Now here's the kind of new new journalism we could use more of. Matt Taibbi takes on the pampered, pussillanimous, and very lazy factotums of the corporate press on the number(s) games over last weekend's anti-war demonstrations. (thanks to Sander Hicks)
Phil [12:15 PM]
As hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of Americans, and millions around the world get ready for one of the largest, if not the largest, mass protest in history Febraury 15, smear-spin seems to be revving up. Latest twist: Anti-War movement as dupes of Iraqi agents.
Phil [1:35 PM]
Economic doldrums, the prospect of decades of ongoing military "police action" invasions of "rogue states'' (World War Weird as R.U. Sirius calls it). More than enough to put a damper on visionary impulses. Yet, even as Forrester prophesies the death of IT, signs that creative juices in techno-culture are stirring again. Even the Economist steps aside from the zeitgeist of dreary pessimism, with a well-done special section on the next wave of Net-worked optimism.
Phil [2:42 PM]
Corante, a terrific group blog/news portal covering many of the most interesting interzones of technology, media, pop culture and new theories of organizations, has a new section. This one's by Jonathan Peterson and covers the democratization of content production via micro-media.
Phil [2:32 PM]
"Architecture is politics" Mitch Kapor once said, defining architecture not only in its tradiitonal sense as the design of physical buildings but as the creation of underlying technical structures of information and communication networks. What I've always taken that catchy aphorism to mean is that "built enviroments" not only express the individual creativity (aesthetic and/or technological) of their makers but in critical ways embody particular structures of social-economic and political power. A way of looking at the world becomes a way of doing business, and a way of doing business becomes a way of looking at the world. This is possibly more profoundly true of information networks than of buildings and public spaces, a point Jaron Lanier has made:
"Architecture will also be a foundation for the language, society, and
culture of the future. At first, the design of the network will seem less
important than the content that is moved over it. This will be true only
for the first generation or two of users. After that it will become
apparent that the network's design is like genetic material out of which
our culture unfolds, an intimate and pervasive presence, a thing, like the
structure of our spoken language, whose influence is too great to be
isolated or measured.
The influence of network architecture will re-cast every human endeavor
that involves communication across distance or time. We are about to create
the material with which our civilization will be largely woven for
generations to come. The design of the information infrastructure will form
the weave and the flow of its contents, which will be most of what we what
we create together and pass on as a legacy."
If all or even most of this is true (and two important recent books Code and the Laws of Cyberspace by Larry Lessig and Emergence by Steven Johnson argue persuasively it is) then the now somewhat arcane jargon of IT architecture will over the next generation become the lingua franca in which many of the classic issues of social theory and activism will come to be debated. All of which makes this new blog on the subject by my friend Con Kenney especially timely and welcome.
Phil [5:00 PM]
The militarist right (which emphatically does not include all conservatives and libertarians), led by talk radio trio El Rushbo, Hannity, North and, in print, America's reigning political hysteric has moved quickly into overdrive, from smug to very shrill about the swelling numbers of the anti-Iraq war movement. Much as they may attempt to downplay the hundred thousand plus turn-outs for Saturday's marches or, more shrewdly smear them by tieing a wide ranging grass-roots based coalition to the 1%-2% of protestors who make up the far sectarian left, the fact is they are on the defensive, as the hollowness of the adminstration's hyberbolic rhetoric on Iraq begins to wear thin. All of which, of course, is not to minimize just how good these guys can be at at making their caricatures acceptable media stereotype. Fortunately the movement seems (so far) to be evolving faster than its detractors can smear it, as witness the wonderful ascendancy of United for Peace, the broad moderate-liberal- progressive coalition which is sponsoring the upcoming Feb.15 demonstrations.
Phil [3:18 PM]
A truly astounding feat of pretzel logic by Matthew Spalding, in his attempt to co-opt the late Martin Luther King, democratic socialist and critic of American imperialism, as a conservative.
Phil [3:25 PM]
Three good examples of anti-wolfpack journalism. Defending the unfashionable-
Nathan Newman eschews the knee-jerk negativity of many liberal democrats toward Al Sharpton evidenced by ,e.g. the The American Prospect, defending (albeit ambivalently) Sharpton's consistency and bravery in being outfront on issues of police brutality. What Nathan doesn't mention is that Sharpton is also the only candidate in the Democratic race so far who is even attempting unorthodoxy in economics, speaking forcefully on Meet The Press last week on massive public investments in rebuilding the inner cities and infrastructure as a viable economic stimulus plan. Who that is to say isn't parroting some me-too version of the corporate trickle-down economics which is currently conventional wisdom.
Richard Goldstein on the Persecution of PeeWee Herman.
Brian Doherty defends Pete Townsend.
