Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam's Execution Has Extreme Significance

(WARNING! This post contains images and links that may be offensive to some readers; discretion is advised.)

A video phone captured yesterday's execution of Saddam Hussein. It is very graphic, showing the whole execution, from the moment the executioner wrapped the noose around Mr. Hussein's neck to the moments afterward, as his lifeless body dangled from the the rope.

I linked to this video for one reason only - not to sensationalize, create controversy or offend the senses - but to highlight the historical and political significance of the video. To this end, I feel it is necessary to show the clip I am discussing, as both the video's content and delivery method are relevant to the point I am trying to make.

Not only does the clip document the fall of one of the world's worst dictators by his own people; it doubly shows how technology, despite political tensions and war, has given power to individuals to tell stories from their perspective - whenever and however they deem fit.

It is important to note that I am not certain as to the affiliation of the person who captured the video and aired it online, nor is this AS IMPORTANT as the fact the viral distribution is creating a new method of documenting history.

This clip, whatever motives or political affiliations the person who took it has, are insignificant when compared to the impact this shift in media power is having on individual freedom and expression.

Years from now, this video may be viewed for the political and historical significance it captured - the rise of citizen empowerment.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The New Community Works Projects - Newspapers

(In response to growing concerns about the future of the Spartan Daily)

Newspapers are reflections of the conversations societies have with one another. People do not read the news because media corporations believe that news is newsworthy; frankly, the "news" is often not "newsworthy", from a journalistic perspective. So why do people read it?

They read to feel a connection to the greater society and gain perspective on the changing world around them. It is an innate evolution humans developed to survive, our understanding that we need explanation for things we cannot comprehend on our own. The ability to gain perspective we lack, on any range of topics while socially connecting to other people that share our human condition - identifying with personas instead of ideas to intangible to comprehend. Is it not easier to read the New York Times write on wiretapping than discuss the philosophical implications of the 1st Ammendment on the personal civil liberties of Americans? Newspapers humanize events. That is their job.

People frequently debate me whether it is the business of newspapers to create social networks, citing growing questions from journalists whether or not papers should build MySpace-esk networks.

My answer is simple. Taditional papers are not oracles. They are human run companies, which seriously need to take a look at American business over the last twenty years. Outsourcing, believe it or not, has nothing to do with money. Instead, it is a matter of efficiency. Money is the end result of the maximization of production at the lowest cost. To the point, if online networks can dissiminate and create social content/news reflection with a higher value than traditional newspapers at a lower cost, they will succeed. I have no doubt that they can. Wikipedia, MySpace, YouTube and other social networks are currently a testiment to this.

This is not to say that newspapers have no place; they simply must evaluate what place they should take within those new networks. Denying the power of these networks, and thereby refusing to integate themselves into them, is not an answer.

Many will scrutinize this logic, especially coming from a journalist. Many see new production as being above (or a philosophically greater enterprise) than business. Some will even venture so far as to say that the news is a cultural good, not a commodity. While I sympathise with this sentiment, I cannot ignore the market system that we live in, nor the implications of those markets on the business of information technologies.

Newspapers are reflections the conversations that societies are having with one another, and they must, for the sake of the conversation, communicate as efficiently as possible.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

A Soapbox Christmas

Christmas tree decorating, stocking hanging, lights and good ol' holiday music.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Home is Smaller than I Remember

I'm officially back in Sacramento for Christmas, so you'll get some video of downtown Sac while I'm here. It's true what they say, "You can't go home."

It's so much smaller and tighter than I remember it being when my mom was alive. Everything has different connections now. Everything has different meanings.

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What the Hell Happened to Christianity and Over Priced Track Jackets

Earlier I was Digging around and came across a CNN article that happened to perk my interest. The thoughts and attitudes expressed by Jay Backer were really in line with many of my views on Christianity today. I'll keep this short because I have finals to study for but give it a read, its worth your time Christian or not. Here is a short CNN interview with Jay that I also found rather enjoyable.

To round this little post out, the folks at Veer have some very cool stuff up for sale. Forewarning it is OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive. However, they carry very unique items for artists and artsy people that you likely wont find any where else. I am a particularly big van of the KERN track jacket.

Anywho, I off back to studying

Burke Shartsis

Thursday, December 14, 2006

At the Risk of Being a Sensationalist

Aaron Swartz posted this article about Google yesterday. He didn't get a too happy response from one Google employee that seems to have been offended.

Aside from aggravating Google employees, the post does highlight one thing with which I agree. Whether you agree or disagree with Aaron that Google is making infants out of employees, Aaron is correct that Google needs to innovate more to keep up with the growing tech market. This is doubly true as China and other countries are finally stepping into the tech market. Competition can only get more stiff.

