Archive for January 6th, 2004

Finally Starting to “Get It”

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Kathy Kiely, writing in USA TODAY of all places, weighs in with what, in our humble opinion, is the best mainstream media article to date on the blogging phenomena. The woman “gets it” and knows how to explain it in a way mainstream, middle American people can understand. She’s done her homework; the article features quotes from Jay Rosen, Jeff Jarvis, Andrew Sullivan, Matt Stoller, Glenn Reynolds, Mickey Kaus and our own Chris Lydon, among others.

If the Dowbrigade was going to send ONE article to someone who knew nothing about Blogs, this is the one we would send.

WASHINGTON — They used to be known as the boys on the bus: the big-name columnists, network TV producers and reporters for large-circulation newspapers who had the power to make or break a presidential candidate’s reputation. Now they’ve got competition.

In the 2004 election, the boys (and girls) on the bus have been joined by a new class of political arbiters: the geeks on their laptops. They call themselves bloggers. Their mission: to remake political journalism and, quite possibly, democracy itself. The plan: to run an end around big media by becoming publishers on the Internet.

“There’s no question in my mind that political bloggers are a major new development,” says Ellen Miller, a longtime political activist and Washington lobbyist who reads blogs. “It takes the media out of the hands of the corporate world and puts it into the hands of guys with computers.”

from USA Today (a tip ‘o the antlers to Moose)

Dowbrigade.com Up and Running

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We are
pleased to announce that the Dowbrigade has obtained the rights to dowbrigade.com,
so that Dowbrigade News is now also available at http://dowbrigade.com.  Of
course, the actual site will remain on the Harvard Law School blog server,
so both URL’s should work fine.

Demonstration of a First Post

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MIT Intro to Blogging Class an Unqualified Success.

This
afternoon Andrew Grumet, Bob
Stepno
and the Dowbrigade gave
the first in a series of Getting Started with Blogging workshops at MIT.
It went great. Unlike the sessions we ran at BloggerCon,
in the MIT sessions, held in the gorgeous (from a techno-teacher’s point
of view) and fully
functional multi-media lab called the Trading
Room
, almost all of the
participants were actually able to create and post to their blogs before
the end of the session. The Trading Room is supposedly for running real-time
financial simulations and is decked out in Mondo Tech Max, state-of-the-art
stations, wireless to the rafters, electronic tickers, boards and projectors,
etc.

Of course, as is always the case when presenting something as awesome
and multi-faceted as Blogging, we ran out of time. The workshop was free,
and will be repeated three
more times
. The sessions are open to anyone,
but only folks with mit.edu or harvard.edu email addresses (including
ALL ALUMNI) can create
a free Blog on the university server during the actual workshop.

here
is the class plan
. And
if you ever want to hatch a Machiavellian plan to undermine and crash
the financial networks of a small third world country, consider renting
the Trading Room – it would be perfect.

Year of the Internet in Politics

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An excellent retrospective on the influence of the Internet on
this year’s presidential race appeared today in a nationally
syndicated column by Ronald Brownstein
. He starts with a repetition
of the fundraising success of the Dean Campaign, but then ventures into
more interesting
and novel observations.

But other campaigns are also showing creativity. Later this week, retired
Gen. Wesley K. Clark will mark a milestone in the Internet’s political
development by participating in an online chat with 10 prominent blog
hosts – all of which have committed to posting the exchange on their
sites. That could allow Clark to address a huge audience outside the
reach of the conventional print and broadcast media, something candidates
couldn’t do before the Internet’s emergence.

This is big news in the Dowbrigade’s book.  Who are the 10 blessed
bloggers? Why weren’t WE invited? Has anyone else heard about this?

Then there’s Michigan, which is testing the Internet’s political value
in an even more profound way.

Last week, the Michigan Democratic Party began what is probably the most
ambitious experiment ever in online voting. Michigan Democrats can vote
by mail or on the Internet through Feb. 7, when the party will hold its
presidential caucuses. The party began accepting requests for mail and
Internet ballots on its Web site at 12:01 a.m. New Year’s Day; within
the first 24 hours, about some 1,500 people had signed up.

