Scripting News for 4/25/2007

Going to Mix? 

I was curious to see who’s going to Mix 07 next week, so I started a wiki.

Robert Scoble’s Mix 07 predictions. He says Microsoft may announce an S3 competitor. Maybe they’ll allow you to specify an index page, then it’ll be useful for about 100,000 real world applications that S3 isn’t. ๐Ÿ™‚

If you’re going to Mix, and have something you want to talk with other people about, post a note in the comments, or on the wiki, and I’ll link to some of them here?

Iraq news 

Highly recommend two broadcasts for perspectives on what’s happening in Iraq and the US.

First, Monday’s Fresh Air interview with Bill Moyers, a preview of his Friday night PBS series, which begins this week with a look at how the press is in collusion with the administration in how they present news about the war. The interviewer challenged Moyers on that word, and he said there’s no other word for it (although it’s not universal, some of the press is, he says, trying to tell the truthful story).

He also expresses a point I wish more journalists would get, it’s not their responsibility to tell both sides of a story, it’s their job to say what’s actually happening. Most journalists let a Republican and Democrat chew at each other and leave us believing the truth is somewhere between. But in many ways the two parties are also in collusion and they’re not even in the neighborhood of the truth.

Second, I’m slowly working my way through the PBS series, America at a Crossroads, I’m in the middle of episode 3 (there are 11), and it’s beautifully done, and it explains the history of al Qaeda, the relationship between what they call al Qaeda in Iraq and the group founded by bin Ladin. Lots of revelations and important reminders. I didn’t understand that for all practical purposes we had destroyed al Qaeda in Afghanistan, that their plan of drawing the US into a hopeless war failed, that we prevailed and drove bin Laden into hiding. Then, something I did understand, we gave them the biggest gift, by invading Iraq.

The third episode contains stories told by soldiers in Iraq, with stories from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf War intermixed. Great literature, eye-opening perspectives. Both parties say they are supporting the troops. They should watch this episode for an idea of what that actually means.

Connect the two shows together, Moyers and Crossroads, and you see that the press is still feeding us nonsense about Iraq, carrying the Bush message that we lose if we withdraw. In fact, we lose by staying, depleting our military, and going ever deeper into debt. And eventually the troops are going to figure out that no one is thinking about them back home, and we should expect a nightmare when they force us to look at what’s happening. A replay of Vietnam, at a societal level, only much worse.

bin Laden understands economics, and I’m sure the President does too, but it isn’t reflected in the public dialog. I hope Moyers will fully uncover that on Friday.

They’re doing great work at PBS. There’s at least one shining light in American journalism. Thanks.

Update: Bill Moyer’s Journal is on KQED in San Francisco tonight at 9PM.

Checkbox News, day 3 

An interesting discussion about Checkbox News yesterday, although it was overshadowed by the michegas about Wired and Arrington, both of whom took cheap shots, Arrington’s in the name of friendship. I echo his sentiment, with friends like that who needs flamebait? ๐Ÿ™‚

Okay, enough about that, what about Checkbox News?

A bunch of people misunderstood that it’s a mechanism for giving feedback to the news networks. It is that for sure, but that’s not why it exists. Please read this carefully, it’s important.

When I uncheck an item, I no longer get news on that subject.

When I say no more Anna Nicole, I don’t get no more Anna Nicole. It isn’t a request to the network that they consider showing less of Anna Nicole, it’s like an on-off switch, or a checkbox (hence the name) — when unchecked, the flow is off.

So it’s a user interface control, a preference, not merely a feedback mechanism.

Of course if no one has Anna Nicole Smith checked, they’ll stop producing news about her, so it is a feedback mechanism in that sense. But if I don’t like the garbage they pass off as news, I can watch the stuff I am interested in.

Dan Gillmor says he votes by changing the channel, but that doesn’t work when all the networks are covering the same idiotic press conference, where the DNA results of the paternity test for Anna Nicole’s baby are being announced, or on the first day back at Virginia Tech when they’re holding yet another prayer vigil with orange and maroon balloons. I think it would be nice if they had such ceremonies without the network cameras there, and of course I turn off the TV when they all do that, but see the previous item about Iraq, there is actually news going on when they go into 24-hour hand-wringing mode, and TV is a good way to get news, if only you could get some.