That said, I am a Google fan, and they are doing some cool stuff with feeds, collaborative projects like Writely, Blogger Beta, and other web 2.0 stuff (I know, "web 2.0" is cliche) .

I also think they could do with a little less secrecy. Maybe making the company more open would expose some of the sausage making Aaron talks abut, and lead to some really cool stuff from people getting inspired at the simple mechanics of it.


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The Reason Ikea is Cheap

If anyone sees Jules soon, gently make fun of her for weighing too much. Don't worry, I'm not a pig, it's just that last night, she sat on our SUPER CHEAP Ikea chair, and it split in four places.

Jules is fine (my girlfriend, for those of you that don't know her personally), but the chair had to be scrapped. The funniest part about it is that Jules only weighs about a buck. If Jules can't sit on it, I don't know who can! Heres' a piece of the next one in line for the garbage heap. There's a reason the whole set was only $100.

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That's a Wrap, Folks!

Thank God, my finals are FINALLY OVER!!! My hand has shriveled into a crammed, gnarled mangle of its former self, shooting agonizing pain through my arm with every keystroke.

I immediately sold my books after running, arms flailing widely, from Dwight Bentel Hall. $15 for one book - not bad for a $50 investment three months ago, right? Sheesh. You can hardly get a decent 12-pack to celebrate with that kind of dough.

I'm playing Louie-Louie now... Christmas has come. Now it's time for a cyber Christmas. I'll be putting up a lot more content on my site, and coding away to make it more interactive.

The bright spot; a new media club next semester and lots of eggnog right now. Hoot.

P.S. Yes, the pic links to Jess Drnek's blog... and yes, I'm trying to blatantly shame her into blogging. Hehe.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Emperor 's New Tags

JMC163 is now over. The University will dismantle its current form, regardless of student objections. The troubling circumstances of its demolition have given me pause though, and in turn, I would like to share a little insight I have gained through my experiences. I admit, I am only a young student, but wisdom can sometimes come from the oddest places.

It seems to me that attention must be paid to WHY the University hasn't made palpable strides towards modernizing its journalism curriculum since the introduction of Broadcast as a concentration.

For starters, the pace at which technology has shifted the media landscape has been exponential. And just as government is insular and slower than public markets to innovate, so too is faculty slower than masses of students with free access to educational information.

Teachers have become insular with regards to HOW they teach, with command style, top-to-bottom methods favored in the classroom. This is not at all meant to offend. In fact, this methodology has not only been the dominant style of teaching for hundreds of years, it has been the most efficient. Until now.

The problem that pre-internet civilization encountered with regards to teaching was that which nations encounter everyday fighting famine. It's a simple matter of distribution, not production capabilities.

IE1. As in the United States, production of food is so great that if one were to simply look at production rates and capabilities, they would be forced to conclude that there is no reason for Americans to be missing meals or starving. Still, Americans do go without food, because the markets and government together cannot provide them with a price that is reasonable enough to guarantee they eat three meals a day. Distribution is limited, not food.

IE.2 With a scarce amount of knowledgeable, certifiably qualified individuals able to distribute information that students craved, tribal students faced the same dilemma. Students, hungry for education, could not afford to travel between tribes to find individuals to educate them in specific disciplines, leading to a lack of educated individuals. So they instead were forced to learn general knowledge, common to the people that were readily available to them. Because of this, distribution of knowledge was limited, as was the rate at which economic production increased.

The solution to this distribution problem was to centralize learning in a stationary location. Ergo, the modern grammar schools, high schools, and Universities (I will continue with only the evolution of the University for the purposes of this post). This maximized learning efficiency given the technologies at hand, but did satisfy the market desire for education. Potential students still went without education because the distribution of knowledge was limited to those that could afford to attend the University, and then only if the University itself had enough money to aggregate great thinkers.

Flash forward to post-internet, wired American society; private markets have side-stepped the inefficiencies of the old educational system and physical world, creating unlimited FREE learning distribution tools previously unaffordable or unattainable because of distribution scarcity. In reality, distribution scarcity for wired students now exists only insofar as knowledge of the resources already available is unknown to students, and insofar as their personal understanding of the knowledge.

This is where the University not only still has a place, but an obligation to step in. It is as drastic a paradigm shift as it was for students being educated by their tribal elders to go from the comfort of their small communities to central Universities. It is as far-reaching as the impact that the written word had on the ability to distribute ideas, and it is as essential to the future of education as the evolution of vocal chords was to enabling individual freedom.

