Scripting News for 7/13/2008

Instant history 

The campaign was getting pretty dull until this New Yorker cover appeared.

At once funny, provocative and inspiring, it captures the personalities of the two Obamas, and how the Republicans would probably like us to think of them.

I don’t think there’s any doubt that this cartoon cover is one of the icons of our times. That’s how powerful art can be.

Larger scan of the cover, and the Ryan Lizza article behind it.

Foreclosures in your neighborhood? 

Next week the financial crisis in the US reaches a new level with a major bank failure and two others being bailed out.

There’s lots of macro news, but what about your neighborhood? Are people losing their homes? Many For Sale signs? If so, are they selling? How do you feel about your investment in your home, in your town? We don’t talk much about this in the tech blogosophere, life here pretty much goes on as it always has, but I’m wondering if underneath that, there’s lots that’s changing.

As far as my neighborhood, North Berkeley, goes — I bought my house at the absolute peak of the market. According to my house has dropped 10 percent in 2 years. A pretty terrible investment from that point of view (I love the house and the neighborhood, so I’m happy). Even though property values are dropping fast, there aren’t many For Sale signs, and when they appear, they sell quickly. There don’t appear to be any foreclosures, all houses are being maintained as far as I can see. So the crisis hasn’t hit the East Bay yet, even though I hear other parts of California are being hit hard.

Update #1: Follow the discussion on FF.

Update #2: This blog is focusing on the mortgage meltdown.

A demo of something that’s not crowd sourcing 

To Jay Rosen, here’s an example of two people collaborating to make an interesting story that neither of us would likely make on our own. Notice that nothing like “crowd sourcing” is taking place.

When I was flying back from NY last Wednesday, the plane was equipped with a live Google Maps display so I could see in advance that our path was likely to take us over Denver, so I prepared, and took several pictures as we passed over the south side of the city. When I got home I uploaded one of the pics to Flickr along with several others.

Then, unexpectedly, yesterday, a person named Paul Wicks added an interesting caption to my picture in a comment. I learned a lot about what I had flown over.

See, we’re not acting as a crowd — we’re acting as two curious strangers from (presumably) fairly diverse backgrounds (I have no way of knowing) whose paths crossed and were able to make an intellectual exchange thanks to a collaborative service. No one made any money off it, but something good happened anyway.

For another example, see my piece earlier today asking people for their experiences with foreclosures locally. When it’s “done” if it ever is, I’d say it’ll be as good as any story written for a national newspaper on how the foreclosure crisis is hitting the average American. In one way it’s better — no one edited the sources’ words, we’re getting it straight, no “telephone game” errors introduced (which is why sources say they never are quoted accurately in the press, something reporters always deny, funny how that is).

Update: A podcast to go with this post.

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