Monday, March 17, 2008
I started this blog in August of 2004, and brought it to Seven Days the following April. I envisioned 802 Online as a clearinghouse for information about Vermont blogs. For years I diligently kept a list of Vermont blogs, and regularly read each of them to keep up with how other local writers, artists, journalists, activists, businesspeople and techies were using this new medium.
That was pretty easy to do back in 2004. There weren't many bloggers here then. I organized a Vermont blogger meetup in October, 2004, and just three people showed up. Three!
But blogs have caught on since then. Today it seems like everyone's got one. And it's become impossible to keep up with them all.
So I'm giving up. Sort of.
As of today, I will no longer be posting content to 802 Online. But I'll still be writing for — and editing — Blurt, the new Seven Days staff blog. We modeled Blurt after Slog, the staff blog for The Stranger in Seattle. All Seven Days staffers can contribute, so there will be a constant stream of new material.
On Blurt, you'll find media criticism, news from local bloggers and interesting clips from YouTube alongside weird gag gift items that our art director likes. We're excited about it because we've been emailing this stuff around our office for years — now we can share it all with you.
I'll be abandoning my Vermont blogroll, but I've begun a Vermont Blog Directory, which includes all of the sites I used to list on 802 Online, plus any that anyone sends my way.
In other words, I'm still keeping track of Vermont blogs. I'm just not reading them or writing about them as much as I used to. I just don't have time anymore. Not only am I part of a team that's trying to shepherd the state's largest weekly newspaper into the digital age — I'm also the parent of a 2-year-old... who has another sibling on the way.
So keep sending me news, tips, and new Vermont blogs — you'll find me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks, everyone, for reading. Hope you like Blurt. Over and out.
Bloggers, Journalists and Sourcing
Here's a little Vermont blogger inside baseball news for you.
One thing about the story immediately jumped out at me — the meaty part was a conversation during which Agency of Natural Resources secretary George Crombie allegedly said he had Intervale Compost "in a noose."
People who have been following the story may recall that John Odum posted that item on Green Mountain Daily. But though VPR obviously used Odum's intel, it didn't cite GMD. Reporter John Dillon told listeners that the conversation appeared "on a web blog."
I was surprised and disappointed that VPR declined to name GMD. Bloggers who raise important issues deserve to be credited, especially when others use their reporting as a jumping off point for a story.
I wrote to VPR this weekend to complain about the omission, and John Dillon wrote back: "We had intended to name the blog and will make that addition in the web version of the story."
I just checked, and they have, in fact, inserted GMD in the online version.
I think the GMD-related bit of the story is worth sharing here, too. It's a good example of how journalists and bloggers can work together to advance the public understanding of an important issue. From the transcript of the VPR report:
On the Green Mountain Daily blog it was stated recently that Agency of Natural Resources Secretary George Crombie told the Intervale that he had the center in a -- quote -- “noose.” For some at the meeting, the meaning was clear: Crombie was going to tighten the regulatory vise on the compost center.
Intervale Director Kit Perkins was there.
(Perkins) ``It was upsetting. But I certainly didn’t get it out publicly. This is not my initiative here. But I will tell the truth and say yes that was said at the meeting.’’
(Dillon) Crombie has said publicly that the Intervale is the wrong place for a composting operation.
But Crombie said he did not use the word noose to describe his agency’s hold on the Intervale.
(Crombie) ``No. No. I would not do that.’’
(Dillon) Perkins said she said heard Crombie say it. She said she was hoping to work with the state on resolving the environmental and archaeological concerns.
As someone who's following this story closely, I was grateful for the opportunity to hear both Perkins and Crombie respond.
Alas, for some reason, the VPR website doesn't actually link to GMD's blog post. And it doesn't name Odum as the source of the tip. So there's still room for improvement.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Vermont YouTube of the Day
I meant to post this a couple days ago, but I got distracted by my crazy job.
Remember Louis Armistead, the UVM senior who did the Davis Center video? We just hired him as a freelancer, and he's making videos every other week for Seven Days. At least, that's the plan.
The first episode of Loutube News features superstar politico-spawn Chelsea Clinton.
Friday, February 29, 2008
Exit Voices in Seven Days
Vermonters will decide these questions and more on Tuesday. And this year's Town Meeting Day promises to be an exciting one.
All the more reason to share your election day stories on the Exit Voices blog!
