Post Tagged with: "mediapunk"

Columbia Journalism Review Profile of Evgeny Morozov

Columbia Journalism Review Profile of Evgeny Morozov

The Columbia Journalism Review has a good profile of Evgeny Morozov. I had no idea that he was so young, or that he’d undergone a conversion a few years back:

He began writing about the political situation in Belarus for Transitions, a Prague-based NGO that encouraged the adoption of new media by independent journalists in the former Soviet bloc. In 2006, Transitions hired Morozov as its first director of new media, a job that had him traveling widely—at age 22—to train journalists and bloggers throughout Eastern Europe.

“Thinking that you are living through a revolution and hold the key to how it will unfold is, I confess, rather intoxicating,” Morozov would later write. Much of his work from this period is preserved, and it’s fascinating to watch a YouTube video from 2007 that shows a chubby kid holding forth in a thick accent about how digital media might transform the sclerotic and indecent politics of his region. Asked by a peppy interviewer what he sees as the “most innovative” development of recent years, the young Evgeny rattles off a list of possibilities that makes him sound a lot like the “cyber-utopians” he would soon make a career out of skewering. “Definitely crowdsourcing,” he says. “Definitely applying the logic of the open-source software movement to broader ideas, to broader processes.” Another video from the same conference shows him giving a buzzword-filled presentation called “Putting Community at the Core of Innovation in New Media.”

Here’s Morozov today, talking about the guy in that video: “I was 23 and in a room with people in their 40s and 50s, all of them editors and journalists, and I was talking some nonsense and they were all buying it. The degree to which both sides were unaware of just how stupid the entire setup was just makes you very scared.”

Full Story: The Columbia Journalism Review: Evgeny vs. the internet

I find Morozov really difficult for reasons I can’t quite explain. I think the big issue is that he’s so hyperbolic. It’s not enough to pick apart someone’s ideas, they need to be potrayed as not just wrong but as a dangerously stupid and/or fraudelent. But I think Morozov does this because, generally, the people and ideas he criticizes receive hyperbolic praise. He’s trying to counteract some of that. Still, the fire and brimstone routine doesn’t come off well in my opinion — especially given how moderate his opinions actually are as he reveals in his more sober moments.

See also:

My own confessions of a recovering solutionist

Evgeny Morozov: How the Net aids dictatorships

Compassionate Takedown of Pickup Artististry

January 10, 2014 2 comments
A Hard Look At the Non-Profit Behind Glenn Greenwald’s New Publication

A Hard Look At the Non-Profit Behind Glenn Greenwald’s New Publication

Unfortunately this will go behind a paywall in about 15 hours, read it while you can (It now seems to be permanently accessible):

Mark Ames and Yasha Levine Yasha Levine write:

The world knows very little about the political motivations of Pierre Omidyar, the eBay billionaire who is founding (and funding) a quarter-billion-dollar journalism venture with Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill. What we do know is this: Pierre Omidyar is a very special kind of technology billionaire.

We know this because America’s sharpest journalism critics have told us.

In a piece headlined “The Extraordinary Promise of the New Greenwald-Omidyar Venture”, The Columbia Journalism Review gushed over the announcement of Omidyar’s project. And just in case their point wasn’t clear, they added the amazing subhead, “Adversarial muckrakers + civic-minded billionaire = a whole new world.

The authors then launch into an examination of what the Omidyar Network has funded, which includes:

-SKS Microfinance, the microlending company that terrorized its debtors into committing suicide in India
-DonorsChoose, a fundraising site for public schools that was aligned with the makers of the anti-teacher union propaganda film Waiting for Superman
-Hernando de Soto, the “Hayek of Latin America” who was once drug czar for Alberto Fujimori, the former president of Peru now in prison for crimes against humanity.

Not mentioned is Change.org, the fake non-profit accused of exploiting people’s anger under the guise of being a non-profit.

They conclude:

And the reason that matters, of course, is because Pierre Omidyar’s dystopian vision is merging with Glenn Greenwald’s and Laura Poitras’ monopoly on the crown jewels of the National Security Agency — the world’s secrets, our secrets — and using the value of those secrets as the capital for what’s being billed as an entirely new, idealistic media project, an idealism that the CJR and others promise will not shy away from taking on power.

The question, however, is what defines power to a neoliberal mind? We’re going to take a wild guess here and say: The State.

So brace yourself, you’re about to get something you’ve never seen before: billionaire-backed journalism taking on the power of the state. How radical is that?

Full Story: NSFW: The Extraordinary Pierre Omidyar (Don’t worry, this site actually is safe for work)

It reminds me of this bit from Mark Fisher:

The autonomist critique of authoritarianism and Stalinist bureaucracy is something that we shouldn’t forget. Any credible leftist politics now has to take the problem of anti-authoritarianism very seriously. At the same time, however, we have to recognise that the situation is very different from the context in which autonomist ideas first emerged in the 1960s and 1970s. Then, the Communist Party and the trade unions were very powerful; Stalinism was still an oppressive presence.