THE SHIFT IS FROM THE COMMAND STATION TO THE NODE. Wikipedia, OurMedia, Google, Technorati, Firefox, SourceForge, iTunes, OPML, XML, mesh-networks, these are the tools and language of the current paradigm shift. They enable the free distribution of any and all information from node to node, without prejudice as to creed, color, religion or age. And to top it all off, they do so with the efficiency of the private markets. Yet many of them are unknown to students, and teachers.

Teachers - as a group, the Emperor of the educational system today - so revered and established in the method of education, that no person today is considered "educated" without certification from them!

Today, the Emperor for the most part, lacks general knowledge of the new paradigm, or its ability to decrease distribution scarcity. Generally, the Emperor does not blog, does not submit videos to YouTube, know Flash, scour MySpace, Digg, host wikis, indulge his curiosity for alternative methods of teaching, or tag. The Emperor has no tags!

How shameful it must be to finally realize that without "tags", or knowledge of the new paradigm, the Emperor's shortcomings and inefficiencies are now exposed! Yet the Emperor today marches on, after having been warned of the truth. He cannot say he wasn't warned.


So what can the Emperor do to save face, to be the great Emperor all students once revered? For starters, he must begin using the tools of the new paradigm to become educated ABOUT them. In so doing, the Emperor must also improve upon them were his expertise and vast knowledge apply, making the interface between the user and the database as efficient as possible. Remember, the new paradigm is uer-generated; the Emperor must become a user!

This is only the first step though. After learning the tools and improving upon the base of online knowledge, the Emperor must accept that his place in the hierarchy has forever been altered, and must use the new tools to teach students to do as he has done.

Only then, when the Emperor has tags - when teachers have accepted the new paradigm instead of fighting against the avalanche that it inevitably will become - will education again be "modern". Only then will students be given the education they crave, and only then will children like me not have any reason to point and shout at how foolish we all have become.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Last Days Coming

Finals are upon students at SJSU, and campus is looking a little sparse. That is, except for the library, and a few places where students are tucked away trying to avoid doing work.

The New Kid On The Block

Hello All! It would appear that the charismatic Andrew Venages has roped me into blogging some of my world famous randomness. So to get the ball rolling I would like to offer up the first two of what will come to be many site recommendations in the future.

The first is actually a shameless ploy to increase traffic on my own site. But! it is a good site designed and maintained by yours truly. So check out Axis Design Studios and my blog at

The second is the new site for TAP (A.K.A The Art Project). Creators of the original Ron Burgundy and Jack Black Shirts these boys and girls are doings some cool things. Check them out at

That would be all for today. It has been over 40 hours since I have last slept to I am going to go rest up a bit.

Burke Shartsis

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Cookie Evans Loves You

The Cookie Evans flashmob; taken Dec. 9th, 2006 at Santana Row in San Jose, CA. All footage and pics taken by Andrew Venegas. Music by Operation Ivy and Tsunami Bomb.

Welcome to the Soapbox Prophet


Exciting Times in Cookie Land

300 people there were not - it was more like thirty. Still, the Cookie Evans hug-fest was fun, if not a little wierd.

Where else are you going to engage total strangers in a hug... in fact, when else would you ever hug a total stranger. The beauty and craziness of a flash mob.

Most amusing were not the friendly strangers willing to hug a group of college-aged-kids donning fake mustaches, but the random people that acted thoroughly disgusted to be approached in such a way.

Hugs! How revolting!

One pedestrian, upon being asked if he would like a hug by a "Cookie Evans mobber", scurried, head down, along the sidewalk before crossing to the other side of the street and giving an angry glance.

I didn't know what was more odd - the mob or the man. Hmmm.

Well, the mob may be in the news tomorrow. A photojournalist was there the whole time - through the group hugs in Starbucks and Urban Outfitters to the group hugs on the street. He even got into it and wore a fake mustache himself. You can check out the pictures I took on Flickr. Video will be up on this site soon in a new, "Student content" category.

Speaking of new stuff, I've been playing around with pligg, twiki, and php nuke on my personal server. Those frameworks are definitely worth exploring, or at least familiarizing yourself with, even if you're not a programmer. The code isn't as important as the paradigm shift that they create.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Cookie Evans is Flash Mobbing Tomorrow

AGAIN, THIS IS NEITHER AN ENDORSEMENT NOR AN ADVERTISEMENT (although I just might be there to see what it's all about).

Tomorrow, there's going to be a Cookie Evans (flash mob) event @1:30pm in Santana Row in front of Borders. Check out the details here.
Wow. Someone call Rocketboom - this is just random enough to get on there. (No offense Rocketboom, we all love you. <3

JMC163 got onto Wordpress' "Blog of the Day" list

Well I'll be. I missed it when it happened, by apparently JMC163 got onto Wordpress' "Blog of the Day" list for growing blogs on November 23rd. Cool.