Exit Voices is a "Vermont blogging experiment" sponsored by the Burlington-area cable access channels — 15 (VCAM), 16 (RETN) and 17 (CCTV). It's moderated once again by Vermont blogger and filmmaker (and VCAM producer) Bill Simmon.
Here's how it works:
Exit Voices is a forum for Vermont voters to come together and discuss the issues and candidates on the ballot.
In the comments section of the Exit Voices posts, answer these two questions:
1. What motivates you to go to your town meeting or polling station and vote?
2. If you could add a comment on your Ballot for your elected officials to read, what would you say?
Alternately, tell us what you said at your Town Meeting, why you refused to vote, or what makes you crazy about our system of democracy.
I've participated in Exit Voices in the past. I love checking in to read other peoples' accounts of their polling places. In fact, I love it so much that I convinced our editors to run some of the comments in the paper.
Next Wednesday's edition of Seven Days will reprint some of the content from the Exit Voices blog.
I've got to start curating these comments by 2 p.m. on Tuesday — sadly we've gotta send the paper to print before the election results are in. So consider this my first plea to all of you Vermont bloggers to post early (and often!). Your words could wind up in Seven Days.
But here's a snazzy article in Business Week about Ben Kaufman.
It even mentions the Burlington Brainstorm, which was apparently not as successful as hoped.
Not all the news is good. Two weeks before TED, Kaufman held brainstorming sessions in Burlington. His plan was to introduce a crowd to Kluster, luring folks into his downtown lair with vouchers for free drinks at local bars. He had hoped that ideas would percolate on the brand-new system, including a project for the TED attendees. More than 100 thirsty and curious visitors made their way in, but their ideas for TED came up short.
I just logged in to check their progress. Looks like they've got a lot more ideas, anyway.
Anyone have more info? Man, that conference sounds cool.
UPDATE: Just looked at Vermont Tiger and found this post by Cairn Cross, about Robin Williams stopping by the table at TED to talk with the klusterers.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Who are the (rotten) people in your neighborhood?
And you thought the iBrattleboro lawsuit was juicy... Some enterprising team of people has created www.rottenneighbor.com, a site where you can tell the world about your rotten neighbors. There are actually a few local entries. I'm putting the comments here, but removing actual addresses.
Old guy that lives in this apt is a pain in the ass. 40-ish guy that complains about noise too much and looks anorexic, get a life ****-head!
The kids have no respect they won't listen and they have had the cops called on them many many times.
dog bits [sic],kids very loud, smoke smells from there, they leave there butts out side for me to pick up, kids have sex out side and smoke, father never home, lots of kids coming and going, land loard don't care, nasty condo to live next to.
Guy's a loser and a drunk.
These neighbors are also very nice they are polite and considerate and also has helped me jump my car many times Kudos to them.
Why build a site like this? Here's what the founders say:
What We Believe
- Real estate agents are not obligated to disclose problem neighbors, leaving clients in the dark
- Information on bad neighbors should be made freely and easily available to everyone
- The internet can offer unique, valuable guidance to home buyers and sellers
- The more rotten neighbors you contribute, the better the service for everyone.
You can comment on these opinions and report them abusive, but this site still seems risky. Can you really trust these anonymous tipsters to give good info? I like the Front Porch Forum model of neighborhood knowledge better, though, alas, you have to live in a neighborhood to see comments from neighborhood residents.
I must admit, I am tempted to log on and tell people about the drug dealing that goes on in my neighborhood.
I just told my co-workers about this site, and read the comments above out loud. They wondered how it will play in Vermont. Says Paula: "It's a good way to get your head blown off by your neighbor." Yup.
Thanks, Boing Boing.
Kluster is online. Not much there yet, but you can go check it out.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Check out this audio slideshow I produced this week, with help from Andrew Sawtell, one of our designers (who is also a photographer). It accompanies Pamela Polston's cover story about photographer Näkki Goranin and her photobooth obsession.
Näkki owns a stunning collection of discarded photobooth snapshots. She's got about 3000 images, a fraction of which made it into her book, American Photobooth, just released from W.W. Norton. Some of the others are on display through March at Pine Street Art Works.
If you like found art, you'll love this exhibit. We're lucky to have it here in Burlington, so go see it while you can. Here's a peek.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
VT Blogger on Homeless Marathon
Vermont blogophiles will guess that the headline refers to Morgan Brown of Norsehorse's Home Turf.
Morgan is an activist, a blogger and a fearless communicator. I've lost count of the number of times he's emailed to alert me to a new Vermont blog, or an important news story.
