Foreign Policy Does Blogs
Monday, 11:57 am
The article’s blurb says: “Every day, millions of online diarists, or “bloggers,” share their opinions with a global audience. Drawing upon the content of the international media and the World Wide Web, they weave together an elaborate network with agenda-setting power on issues ranging from human rights in China to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. What began as a hobby is evolving into a new medium that is changing the landscape for journalists and policymakers alike.”
And it may be one of the most realistic articles about the effect of blogs on not only the 4th estate, but foreign policy. The article doesn’t thumb its nose at blogs as we’ve recently become accustomed to reading. Quite the contrary, in fact. The section about Professor Juan Cole is a good example.
As a prominent expert on the modern history of Shiite Islam, Cole became widely read among bloggers—and ultimately journalists—following the outbreak of Iraqi Shiite unrest in early 2004. With his blog attracting 250,000 readers per month, Cole began appearing on media outlets such as National Public Radio (NPR) and CNN to provide expert commentary. He also testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “As a result of my weblog, the Middle East Journal invited me to contribute for the Fall 2003 issue,” he recalls. “When the Senate staff of the Foreign Relations Committee did a literature search on Moktada al-Sadr and his movement, mine was the only article that came up. Senate staff and some of the senators themselves read it and were eager to have my views on the situation.”
Cole’s transformation into a public intellectual embodies many of the dynamics that have heightened the impact of the blogosphere. He wanted to publicize his expertise, and he did so by attracting attention from elite members of the blogosphere. As Cole made waves within the virtual world, others in the real world began to take notice.
Then there is this paragraph, which may be the most important in the entire article:
Blogs are becoming more influential because they affect the content of international media coverage. Journalism professor Todd Gitlin once noted that media frame reality through “principles of selection, emphasis, and presentation composed of little tacit theories about what exists, what happens, and what matters.” Increasingly, journalists and pundits take their cues about “what matters” in the world from weblogs. For salient topics in global affairs, the blogosphere functions as a rare combination of distributed expertise, real-time collective response to breaking news, and public-opinion barometer. What’s more, a hierarchical structure has taken shape within the primordial chaos of cyberspace. A few elite blogs have emerged as aggregators of information and analysis, enabling media commentators to extract meaningful analysis and rely on blogs to help them interpret and predict political developments.
What is wrong with these people?!
Sunday, 12:29 pm
For about the last year, I’ve been doing routine maintenance on a friend’s computer. Not being all that interested in learning how to do that stuff herself, she was more in the “I want to turn it on and just have it work” camp. And that was fine. I enjoyed the tinkering.
When I started, I’d never seen a computer so infested with viruses, adware, and spyware. The computer had virtually come to a standstill. It took several days of diagnostics and cleaning before it was back up to speed and completely clean. I installed spyware killers and adware killers and two different virus checkers and killers. As well as a Mozilla browser and mail program. Everything hummed along very nicely after that. She was able to turn her computer on and just have it work.
And then, a couple of months ago, lightning struck (literally) and fried her modem and router. When it came time to set them up, she called Dell Computer. They informed her that she must remove all that third party software or they wouldn’t help her. She had to uninstall the adware and spyware killers. They didn’t like one of her virus protection programs. And, they wanted her to get rid of Mozilla. They took her through the process of doing all that removing.
And then the problems started again. I urged her to let me re-install the safety nets, but she was reluctant because Dell told her they would not honor her warranty if she had all that crap on her computer. I think that’s a bunch of malarky, but that’s what Dell told her repeatedly.
So, the end of that story is that her computer is so laden with viruses and adware and spyware once more that her computer is nearly inoperable. And yesterday she finally gave up her transcribing business because of the constant crashes and loss of material that made meeting deadlines simply impossible.
Thanks Dell. I cannot believe they advised her to stop protecting her computer. I cannot believe that her warranty would be voided because she had third party software on her computer. But that’s what they told her. I heard them tell her. No amount of arguing seemed to get through to them.
Her take on it? “I’ll never buy another Dell.”
I am so completely astonished at all of this. Completely frustrated, too.
