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The boy who cried

The pundit blogosphere can be so toxic that even some of its most celebrated participants can suffer the burden of its emotional toll. It's largely for that reason that I try to avoid the daily drama of the punditsphere. But today's firestorm does present an interesting case for followers of Web culture, so I'll try to give it a quick summary and you can click more deeply if you're in the mood to make yourself angry.

Apparently the Democratic Party recently used a 12-year-old boy to speak in support of their position on the children's health insurance plan that's been in the news so much lately. My introductory click to the matter was this Free Republic post detailing a surprising amount of personal information about the boy and his family. Without even passing a value judgment on the subject I thought it was a pretty good example of how frighteningly public our lives are to online searches (I'm assuming the poster found all that material about the family online).

Of course, bloggers haven't hesitated to make value judgments, but what makes this story relevant to Clicked is that "citizen journalism" is cited as the justification for researching and publishing the family's information. Bloggers also called and visited the family's home and place of business, arguing that the traditional media accepted the family's (and Democrats') story too readily, forcing bloggers to do the real reporting themselves. The basic questions being pursued by these bloggers were whether the family is really poor enough for the boy to speak on behalf of uninsured poor children and do the circumstances that created this poverty warrant the use of tax money to cover medical expenses. To say more than that is to start a fight on this blog that I don't really want to have.

What I clicked:

And:

UPDATE: Reading the summary and further research in the Times story makes me wish I hadn't lent any energy to this fetid trash. Even if you grant the point that the story called for further facts and citizen journalists were justified in doing the leg work, they got almost all the facts wrong. Right down to the kitchen counter material! If you don't believe in using tax money to help the sick and injured, that's fine, but attacking this family is not necessary to make the argument. If this story has anything to do with online citizen journalism it's an example of how the concept can be bastardized and manipulated for purposes other than journalism.

Speaking of Republicans not finding answers in existing media, Republicans Remain Deeply Distrustful of News Media. Interestingly, the same poll can be given a different headline if you prefer: Perception of conservative bias in media 64 percent higher since Sept. 2001.

Speaking of Republicans feeling opposed by the media, Howie Kurtz's new book -particularly the parts about how the network news anchors felt about reporting on the war- has rekindled accusations of liberal media bias. On the liberal side it's rekindled talk of Kurtz's bias.

Speaking of over-generalizing about Republicans, Right-Of-Center Bloggers Select Their Least Favorite People On The Right - You may find the list surprising, though I reckon it says more about bloggers on the right than it does about overall political right.

Speaking of political alignment, did you get a chance to play with the candidate matrix on this site today? To some extent it feels like a game of which side can sabotage the survey results of the other candidate. Right now it looks like Bill Richardson has the greenest column, followed by Ron Paul. The amount of red in Hillary's column makes me consider that the grid as a whole is a measure of a candidate's divisiveness - the less divisive candidates will be green because the opposition didn't go through the trouble of registering disagreeing votes.

Google tools to power virtual worlds - Get ready for online games set in your favorite Google Earth locations. This was just a rumor not too long ago, but now it looks like it's really going to happen that Google Earth will begin to flesh out as a 3-D virtual space. Once we saw the flight simulator it was a good guess this was coming.

Early Halloween link: People transforming in their Transformer costumes.

Virgin airlines seems to think there's value in marketing to the online set. I don't see it having a big impact on online discourse.

I would have guessed that a Chocolate Lava Cake had a different concoction at its core than in the rest of the cake. Handy lesson.

Remember that X-Wing rocket? As was pointed out in the comments, the launch didn't go very well. The audio on the small video is pretty great.

Remarkably striking photos of people walking through the NYC Subway turnstiles. The info page says they didn't know they were being photographed (though it sure looks like it to me). The elevator series is also quite good. He's also got a set of surreptitiously photographed people sitting for portraits in Times Square. I recognized the setting for those right away but I had no idea that many people go their portraits done. I'd love to see his hidden camera set up.

Speaking of art installations, "Cai Guo-Qiang, Head On, 2006 | installation of a pack of 99 life-sized wolves barreling in a continuous stream towards—and into—a constructed glass wall." Just click it, it's pretty amazing. NOTE: This is a cool site but it has a few artfully done nude photos here and there, including on this reprinting of a recent widely-shared Craigslist thread in which a woman looking to land a rich man gets some cold, frank advice.

