My Email is Down
Sep 12, 2003

My email has been down for several days now and I have no idea when it will come up again. While I doubt anybody has sent me anything truly important (job offers), and those who would have sent me that kind of important thing aren't reading this site (job offers), I thought I should get this out there. It's beginning to seriously annoy me because I don't know what's going on or when it will clear up.

In other news (while I've got you), noticed how the posting frequency has noticably jumped in the last few days? I'm coming up on the end of my Communication Ethics essay, and it's freeing up my "blogging time" for actual blogging. (Shoud be done in a couple more days, and I'm waiting for my email to return in case people want to email me comments before posting, so who knows when that will be?) I've got a significant backlog of posts, including a major update to my Weblog Communities piece (is weblogging journalism? better question, is traditional journalism worth calling journalism?), a post on why we really need to stop treating corporations like people, how to read and write reviews, and a few other things too.

Ideological Axes
Sep 12, 2003

One of the fun, if futile, things to do is to try to arrange the political landscape along varying axes, with "Liberal/Conservative" and "Libertarian/Populist" being two popular ones. There are many others I've seen, too, each with a bit of truth.

I'd like to propose for your own personal amusement this one: Tell a person to imagine themselves in the Medieval period of knights and kings. Do they automatically assume they are a knight or better, or do they at least admit the possibility (indeed the probability) that they are a serf?

This does not cut directly on "left/right" boundaries. But to take an example, by their actions many hard-core "leftists" (communists, similar ilk, not just "liberals") show that they do not care about Cuba, Vietnam, pay no more then lip service to the evils in Saddam's administration of Iraq, and do everything they can to prop up those governments and try to make us feel guilty for attacking them. By their actions they show a preference for brutal police states over democracies. Whether this is because they truly think that's best, because of elitism, or because they buy the line some leftists peddle about "People's Revolution" and such, I neither know nor care (and I'm sure it varies from person to person). The point is I think these people clearly assume that they would natually belong to the ruling class. In my hypothetical above, they would automatically assume they are a knight, or better.

Me, I'd assume I'm a serf and I hold no great love for that era in history, nor most of the rest of it. I am still lucky to have been born here, because there's plenty of the world left where what we'd call poverty is the norm. I think this affects my politics, and my beliefs in things like the need for a social "safety net" (not a hammock), and the importence of democracy. Not only am I aware that I could very well be a serf (and in US terms, I'm certainly not a "knight"; I'm underemployed and have no job prospects anytime soon to look forward to), but I know there are many others who are as well, and they should be able to climb out.

I think many of those who see themselves as kings are willing and able to dismiss the serfs as sub-human, and willing to push for any world they believe they would be kings in, no matter how many serfs it may create or maintain.

Again, I'm not trying to stick this label on any particular group (except that I will say I see a lot of this in modern communism with apology), but I think it's worth thinking about as you examine the psychology of those promoting ideologies in our world. In their mind, are they already a king? And by disagreeing with them, are you already a sub-human serf in their head? The answers may surprise you.

It's all about the Benjamins...
Sep 11, 2003

In reply to this:

I'm skeptical, because RSS really is no different than any other page fetched by Http - if sites like CNN, Drudge (etc) have solutions for their main page, then the truly popular RSS feeds will end up using these self same solutions.

I neglected to add a third requirement to the listing, which is that a weblog should be able to scale up without hammering the owner with bandwidth fees. The solution that sites like CNN and Drudge use is to throw more money at the problem, money a weblogger may not have.

One of the goals of this RSS proposal, and other good RSS proposals that involve decentralization, is to make sure that if some 15 year old in Iran, who can barely make it to the computer to post, let alone worry about buying bandwidth, gets popular, she isn't hammered by bandwidth fees she can't even come close to paying. For that matter, if I was as popular as Instapundit, I'd have been forced to shut down by now. I don't have as much money to throw at bandwidth, or connections with a hosting company, or whatever it is he has to stay afloat.

In fact, it was always about the money; if bandwidth was free then there wouldn't have been a problem last time, either, and we'd all still be using aggregators that didn't use E-tags or step back the scanning when a weblog doesn't change. But bandwidth isn't free and it's a legitimate pursuit to try to make weblogs affordable, even in the face of thousands (or millions for a few weblogs, within the next couple of years) of readers.

The bandwidth crunch will come again, it's a mathematical inevitability if weblog readership keeps growing and unless the Zipf distribution radically changes (hint: no). If we don't want to restrict the top-end of the weblog world strictly to commercial interests or wealthy people... and for some of us the ability for Everyman to be published, found if interesting, and discovered to be a National Treasure is half the charm of the medium... we need to do something that doesn't require wealth to work.

Bandwidth efficiency idea for RSS - rproxy
Sep 10, 2003

"Bandwidth efficiency" for RSS has come and gone as an issue, but it will come again; all improvements on the last pass were linear in nature, meaning that as more people come online the problem will rear its head again later. And next time, the "low-hanging" fruit will be gone.

Read the rest (617 words)

Why I Prefer Weblogs For My News, Pt. 1,285
Sep 10, 2003

I was just seeing somebody on CNN pontificating on the "Roadmap to Peace" and once again it struck me how little I can stand the standard "network" news.

The "standard" media take such an infuriatingly naive view of events. They take everything anybody says at face value, from right-wing wackos and left-wing wackos, and everything in between. They live in a strange little fantasy land where only first-order effects matter and where everybody always says exactly what they are really intending. Oh, and simply attacking your current guest with no particular regard for logic or reason passes for "insightful commentary". (I've seen this from both O'Reilly and CNN, so it's not a right/left thing either.)

You know, not everybody means what they say. Maybe the Roadmap was supposed to fail. Maybe the real news of the war is in covert ops and going unreported. Maybe that judge in Alabama insisting on the Ten Commandments being in the courthouse wasn't being a religious fundamentalist but making a cold, calculated play for the hearts of the people who need to re-elect him. (Tell me this doesn't sound like a campaign speech aimed at a certain demographic.)

The point isn't that those things are necessarily true, but that they show a deeper analysis of the issues then you can get from "conventional media". And while I'm sure you can find "conventional media" columnists who may have mentioned some of those things at some point, I get a lot more of that sort of thing from the weblogs I read. While you do need a certain level of basic, factual reporting, the level of credulity demonstrated by the reporters in general boggles my mind. I'm glad I have easy access to more sophisticated news sources; they can't all be right, but at least I get to think about more things and weigh the aspects myself.

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