Rebooting the News #26

In Podcast on September 21, 2009 by Dave Winer

Heading west

Possible live version of Rebooting the News at the Online News Association conference in San Francisco, Oct. 4. Details to come.

Announcement from Dave’s software shop.

The 40Twits app has now been open sourced. It’s called Top Twits and you can find instructions here. Dave: “You’re going to have to do some work… You might have to read the docs two or three times.” But if all goes well, you should be able to have your own version of Dave’s top 40 Tweets page, or Jay’s. The app can be used with either or Also: “You can set up one of these systems for a community of people if you want to.”

Jay: “With this little product the art of curation takes another step forward.” Basic to that art is how to listen to what users say without becoming slavish about it.

Opacity and the savvy style

Jay was agitated this week about a Time magazine cover story on Glenn Back that tried to generate authority with this little gem about the 9/12 march on Washington

If you get your information from liberal sources, the crowd numbered about 70,000, many of them greedy racists. If you get your information from conservative sources, the crowd was hundreds of thousands strong, perhaps as many as a million, and the tenor was peaceful and patriotic. Either way, you may not be inclined to believe what we say about numbers, according to a recent poll that found record-low levels of public trust of the mainstream media.

In other words, “trust us because we have no idea who’s more reliable but at least we’re not them.” In a similar vein, reporter Ben Smith of The Politico let us know on Twitter that he had just “talked to WBUR about ACORN, aiming to irritate both sides.” To him that’s truthtelling.

Meanwhile, the wonkish Ezra Klein of the Washington Post, who comes out of a blogging background, posted You Have No Idea What Health Costs (If You Did, You Might Just Want Real Reform) in which he argued that one of the reasons major reform cannot get any traction is that the actual costs are opaque to most people, hidden within the complexities of the system. Journalists who can’t figure out how to address a huge problem like that can instead adopt the savvy style, in which you try to generate authority by tweaking both sides.

Inspiration of the Week

Standing in contrast to all that is Jay’s inspiration of the week, the editor and columnist turned blogger, Andrew Sullivan, a Washington journalist who left the Church of the Savvy for the intensity and personal connection that blogging provided. He practices “the journalism of the inbox,” in which readers send in stuff and Andrew and his staff curate it. Recently, he sent out an appeal to his users to help support The Atlantic magazine by buying subscriptions and they responded. That’s a writer with his intimate connection to users supporting a magazine, rather than the magazine providing space to a writer.

Dave: “It’s a bootstrap. It’s the way we did the development of blogging in the first place. It’s the way we’re doing RSS Cloud now… People love to contribute what they know.”


Dave: It stands for, “You work for free to make me rich.” There’s a fear there: if you open up–share credit, share ownership, share profits–there will no longer be that division (between the anointed and the mass of others) that creates professional identity.

Who wants to play?

Dave to Jay: Which news organization would you go with as a partner to start using RSS cloud?

Jay: I would start with a person, a news geek like, say, Brian Boyer of Chicago Tribune, and let that person convince his bosses.

Dave: “That’s the way it works, isn’t it?”

reboot09Sep21.mp3 (audio/mpeg, 10.3MB)
Monday, September 21, 2009.

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