If it’s not already painfully clear to my friends, I love anecdotes. I love minutiae and trivia and obscure statistics. And I think that’s a big part of why I’ve taken to this whole sports journalism thing as a hobby: soccer is full of metrics (that are often meaningless), and every game I cover gives you a moment or two to hang on to longer term.
Take Thierry Henry. Thierry has won practically everything there is to win in the sport: Premier League, Champions League, World Cup. He is an intense competitor, and more than a little prickly in the locker room. So much so that I’ve only ever asked him two questions in the 18 months I’ve been “on the beat”, the last of which earned me a mild bollocking which included the phrase “I don’t know if you know what it’s like to play in a pre-season friendly”. (No, Titi, I don’t, but thanks for asking.) Even getting sassed at by Thierry is a fun memory, not a point of shame.
Sometimes, though, you don’t know an anecdote is happening until 9 months later. And that happened to me recently thanks to one Tim Cahill, although it wasn’t intentional on his part.
I have not seen Mike Daisey’s show, nor have I listened to the This American Life episode that featured him before it was retracted. But even without having directly heard the monologue, it’s been impossible to avoid in the drumbeat about Apple over the last quarter.
Daisey told an entirely different story. Daisey’s story was this: Not only did those things happen, but they are all ongoing problems, right now, today, and they are so rampant, so commonplace, that a big white American wearing a Hawaiian shirt — a man who’s never before been to China and speaks neither Mandarin nor Cantonese — can simply travel to Shenzhen China and stand outside the Foxconn gates with a translator for a few shifts and he will find workers as young as 12, 13, 14 walking out. Any day, every day. That in the course of a single six-day trip, that same man could encounter a man who lost the use of a hand while assembling iPads, a group of workers poisoned by n-hexane, and that a man would drop dead after working a 34-hour shift. Just another week at Foxconn. That was Mike Daisey’s story — and it bears no resemblance to anything anyone else has reported.
I will publish a blog post on Tuesday 24th March about a woman in technology whom I admire but only if 1,000 other people will do the same.
Now, it would be terribly easy to write a post about Ada Lovelace Day organizer, and close personal friend, Suw Charman-Anderson. So easy, in fact, I feel it would be a bit of a cop out. (Sorry, Suw!)
Instead, I will write about a different personal friend. Because that isn’t a cop-out at all.
A blog focusing on the goings-on of a city doesn’t sound revolutionary in 2009, but in 2002, it was practically unheard of.
In the time since, Jen Chung’s tireless editorial work at Gothamist has been a source of stability in a restless city. Day in and day out, Jen is researching, writing, posting, and responding to the news. Yesterday, she posted 15 separate stories – an average day, from what I’ve seen. In the time since Gothamist was founded, as of when I’m writing this, Jen has written eighteen-thousand-nine-hundred-ninety posts. Just for comparison: in the time it takes me to crank out a single entry, Jen is averaging fourteen – and that’s with me having a two year head-start.
Of course, it’s quality, not quantity, that counts most – and what’s even more impressive is her tireless work to cover the stories that New Yorkers are talking about and affected by. Every major NYC story over the last five years – HookerGate, the Astoria blackout, the Transit Strike, Flight 1549, even the Maple Syrup Mystery – has her fingerprints all over it. Jen’s work helped to ensure that after four years of fighting for a press pass from the NYPD – denied on the grounds of “being a website” – Gothamist was finally issued one in February for a City Hall press conference.
Her job is largely thankless. She is frequently raked over the coals by Gothamist commenters over typos and grammar mistakes. Somehow, under all that stress and pressure, Jen remains down-to-earth, friendly, and personable.
Six years has taken Gothamist from personal blog to indispensable resource. Nearly everyone I know reads it; the New York Times said it “reflects everything worth knowing about this city.” I can’t imagine living in the city without it. (To be fair and also not be beaten to death by other friends, plenty of that cause can be attributed to Jake, Neil, Tien, and the other editors.)
As one of the most prolific, knowledgeable bloggers I’ve ever met – as someone who’s work ethic is unmatched – Jen Chung is the woman in technology I admire.
I’m unsure if the joke is going to make much sense to people outside the NYC metro area, but here’s an attempt at background: the NY Times runs TV ads advertising “the Weekender“. The ad feels like a distant cousin of the old Apple “Switch” commercials, in that you have “regular” people talking about how many great things they can do by subscribing to a Friday/Saturday/Sunday edition of the Times.
I would embed a clip of it, but it is apparently too worthless an ad for anyone to even have put it onto YouTube.
So with that in mind, this ad from the newly opened 92Y Tribeca may fall flat if you haven’t seen the original:
> But in a nation in which 66% of the voting-age population is overweight and 32% is obese, could Sen. Obama’s skinniness be a liability? Despite his visits to waffle houses, ice-cream parlors and greasy-spoon diners around the country, his slim physique just might have some Americans wondering whether he is truly like them.
