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April 7, 2003

McGregor McCance views web logs askance.

McGregor McCance's column this Sunday was about blogs again. It was interesting timing, since it's been a year since I've started this one. McCance postulates that blogs and collaborative publishing won't be around in a few years. In a way, he is correct; many blogs will end in few years. It is also likely that several businesses will go under and several rock bands will break up. Even more likely that the web will present us with something in five years that we did not expect today.

For current events, I find that I'm relying more on the local newspaper, The Economist and New Yorker. The stream of information from the major television networks and their web prescences is generally homogenous and shallow. Initial reports of news, especially during the war in Iraq, are usually incomplete – you don't get a broad range of the facts. I also rely heavily on Slashdot, Tomalak's realm and a few blogs for information on my profession.

What blogs and services like news.google.com show is the need to not just find known items but to present insight and novelty Automated process for searching information still rely on text strings to find information. Blogs add a human element that filters and emphasizes information. However, blogs are also very much a creation of search engines. Few bloggers could write without a good search engine and the hundreds of anchor tags on blogs everywhere are gradually shaping how search engines work. News and special interest web logs – like Metafilter, Plastic and Slashdot – are a start at drawing together the vast amount of information on the internet. In short, while the information available on the internet is vast, its quality is not. Human agents with interests and intuitions still do the best job of processing and presenting information. In short, McCance is correct – there will still be a need for qualified journalists. However, that job will require that some journalists do more to find new sources and others use greater insight in refining and presenting their stories.

The core question is what will the future hold. I think there is a long way to go in the union between human agents and automated agents. My guess is that the union will be decentralized, inadvertent, messy and brilliant. What happens when an automated agent creates connections from the words of journalists, experts and enthusiasts in a realm of knowledge? Mistakes will be made. I think it's a very interesting place to play.

Congo - The Other War

While much of the news is focused on the war in the Middle East, there has been a bloody war going on in the Congo for nearly five years now. Just this week, nearly a 1000 people were massacred.

April 6, 2003

I got up this morning to the shock that today was the beginning of Daylight Savings Time. Already, I had lost an hour and I hadn't even put my feet on the floor yet. It seems that I'm never ready for the first Sunday of Daylight Savings Time. Today is probably my least favorite day of the year; Sunday, a day of leisure is cut short by an hour. If there were any justice, Monday would be a national holiday – an official "National Get-Your-Shit-Together Day".

Lincoln Is In Richmond

In case you missed Abraham Lincoln's visit to Richmond 138 years ago, there is now a statue of Honest Abe at the visitor's center at the Tredegar Iron Works. After much hoopla, Lincoln joins statues of Lee, J.E.B. Stuart and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. Except for Mark Holmberg's regular column in the paper this morning, there was little evidence of any disturbance yesterday. Well, I did see a trio of 4x4 pickup trucks Confederate battle flags flying over their beds driving out of Hollywood cemetery yesterday afternoon. It would have been an nice pencam moment, but I was raking up leaves.

In The Meanwhile, There's a War

I haven't posted very much about the war – it seems everyone else is doing a good job of posting opinions about it. This afternoon, I find that I'm eager to see American troops victorious and eager to see them out of the Middle East as well. Many folks find it easy to stand on one side or the other; I suppose I envy their certainty. I find myself torn between a variety of difficult facts -

  • Saddam Hussein is an irredeemably cruel and mendacious despot.
  • Removing Hussein from power will involve the deaths of many innocent Iraqis – including the young, the old and the infirm – no matter how careful the United States tries to be.
  • Many other democratic nations around the world oppose the use of force.
  • Many of the more vocal of these nations have profited by doing business with Hussein.
  • The United States has profited in the past in its businesses with despots.
  • Removing Hussein from power does not guarantee that another, albeit less anti-American, despot does not take power in Iraq.

While reading around the 'Net, I've found myself in agreement with many supportive skeptics – while the intent of the war may be honorable and may make both the people of Iraq and the United States safer, the U.S. treads a very thin line between liberator and occupier and between global protector and global bully. So how can someone be a skeptical supporter of the war? I believe that American service men and women are working heroically to accomplish their mission. I believe Americans can support the goal to remove Saddam without giving various influences Carte Blanch over Iraq's future. I believe that we can be vigilant of terrorist threats without discarding the Fourth Amendment. And lastly, I believe it is helpful to remind our president that the American people will be reflecting on his actions two years from now.

Sadly, the only column that comes close to my feelings is this one from the Onion.

Just A Movie

I took a little time today to catch Spirited Away at one of the neighborhood metroplexes – the Commonwealth 20. The print was quite good, though the sound went out a few times. However, the animation (and especially the background painting) made it worth catching on the big screen.

© 2002 dsun AT noprizes DOT net