None of these things are true today. Whatever the merits of autonomist anti-statism, it has to be acknowledged that anti-statism is now hegemonic. There’s a congruence between the language of neo-anarchism and David Cameron’s Big Society, which is not to say that the discourses are identical. But one problem with anti-statism — particularly when coupled with localism, as it often is — is that it makes any defence of institutions like the NHS very difficult. The drive of the original autonomists was to escape existing institutions, whereas I think our aim today should be to produce new institutions.

November 16, 2013 2 comments
Interview With Coilhouse Editor/Parlour Trick Musician Meredith Yayanos

Interview With Coilhouse Editor/Parlour Trick Musician Meredith Yayanos

Meredith-Yayanos

In To Views interviewed Meredith Yayanos, the editor/founder of the late great Coilhouse magazine and one-half of the chamber music duo The Parlour Trick:

What do you see as the main strengths and weaknesses of the medium you work in?

The allure of wordplay, yum yum. There’s that delicious brainmeat frission that happens when you read or craft just the right turn of phrase. But the medium has its weaknesses, too, in that words… well, they fail. A lot. Words fail me every day. All the time. Because they put me at a remove from more atavistic sensations, connections, communications. Which is why I love music so much– the ribcage-expanding, gut-and-capillary level reaction it can trigger. Music is my magick. Also, the visual resonance of art and design: when I lean both my body and my brain into a piece of music… I see landscapes and I feel textures. And then that’s when the most unfailing words come– stories that have steeped in sounds and images.

How has technology impacted upon the work you do?

Immensely. In too many ways to count. Coilhouse Magazine couldn’t have existed without the global network we all built together online, and the kinship that sprang up from it. More generally, I’d say that many of the most wonderful collaborators I’ve worked with, across multiple mediums, are thanks to BBSs and chat rooms, and later on, social networking sites like Livejournal, Twitter, Tumblr. Every day, no matter where I am in the world, I can interface with authors, fashion photographers, editors, musicians, and filmmakers… all thousands of miles away. With a good pair of headphones and an Apogee One, I can (and have) recorded full-length film scores on my laptop in the midst of traveling internationally. I’m about to email this interview to you while I’m at ten-thousand feet in an airplane. I have cherished loved ones that I’ve never met face to face, and it’s a non-issue, because we’ve found ways to share our art. This world, and my subsequent work, is largely post-geographical, and I find that miraculous.

Full Story: In To Views: Meredith Yayanos

I hadn’t realized it, but the new Parlour Trick album is available on Bandcamp.

June 5, 2013 0 comments
Two Thoughts On The State Of Freelance Journalism

Two Thoughts On The State Of Freelance Journalism

Journalist Nate Thayer kicked things off by published an e-mail exchange between him and an The Atlantic editor in which he was asked to rewrite an article he had written elsewhere for free. The editor also wrote that she could only pay $100 for original pieces.

Alexis Madrigal, of The Atlantic, responded pointing out that this was a new editor.

Andrew Sulivan points out the damage this does to The Atlantic‘s brand following the recent Church of Scientology sponsored content fiasco.

Paul Carr outlined some of the reasons that journalists need to get paid and called on publishers to reject advertising in favor of permeable pay walls and ad-free print editions.

A couple things that occur to me that I haven’t seen elsewhere:

1. There may be a certain amount of rosy retrospection going on here. I don’t doubt that it’s harder now for journalists, freelance or otherwise. But I’m not sure there’s any golden age to go back to. I’m too young to have any real perspective on this. But I do remember hearing an interview with Seymour Hersh on Democracy Now (though I can’t find the transcript for this episode) talking about how he actually had a hard time finding someone to publish his story on the My Lai Massacre. If I recall correctly, he’d already written the story. He wasn’t looking for someone to finance the story, just to pay him and publish it. Eventually the Dispatch News Service published it, a few newspapers picked it up and, as they say, is history. But I take it the Dispatch wasn’t exactly his first choice of publishers for the story that went on to earn him a Pulitzer.

2. Among the various reasons that journalists need to get paid — most of which are covered by Carr above — is the reason that we pay congress people so well. That is, you want them to be financially independent enough that they don’t need outside streams of income. Journalists shouldn’t have to choose between making rent or taking a side gig that might introduce a conflict of interest. No, a $60k a year salary sure as hell doesn’t guarantee that a journo won’t be temped by the opportunity to make some compromising money on the side. I’m sure Malcolm Gladwell has handsome salary at the New Yorker and that doesn’t stop him from earning big money giving talks to big corporations.

