Monday, May 24, 2004
Nothing like a weekend away from home to cause some pileup in the
mailboxes (paper and e-mail), and a backlog of news and blog items from
the RSS aggregator. The good news is that the technology lets me know
what I missed. That's also the bad news... along with the temptation to
try to catch up.
The bunch of indented items below are mostly verbatim from the
aggregator... I don't like to send out "unfiltered" news like that
unless I trust the source. I may get back to adding comments or extra
links as I read the stories myself, depending on the progress of other
reading and writing, and a
lovely spring head cold. I've already noticed one item that seemed shaky, checked the source, and added a flush-left comment on top.
Sigh... "Bloglines" says I only have 95,000 more new
articles in my most-oversubscribed aggregator. (Cancelling many of
those subscriptions is on the "to-do" list, too.)
|Journalistic Transparency, or Something Else
. Dan Gillmor, with numerous updates, blogs about the ProfNet
service, which "lets journalists send a blind e-mail query to
battalions of professors and other self-defined experts," about
publication of some of those search inquiries, and about "the question
of journalistic transparency. We're a black box, but its workings just
got revealed, in a small way.
"[Dan Gillmor's eJournal
|To Woo Impatient Novices, Google Tweaks Its Blogger
You might call it the Yahooing of Google. Seeking to build on the
popularity of its Web search tool, Google has added features and worked
to make others more appealing to non-techies. It recently rolled out a
streamlined version of Blogger (www.blogger.com), one of the most
popular services for publishing the online journals known as Web logs.
By David F. Gallagher. [New York Times: Technology
|Camera / Iraq
From John Schott: "Camera / Iraq is a new website created to gather
materials and perspectives about photography and the Iraq War of
Images. The site began in response to the pictures from Abu Ghraib, but
is growing in new directions daily. It's focus is on visual images and
their uses, rather than general debate about the war. The goal is to
create a community-built resource for research and commentary." [Link to Camera / Iraq]
Rumsfeld bans camera phones in Iraq?
This terribly brief item is getting plenty of blog commentary, but should it? The
source, Agence France Press, starts out with an already third-hand
account that should make anyone doubt its accuracy. (See the updated information at the end of this item and here.)
Comments on the SmartMobs blog, below, and on Joi Ito's blog,
suggest someone may have taken a piece of satire as real news. Even if
"The Business" is a legitimate newspaper, the story was filed on a
Sunday; even at a professional news organization, weekend and
holiday datelines always say to
me, "Danger! Sleepy part-time second-string staff on duty, possibly
under pressure to fill space on a slow news day."
- First, if you trust the punctuation, AFP got the story from a
London newspaper named "The Business," which I've never heard of. Or
maybe it came from an unnamed "business newspaper."
the story says the newspaper quoted an anonymous "Pentagon source." (I
assume there are written policies about use of cameras and
communication devices by members of the armed services that could be
cited in such a story, explaining what policy had been issued or
- Third, there's no detail at all, just three sentences before the
"background info" starts. Unless this is old news I missed, I'd expect
a "smoking gun" memo to have turned up at the Washington Post or New York Times by now.
More info (added 5/26) digging backwards for better information:
While the prisoner-abuse photos from Iraq and
cellphone cameras are new, and the combination seems like something
that might cause the military to impose restrictions, the issue
of personal photos and Web
publishing have been discussed in military circles in the past. See
this 2003 article
in an Air Force newspaper, quoting a Lt. Col. Brieuc
Bloxam, Air Force operations security program manager, about the risk
that personal photos posted to the Web could create security problems
or propaganda opportunities for an enemy:
"At present, there is nothing that says I can't take personal photos
with my personal camera and post them," Bloxam said. "But when you post
something on the Web, you're posting to the world, and you don't
control who has access to the information you're posting. You're open
to threat, and you may put others at risk in the same way."
In a recent case, Bloxam said, personal photos taken by an airman and
placed on a personal Web site were downloaded and placed on an
anti-American site. What began as "I was here" photos for friends and
family became propaganda material used by an adversary. [Travis AFB Tailwind
The same 15-month-old article quotes a Lt. Col. Timothy W. Murphy, identified as "chief
of the command doctrine and employee law branch in the office of the
Air Force Judge Advocate General," saying that commanders with security
concerns could curtail Web or e-mail access, or say "no pictures."
Here's a Washington Post story from February on Air Force concerns about photo phones and PDAs.
The BBC covered the spread of disturbing images
from Iraq on May 8, including how disturbed Rumsfeld was at people
"running around with digital cameras and taking these unbelievable
photographs." The BBC, unlike AFP, actually named its source on
the lack of military policy:
...spokesman for US Central Command in Iraq, Lt Cdr
Nick Balice, told BBC News Online: "Certainly the use of digital
cameras and the internet provides methods of communicating that did not
exist prior. As far as I know, there is not a policy that covers
theatre-wide with regards to digital cameras. It depends on what area
they are in - there may be restrictions, such as along flight lines or
within secure areas." [BBC News
Knight Ridder newspapers has a May 16 overview story (free registration required), saying "Yet no official rules have been released in
the year-plus invasion of Iraq governing the use of cameras, or
restricting specifically what soldiers may or may not photograph. No
one reviews the photos before they are filed across the Internet."
Similarly, see Amy Harmon's New York Times piece from May 14, "New technology loosens controls over images of war."
J.D. Lasica also has been blogging on reactions to the original AFP news item, including the Knight Ridder link above.
Meanwhile, Xeni Jardin, whose blog used the original AFP bit on Monday, has updated the Boing Boing blog item, adding
a link to a jargon-filled Defense Department PDF file on
wireless communication restrictions issued last month, and a comment
from an unidentified "Defense Department spokesperson" saying the AFP
phonecam ban report was technically inaccurate.
So what really has or
hasn't been banned? And has anyone seen that original London story that
caught AFP's attention on Sunday?
Jay McCarthy has been part of the Harvard blogging scene for the past
year and coordinated a lot of the community networking (WiFi, webcast,
etc.) for the Bloggercon convention this spring.
(I've mentioned him elsewhere as an example of a prolific blogger making
creative use of RSS aggregators to somehow keep on top of more than
His family home burned down this weekend. All family members got out
OK, as did Jay and the laptop he blogs with... So of course he
blogged about the experience while watching the fire:
Lisa Williams, another Thursday night regular, has started a fund-raising campaign online, complete with PayPal contributions, sort of the blogger equivalent of an old neighborhood barn-raising.
Meanwhile, back on Jay's own blog, the automated Google ads for his
first-person fire story are selling smoke alarms and related equipment.
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7/19/08; 12:57:20 PM.