I thought I'd identified a trend worth describing but the more I surf, the more I'm beginning to wonder if the trend is simply "this is what we do on the Web." You be the judge: We pay a lot of attention to efforts at viral glory or the more controlled marketing of political causes. And we pay a lot of attention to the stories of individuals who don't ask for attention but end up being dragged into the digital spotlight. But arguably more common are cases in which someone turns to the Web to assuage the ache of injustice in some personal drama. People definitely have a sense that they can take their issue to the Internet to expose some bit of corruption or unfairness and sometimes it seems, for better or worse, the Internet actually listens.
What made me think about this theme is the case of a guy who believes his former roommate stole his camcorder. He blogged about it and put up some kind of accusatory video (which was taken down before I could see it). In the end enough people became sympathetic to his cause that the subject of his accusations began to feel threatened. Now the guy faces cyber-bullying felonies.
This guy took his bicycle on an airport road and the cops gave him a hard time. Without taking a side on this particular matter, I have to say, I'll never understand people who think it's a good idea to tell a cop they're being rude and ask for their name or their supervisor's name. That is a no-win gambit as far as I've ever seen. There is no story that goes: "I alerted the officer to his rudeness and pointed out that his salary is paid with my taxes. He thanked me for the reminder and gave me a lights and sirens escort to my destination, tipping his had with a smile as we parted ways."
This guy criticized a baggage handling company and now believes someone from that company is creating accounts in his name on gay dating sites. (P.S. While you're there, remember that Fingerwrecker clip from last week? Check out these clips from The Legend of 1900. That guy in the first one is meant to be Jellyroll Morton.)
Photography Banned in Downtown Silver Spring, Maryland - The focus of this story is the way authorities have tried to discourage public photography citing bogus laws and vague security reasons. There's no denying this is taking place all over the country (lately there have been a number of stories about videotaping police) but I saw a different theme in this report. Increasingly Americans are embracing the idea of private public space - by which I mean, outdoor living space that's actually privately owned, like gated communities or those outdoor malls that feel like downtown shopping areas. It strikes me as odd that we as Americans are so passionate about our freedoms and yet we're also so open to subjecting ourselves to the extra layer of rules and restrictions of private space, whether it's a ban on photography or a limit on the number of cars you can have in your driveway or the color you can paint your house.
Speaking of outrages that kind of make sense to me, this blogger was barred from attending an Obama no-press event because he admitted to being a blogger. Bloggers are part of the press, so the guy was rejected. As with the above examples, he brought his complaint to the online People's Court. I'm inclined to agree with the Obama people here. It's not about whether you get a check for what you do, it's about the fact that you make a habit of reporting your experiences in a medium that could be accessed by millions. Bloggers have spent too many years struggling to be recognized as journalists to go back down the "little old me" road now.
This guy sought to expose a problem with cars driving through a park after closing hours. In doing so he filmed himself and a concerned citizen dragging barriers into the street. I'm thinking that's not a matter you want to take into your own hands, but if word of this video makes it to park officials I reckon he'll get the satisfaction he's looking for.
Feeling somehow similar are warnings to the same vast unspecified Web audience:
One thing you can expect from British Airways is that they'll get your title correct.
"A digital camera inside a parcel looks out through a small hole and captures images of its journey through the postal system." Unfortunately it doesn't give the full video that resulted. It reminds me of the camera mail project.
This eventually made mainstream news, but in case you missed it here's a first look at Harrison Ford back as Indiana Jones. Lookin' good.
I've seen a few versions of a report of a new list of most-hated Web words. For me, silly Web 2.0 names (I cringed as I posted that link to "Glubber" recently) can end any day now. Also start-up names that are missing vowels. And even though I keep writing it I agree with the inclusion of "social network" on the list.
"Ceravision has just announced that they have developed a lightbulb that is 50% efficient (more than twice the efficiency of CFLs) and will last...um...forever?"
Gizmodo's copy that accompanies photos of a custom "angel sword guitar" gave me a good laugh. I hope someone told Jack Black about this item.
"Pork-Busters" Busted - An interesting essay that takes some of the wind out of the sails of the movement to cut back on Congressional earmarks. It's such an accepted bit of wisdom that the government wastes money on pork that I don't think I've ever seen anyone give the idea any critical treatment.
Iran 'unable to take Australians' - This is actually old news because it happened before Iran captured those British sailors but the revelation is new and seems potentially significant as part of the story we'll one day tell in the fallout shelter while we eat cold MREs.
Julian Beever, the greatest sidewalk artist in the world... We see this guy's work online all the time but it's hard to tell what's new and what's old. In this case a dated, first person description of an encounter with him is helpful.