Mark Brewer, the party’s executive chair, says he expects about 400,000
people to participate in the caucuses and about two-thirds of them to
vote online or through the mail.

This is also a blockbuster. The first state to actually authorize on-line
voting in an election that actually means something. We need to watch
this one closely. But all is not unalloyed joy in LaLa Land, as far as
the Internet being a panacea to fix our failing democracy.

Still, even some Dean supporters – such as Wayne County Commissioner
Keith D. Williams, an African American – worry that the Internet option,
by making voting so much easier for affluent families, will dilute the
influence of low-income and minority voters. Michigan’s intriguing experiment
is likely to remain an exception until homes without the Internet are
themselves the exception in every neighborhood.

from the LA Times

Simultaneous Cure for Overpopulation and Hunger

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ARMIN
Meiwes, the increasingly confident Cannibal of Rotenburg, has been helping
police unravel an international network of man-eaters.

From Austria to the US, willing victims going by names such as Hansel and
Gretel queued up to be eaten by or at least exchange butchering details
with the 42-year-old former soldier.

The chilling groundbreaking trial in Kassel, now in its fourth week, on
Monday exposed not only the scope of modern cannibalism but also Mr Meiwes’s
deluded ambitions for a world in which eating people could solve problems
of famine and over-population.

Police witnesses told of two "truckloads" of printed emails and
internet exchanges between Mr Meiwes and the web of cannibals or potential
victims.

Detective Isolde Stock said: "We downloaded over 3800 photographs
from his computer."

Mr Meiwes’s most remarkable fantasies are not sexual or culinary but megalomaniacal.

He tells Joerg that cannibalism should be propagated as a form of development
aid: "We could solve the problem of over-population and famine at
a stroke."

Despite the evidence, court observers see the case tilting slightly towards
Mr Meiwes.

from the
Sunday Times (Australia)

The Science of Skipping Stones

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A
cool, calm lake. Your dog frolicking along the beach. Your significant
other admiring your attempt to skip a stone across the water — and,
to your deep embarrassment, it plops straight down with nary a bounce.
Has this ever happened to you? Thanks to a new study, you need never
suffer the humiliation of inadequate stone-skipping again. Christophe
Clanet from the University of Aix-Marseille in France and his colleagues
report in the Jan. 1 Nature that they have discovered the secret of maximizing
the number of bounces in a skipped stone: You need to keep an angle of
about 20 degrees between the spinning stone and the water’s surface.
To obtain that magic number, the researchers built a stone-skipping machine
that fired aluminum discs into a tank of water. Using high-speed video
cameras, Clanet and his team monitored the discs as they hit the water
at various angles, velocities, and spins, focusing on the "crucial
moment" of the bounce. Though the speed and rotation of the object
are important, the physicists found that the angle of collision between
the object and the water was critical to obtaining the largest number
of bounces. In fact, no rebound was possible if the angle was greater
than 45 degrees. So, the next time you want to impress your partner with
your stone-skipping prowess, bring a protractor.

from the Boston
Globe

Dowbrigade and Son Kidnapped in Peru

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I recently came across
some notes I took shortly after being kidnapped by Tupac Amaru guerillas
in Peru. It all came rushing back, and inspired a posting concerning
Michael Jackson, the Crocodile Hunter, NYTimes columnist Nicolas Kristoff
and myself, which you can hopefully read in this space tomorrow. Meanwhile,
back to the kidnapping:

I first suspected that something was seriously wrong when I saw the ski
masks. Since we were in the middle of the desert, almost directly on
the equator, I realized the chances of snow were slim. I considered
the possibility that I was dreaming, but a million tiny details told
me this was real. The air on the ancient bus was fetid; too many people
crammed into a space too small for far too long. It was 3 a.m. and
the rustles, snores and tiny private groans of people trying to sleep
filled the close confines.

read the rest