Sunday, October 09, 2005

Atrios came to Greensboro: "The emergence and growth of 'local blogging' is I think the vital next step for a variety of reasons which I'll get around to discussing eventually."

I've been banging on this drum for a while now. We are still in the early days here, and sometimes I worry that we overstate our progress to date...but then I flip that around and consider what has happened here so quickly, in so many different areas of local life...and I tell myself to relax and enjoy it.

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Lego me enjoys a hearty meal in Hell. Thanks to FRM for the pointer.

You try.

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Contrary to my statement below about making it to every session at ConvergeSouth '05, I did of course miss the ones opposite the one I co-hosted with Sue. And that meant I missed the military blogging discussion, which got rave reviews, and introduced me to this blog. I heard Michael Moran rocked, too.

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Hoder: "Neo-racism."

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It has been my experience with literary critics and academics in this country that clarity looks a lot like laziness and ignorance and childishness and cheapness to them. Any idea which can be grasped immediately is for them, by definition, something they knew all the time.  -- Kurt Vonnegut, from an essay cited in A.O. Scott's appreciation of the writer in the NYT book review, "God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut."

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DarkTimes: Rich is good. Too bad the New York Times doesn't want you to read him. I think my idea that TimesSelect is a GOP plot may be worth investigating...

Anyway. Rich starts with the conservative revolt over Miers. "The real story in this dust-up is not the Supreme Court candidate, but the man who picked her." He moves on through recent dissemblings over Iraqi troop strength (despite W's cheerful view, says Rich, "750 soldiers are now ready to stand up on their own should America's 140,000 troops stand down") and his penchant for getting news only from his own inner circle.

Back then to Miers: Beware of leaders who drink their own Kool-Aid. The most distressing aspect of Mr. Bush's press conference last week was less his lies and half-truths than the abundant evidence that he is as out of touch as Custer was on the way to Little Bighorn. The president seemed genuinely shocked that anyone could doubt his claim that his friend is the best-qualified candidate for the highest court. Mr. Bush also seemed unaware that it was Republicans who were leading the attack on Ms. Miers. "The decision as to whether or not there will be a fight is up to the Democrats," he said, confusing his antagonists this time much as he has Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

And on to Katrina, to the fact that being al-Zarqawi's alleged #2 is as dangerous as being Spinal Tap's drummer, and to the disastrous talking tour of Karen Hughes.

The piece is headlined "The Faith-Based President Defrocked." I'm sorry the NYT is hiding it.

Kristof writes about people doing more than talking about stopping genocide, good stuff even if Mark Hanis and the other students involved are from Swarthmore.

Brooks says, "It's time for an insurrection" against the two parties that dominate our political life. He wants policies that facilitate social mobility. Sounds good on paper.

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At dinner last night, Ryan Irelan and Dave Johnson staged a low-key intervention: they say it's time I moved off Radio to hosted blog software. I'm almost ready, if I can ever find the time.

Cool to meet Dave, after writing about the impact of his work at Sun. And of course I had to ask about Ryan's cat, who is doing just fine, thanks.

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Michael Bowen: "A Sense of Small Places & The Shape of Diversity."

Somebody find him a good job around here, please...we'd be lucky to have this guy in our community.

Actually, and rather suddenly, Greensboro has a large population from Mexico and points south. Their absence at Converge, and in our downtown haunts, says a lot. And we do have an Asian population (well beyond Converge organizer Ben Hwang) -- but again, that was not represented in the slice of Greensboro we showed our guests.

Much accomplished, far to go.

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Well, that was fun. I think it worked well as a user's conference, for students and bloggers and journalists, and I think it succeeded in being For all people as we intended from the start.

At every blog con I find a hidden gem, not in the biggest room or hosted by the most famous name, just superb conversation and a sense of something learned -- Eugene Volokh's Sunday session at the first BloggerCon comes to mind, as does La Shawn Barber's faith-blogging session in Nashville. This time around, I thought Tiffany Brown stole the show with Outsider Blogging.

Also, if you want to liven up your conference, invite George Curry.

That said, there were too many other highlights to, well, highlight. I'd single out the ethics session run by Jay Rosen and Lex Alexander on the first day -- not to mention Jay's remark during another discussion, in which it was asked if blogs were up to the standards set by the pros, and he responded that the pros need to ask as well if they are up to some of the standards set by bloggers (including corrections and transparency).

Ahead of the curve: Amanda Congdon's vid-blogging session. It felt to me that many in the room were a little intimidated by video -- not just tech issues in putting on blogs, but a sense that moving pictures are to be delivered unto us by studios and corporations, not stuff we can manipulate as easily as we do words and pics and sound. I think that was why this session was so important -- a year from now, we'll look back at it and see how far we've come.

A moment of satisfaction: sitting in a room with 50 or so blissed-out geeks as Jimbo Wales talked a little wiki-lore, and realizing, wow, this is happening here, one of the more important folks in this whole revolution is preaching in Greensboro.

I hated that I was unable to stay for all of any session, because as host I had to hit them all; I loved that I was able to see at least part of every session.

Regret: Hoder being held up by US immigration. The guy is a genuine freedom fighter, but our government has trouble seeing past the fact he's from Iran. Our loss.

I also regret that I didn't get to spend more time with our visiting session leaders. I think Mike Bowen and I could have talked for hours. As always, the conversations are the thing. I enjoyed catching up on Bryn Mawr with Duncan Black, kids' birthday parties with Jay Rosen, and eating lunch outdoors with Uncle Dave, Dan Conover, Janet Edens, and The Evil Genius himself.

Choice moment: Dave Slusher sees a guy wearing an Evil Genius t-shirt. Didn't know him. A fan. Cool.

I hear the music portion went really well, too -- looking forward to blogged accounts of it, I was so tired from being nice for too days that I just went to bed after hosting my dinner last night. Which was great, too.

Prediction: Calvin Williams Jr. will be famous (for something good).

Technorati links.

Coverage from Cobb, Paul Jones, Dave Slusher, Kevin Howarth.

Too many people to thank, but let me start with all of you who came to participate in the event. Your questions and comments, your conversations during the breaks, and the energy and ideas you take away from the weekend -- that's what this was all about.

Thanks also to our session leaders and panelists, those who traveled from as far away as California and those who could walk to A&T from their houses.

And thanks many times over to Dr. Teresa Styles, Val Nieman, Sheila Whitley and everyone at A&T; Shaka Singleton, Sue Polinsky, Jay Ovittore, Ben Hwang, and the N&R folks; to our great barbecue hosts, the families Hoggard and Wharton and Gross; to our generous sponsors; and to eveyone who volunteered time and energy and money and ideas.

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Not a single white member of the Greensboro City Council spent a single minute at the public hearings conducted by the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Even after the council's contentious 6-3 vote along racial lines to oppose the process, I found that startling...

...Weren't the council members curious about what was going on in their city? Having rejected the premature endorsement of a fraught process, didn't they want to see how the process played out?"

I was genuinely baffled, so for this week's newspaper column I called them all up, and wrote down what they said.

I guess I'm naive. Many of the Council members sounded downright hostile to the TRC process, unmoved from their earlier positions after months of what I see as real if not unambiguous progress.

Keith Holliday gave me some hope. "I can't ignore the fact that this is happening," he said. "Regardless of the fact that I saw the potential for more negative than positive, I need to address it." He said he'd consider going to a November forum on reconciliation, and meeting with Commissioners.

Read the whole thing.

Links to my previous coverage can be found at the bottom of this post.

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