SJSU Bloggers Wanted

Call me crazy, but I'm doing an overhaul of this website, and looking for SJSU bloggers to grant posting privileges to. That's right, I want to open up this blog to the SJSU community that I know is out there, and use what Google juice I have (albeit small), to reach broader audiences and create unity.

Look to the right hand side of my blog, and you'll notice several new dropdown menus. I'm compiling a list of SJSU student bloggers, vloggers, and podcasters in an attempt to aggregate them into one useful place. I'll continue to add, re-sort by major, genre, and whatever else, as much as humanly possible. Don't worry, I don't sleep and this is my life (a sad commentary on modern society, I know). Hopefully in the future, I'll be able to add wiki and digg functionality too.

Long story short, if you blog semi-regularly and want a bully-pulpit, forum, or event site to shout from, this might be the place for you. Don't worry about your blog topics, I'll be sorting those out and categorizing them for easy access. You may also publish reposts from your respective blogs.

Sound cool? Then email me and I'll set you up. And no, I won't be censoring any of your content, so you'll never have to worry about that. I'm a journalist, and believe that the best society is one where free speech is protected. Period.

P.S. Teachers are also welcome!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

CNET's James Kim found deceased

My prayers and condolences are with the family of CNET reporter James Kim tonight, who was found at the bottom of Big Windy Creek in Oregon, according to CNET. His family was rescued on Monday morning, two days after James left to find help. James will be missed.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

New Media Group and Criticism at SJSU

Kyle Hansen put up a good post tonight after JMC163 ended. He made a great point about recent criticisms of the school that I think is worth repeating.

Some people are concerned that our writing about the need for change at SJSU reflects poorly on the school. I disagree. I think that San Jose State is a fantastic school. The fact that students and staff are able to voice their concerns and make suggestions is proof of the quality. We all learn from each other. The point of attending a university is to broaden your horizons, see things from different perspectives and learn that it is okay to be wrong and change your mind some times. The best way for a good school to get better is to listen to the people that are around: students, faculty, alumni and community members. I am proud to go to SJSU and hope that I can help make the school better for those who will come here in the future.
True dat`.

He's also talking about starting a New Media club/group on campus. That's a great idea. Anyone interested in it should hit up Kyle or me at JMC163 or email us. You can also leave a comment on either of these posts with your email address. Maybe we can start a discussion about the proposed group, topics to cover, and all that other good stuff.

Long Day at Kaiser

I spent most of the day at the hospital with Jules; she wasn't feeling well last night, and we went to Kaiser around 9 am. For those of you that haven't had the pleasure of going to Kaiser, it's notorious for long waits. We didn't finish up there till past 4:30.

No sleep+long wait= Andrew needs caffeine to blog.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Who Said Technology Was Only for the Rich?

There was an awesome article in WorldChanging today, about Citibank India's plan to use ATMs that use voice and thumbprint technology to serve the poor and illiterate. That's capitalism and innovation at their best, if you ask me.

The Student Manifesto

(I just submitted this to the Spartan Daily Blog. I hope they allow it on the site.)

The Problem

This will probably turn into a master's thesis, but here it goes. For the future of SJSU, I hope the administration is reading.

Disclosure: I am a student in JMC163, the New Media Class taught by Cynthia McCune and Steve Sloan. It would be an understatement to say the class has been successful. In reality, it has drawn the praise of countless blog-readers, authors, and webzinites from several countries.

This is why I was so surprised when Steve Sloan announced on his blog that the University is planning to reshape the class into a more technical course on InDesign, Photoshop, and Dreamweaver.

If you remember from the article in the Spartan Daily or the San Jose Mercury News, Steve Sloan and the bloggers from JMC 163 were the leading forces behind the push to keep Skype on campus at SJSU.

We drew the attention of people as far away as Indonesia. Robert Scoble blogged about us several times. A photographer from the Chronicle of Higher Education even sent a photographer for an article written on the class. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. I could go on and on.

With all the positive feedback and praise, why then would the University consider dismantling the class? Good question. But I digress...

What Have We Learned in JMC163?

First off, InDesign, Photoshop, and Dreamweaver are all important programs to learn. No student in JMC163 would say otherwise. But the current class is not technical, nor is it designed to be. The fundamental question it poses to students, "WHY is New Media important," is far more crucial to our futures than the tools we need in today's markets.

Instead of technical expertise, for the most part we study the trends and causes that have pushed the decline of print news and the rise of online markets, while experimenting with social networking, blogging, and metaverse traversing, as a way to understand the concepts of New Media.

