Southeast Asia Tsunami/Earthquake Community Blog

I was completely floored to learn of the massive earthquake and tsunami which so far has killed more than 100,000 (updated Dec. 30) in the coastal regions of southeast Asia. Disasters like that make everything else look like small potatoes.

A group of bloggers from India and elsewhere have set up a community weblog with news and information about resources, aid, donations and volunteer efforts. If you’re looking for a way to offer assistance, this would be a good place to check. (Thanks to Dina Mehta for this link.)

NOTE Dec. 30: See this related essay, The Context of Being Human

Media & Journalism Grab Bag, Dec. 24

Here are some more items about news, media, and journalism that have caught my interest recently.

TOP OF THIS LIST: BBC bamboozled by spoof site: On Dec. 3, the venerable TV news show BBC World broadcast an interview with Jude Finisterra, who claimed to be a spokesperson for Dow Chemical. The topic was the anniversary of the Bhopal disaster. (Several years ago Dow acquired Union Carbide, the company whose plant in Bhopal, India killed thousands and injured more than 100,000 in the world’s worst industrial disaster.) In the interview, Finisterra offered a $12 billion (US) settlement to the 120,000 surviving victims of the Bhopal disaster. Trouble is, Finisterra is a hoaxster – one of the notorious Yes Men. See BBC reputation hit by Bhopal interview hoax, The Guardian, Dec. 4.

How did this happen? According to the Guardian, “…A producer on BBC World had been asked to book a representative from Dow for the 20th anniversary of the disaster. He went to the Dow website, and was directed to the media relations section. Email correspondence and phone calls followed, which resulted in yesterday’s interview with Mr Finisterra from the corporation’s Paris office. It appears that part of the Dow website had been hijacked in a detailed and carefully planned operation.”

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Bizarre Grab Bag

Just for fun, here is some miscellaneous cool weird stuff that’s caught my interest lately…

TOP OF THIS LIST: Letters from Bad Santa. Do you know someone who deserves coal this year? There’s still time! Getting a bad Santa letter sent to your personal nemesis costs $2.95, but you can read the letter templates for free – and they’re hilarious! Check it out today. (Thanks to Chris White for this link.)

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Blogging Grab Bag, Dec. 19

Here are some items related to weblogs and blogging that caught my attention over the past month.

TOP OF THIS LIST: Jay Rosen on BloggerCon III. On Nov. 6 there was a very interesting conference at Stanford Univ. – the third Bloggercon conference. I really wish I’d gone, but I’m glad NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen was there. It takes him a while in this redux article to get to the point, but he does nail it nicely. Excerpts:

“…a good number of participants–the majority, in fact–seem to think they are attending a tech conference. …BloggerCon is not a tech conference because blogging is not fundamentally for “techies,” it is for citizens, for everyone, by which we mean a good blogger could be anyone.”

“…When the tech industry is the base line for discussion, these people are called users, because that is how they stand toward the technology. But blogging is about how people stand toward their democracy, toward the public square, toward the First Amendment. Suddenly, when they start to blog, or comment at weblogs, they become producers of argument, of information, of social criticism and civic connection– producers of media in the same online space as Big Media. And if freedom of the press belongs to those who own one, bloggers own one.”

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Internet & Society Grab Bag, Dec. 12

A few items loosely related to the theme of how the internet is affecting society…

TOP OF THIS LIST: Web Won’t Let Government Hide , by Ryan Singel, Wired News, Nov. 29. Excellent overview of valuable resources on government information in this age of shrinking access to such information through conventional channels.

Excerpt: “Governments at every level these days are providing less information about their inner workings, sometimes using fear of terrorism as an excuse. But it’s precisely times like these that mandate citizens’ rights to check the efficiency of their government and hold those who fail accountable, open government advocates say. The government itself won’t make it easy, so an increasing number of websites and data crunchers are stepping in to provide information about the inner workings of government.”

A good complement to this article, coincidentally also published Nov. 29, is Activists Crawl Through Web to Untangle U.S. Secrecy, by William Fisher, Inter Press News Agency.

