« May 2005 | Main | July 2005 »

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Podcasters interview Burlington Telecom Director

Two weeks ago, Tim Nulty , director of Burlington Telecom, the city's municipally owned fiber-optic network, stopped by the Radio Bean coffeehouse to take part in Bill Simmon's Friday Coffeeblogging podcast. Nulty, fyi, is a former chief economist for the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, a former senior economist and project manager for the World Bank, and worked for two years as a senior policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Energy. The podcast is available here  (thanks, Bill).

This is a noteworthy event. If you haven't tried podcasts yet, try listening to this one (ideally on iTunes 4.9). I haven't heard it yet, so I can't vouch for it, but I was there, listening in, while they recorded most of it, and I was impressed. Why? Because these guys aren't professional journalists. They're not reporters, or talk show hosts. They're just a few nerdy guys who sit in a coffeeshop on Friday afternoons, talking into their overlarge microphones while IMing friends on their laptops. And yet, here they are, broadcasting the first real extended interview with a guy who's in charge of a controversial and innovative multi-million dollar municipal project that's raising eyebrows  across the nation.

It worked, I thought, because though they're not reporters, the fcb guys are Nulty's second most critical audience (behind the pro-privatization industry types). These guys know more about the technological capabilities of Nulty's network than most reporters — including this one — ever will. The Burlington Telecom Project hasn't received nearly enough scrutiny or publicity. The public really doesn't understand what's going on or why. I think that's partly because news reporters don't know how to report on it. It's complicated, technological stuff, and they'd don't get it. And for the most part, they don't try. Obviously technological issues aren't on the radar screen  of most of the Vermont media.

We need an extended public conversation about these issues, and right now, you can't look to WCAX, or VPR, or the Burlington Free Press to find it. But you can download this podcast. This is new media, flexing its muscles. The old guard had better start paying attention.

June 30, 2005 at 09:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Is that a sex toy?

Sarah at the 8th Nerve has posted a loving ode  to her bedroom companion.

June 29, 2005 at 08:19 PM in VT Blogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

All your award are belong to us

This week I received the guidelines for the Annual Vermont Press Association Awards — for 2004. Finally! I've been pestering my editors for weeks, wondering if they'd gotten the word yet. And I've been checking the VPA website, but, uh, they don't really have a website. Am I the only person here who's keen on contests?

So I got the guidelines, which provide a glimpse into what matters most to the media minds of Vermont. The categories, most of which are separated into divisions for dailies and non-dailies, include: arts criticism, statehouse reporting, best local story, best state story, feature writing, photography awards, sportswriting, headline writing, editorial writing, a rookie reporter awards, and a general excellence award.

Wait, you say, what about an award for best website, or most interactive website, or best use of new media technologies?  "Next year," says Vermont Guardian  editor Shay Totten, who's on the VPA board.

Ok, so I know the VPA is really small, and basically run by a small group of people, but c'mon folks. This is a state-wide organization. We can do better. Can't we?

The deadline for the VPA awards is July 15; winners will be announced at the VPA meeting in September. I'm open to suggestions about which stories 7D should enter. If anyone even remembers stories that appeared up to a year and a half ago.

And speaking of contests...

June 29, 2005 at 10:43 AM in Media/Keeping an eye on the competition | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Fisking Grokster

I know the Supreme Court's recent MGM V Grokster opinion is ruffling feathers out there in Internet land. And I'd like to talk about why, I really would, but it's just too freaking hot. And I'm exhausted — I just spent the last week or so immersed in the virtual underworld of online gambling, and I need a breather. Actually, I need to go swimming, which I think I might do now.

If you'd rather sit in front of your computer pondering what the Supremes have decided about  copyright law and filesharing,  check out The Pages Within , where Greg Sampson, Vermont Law School student (and paramour of Jessamyn ) dissects the ruling. He writes about it here , here , and here .

You might like The Pages Within so much that you'll want to vote it Best Vermont Blog. Or not.

June 29, 2005 at 07:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Voices for the Lake

Last Saturday, my partner and I went to the Chew-Chew Festival on the Waterfront, mainly to check out the bizarre Court TV sideshow  that I wrote about for this week's paper (available online tomorrow). While we were there, we stopped by ECHO, the lake aquarium and science center for the first time — admission was half price this weekend.

Upon entering the center, we saw a sign by the door advertising ECHO's new blog, Voices for the Lake, which debuted Saturday. They're hoping Vermonters will use the site to promote a public dialogue about the state of the lake. "Your voice counts!" reads the welcome message at the top of the blog. "Use this online journal to share your concerns, opinions and ideas about improving the health of Lake Champlain, and to discover what others are thinking and feeling about the Lake."

It's exciting that one of Vermont's premier attractions is using a blog to encourage a public conversation. It might help remind people that we all need to take some responsibility for keeping our water clean. And it might initiate a few more Vermonters into the blogosphere, helping to answer the questions, "What the heck is a blog? And why would I want to read one?"

