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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

We the Media : Grassroots Journalism by the People for the People by Dan Gillmor - Reviewed by KJR for Bookzen

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We the Media : Grassroots Journalism by the People for the People by Dan Gillmor

We the Media : Grassroots Journalism by the People for the People by Dan Gillmor is a rich, insightful, valuable book about the state of the news and information media, focusing on the creativity, innovation and change brought about by the Internet. Mr. Gillmor closely examines the contributions of participatory, interactive online media, particularly the proliferation of people reading and writing web blogs, or blogs. Mr. Gillmor's premise is that a variety of online forums now often contain information, news, analysis and commentary that is different than or has a different emphasis than traditional media.

In his view, these new web forums, written and designed mostly by non-journalists, which are enabled by state-of-the art social-networking software, are both taking over some of the roles played by the mainstream news media, and putting pressures on media for change. This is particularly true now, he asserts, since millions of people worldwide read and write blogs, e.g., blogs and other online forums are not occurring in a vacuum, any more than Fox News.

Even for someone familiar with blogs, publishing and broadcasting, "We the Media" is thorough, refreshing and interesting. For someone new to blogging, or for someone who wants an exhaustive examination of the issues and ramifications, this book will be crucial. The book is also important for the background it provides about the traditional electronic and print media -- radio, television and newspapers -- their history, why they exist, whom they are run and owned by, and how they operate.

Free speech and participatory democracy are obvious interests and concerns of Mr. Gillmor, and his closest assocates. He traces political dialogue historically through the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries, expressing much concern about the real dangers to free speech now posed by governments and corporations worldwide. Part of his premise and his expressed hope is that the spread of online media access will enable more free speech, and a more informed citizenry, leading we all hope, to a better world.

Mr. Gillmor, a seasoned reporter and columnist covering Silicon Valley technology for the San Jose Mercury News, a Knight Ridder publication, knows well the topics about which he writes. He has long written his own blog, one of the first by a professional journalist, and now one of most widely read and commented on. He is a technically saavy, factual observer, a thoughtful commentator, not given to hyperbole. This is a serious book based on both statistical and anecdotal evidence, and has been commented on and corrected by scores of amateurs and professionals from the fields of software technology and journalism. He even declares that this edition of the book is a true work in progress. To see more comments and thoughts, or to download the free ebook, go to http://wethemedia.oreilly.com/

One of his first anecdotes about the power of blogs to impact attitudes concerns a seminar, during which he and other celebrity bloggers in the audience posted comments about the proceedings. As people in the audience read these comments from mobile wireless devices as the meeting was still in progress, audience attitudes toward the speaker changed, which altered the tenor of the meeting. Rather like students noiselessly passing around notes in class about the stain on the teacher's tie, though in this case, the teacher, a major corporate executive, lost his job.

The point of this anecdote, and of the book itself to some extent, is that even by incrementally adding new or different information and perspectives to standard news reportage, or even to the facts being given out in a seminar, individual bloggers can create differing public perspectives, and thus, can have an impact on events.

I myself have seen numerous blog entries by otherwise ordinary people, who have blogged about events behind the scenes of major news stories, often apparently more out of a sense of 'gee-whiz' than even of trying to scoop a story. Mr. Gillmor's point is that if a critical mass of people read what an individual blogger is writing, particularly if that information is interesting and newsworthy, there will be an impact, however incremental.

He also notes that often, with today's powerful mobile technologies, individual bloggers often witness, photograph and report events that the mainstream media, even if present, miss or do not publish. Further, he suggests that we are just beginning to see the impact of low-cost, high-quality mobile devices. Online commentary about standard news reporting also keeps issues alive, he notes, by creating powerful feedback loops, which themselves become newsworthy. Mr. Gillmor offers many examples.

