Archives for April 2008

Defining "self-evident"

As if it really needed defining, right?

courtesy abcnews.comIn an ongoing case that continues to baffle common sense, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has refiled its suit against Universal Music Group for bullying YouTube into pulling a 29-second clip of little Holden Lenz “dancing” to background music of the Prince tune “Let’s Go Crazy.” The original suit was tossed out by Federal district court judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose, who said the EFF hadn’t proven their claim that the clip’s fair use of the song was “self-evident.” Any sane human being could recognize that it was, so the EFF’s new case spells it out, and it’s precious:

“The video bears all the hallmarks of a family home movie–it is somewhat blurry, the sound quality is poor, it was filmed with an ordinary digital video camera, and it focuses on documenting Holden’s ‘dance moves’ against a background of normal household activity, commotion and laughter,” the new complaint charges. “The snippet of ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ that plays in the background (not dubbed as a soundtrack) of the Holden Video could not substitute for the original Prince song in any conceivable market.”

Kudos to the EFF! There’s no reply from Universal yet, and they’d be well-advised to just settle the thing, because if this makes it through the courts, it’ll become a fatal setback in their efforts to win the personal media battle through the legal system.

It was, as we say here in Texas, dumber than a bucket of hair to push this case in the first place (the video had only 29 views when Universal lawyers found it – now over 463,000), and anything from here on out just adds to the foolishness of Universal’s actions.

Linked-In endorsements? No way.

Doc Searls has been justifiably irked about certain aspects of Facebook (namely those relentless friend requests), but I apparently don’t know enough people for that to be a problem. I do, however, have a serious bone to pick with Linked-In and their endorsements and recommendations application. “Endorse so-and-so. It only takes a minute.” Well, what if I don’t want to?

It seems innocent enough, but here’s my quandary: how do I endorse some and not others in such a public place? If I endorse Joe but not Bill, how’s Bill going to feel if he finds out I’ve endorsed Joe? I also just don’t like the feel of a “request for endorsement.” It seems so, presumptuous, doesn’t it?

I think I object mostly to the expectation of acceptance that’s implied, so rather than use the thing as I suspect it was envisioned, I just refuse to endorse or recommend anybody. It’s not personal, folks.

LifeSlices: Weighing in on Miley

Miley Cyrus backlessI’ve been seeing this picture all over the Web today, and if you haven’t, you probably need to have somebody call an ambulance, because you’re likely not breathing. The picture is the hook for hundreds of scandalous stories of Miley posing topless, apologies (another), accusations, blame and the like. Miley is, of course, only 15-years old and a rising (hell, she’s already “risen”) star of the family-friendly Disney company. The photo comes from the latest issue of Vanity Fair, and I’ll spare you the other details.

I just have one question. How is this picture – in any way – considered “topless?”


There is just no way you can stretch the language enough for this to be topless, for the word MEANS to expose one’s breasts. No breasts that I can see here. Move along.

This manufacturing of conflict is the American way of life for celebrities, and it’s a sad commentary on all of us. We’ve all seen as much from a 15-year old heading to the prom, so please, people, get over it.

Does anybody else find this odd?

The Senate, with the full blessing of our two Democratic candidates, is about to put the skids on the FCC’s decision to loosen cross-ownership rules, whereby media companies can own both a television station and a newspaper in the same market. Damn those big media people, huh? They want to control the voices in our communities, so we can’t let them narrow choices “for the American people.” Word.

Given the realities of the current media conundrum, however, this strikes me as a bit like waving off the RMS Carpathia on its journey to rescue the survivors of the Titanic. I mean, really, folks; who cares if big media is owned by one person? It’s all drifting slowly into the sands of yesterday anyway.

The issue is over independent and varied voices, which is a BIG part of the disruption in the first place.

Odd that I find myself actually siding with Kevin Martin.

LifeSlices: Pausing to remember

It was two years ago this morning.

She will always be my inspiration. Today, I published another essay. She would be proud.

A Reasonable View of Tomorrow

here comes tomorrowHere is the next in the ongoing series of essays “Local Media in a Postmodern World,” A Reasonable View of Tomorrow.

Media companies continue to reduce expenses in the wake of falling revenues, forcing newsroom restructuring on a fairly regular basis. Where this will end is anybody’s guess, and while some of it must be blamed on the economy, we all know that disruptive technologies and changing consumer behaviors are the biggest factors. I’ve felt for years that a likely future scenario is the rise of independent journalists who sell their output to local and other media outlets, and this essay expands that thinking. It features an interview with Gabe Rivera, creator of Techmeme, a remarkable aggregator of the tech media space. Techmeme is a perfect example of how the niche content of independent journalists could be brought together in one place to form an immediate understanding of what’s important, although the scale isn’t there yet to accomplish it at the local level.

There also doesn’t exist a definitive revenue model for such a scenario. Money. however, doesn’t always flow where we want it to flow, and its flow isn’t very predictable in a time of change. Of more importance, to me, is where is journalism headed, because money has a way of following eyeballs. The tools exist for anybody to be a publisher today, and this is the underlying reality that we cannot escape.

The first volume of this essay series is now available in book form (Reinventing Local Media), and you can find it at