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

If you don't like the news... Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Last night I went to a panel discussion at the UC-Berkeley school of journalism. The topic was the San Francisco Chronicle, the last major paper in the Bay Area, and one that seems to be headed for the same fate as the Rocky Mountain News and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

I took a picture and a very brief video, to give you a sense of the venue. It was a packed room, in the library at the J-school. The first part of the discussion, about an hour, was pretty reasonable, user-focused, not making excuses for the paper. Bergman even said the Chron hadn't lived up to the potential of the Bay Area, I thought that was a very good way to put it. In my experience these discussions were usually focused on the point of view of the journalist, but the first hour wasn't. But in the second hour, the discussion shifted, got more relaxed and the selfishness came out in all its glory.

The moderator, Susan Rasky, asked the panelists, if they were god what would they do. Hire lots of reporters, one panelist said. Get the new President to pay our salaries, said another. Tax these things, Rasky said, holding up a Macintosh laptop. And the batteries. One panelist said things aren't so bad and the Chronicle will continue to print for the indefinite future. Others said Bill Gates should pay, or Google.

A picture named scoop.gifI got the floor very briefly, at the end, after Scott Rosenberg tried to explain that journalism could happen without newspapers (he has posted his own account). I said the sources would take over the news. Not enough reporters covering the courtroom? The judge will report, as will the jurors, the attorneys, the plaintiff, the defendent. It will be messier, I would have said had I had the time to complete the thought, but more truth will come out.

I said that fifteen years ago I was unhappy with the way journalism was practiced in the tech industry, so I took matters into my own hands. And then dozens of people did, and then hundreds followed, and now we get much better information about tech. It will happen everywhere, in politics, education, the military, health, science, you name it. The sources will fill in where we used to need journalists.

A government endowment for the incumbent journalists now would be, imho, as unthinkable as a state religion. It would be wrong, and unconstitutional, read the First Amendment. We the people would challenge it in court, and if they hadn't lost their minds, it would be rejected. We're just beginning to get the attention of the gatekeepers. Of course you want to go back to the other side of the gate where you don't have to listen to us. We don't want you to have that luxury.

Such a session wouldn't be complete without a blanket condemnation of the web, and we sure got one. I would have loved to have shown them Simon Johnson's blog, former chief economist at the IMF, who, in September explained the calamity in clear layman's terms, critical ideas and info you never heard in the Times, Chronicle, WSJ, or any of the television networks, not even on NPR (until Fresh Air had him as a guest in February). Nouriel Roubini called the crash years before anyone else, on the web of course. I was able to find them, a mere blogger, why couldn't the investigative reporters? I would also show them Paul Krugman's blog, someone who is regularly quoted by journalists, but for some reason feels the need to put his ideas on the web without a filter. And Doc Searls, Jay Rosen, and any of dozens of other people I read regularly to inform me with ideas that you will never find anywhere but the Internet.

I would also say to the assembled educators -- you owe it to the next generations, who you serve, to prepare them for the world they will live in as adults, not the world we grew up in. Teach all of them the basics of journalism, no matter what they came to Cal to study. Everyone is now a journalist. You'll see an explosion in your craft, but it will cease to be a profession.

Oh if only I had been given a chance to speak, passionately and carefully, I would have reminded them of the great Bay Area philosopher, Scoop Nisker who wrote the epitaph for the current world of journalism and the anthem for the new -- in a simple sentence of 14 words:

If you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own.

Update: I was bothered by Clay Shirky's piece about the death of newspapers that got so much play over the last few days, and finally figured out why as I wrote this piece. He says that journalism is being replaced by nothing. This is why the press likes his piece so much, it's been their main theme: You'll miss us when we're gone. The problem with this thesis is that while the press has been declining a new decentralized press has been booting up. I talk about this toward the end of today's piece. The sources who no longer trust the journos, or aren't being called by them when they have something to say, are going direct. This is what replaces journalism. It's happening everywhere (Shirky's piece is a great example of it). Sometimes the thing that's hardest to see is what's right in front of you.

EC2 bundling help? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named risky.jpgI'm almost done with my EC2 for Poets labor of love.

The theory is that almost anyone who knows how to use a computer can install and run a server application in the Amazon cloud. We'll find out, I hope. And if it turns out to be easy enough we may be able to boot up a community of applications.

I have one final problem to deal with, and I thought perhaps readers of this blog might be able to help.

I'm bundling a Windows 2003 server with Apache/Win and the OPML Editor. I've got the AMI all bundled up, but there's a problem with the password. Not sure what I'm supposed to do, but when I try to do the Get Administrator Password command from the popup in the AWS dashboard, it comes back saying that it can't get the password because the old admin password is baked into the instance. Pretty confusing.

Trying to find some instructions that explain how you're supposed to clean up so the password can be set by the EC2 system, but not finding it. If anyone has a clue, please post a comment here.

Update: John Ward provided the answer. Thanks!! ;->


Last update: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 8:18 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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