To put it another way that fellow journalists might appreciate, we assume that the acquisition of true understanding cannot be supplemented by technical skills - true education cannot exist without fundamental understanding - understanding, itself, is the motive that drives us to learn the technical skills we need.

Therefore, it is to the detriment of students that the opportunity to gain insight into WHY the world works as it does may be taken away by the University. Any reasonable mind can figure out Photoshop in a day or two, or spend a couple hundred bucks and a weekend to get certified.

How often do you get to Skype David Weinberger, co-author of the Cluetrain Manifesto (one of our course books), or to interview Phil Wolff, A-list blogger from Skype Journal? How often are you lectured from Ryanne Hodson, from Node101, or from Steve Sergeant of WildeBeat?

Cluetrain Manifesto and The World is Flat are our course readers.

Some critics have stated that there's isn't a future for Web 2.0 technologies and New Media in the journalism industry. The explosion of online journalism, citizen journalism, and leaks to bloggers discredits this argument though.

Others have said that without the proper tools (InDesign, Photoshop, and Dreamweaver), a basic understanding of New Media will come to nothing. I agree.

What We Should Do: A Solution

I propose a complete overhaul of the journalism curriculum at SJSU, starting with the development of New Media as a concentration. Print and Broadcast are fast becoming niche markets as consumers more often than not are reading hard print and watching the TV AFTER already seeing or reading it online. The Long Tail is gaining a larger viewer and readership than traditional media.

It is true that we need specific tools, but we also need theory and core journalistic values. A core GE specifically for journalists must be established, which should include an introduction to Dreamweaver, InDesign, and Photoshop, as well as stressing objectivity, fairness and truth-seeking.

After completion of this GE, journalism students should be able to concentrate in Print, Broadcast, or New Media.

In this new concentration, students could then delve into the concepts and software that make Web 2.0 technologies, podcasting, and vodcasting work.

What We Lose By Waiting

The media markets are rapidly evolving, and SJSU does not currently equip journalism students with the skills and understanding they need to compete. As the world progresses with more digital enterprises, SJSU risks not only losing its edge in the technology markets by failing to offer such courses, but its image as a leader in innovation.

Silicon Valley was built upon progressive thinking; the need to think critically and restructure antiquated paradigms has never been greater. The risk for not acting soon to ensure our competitive advantage in the new media world far outweighs the cost of providing extra classes to students.

For the future of the valley's economy, SJSU, and its students, I strongly urge the University to keep JMC163 as it is, and to rethink the role of New Media in education.

Dilemma Resolved

Ryan Sholin knocked me back to reality.
Ryan: "You're a journalist, right?"

Scrap PayPerPost; it's not worth the potential loss to my credibility. It's stick to my content. Wherever that leads me is fine.

Crisis of Online Conscience

Here's the dilemma I am facing. Two days ago, I submitted this blog for approval at PayPerPost. For those of you that do not know what it is, PayPerPost pays bloggers to write posts (essentially advertisements and critiques) for advertisings, and post them to their blog. The main idea is to reach audiences through viral marketing.

Today, my blog was accepted into the program. And right about when I was scouting for articles from advertisers that were of interest to me, my conscience hit. Is it selling out my readership to post advertisements?

While I do already advertise products and services on my blog through Google AdSense, none of my content has ever been shaded by it. This might change that, as I would be reviewing products and plugging websites in my posts.

Before I wrote any articles with PayPerPost, I wanted to see how some of my readers felt about it. Feel free to leave a comment about it on this post, or email me at .

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Journalists Lose Bigtime

The New York Times didn't have a good week this week, in case you didn't heard. The Supreme Court basically said this week that phone records of journalists may legally be gathered by the US governement. That's pretty scary. Time to start using Skype and bouncing my calls every which way. And forget saving cache files locally.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

NetVibes Feed Aggregator

I stumbled upon this little doosey from New Musings. The guys' at NetVibes have a lot going for them.

They've created one heck of a feed aggregator, minus a few little trinkets. For starters, they've built-in the ability to export all of your feeds into an OPML file for easy transfer. Google doesn't have anything like that in IG, which makes it difficult to mirror IG with Google Reader.

Parparita at gave me a nice little addon though that generates each tab page on IG as an OPML, that's kind of nice. But it's still a pain to go to two different sites for different viewing options. NetVibes has aggregated both styles into a single place.

Another cool feature: you can check any of your email accounts, myspace account, and search for most of the major search engines directly from the site. It's basically the aggregators aggregator.

The downside of NetVibes: as far as I can tell, there's no easy way of erasing OPML files and starting over fresh. You have to manually delete everything, which can be a hassle if you have over a hundred feeds like me. (I know, I know, who has time to read that much.) Every time you add an OPML file, it doesn't give you the option of choosing between overwriting your current feeds or adding to them - it just adds.

