I was asked why I care that the NYT fired Donald McNeil. It's pretty simple. We all have an interest in how journalism works. They like to say that journalism is a essential part of democracy, but do the people have any influence over journalism? To really press the point, democracy is about the people, right? You can't be of democracy without being of the people. We have a role in this, which journalism hasn't embraced, in fact by fighting Facebook they are actively undermining our participation. And when they fire a great reporter who helps people, I, simply as a person and nothing more, have a stake in that, as does everyone who depends on good information from news orgs. And sure I care how 150 reporters at the NY Times feel, but I don't care abput them that much, compared to how much I care about the service McNeil was providing. #
Another reason the firing of McNeil was such a concern is this question: Would the 150 people at the NY use their power to cancel against the people they cover, for an infraction like McNeil's. Are we ready to accept that as a proper role of reporters at a news organization?#
Part of program design is checking your assumptions. Sometimes things that conceptually seem like a lot of work, might not take a lot of time to run. A great example of this was in the early 00s, I wanted to add a feature to Radio UserLand that was eventually called upstreaming. It would watch a folder and mirror any changes to a server. That way you could maintain a website on your local hard disk. I had investigated ways to do it through the operating system, but it was too complicated, or not reliable, I don't remember why, but it wasn't feasible to use it. So I decided to write a bit of script code that watched the folder, the simple dumb way, to see what I was up against. To my surprise it took virtually no time to scan a large nested folder looking for changed files. It was something you could do every few seconds without a performance hit. The product shipped, thousands of people used it, upstreaming worked. I try to keep that in mind. Always check your assumptions. 💥#
Last update: Tuesday February 9, 2021; 9:46 AM EST.
You know those obnoxious sites that pop up dialogs when they think you're about to leave, asking you to subscribe to their email newsletter? Well that won't do for Scripting News readers who are a discerning lot, very loyal, but that wouldn't last long if I did rude stuff like that. So here I am at the bottom of the page quietly encouraging you to sign up for the nightly email. It's got everything from the previous day on Scripting, plus the contents of the linkblog and who knows what else we'll get in there. People really love it. I wish I had done it sooner. And every email has an unsub link so if you want to get out, you can, easily -- no questions asked, and no follow-ups. Go ahead and do it, you won't be sorry! :-)