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Likes is a Node-based server that manages an SQL database of triplets: username, URL of the thing they liked, and a timestamp. When you like something, it adds a record to the database. When you unlike, the record is removed. There's a demo app that shows how to hook up to the server in your own web apps. I've factored the code so there's an API and UI. You probably will only use the API in your stuff. We use Twitter for identity. If you want to run your own server, which is fine with me, you will need to create an app on Twitter. Questions are welcome.
I was having an offline discussion with a famous journalist. He objected to me making general statements about journalism. But to me journalism is often, in some ways, a monolith. Yes I know some writers are better than others. And I know all tech isn't the same (his counter-example), but I also understand that as a user, I see tech companies acting in concert. I see limits they impose to give themselves power that I can't have. Same in journalism. So it's totally valid to write about journalism as an entity, because in some ways, for me, that's how I experience it. As with all writing, I only write about my experience.
It would be great to have one writing system for the web that blow by all the limits imposed by the journalism and tech. No character limit. Full use of HTML. Titles, podcasts. RSS feeds in and out, so it's not a silo.
BTW, I'm writing better stuff on Twitter these days than I am here on my blog. It sucks. It should be the other way around. But once I get started typing in Twitter I can't stop. I guess the page never gets full? Have to figure it out.
Braintrust query: Are you a member of De Correspondent in the Netherlands? What, in your own words, makes it different from other news orgs? There's been a lot of hype as they start up in the US. It would be interesting to hear about it from a member's perspective. Thanks!
Elvis Costello: "Don't bury me cause I'm not dead yet."
I'm tired of being the audience. I want to be part of the news system. Not a passive part. Contributing experience, point of view, ability to write, and hope for our species to survive. To pass on what I know. To help. To be useful. All the models of news as an industry are meant to get us to give them money while lying to us that we're part of their process. Our job is to give them money and then chill while they run the world. I don't like how they're running the world. Maybe news wasn't meant to be an industry. Maybe it's a calling, a passion, a civic responsibility. No one pays you to vote or sit on a jury. We have to re-think news on a grand scale. And the news people refuse to do that.
Yesterday Quartz announced a new membership-based publishing system, and today Jay Rosen announced a membership drive on behalf of De Correspondent, a Dutch-originated news org. Of course I know Jay from the podcast we did a few years ago, and Zach Seward is one of the top guys at Quartz, who I knew from Nieman Lab and also when I was at NYU. These are both smart people who have roots in blogging. However, both efforts have a limited view of the contributions of members. I wrote about this, tangentially, yesterday, about the line that separates us from journalism. That line is where the attention must focus. These are the small steps people rooted in journalism are comfortable with. The real problem imho remains making Sources Go Direct really work. News as-it-is is promoting the failure of democracy, not standing up for it. Imho of course, ymmv, I've been wrong before, my mother loves me, I am not a lawyer, etc. ??
It's somewhat embarrassing to have all those 0 Likes on my posts, but I'm going to leave them there. It's a worthwhile bootstrap imho. It can lead somewhere if we want it to.
Something bothered me about CNN's protest of their reporter being excluded from the White House. It took me a while to pinpoint. I guess they would like us to have their back -- but do they have ours? They do so many things that sell us out as they chase profit. It's as if they've found a way to monetize America's failure. Maybe one of these events will wake them up and they'll realize they aren't protected anymore than we are, and they should do what they can to halt our descent, even if it makes them lose money. Until they do that, I don't see why I should care whose reporters are in the White House carrying the Republican message.
As a language hacker I wonder if we could make a meme somehow happen where people think the word flake came from Jeff Flake instead of it being a coincidence.
I was just telling a friend about Al Pacino's speech in Any Given Sunday. I know a lot of people don't like sports movies but this one is the story of age, how the coach and the young quarterback (played by Jamie Foxx) learn to work together. It's got all the schmaltz of typical sports movie. But the acting is so good, and the story simple and universal and heart-grabbing. Old people remember being young. We aren't young anymore, but we have experience and knowledge to offer, and when we work together the winning is so much sweeter. I would like the newly elected Democrat reps to watch this movie and work with Nancy Pelosi. She knows how to win. We have a really big problem to solve and we have to work together to solve it. If we don't work together, we'll die as individuals.
I think the problem with journalism in 2018 is that it relies on a centralized model, journalists who are paid salaries and everyone else who pays to read what the salaried journalists produce. It's not all the way there yet, but it's close.
But -- who really wants to read what the paid journalists write? And why? And what about the knowledge and perspectives of the readers, why are they wasted in this model? I understand why they were wasted in the pre-Internet world, because the cost of distribution was prohibitive, but that's no longer an issue.
The standard answer, which I don't disagree with is how do you separate the wheat from the chaff? The repetitive rote stuff that just echoes what a few opinion leaders put out there versus original insights that could help us solve problems? But how does the system do it now? The columnists are very predictable, they're mostly rehashing the same themes over and over, applied to different events. And as Matt Taibbi says so well in this paywalled piece (somehow accidentally I was allowed to read it) most of what they talk about in the news is pure bullshit. We knew that, but it's nice to hear someone on the other side of the paywall say it.
Ultimately that model is going to break because of their inability to do the corner-turn that the new technology has required of them since the web opened up. The turn is this: stop paying writers, and figure out how to find the good stuff in a sea of bullshit. The same problem everyone has and no one has an answer to. The news org that has the courage to tackle that problem, and solves it, will lead the consolidation, which will imho happen very quickly.
William Gibson: "Very little 20th Century sf anticipated anything even remotely like what we must now recognize as the greatest single unanticipated effect of human technology."