"As of right now Nine Inch Nails is a totally free agent, free of any recording contract with any label. I wonder what Prince thinks of bands like NIN and Radiohead rebelling against record labels.  Remember all that "artist formerly known as" stuff? He was a little ahead of the curve I guess.

Speaking of free music, there is no money in recorded music any more, that's why bands are now giving it away.

Still on that, The Inevitable March of Recorded Music Towards Free - In this model (and the link above) the music becomes a means of marketing the band. Though it mentions a boom in live performing, not quite mentioned is the fact that you have to be able to actually play your music to perform it. I'm looking forward to a resurgence in real music played on real instruments.

Speaking of marketing music, 6 Maxims for Music Promotion in the Digital Age

"iheard.com makes it easy for people to find their favorite internet radio stations by providing an easy to use search interface and directory with thousands of stations organized by genre, country and language." It's not a music service, just a directory, but the stations I tried that worked were quick loading and easy to find.

I keep playing with this Arcade Fire video, looking for the hidden link that's surely in there. So far no luck.

Wi-Fi Detector Shirt - Americans, don't bother wearing this out of the house, you'll get shot.

Another Internet Map project: "a set of visualizations that display how cities across the globe are interconnected (by router configuration and not physical backbone). In total, there are 89,344 connections."

Speaking of tracking Web stats, "The good news has already been widely disseminated: there are nearly 5000 Facebook applications, and the top applications have tens of millions of installs and millions of active users. The bad news, alas, is in our report: 87% of the usage goes to only 84 applications! Only 45 applications have more than 100,000 active users."

Still on watching the Web, "The table below shows the largest 50 sites circa August 2001, based on monthly attention. More importantly, it also shows how that attention share has shifted since." In case you don't feel like clicking through I'll spoil the surprise: Almost all of them have seen huge drops. Mapquest is a surprise winner. People still use that site?

Husband gets £870 life-size tattoo of his wife - then discovers she is having affair. I feel like we've seen a spate of tattoo foible links lately. Maybe this guy can find another woman named Lisa. UPDATE: This one's not passing the sniff test.

John Lennon's birthday was today.

Nikon's small world photo contest

The .edu underground - Note the Google trick at the end to find more educational sites on subjects of your interest.

"Researchers are unearthing the roots of religious feeling in the neural commotion that accompanies the spiritual epiphanies of nuns, Buddhists and other people of faith." (P.S. The opening sentence makes a good creative writing assignment: "The doughnut-shaped machine swallows the nun...")

Speaking of technology run amok and devouring people, "Craig Venter, the controversial DNA researcher involved in the race to decipher the human genetic code, has built a synthetic chromosome out of laboratory chemicals and is poised to announce the creation of the first new artificial life form on Earth." They took a bacterium cell and stripped out everything but what it needs support life. "It is then transplanted into a living bacterial cell and in the final stage of the process it is expected to take control of the cell and in effect become a new life form." It then grows out of control, devours the scientists in the lab, attacks scantily clad co-eds at a sleep-away summer camp before fighting a battle to the death against an international military force in a major but unspecific urban setting.

The Pultius TV remote - Why enter the digits manually when every channel can have button?

I've seen a few variations on this quiz lately. It asks if you can figure out which images are photos and which are from the new Gran Turismo 5 video game.

I seem to recall once clicking a page or two in a parody LOLCat Bible but now they've got almost the whole thing translated. I liked Leviticus.

The 10 Most Improbable Celebrity Fistfights

This Smoking Gun report is getting a lot of links from people who like to mock the sexual peccadilloes of religious leaders but more interesting to me is seeing the actual autopsy report. I've seen autopsy photos before but I don't think I've ever seen a simple report like this.

I can't read a word of this but assembling a Jacuzzi on top of a snow capped mountain looks pretty fun - even if there are so many people in the tub there's probably room for only a pint and a half of water.

Yes, there is indeed only one thing to say about the new Batman movie: Can Not Wait.

66 Celebrities that Blog - I don't know how useful this is but it seems like the kind of thing someone's going to ask me at some point in the future so I wanted to make sure I could look it up later.

Worst Ride Ever - You'll be forgiven for not watching this whole video. I don't understand how this is even a ride. I think it's maybe some kind of new CIA torture program.