Another thing it doesn't do, which Bloglines and IG don't do either, is seperate the OPML files in columns or tabs so that the OPML files themselves to be labeled and tagged. This feature would allow a whole new dimension of social bookmarking.

A little Web 2.0 trading feature could also allow people to essentially check the reading lists of bloggers who publish their OPML files on their sites. That'd be pretty sweet, enabling a whole new dimension of transparency and fact-checking.

Overall though, NetVibes has a lot going for them.

Friday, December 01, 2006

World AIDS Day.

You may have noticed the ribbon now atop my website. Today is World AIDS day.

With forty million people infected Worldwide, that's not a disease, that's an epidemic. And personally for me as a Christian, it's also a moral call to action. So today, even if you can't give money to a relief organization or donate time yourself, think about writing an email to your Senator to make sure they know they have your full support in stopping this deadly disease.

Heck, even a brief speel on your personal blog can spread the word to friends and family about what's going on, and that can make the difference between life and death for someone else.

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Cookie Evans Loves You?

Who is Cookie Evans you may ask... and why did he rank above the famous country singer of the same name on Google? Or why is he setting up a flash mob... and why is his Press Release in Mad Lib style?!!!!

All interesting questions I've been asking myself lately.
Here's all I know. "Cookie's" from San Jose, and as he's successfully coordinated one Google Bomb already, I'm interested to see what and where this Flash Mob of 300+ people turns out to be.

Is it just me, or does the Web sometimes feel like a Bill and Ted's movie:
Ted: "Strange things are afoot at the Circle K." (and then the telephone booth falls from the sky)
And no... I am not Cookie Evans, nor do I know him. I'll put those rumors to rest right now.
Still, who is Cookie Evans?!

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Thailand Says Bye-Bye to a Brighter Future

Need more evidence that wars and coupes aren't good for children, animals, and other living things? Look no further than Thailand, whose newly installed government (remember the military overthrow in September) is now backing out of the deal the previous administration had with OLPC to provide $100 laptops for every child in the country.

So instead of speeding ahead into a technology rich future where its citizens are able to compete in global markets, what plan does the education minister have in store for Thailand?

"We will not focus too much on technology and materials," said Wijit Srisaarn, Thailand's education minister, this week. "We will focus on substance."
Translation: "Poor kids aren't on our radar screen."
So much for change.

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Well, that about sums it up...

Let no one ever say he didn't say it like he saw it. Go Steve.
[The following is a repost from Steve Sloan on his website, SJSU Tech on a mission, on 11.29.2006]

Editorial: The evil of opacity

What we would like to do, may not be what we can do (and maybe that is okay)
That is just a fact of life. We learn as kids, "if wishes were horses then beggars would ride." Sometimes it is easy to just keep our wants and needs to ourselves. But, when it comes to what we want and need as a university, I think openness is better than being closed. I think we need to be more open about what we need, we should put it out there, rather than use the lack of resources as an excuse.

There is also the matter of allocation of the resources we do have. If folks are engaged in the thought process I think they are more likely to help us. I think we need to openly talk about where we see our school going and our vision of the future. I think we need to be free to do this as individuals as well as an institution. I think we need to have open conversations in a way that engages our colleagues, our partners and also our customers, the students. I believe our customers deserve more respect. I think our other customers, the public, deserves to engaged, after all, they pay our salaries. They are taxed to pay our salaries.

SJSU is a public state funded university. I see it as being paradoxical that we public servants are performing our public services spending the taxpayers hard earned money and yet we see it as the right thing to do to be opaque. New media is all about transparency and conversation. But, from what I see, that seems counter to a university culture of closed doors, politics, secrecy and overall opacity.

To me that opacity is not right, it is evil, and maybe that is why I seem to be so good at getting in trouble when I state my opinion. I may be wrong often and readily admit when I am wrong. There are worse things than being wrong. I think if you are open about your intentions and you are wrong and someone points that out you have an opportunity to change for the better. But, I think if you exist in a world of shadows and you are wrong that is worse; because then your mistakes remain hidden they never have an opportunity to be amended. I would rather risk being openly wrong than have to be secretly right knowing my ideas will never see the light of the day.