Mr. Gillmor is also very interested in group blogs and forums, such as Wiki-pedia, where thousands of articles are posted and edited by thousands of people. He describes many sites using new technologies, such as Technorati and Google, He suggests that such sites are not only providing "non-standard" information, but that the social networking aspect of such sites is providing people with new experiences, models and definitions of successful community involvement. He gives many examples and makes numerous recommendations for information-based enterprises that readers might undertake.

If the proliferation of personal computers connected to the Internet has given millions of people the opportunity to become media outlets, it has also made it more difficult for those of us in the audience to tune into really different, valuable viewpoints. Fortunately, for those bloggers who would find an audience and for those of us who would read refreshing perspectives, Mr. Gillmor has plenty of advice on how to proceed. Be sure to look at the sections on web sites, acknowledgements, notes and the index at the end of the book, all very worth checking out.

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Saturday, August 28, 2004

The Man Booker Prize Longlist 2004

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Man Booker Prize


Tuesday, 21 September: The shortlist will be announced


Tuesday, 19 October: The winner of The Man Booker Prize 2004 will be announced


Th long list


Author Title Publisher


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Purple Hibiscus 4th Estate


Nadeem Aslam Maps for Lost Lovers Faber & Faber


Nicola Barker Clear: A Transparent Novel 4th Estate


John Bemrose The Island Walkers John Murray


Ronan Bennett Havoc, in its Third Year Bloomsbury


Susanna Clarke Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell Bloomsbury


Neil Cross Always the Sun Scribner


Achmat Dangor Bitter Fruit Atlantic Books


Louise Dean Becoming Strangers Scribner


Lewis Desoto A Blade of Grass Maia Press


Sarah Hall The Electric Michelangelo Faber & Faber


James Hamilton Paterson Cooking with Fernet Branca Faber & Faber


Justin Haythe The Honeymoon Picador


Shirley Hazzard The Great Fire Virago


Alan Hollinghurst The Line of Beauty Picador


Gail Jones Sixty Lights Harvill Press


David Mitchell Cloud Atlas Sceptre


Sam North The Unnumbered Scribner


Nicholas Shakespeare Snowleg Harvill Press


Matt Thorne Cherry Weidenfeld & Nicolson


Colm Toibin The Master Picador


Gerard Woodward I'll go to Bed at Noon Chatto & Windus


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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

"The Ecology of Eden" by Evan Eisenberg reviewed for Bookzen by KJR



"The Ecology of Eden" by Evan Eisenberg originally struck me as a seminal work, like Darwin's "Origin of the Species" which was written almost 150 years ago. Not because of original and breakthrough research or observation in the field per se, as Darwin did. More importantly for me at this time, Mr. Eisenberg has assembled numerous findings from diverse branches of groundbreaking twentieth century sciences, and put all the pieces together*. This is important because while the fields of palaeontology, sociology, anthropology, biology, genetics, ecology, and archaeology were telling us many important things about the world we live in, very few people were connecting the dots until recently.

Mr. Eisenberg then, asks fundamental questions, like the one asked in the first few chapters of Genesis and in all other creation stories of all other peoples on the planet, namely, "Why do we have the sense that something has gone terribly wrong?" He then takes all of the sciences mentioned above, including literature, myth and religious lore, to provide the answer. Essentially he is saying that we live in a relatively closed system, such as described by Newton's "Every action has an equal and opposite reaction," but multiplied out into the thousand-fold greater array of more implications, on both a global scale and a nano scale, that we are now aware of and are able to measure.

Personally, I found it very stimulating to be shown how genetical dynamics affect plant biology and anthropology and vice versa, to see in detail how our actions and those of our ancestors affected and are still affecting virtually every life form on the planet, genetically and ecologically, as well. Mr. Eisenberg touches on everything from why human beings seem to like nice green lawns to why we as a species still seem to be at war with the forests, and the implications and consequences for the human race and all other creatures in the years ahead.

