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Scripting News, the weblog started in 1997 that bootstrapped the blogging revolution.

The Holy Church of Checklists Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named notebook.jpgYesterday's piece on investigative research in the blogosphere was one of the most polarizing pieces I've ever written, going all the way back to the first email essays I wrote in 1994. Those really upset a lot of people, because I saw where my industry, which now is pretty much gone, was getting swallowed up in the open formats and protocols, both technologic and human, of the Internet. Now, 15 years later, I stand by any of those pieces. I've become a better writer, for sure, I'm better able to anticipate people's objections, I have a better sense of what people are ready to hear, but every once in a while I just ignore all that, and write what I really think.

I had a good but brief talk with Howard Weaver, who proudly told me he had two Pulitzer Prizes, and who recently retired from McClatchy. We found we had a lot to talk about, and we're quite close in age, and I think for two aging guys we've still got some flexibility in our thinking. He lives in Sacramento, just a couple of hours away by car. I'm sure we'll get together, and when we do, I don't doubt it will be interesting and productive.

That said, a fair number of other people expressed anger at me and my piece, but always with remarkably honest words like "You seem to be saying" or "I suspect you believe" or somesuch. Those are big red flashing warning signs, your inner-editor should stop and ask for a rewrite, because you're using whoever you're writing to as a foil, somehow you want to express something, to be heard, and you need this crutch -- this symbol to be angry with. I wish somehow I could make people filter these things for themselves. We all want to be appreciated for our individuality, no one wants to be treated as a symbol.

Or I could just write a followup, like this one. ;->

I also wrote a piece about economics, but if you take it at face value you'll see it's another media story. I had just listened to 1/2 of yesterday's Meet The Press, and was disgusted that the reporters on the roundtable were basing their analysis on a lie. Then later that day Jay Rosen, who is a great teacher of things I am very interested in, provided a framework for all this. The media and the people they interview have an agreed upon set of assumptions, Jay calls this the sphere of consensus, and it doesn't matter if they're true or not, and many of them are not. They have a finite set of them, so any reporter only has to master the list, and then each politico he or she interviews is asked to recite his or her poetry about each item on the list. They judge the quality of the pol by the quality of their prose and how ruffled they get. The more ruffled, the more points for the journo, the less ruffled, the more for the politico. It's a game.

A picture named elmerFudd.gifThere are some people who are regulars on the shows who clearly don't buy into this nonsense. Krugman for one. I was also struck by a Fresh Air interview with Chuck Todd last week where he explained how he was learning the ropes as a member of the elite priests of the Holy Church of Checklists. But I think of Todd as one of the few who think independently, and forms his own theses and tests them scientifically. This is my kind of journo. I also like Brook Gladstone and Bob Garfield, because they sometimes break out of this straight jacket themselves.

Ladies and gentlemen, whether you're a pro or an amateur, I think the real difference between the men and the boys, the women and the girls, is this. In these challenging times do we have the guts to admit that the government prints money, and accept the complexities that come with that, and ask our politicos what happens when they've exhausted that option, instead of asking them nonsense questions about cutting expenses or raising debt, and watching the politico just sidestep it and answer the question they really want to.

In other words, I think the reporters who get so angry with me are doing so because I don't buy into the Sphere of Consensus Jay talks about. Instead I buy into the Sphere of Don's Amazing Puzzle. I know that my eyes deceive me every day, they see only what they expect to see, and unless I develop methods to check my vision, I will keep believing in systems that don't work.

friendsOfDave on Twitter Permanent link to this item in the archive.

friendsOfDave is list of blogs, like an old-style blogroll, but with a difference. Every time one of the blogs in my list updates, an app on my server sends a link to Twitter, and FriendFeed.

This makes it easy for me to keep up with the blog posts, which come much more slowly than tweets, of people I think of as friends -- in the blogging sense -- people who I want to keep current with.

Here's a list of the people: .

This neatly solved the problem outlined in The First Church of Scoble, where I said I wanted to hear about Scoble, but not the full blast of his Twitter stream. To some extent this isn't even about Scoble the person, because people talking about Scoble (something he actively encourages of course) is all part of the Church effect. Unless he turns his blog into a firehose, we can have just-enough Scoble, along with some Doc, Jen, Betsy, Fred, Jay, Scott, Om, Lance, Rebecca, Gartenberg, et al.

I've had a few days of F-O-D, and I like. It went quiet over the weekend, but now it's Monday morning and things are picking up. Last week was CES so there was a lot of tech stuff, and I was worried there might be too much, but things are more balanced this week. I still need some more political blogs to add to flow, but I want to do that slowly too.

And part of the way I measure success is that the people in the group seem to be following the group. I think this is important. Maybe it will evolve into some kind of meta-publication. Or a conference? I have no idea. I do know they're all creative interesting people who are likely to have some cool ideas if there are any to be had.

Everyone can follow... The more the merrier, as usual.

A consumer complaint about Consumer Reports Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named cr.jpgThis story just drips with irony!

2.5 years ago I had just signed the papers to buy a house in Berkeley, and based on past experience as a home owner, it was time to become a member of the Consumer Reports website. I figured if I'm going to be spending thousands of dollars on this house, it would make sense to go for the premium service, so I could access all the information on the site. Doing my part to support a non-profit that does good work. I even checked the box that said they should automatically renew me every year without requiring confirmation, that's how sure I was this organization, above all others, could be trusted.

No fault of theirs, my credit card number got out to some bad guys in Malta or Africa, and the credit card company detected it, contacted me as I was checking into a hotel in NY (by declining the charge, thank you very much) and after talking them into approving the charge (while dripping wet from a NY rainstorm) we agreed they should cancel the card and issue a new number.

So, when Consumer Reports tried to charge my annual fee, it was declined. They sent an email, I went to the website, entered the new number, clicked Submit. I then got an email thanking me for subscribing to the print magazine! Which is something I totally did not do, mean to do, want to do, under any circumstance. I am always trying to reduce clutter, and I hate getting magazines I never asked for in the mail, and I certainly don't want to pay for magazine clutter in my mailbox.

So I called their 800 number (hard to find on the website) and asked nicely but firmly that they cancel this subscription that I did not want. I just want the website, thank you. The operator assured me it had been done, when I asked her to confirm what I had asked her to do.

All was good until the latest issue of Consumer Reports magazine arrived in the mail last week. I expect no matter what I do I will continue to receive the magazine, which I have been charged for and no doubt will not be refunded. I could make a case out of it, but it's just $26 and that values my time pretty cheaply. I know there's a recession, but I will have to settle for airing my issue publicly in this blog post.


Last update: Monday, January 12, 2009 at 6:32 PM Pacific.

A picture named dave.jpgDave 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.

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