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PR & Marketing Grab Bag, Dec. 11

Here’s a quick roundup of several items about blogging that caught my interest over the last month or so…

TOP OF THIS LIST: Why Would Companies Buy Bloggers?, by Jeremy C. Wright, Ensight, Nov. 29. This article is brilliant, and it’s motivated me to start actively marketing myself as a blogger-for-hire for the right organization. If your organization is interested in my blogging services, e-mail me. (Thanks to Radiant Marketing for this link.)

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E-Learning Grab Bag, Dec. 8

Here are several items on the general theme of online learning that have caught my attention recently…

TOP OF THIS LIST: Learning in Communities, by Stephen Downes, LearnScope, March 4. This is some of the clearest thinking about online learning that I’ve read in a long time. Excerpts:

“With the discussion and – dare I say it – hype surrounding online courses, learning objects, and other forms of online content, people have to a large degree stopped talking about the idea of the learning community. But they shouldn’t. Learning – even online learning – still occurs for the most part in communities. Students take part in online classes and seminars, they exchange thoughts and ideas in mailing lists and on discussion boards, they work in project teams and work groups. The concepts of learning and community are almost inseparable, even for the self-study student…”

“…There remains a great deal of misunderstanding regarding the role and implementation of online discussion and online communities in online learning. Probably the greatest misapplication of online community lies in the idea that it is an adjunct to, or following from, the creation and design of an online course. This is perhaps most clearly exemplified by the existence in itself of course discussions. In more institutions that I can count, when a course is offered online, the discussion community is created with the first class and disbanded with the last. The community owes its existence to the course, and ends when the course does.”

Brilliant! This should be required reading for everyone in the online learning world. (Thanks to Collaborative Learning Environments for this link.)

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Media & Journalism Grab Bag, Dec. 7

Here are some more items about news, media, and journalism that have caught my interest recently.

TOP OF THIS LIST: BBC bamboozled by spoof site: On Dec. 3, the venerable TV news show BBC World broadcast an interview with Jude Finisterra, who claimed to be a spokesperson for Dow Chemical. The topic was the anniversary of the Bhopal disaster. (Several years ago Dow acquired Union Carbide, the company whose plant in Bhopal, India killed thousands and injured more than 100,000 in the world’s worst industrial disaster.) In the interview, Finisterra offered a $12 billion (US) settlement to the 120,000 surviving victims of the Bhopal disaster. Trouble is, Finisterra is a hoaxster – one of the notorious Yes Men. See BBC reputation hit by Bhopal interview hoax, The Guardian, Dec. 4.

How did this happen? According to the Guardian, “…A producer on BBC World had been asked to book a representative from Dow for the 20th anniversary of the disaster. He went to the Dow website, and was directed to the media relations section. Email correspondence and phone calls followed, which resulted in yesterday’s interview with Mr Finisterra from the corporation’s Paris office. It appears that part of the Dow website had been hijacked in a detailed and carefully planned operation.”

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Arranging Ideas Grab Bag, Dec. 7

Here are some items related to the theme of “arranging ideas” (information management, design, and architecture) that have caught my attention recently

TOP OF THIS LIST: InfoYou: Assessing and Addressing Information Overload. Over at Metaforix (one of my favorite blogs), Lois Ambash is developing a new service for coping with information overload. I was one of the pilot-testers for her survey, and I recommend taking it. It’s very interesting!

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Writing, Editing, and Rights Grab Bag, Dec. 7

Here are some items related to writing, editing, content style, and content rights that caught my attention over the last month.

TOP OF THIS LIST: A Kinder, Gentler Copyright Bill? by Katie Dean, Wired News, Nov. 22. On Nov. 20, the US Senate passed S 3021, the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2004. The bill has been passed on to the House of Representatives. S 3021 is a scaled-back version of HR 2391, a far-reaching package of restrictive intellectual property laws.

Internet News also wrote about S 3021 on Nov. 30. They reported: “Gone from previous versions of the omnibus bill are the Pirate Act, the Piracy Deterrence in Education Act and Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R.-Utah) Induce Act. The legislation now primarily focuses on movie piracy in theaters through the use of camcorders and allowing consumers to fast forward past commercials on DVDs and videos.”

The advocacy group Public Knowledge has been watching this issue closely. The consider the scaled-back bill a consumer victory. However, with the way Washington works, expect the egregious provisions to creep back in future bills. So keep watching.

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