I've been making a lot of phone calls lately on my iPhone (6, iOS 12.1), and the volume on the calls is way too low. I have to force the phone to my ear and it still needs to be louder. I've turned the volume on the phone all the way up. What can I do? (Update: Heres'a a list of things I tried. I think the volume went up. I'll find out for sure on my next phone conversation.)
A request for news media. If the president makes a proclamation re something he has no power over, that's the story, if you want to report anything. If you carry his proclamation as if he had the power, you're colluding. His excuse is he's corrupt. What's your excuse?
I changed the way the thumb works in Like. Now, when you click the thumb, it fills in, when you click it again it toggles to being open. It used to flip to down. This was confusing. Now it doesn't flip, it's always up. I think this feels better, burns fewer braincells.
Ray Ozzie used ThinkTank to write the spec for Lotus Notes.
I just had a brief chat with Om on Twitter. Here's what I said.
Super important point: The 2018 election isn't over. At stake, governorships of Florida and Georgia. Senator from Florida. Stacey Abrams is leading the fight. She is so strong and determined. If she wins, we will win, hugely. Give her money now.
Probably the most damaging form of voter suppression is the kind going on now. Getting hysterical about completing the count when you've got the result you want. We should all be funding Stacey Abrams, who made voting rights her big issue and is fighting for it, now.
I'm working on a feature for Scripting News today, so you may see some extraneous posts here over the next few hours.
Please excuse the dust. Dig we must!
A rambling 22-minute podcast on the election. Why it's important to savor victory. There was a lot of good news in Tuesday's results. Feel the winning. The political system might be killing us, but America, underneath it all, is still America. Most important, by giving the House to a party that will do real oversight, we re-asserted the control by the people over the government. Whether you support Trump or not, this has to be seen as good.
Obama should go on a victory tour now, hold rallies to drive home what we accomplished by showing up to vote. Host SNL. Visit with Jimmy Kimmel. Do an interview with the NYT. He's the one Democrat who can't be accused of campaigning for 2020. Solidify the message, we asked people to vote, and they did, and look what we accomplished. When I ran a company, I always made my sales people visit the distributors after we shipped a hit product. It wasn't for sales, it was to soak of the feeling of winning.
Theory why Trump fired Sessions and appointed Whitaker now. They know Mueller is about to issue his report. They wanted to move first, do something, anything, to be able to say they were on top of it. It wonít work, heís the Keystone Kops president.
Are there any USB-C drives? I was sure there would be by now, but are there?? Can't find them on Amazon. What is USB-C good for?? (Update: LaCie has a 2TB portable USB-C drive. $90.)
Have you ever been in a failed friendship, relationship, business partnership? I'm beginning to think most people haven't, based on their willingness to forget that Trump is a lying con artist who is being blackmailed by Putin and probably a dozen other countries by now.
A friend posted: "This will be an easily disproven lie" about something Trump said. Please. It's like a wife who's sleeping around. Everyone knows but you (the spouse). Trump always lies. It's more interesting to try to prove he's not lying.
Moral of the story, with Trump, always --
About a protest about Trump firing Sessions. Too early. Let Congress do their job. Let the courts. If they fail, then a march will be huge. Right now, with the election just over, a big victory for the people, for oversight, for health care, the power of the people is just now settling in with our elected reps. The ones who are coming back should feel we have their back if they stand up to Trump. Right now the risk of failure of a protest is too high. It's just the wrong time. As Teddy Roosevelt said, speak softly and carry a big stick. The people are carrying. Clearly. We just spoke. Let's find out if they heard.
I don't care who the White House lets into their press events. For a couple of reasons. I don't think any news org should send reporters to those events. Too much lying. But if they did, they should report on the lies as lies, not misrepresentations or whatever weasel words they use to describe the lies. And I especially don't care if CNN is there. I blame them for the Trump presidency. Journalism has to be done consciously. What Trump was doing in the years leading up to the 2016 election was terrorism. Race hate. Stuff that when/if we get past this will be illegal. It certainly was unethical for CNN to give Trump such coverage. Now the chickens have home to roost. You reap what you sow. Maybe if they're forced to sit outside of these supposed press conferences they'll reflect on what's really happening, and their role in it. A mea culpa going back to the beginning of Political Trump would help get me to listen to their side. But no such admission has come. Bottom line: I don't see what they do as journalism.
With all possible humility, I wish pieces like the one I wrote yesterday about the election got more attention. 20 years ago (arrgh) I had a column in Wired that worked wonders. I think part of the reason blogging took off the way it did is because they gave me space to write about it every week. I've asked many people if they know any editors at major political pubs who might give me a column like that. For example, yesterday I wrote a piece that's highly contrarian but also I think more accurate than the account of the election that journalism put together. That will all soon be cemented as conventional wisdom. The time to get an idea in the mix is now past. My blog doesn't have enough pull to get into the conversation. Sadly, journalists only listen to other journalists, it seems. We're already three news cycles past the election, first there was the Sessions firing, Jim Acosta being outsted by the White House and the shooting in Southern California. But the lessons from the election are very important. Very important and being lost.
I often talk about journalists or journalism as if it were a monolith, and of course it isn't. There is divergence of views, but there is also conventional wisdom, and access journalism and the economics, all of which drive journalism to a sameness. An example, in the mid 90s the conventional wisdom was that there was no new Mac software. You'd see it reported everywhere. It wasn't true. It just made it impossible to launch new software, so eventually it became self-fullfilling.
Nowadays in political writing the rut they've fallen into is making the news a theatrical play about the personalities at the top, and overlooks the real import of politiics, what it means for the people who are governed. Not just in the aggregate, but as individuals. Journalism if it ever had the ability to tell that story seems to have lost it.
The sameness of political writing makes the outstanding writers stand out even more. Jon Chait is consistently original, thoughtful and thought-provoking at New York Mag. I can't remember reading a piece of his that I didn't feel was both worth passing on and right on the money.