Scripting News for 2/7/2007

What bloggers do 

NY Times: “Two bloggers hired by John Edwards to reach out to liberals in the online world have landed his presidential campaign in hot water for doing what bloggers do — expressing their opinions in provocative and often crude language.”

Some people use “crude language” when they talk on the phone, and others would be offended if they heard such language. Same with bloggers. I would never say that all reporters are liars and spinmasters, even if I felt it was true, because I know it’s not. The Times coverage of blogging has always been a weak spot.

I wish the Times editors would call reporters on stuff like this.

When will they call off their war with bloggers?

Apple is now a media company 

Yesterday we learned that Steve Jobs has yet another pulpit, the web, and he used it very well to get an idea to circulate. The piece was clearly written, persuasive, short, and from what I can tell, very carefully read by all who commented, and many people commented!

Now the morning after it hits me how new this is, because Apple usually communicates through bigpub reporters like John Markoff at the NY Times and Steven Levy at Newsweek. This time he went direct, Markoff’s article appeared this morning, more than 12 hours after the essay was published, and makes clear how much better this system is than the old one.

First, the Times has a problem — they get in the way of the story, and that reduces our trust in them. Judith Miller, writing for the Times in 2003, was the classic example. They ran a series of stories, authored by Miller, that supported the Bush pretense for the war in Iraq. The stories were fabrications, the paper was used, its readers misled. They acknowledged that they did it, and even today they ran an editorial saying that more discussion was needed at the time we went to war. Yet (and here’s the key point), the Times has not reformed itself, it still has the institutional arrogance that causes it to distort stories, even when it’s obvious that they’re doing it.

A recent example, when Markoff used the term Web 3.0 in a recent front page story, without explaining where it came from, it was not in use in the industry. As far as I know, he was the first to use it, and the last. It didn’t catch on. And is that really the job of a Times reporter? Shouldn’t they be covering the news, as opposed to making the news?

And in today’s piece, titled “Jobs Calls for End to Music Copy Protection,” Markoff explains that “the subtext clearly pointed to the prospect of change.” Maybe it did, butI can’t find it in the Jobs piece. At least Markoff is honest that the justification for the title of his story was not found in the Jobs article, but where did he find it? In the subtext. What does that mean??

To be clear: Jobs all-but called for the removal of DRM, but did not go that far. Whether that’s important or not, we’ll find out. But it’s not for a reporter to infer intent when there’s no evidence to support that inference.

The other day I wrote about point-of-view making it possible to see things that you otherwise might not see. Well, because we saw the Jobs piece, and got a chance to study it for hours before it was spun by the Times, we could see how they add their color to the story, and thereby dramatically change the intent of the story they are reporting.

Perhaps Jobs wanted to communicate more precisely this time, without the filters of other media companies. To me the clear subtext of the Jobs piece is that Apple is today a media company. When the CEO goes direct to the people he wants to influence, without using other media to carry the story, something not too subtle has changed.

An experiment begins 

I’ve spent the last few days working on the archive of the DaveNet site, addressing a lot of old issues, and learning about S3, and refreshing my knowledge of the CMS that’s under all the stuff I’ve been doing for the last umpteen years. There were a bunch of broken pages, the content was unnecessarily dynamic. Now all that’s fixed and hopefully it’s situated in a place where it will not break in the future and I won’t have to worry about it, and it won’t cost much to host, etc. (I have an idea of making a proposal to Amazon to pay it a onetime fee for hosting the content for perpetuity, that way I can remove a concern for my heirs, and feel that my writing may survive me, something I’d like to assure.)

That led me to something I’ve always wanted to try, to put each story that appears on Scripting News on its own page, and now that’s done. If you click on the blue arrow next to a headline, it will take you to a static page where just that story appears. It’s still a bit rough, and the page is spartan (which I like) and it has a couple of advantages.

1. It should make the stories stand out more in search engines.

2. Techmeme will be able to access these pages, since there is nothing blocking it. The stories site has no robots.txt, at least for now.

I kind of like having my own Techmeme-free space here. But I’m curious to see what will happen now.

I have not yet updated the RSS feed to point to the individual story pages, but I think, if the experiment proves a success, that I will.

14 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Nick on February 7, 2007 at 7:01 am

    Dave, now that you have written a lot about Wikis what do you think about WML?


