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August 27, 2009

Filed under: random»linky


It's like a linkup, but more pessimistic.

  • RECAP is a Firefox extension that sends public documents behind a for-pay firewall to the Internet Archive as users browse the original site. Evgeny Morozov has more. Effectively, they're crowdsourcing the process of creating a site mirror. It may have implications for getting around censorship, but it's more interesting to me in the way that it creates something valuable by piggybacking on the user's actions, much the same way that ReCAPTCHA leverages site verification to improve OCR for scanned documents.
  • At Arthur Magazine, Douglas Rushkoff argues that "movements" are dead, because they now play a role that's more social than actively political. I disagree, personally: I would say that he's picked some stunningly poor movements, then. The goal of the New Dissent, just as with traditional social and protest movements, is to put feet on the ground, albeit in a new way. A movement that doesn't put feet on the ground is a failure, no matter whether it's Rushkoff's strawman of "a top-down, passionately executed, and highly branded movement" or a decentralized, flash mob of demonstrators. Ironically, the very health protest astroturf that's made Rushkoff so dejected is a prime example of this kind of action. It's not necessarily seeing results--but that's because it's badly run. People show up, and then act like either loons or idiots, which convinces no-one. But that doesn't mean the organizing principles are unsound.
  • In this Google video, Nils Gilman of the Global Business Network discusses "the global illicit economy"--basically the globalized black market in guns, drugs, sex, and malware. Some interesting observations inside: for example, says Gilman, attempting to control drug trade via border control is counterproductive because it raises the profit margins for successful traffickers.
  • It turns out that people will pay for explainers, but won't pay for your vague trend piece. Surprise! It's almost like good journalism could be profitable in this country, if it weren't being killed by all those pesky blogs and Internets. Nieman Journalism Lab has a lot of great interviews like this, by the way, including Bill Wasik on the Politico and David Simon on charging for web content.
  • Shepherd Fairey interviews Banksy. In other news from the four elements of hip-hop, More Than A Stance has a neat "breakumentary" on b-boy history shot at Street Science in Rotterdam.
  • As someone who's done his share of public speaking and video editing, even to a teetotaler this Johnnie Walker ad is unbelievable. It's a single, six-minute steadicam shot of Robert Carlyle walking through Scotland, telling the brand's history as he walks by carefully-placed props or visual aids. Apparently it took 40 takes. I find it fascinating for two reasons: first, because the craftsmanship of it is striking. But second, because it breaks the commonly-accepted rule of thumb for video journalism--"keep it short," because people won't watch long-form web video. As I've said before, I think that's a fallacy. People will certainly watch long-form productions, if it's interesting. What they won't watch is a lengthy imitation of "local news"-style coverage.
  • Hall and Oates, Carlos Santana, U2: what do these artists have in common, besides a soporific effect rivalling prescription drugs? Satan.

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