June 7, 2010

Internet underground

It occurred to me last night that having a name that Google can't process well might actually be entirely deliberate. On the internet, there is no real underground anymore. So if you wanted to create an underground for yourself, the first thing you might do is generate a sort of lexical darknet by using keyterms search engines can't parse.

[from here, although there's not much else to click through to]

March 26, 2009

The end of the world as we print it

The great End of Newspapers debate is all around me again (still?). Everybody has presumably already seen (Clay Shirky's latest piece (in brief: newspapers are doomed. Nobody knows what replaces them. That's what revolutions are like - live with it). I was more interested in the angle brought out by Nick Clayton, in comments to Pat Kane's post on the topic, and particularly the comments by Nick Clayton. He's interested by the psychological shock to old-fashioned journalists, and whether they'll cope without the newsroom:

the journalists who are losing their jobs are used to working as a team with a common goal, the next edition. It's not easy to move to setting your own deadlines.
The reason, I believe, that [a triumph of individual journos working from home] hasn't happened on a large scale so far is because of the isolation that appears built into the model and the accompanying lack of somebody to kick you up the backside when your copy's late.
What's missing at the moment is a framework which doesn't assume that one person can be writer, reporter, editor, promoter, ad sales person, designer, photographer, book-keeper and search engine optimiser. Instead there's a need for an infrastructure which brings together people with those skills quite possibly on a part-time or temporary basis.

December 3, 2007

LJ takeover

Livejournal has just been taken over by SUP, the russian company that was already managing Russian-language livejournals. Compared to when SUP first started managing the Russian service, the reactions among Russian users seem surprisingly positive. i.e. more people are pleased to have LJ under Russian control than are frightened that they'll be more vulnerable to government pressure. Still, I'm not thrilled by their decision to announce this just after the Russian elections. It looks a lot like trying to bury the news while Russian lj users are distracted, even if it wasn't intended that way.

December 13, 2006


The problem with the comments should now be fixed. Sorry about that!

November 7, 2006

Blogging about blogging (sorry!)

Interesting bits from David Sifry (of technorati)'s annual state of the blogosphere post:

  • "About 55% of all blogs are active, which means that they have been updated at least once in the last 3 months" Really? I find that extremely hard to believe
  • World political events cause major posting spikes. That seems to suggest a lot of people write about political things.

October 28, 2006

IHT makes LJ look calm

Wow. The International Herald Tribune wades into the fray over Six Apart's deal with Sup over Russian livejournal, and comes down firmly on the side of paranoia:

What's so pernicious about the deal is that it replicates the very Kremlin model that poisoned the rest of the Russian media.

The argument is that Sup is a Kremlin hack (dolboeb, "a former associate of Gleb Pavlovsky, the Kremlin's spindoctor"), backed by an oligarch (Aleksandr Mamut), and that therefore they are obviously going to turn the abuse team into politicial censorship. Therefore, "the days of the Russian blogosphere buzzing with criticial opinions are numbered".

Well, the IHT has certainly managed to make bloggers look like a picture of reason and calmness, compared to foreign correspondents in the MSM. Much better commentary by Veronica at Global Voices, and Bradfitz' list of complaints about the deal is alternately sad and hilarious.

October 18, 2006

LJ is civil society

Do you ever get the feeling of this is where it's at? That's what I've been feeling as I start following Russian livejournals more closely. Every time I look, I find another embryonic political or social movement, full of potential to change Russia - and being largely ignored by the outside world.

Take the debates. Run by the youth movement "Democratic Alternative(*)" Every few weeks in Moscow, some of the leading lights of Russian livejournal get together for a public political debate. They're judged by the audience, and by a panel of popular bloggers.

The audience at an earlier debate
Many photos from yesterday's event here

Their latest event was yesterday, pitting nationalist Dmitri Rogozin against economic liberal Boris Nemtsov. The debate was about Georgia, and Rogozin won, but the transcript of the debate hasn't been posted yet.

Also, this blog doesn't seem to like cyrillic much. I wonder if it's Movable Type in general, or my setup, or what?

*: I'm not sure who funds them or what their background is, but they feel less astroturfed than most Russian 'youth movements'

October 17, 2006

I've joined Global Voices

Since I've been reading so many Russian livejournals recently, I figured I should do something useful with it. So I've got involved in Global Voices, a blog translation project. The plan is that I'll post occasional snippets from Russian blogs, once a month or so. Here's my first post, translating a Georgian post about the treatment of Georgians in Russia.

October 3, 2006

Conference reloaded

How can you develop a service without sharing a language with your users?

Holed up in Budapest, my head too messed up to do any proper work (eep! the doom she is a-coming!), I've been listening to danah Boyd's keynote at the blogtalk conference that's just winding up in Vienna.

She touches on the fact that the creators of Orkut don't have the faintest idea what their Portugese or Hindi-speaking users are doing. I'd always vaguely assumed that there would be a fair few Portugese-speakers within the Orkut development team, for instance. But obviously not.

It'd be a nice little project for a journalist or an anthropologist, to work out how much the developers of these sites know about their users.

April 3, 2006

Blogs with content

I'd like to point you all towards a few blogs with real content, written by people who know what they're talking about. I'm biased about all three: I'm a contributor to the first (and member of the group running it), I was taught by the author of the second, and the driving force behind the third is a close friend who I spent a year sharing a house with. Despite that, they're all great!

First, the Iraq Analysis Group have just launched their new blog. This is one of the most awesome groups of people I've ever worked with. They've been campaigning and thinking about Iraq since the 1990s, first as the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq, and then as this group after sanctions were lifted. They (OK, we) have accumulated a large collection of resources to learn about Iraq. It isn't yet comprehensive, but it's probably the best listing of it's kind on the web. I strongly recommend this site: of the project I've been involved in, this is one of the few that I believe in 100%, and I'm continually impressed by all the people involved.

Then there's sarasvatam cakshuh, a blog about Sanskrit written by Somadevah Vasudeva. The focus is on primary texts, so this probably won't be your thing unless you read Sanskrit. That that doesn't stop me squeeing about it, I'm afraid. There's a good amount of snarkiness aimed at people who write about Sanskrit based on translations and small selections of original texts. Totally justified snarkiness: Somadevah is one of the few who has read immense amounts of Sanskrit literature. Some of it he's committed to memory, and the rest is stored on his Mac, with copious annotations and some weird geek-fu that lets him instantly find any reference. Reading this blog makes me very aware of how little I know, but it also spurs me on to look at more Sanskrit texts.

Finally, another blog on the borderline between research and campaigning. This one is from the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, which has been pluggin away at its issue for some 30 years, has kept going through thick and thin, and has a great body of expertise on the basty bits of British foreign policy and corporate nastiness. As with anything focussed on content rather than memes, this might be heavy going if you don't care about the issues.