Scripting News for 6/26/2008

What is whoisi.com? 

This site showed up in my referrer logs.

http://whoisi.com/p/216

http://whoisi.com/p/755

Not sure what to make of it. Looks quite interesting.

I hadn’t heard of it till today, but I see it’s being discussed on Twitter.

Here are some other people…

http://whoisi.com/p/459

http://whoisi.com/p/1

I think I get it — it’s a wiki-like FriendFeed?

http://whoisi.com/p/683

http://whoisi.com/p/141

The opportunities for abuse abound (but there are obvious ways to fix things, if you claim your own person, and correct the links). It’s very clever. Why didn’t I think of it??🙂

One of the things I love about it is that it does the right thing with RSS descriptions. Bravo!!

Some things shouldn’t be joked about 

It’s been suggested that McCain made a good choice in hiring a comedian to write about Barack Obama for their campaign webiste. I humbly disagree.

There are some things that you shouldn’t joke about. For example, tech support. How would you feel if your server had crashed and it turns out your ISP was playing a joke on you. Come on lighten up! Read the Cluetrain.

Or suppose your doctor was playing a joke on you when you went in for your prostate exam and hid a little treasure for you to find. Relax! It’s a joke!

Presidents have buttons that launch missles that destroy the world. Their power is even greater than doctors and tech support people. It’s better if they stick to telling us what they think without misdirection. Imho.

Good news or bad? 

I just signed on to Twitter and there were two status messages waiting for me and that was it. The entire Twitterverse had shrunk down to Charlene Li and Josh Bancroft. This is a new idea. An interesting plot for a science fiction movie? Or a sad comment on the times? I hope they like each other? Maybe one is a Republican and the other is a Democrat? I wonder what their offspring would look like?

John McCain’s RSS feed 

I forget how I stumbled across John McCain’s RSS feed, but I’ve been reading it regularly for some time. Occasionally they have a post written in the candidate’s name, but usually the stories are written by staffers.

I was hoping, when I found it, that I could learn more about the candidate, but mostly they use the feed to take shots at Barack Obama. A lot of it is very embarassing stuff, not for Obama, but for McCain. How could a candidate of his stoop to sarcasm bordering on bitterness. It sounds terrible, like they’ve already lost, know it, and all they have left to support their candidate is — what? Do they think that undecided voters would be swayed by snark?

I’d like to see them use the feed to comment on current events, as they sometimes do. For example, today the Supreme Court released its first interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. No matter how you look at it, this is historic. It’s not quite as big as overturning Roe v Wade, but it’s in the ballpark. McCain ran a piece about the news that stated their position, and contrasted it to (their interpretation of) Obama’s, without insulting the reader’s intelligence. It was published in the candidate’s name. Good use of the feed.

Later in the day they published a hard to parse piece that starts out as a criticism of Karl Rove and then attempts to defend Obama for rewriting the Declaration of Independence! And at first I thought they were serious in their denunciation of Rove, which would, imho, be a very smart thing politically. But that wasn’t their point, at all. I don’t think Obama has said anything about the Declaration, I guess this was a weak attempt at humor? If so, it didn’t work. Screen shot. This piece was written by Michael Goldfarb. Not sure who he is.

I guess my message to McCain is this –> being President is serious stuff, and if you don’t take it seriously, how could you expect anyone to support you?

BTW, the same criticism goes to Daily Kos and Redstate, two highly partisan blogs at opposite ends of the spectrum. I hardly ever refer people to either blog, because they always take cheap shots along with stating their interpretation of current events. But they’re just blogs, two of many. McCain is just one of two major party candidates for President. There’s a big difference.

PS: If anyone knows of an equivalent Obama feed, please let me know!

Silicon Valley as second grade 

Posting a link to Shel Israel’s piece here yesterday accelerated the discussion, of course. Most of the discussion that I’ve participated in has been on FriendFeed. I also talked for about 45 minutes last night with Mike Arrington. It was a surprisingly friendly conversation, I had forgotten how much I like and respect him. After sleeping on it, I’ve had a chance to distill my own thinking. Here’s some of it.

First, when I became aware of how the videos were hurting Shel, I stopped watching. All I could think about is how mean this community had become. Most people had never heard of Shel before, he’s not really a celebrity. That was until these people decided to make an example of him, and turned his name into a bad joke, which became more well known than the real person. Shel is far from rich, and this isn’t just hurting him financially, it’s breaking him, though he’s too proud to say so.

Now they’ve gone after me too, but it’s not so easy to hurt me. I’ve been trashed plenty, and I think most people whose opinions I care about know that I am not what they say I am, which can be pretty awful stuff.

As Duncan Riley said, one of the few bloggers who has been willing to come to Shel’s defense publicly: “If I was Shel, I wouldn’t be coping at all, in fact I’d probably fall to complete pieces.” True. It’s enough to wither your spirit. Not the satire itself, but the people who say they’re friends who don’t offer support. That’s what really hurts. That’s one of the things I tried to convey to Mike last night. I offer the same to several other people I’d like to call friends again.

When a friend is in trouble and asks for help, you don’t turn your back. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that when a stranger is in trouble and asks for help you don’t turn your back.

Satire that’s based on hurting people stops being funny to most people pretty quickly. People who support it really need to stop and think how they’re contributing to other people’s misery, and whether it’s still fun after realizing that. I believe that most people are good at their core, and when they give it some thought, will help us turn this corner and get to the next level. We’ve sunk really really low. Time to pull ourselves out.

PS: If you think writing this was easy, think again.

PPS: The First Amendment says you have the right to say (almost) whatever you want. But it doesn’t say anyone has to listen.

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