>”I won’t vote for any beanpole guy,” another Clinton supporter wrote last week on a Yahoo politics message board.
I’d like to revisit a post from last year, entitled “Three Little Words“, where I tried desperately to shake people from the cocaine-style addiction the Apple faithful have to rumor sites.
The trajectory of rumor sites is simple: first, they get a handful of successful predictions while they have a source. They get linked, often by the blogs I referenced above, for somehow nailing their predictions. Their traffic spikes, ad revenues go through the roof. Apple Legal C&D’s them (or sometimes sues), and the legal fight becomes the news for a while.
While the fight is going on, the accuracy of the site starts dropping. Rumored products never appear. Keynote predictions go under 50% accuracy. Wrong information is attributed to “last minute decisions” or sometimes just edited down the memory hole.
Eventually, the traffic drifts to another site, because they’ve started the same trajectory.
Think Secret is on the downward part of this trajectory.
I would give admonitions at this point, warning people away from there, but really, I would rather people stopped putting their faith in any rumor sites.
Apple and Think Secret have settled their lawsuit, reaching an agreement that results in a positive solution for both sides. As part of the confidential settlement, no sources were revealed and Think Secret will no longer be published. Nick Ciarelli, Think Secret’s publisher, said “I’m pleased to have reached this amicable settlement, and will now be able to move forward with my college studies and broader journalistic pursuits.”
Now, given that Apple fans seemingly know everything, you would think they’d know that a “settlement” is an agreement that both sides reach. As in, Ciarelli has agreed to shut the site down. As in, Apple did not “win” any legal action to force it closed. They proposed a settlement, and Nick took it.
> And how stupid is Apple by forcing this through, killing their most ardent fans? This company is more and more acting like Microsoft. A new Evil Empire. Call them the Evil Twins from now on…! The suits and lawyers has taken over.
> This is really disgusting that a company who claims to be the morally right choice(I think there was some advert they released ages ago about being different) Is actually far more evil than microsoft chooses to be. Seeing the way that they are behaving regarding shutting down this site and the way they act to restrict competition on the iphone and itunes, makes me glad that they are not the dominant player in the market. Microsoft may be bad, but they are definitely less evil than Apple.
> So now corporations will determine what independent press is able to say or shut them down? Our news is already skewed enough as it is by the various corporate news outlets who cater to this and that political party.
> How cool is it to bash a college kid? His site has to come down because Steve Jobs is mad? How is it that corporate secrecy is more important than this kid’s first amendment rights? I hope this gets a lot of press.
I hold three museum memberships within the city; the one I hold most dearly is my membership to the Paley Center for Media, formerly the Museum of Television and Radio. They just announced their fall schedule, and the events are worth looking at.
(Ticket prices are listed with member prices first, and non-member prices second. Ticket on-sale dates differ depending on a few factors, so check the website if you’re interested.)
Media as News & Views
Includes three seminars: Beyond the Anchor Desk: The Rise of Citizen Journalism , Extraordinary Work: A Conversation with the IWMF Courage in Journalism Honorees, and Truth and the Iraq War: Frank Rich Converses with Television Journalists. Notable panelists and guests include Andrea Mitchell and Dan Rather. Series is $35/60, individual events are $15/25. [link]
Media as Entertainment 1
Includes four seminars: An Evening with Mary Tyler Moore, An Evening with Glenn Close, An Evening with Angela Lansbury, and An Evening with Kyra Sedgwick and The Closer. I don’t think I need to tell you who the guests are. Series is $85/100, individual tickets are $25/35. [link]
Media as Entertainment 2
Includes three seminars: Upright Citizens Brigade, Fun Facts, Top Tens, and Stupid Humans: The Writers of Late Show with David Letterman, and Scrubs: The Farewell Tour. Guests include all four members of the UCB and seemingly all major cast members of Scrubs. Tickets are a steal: $35/60 for series, $15/25 individual. [link]
This year’s docfest includes some notables: To Die In Jerusalem, Larry Flynt: The Right to be Left Alone (Larry Flynt appearing for Q&A), and Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who, where Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend are scheduled to attend the event. Many ticket configurations are available, so check the site. [link]
(Yeah, I don’t live in LA, but I always get jealous at their festival schedule.)
