Scripting News for 1/8/2008

Glued to the TV 

For the last 24 hours or so I’ve been glued to the TV, watching MSNBC, Fox and CNN, listening to the pundits and campaign flacks, reading various articles on the web, and thinking a lot about what is happening. I’m glad I’m not at CES or in New Hampshire, I didn’t want to miss this process, as I did in 2000 when I was in Europe during Iowa and New Hampshire, another period of a couple of weeks when things changed a lot.

At this point there’s absolutely no doubt that the candidacy of Barack Obama is a movement. Whether it’s like Martin Luther King or JFK, I can’t say — I am not old enough to remember those (I remember their deaths, but nothing else about them).

So if it’s a movement, what is it about?

I think it’s this — there are a lot of Democrats and independents and even quite a few Republicans who feel that the Bush II presidency has been a disaster because of the war we started, the incompetent response to Katrina, the trampling of the Constitution, the cynicism, secrecy and arrogance of the government.

But it’s not fair to just blame the Republicans, the Democrats must be punished too — for their complicity. Hillary Clinton and John Edwards voted for the resolution authorizing the war. Neither of them spoke out against it as we were going to war. I do remember those times, and had they spoken out they would have been crucified, but when you’re running for President that doesn’t excuse you. While many of us didn’t stand up and object either, we now have to choose someone to lead us, and we’re not going with someone who compromised when it came to our national honor (the war), our homes (Katrina), and the integrity of our political system (the Constitution).

In a normal year, the Edwards plea to fight special interests would be welcome and enough, even radical, but in 2008 it is not radical enough. True, the war was started because both parties are owned by the defense industry, Edwards claims he doesn’t receive their money, implying that Clinton does (and Obama?). The hypocrisy of Support the Troops really translates into Pay off the Defense Contractors. We must place part of the blame for the Iraq debacle on the defense contractors, who fund all our politicians, of both parties.

So Obama may not in fact be the leader we’re looking for, but the voters of New Hampshire and Iowa have annointed him anyway. He may have waffled on whether he would have voted to support the war, but it may have been, as he says, not wanting to make trouble for Kerry and Edwards in 2004. He may have received money from the defense industry, if so, that had better stop right now.

Obama, like Carter in 1976, may be our pennance for having re-elected Bush in 2004. We’re taking the medicine we deserve for having been crazy enough to re-elect someone who was so bad for us. The only president of the past even remotely in Bush’s league was Nixon, who we followed with a smiling preacher who didn’t accept the ways of Washington. We didn’t like him either, it turns out. πŸ™‚

Obama is also, apparently, the medicine that the 20-somethings are forcing the elders to take. I confessed to a friend that my discomfort with Obama comes not only from not trusting his record, but also what it says about me. If elected, he will be the first President who is younger than I am. Thus begins yet another step in the long decline. As I said the other day, our choice of president is someone who most closely validates our view of ourselves relative to the country and the world. Obama is dissonant to me, because in my mind, the President is older than me. Maybe not any more.

We could do worse, much. And maybe those who say that Obama is easy prey for Karl Rove and his brothers, lurking in the shadows, waiting for someone to work for, are right. Maybe for that reason those of us who will vote Democratic this time should hope for McCain over Romney or Giuliani. It’s hard to imagine McCain using the tactics of the Swift Boaters, but hard to imagine the others not using them. Huckabee? Interestingly he says the Republicans shouldn’t be so quick to attack Obama, because he represents something good about the people. That is a refreshing idea — a political leader focusing on the wants of the people. I still think Huckabee may be the first DIY candidate, the first one who embraces the 21st Century VRM model for co-existing with your customers (pols call it their “base.”) Even Obama isn’t so eloquent about the people.

This week things are changing. Things were pretty bad before, so change must be good, right?? πŸ™‚

New FlickrFan feature 

1. Be sure the OPML app is running.

2. Update to get version 0.40 of FlickrFan.

3. Now, when you upload a picture using the drop folder a web page will display with HTML text that you can copy/paste into a blog post or other web page. Screen shot.

4. You can disable this feature on the Drop Folder prefs page. Screen shot.

If you have any questions please post a comment here.

Why Yahoo should buy or merge with a TV network 

As I said above I’m glued to the TV, but I’m also on Twitter, and blogging, and email, and IM and I’m subscribed to hundreds of RSS feeds, and I’ve been noticing that slowly the TV news organizations are integrating new Internet services with their TV offerings. They’re all getting started, and eventually I’m pretty sure they’ll be where Yahoo is now. The thing is, it works. For example, newmediajim is a cameraman for NBC News and he’s on Twitter and sometimes I’m watching the other side of his camera on MSNBC and twittering with him before and after. A guy named creepsleepy is a radio guy in Manchester, interviewing presidential candidates, wouldn’t it be great if I could listen to his interviews while he twitters his progress? Well, there’s no doubt that soon we’ll be doing that.

We’re finally really at the convergence so many have predicted for so long. With the help of a few members of the community Yahoo can get there first.

BTW, I read on the NY Times site that Yahoo is going to open up more to developers. Hmmm. If you want to impress end-users and shareholders run it in MSM. If you want to get through to developers, use the developer blogs. Let us have the story first, otherwise you don’t seem very serious about it.

Why it’s the last possible moment for Netflix to open up 

Comcast announced a service at CES that sounds an awful lot like Netflix. I already pay Comcast over $100 a month for various services. I pay Netflix $20 per month, and what Comcast is proposing is even more useful and easier than what Netflix offers. If it actually is, it would be easier to turn off the Netflix service.

Netflix has a unique opportunity with X years of preference data for users that they still have active relationships with. Open the service up so that other websites can integrate their services with yours, the prototype being a dating site that matched people with others who like the same kinds of movies. Build a network of utility to lock users in with a feather instead of a deadbolt.

The uniqueness of Netflix is about to go poof. Time to build a new kind of uniqueness. It might be too late, but let’s hope it’s not. I don’t really expect Comcast to share data with other service providers. It’s not in their nature. Netflix — zig while they match your (old) zag.

Jimmy Carter in 1976 

Scott’s next book 

Berkeley neighbor Scott Rosenberg announced yesterday that he has a contract now for a book on the story of blogging. I’ve known he wanted to work in this area for a while, now I’m glad he’s got a publisher and a contract. I have no doubts it will be a great book, and a foundation for future work.

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