Monthly Archives: February 2008

Another Reason Not to Teach Contracts

I didn't enjoy Contracts very much as a law student — it all seemed utterly arbitrary, except for the parts that seemed random or cruel. So I've never much wanted to teach it.

But now, thanks to Ethan Leib's post Chicken. Fowl, indeed. I have a whole new reason never to want to teach it.

Posted in Law School | 1 Comment

We Media: Best Lines

WeMedia 2008“Content may be King, but the customer is G-d.” (From the Sarnoff & Weiss panel)

“The revolution may not be televised, but it will be uploaded” (Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., CEO, Hip Hop Caucus at the “Power To Change The World ” panel)

“I'm just old enough to remember what it was like before the internet” (audience member)

“The title of this panel is a tough one for anyone from the mainstream media to sit on” Jim Brady, panelist (“the power to change the world”)

“Show me a health IT guy, and I’ll show you a guy who’s sitting in the second string.” (Don Jones, Qualcomm, quoting a friend stating what he says everyone believes)

“News doesn't break—it oozes.” Amy Garhan, Content Strategist and Independent Journalist

Posted in Talks & Conferences | 4 Comments

We Media: Search Breakout

WeMedia 2008This session was, for me, the most interesting thing so far. I'm afraid the following is only some of it. The chair starts with what he calls a “party trick”: he types “power outage” into Google Search … and the first item is from the Boston Globe. Why, he asks, Boston? (Note that he used regular search, not “news” search — which, he says, is what Joe Average would do. Search, he concludes, has room for improvement. The speakers are all people working achieve that.

The first speaker, Mary Hodder, Founder, Dabble, gave a very good case for the use of microformats, an approach to organizing stuff that was new to me and seems, at first blush, to be really really sensible. Old-style standards approaches just don't scale to the magnitude of the task.

Fabrice Florin, Executive Director, NewsTrust, talked about trying to do better things with metadata, which might even involve metadata about metadata to provide metrics of trust and authoritativeness. It sounds hard. But it clearly sang to session chairman Jim Kennedy, VP Strategy, The Associated Press, which was an interesting datum.

Josh Cohen, Director, Business Development, Google News, talked — surprise — about the problem of scale. Classic publishers, he noted, are a tiny fraction of the content online. So a trust metric optimized for helping consumers navigate publishers may not scale for Google News, which he says now has 20 different languages and 40 different editions. Google's approach has to algorithmic, but all of these types of data could be used by an algorithm. [Although personally, I be very surprised to see Google relying on any 3rd party tags or metadata.]

Hodder notes that many people use the a Yahoo standard, Media RSS (MRSS) which they pioneered and open-sourced for tagging video content — but there are many varied (confusing) uses of it.

Kennedy asks how we tag without falling prey to the gaming of the system that killed metadata 1.0. Florin says, reasonably, make it visible to users. And attribute the source of the metadata. Hodder says, yes, but that's really hard to keep track of — how do you cross-check to find out what

Florin jokes that all we need is distinguished names (he doesn't call it that, but that's what he means). I start flashing back to the early days of digital signature discussions in the mid-90s…. Bob Jueneman, call your office …

Question from the audience suggests Everything2 is a better model – it self-polices.

(Meanwhile, in the background, it sounds as if the heavens have opened up and it's pouring. )

Hodder says she worries about relying on systems like Digg, because they are too easy to game.

Reuters person in audience asks about business models to pay for all this. Google's Cohen suggests that if replies to search are more relevant, higher quality, then they are more valuable.

Why doesn't Google announce a standard? Because it's not clear people would follow it [and, I'd add, there's the gaming issue]. Yahoo is having a meeting in two months regarding news and technology — an open-space style meeting — might that be an occasion for building out the MRSS spec to go to more news?

Posted in Talks & Conferences | Leave a comment

We Media – First 90 Minutes

WeMedia 2008I’m not going to liveblog the WeMedia conference – they’re doing a fine job of that on their blog. Instead I’ll free associate a bit. Forgive any snark – I’m not going to have much time to edit myself.