On Wednesday, Morgan will be taking part in the national Homeless Marathon:
WHAT IS THE HOMELESSNESS MARATHON?
It is a 14 hour radio broadcast featuring the voices and stories of homeless people from around the U.S. The Homelessness Marathon features live call-ins all night long via a national toll-free number. The Homelessness Marathon is available for free to all non-commercial stations.
Morgan sent me this message via Facebook:
WGDR 91.1 FM in Plainfield, VT will be airing the 11th annual homelessness marathon from 8PM to 1AM and I will be in the WDGR studio from 9PM to 1AM.
Listen in tomorrow night and support Morgan and this important event.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Journalism without ads?
Sorry for the blogging hiatus. I really should have taken a day off after returning from San Fran, just to get my ducks in a row, but I didn't. And now I'm paying for it.
Here's an interesting opinion piece about journalism from Edward Wasserman, a j-school prof at my alma mater, Washington and Lee University. Incidentally, I didn't actually study much journalism there — I was an English major.
Wasserman wonders, "Can journalism live without ads?" I wonder that, too.
Modern computing offers unparalleled capacities to track and calculate. Imagine a vast menu of news and commentary offered to you ad-free for pennies per item, the charges micro-billed, added up and presented like a utility bill at month's end. The money that journalism providers got would depend on their audience.
Plus, if you uploaded comment or video in response, to the degree it was downloaded by others you'd get credited for it -- compensated like any other provider.
Interesting. I looked into the micro-billing option a few years ago, when I was working for cartoonist Alison Bechdel. At the time, it seemed that there weren't any good ways to micro-bill. Has that changed?
I wish there were a way to either 1) allow people to pay a small fee if they choose or 2) make some things pay per view (like, pay a few cents per view), in exchange for dispensing with ads online.
I'm not sure how I feel about it all yet — as a media-lover or as a media company employee — but I'd like to know more about what's out there.
I should add that I'm not really sure that removing ads is a good idea — not just because they pay my salary, but also because I use them as a source of information. A different type of information, to be sure, but they're a source nonetheless.
Saturday, February 09, 2008
Burlington Brainstorm: Friday Night
I'm a homebody, so I went early. I was there from 7:30-8:30 p.m., so if the party got going later on, I wasn't there to see it.
But I was able to test the system, and talk to Ben and some of his design team — including the curiously named Mat Poprocki. Yes, that's really his name. The first photo is Ben, the second one shows (from left to right) designers Mat Poprocki and David Hitchcock.
This was definitely worth an hour of my time, if only because the set-up was so swanky, and I got to play with something new. Although the "free drinks" were actually drink tickets redeemable at local bars. Too bad.
They're not launching kluster until February 18 — this was actually the first time the system was live and open to the public for testing. "Pre-beta-testing" they said. And it's true — a few things didn't work, and I found a typo, but what I saw was still pretty cool.
They asked that I not say too much about how the system works since they're not going public for a week or so, but I can tell you that it's an application that enables group collaboration around ideas. "Anything better served by asking a group," says Ben.
Ben, by the way, is 21. He dropped out of Champlain College and is working on this full-time. He's got 12 people working with him — they got funding to develop this from outfits like Vermont's own Fresh Tracks Capital. In other words, they're exactly the type of business that we saw at Vermont 3.0 a couple weeks ago.
They were asked to take kluster to the TED conference (Technology, Entertainment, Design), which I've never heard of — possibly because I'm not "one of the 1000 most remarkable people in the world." The gathering takes place at the end of the month. According the the schedule, speakers include Al Gore, Amy Tan, Dave Eggers, Samantha Powers and oceanographer Robert Ballard — the guy who discovered the Titanic on the bottom of the Atlantic.
The kluster crew will be there to use their collaboration tool to help these thinkers and doers share their collective wisdom. It'll be interesting to see what they come up with — if it takes off there and people actually use it. Good luck, guys!
You can still get a sneak preview tonight (Saturday) starting at 5 p.m. in the offices above Stone Soup and Bueno Y Sano on College Street in Burlington (the corner of College and S. Winooski Ave.).
Friday, February 08, 2008
Their publicist called me the other day to pitch it as something we should cover. From what I can tell, it's an application that allows people to bring their ideas to the community online, and then use the feedback they receive to refine the idea. The publicist says the idea is based on model Kaufman used at Mophie.
