The Longest Now

Conference blogging
Friday January 21st 2005, 8:10 am
Filed under: popular demand

A few people seem to already have started blogging the conference, creating programs for the attendees and pre-linking to this blog
as a resource for transcripts.  I don’t know if I’ll have time to
upload transcripts during the day, however, so barring finding a good
log-bot, you may have to actually be on IRC to read the

Conference attendees
Friday January 21st 2005, 4:33 am
Filed under: %a la mod

Here’s an annotated list of attendees of the Berkman conference; it lists many but not all of the attendees.  There are also 10-15 observers at any time, from the K-school, law school, and media, and me.  The room is laid out with the invited speakers at a central rectangular shell of tables, all facing in at one another; the others are seated around the periphery of the room, along the walls.  There are lots and lots of outlets, and a mic for every two seats…

The list above is a condensed and slightly enhanced version of the official one.  If you have images of people not imaged there, let me know.  Sandhill has a similar list with excerpts from each person’s opinions on blogging, and reposts an interesting open letter to the conference organizers from someone anti-Jarvis.

Feats of Clay
Friday January 21st 2005, 2:56 am
Filed under: %a la mod

I had an epiphany after the end of the conference last Saturday. 
I was pacing – as I inevitably am when they strike – thinking
about the last session of the day, where Dave Winer had asked everyone
what more they wanted out of blog software beyond title, attribution, and
date.  ‘More options for configuring my main page,’ said
one.  ‘More than just chronological ordering,‘ said another,
that’s what we spend all day working on in the newspaper editing

It came to me that no-one, not the hotshot designers, not the
interface gurus, not the luminaries in the room, not the blog-happy
grandmothers with surfeits of common sense, had an inkling of what an
ideal interface would look like, even for their own peculiar needs. 
Where I grew up [TwenCen Earth, for those of you following along from a vasty distance],
we weren’t raised to think this way.  We’re lucky to see one or
two ideal interfaces in our lifetime that we recognize as such (of
course our bodies, the natural world, even those man-made constructs we
take for granted, often qualify).

I could go off on what kind of ideal interface I would like – in fact I
feel somehow obligated to answer the catalyst question – but that’s for
another time.  It’s enough to note here the thought that even
clever and skillful craftsmen are rarely working towards an Ideal
And most people don’t know what their ideal interfaces, tools, or
toolchains would be like, wouldn’t recognize their blueprints, wouldn’t
know quite what to do with one them until they picked it up, walked
through one, saw someone next to them on a subway or airplane using it
with ease…

I also saw for an instant the steady progress of my own criticism of
the world : the progression of classes of idols whose feet I’ve watched
melt and run in the warm rain
when I began to know a few personally.  Public school teachers;
lawyers; professors; city boards and mayors; venture capitalists; my
parents (despite remaining, respectively, the most brilliant and most
sensible adults I’ve ever met); international political and media leaders… and now technologists.  It comes
as a physical shock each time I realize that another class of [expert,
brilliant] people don’t generally know or even feel that they could know
what the next
fifty years have in store; don’t know of or feel obliged to find a
coordinated approach to coordinating the efforts of a thousand
colleagues in their field; don’t have access to conceptual blueprints
which, however difficult to realize, make sense of the chaos of the

I have known a double-handful of geniuses whose analysis, perceptiveness, and sense of direction and place – a balance of local and nonlocal Tao? – I would follow
anywhere.  But they are rarely the models or idols in their
fields; more often they are the eccentric success stories.  (And
the last time I did follow one, the rain washed out their foundation if not their feet…
so I don’t look too closely.)

More surprising to me — I have yet to meet a class of people who
recognized one another for those capacities, and collectively sought
out that lasting marble clarity as they pressed forward with their
life’s work.  For a while I thought technologists and inventors
epitomized this capacity, despite inefficiencies in the notion of
capital markets.   But I realize now that there is rarely
social or financial advantage in this.

Scandal and journalistic credibility… ON THE WEB!
Friday January 21st 2005, 2:34 am
Filed under: indescribable

There’s been a big hullabaloo about credibility and blogging this past week, sparked by a recent Armstrong Williams/Ketchum/Department of Education scandal.  Right on its heels came a detailed post about blogger ethics by Zephyr Teachout, and publicity of this week’s WebCred conference here at Berkman.  Subsequent articles (in the WSJ,
et al.) have tried to compare Williams’s lack of disclosure with Kos‘s
partial disclosure, generally to the Blogger’s discredit. 
Contributors to the melee include pro- and
anti-disestablismentarian bloggers and journalists (look how un/conflicted the interests of bloggers are!  Clearly they can/cannot be trusted!), politicians buttressing and bashing Howard Dean(for-DNC-chair) (look how clean/corrupt his campaign was!), political bloggers for and against Kos (look what a blog-god/whore he is!),  campaign groupies for and against  (look how open and moral / calculating and vituperative she is!), and even more restrictive subsubgroups, such as bloggers for and against the Berkman Center (look at what actively idealistic people / kitten-eating cyborgs they are!).

Someone I know has a great picture of the lot of them eating kittens, but is holding back in the hopes of blackmailing a free parking spot out of John Palfrey.  And for the record, I think every last one of the individuals and institutions mentioned in the previous paragraph is simultaneously decent and human. Yes, even the DoE.

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