

Slimy Sea Squirts Invade Georges Bank Bottom

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Note: This story has absolutely nothing to do with Michael
Jackson, although the sea squirt pictured below does look like a Michael
Jackson sex toy.
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from
the Boston Globe

Goopy colonies of a foreign animal called
a sea squirt have carpeted a 6.5-square-mile swath of Georges Bank, raising
deep fears among biologists that the invader could hurt marine life in
one of the most productive fishing areas in the world.

Last year, federal scientists saw only a few small patches
of the gelatinous sea squirts on Georges Bank. But on a research voyage
earlier this month, they video-recorded dense mats of the animal on the
seabed, encrusting scallops in a formation fishermen say looks like fast-spreading
pancake batter.

Scientists worry the squirts may be smothering scallops or making the
bottom inhospitable to fish eggs, such as those of cod, that need the
gravelly
sea floor to protect them from predators.