Archive for February 10th, 2004

The Man Has No Shame

3

Had
the Dowbrigade been one of the thousands of poor deluded Dean supporters who gave
record amounts to this moribund campaign last week after recieving an
email soliciting a financial refill
specifically for Wisconsin,
and flatly stating that Dean would drop out if he didn’t win that race,
we would be royally pissed, and considering a lawsuit for fraud and false advertising.
Or at least ask for my money back.

Turns out he really didn’t mean it, and intends to keep all the checks
that keep pouring in and slog on, regardless of how badly he gets stomped
next week – again. The man has no shame, in addition to being a glutton
for punishment.

We personally know people who sent in checks specifically because of
the promise to win or go home. That kind of clear do or die mentality
appeared to many who dispair of these fame-addicted pols who hang around
long after their welcome has faded.

One such tale from Scripting News:

We were talking about the money that Dean raised yesterday, Betsy
Devine
volunteered that she had given money yesterday. She gave for two reasons.
I don’t remember the first, but I do remember the second. Dean said either
he wins in Wisconsin or he retires from the race. Betsy, an early Dean
supporter said it’s important that he bow out if he loses. Makes sense
to me. One last push, if it works, great, if not, that’s the end of the
fight.

The Dowbrigade feels sorry for all of those gullible innocents who were
taken in by a weak but well-intentioned man who, unfortunately, turned
out to be just another politician. We are still waiting for the One.

Why We Need Video Aggregators

4

Revolutionary Technology – The idea of a video aggregator
has garnered some interest from diverse corners of the ‘Sphere. People
who
understand
the
technical
side of aggregating
video assure the Dowbrigade that the technology exists now, and needs
only be made easier to use by non-geeks, and then marketed to the masses.

We will leave to others the working out of the details of the technical
standards and rountines necessary to make this work. What we find more
interesting is the rationale behind the need for even HAVING a video
aggregator; to crack the monopoly that BigMedia, Inc. has on our nation’s
TV sets.

This particular thought-thread started as a discussion of the effect
of blogging on the political process, and whether the lessons of Dean
will
be carried
forward and applied to future campaigns in which they will inevitably
and eventually play a pivotal role in a successful campaign.

We were not convinced. For all the vitality and variety and intelligence
that the Dowbrigade finds in Blogging and more generally Independent
Journalism, we despair of hope that these voices will be heard by the
majority of mainstream Americans.

Not because they don’t deserve to be heard, The simple fact is that
the far majority of Americans (over 70% in some studies) report getting
their news and views from Big Three Network News. Most of the rest consider
themselves sophisticated because they watch CNN or FOX. Although we
have seen no specific data, it is hard to imagine that the percentage
of respomdents who would say they get the majority of their news from
Blogs or independent news sources is more than 1%. The average American
gets
not only his news, but most of his opinions and world-view from the tube.

And to come right down to it, that’s probably the way it should be. We
don’t mean the current content of the media, but rather the media itself.
Most people, average people, have demonstrated a preference for one-way
communication when they get home from work and head to their home entertainment
centers. Despite many and varied interactive options, most people prefer
to passive receive during their down time. People have voted with their
eyeballs, and TV still wins, hands down.

Who are we to say that the interactivity of the Blogosphere is the "superior
experience"? There is a great unmentioned prejudice in this country,
and that is High-IQism.
Interactivity is not for everyone all the time. Really smart people have
a tendency to think that their lifestyle and quality of life are superior
to people
of average or below-average intelligence. Since high-IQ types often end
up in positions of authority and power, or design the
systems and products that others live in and with, they often tend to
unconsciously lord it over "regular" people.

In this we Bloggers and politically savvy members of the technogencia,
Dowbrigade included, are also guilty, feeling superior to all those Middle
Americans sitting on couches around the country and watching their "Boob
Tubes".

Sorry. guys, but the whole idea of a Democracy is that EVERYONE has an
equal vote and equal rights. The true glory of our system of government
is not the opportunities and rights it gives the most talented and blessed
among us, it is what it means to the poorest, sickest or most
feeble dumbasses among us. In the eyes of a true Democracy, all men really
are created equal. Women too.