  2. Web 3.0 – in other news stories prior to Markoff’s 11/2006 piece:

    Dan Gillmor (April, 2005):

    Nick Lewis citation pointing to Dan:

    Web 2.0 Journal on Web 3.0 (mid-2006):

    Can ‘Spiritual Computing’ Drive Web 3.0?: (mid-2006)

    Recent News:


  3. What does it mean to be a media company these days anyway?


  4. Now that you have posts on individual pages (welcome to the current century), it would be nice to have the comments seperated and associated with those individual pages…kind of like most blogs do. This intermingling drives me nuts, very hard to follow a comment thread.
    Have at it Dave, you can do it 😉


  5. And, of course, Zeldman wrote of Web 3.0 in A List Apart in Jan. ’06.


  6. The media filter is critical. Skepticism and outside voices are important.

    The trouble with Judy Miller, by the testimony of her own critics, was not the presence of a filter on primary sources (like the Bush administration), but the utter lack of one.

    Of course the Times changed the “intent” of the story, and of course they added color. That’s their job.


  7. PS Key questions:

    1. What is the intent of Steve Jobs’ piece?

    2. How do you know?

    3. Does an independent newspaper have a duty to subvert this intent — or an obligation to preserve it?


  8. Ryan, what was the intent? Don’t get all metaphysical on me. I can only go by what Jobs said, nothing more than that. He didn’t say what the Times headline says he said. That’s a big problem, as a reader of the Times. It makes me not trust them when I don’t have the backup information as I did in this case.

    Re: “Of course the Times changed the ‘intent’ of the story, and of course they added color. That’s their job.”

    Maybe that’s the disconnect. I read the news because I want info, sometimes I read fiction, I enjoy it like anyone else, but I want it clearly labeled as such. I assume the Times writes non-fiction.


  9. The intent of Steve Jobs’ piece was to get the Europeans, who want to open up iPod/iTunes so if you buy something from iTunes you can play it on another player. How they can even think of creating a law like this is beyond me; but hey, I’m an American capitalist.

    that’s it. He’s telling the europeans to fuck-off…get your media companies, like BMG (now Sony-BMG) to stop demanding DRM, and everyone would be happy.

    Americans, fanboys, who think he’s some demi-god cause he said what everyone already knows, love him even more; but b/c their vision is mostly miopic (reason for Iraq), we can’t see he’s tooling us and making a brilliant business, counter-point, move against the EU.

    I think its really hard for people to grasp genius.


  10. thougth you guys would like this…concerns DRM


  11. I know what you mean and it’s hard for me to explain how Steve’s direct message from the pulpit seemed so timely, uncomplicated, clear with each point and easy to understand.

    The old media folks and new media clones hardly new how to react. It’s like we were granted a momentary window of opportunity to watch the potential of the rules of the current media game flipping.

    But I wonder if the explanation is simply Apple became a media company. Yesterday’s experiment will impact the media game well beyond Apple. As you wrote “something not too subtle has changed. “.

    We do live in some interesting times!!


  12. It is great to read Dave Winer talking about the virtues of static content. My first website,, still runs on static pages that are generated offline by a database and a .NET-based “content management system” that I have been developing since before the acronym, CMS, was applied to this context.

    Now I look forward to porting this .NET code to Mono for Linux/Mac. There is a new version out and it looks promising but only MoMA can tell…


  13. If a car company sells cars, and a software company sells software, then does it follow that a media company sells media? A company that creates media but makes money through advertising, really their product, the thing that they sell, is advertising space.

    I’m not sure I understand why a company that creates a piece of media, like say an essay on DRM, and gives this away for free, makes it a media company.

    Is it just that all companies that use media to comunicate are media companies. Isn’t that like saying that all companies that use cars are car companies?


  14. Dave, I agree I want info and not fiction, and I agree the Times does go over the top sometimes. It angers me, too, and I’m glad you call them on it.

    But I don’t think Steve Jobs’ words are any more “nonfiction” than the Times’ words, as a rule. Maybe in this case, if the Times was not doing its job, that was the case. But in general, a company releasing information very much has an agenda to push, even if they seem to be talking straight.

    Getting from that point to something closer to “the truth” is about applying one or more filters. Bloggers often do it better than media people, and vice versa. And bloggers will improve the media, no doubt about it.


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