a couple things

I read this article on CNet, about the founders of Craigslist and Wikipedia having a little chat. The following three paragraphs caught my eye.


“The miracle of DVRs, not just TiVo, is that you can skip through commercials, and in my fantasy life…if everyone started skipping political commercials, that would defeat their purpose, and that would be a good thing,” [Craig] Newmark said. “Then politicians would have to say more. That’s what I feel in my own little fantasy world. I do feel it’s everyone’s patriotic duty to skip commercials, at least political commercials, and I feel it’s the DVR manufacturers’ patriotic duty to make 30-second skip easier for everyone.”

Wow. That’s freakin’ genius right there. Like the article says, I’m one of those people who has Craigslist to thank for two apartments, two bicycles, selling countless random crap, my job, and (most importantly) my girlfriend. But now I have new-found respect for Craig. This comment is one of those things that when you hear it makes perfect sense. TiVo (and TV-on-demand, DVR’s, etc.) are going to become the mainstream around here. Advertisements aren’t going to go away, obviously; Madison Avenue will just find more insidious ways to get into our heads. But imagine the impact of not watching political commercials. People may be forced to get their information from other, more objective sources. My god.


Newmark also mused a fair amount about the future of citizen journalism. But where some in the blogosphere are increasingly calling for the death of the so-called mainstream media, he said it is important to have professional writers and editors, since such work is difficult. Further, he said, it is important to have professionals willing to spend long days devoted to covering crucial stories.

Gosh I’m glad someone said this. I’m all for freedom of expression, and clearly I’m a fan of the idea of the “blogosphere” (if not the word) since I am, after all, a card carrying member. But I also appreciate the fact that I don’t know shit. (And you can quote me on that.) All the stuff I rail against on this site is pure conjecture. Maybe a bit more informed conjecture than someone who doesn’t have the same background as I do. But I’ll be the first to admit that as I’ve never been to Iraq, am not a CIA agent, and the last political science class I took was at a community college in Humboldt, I’m certainly no expert on international politics. Accordingly, I rely on the sort of the edited and well-researched writing in “traditional” media. Even when it does drop the ball. And no amount of trendy, flashy, hyperbolic, and wildly more entertaining new media is going to change that.


In the end, however, the biggest applause of the day went to [Wikipedia founder Jimmy] Wales, who said, in response to a question about Google’s recent expansion into China and its decision to censor its Chinese site, that Wikipedia would not follow the search engine giant’s example.

“Like most people, I love Google and use it all the time, and like most people, I’m a little uncomfortable with what they’re doing in China,” Wales said. But, “We will never compromise with censorship.”

Hmm. I’m sort of conflicted about this. (And the following is heavily prefaced by what I said just two seconds ago, about not being an expert.) I’m conflicted because of an article I read the other day about a Google image search done on Chinese servers on Tiananmen Square. The results were mostly touristy kind of shots. Families going on vacation. That sort of thing. The article went on to say that if you do a search for the National Mall on Google, you get the same sort of thing. You don’t get a lot of pictures of the Million Man March or even of Martin Luther King, Jr. You get pictures of the Washington Monument with a backdrop of fireworks. The point of the article (and goddamn how I wish I could find it now) wasn’t so much that we should cut Google some slack as much as we should remember the following two things: first, how Google works. Part of their search algorithm is based on links and activity. Tiananmen square is a tourist trap that’s been around for seven hundred years or so. Just like the National Mall. Second, and more importantly, we should keep in mind that if Google is being directed by the Chinese government to censor its searches, what’s stopping them from doing the same thing at home? Not to sound any conspiracy alarms, but I’m always a big fan of trying to fix our own lapses in human rights before denouncing some other country’s.

I’m just sayin’ is all.