The public conversation seems to be off to a bit of a slow start — they've only got 2 comments so far. I think it's smart for other Vermont bloggers to help these folks get the dialogue under way. Why not stop by and leave a comment?

June 28, 2005 at 01:26 PM in Got blog? | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Friday, June 24, 2005

Which halls to monitor?

Now that the Vermont legislature's on vacay, Darren Allen of Hall Monitor doesn't have much to do but twiddle his thumbs. And, uh, write for the Rutland Herald.

So what should our intrepid mainstream journalist friend say in his big-shot, daily newspaper-sponsored blog? What new halls should he monitor?
This is him, by the way, in a very cute picture from a Kentucky Derby party, emailed to me by his girlfriend, who possesses an excellent sense of humor.

You can vote to give Darling Darren the Daisy for Best Vermont Blog , if you so desire.

June 24, 2005 at 05:00 PM in Media/Keeping an eye on the competition | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Opposition to Burlington Telecom

Did everybody see former state legislator Frank Mazur's letter in this week's 7D, opposing Burlington Telecom? Mazur says the city shouldn't compete with the private sector because "nearly everyone in Burlington who wants broadband can have it through cable, phone, wireless and even satellite." Hmm. That may be true, but what about all those people who are complaining about their service?

He also says: "Burlington and Vermont's economic competitiveness is also at stake. The speed at which technology is changing means Burlington risks having obsolete equipment very quickly."

Interesting. From what I understand, the folks at Burlington Telecom aren't investing in a bunch of hardware — they're laying fiber optic cable that will surpass the capacity of anything that's available through the commercial carriers, or anything that will be available in the forseeable future. When I interviewed him for the 7D cover story a few weeks back, Project Director Tim Nulty told me they're building "the network for the next 100 years."

But Mazur has at least one valid concern: "Finally, because Burlington is Vermont's largest city, the city's venture has the potential to "cherry pick" a readily available and profitable market, leaving the more costly and underserved rural areas to the private competitors."

Sharon Gillett of MIT told me that we should expect Adelphia and Verizon et. al. to lower their prices for Burlington residents, to compete with the city's system, and that they'd pass the costs off to other parts of the state. And it's true, Adelphia has started an aggressive pricing campaign to lure Burlington customers before Burlington Telecom gets going. So this could happen. But should that keep Burlington from buildling their network?

Incidentally, does anyone remember the press conference at the statehouse in March, when Frank Mazur introduced the Vermont chapter of FreedomWorks? It's a conservative anti-tax group backed by Dick Armey and other prominent right-wing politicians. fyi.

June 24, 2005 at 09:21 AM in Wi-fi/Broadband in VT | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Lucy loves Dilly

Time for a little mindless cat-loves-dog blogging.


That's from this morning, but I got a million of 'em. Our housemate's cat Lucy (he's a boy) loves to lick our dog Dilly (a girl). Who can resist this interspecies, transgender romance? They're clearly perfect for each other.

Are there other VT pet bloggers, besides Ntodd, and Jeff?

June 23, 2005 at 05:14 PM in House Rules | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Blogger goes to camp...

...as a counselor. Andrew from A Quick Word From the Far Side of the Galaxy is a counselor at Camp Abenaki this summer. Seems that camp life isn't as rustic as you might remember:

I have my own cabin, which is the only Village Director cabin with running water. I also have a closet and a main room, with my computer hooked up and a TV ready for an X-Box to be hooked up to. It's great.

Wonder if the kids get to bring their Playstations?

June 23, 2005 at 10:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Radio Free Brattleboro shut down

Radio Free Brattleboro is a community-owned low-power pirate FM radio station. Federal marshalls seized RFB's equipment at 6:58 this morning, using a warrant issued in Burlington. Got an email with a quote from James Maxwell, RFB's attorney:

“This is on one level no surprise. The FCC has run out of patience with the regular court process in Brattleboro and has gone elsewhere for the relief it seeks, namely, a chance to get the U.S. Marshals into the station to grab the equipment. Radio free brattleboro has a case with substantial and legitimate legal issues pending in the federal court here in Brattleboro, and the station has also applied to the FCC for a waiver to broadcast, and it has repeatedly stated that when the newly licensed 100-watt station is up and running it would step aside.
         Rfb does not operate in defiance of government but rather from the belief of its members and listeners that community radio is essential to good government and democratic process....Nevertheless, it is very much a surprise that the FCC has done an end run around the court here in Brattleboro and obtained a warrant from Burlington—even while diverting our attention by applying for summary judgment here. It has undertaken these clever maneuvers, in my opinion, not because it must shut down the station but because it can shut down the station. For there is no harm whatsoever being done by rfb, while there surely is harm being done to a civil society by the broadcast and cable and satellite conglomerates whose idea of serving the public is to process entertainment, information and advertisements for mass consumption, which is to say for no one at all. It’s a sad and disappointing day, but of course we will explore our options.”

Bill at Candleblog posts on this, and iBrattleboro's got it covered here, here and here. RFB is one of their advertisers.

June 22, 2005 at 04:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack