Media and Violence: Looking Back at Rwanda, from France

On Nov. 9, the International Herald-Tribune reported that French police have “arrested three people for comments on the online diaries known as blogs that are hosted by Skyblog. The site belongs to the nationwide radio station Skyrock, which has four million listeners daily and claims the largest audience of any radio station among 13-to-24-year-olds.”

The article continues:

“Those prosecuted for inciting violence in their postings this week included a 14-year-old from Aix-en-Provence who called on rioters to attack police stations, according to Justice Minister Pascal Clément. Blog entries of those arrested also included ones calling on youths in the Paris region to rise up at once in a coordinated attack. ‘Unite, Ile-de-France, and burn the cops,’ one of the postings said, according to Agence France-Presse. ‘Go to the nearest police station and burn it.’Another message called on youths in housing projects to start arson attacks between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Friday. Under French law, such calls to violence can result in sentences of one to seven years in prison.”

Hate media and incitement to violence are indeed very dangerous things…

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Tricky Concept: Feeds Aren\’t Really \”Push\”

Yesterday I wrote about how feeds might play a role in emergency communication. I’ll admit, I thought I had a pretty good idea there. Well, I do have lots of good ideas, but that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally miss something – but then, everyone does, so there’s no shame in that.

Fortunately, one beauty of weblogs is that this type of publishing makes it very easy to correct errors or omissions, continue a line of thought, or just plain change your mind. I know that admitting or correcting errors is scary to some folks, so here I’m giving an example of how easy and beneficial that process can be.

Here was my error: Feeds are not truly a “push channel” for communication. I sometimes forget this because I (and many other people I know) tend to use feeds as if they were “push” media…

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\”This is an Announcement from the Emergency Feedcast System…\”

CORRECTION AND UPDATE When I wrote the article below, I forgot something pretty important: Even though, from the user’s perspective, feeds generally behave like “push media,” in fact they are not push media. This pretty much undermines the point of this article. See my Nov. 11 followup article which explores the issue of feeds and push media. Some good came of this, after all. 🙂

For the record, here’s my original article…


I missed the excitement this morning.

Around 8am MST, there was a chemical leak at a Lexmark facility northeast of my town, Boulder, CO. According to the Rocky Mountain News, workers at the plant were mixing epoxies when a fire started, causing a smoke plume with toxic vapors. Six workers were taken to the hospital, and four were kept there for treatment. Residents within a 2-mile radius were warned via reverse-911 phone notification to stay inside and shut their doors and windows as a hazmat team cleaned up the accident site. A major nearby road, the Diagonal Highway, was closed for two hours.

I live about 5 miles south of the accident site, and the prevailing winds here blow east, so I wasn’t at much risk of exposure. Around 9:30 am I went for my daily walk along the South Boulder Creek. Just before I headed out, I downloaded my podcasts for the day – including the Denver Post “All News” podcast, which has become one of my main sources of local news. I was listening to it as I walked. When I got back home, I worked.

It wasn’t until I saw this E-Media Tidbits posting by my colleague and fellow Boulderite Steve Outing that I learned of the leak.

This got me thinking: We need emergency feeds for public notification…

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OPML Manager: One of My Wishes Comes True

A few days ago, I explained some of the “so what” of OPML (outline processor markup language) in Using OPML for Thinking, Writing, Publishing. I guess there’s been a pent-up demand for plain-language discussion of OPML, since I ended up getting tons of traffic to that article. (Especially after OPML creator Dave Winer linked to it – thanks, Dave!)

Anyway, at the end of that article I offered my wish list for OPML-related applications, tools, and services I’d like to see. Today I learned of a free online service that, so far, appears to make some of my wishes come true…

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Why My Feed List Is Soooooooo Long

Some people ask me why I subscribe to so many feeds. (Here’s my complete list, as an OPML file, which currently includes approximately 500 feed subscriptions.) Well, it’s all about how I use them. For me, different feeds serve different purposes.

On Nov. 1, Ross Mayfield contended in “Attention Saturation” that the maximum number of feeds a person can possibly tolerate is 150.

Obviously, that limit doesn’t work for me.

Here’s how Ross explained his limit, and my explanation of why I’ve vastly exceeded it…

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Competitor-Sponsored Blogs: Elisa\’s Idea

Over at Worker Bees Blog, Elisa Camahort just published what I think could be a really great idea for business blogging. In “High-risk Corporate Blogging: getting a message out that your customers may not want to hear,” she outlines a concept that I don’t believe I’ve seen any organization try: a group of competitors banding together to sponsor an independent blogger.

She writes…
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Video Community has Better Idea for Panasonic Blog

As I mentioned earlier, some popular public forums for discussing video technology have been weighing the pros and cons of Panasonic’s DefPerception character blog. In one of these discussions, community members (who represent the target audience of DefPerception) have considered other possible approaches. It seems that some video geeks would especially like to see a weblog authored by the team behind Panasonic’s AG-HVX200 HD/SD DVCPRO P2 camcorder.

Now that, I think, is an excellent idea – and a direction that Panasonic could easily move toward…

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Using OPML for Thinking, Writing, Publishing

My dear friend and fellow blogger Koan Bremner has taught me yet another cool trick: If you want to publish a complex, evolving, multi-leveled document online, OPML is a good way to go.

What’s OPML? Outline Processor Markup Language is a file format for outlines. Specifically, it’s a way to use XML (extensible markup language) so that you’re not just typing in text, but actually describing how various chunks of text (or data, or links, etc.) relate to each other within a hierarchy.

The end result is an outline that looks rather like a book’s table of contents (TOC). However, imagine that the actual chapters of the book are embedded within the TOC. So if you want to go straight to, say, Chapter 6, you wouldn’t flip ahead to the page number listed in the TOC. Instead, you would just click on the “chapter 6” line in the TOC, and the text of Chapter 6 would open right there within the TOC. Any subheads within that chapter would work the same way – just click on them, and they unfold. Once a heading or subhead (“topic”) is open, just click on it again to fold it back up.

EXAMPLE: Check out this resource Koan has published on Transitioning from Windows to OS X “Tiger” – a worthy topic if there ever was one.

Here’s why Koan’s document, and the OPML approach which underlies it, is so cool…

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Panasonic Clarifies Tosh Bilowski

(Don’t miss the next update in this unfolding story…)

Another quick update: As of today, Panasonic’s DefPerception blog bears this clarification on the home page only, above the first posting:


‘Tosh Bilowski is a fictional character used to deliver real information from multiple sources at Panasonic in an entertaining way. We hope you find the information helpful and we look forward to hearing from you.”

Well, that’s some help. However, they could easily do a bit better than that…

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