Still In Recovery Mode

We’re no wild party people, but I am still recovering from the lack of sleep and sensory onslaught of hanging out in Vegas for a few days. The coolest part of the whole thing was seeing my mom give her presentation at WPPI in front of 200-300 people.

These people were taking notes. I’m not sure I have ever written down anything my mom said. Lots of fun selling her stuff, too. What’s more fun than watching people learn from your mom? Selling them the tutorial cd so they can learn more.

Anyway, Las Vegas is everything Baudrillard would expect: no reality necessary, just a thin plastic sheet that resembles reality and takes all your money. (Actually, we left $16 up, but that’s irrelevant. Thank you Aztec-themed slot machine.)

By the way, everything in Vegas is “just through the casino,” but the veteran employees will never actually use those words. The lifers just point you in a direction and assume the casino will appear to be as invisible to you as it is to them.

For the record, I only saw ONE Elvis Impersonator, and I was unimpressed.

St. Pat’s Day Survival Report

Maybe I shouldn’t have been so flippant in recalling my music video days yesterday. I ended up spending the copious majority of 15 hours behind the bar yesterday. I don’t have too much green dye on my hands though, so that’s a plus. And yes, the first phone call of the day was the ubiquitous “Are you serving corned beef and cabbage today?”

In a few hours, it’s back into the mouth of the beast.

PS – maybe the real meaning of convergence is that it’s what happens when St. Patrick’s Day coincides with the first day of the NCAA basketball tournament and the last day of finals at UCSC before Spring Break.

Jerry Brown gets all “hyphee”

Jerry Brown, Oakland Mayor and my favorite blogging politician, is teaching me a bunch of Bay Area urban slang. I feel so nineteen-ninety-now when I think of everything I’ve missed being this far away from the hip-hop game. The last music video I ever worked on was Fabolous’ first big hit. So Mayor Brown’s rant about “convoys of cars in ‘hyphee‘ mode” threw me for a loop. That’s his link to the Urban Dictionary, not mine. So now I know what hyphee means, and clicked on crunk so I could finally catch on to what that was all about. Yiddish? Chinese? Apparently everyone wants a piece. Quoth the NorCal undergrads: “It’s like, hella, y’know, like hella.”

Sound of Urchin

Stuck in my head = Spirit of the Radio by Rush (trust me, you know the song: the words of the prophets profits are written on the studio walls) as covered by Sound of Urchin with Jack Black not resisting the urge to join them on stage. The Urchin in question is a band that Robbie Seahag plays guitar in now, but I do not know if he was present for any of the famed “opening for Tenacious D” gigs… the Urchin/Black mp3 is here.

Now Playing: Off The Map

On a personal note, a movie I gave about seven weeks of my life to as a Dolly Grip has opened in the usual “selected cities” and is getting great reviews.

Off The Map was lots of fun to work on, and good work. Campbell Scott directed, Juan Ruiz-Anchia was the director of photography (and thus one of my many bosses), and I was part of a great New Mexican union crew mostly from IATSE Local 480.

Reviews here and here.

Busy Days, Busy Nights

Precious little new content popping up here, I know, but (excuse coming) I have been working on setting up my mom’s blog… She’ll be speaking at WPPI next week, and I’ll be working the merch table in the back of the Las Vegas Ballroom at Bally’s Hotel and Casino Tuesday March 22nd.

Meanwhile, I’m thumping away at David Gauntlett’s Media, Gender, and Identity for my grad class tomorrow night, which is difficult because I think most of what he says is crap, and I’m taking lots of notes on WHY. Well, not everything is crap – there’s lots of good theory in here (Foucault, Queer Theory, etc.) – but he spends the first two chapters of the book ranting about how effects research is worthless, and then proceeds to trail off every time he starts to mention the “Media” element referenced in the title of the book. Really. Instead of actually talking about how all these neat ideas about gender and identity interact with the media (regardless of who is creating who), he just ignores any relationship.

Also, there’s the next article for my Internet Info Gathering class, which involves asking a question to newsgroups and an “Ask The Expert” sort of site linked to, and then writing about how you got your answers, the interaction with the sources, etc. I plan to ignore the “gee, the guys at are really nice” angle and just write an article on my topic “Whither Shortwave Radio?” using the, er, sources that I’ve asked the question to as what they are: sources. Seems simple enough to me…

And of course, this Thursday is St. Patrick’s Day, when we Americans celebrate something about snakes or Ireland or the Pied Piper or…oh whatever let’s just get drunk. I’m pouring all day, as usual, over at my minimum wage job. If you’re in Santa Cruz on Thursday, you’ll be there. Heck, the first three people who actually say to the bearded bartender (me) “I read your J-School Blog” will earn themselves a free beer on my dime. Be my guest.

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Print vs. Online – A Question of Class?


When Robert Scoble spoke at SJSU a few weeks ago, he asked the room full of J-School students how many thought they would be working for a newspaper when they graduate. Lots of hands. Scoble tried to explain that everyone with their hand up might work for a news organization, but not a conventional dead-tree oriented newspaper. The few professors in the room took that a little hard, and have been batting the idea around on a superficial level. The prof. who teaches my grad class brought up Scoble’s comments at the Poynter Institute seminar on Convergence he attended last month. He reported back the general “harumph” let out by the editors and educators in response. Steve Sloan mentioned it, and Scoble picked the conversation back up, asking his readers whether they agree or disagree that print is history.

My Reply:
(posted as a comment on Scoble’s entry)

I agree that newspapers will involve less dead-tree-technology in the near future, but I hope that print never vanishes completely.

For me, it’s a question of access. As long as there are cities full of workers who commute by bus and train, I want a newsstand at the entrance to every station selling the (ugh) NY Post and NY Daily News for 50 cents or a buck apiece – whatever the price is up to now.

Unless you can supply every inner-city resident with an inexpensive tablet PC and free city-wide broadband wireless, forget about eliminating print.

Will papers have to figure out a way to turn a profit? Yes. Do I subscribe to a newspaper? No.

I’m a grad student in Mass Communications at SJSU, and I was at both your talk and Prof. Craig’s presentation on the Poynter seminar. Your bit about none of the J-School kids working for print has gone largely misread here – but rest assured that a few people got it.

Forget about reading the analog/digital paper on the patio with your coffee – the sooner this becomes a question about class and access, the better. Otherwise, who is the news for? Preaching to the elite = preaching to the choir? Maybe.

Has the debate over blogging v. journalism, online v. print, digital v. analog passed over the question of access? I understand that the “early adopters” of technology are usually the ones who can afford it, but what purpose do bright ideas like “blogging as the long tail of communication” or “free access to the online archives of every newspaper” serve if the people who have the most to gain from the information still don’t have access to it?

Here’s what we need to truly democratize information:
1. Free broadband internet access in the poorest parts of the country/world.
2. Inexpensive/subsidized/donated/free computers and a tiny bit of training for the same
poorest parts of the country/world.

That’s it. Let the market handle the rest. If all the meta-bloggers and media critics can be so vocal about problems with privacy and copyright issues, then Let’s Start Talking About Access. How about it?

Update: as if on cue, Scoble points to this conversation going on at Rebecca MacKinnon’s blog. Her question is “So how do we get more diverse voices into the blogosphere?” The comments touch on some of the ideas about access that I’m thinking about.