Rebooting The News #34

In Podcast on November 23, 2009 by Dave Winer

Show notes by Jay Rosen

Google Wave: WTF?

Jay’s comment: “I need some serious handholding for Google Wave. My first encounter was like grandad programming a VCR.”

Dave: “Me too. Wave boots up and doesn’t say anything to you…. That’s going to be a software product with a very long adoption curve… It will get rolled out again and again and again.”

Twitter’s new prompt

The official prompt Twitter offers users changed this week. From “what are you doing?” to “what’s happening?” is a shift toward… news! Or, from first person to third person.

Why did they make this shift? Dave: “They have a problem,” a wall, as they call it– converting all the people who sign-up into regular, active users.

Linking out too much?

Twitter to Dave: “Your account was suspended because our specialists found that your tweets were primarily links to other sites and not personal updates, a violation of Twitter Rules.”

Clearly, a way to fight spam. But it goes to show you, “Twitter is not the Internet.” On the Net, there’s no one way to tell you that you can’t do all that linking out.

The natural born blogger

Dave wrote, “A blogger is someone who takes matters into his or her hands.” This was a reaction to the film, Julie and Julia, which is about a blogger. But the real blogger was the elder one, Julia Child. She stuck her neck out, and disrupted the old system. “This may not be easy, but you can do it…” is the blogger’s true battlecry.

The natural born blogger (Dave says) is “someone whose nature is to do stuff without waiting for permission. To explain things, knowing they could easily be wrong. To go first. To err on the side of saying too much.”

Jay: An example of that in journalism was I.F. Stone. Bloggers aren’t intimidated by expertise or certification. “In rebooting the news we need people who can just look at what needs to be done, look at the tools they have for doing it, and just start in.” As with the political blog, Firedoglake, which sprung up when an ex-movie producer and a lawyer felt the Valerie Plame case simply wasn’t getting the attention it deserved. “They just started this blog because it needed to exist.”

Dave: “That seems like it’s a very American thing.”

Jay: “Jefferson’s idea was that talent was very broadly distributed.”

Dave: “Which is one of the reasons why you want to distribute the publishing tools… That’s what inspires me.”

Jay: “It’s not only the outcast or the marginal person.” Take Michael Pollan, for example. He doesn’t lack for advantages but he made it his cause to take on the corporate food system.

Legal defense

Another piece of the rebooted system for news snapped into place when the Citizens Media Law Project announced the formation of the Online Media Legal Network, which gives bloggers and stand alone journalists access to legal help in case they are sued. One of the last remaining advantages Big Media had was that. Now the playing field is more level.

Patents gone wild.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has decided to fight the patent on podcasting granted to a company called Volomedia.

Jay: “The commons needs its own legal department,” and this is an example of that need.

Dave: “We need one more thing there– what has been called an un-patent. It does everything a patent does without granting exclusivity.” But it gives you credit for the work you have done that contributes to the commons.

Jay: Beth Noveck created the community patent project; now she works for Obama. I wanted a reporter to ask her what she thought about this patent for podcasting.

Ask a question… and answer it with journalism

Three partners:, The Public Press, and McSweeney’s want to investigate how the Bay Bridge rebuild ended up costing $6.3 billion and taking way longer than it was supposed to.

Jay: I think this is one piece of the future of news. Begin with a big question a lot of people have and answer it with journalism.

Here’s the show; feel free to comment on it.

6 Responses to “Rebooting The News #34”

  1. Re Twitter now asking us to respond to the question “What’s happening?”
    Dave, the reason you gave doesn’t appear anyplace in Biz Stone’s piece announcing this change (his blogpost here

    Instead he writes that the lead question was changed to reflect the evidence that users now ignore the original question.

  2. […] came up in yesterday’s Rebooting the News, which if I do say so myself, was one of our best. We get into the subjectives of what makes […]

  3. […] came up in yesterday’s Rebooting the News, which if I do say so myself, was one of our best. We get into the subjectives of what makes […]

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  5. […] NYU professor Jay Rosen’s been talking for a while about his idea for a site built around the concept, “What is your question? Journalists are […]

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