The Future of PR is Participation, Not Pitching - I spoke as part of a panel with Steve Rubel (the aforelinked blogger) and this post feels like something he could have said back then as well. That said, it's not any less correct or relevant.
e-learning 2.0: All You Need To Know - This is one to stick in your bookmarks and take some time to work through. Lots of links within.
"The fact that we don't understand what value others get from social web apps is part of the paradigm of social software. The key is that each person has their own social lives, their own social circle, and thus their own social values. What is important to their social life will almost certainly be unimportant to us because we have our own to worry about." This is the most reasonable paragraph I've read since I started keeping track of reasonable paragraphs, which admittedly started with this one. When you add to the equation the fact that so many tech writers are socially malformed, inept, or barren (not only am I including myself, I'm actually talking about myself, of course) and you get an even better sense of how "opaque" the value of some Web applications can be.
I didn't think much of the marble binary adding machine until I watched the video. Not only is it cool but it made me think about how some people -not me- are able to visualize math.
"In a recent SELF.com poll, nearly 1 in 20 respondents said their doctors had refused to treat them for moral, ethical or religious reasons." Is there some kind of quiz or something we're supposed to give our doctors to find out before-hand if they're going to hang us out to dry because their particular brand of mythology tells them to?
Sort of related: "Newly-qualified women doctors outnumber their male counterparts by almost three to two, a survey suggests."
12 of the Best Music Social Networks - This is worth paying attention to for two reasons. The first is that it's just a matter of time before giant record labels are extinct and people learn about and promote music by digital word of mouth through these kinds of social networks. Second, it's a great way to explore new music with a little bit of wisdom-of-the-crowds guidance.
Speaking of social music, the Last.fm normaliser is meant to build a playlist of your favorites based on how much time you spend listening to them on Last.fm. I haven't played with it yet but the concept sounds good.
"... and ever since then my watch battery hasn't needed replacing."
Speaking of the powers of electricity, this isn't funny but I did chuckle a little at thought of the cop who must have had the surprise of his life: "Police are investigating the firey death of a man who burst into flames after dousing himself in petrol and then being shot with a taser gun."
Commuter Click: Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace
Miracle diet pill with teeny-tiny side effect - When news of the fat blocking diet pill was going around we talked about it a little here in the cube farm but used delicate workplace words to describe the effect the pill has on your... um... personal output. This guy pulls no punches, so be forewarned, the language is a bit coarse.
Blogging Toolbox: 120+ Resources for Bloggers
Speaking of blogger tips, 10 Techniques I Used To Go From 0 To 12,000 RSS Subscribers In Seven Months - With No Ads Or Leverage
The seven most annoying things about the future - Onward is not always upward.
Yesterday I was having a discussion about whether Second Life has jumped the shark. Coincidentally the Wall Street Journal had a recent article about interviewing for jobs in Second Life -- that is, the interview is virtual, the job is not. You may not be able to read the article if you don't have a password but you can get a good picture of what it's about from the reactions that show up in the Techmeme list:
- Optimistic about virtual worlds though no necessarily about Second Life.
"For those wondering how I manage to regulate the duration of my polyphasic naps, and manage to sleep so soundly at work - I created the most invaluable mp3 I've ever possessed. (For those new to my site: Polyphasic sleep = not sleeping at night, but many naps throughout 24/7)" Do note the disclaimers. I'm listening to one of the mp3s right now and it's basically a white noise hiss. So far it's not causing me to cluck like a chicken or anything diabolical. Looks like the first one gives you 8 minutes and then wakes you up with barnyard noises and dance music.
"The Internet may be referred to as the 'information superhighway,' but a better analogy might be an enormous, hulking Tootsie Roll pop." This is more about the structure of the Internet itself, not like those maps of pundit bloggers we see sometimes. I'm printing up the paper that's linked in the entry but I have a feeling it's going to be over my head.
In the early days of trying to figure out how to convey the television experience on the Web there was a lot of discussion of "behind the scenes" features. As you can tell from this glimpse of Chris Matthews' excited state, sometimes behind the scenes is the best show. You can also see why those behind the scenes ideas never really turned out to be the best idea.
SimpleSpark is a search engine for finding that site that you thought could be useful but didn't have an immediate use for but then you realized you did but you'd already deleted the link from your notes.
Speaking of finding the tools you need, increasingly we are seeing sites dedicated to giving you the ability to build your own web tools without actually having the coding skills. So far I've only played with Yahoo Pipes and Microsoft's Popfly, but I'm a big fan of this idea.