Conservative blogger and lawyer Patterico makes the case for Obama's decency. He admits that all the evidence could be dismissed as tactics to win an election, but then so could anything anyone does be so dismissed. I went through the same process in deciding about Obama, saw the same evidence, while looking for the slightest crack -- never saw it. He's a tough politician, but he doesn't cut corners.
There are a lot of good people in the world, I know quite a few, but what's remarkable about Obama:
1. He's risen so high. When asked today what Presidents he's turned to for advice since winning the election, he offered, with a smile -- Lincoln. As the therapist in The West Wing observed to the fictional President Jed Bartlet, "This is a hell of a curve you get graded on now." But even that's not the most impressive thing.
Update: I had to find the scene. Here's the MP3. Great stuff. Season 3, Episode 13 at minute 37 approx.
2. There are a lot of good decent people in the world, but few of them get credit for it. Obama gets credit. Now, what kind of example will this provide, and how will it change things? Are we looking at an antidote to cynicism? It's clear to me that unless we can create a strain of idealism, we're not going to come through the challenges ahead.
In a piece I wrote earlier today, talking about volunteerism replacing professionalism in journalism, I don't think many people reading it believed that people will work to make our world better without being paid. This has always frustrated me, because the evidence is everywhere that people do. We just elected a President through millions of selfless acts on the part of millions, yet people still doubt that selflessness exists and is so powerful.
I don't know why but today has been a rough day for me. Haven't been this aimless in a long time. Something needs to be processed and I'm not sure what it is. Coming to grips with what's next is not easy, I guess.
Time for a walk!
PS: The Economist doesn't know the first thing about blogging.
PPS: StumbleUpon discovered MockCain.com today.
If you recall, Tom Brokaw signed on to moderate MTP through the election. I thought he did mostly a good job, an improvement over the previous management. A couple of times I thought he crossed the line into advocacy, but on the whole, well done.
Now the big question -- who's next?
People I hope it's not: Andrea Mitchell (boring, petty, insidery, bird-like). David Gregory (just boring).
Someone I could live with: Chuck Todd, would bring excellent guests on the show, he has everyone's respect. But he's a numbers guy and numbers aren't the game now that the election is over. You need someone who's better at political nuance. He's better as a sidekick than the main act.
Someone else I could live with: Mika Brzezinski, co-host of Morning Joe, starting to step out on her own, subbing for Gregory (whose show has a new name indicating he's probably not the choice for MTP). She is intelligent, experienced, and has been in the background too much for all the talent she has.
Now the person I really want who they'll never pick: Aaron Brown. I can't say enough about his interviewing style, intelligent, humorous, disarming, he's the kind of guy you'd like to spill the beans to and then realize you just screwed yourself. My benchmark for this job is who would Lindsay Graham have a hard time bullshitting. Only one answer there -- Aaron Brown.
Like I said, it'll never happen. :-(
What didn't change in the 2008 election is the way news flowed. This is a big disappointment to me and something that causes great concern. I see the newspapers dying, and the broacast media failing to do news, and I want to evolve to the next thing, but it doesn't seem that's the way it'll go. Instead we're likely to see a sudden collapse, and a void, much like the financial collapse in September. This would be tragic, unneccesary, a very bad for us.
The next thing, btw, involves the same spirit of volunteerism that drove the Obama campaign. It should be possible for a citizen like you or me to take a one month leave of absence, just like doing jury duty, and go to a news story and camp out and cover it. It's not so hard to do. If a citizen can be trained to render a life and death decision (sometimes) fairly and carefully, we can also learn to get "Just the facts ma'am" and report the news alongside the pros. In case the pros should either disappear or fail to be professional.
In order to do this we're going to need the cooperation of the people who the press covers, for example, a new administration taking office. But unless they get this big idea real soon, it can't happen.
People are thinking too small, imho. Bloggers in the White House briefing room? Of course. But if the same gatekeeping applies, you're just going to have people who get through the gates. There's really no difference betw a columnist that works for the Washington Post and one who writes for Talking Point Memo. Yet some how we should feel that we're being better represented by the latter? I don't. They're still gatekeepers, and people like you and me are on the outside looking in, getting the news they want to give us, through their lens, from their perspective, and missing a lot of what's going on and what matters. The only way to turn the system upside down is to just do it, and have a system whereby fresh blood comes in, systematically.
It's been flattering when people have said I should be the country's CTO. First of all, it isn't going to happen, and second, I'm not a good candidate. Most of the technology you'd need to be a good CTO is stuff I just use, and am not an expert at. (That said, one of the first things our new CTO should do is uncover and expose the games Comcast and other big Internet vendors are playing with public access to the net. We paid for the development of the net through tax dollars, they can use it, like everyone else but it's not their place to throttle or control it.)
The job I really want is designing and implementing an open platform for news for our government, and of course that would quickly become the way of doing news in all walks of life. We need something fast here, even the strongest news organizations are seriously undermined and could disappear within months. Just having a blogger inside the new administration is not nearly enough.
Anyway, I'm thinking that a flash conference in NY, DC or Cambridge, like the one we did after the 2004 election at Stanford, might be a good idea. Last night I asked Jay Rosen at NYU what he thought of this, and he was positive. We might do it. I'm thinking about new non-BloggerCon formats, that get people talking about specific ideas as opposed to having wide-ranging discussions. I think we've now learned enough about blogging and public media to work on the next level of change.
What a rush the last few days have been.
Geez, never mind the last few days -- it's been going on since January, since the Iowa Caucus. A continuing stream of "Wait For This" spans of time. First it was New Hampshire, then Super Tuesday, then Texas and Ohio. Then a month of downtime, followed by Pennsylvania and the early May primaries (can't remember what states they were) finally Indiana and North Carolina, and Tim Russert proclaiming we now know who the Democratic nominee will be. Whew.
I think at that time we really knew who the next President would be, but who cares. There were ways to pretend at least that the stuff between then and now mattered.
Now it's all over and I know what has to come next. No matter what the expectation, built up over so much time, can't be matched by reality. Like many others, I imagine, it's time now to look elsewhere for meaning. We will have an African-American president, a Democrat, a smart man with big ambition. It'll be interesting to watch him, but not all-consuming as it was.
What comes next? I honestly don't know.
Dave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.
"The protoblogger." - NY Times.
"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.
One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.
"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.
"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.
"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.
My most recent trivia on Twitter.
© Copyright 1997-2008 Dave Winer.
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