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

Actors and non-actors Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named obamasOnTV.jpgIn journalism, there's a big difference between the actors and the non-actors. The actors are trying to create an effect, you're not hearing what they really think, you're hearing what they want you to think they're thinking. Non-actors try to play it straight. They want to communicate their ideas accurately and persuasively, and strive to find better and better ways to do that. It's true in journalism and it's equally true in blogging.

To explain the idea to a journalist friend I thought of two people he would be likely to know, two extreme examples: Scott Rosenberg and John Dvorak.

Rosenberg is the former managing editor of Salon, film critic at the SF Examiner. Dvorak is a longtime tech columnist, I read him 30 years ago in Infoworld, then PC mag. Now he's a blogger and podcaster. Rosenberg and Dvorak are very different sorts of reporters.

In person, Dvorak is a gentleman and really nice thoughtful guy. On the web and in his podcast, he's an actor playing the role of a cranky, thoughtless clown.

In this video Thoughtful Dvorak explains Dvorak the Actor:

Rosenberg on the other hand, if you met him in person, would say the same things he says in his online personna.

That analogy exists in the blogosphere as well.

If you were to meet me in person, like Rosenberg, I would say the same things that I say on the web. There aren't two Daves. This is me, I write more formally here, more thoughtfully, I can revise my writing, but you're getting my actual opinions, not a simulation.

However, some of the people I have interacted on the web with are not playing it straight. I don't want to name anyone specifically, because that would just invite the kind of slapstick they use to build traffic. But they do exist, and they often admit privately, as Dvorak does openly, that they don't really believe what they say in their online writing. Whether they want to declare it or not is their business.

However, I think it's important to understand the difference. An apparent pie fight isn't always what you think it is. Sometimes it's one of the clowns of our medium trying to cover up something real they don't want people to look at.

Dvorak's sleight of hand is harmless, almost everyone knows he's doing it. But the other kind is not so harmless. A good journalist must dig past the surface and figure out who are the actors and who's telling you what they really think.

Update: Actors can be realllly entertaining. ;->

Why was yesterday a Blue Thursday? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I know it wasn't just me -- yesterday was a pretty negative day for a lot of people. Nothing seemed right. People picked yesterday to deliver bad news they had been holding on to. To tell others what they really thought of them. Even if nothing specific happened the general mood for some was suppressed if not downright depressed.

In hindsight it would have been better to stay in bed yesterday, call in sick, just sit it out. ;->

Why yesterday?

In the middle of the night I figured it out.

For most of us it's no longer Yes We Can, it's Yes We Did.

It's not Change You Can Believe In, any more -- instead The Change Happened Now Get Back To Your Life.

A picture named obamasOnTV.jpgWhile we watch from afar, we see people who have great meaning to their lives, who every day have something to do that excites and inspires them, for the rest of us -- we know the feeling, we used to have it, until Thursday morning, when it all came crashing down. Reality reinvoked, our normal humdrum lives reappeared, and we have to live them. There are taxes to pay, appointments to make, charges to answer, etc etc.

And there's Camelot on TV, but that's someone else's life, not ours.

If only we had been lifted out of our lives permanently.

But today's Friday. Thursday is behind us now.

Maybe that was the worst of it. ;->

PS: Think you have it bad? You could be John Kerry.


Last update: Friday, January 23, 2009 at 5:16 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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