But if you can’t make rent or put food on the table, then you’ve got to find money somewhere. It could just be a good honest day job or moonlighting gig. But with every white paper for a political organization, every guest blog post for a tech startup and every corporate consulting gig makes you just a that much less independent of faction.

March 10, 2013 3 comments
Short Sci-Fi Story: Search Engine

Short Sci-Fi Story: Search Engine

“Search Engine” by Bram E. Gieben. This is what it feels like to be a professional blogger sometimes:

Half-heartedly, he scans his feeds for new information, walking his regular beats. The robot nurseries are quiet. The heliotronic mother-brains have just upgraded the consciousness models of sub-beta appliances to include the new FreeWill2.3 subroutines. The story will break next week, as people begin to argue sentient rights with their toasters and microwaves. For now, the nurseries’ PR departments are as dumb and empty as the newly-awakened machines. Besides, nobody wants to know about the nurseries. They don’t see the end of the curve the nurseries represent.

Humanity has built its own replacements. Here, at least, Vinnie is ahead of the curve. He knows what the AIs are planning, but nobody wants to listen: to get people to read his stories about the nurseries, he has to hashtag them as conspiracy theories, speculative memes. The truth is too unpalatable.

Over on the Worthing Media sites, he spawns a search daemon to whittle down stories about the honey-smuggling trade into something approaching a summary. He taps out a subdued Op-Ed about the latest attempts to clone a queen, and posts it to the mailbox of the Memesphere news page. It only takes three seconds for the automated e-rejection to ping his mailserver. He sighs his rattling, smoke-ravaged sigh again. If he is going to make any credit this week, he needs to tip the chemical balance back into his favour.

Full Story: Weaponizer: “Search Engine” by Bram E. Gieben

February 15, 2013 0 comments
The U.S. Media Ignored Murdoch’s Brazen Bid To Hijack The Presidency

The U.S. Media Ignored Murdoch’s Brazen Bid To Hijack The Presidency

Carl Bernstein writes:

Thus in the spring of 2011 – less than 10 weeks before Murdoch’s centrality to the hacking and politician-buying scandal enveloping his British newspapers was definitively revealed – Fox News’ inventor and president, Roger Ailes, dispatched an emissary to Afghanistan to urge Petraeus to turn down President Obama’s expected offer to become CIA director and, instead, run for the Republican nomination for president, with promises of being bankrolled by Murdoch. Ailes himself would resign as president of Fox News and run the campaign, according to the conversation between Petraeus and the emissary, K T McFarland, a Fox News on-air defense “analyst” and former spear carrier for national security principals in three Republican administrations.

All this was revealed in a tape recording of Petraeus’s meeting with McFarland obtained by Bob Woodward, whose account of their discussion, accompanied online by audio of the tape, was published in the Washington Post – distressingly, in its style section, and not on page one, where it belonged – and, under the style logo, online on December 3.

Indeed, almost as dismaying as Ailes’ and Murdoch’s disdain for an independent and truly free and honest press, and as remarkable as the obsequious eagerness of their messenger to convey their extraordinary presidential draft and promise of on-air Fox support to Petraeus, has been the ho-hum response to the story by the American press and the country’s political establishment, whether out of fear of Murdoch, Ailes and Fox – or, perhaps, lack of surprise at Murdoch’s, Ailes’ and Fox’s contempt for decent journalistic values or a transparent electoral process.

Full Story: The Guardian: Why the US media ignored Murdoch’s brazen bid to hijack the presidency

Here’s the Washington Post story Berstein is referring to.

This is part of an ongoing inversion of the relationship between News Corp and the GOP. As a former speech writer for George W. Bush, David Frum, put it: “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us, and now we are discovering we work for Fox.”

December 27, 2012 0 comments
The Media Needs to Stop Inspiring Copycat Murders

The Media Needs to Stop Inspiring Copycat Murders

Sociologist Zeynep Tufekci on ways that media and law enforcement can reduce the number of copycat killers after a mass shooting:

1. Law enforcement should not release details of the methods and manner of the killings, and those who learn those details should not share them.

2. If and when social media accounts of the killers are located, law enforcement should work with the platforms to immediately pull them.

3. The name of the killer should not be revealed immediately. If possible, law enforcement and media sources should agree to withhold it for weeks.

Similarly, the killer should not be profiled extensively, at least not at first.

4. The intense push to interview survivors and loved ones in their most vulnerable moments should be stopped.

Full Story: The Atlantic: The Media Needs to Stop Inspiring Copycat Murders. Here’s How.

These points are not unlike forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz’ principles for not propagating mass murders:

Don’t start the story with sirens blaring.

Don’t have photographs of the killer.

Don’t make this 24/7 coverage.

Do everything you can not to make the body count the lead story.

Not to make the killer some kind of anti-hero.

Do localise this story to the affected community and as boring as possible in every other market.