There’s an evangelical aspect to this event which seems strange to me: the first speakers seem to think that they need to convince the audience of things that the communities I hang with pretty much take for granted: everything is digital, information communities are localizing, the Internet enables individuals as news creators, gatherers, organizers and sharers. Trust matters. I suppose that the reduced relative power of big centralized media may be a bitter pill for some of the old media moguls, but surely they have to have faced it by now? Then again, there’s lots of grey hair in the room. I often feel like Methuselah at tech events – here I’m middle of the pack, if that.

More encouraging is the next question – “what’s next?” But they don’t answer it.

They tell us content isn’t the only king– access matters too. [For a contrary view, see “context is king”.]

One thing that’s very noticeable: they sure have more beautiful slides with better transitions than the geeks do; and much better than the lawyers; but the pretty slides don’t actually say much.

OK, here’s some data: 2/3 of Americans think journalism is out of touch; 2/3 are dissatisfied with quality of journalism in their communities; 48% say the Internet is their primary source of news and information.

Conclusion: “The digital age is here”. I had guessed that.

Next Session: “Print is Dead”

One of the speakers is Jeff Gomez, who wrote a book called “Print is Dead”. It sold well. He has an interesting-looking blog. He’s engaging, but again, I’m not sure where I’d find the news hook if I were covering this.

If newspapers are dead, who killed them? I say it was suicide: they took a dive on the war and just about every other difficult issue in the last six years. Media consolidation destroyed competition and made them dull and complacent – no more newspaper wars or even am/pm rivalries. Meanwhile TV (sometimes cross-owned by conglomerates that owned the paper) gave us years of “a white woman is missing” and dumb trials. No wonder people don’t take them seriously. (Cf. Yesterday's News Tomorrow (Literally))

Interestingly, the guy behind me – an old media honcho with a law degree – is doing his work. I asked him what he thought of the speakers, and he says he’s heard it all before. (“Listening to Lazarus” he says.) I suspect the audience is ahead of the presenters. In fact, I suspect the presenters know a lot more than they let on.

I should note that, so far, the next session, “Print reincarnated” (Richard Sarnoff & Willam C. Weiss) has a lot more interesting content about things that print media are doing to tie in to new media and make the two work together — from my perspective it's lots of smart small stuff, though, as much as any one big idea beyond “connect”. Perversely, the value of this session means there's a good chance I won't write as much about it, because I'm too busy listening. Random fact: they don't have slides.

Posted in Talks & Conferences | 1 Comment

Annette Taddeo Offical Campaign Launch

I neglected to note that Annette Taddeo officially launched her campaign yesterday. I would have loved to go, but it happened during a class. Here’s the press release.

Annette Taddeo officially announced her candidacy for Congress in Florida’s 18th Congressional District today at Congressman Dante Fascell Park in South Miami. Taddeo was joined by supporters, elected officials, family and friends.

Taddeo kicked off her campaign for change. “I am here today, asking for your support in our quest for a new direction – not just in Washington, but here at home as well, because South Florida needs leaders who can be independent, inclusive leaders who will be bold and bi-partisan, both courageous and compassionate”, said Taddeo.

Taddeo spoke specifically about issues she plans to focus on during her run for Congress. She said she would work to balance the nation’s budget, protect the environment and slow global warming, improve access to affordable and available healthcare, and bring our troops home safely from Iraq. “My campaign for change will be about focusing on the issues that matter, and on sharing solutions about how we can create a better community and country”, stated Taddeo at the announcement.

Taddeo says she is running because she wants to make a difference for the people of the district, and believes the time is right with the electorate ready for new leadership.

“We have heard the people’s desire for change, for leaders who will work everyday in Washington to improve life here at home, for a change in the way the powers that be do business in Washington, and for leaders who will work to create a government that works for all of us”, said Taddeo.

The results last night from New York state suggest that no Republican is safe anywhere this year.

Update: Similar result — Democratic upset — in the special election for Florida House District 32.

Posted in Politics: FL-18 | Leave a comment

Wikileaks Update

Updated docket

Notable filings include:

Thanks to James S. Tyre for making these available.

Posted in Law: Free Speech | 1 Comment