Archive for February 19th, 2005

On Our Permanent Record

1

This
weeks meeting of the Berkman
Thursday Bloggers Salon
was certainly
atypical.  For one, it was being filmed by and ABC crew for a story
on Nightline. For another, and perhaps as a result, it was the best
attended meeting in Thursday Night history, with all of the regulars,
plenty of newcomers and cameos from luminaries like Andy
Carvin
, Doc
Searls
and the Hobo Travelor.

Before going any further we must stop and point.  Steve
Garfield
was there, of course, and has already edited and
posted an absolutely
brilliant
video
of the proceedings (love the window reflection shot,
Steve) which has apparently shamed the network boys into withdrawing
or delaying their own version of events, which had originally been scheduled
to run Monday night. So check out Steve’s
video
first.

The other strange, almost surreal aspect to the evening was the multi-layered
complexity of the coverage; ABC was shooting the meeting, Steve was shooting
the meeting, Steve was shooting ABC, ABC was shooting Steve shooting
ABC. 3 or 4 people were blogging live, there was a parallel IRC chat
going on, and at least a dozen bloggers were recording impressions and
notes for blogging later.  We recognized digital cameras covering
a gamut from 1 to 17 Megapixels, and voice was being recorded on microphoned
iPods, laptops, and stray microphones on the table attached by snaking
cords to dedicated recording devices.

It was kind of unnatural.  Everyone was on their best behavior,
there was no overt swearing, except when Dave
Weinberger
made a joke
while the ABC cameraman changed the film cassette in his camera.

By a
coincidence of arrival time, the Dowbrigade snagged a seat at the Grownups
Table, right between official Media Star / Hot Babe Rebecca
Mackinnon
and current Berkman uber-Blogger Dave
Weinburger
,
thereby insuring ourselves at least peripheral face time on camera.

We made a few comments during the discussion, but it was carried largely
by wiser heads and broader minds.  Even our traditional role as
"the spacy guy in the group" was usurped by the almost ethereally  empathic
Taran Rampersand, while Andy
the Hobo Travelor
lent the internationalist
viewpoint.

It wasn’t just the presence of the cameras that had everybody on edge.  After
all, we are all already minor celebrities living in a digital hothouse,
recorded by friends and family, security and traffic cams, cell phones
and video bloggers, almost everyday. It must be, we concluded, a testament
to the still powerful media magic of the Big Three and Network News.

In fact, the Dowbrigade felt that he was the ONLY one in the room, with
the possible exception of the ABC crew, who was acting normally and naturally.  This
was because, as we advised the group at the beginning of the meeting,
the Dowbrigade is paranoid enough to assume that we are ALWAYS being
observed
and recorded
in some
way, shape or form. In this day and age it seems a safe assumption.

When we were a kid, we became
convinced that we were the only real human being left alive on the planet,
and that everyone else who appeared to be human was really a robot or
an android, all part of an alien plot to study and experiment on the
last known human being in the universe – me. There were cameras everywhere,
recording our every move, studying our reactions to diverse stimuli.

We assume that everyone has these fantasies, at some time or another.  Variations on “The Truman Show” scenario. The
difference in our case is that we have adopted and adapted this belief
into a functional life-philosophy. If we are constantly under observation
by alien intelligence’s, then we are always ON THE RECORD, no?
It makes things simpler.

At any rate, Rebecca has kindly tagged all
of the posted versions
of
the meeting on delicious, so by clicking
here you can get a kaleidoscopic smorgasbord of one of the most examined
events in the short, stellar
history of the blogosphere.  It stands as a sort of 20-sided Bloggers
Rashomon.
viewer pick your point of view. If the Dateline story ever does come
out, it will be an afterthought and a reflected shot (prescient
symbology, Steve) of something the network crew recorded, but didn’t
really understand or penetrate. What we finally took away from the meeting
was that the mainstream media didn’t understand blogging because they
put no "news value" on our ideas, or experience, our lives.  The
Berkman group didn’t make up a neat "story" in their sense of the world,
there was no end, no plan, no hook, no controversy, no pathos, no celebrity
(except for Rebecca, who was the real reason they were there). The head
reporter seemed exasperated at our lack of newsworthiness.  We
find it blogging’s saving grace.

Steve’s Video

Rebecca’s delicious
links
to all postings on the meeting