While it is this connecting the dots of both the latest and most secure of the findings of twentieth century science in order to shape a new world view that makes this book so revelatory, what make it extraordinary for me is his connecting the dots all the way back to creation myths and the Bible. Having often in my youth and young adulthood wondered what I could say to my right wing fundamentalist anti-evolution parents and their friends to explain why I had left the fold, I felt upon reading this book that even my father, an otherwise intelligent man, would have been able to grasp evolution and so many more things had he had this book to read when he was fourteen. So I think this is a book that can change lives and have a benefical political impact, particularly in the dark age in which we find oureselves, in which all people can read and vote, but in which most do neither.

*Until recently, relatively few books consciously combined a variety of branches of science, though there is an increasing tendency to do so now. Those brave few from the past that stand out in my mind are" The Origin of the Species," as already noted, which took eighteenth century biology and palaeontology and came up with the first coherent theory of evolution; another was a book Carl Jung edited in the last years of his life, "Man and his Symbols," that came out in 1968, that brought together psychology, archaeology and art history; around the same time, a book called Human Nature (Penquin), brought together anthropology, sociology, and ecology, and of course, there were the books of Norman O. Brown, which looked at literature through the eyes of psychology, with a view of creating a new understanding of anthropology, sociology, and psychology. I find the current vogue for general systems theory a very fresh breath of air.

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Thursday, August 12, 2004

Glasses for Humanity

Robert Tolmach founded this nonprofit organisation to help the world see. I am sure that there are 1,000's of pairs of glasses lurking. Please clean out your bags and cupboards they need your specs. Valaunteer your time or give them money to make this superb idea a reality. Tell your friends, have a glasses collection day at work. Thank you.


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Robert Tolmach's introduction>>


Welcome to the web site of Glasses for Humanity, a new nonprofit organization.


When I decided to move from the business world to the social sector, I looked for the opportunity where my time and efforts would make the greatest possible difference. That led to the creation of Glasses for Humanity.


If you ask yourself the similar question—where will your charitable dollars make the biggest difference—you, too, may find Glasses for Humanity to be the answer.


Billions of people in the world and millions of children in the United States can’t see clearly. Indeed, millions of people needlessly go blind each year from avoidable or treatable causes. This undermines literacy, education, safety and productivity, and the chance to lead a fulfilling life.


We have put together a remarkable team with expertise in such areas as vision care, public health, microfinance, marketing and other disciplines. Together, we have developed a comprehensive and businesslike plan, which harnesses market forces to combat vision loss of all forms. This approach is extraordinarily cost-effective.


This site describes our leveraged, scalable and financially-sustainable program to collect used eyeglasses in the United States, to provide eye exams and eyeglasses for 30 million people in developing countries and half a million children in the United States each year, to significantly reduce the incidence of avoidable
blindness, and to generate $50 million per year in new revenues for vision care and research.


We know of no opportunity where your charitable dollars can improve the lives of so many people. Please consider joining us in our efforts. And if you’d be so kind as to register with us, we’ll keep you posted on all our progress, celebrity events, and plans.


On behalf of the entire team behind this effort, thank you for your interest and support.


Sincerely,


Robert Tolmach

President

Glasses for Humanity

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Saturday, August 07, 2004

Friendsterorizing a funny article, must read...

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"LA INNUENDO is a free bimonthly magazine which takes a satiric look at Los Angeles lifestyles, culture, and politics, focusing on the entertainment industry in all its terrible, wonderful manifestations. Our demographic is hip and savvy- young professionals who live, shop and socialize in the city's trendiest neighborhoods. We are a publication
like no other in Los Angeles: smart, funny, and most of all, compulsively readable".


"Friendsterorizing" The intelligentsia's hot new trend By Richard Rushfield


Marfya Fillipovna* is at work. It may not look like work, certainly not the sort of work you know...more>>

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Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald reviewed by KJR for Bookzen

Raoul Dufy

There is very little tenderness in any of the nights in the ten years detailed in Tender is the Night, the exception being of course, the nights when the young Dr. Richard Diver is falling in love with his sexually abused young patient on the grounds of the menatl hospital outside of Zurich. As part of her therapy, they meet on lovely summer evenings, and his presence, sanity, clarity, and love cure her. But when the story opens some four years later, the cracks in the relationship and in her condition are showing. Though it is Helen that is origianlly the patient, by the middle of the book, as he wanders almost aimlessly and confusedly, erratically about Paris in search of this thing or that, we realize that something is amiss, perhaps going amiss with Dick Diver, as well. Perhaps it is right at this moment that the theme of the book shifts. What had been a cynical description of a romping group of ex-pariots becomes a tale of a man coming unwound.

