Scripting News for 3/2/2007

Today’s links 

Washington Post podcasts.

Ted Leung: “If web applications liberated us from the domination of a single company on the desktop, why would we be eager to be dominated by a different company on the web?”

With the new design, it makes sense to add Scripting News to Google’s customizable home page.

Empire of the Air 

I’ve been watching the Ken Burns documentary Empire of the Air, the history of radio. Highly recommended.

There was a pivotal, electrifying moment in the story, an interview with Helen Kelley, who was around when radio was new (interestingly she didn’t seem that old, must have been an old interview). She said there came a point soon after she started listening to radio when she realized she could stop practicing the piano, because she “didn’t have to make her own music anymore.”

I said out loud: There it is, that’s the moment we’re reversing now. It was a mistake to believe that creativity was something you could delegate, no matter how much better they were than you, because it’s an important human activity, like breathing, eating, walking, laughing, loving.

Reporters have lives too 

WSJ (dim) view of live-blogging. I was interviewed for this piece, as a favor to some live-blogging friends who were also not included in the piece. Good for all of us, because it’s such a non-story. Some people blog about the details of their lives, some don’t. Okay, what’s next?

Someone ought to do a story about the lives of Wall Street Journal reporters. What do they eat for breakfast. Do they allow other reporters to bring laptops to their weddings. It’s pretty funny, because the more they make us out to be freaks, the more I learn they’re pretty much like us.

I listenened to a (respectful) interview yesterday on Fresh Air of Martha Raddatz, an ABC News reporter with two kids, one 26 and one 15. Both love their mother. She’s married to a reporter, their step-dad; he worries about mom when she’s in Iraq. How do I know all this personal stuff? She talked about it in the interview. No one makes fun of her for this, quite the opposite, it gives her depth, makes her more interesting, better understood, more believable.

BTW, thanks for the Fresh Air podcast. Great stuff. It’s already making a difference!🙂

Multiple days of NewsHour 

At dinner on Saturday with people from the NewsHour, a couple of us fans asked if it would be possible to have a feed that included more than one day’s worth of shows. We were told that the limit was technical, not legal, their simple CMS didn’t have a way of including more than day in the feed. I volunteered to write a script that would include the last week’s worth of NewsHours, and they said go ahead, so I did.

Right now it’s only got 3 days worth, since that’s when my agent started running. After a week I’ll add code to cut out stuff older than one week.

Caveat: That feed may not be available forever. The hope is that the NewsHour folk will take it over. But for now, I’ll keep maintaining it here (it’s easy, a script does all the work).

Editorial comment: This is the first time I’ve read or written feeds with the itunes add-ons, and I gotta say — what an awful ugly design. I faithfully reproduced all the garbage they make podcasters include to be compatible with iTunes. I’m proud to say none of my feeds include that stuff or ever will, and I hope iTunes ends up on the scrap heap it deserves to be on for what they did to RSS. Now I know how the Third World feels about the US.🙂

9 responses to this post.

  1. Re: dissing liveblogging and other stuff by WSJ, NYT and some public broadcasters: isn’t it an appeal to real (but declining) and imagined snobbery on the part of readers, listeners and viewers? I was in a live audience of public radio fans last night and have some thoughts on this I may be able to articulate later in the day.


  2. I don’t know what it is Amy, but we’d have to interview them, and I don’t think they’d go for it.

    She was one of the most belligerant interviewers I’ve ever come across. She wanted me to pitch her a product, and I wouldn’t do it. She kept asking about as if it was controversial and I was being evasive like a politician was evasive. I had agreed to tell her about Chris and Ponzi’s wedding, and that was it. I thought the chance that a random WSJ reporter would get the story right about software for a Blackberry was nil.

    I did a recording of my side of the interview, but since I wasn’t in the story, there’s no need to release it.


  3. Empowering a resurgence of individual and collaborative creativity…God this sounds just like the world I want my new son to grow up in. Thanks for the goosebumps, Dave.


  4. Posted by chris on March 2, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    I know Apple says they want a feed to have all kinds of ugly appletags, but they certainly don’t seem to require it for compatibility with iTunes. In fact, I just realized that WordPress gives you a podcasting feed for ‘free’ on any category that has posts with pointers to mp3 files. In other words, WordPress generates the enclosure tags necessary for the content. These feeds work fine for podcast subscriptions in iTunes.


  5. Posted by billg on March 2, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    Opening avenues for creativity is a Fine Thing, but it’s worth remembering that the reason most of us might choose to pay to listen to someone play piano is that they’re better, more creative and more entertaining musicians than we are. No one forced that woman to stop playing the piano.

    Like good pitchers in baseball, the percentage of really creative people in the general population is probably small and fixed.


  6. “I listenened to a (respectful) interview yesterday on Fresh Air of Martha Raddatz, an ABC News reporter with two kids, one 26 and one 15. Both love their mother. She’s married to a reporter, their step-dad; he worries about mom when she’s in Iraq. How do I know all this personal stuff? She talked about it in the interview. No one makes fun of her for this, quite the opposite, it gives her depth, makes her more interesting, better understood, more believable.”

    This is something I notice a lot. Some people are details people, some aren’t. I guess for some, details are just foolish distractions, trees that get in the way of seeing the forest, but for those of us who know how to put them in context and relate them to other things, they can tell us a lot about the forest.

    Alfred Sloan built GM into an industrial powerhouse by careful market segmentation and product differentiation, but somehow managed to write a very dry memoirs. Nowadays products are rapidly commoditized, so creativity and innovation are key, and I don’t know how anyone can expect to create effectively without a keen appreciation for details.

    In other words, appropriate background information may have considerable business value, and the job for bloggers and other journalists is to figure out what background info is in fact appropriate, but in any case it may be a lot more than the non-details folks think.


  7. Posted by Paul on March 3, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Your comment on “Empire of the Air” has to be one of the most profound observations I’ve ever read here. We tend to think of television as the culprit in turning people into pathetic non-thinking, uncreative couch potatos, but it’s interesting to see how this actually begain with radio. But even more interesting is how we’re witnessing at least a semi-reversal in the web, and in other technology-enabling areas (music creation, digital photography, digital video come to mind first, but those are just the most obvious). The possibilities are daunting.


  8. Posted by Bill Riski on March 3, 2007 at 1:49 pm


    I find the history of radio fascinating. Not sure why; I’m a bit too young (i.e., about your age) to have ‘been there’. Based on your commentary, I may order “Empire of the Air”. If you don’t mind the ‘Gutenburg way’, I’m about half way through reading a great book; ‘Something in the Air’ by Marc Fisher. It’s not about the invention of radio as mush as the history of radio programs. Highly recommended.


    Bill R.


  9. Empire of the Air is in my permanent DVD collection and puts all of this Internet shisen into perspective. And this is from a seasoned ASP/PHP/ASP.NET developer who made most of his money from the “Internet Revolution.”


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