I love my school and I think we should express our ideas and opinions, consider those of others and speak out about our feelings and embrace the collective intelligence of all those great folks who care about us enough to engage in a conversation constructively. That is why I love blogging and all the other forms of new media. It is based on the Internet and the two basic concepts of the Internet: the Internet routes around obstacles and enables communication to all nodes from all nodes. How does the Internet do this? It does that because on the Internet all nodes are equal. On the Internet all nodes are free to communicate.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Scoble Writes on JMC163

Robert did this piece today on Steve Sloan's announcement that the University may dismantle what is now JMC163. He wrote:


You can learn InDesign from a book. You can’t have a small group interaction with speakers like Steve Sergeant, host of Wildebeat, David Weinberger, author of Cluetrain Manifesto, Aaron Uhrmacher, Second Life expert, Phil Wolff, SkypeJournal author, or students talking about their own podcasts. I spoke to the class as well. Notice how all those link to podcasts of the actual class sessions!

It’s a shame, because San Jose State University needs more innovative classes like these, not fewer.

Amen. The post has gotten quite a few comments from people that visit his site, most of them supportive of the current class.

I said it once and I'll say it again, the University needs to revamp its curriculum and consider making New Media a concentration unto itself. What's happening now is essentially like having all Nursing and Biology students in the same major because it might increase costs to the school to have both.

That's a backward way of thinking; new programs that entice students to use specialty skills to broaden markets and generate revenue (or God help us, further free-speech) are a DRAW TO THE UNIVER$ITY.
But like Ryan Sholin commented yesterday, " won't happen until they [the University] completely revamp[s] the curriculum. And good luck on that one."


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Phil Wolff Skyped JMC 163 Last Night

The blogger from Skype Journal wasn't the only one stopping by to say hi; Fred Mertz, a freelance photographer working for the Chronicle of Higher Education, also stopped by and took pictures for an upcoming piece on JMC163.

Wolff talked a little bit about the Skype story at SJSU that took place earlier this year. He dissected it, sharing why he believed the story took off the way that it did. What were the points he talked about?
1.There were local advocates with a vested interest in keeping Skype on campus.
2.The blogosphere picked up the story and turned it viral.
3.The traditional media picked it up as well.
4.It already had all of the elements of a good story: power struggle, work being affected, and a school environment.


I'll keep you posted on the Higher Ed piece when it comes out. It will most likely also be talking about the Skype piece a bit. The ironic part about this whole thing is that the very class that has attracted so much attention for the great job that it has done may be dismantled by next semester.

Steve Sloan posted a disturbing piece on his personal blog Tuesday:

There is a plan to turn 163 partly into a software teaching class and teach InDesign, Photoshop, other applications and maybe half a semester’s worth of “new media.” This will be a real change in what has become known as, “the podcasting class.”

I have nothing against the Adobe Creative Suite applications, I use them and have taught them. But, I do not see this as being consistent with what we are doing in this class. This semester 163 has concentrated on the Internet and emerging forms of journalism. Maybe I am wrong.

We have a meetup on Thursday November 30 at 7pm in downtown San Jose at Tony Soprano’s Pizzeria. You are invited to come or comment. I would love to get input from folks on this subject. I know our accreditation limits the amount of units we can do new stuff with. But, I see this class as being critical.

I'm not thrilled by this development at all. As has been mentioned by several students in JMC163 and professionals outside the class, classes on Photoshop, InDesign, Dreamweaver, and other apps can been taken very easily for a few hundred bucks over a weekend. The understanding of WHY new media is taking off and WHERE it is going is much more pertenant to our future careers.

If the University really wants students to learn those programs, then they should consider making New Media a concentration like Print and Broadcast are. Removing such vital content will only act as a disservice to students.

And maybe it's just my journalism background speaking, but I think journalists SHOULD be more interested in the WHY than the HOW, because the HOW is always conditional upon the WHY.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bloggers are Journalists, Courts Rule

Kyle Hansen brought an interesting article to my attention today. Last Friday a Canadian judge said that a blogger IS a journalist. To quote Keanu Reeves, "Woah!"

Obviously, this has no immediate bearing on American journalists, but it does signal a clear shift from the traditional international perception that a journalist is part of an organized, structured business or organization to an independent, theoretical creation. Ergo, the citizen journalist is gaining credibility.

Not only does this immediately shift the focus from high revenue large market based news-gathering to low budget, niche-market-high-impact reporting from individuals, but it also CREATES A NEED for greater individual participation in politics and their communities.


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Monday, November 27, 2006

New Perspective Emerges from Iraq, Online

It's been online in iTune's since October 18th, though it's been online since May 31st outside of an RSS format. The show has a slightly different perspective from the ones you hear on the Nightly News, and quite apart from most of the vlogosphere.

Freedom Journal Iraq, produced by the Pentagon Channel, is a horse of a different color. Their bias is clear, yet oddly refreshing.

It shows American officers and enlisted serving in Iraq, affected daily by IED's and suicide bombers. It shows some of their triumphs, and well as their defeats, through a set of uniquely American military eyes.