Two events: Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna & Pablo Cruz on Cinema, Politics, and Mexico’s New World View, and Raising Cane: Behind the Scenes. Prices are $25/43 for the series, or $15/25 individually. [link]
Media as Entertainment 1
The most mainstream of the four Entertainment schedules: Two and a Half Men: 100th Episode Celebration , American Masters Premiere: Carol Burnett, Inside the Creative Process: Tom Selleck on Jesse Stone, and ER Celebrates the Big 300!. Series is $50/85, individual tickets are $15/25. [link]
Media as Entertainment 2
Here comes my jealousy: Inside Robot Chicken (Seth and Matt and others to appear), Lovin’ Las Vegas, A Night in Hell’s Kitchen (Gordon Ramsay appearing), and the duality of Scrubs: The Farewell Tour. Series for $50/85, individuals for $15/25. [link]
The Subject Is Media
Just two, and not what I had anticipated: Smoke and Sympathy: A Toast to Mad Men, and Back in Circulation: A Lou Grant Reunion. Can’t go wrong with Ed Asner. $25/43 for both, or $15/25 individually. [link]
But firs, the NY Times, [via Jonathan Greene](http://www.atmasphere.net/wp/archives/2007/02/24/bittorrent-entertainment-network): [Software Exploited by Pirates Goes to Work for Hollywood](http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/25/technology/25bit.html)
> Hollywood studios are going into business with one of their biggest tormentors: the peer-to-peer pioneer BitTorrent.
> On Monday, the company, whose technology unleashed a wave of illegal file-sharing on the Internet, plans to unveil the BitTorrent Entertainment Network on its Web site, BitTorrent.com. The digital media store will offer around 3,000 new and classic movies and thousands more television shows, as well as a thousand PC games and music videos each, all legally available for purchase.
> The BitTorrent store will work slightly differently than rival digital media offerings like the iTunes Store of Apple and the Xbox Live service of Microsoft. BitTorrent will commingle free downloads of users’ own video uploads with sales of professional fare. And while it will sell digital copies of shows like “24” and “Bones” for $1.99 an episode, it will only rent movies. Once the films are on the PC, they expire within 30 days of their purchase or 24 hours after the buyer begins to watch them.
> New releases like “Superman Returns” cost $3.99, while classics like “Reservoir Dogs” cost $2.99. The studio’s content plays in Microsoft’s Windows Media Player 11. It is secured by Microsoft’s antipiracy software, which blocks users from watching rented movies on more than one PC or sending them to others over the Internet.
I’m sorry, I’m not getting the point. There are no technological advantages to this over the existing online video stores – in fact, from first glance, the DRM seems more crippling than what Apple offers. Oh, and you’re providing your bandwidth back to help speed up the downloads. What a deal this is to your average consumer!
What’s really enraging about this is how the studios really don’t get it at all:
> “Somebody once said you have to embrace your enemy,” said Doug Lee, executive vice president of MGM’s new-media division. “We like the idea that they have millions of users worldwide. That is potentially fertile, legitimate ground for us.”
Just a second, need to take a deep breath.
* You’re not embracing your enemy. You’re embracing a tool of the enemy.
* “They” don’t have millions of users worldwide. The technology “they” made has millions of users worldwide. Undoubtedly this service will have to use a new, special BT client to manage the DRM. Where are your users now?
* Those million of users aren’t using BitTorrent because they’re wedded to the technology. They’re wedded to the content that’s available to them – and the speed it is available – through that method.
* The content you’re offering? It’s the same content as iTunes, as Amazon Unbox, as Walmart, as Netflix, as Gametap, as Xbox Video Marketplace. They can already buy it, and usually with better usage rights.
* They’re not pirating because the items aren’t available legally, it’s because your DRM is making interop impossible.
* And hey, people are still pirating things through HTTP, FTP, Hotline, and Usenet. (Shit, why don’t we have some Gopher piracy servers?) You want to try co-opting those? Nope, you want to co-opt another technology with brand recognition, just like you did with Napster. How’s that working out for you? Last I heard, eMusic was second behind iTunes.
The land is fertile, yes. And you’re going to come in and pour some goddamn DRM Brawndo over the land and ruin the crops. Idiocracy, indeed.
(Not like any of this really affects me – Windows Media Player 11 doesn’t run on a Mac. Who needs interop, anyhow?)
Everyone’s all up in arms today because Time Magazine, in an effort to cop out from making a decision that means absolutely nothing in the long run, has named You – yes, *you* – as the Person Of The Year. By playing the horrible, horrible Web 2.0 card:
And we didn’t just watch, we also worked. Like crazy. We made Facebook profiles and Second Life avatars and reviewed books at Amazon and recorded podcasts. We blogged about our candidates losing and wrote songs about getting dumped. We camcordered bombing runs and built open-source software.
…they utterly fail to consider that almost all of these things were happening *last* year. And most, the year before that.
I expect the market demand for [Lebowski mirrors](http://uplued.com/waffleimages/files/f4/f4210882602b1543edcd41420e6c7b377d2703c4.jpg) to go through the roof. I also expect Chrysler’s marketing department to get axed.
Chrysler, you see, is sponsoring this year’s online article for Person Of The Year, and [if you watch the ad](http://cache.ultramercial.com/d/005-434/chrysler_flash.html), you’ll notice the immediate irony:
The hell I’m not!
I look forward to the Person Of The Year 2007 being “Everybody”, followed by “Humanity” in 2008, and as a complete twist, “Those Guys” in 2009.
Struggling with the dark and responding to the light.