aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, June 04, 2005
Craigslist dates back to the days of the boutique Internet shop, a time I fondly recall. It’s managed to succeed while sticking to the ethos of that earlier time, as exemplified today by its Peace sign favicon and this Web 2.0 session from last October: Nerd Values—Doing well by doing good—or the benefits of sticking with Web 0.0 principles in a Web 2.0 world. Worth a listen via ITConversations.
Just a hint of Nerd Values talk in the Times article today:
THESE days, triple-digit annual growth rates are rare among major Web sites. Meet that rarity: Craigslist.
Exceptional, too, is the ability to draw 10 million unique visitors each month without ever relying on venture capital and equity markets. Or the ability to attain fourth place among general-interest portals without ever spending a penny on marketing...Today, it has sites for 120 cities in 25 countries and serves up 2.4 billion pages a month...Craig Newmark, its founder, was, and remains, protective of the noncommercial character of the site...99.2 percent of Craigslist advertisements remain free.
With both eBay’s Kijiji and a newspaper industry whose classified profits have been decimated gunning for it, Craigslist’s Nerd Values will be put to the test. I sure would like to see them continue to thrive.
Gay Like Me
Straight friends recently moved away. Their house, on a heavily traveled downtown corner, had gay flags as drapes in the large living room windows. Now I learn there is a term, “ambiguation,” for what they were (perhaps consciously) doing. And they were even greater allies than I knew:
Ambiguation has long been deployed by gay, lesbian and bisexual people when they are closeted. But coming out can be ambiguating, too, because people who come out are bound to defy the preconceptions of their audience...If gay peoples’ “coming out” is ambiguating, so too might be heterosexual peoples’ “going in.” This “going in” for heterosexual people could include a variety of moves: permitting confusion about whether or not they are gay; foregoing opportunities to identify opposite sex partners as spouses; making affirmative statements that align them with gay, lesbian, and bisexual people, and not qualifying those statements with disclosure of their own heterosexuality. And just as [white author of 1959’s Black Like Me, John Howard] Griffin promoted civil rights for African-Americans by even temporarily assuming a black identity, so too heterosexuals can promote gay rights by tolerating greater ambiguity about sexual orientation...consider our friend (a lesbian we’ll call Sarah) in Madison, Wisconsin. Vandals broke a window and burned the rainbow flag Sarah had flown from her front porch. When Sarah talked with her neighbors about the attack on her home, one of her neighbors, who is heterosexual, suggested that all of the houses on the street should put up rainbow flags to show solidarity and support. The flags would say to the vandals, in effect: “Do you want to persecute gay people? Well, you’ll have to come after all of us, too.”
I’m sure going to miss those friends.
The whole post, from Jennifer Brown at Lessig Blog relating to her new book (with Ian Ayres), Straightforward: How to Mobilize Heterosexual Support for Gay Rights, includes a list of do’s and don’t’s to help distinguish, for example, ambiguation from misappropriation of gay identity.
Read it, then go ahead, go out and let someone think you’re gay today!
The Record Effect
Alex Ross, writing in The New Yorker on how technology has transformed the sound of music:
Music has achieved onrushing omnipresence in our world: millions of hours of its history are available on disk; rivers of digital melody flow on the Internet; MP3 players with ten thousand songs can be tucked in a back pocket or a purse. Yet, for most of us, music is no longer something we do ourselves, or even watch other people doing in front of us. It has become a radically virtual medium, an art without a face...For music to remain vital, recordings have to exist in balance with live performance, and, these days, live performance is by far the smaller part of the equation. Perhaps we tell ourselves that we listen to CDs in order to get to know the music better, or to supplement what we get from concerts and shows. But, honestly, a lot of us don’t go to hear live music that often...It’s just so much easier to curl up in the comfy chair with a Beethoven quartet or Billie Holiday. But would Beethoven or Billie ever have existed if people had always listened to music the way we listen now?
Blame Change the media structure
Miller considers it a problem of a Media focused more on heat than light. I believe the problem goes much deeper than that. The utter disrespect for the truth exhibited by all media is the heart of the problem. Liars are not called liars. Falsehoods are not called falsehoods. What passes for reporting these days is “Republicans say _. Democrats say ___.” When someone spews falsehoods, there is not a Media outlet in the country that will say ‘that is false.’ Not the New York Times, not the Washington Post, not any of them.
Crooks and Liars agrees and so do I. BUT I would blame market-driven-corporate-owned media. And remember please that I’m a fan of the MSM who believes they do many things well. They’re only acting in a way that serves their best interest. A purely commercial media is just not up to that task.
We need to build a vibrant public media. Bill Moyers’ kicked off his speech to the National Conference on Media Reform by quoting Pat Aufderheide in the April issue of In These Times:
This is a moment when public media outlets can make a powerful case for themselves. Public radio, public TV, cable access, public DBS channels, media arts centers, youth media projects, nonprofit Internet news services ... low-power radio and webcasting are all part of a nearly invisible feature of today’s media map: the public media sector. They exist not to make a profit, not to push an ideology, not to serve customers, but to create a public—a group of people who can talk productively with those who don’t share their views, and defend the interests of the people who have to live with the consequences of corporate and governmental power.”
It’s time to use all the persuasive skills we can muster to get out there and make that case.
James Joyner points to an American Forces Information Service report on the Gallup Poll released this week showing that Americans have more confidence in the military than in any other institution. His conclusion:
Considering the wave after wave of bad press resulting from the Abu Ghraib and Gitmo scandals, this is impressive, indeed. Apparently, most Americans understand that most service members are honorable professionals putting themselves in harm’s way for their country and that the reason outrageous behavior makes the news is because they’re exceptions to the norm. One sometimes wonders if our journalists have the same sense of perspective.
Chris Bowers looked at the same poll much differently. He’s concerned that while Americans express confidence in democracy as an abstract concept, they have little confidence in democratic institutions, preferring instead those “that are not only undemocratic (the military, the police, organized religion), but even frequently rely upon force for their authority:”
What is perhaps most disturbing about this poll is that along with rising confidence in the military, the nation is expressing rising confidence in the police. In fact, at 63% this year and 64% last year, confidence in the police has reached an all-time high. If you couple rising confidence in the police and the military with declining confidence in the criminal justice system, elected institutions and the news media, you have the makings of a populace that would be comfortable with a police state. Now, while I personally think comparisons to our current government and Nazi Germany are absurd, offensive and based in ignorance, the growing national comfort with authoritarian and totalitarian measures cannot be ignored.