Archive for November, 2005

Build your own clubhouse

It is hard to put your finger on what makes a cool blogger. Is it the ability to bring down the powerful? Maybe it is the knack for telling me about the coolest gadgets before anybody else. It could be a unique fiction that tickles the reader. Whatever your preference, one thing is for sure, the hipsters that many despise in the physical world have found a footing in the blogosphere, taking the joy out of blogging for many. It is refreshing to see that they still get their comeuppance in the real world.

Wonkette wasn't allowed into her own clubhouse in Austin, TX. Source: Austinist
For many bloggers, their writing isn’t about making money, being cool, or anything of that nature. Rather, it is catharsis, exhibitionism, or the desire for a simple creative outlet that draws them into the land of blogs. Some people just enjoy putting their thoughts out there for the world to see. For these people, they could care less about being cool. In fact, they actively oppose being cool.But what about the hipsters that want to reach the top of the technorati? My writing has appeared in the searches on technorati.com, but I didn’t do anything purposeful to get there. In an effort to help some blogging poser become tres’ chic, I looked and looked for tips on how to become a cool blogger. There just weren’t any good tips. The cool kids just don’t want the rest of us to know the code to their clubhouse.

In this information vaccuum, I am forced to tell you what I think about the democratization of the Internet (nay, the world?) via blogs. I think it is fabulous. As I have mentioned in previous posts, any opportunity to give voice to the voiceless is a good thing. This is the solution to the “clubhouse” problem laid out above. Rather than play in someone else’s clubhouse, we, the sweaty masses, can just build our own clubhouse. Oh yeah, for the record, my favorite blog (and the only one I read) is engadget. They are the coolest!

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Casting light where there is none

I am jazzed about the idea of podcasting at KU. I feel giddy at the thought of it. It is the first time since coming to the j-school that I feel able to make a significant impact on the larger University community. Kick back and relax as I scoop my podcasting partners and myself. Back in February, KUJH-TV news kicked all non-journalism students off the air, shifting the focus of the station exclusively to informational programming. In doing so, film students lost a major resource for showcasing their creativity. Podcasting has the power to right this wrong.

Dan Ryckert from his former sketch comedy show “Foghat Live”

Photo: Scott McClurg/Journal-World Photo

Dan Ryckert from his former sketch comedy show “Foghat Live”

I propose the creation of podcast.ku.edu. By providing a venue such as this, the creative forces in the University community will be able to put their productions out there for the world to see. This is something that can work for film students, radio DJs, or political scientists that want to host a weekly talk show. The possibilities are limitless. Just think of it: a student-run radio talk show that doesn’t have to worry about FCC fines if someone drops an F-bomb. For journalists, we can conduct interviews that delve into a depth unheard of in other broadcast media. Think of the truly unique programming of which I cannot conceive, but has been languishing in the back of the mind of a voiceless student. I am all atwitter as I type the thought. This is the free exchange of ideas that should be at the forefront of every University. This is power to the people. This is where you just might get to hear your favorite Irish pirate discuss the pros and cons of “acoustic bangs” on cruise ships and why it might not be a good idea to sail off the coast of Somalia. There should be some editorial oversight. I suggest a student position, akin to that of a Kansan editor, which would be based in The Stauffer Multimedia Newsroom. Given that this is a web platform, there is no need for heavy editorial oversight. Rather, only the most egregious of content should be culled, including the twin threats of libel and slander. This idea is something that can be implemented immediately. We have none of the technological barriers faced by some. We just need the content. Do you have a great idea for a show that the hipsters at KJHK won’t want to air? Are you a former KUJH contributor that lost your show? Are you a freshman in the dorm that always wanted to host your version of Letterman from the commons area of your floor? Here is your chance. I am actively pursuing content. The more the merrier.

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What am I missing here?

When I started out researching news mapping, I didn’t think much of it. If you live in Old West Lawrence, for instance, and there is a spate of robberies in the neighborhood, this is newsworthy to you and perhaps even the citizens in other parts of the city. I assume this is the thought process of chicagocrime.org. Aside from a morbid curiosity or researching a neighborhood before moving, why is this necessary?

Isn’t the location of the crimes going to be reported in the news story? Aren’t you going to be aware that this is happening around you because you saw it on the news? I can’t remember the last time that I saw a story on the local news that didn’t highlight the area where the crime occurred. I know, this assumes people watch the news. But aren’t the same eyeballs looking at chicagocrime.org going to look at local news?

What good comes from having a map that shows the location of local crimes? I really don’t see the point for the person on the street. It seems to be yet another reason for people to shutter themselves into their homes at night, leaving the streets to the criminals. It is yet another tool in the arsenal of the fear mongers. To me, and lots of other people, this is exactly the wrong thing to do if we want to make our neighborhoods safer.

Should we all don the red beret, using a news map as our attack plan?

Bear in mind, this is just one element of news mapping. But this is the one that is winning awards. Am I obtuse? I just don’t get the fascination. Tell me how I am wrong, because I really do want to understand this.

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