They're launching this thing at an upcoming Ted conference, but before they do, they're looking for ideas to test. So they're hosting a Burlington Brainstorm this weekend in their office on College Street, above Bueno Y Sano and Stone Soup. Starts Friday at 7 p.m. until whenever, and continues Saturday starting at 5 p.m. to whenever.
They promise music, whiteboards, wii and free drinks. I'm hoping to go for a bit one of those nights. Should be interesting.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
YouTube of the Day
A couple weeks ago, I posted a video about a German TV crew that interviewed Bolton cartoonist Alison Bechdel. Well now the German video is posted on YouTube, so here it is. And Don the Jonesville postmaster makes an appearance! Yay!
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
WCAX report on iBrattleboro
Yesterday a film crew from WCAX came down to our office and interviewed me for a story about the iBrattleboro libel lawsuit.
I guess they wanted to get Peter Freyne, but he was too busy writing his column, so he referred them to me.
I know they aired the story, because some friends from Fairfield called to say they saw me on the news. I don't have a TV, though, so I didn't catch it. And I'm a Mac user, so I'm having a hard time playing the video from their site.
One quibble — WCAX misspelled my name in the script on their website, despite the fact that they had me SAY my name at the beginning of the taping. Sheesh.
Also weird — they have three pictures of our office (but none of me) on their website. Why? It's not a story about Seven Days. That just seems weird. I mean, Ryan and Andrew and Bob and Diane are all cute and fun, but really.
Sunday, February 03, 2008
Bad News: Bill Simmon's film about local political blogger Steve Benen (of The Carpetbagger Report) was rejected by South by Southwest. Sorry, Bill!
Good News: Bill wrote a blog post about his rejection, and provided a link to his film on YouTube.
Here it is, the Goldstone-award-winning short film, Digital Pamphleteer.
For more background on Steve in print, here's an article I wrote about him in 2006, called Posting Truth to Power.
Friday, February 01, 2008
News from San Fran
Five of us from Seven Days are in San Francisco right now, at the AAN Web Publishing Conference. I'm getting lots of good ideas, and actually saw some of the city after we got here on Wednesday.
I couldn't really enjoy our tour, though — I had a ton of work to do. I wrote and sent the 7D NOW yesterday from our hotel. Then yesterday afternoon, Eva Sollberger and I did a presentation on how to do editorial web video.
But that's all done now. I had a glass of wine last night and felt like I was going to pass out.
In other news, we launched our iSpy Facebook widget yesterday. I'm psyched we finally got it up, and curious to see how that goes. Thanks to Efe Cimrin for getting us started on it — Efe actually developed a prototype, but we didn't end up using the one he made. Thanks anyway, Efe. You rock!
Now I'm going to enjoy the city for a couple hours before the next session.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
I wasn't expecting much, yet I was blown away. Before me and beside me were folks from the gazillions of little software companies right here in Vermont, representatives from the universities and colleges right here in Burlington, entrepreneurs, corporate types — all with one message.
The message I got was this. We are in a new age. It's not enough to be arts and literature-savvy. It's not enough to be a math or technology guru. The most successful people are not the ones with the bright, shiny MBAs, but the ones who know how to figure stuff out...how to ask questions...how to envision new applications to solve old problems...those who are not afraid of technology, but also know how to build a relationship with a human being.
I agree. The people I want to work with are the ones who experiment, who ask questions, who see problems and start working on solutions. People who get art, who get technology, and aren't afraid to try new things.
I wrote a profile of Physician's Computer Company last week for the Tech Biz Issue. I didn't put this in the article, but at one point, I asked Chip Hart what PCC looks for in candidates for its entry level jobs. He told me the most important thing is that people are smart. That they can pick things up quickly and think on their feet.
I think that's what Ann's getting at, too.
Rocking Out at Vermont 3.0
I can't believe I haven't mentioned this yet, but the Vermont 3.0 Creative/Tech Career Jam on Saturday really rocked.
Even Governor Jim Douglas got into the act! Here's a picture of my most memorable moment from the day — it's a shot of the guv attempting Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll" on Guitar Hero. I'm the brown-haired chick in the tomato colored sweater in the background. Thanks to Patrick Martell of the Vermont Software Developers' Alliance for the picture.
The guy standing next to Governor Douglas is Dave Contois, of Contois Music. Dave teaches kids to play guitar using Guitar Hero. He's one of the only music educators in the country who's harnessing the popularity of the game to get kids to learn instruments. Pretty amazing stuff, actually. Dan Bolles' story on him is the most popular article on our website this week — it's getting a lot of traffic from reddit.com.