Phil [4:13 PM]
However important it is to keep relentlessly vigilant about very real police-state tendencies in the U.S., it's also important to recognize and celebrate the depth of civil libertarianism in American political culture. (links via Cursor)
Phil [3:26 PM]
Getting to like Howard Dean more and more. Yes, he has low-key too smart and civilized for mainstream politics loser ( a la Eugene McCarthy and John Anderson) written all over him, but we've had (and certainly have) alot worse. If he keeps pressing his candidacy will go down in history as the first web-bred electoral insurgency. Even more importantly (if he doesn't wimp out) he can be remembered as the first Democratic candidate to push Universal Health Care unequivocally onto the national mainstream media radar screen.
Phil [3:23 PM]
Lots of commentary on the Supreme court's latest big-business friendly decision, this one on a cause celebre of many public interest Internet law activists. Some righteous anger, some philosophical perspective. What's most striking to me is how dynamic a grass-roots populist movement the anti-IP monopolist movment has become so quickly, galvanized around seemingly arcane but ultimately quite practically critical issues. Clearly Larry Lessig has emerged as its public intellectual leader. There are those like Nathan Newman who believe the Copyright Extension Bill the court decision upholds is an outrageous rip-off, yet are glad the law wasn't overturned on narrow theoretical grounds. Better, says Newman, to fight the corporate-compliant Congress which passed the thing, and to do it in the streets.
Phil [2:54 PM]
Glenn Reynolds the InstaPundit is often surprisingly conventional in his politics, but he's a radically visionary innovator when it comes to matters of media, and the emerging role of blogs. Here he makes the prediction that the imminent integration of cell phones/PDAs and digital cameras will soon make instantaneously published news breaking via blog a competitor to the newswires. By interesting chance I was reading Hunter S. Thompson's Gonzo Letters Vol.2 at roughly the same time I came across Reynolds' item. Written in by Thompson in early 1969 upon hearing about a fledgling invention called the sound-sync personal video-tape machines. Wonderfully prescient in a pleasantly positive way, Thompson wrote, " Are you ready for the death of print, books and magazines...No more Hollywood, no more book publishers, no more magazines... The real new journalism, no bigger than a typewriter, combining the roles of script-writer, director, editor, producer, and, yes, even publisher.Jesus, it boggles the mind. This is a wild new gig."
Phil [11:48 AM]
Yet another perversely stupid twist to the Drug War. Of course there's one place where the dope is flowing fine and the term drug warrior has taken on a new meaning. Onward mutant soldiers.
Phil [11:12 AM]
The ascension of Dana Gioia and "The New Formalism" at the NEA (appropriate enough for a right-wing pseudo-populist adminstration) inspires Joe Duemer to rage, in a polemic on the state of culture which, fortunately, generates light as well as heat. Duemer also touts new poetry blogs, including Henry Gould's.
Phil [10:57 AM]
Like "Liberal Media" "Hollywood Left", though for the most part a complete misnomer, remains one of this era's reigning cliches, flogged endlessly (but unfortunately not yet to death) by right-wing pundits. As the recent example of The Quiet American (nearly deep-sixed by Miramax despite its marquee cast and director-and saved only by the absolute insistence of actor Michael Caine) shows, when the heat is on corporate timidity trumps political outspokenness and controversy just about every time. Needless to say, that rule's even more true when it comes to really controversial movies about the present occupant of the White House by directors who aren't in the Hollywood club. A movie, for instance, such as Horns and Halos, a documentary about the publishing fate of Fortunate Son, a controversial critical biography/expose of GW Bush, which despite some excellent reviews on the festival circuit remains untouchable for U.S. distributors, and thus in need of some grass-roots attention.
Phil [7:13 AM]
Despite one crazy vote (to confirm John Ashcroft) Russ Feingold, especially since the death of Paul Wellstone, stands out as one of the few bright spots in the U.S. Senate. As the lone Senator against the USA Patriot Act, he's proof the spirit of LaFollette and midwestern progressivism lives. So it's good to see him leading a long-overdue fight against corporate concentration in radio station ownership.
Phil [6:22 AM]
Skeptics (probably rightly) argue that TIA as proposed by Poindexter is unlikely to be technically feasible in the short run. Which arguably makes it even scarier. But in the meantime Declan McCullaugh suggests that looking ahead at likely surveillance technology progression over the next decade, TIA is merely the tip of the iceberg.
Phil [4:20 PM]
Fras Al-Atraqchi surveys the London confab last month of soon to be Iraqi liberators, and finds it dominated mostly petty thieves, paid foreign agents, and neo-monarchists, to the exclusion of feminist, human rights, and leftist-progressive groups.
Phil [3:33 PM]
Good news on the radio front. Lynn Samuels' talk show, the only really liberal-left leaning talk show in the NYC area, not counting Pacifica of course, is back Saturday mornings on a small Long Island station, which fortunately webcasts.
Phil [3:18 PM]
Given the spellbinding lack of critical analysis on TV and in most mainstream print, the role of the Internet has over the past few years has become crucial to independent commentary and information gathering. Yet for all its mythic uncontrollability it's also, as Kurt Nimmo shows here, increasingly vulnerable to political and social control. Indeed insuring its survival as a free forum promises to quickly become one of the most important political battles of 2003 and 2004.
Phil [3:45 PM]