And Trudy Schuett offered a great idea via email — a section where I say what kind of commercials I want and don’t want. I’d turn off the Head-on commercials (got the message, hate the product), and turn on the Apple-PC commercials (they’re so damned funny!) and I’d like to get commercials for kitchen appliances (I need some) and home entertainment systems, and travel deals to Europe. This allows Checkbox News to be part of my vision of how advertising works in the 21st century, it’s information, not intrusion. Yehi.

13 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by HeyHey on April 25, 2007 at 8:04 am

    MS aren’t interested in developers going, they’re interested in journos going – which is why Fred Vogelstein has been given a place jumping everyone else in the queue. Worse he’s known about it since CES.


  2. I’m a Brit, never been to Vegas; any suggestions for good places to eat/hang out in the evening (wifi etc)? Anyone setting up informal meetups/ blogger dinners?


  3. re Checkbox News… I put up a couple of my thoughts about it here:

    I like the “News of the Future” name but realize it’s kind of conflicted: after all if it’s news, it’s no longer the future. Right? But a great name anyhow.

    This would be a good way to ease the pain of 100 channels of crap. And if it’s all you-tubed we would not be stuck with waiting until NBC or whomever tells us.


  4. Even though I don’t currently have a television, I am really loving this idea of your CHECKBOX NEWS. Honestly, if I could have television that was like that, I might consider having television in my house. But we’ve discussed that.

    And speaking of MAC commercials, have you seen the UK ones?

    and then there’s this. Parody!


  5. Posted by Jacob Levy on April 25, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    Dave can you explain whats the problem with S3 and index pages? Thanks!


  6. Posted by heavyboots on April 25, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    Targeted ads is an interesting idea but it only works if you have some trustworthy body creating the tags. Otherwise, you’re going to end up with “hot, sexy, ipod” in a Viagra commercial because the 20-yr old the dude is hitting on at the gym is dressed in lycra and is wearing an iPod. ๐Ÿ™‚


  7. Posted by Joel on April 25, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    Bill Moyers’ Journal is on tonight (Wed., April 25) on KQED at 9 p.m. And I believe Friday is a rebroadcast of tonight’s show “Buying the War.”

    Also, Amy Goodman did a great interview with Bill on today.


  8. Thanks for the pointer to the Moyers interview. Got a reminder turned on for 2 hours from now. I did a little searching on Tomlinson, the CPB head who was investigating Moyer’s liberal bias. Turns out he’s a friend of Karl Rove. This Bloomberg story mentions the same kinds of political tests we’re hearing about in the U.S. attorney matter.


  9. Maybe I’m too cynical, but I think the networks, et al, will use any feedback info they can get to prune how they spend money on news coverage. If enough people vote yes on Anna Nicole Smith, they’ll reassign staff. You and I think that’s just fine. But, who’s to say that our votes will reflect the majority opinion? My guess is that the Anna fans would win. Resources would be removed from stories I want to see covered and assigned to elsewhere.

    Gillmor is right, at least about changing the channel. But, he’s wrong to think that enough people are changing away from the same channel to influence the netowrks. They aren’t.

    I like the idea of having more and more control over the content I allow in my house. But, I’m sure that any new feedback system will be seen by the networks as just a better ratings tool. Every time I turn off “American Idol” for PBS, a big bunch of other people will be turning off PBS for “Dancing with the Stars.”

    Best bet is to stop thinking the cable news networks are legitimate news producers, They are not. Time to look elsewhere.


  10. Wow, check this out too: Moyer’s speech audio and transcript at a media reform conference in 2005 when the wound hadn’t healed over yet.

    Elsewhere in snooping around, more echoes of the US atty scandal — seems the evidence of political tampering also came down to emails between Tomlinson and Rove, never produced in this case because CPB is technically a private concern.


  11. Posted by Joel on April 25, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    You can also watch Moyers’ 2005 talk on the website (the Real Video option at amyloo’s link) or download that show as MPEG1, MPEG2 or MPEG4 from the Internet Archive.


  12. Posted by Mike on April 25, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    “If Dave Winer doesnโ€™t build Checkbox News, or convince someone else to do so, I will chain him to a computer and refuse to let him go until he does.”


  13. Posted by Joel on April 26, 2007 at 10:12 am

    You can stream or download “Buying the War” here:

    It’s a (five part) 270mb (320×240) QuickTime movie.

    I don’t have a TV, so this gives me access!

    I {HEART} Bill Moyers ๐Ÿ™‚


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