As a journalism major, the show is in striking contrast to Alive in Baghdad, another phenomenal vlog shot by independent citizen journalists in Iraq.

Oddly enough, it is the bias that I find appealing, as the growing trend of vlogging further the marketplace of ideas about which Mills wrote.

Politics not your thing? There's always my favorite comedy newcast, Fox News Flash. Today they talked about a Colombian marathon where officers run with their dogs to raise money for fallen officers. Don't get me wrong, it's a good cause and all - but a Colombian dog marathon?

Must have been a slow news day. Wait a minute - aren't there a couple wars going on?

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Zune Got Served

[Warning: this post is somewhat technical and highly geeky. Continue reading at your own risk.]

Everyone by now has read the Chicago Sun-Times article slamming Zune. I second what Cali Lewis said today on GeekBrief Tv, "I'm not a Microsoft hater; I'm longing for the release of Windows Vista."

I use Windows XP myself, I have an XBox360, and I admit that I got more than a little excited when someone teased me with the idea that Microsoft was working with Mozilla on an open-source OS.

There's no truth to that rumor, as far as I know, FYI. Shucks!

That said, I'm not going to buy a Zune, nor do I want to. It's just too restrictive with all the copyright stuff built into it. There is, however, something Microsoft recently released that is worth some praise. And in light of all their latest slams, I've decided to talk about it.

Internet Explorer 7.

Now, the Firefox nut in me wanted to discard this browser immediately, but IE7 really does have some kick butt features that even Firefox could benefit from including.

For instance, the built-in RSS aggregator in IE7 is more well placed than Firefox's in 2.0, and IE7's zoom feature and "tab lists" give the user easy interface and accessibility not possible without add-ons in Firefox.

In my book, Firefox did their own browser a discredit by including the "aging tab" feature in version 2.0 . It just wasn't necessary and frankly, the "colorful tabs" add-on in 1.5 was much better anyways.

The developments Microsoft made/allowed with Google are also pretty awesome, especially the Google toolbar feature that allows you to Sync all your Google Bookmarks across browsers.
"Yes," some of you will say, "but Firefox has that add-ons too."

This is true, but the button built into the toolbar is far more efficient that the add-on for Firefox that puts it next to the Help button. The Firefox version uses too much RAM, something in short supply if you keep a million tabs open, like I do.

Overall, IE7 is faster than Firefox, and arguably just as safe with its new Phishing-filter and pop-up blocker.

The drawbacks of IE7 are apparent though, most blatantly, by the lack of add-ons on the Microsoft website. Whole sections are bare. I forget who wrote it, but it's true that Firefox has become popular for the same reason as Honda Civics. They are infinitely customizable to the individual.

So while Firefox may still be my top browser of choice, Microsoft is still doing an amazing job on some of their products, with great promise of improving. They just need a little more Web 2.0 luv to get up to par.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

And...I'm alive!

I made it past Thanksgiving; I hope everyone else was as lucky.

On a side note: thanks to Steve Sloan and everybody else who has been blogging about their safety concerns around Clark Hall.

Steve posted this picture on the 25th; apparently administration listened to people's concerns and acted appropriately. As Steve wrote, "That is a win for everybody!"

Speaking of Steve, JMC 163 is coming to a close soon. For those of you not attending SJSU, it's a new media class (one of the very, very few) that explores both the theory and applications that allow new media to flourish. The class drew much attention from all over the world earlier this year when SJSU banned Skype's use on campus.

This media attention gave students like myself the opportunity to experience google bombs, Web 2.0 realities, and bureaucracy, firsthand.

It's also brought many a powerful speaker to the class, including famous authors like David Weinberger, famous bloggers like Phil Wolff from Skype Journal, and famous vloggers like Ryan Hodson from Node 101 (and everywhere else). And that's just to name a few!

It's great to see that some teachers and administration officials are realizing that these are the leaders of tomorrow's technological boom - the forerunners of a new media industry.

I seriously hope for the future of both SJSU and the economy that the University encourages such classes next semester and for years come, as it is a priceless asset. Steve already said it best, so I'm going to steal from him now and go out on top:

Most importantly our students have gained valuable skills and more. They have gained insight into the global "new media" conversation (often called "Web 2.0") that is going on and how the media landscape is changing and why things will never go back to being the same as they were in the past.

That is what we did with this "blank slate" and I think our students will be better equipped to deal with the real world of emerging "new media" journalism because of it. We did this all without having even a printer in the classroom because frankly, we did not need one. We did not need paper. The class was all out there for the world to see on the student blogs and the world listened. That is the coolest part, the world listened.

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