Archives for June 2006

News and notes

The folks at Microsoft have released another update of the beta for IE7. I haven’t downloaded it yet (Call me a nut, but I’m confused as to why I have to delete my existing IE7 before installing the new one). Rich Ziade at notes that this might be the thing that finally boosts RSS:

…the RSS functionality is “feature complete.” I’ve mentioned this before. This may finally be the application that thrusts RSS into mainstream use. While there are other more full‐featured installable apps out there (FeedDemon being the best of the bunch), we can’t underestimate the power of not having to install anything for a huge portion of the user population. I’m still not entirely convinced that it’ll catch fire like it should. The “real need” isn’t that clearly visible just yet.
BONUS: Marshall Kirkpatrick at TechCrunch offers an excellent overview of Newsgator and Feedburner plans for RSS in the future.

The W3C has finally issued its Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0, which are the “official” basic guidelines for how to develop web applications for the huge mobile market. One must assume that this will spawn further development in the space, so we all need to be ready.

Lost remote references a Wall St. Journal report that Comcast’s purchase of The Platform is leading to the creation of a video portal that will enable its cable subscribers to route video from the PC to their TV sets. The Journal suggests that the story is Comcast upping the ante on competing with other cable companies, and I don’t doubt that. But of supreme importance to me is what this does, again, to local affiliates. While it’s an opportunity for stations to provide unbundled content (and one hopes it will have marketing attached), it pushes them further into the content‐creator‐only corner. Stations need themselves to get into the aggregator business, but I’ve said that a few times before.

Perception’s the thing

One comment on the House voting to condemn the media for running stories on the government’s monitoring of international bank transactions. The high priests of the press are busy defending themselves, as they should, and the central theme is they don’t think the New York Times is unpatriotic for running the story. The problem is it doesn’t matter what any journalist thinks today; the public is already convinced that the press can’t be trusted, and this fits right in the middle of that position. This is why all mainstream media have a much bigger problem than they care to admit and why the people formerly known as the audience are taking matters into their own hands.

Friday morning rant — the illogic of logic

I carry on here from time‐to‐time about the failures of modernism and its institutions. I originally named this blog “The Pomo Blog,” because I wanted to talk about media in the context of the dawning of the postmodern era, what I call “The Age of Participation.” I just think it’s helpful to understand that all these changes are being driven by people, and that our culture has entered a new age.

One of the big reasons I view things this way is that the failures of reason and logic are so obvious to me that I wonder how we put up with them as long as we have. Nowhere is the illogic of logic more evident than in our reliance upon rules to make culture work. Rules are not God, however, and therein lies the rub.

You see, the Biblical God is 100% just and 100% merciful at the same time, and this is ridiculous when examined with human logic. People are generally one or the other, and that’s the problem. People on the right generally tend toward justice, while people on the left see value in mercy. Our founding fathers seemed to understand this in giving us three branches of government, and as far back as history sees, the value of “judges” has been to distinguish — on a case‐by‐case basis — whether justice or mercy should apply.

I ask you the question that if rules and laws are supreme, why do we need judges?

Judges don’t “judge” anymore; they simply interpret (and make) laws, which is not their proper role in culture.

So I have a serious problem with rules, and it’s not because I think I’m special. I just think that a rule‐bound culture belongs to the lawyers, that self‐serving group of lawMAKERS that we seem to worship in the good ol’ US of A.

So with that background, here’s my Friday morning rant. My credit sucks. This is what can happen when you walk the road less traveled, as Allie and I did for the past three years. Fortunately, I now have the resources to “fix” my credit score, but it takes time (and a lot of work).

Well, guess what? You can’t rent a decent apartment anywhere without a good credit score. There are no exceptions, and the culprit is the Fair Housing Act. Rather than get on the bad side of self‐righteous lawyers and the government, property management companies have tied their rental policies to credit scores, and there are NO exceptions. This is the law of unintended consequences at work for a fellow such as myself, because I can clearly afford a nice apartment. But nobody can rent one to me, because to do so would mean an exception to the rule, and that vulnerability could be exploited if they turned down somebody else and got sued.

One place I looked offered three‐month leases. I offered to pay cash but was told, “We really don’t like to do that. The credit score is what matters.” I asked if she realized how stupid that was, but she replied she was sorry but those were the rules.

This is the kind of crap that’s produced by a culture where the law is supreme and judges don’t judge. This is justice gone to seed, and it’s killing our ability to work with each other. It’s also another evidence of an institutional system that doesn’t work, where everybody is protecting their own ass instead of doing business, because, well, the rules are supreme.

It caters to the haves and, in fact, sustains their position. Let’s face it; if you can afford to make the rules that everybody must live by, then why would you want anything changed? Ah, but the silent majority isn’t so silent anymore, and revolution is brewing.

Enough of my rant.

Redesign underway

I’m busy working on putting my blog into the “style” of the Audience Research and Development website, so I won’t be doing any blogging.

That said, take a look at this site, which was mentioned by Steve in the comments to my previous entry. This is a local video blog and a good example thereof. You’d have to be in a coma not to see this kind of thing as a threat to legacy media companies. Good stuff, methinks.

Selling Against Ourselves

Here is the latest in the on‐going series of essays, TV News in a Postmodern World. This paper examines the conundrum of companies whose business models are disrupted by innovation and are forced into the difficult position of selling against themselves in order to create a business within the innovation. This is precisely where we find mainstream media companies today, as new media technologies are threatening their very existence. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but business history is full of stories of those who successfully accomplished the mission — as well as those who didn’t.

I believe this is a key question facing all local television stations today, as we try and establish new business models with the internet. Will we have the courage to actually sell against ourselves?

Selling Against Ourselves

I’m on another jet today for a quick trip to Florida and returning tonight. See you on the back side.

On a personal note…

the 3 Palmer's Meadow FablesIn the decade of the 1990s, as I was going through deep personal change, I wrote three manuscripts that have never been published. These are spiritual fables set in a world of insects called “Palmer’s Meadow.” Everybody who’s read them, including Allie, was touched by them, and I’ve just never had the wherewithal to do anything about it.

Yesterday, I sent a check to a woman in Denver who’s going to help me format the manuscripts for printing. The printing company that has helped transform the publishing business is here in Nashville (Lightning Source), so I’m going to publish a bunch, put them on sale via the web, and see what happens.

The Butterfly Tree is the story of Conrad, the Monarch butterfly caterpillar who doesn’t want to become a butterfly. The lesson is one of trying to manage or control our lives when letting go is what’s required.

The Hoppers of Palmer’s Meadow involves two grasshopper brothers and the lust for power. I love this story and the lessons it provides, especially the danger of power for power’s sake and the true price of leadership.

Princess of the Pond is the most popular story. It tells the tale of a damselfly princess with deformed wings and the trap of self pity.

Stay tuned. It’ll be a fun exercise, if nothing else.