Related: In real-time journalism, declaring what you won’t report can be just as important as what you will

December 22, 2012 0 comments
From Greenwashing To Workerwashing

From Greenwashing To Workerwashing

David Sirota writes:

Big Industrial Ag pretends to go organic. PC behemoths mimic Apple products. Barack Obama goes to the right of the Republicans on civil liberties. Mitt Romney suddenly portrays himself as a left-leaning moderate on immigration. It seems no matter the arena, the most cliched move in corporate and political combat is to co-opt an opponent’s message, expecting nobody to notice or care.

But as inured as we are to this banality, it’s still shocking to see Corporate America transform the message of organized labor into a sales pitch for … Corporate America. Yes, according to The New York Times last month, that’s what’s happening, as new ads are “tapping into a sense of frustration among workers to sell products.”

One spot for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (read: the casinos) shows a woman climbing onto her desk to demand a vacation. Another for McDonald’s implores us to fight back against employers and “overthrow the working lunch.” Still another for a Coca-Cola subsidiary seizes on the stress of harsh working conditions to create buzz for a branded “Take the Year Off” contest.

Full Story: Tahoe Daily Tribune: Sirota: From greenwashing to workerwashing

December 14, 2012 1 comment
Liberal Bullying On Blog Comments

Liberal Bullying On Blog Comments

Ariel Meadow Stallings has written a good piece on “liberal bullying.” I thought this would be yet another “everyone needs to stop being so PC” type of post, but it isn’t:

I’m extra conflicted because I love observing and following the ways that language shifts. It’s exciting and fascinating to watch as the semantics of marginalized communities evolve. I recently had to talk to my aging lesbian mother and her partner about how the word “tranny” causes a lot of issues for folks in the transgender community. They’re totally aligned with the cause, and totally active in LGBT communities… and yet hadn’t gotten the latest memo.

Instead, Stallings is writing about uncivil blog comments meant to publicly shame. Here’s how Stallings identifies this behavior:

  • Focus on very public complaints. I can think of exactly one time when someone emailed their concern about problematic language. These complaints seem to be always intended for an audience.
  • Lack of interest in a dialogue. These complaints aren’t questions or invitations to discuss the issue. They’re harshly-worded accusations and scoldings (which I’ve written about before).
  • Lack of consideration for the context or intent. The focus is on this isolated incident (this one post, this one word, this one time), with de-emphasis on the author’s background, experience, or the context of the website on which the post appears.
  • And on a more stylistic note, these complaints are often prefaced with phrases like “Um,” and other condescending affectations.

Full Story: Liberal bullying: Privilege-checking and semantics-scolding as internet sport

(via Al Billings)

I suspect this bullying is counter-productive — attacking someone puts them on the defensive, making them try to find ways to justify what they’ve written, even if it’s insensitive, and find ways to disagree with the attacker.

December 5, 2012 1 comment
Can Art Be Comics?

Can Art Be Comics?

No, I’m not asking whether comics can be art — that’s a tired question that I think has been decisively answered in the affirmative. But if we look at Scott McCloud’s basic definition of comics, “juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence.” Does that include, for example, gallery exhibitions?

After all, what is an art gallery but a collection of juxtaposed pictorial images? Perhaps not all are in deliberate sequence, but at least some consideration is paid to how the pieces are arranged. And of course that’s to say nothing of paintings or other visual arts meant to be displayed in a sequence, such as the sequence of images in The Scrovegni Chapel and Alex Grey’s Chapel of Sacred Mirrors (to name the first two examples that spring to mind).

McCloud would seem to include art in his definition. He mentions hieroglyphs and Max Ernst’s “A Week of Kindness” in Understanding Comics. But overall fine art doesn’t get much attention. McCloud seems to imply throughout that comics is about storytelling, but his definition doesn’t include narrative, and surely there are examples of non-narrative comics.

Other definitions, such as David Kunzle’s would seem to exclude art (as well as hyroglyphs) like by definition. According to Jessica Abel and Matt Madden’s Drawing Words & Writing Pictures, Kunzle’s prerequisites for a comic strip include the following: “The medium in which the strip appears and for which it is originally intended must be reproductive in nature; that is, in printed form, a mass medium.”

That definition would toss gallery art right out then, since even though it may be reproduced on posters or in coffee table books, those aren’t the media for which it was originally intended.

But defining a medium by the intent of its creators is slippery, especially in an age in which artists may expect their work to be printed in some form. And what to do about the existence of art exhibitions that are deliberately created to be comics, such as Daniel Duford‘s Sleeping Giant (pictured below)?

daniel duford sleeping giant

It’s not a terribly important question — I’m not interested in seeking “legitimacy” from the arts establishment anyway. But I think it’s an interesting one.

November 8, 2012 2 comments