Dave Contois was showing the Governor his set-up shortly after Vermont 3.0 opened, around 10 a.m. I happened to be standing there because I was introducing Dave's presentation on his teaching techniques later in the morning, and I was coming over to introduce myself.
I saw the governor talking with Dave and said, "You should try it." He shook his head and said "no, no, not me." But then Dave Contois was like, "No, you HAVE to try it. It's so EASY. I'll set it up for you. Here, you HAVE to try it." The guv couldn't refuse.
He was a good sport. He gave it a try. He hit a few notes. But ultimately, the game interrupted him to say "Song Failed." Ouch! In all fairness, that happened to me the first time I tried it, too. I wish he'd taken another crack at it, because it takes a few minutes to figure out how to work the guitar, but he was done. "That's why I didn't want to try," he said sheepishly. "I guess I'm not a guitar hero."
But you could be, Governor, you could be!
That's when Dave Contois' 7-year-old son Trevor said, "Let me show you how to do it." The kid set the game to expert and — of course — played it flawlessly.
A bunch of Vermont blogs have covered the event in one way or another. Bill Simmon was there. Julie Lerman spoke at the event and put up a few posts about it. Here's a local PR guy who was impressed with our use of social media to promote the thing. Here's a short report from Matthew Davis, the dude who drew the spaceman. Here's a more detailed report from Larry Keyes, of the vtSDA.
And a great summary from someone who wasn't involved in organizing this thing — Cairn Cross of Vermont Tiger. An excerpt:
There was one theme that emerged time and again. Namely, sheer amazement at the number of interesting companies exhibiting and the fact that most were not well known. My job puts me in touch with optimistic entrepreneurs and high-growth Vermont companies every day so its not news to me that there are some fascinating things going on in the state. Increasingly though, when I read mainstream Vermont media I feel like my daily experience is a parallel universe to a Vermont of failing companies and fleeing young people.
I looked in vain for an article about the Career Jam and the exhibiting companies in the Free Press online on Sunday morning but did not see anything.
That’s unfortunate … and typical.
Yup. Although honestly, I think the Free Press didn't report on it because Seven Days was so heavily involved in organizing it. I didn't see him, but I heard that their new publisher was there talking to people, and they had a table at the event, so they definitely knew about it. They actually wrote a short article about it on Friday that appeared in the back of section A. Not surprisingly, it mentioned that there would be media companies like the Burlington Free Press at the event... but did not mention Seven Days. Ha!
Here's Eva Sollberger's video wrap-up, for those who missed the event and want to see what it was like. And from the traditional media — here's a report from WCAX and a preview from VPR. There will definitely be more of these shindigs. Thanks to everyone who made it possible!
Monday, January 28, 2008
Vegas Vacation Update
Thanks to everyone who expressed concerns about my parents. Turns out they're fine.
Better than fine, actually. They were staying on the 7th floor, so none of their stuff was damaged. They got it all back. And they got to spend a free night in the nearby Bellagio, which, they tell me, is very posh.
So apart from the initial terror of seeing flames leaping from the top of their hotel, they had an ok time of it. Not sure how much money they lost gambling, though. I think I'm glad they don't tell me...
Friday, January 25, 2008
Fire at Vegas Monte Carlo!
The Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas is on fire. There are flames leaping out of the top of it. Looks pretty bad. I'm watching it on my laptop in my office.
I'm posting about this because I just got a phone call from my mom, who wanted to let me know that she's ok. She and my dad, and some of my aunts and uncles are in Vegas this week, and are all staying at the Monte Carlo. They're fine, apparently. They've been evacuated from the casino, are standing nearby.
The pictures on CNN.com are pretty scary. I'm glad they're all outside. Their stuff might be toast, though.
Not surprisingly, the CNN is asking people to email and send photos or anecdotes. Citizen journalists are always useful in disasters...
Monday, January 21, 2008
AAN video presentation
Next week, I'm headed to San Francisco with three of my co-workers for the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies' web publishing conference. Eva Sollberger and I are giving a presentation on how altweeklies can integrate video into their editorial operations.
I bring this up for two reasons:
1) To excuse the fact that I've been neglecting my blog.
2) To ask for input, should you have any. What do you like or dislike about the way Seven Days does video? We're going to be citing examples of great newspaper videos that we like. Any recommendations?