So if we truly want to create a revolution in this country, to use new
media and technology to move a step closer to a fully informed and functional
democracy, we have to reach all those "average Joes and Janes" who
watch "Survivor" and "American Idol" and buy things
on the Home Shopping Network.
THEY are America, and if they have been misled and conditioned by BigMedia
for decades, then it is our patriotic duty to help them think for themselves. But
how?

This reasoning led to the conclusion that there were but two
paths by which the Blogosphere could really change the way political
business is conducted in this country. One would be by changing the way
Americans get their news – altering the information-consumption patterns
of the vast majority of the People. Weaning them from a steady diet
of Ted Koppel and Dan Rather and introducing them to the wonderful world
of balanced
coverage. Eroding their ability to say, "Of COURSE we’ve considered
both sides of that issue – we watched it on both CNN and FOX!"

We consider this unlikely. It is more difficult to change people’s world
view than it is to change their diets or religion. And it is condescending
and elitist to suppose that EVERYONE would prefer to get their news from
their computer rather than from their television. Which leaves the second
path, hoping to reach the human beings within the media monsters, and
indirectly reach the public through influencing the televisors . By reaching
reporters and editors, the Bloggers can find stories, give stories legs,
occatioally capture the or at least influence the global stream of conscoiousness.
Not a satisfying solution but more realistic than getting millions of
Americans to turn off their TV’s.

But then, last week, some of the younger cyber-rangers of the Berkman
crew strongly lobbied for a third path. We need, they said, to get INSIDE
THE TUBE. We need access to America’s television sets. The technology
is already there. Smart video recorders connected to computers connected
to the internet and to digital cable can mix and match streams andserve
up any combination of programming at any time.

The technology exists now to allow you to get back from the bars at 1
am and then turn on your TiVo to watch 20 minutes of live CNN followed
by a 20-minute condensation of the NBC evening news (no commercials)
followed by a 20-minute compendium consisting of 5 minutes of Instapundit,
5 minutes of Scripting News, 5 minutes from Adam Curry and 5 minutes
from Dowbrigade. Or perhaps more realistically (since 5 minutes of air time is a lot to fill up) 2 minutes each from our top 10 favorite video-blogs.

All we need is the content, and an aggregator to collect it and send
it to the VR (video recorder). But here is where we saw a problem. It
is one thing to put together a decent-looking blog posting (even a simpleton
like the Dowbrigade can do it!), and quite another to master video production,
cutaways, transitions, voiceovers and
camera
techniques. We couldn’t see anything less than a team of 3 or 4 experienced
specialists doing a decent job.

What an antiquarian mind set we have! We were promptly informed by the
whippersnappers at the table, by using iMovie and a decent WebCam, ready-for-prime-time
production
quality is already within the reach of a solo video journalist, and
as video streams become more available tools will be created to enable "regular
folks" to cut and paste, juxtapose and comment on video as easily
as we currently manipulate copy.

Even the
problem of who’s kisser’s going to be on camera will soon become moot.
We mean, we hardly tolerate looking at our own face
in the mirror when we shave, and can’t imagine anyone subscribing to
a video feed featuring a talking head that ugly. However, very soon
home hobbyists will be able to draft Max Headroom or Strong-Bad, or
Brazilian Cyber-model Kaya (photo above) to read their copy. Or to create
their own personal talking head avatar who looks like anything from Zippy
the Pinhead to Darth Vader, and letting them read the news.

As fantastic as this may sound, the idea is starting to captivate the
Dowbrigade. Obviously, video blogging is not going to replace blogging
as we know it. But we could see producing a few minutes of video if the
resources were available and easy to use. It would act a promo or teaser
for the static web-based Dowbrigade News, and could be easily aggregated
by users who want to compile a daily review of interesting independent video
feeds.

The more we think about this, the more logical and brilliant it seems
to become. Not only Americans, but people around the world have shown
a preference for getting their world view from TV. Why fight global,
historical imperatives, when you can use their dynamic? Adapt and infiltrate.
Let’s invade the world’s televisions. The Dowbrigade stands ready to
explore this brave new video frontier. Who says you can’t teach an old
dog new tricks?
Stay tuned….