I feel a bit self-conscious writing a reveiw of such a famous book, so much has aleady been written, and evev in thinking about the book for this review, I have already read a brief note about it myself. Apparently this book is one of the author's attempts to describe his own failing relationship, adultery, problems with drinking, and destructive behavior. Even taken as a complete work of fantasy, if we could forget the tragdies in the life of Scott Fitzgerald that we are all aware of, this book is a bit sobering, for it is a convincing story about the nightmare of an intelligent, accomplished, idealisitc man self-consciously watching himself being sucked under for the last time.

I think I have read or been told that the title is a phrase from another literary work, perhaps by Matthew Arnold, and knowing the verse might shed more light on the work. One could also say that this book, taken historicaly, is a a bit similar to some of Hemignway's works of the same period, and provides lots of insight into how rich Americans might have behaved in Switzerland, Paris and the south of France in the 1920s and 30s. But it is much more than that. Often it is very insightful, and frequently poetic, an engagingly apt description of human beings at serious play.

In the sordidness of his fate lies much of the pain Diver experiences. The incidents that cause, precipitate and mark Dick Diver's decline are all small doses of ignominy and unfortunate coincidence. If he were a lesser, or a more superficial, less thoughtful or intelligent person like those around him, he would pick himself up, clean up his act and go on as if nothing had happened, as most of the others do. But he is not, and he is stung, feeling trapped in an unsuitable marriage, knowing he is his own worst enemy, and seeing his desires turn to dust. In fact, the irony is that while all of the people around him gain some measure of inspiration, credibility or stature from knowing him, they all seem to delight in his fall. When he begins to have difficulties due in part to the nobility of his undertakings and to his stoic attempt to see his obligations to others through, people seem only too glad to be rid of him at the slightest sign of his demise, and take advantage of the vacuum he is leaviing.

Yes, certainly, by the end, Dr. Richard Diver is wallowing in misery, and self-destructive behaviour, though he seems both more susceptible to the consequences, and brought lower by his very consciousness of what is happening to him. Like a struggling victim in quicksand, each writhe seems to draw him deeper in.

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 Mind Hacks Tips & Tools for Using your Brain in the World By Tom Stafford, Matt Webb Mind Hacks Tips & Tools for Using your Brain in the World By Tom Stafford, Matt Webb
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Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Sahel:The End of the Road by Sebastiao Salgado Sahel:The End of the Road by Sebastiao Salgado
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We the Media : Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People By Dan Gillmor We the Media : Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People By Dan Gillmor
The Ecology of Eden by Evan Eisenberg The Ecology of Eden by Evan Eisenberg
Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Lysergically Yours by Frank Duff Lysergically Yours by Frank Duff
Solitary Summer by Elizabeth von Arnim
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Couples by Jophn Updike Couples by Jophn Updike
Crime and Punishment by Feodor Dostoevsky
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
 
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We the Media : Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People
We the Media : Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People By Dan Gillmor
Grassroots journalists are dismantling Big Media's monopoly on the news, transforming it from a lecture to a conversation. Not content to accept the news as reported, these readers-turned-reporters are publishing in real time to a worldwide audience via the Internet. The impact of their work is just beginning to be felt by professional journalists and the newsmakers they cover.
In We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People, nationally known business and technology columnist Dan Gillmor tells the story of this emerging phenomenon, and sheds light on this deep shift in how we make and consume the news. [Full Description]
Buy it from O'Reilly >>
Good luck Dan : From we the readers
 
 
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