Saturday, 1:26 pm
Slightly more than half of my visitors still use Internet Explorer. That’s a fact. So I try to make this place reasonably accommodating for IE. But I realized yesterday that the anchor tags (contained within a mess of nested divs) don’t work in IE. Which means—clicking on the comments link takes IE users directly to the bottom of the comments page where there is a vast sea of empty space. I think most of the other browsers handle the anchor tags as they are supposed to and take visitors to the very beginning of the actual comments. It’s a small detail, I suppose, but it annoyed me terribly when I tested the comments out with IE. For the time being, I’ve ditched the anchor tags. Everyone will now land at the top of the comments page. Does anyone know of a way around this anchor tag problem?
The day after
Friday, 5:03 pm
Continuing the saga of the sick little pup....she went into another seizure that lasted two hours this time. It was enough to freak the vet out completely. After a battery of tests and observation, there wasn’t anything that could be definitively diagnosed. What they’re calling it is a severe manifestation of White Dog Syndrome which, apparently, can be particularly severe in tiny white dogs—as in the Maltese breed. They are a high strung little breed, particularly susceptible to stress. And now Maggie is on a daily low dosage of Valium. She was more like a normal dog today...not spinning in circles and racing to and fro. Just a chillin’ little dog. I hope this is the solution for her.
Maggie’s mom and I went out this afternoon. It was a nice break away from the ordinary. While I didn’t buy anything other than the book (Machiavelli on Modern Leadership by Michael Ledeen) that I’d ordered a month ago, we did a lot of window shopping.
Our little town goes in for Christmas in a huge way. All the street lamps and shop fronts are decorated with greens, ivy, holly, and little white lights. Oh, and lots of red velvety ribbons. There were a lot of people out today, but not as many as usual for the day after Thanksgiving. The local merchants won’t be happy about that.
I wonder if any of the avoid-commercialism boycotts were behind the lower than usual numbers of shoppers. Or perhaps people have started tightening their belts already in anticipation of an economic downturn. I don’t know. But the shop managers weren’t happy today. Ordinarily they worry about snow keeping shoppers away. This year, the economic forecast is on the tips of their tongues. They are worried and they don’t mind saying so.
One shop owner, with plenty of time to stand around and chat, said she felt that there is a revolution in progress. Of some kind. But she has hopes that it will, in the end, benefit her kind of shop. Small, owner run, and catering to the local trade. She thought maybe the time of big-means-better may be on the way out. Wishful thinking maybe, but she could be right.
After trotting around downtown, we headed to the local Mexican establishment where we swilled down Margaritas and ordered a sampler platter. Lots of discussion about everyday life and kids, but also finances and the future. Jo almost convinced me that maybe I should sell my house now and salt the cash away until my lad leaves and I can go someplace where the cost of living is a little more reasonable. Where I can buy a modest house for cash and ride out the inevitable economic hard times. She, who is not the most savvy of economists, even sees the handwriting on the wall. She almost convinced me, but not quite. But it is something I think about daily anymore.
Thursday, 9:42 pm
Once again, the site is skinned. Actually it has been for a while, but it took until today for me to get the right combination/path in the skin switching URLs. It was not quite as clear cut since this domain is not the primary domain on my database. But anyway. I figured it out. So, if you’d like something a little lighter and a bit less political in flavor, you can find the new skin in the menu column under “A Different View”. It’s called Winter Light. I couldn’t think of a good name, so that’ll do for now. (BTW, if you’re an EE user, Jadae’s coding on this pMachine forum thread is how I skinned this site. It’s pretty easy once you understand how to split apart a template in the Domesticat tutorial tradition.) As always, if you experience any difficulties, please let me know.
A little about the choice of colors. These are colors that I’ve always been drawn to. And I kept looking at the skin, thinking it reminded me of something very old, but I couldn’t quite place it. It dawned on me tonight that these are the colors used on a very old house in the place where I grew up...the home was built in the mid-1700s in the upper Catskill region of New York. The paint used in the house was a milk paint which lends a wonderfully creamy look. The colors aren’t vibrant, but they are, nevertheless, rich and warm. The house, for as long as I can remember, has been a museum of early life in that region. I spent a lot of time there as a youngster. My mother was a docent there as well as an instructor. She taught classes in flax and wool spinning as well as barn and jacquard loom weaving. At the time, I was much more interested in catching grasshoppers and climbing trees. But apparently the house has burrowed deep into my heart. Thought you might like to know.
Thursday, 5:39 pm
Thomas Friedman has a lot to say. Certainly isn’t your usual Thanksgiving let’s-be-thankful column, that’s for sure. More like a blood bath. I hardly ever agree with anything Friedman says. But I’m cheering him on this time.