Archive for July 17th, 2004

Blogging the Convention


Had a bit of a scare last night. At the always stimulating Thursday
Night Blogger’s
meeting at the Berkman Center, we were disturbed to discover
that the only other member of the group to be credentialed for the convention,
our blogging buddy Rick Heller, was getting all sorts of email from the
DNC Press Corps that we weren’t.  Like an invitation to the Bloggers
Brunch and a request for his laptop’s MAC number to add it to the wireless
access list.

Of course, we had read the horror stories online about the bloggers
who received official invitations only to be "disinvited" a few days
later by email, but we had compulsively combed every inbox we could access
looking for the dreaded disinvitation. We found nothing.

Nevertheless, now we were starting to get paranoid. When we got home from the
meeting, our Mom called to read us an editorial which had appeared that
day in the New York Times, about the Dems inviting bloggers to the Convention,
and subsequently reducing the number to 30 (although they were wrong
about there being only 50 applicants). The editorial said, in part, "Bloggers
can be crass and biased, but politicians no longer scoff at their rich
online realm. Hence the red carpet at the convention – at least for some
of them."

By now we were sure we were among the disenfranchised, disinvited bloggers.  Someone
at the DNC had sobered up, or obtained access to our "permanent record"
or just decided having the Dowbrigade running around loose was too much
of a risk.  How
foolish we would look to all the people we had told.  Well, nothing
new there.

So this morning, in the office early to try to keep a step ahead of
these frisky lawyers currently occupying our teaching days, we wrote
a carefully crafted email to Mike Liddell, the DNC point man for the
Blogger Project. By the time we took our mid-morning class break, he
had written back.  We were indeed still in. Our paranoia was misplaced
(this time).

So we went back to casting about for an angle, an edge, a hook to tie
together our convention coverage. Knowing that the iconic New York Times
had editorialized on the theme only increased the pressure. The eyes
of the informati would be on us. The New York Times was expecting "fresh
insight". The world of conventional journalism was surely pulling for
our failure, so as not to expose the vapidity and vanity of the last
30 years of their own self-congratulatory convention coverage.

The bar
was being set impossibly high.  "Menckenian impertinence"? We
didn’t have a clue as to what that was, let alone how to achieve it.

However, the Dowbrigade is not easily intimidated. Fool hearty would
perhaps not be an exaggeration. So our current thinking is to take a
three-pronged approach to our convention coverage. Of course, this could
change in about 3 minutes if we can think of or steal a better idea.

Plan A we can’t write about, because it is secret, and as the plan with
the most promise we refuse to compromise it by creating anticipation
or warning its victims. One of these "if we told you we’d have to kill
you" scenarios.

Plan B is to concentrate on covering the coverers. This approach is
obvious considering the sheer numbers involved in this event.  At
the convention in Boston there are expected to be about 5,000 delegates
and Democratic Party officials, and about 15,000 members of the press.
Logically, members of the press will be much easier to find, and everybody
connected with the actual Party is going to have at least 5 or 10 journalists
surrounding them, interviewing, photographing and recording every moment
of their time and every thought on their minds.

Plus, there is the fact that the Press is a big part of the story, and
have been notoriously bad at covering themselves.  It like they
have a secret brotherhood blood pact not to reveal too much about how
they go about their business and come up with this drivel they have been
spooning out to the American public for all these years.

In fact, the more we think about it, the more this idea appeals to us.  The
mainstream Press, after all, is largely responsible for the moral quagmire
we find ourselves in and the mindless apathy of the American public.  The
poor delegates can’t be blamed; for the most part they are everyday shulbs
with a touching naivit

Swifty, the Official Donkey Delegate


Finally, a delegate
we can look forward to interviewing. Considering that the Dowbrigade’s
personal political philosophy is so far off the charts that we despaired
of finding anyone at the convention with whom we could have an enlightening
political discussion, it is good news to find that there will be at least
one delegate with some farm-bred common sense, bereft of a bloated ego,
and with a deeply ingrained instinct to hold their positions and not
be easily swayed. Now we have to worry about getting sugar cubes through
the security cordon…

Swifty the donkey takes a break from eating grass on Morris
Powell’s family farm in Rising Fawn, Ga., Friday, July 16, 2004. As one
of the most active Democrats in the rural part of Georgia, Morris Powell
was assured a spot months ago as a delegate at the party’s convention
in Boston. It took some negotiating, but now Swifty is a delegate too.
Swifty overcame security and space concerns to become "the official
Donkey Delegate” of the convention. (AP Photo/Ric Feld)

from the AP

On-line Video Aggregator and Media Mixer


The ability of current technology to whip up cool, potentially useful stuff far outstrips the ability of the economic distribution system to develop and offer that that stuff to the general public in the form of products. However, when the panorama is ripe for a particular piece of software or hardware, it will burst forth from this fecund petri dish of innovation in many seemingly simultaneous and splendiferous manifestations.

Such is the case with Video Aggregators, an idea whose time has clearly come. Thursday’s New York Times brings news of Wejay, a free, on-line composing tool allowing anyone to collect and remix video, add and synch music, still graphic images, soundtracks and voiceovers. This sounds like a DreamMedium to the Dowbrigade, and we can’t wait to try it out…..

A HANDFUL of Web users are programming their own virtual TV newscasts and eclectic collections of video clips using a free media-sharing tool called Webjay The site makes it easy to build, share and watch playlists of audio and video links culled from around the Internet.

Webjay, developed by Lucas Gonze, a programmer who lives in Brooklyn, has already built a following among music lovers. They have used it to assemble sets of legally available music links from all over the Web and then play the whole list with one click, using Windows Media Player, RealOne, Winamp or QuickTime. Now some people are creating video shows using Webjay and streaming Web video.

from The New York Timesvia Andrew Grumet