Until recently, I was strictly a newspaper guy. Dead trees slathered in ink.
Now I find myself thrust into the world of web-based journalism. It started with the Alibi offering me a slot on its blog. (This post, by the way, will be the very first I put on the website, and you’re reading it.)
I have spent much of the last six years scoffing at bloggers. An editor once told me that a reporter without an editor is a blogger. He was fired for watching internet porn, so I guess everything is on the internet.
At my college paper, the other editors had Facebook and MySpace pages. I laughed at them, and proclaimed that I would never sink so low. (I have a Facebook page now.)
So I’m a hypocrite perhaps. But I’ve always been resistant to technology. I just can’t follow every new thing over the cliff like an E-Lemming. Call me stubborn. Thinking I needed one to be a serious writer, I bought a typewriter when I was 19. Soon I had a collection of IBM Selectrics cluttering my apartment. Slowly, however, they have been left behind during subsequent moves or I have suckered someone into taking one. (“Oh you’ll love it,” I lie. “Much easier than a computer. The IBM Selectric Mark Two, the big mother. Trust me.)
The worst thing about my typewriter phase is the large amount of bad, typed poetry circulating out there. It turns out that I’m not Charles Bukowski.
Web-based everything. It’s not just the wave of the future. It’s here. And I’m catching up. I’m also taking a crack at the coveted “Full Time Freelance Journalist.” It’s not easy to do, but I’m determined. This will also require a significant web presence.
A colleague who has already jumped into the abyss told me last week over cappuccinos that I’ll need a website, blog, Twitter account, etc. It’s all about shameless self-promotion, I guess. I can do that. No problem.
I’m working on the website, though it appears to have been put together by a team of monkeys. The blog account is up. I’m holding off on the Twitter account. I just can’t do it.
Right now, I feel like one of those apes in 2001: A Space Odyssey dancing around the monolith. But I have arrived late, and all the other apes have iPhones.
As an avid fan of all things smart-assy, I’ve found myself reading Gawker as of late. (Admitting this is somewhat painful because I truly don’t care about Lindsay Lohan’s latest jail sentence but the barbs are just so damn good I can’t help myself.)
Of Gawker’s many writers, Adrian Chen is just my kind of wise-ass. So yesterday, when I read that some site I’d never heard of called 4chan was publishing his personal info I got curious about the site, but not enough to look it up. Today it seems that users of the site actually shut Gawker down for awhile, though it still came through in RSS without pictures and Gawker’s Twitter feed was just fine.
The curiosity got to me and I tried to go to 4chan to see what it was. No dice, as I was on the Rail Runner’s internet connection. This message came through: Based on your corporate access policies, access to this web site ( http://4chan.org/ ) has been blocked because the web category "Adult/Sexually Explicit" is not allowed.
No porn on the train I guess. In the past I’ve also noticed that Pirate Bay is blocked as well. Guess the New Mexico Department of Transportation doesn’t want you torrenting or looking at dirty pictures. Bummer.
Anyway, I finally made it to the Alibi offices, where apparently I can look at all the porn I want and finally got 4chan to load. Holy ‘90s Batman. I haven’t seen a message board like this since high school, when I decided the internet wasn’t for me.
Adrian Chen, I have new respect for you. Not only are you hilarious, but you figured this site out, which means you’re a super nerd too!
You can make a suffocating mess anywhere on the net using this site.
The good folks at BP think they’ve got the geyser covered.
Every major Internet-based company seems to be trying to the same thing. Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL—everybody is in a race to be your online content hub. Each company has their own mail service, their own news center, their own shopping portal ... and the result is that internet users accumulate accounts, signing up for the latest and greatest service only to move on once another company releases something better. I talk to friends and acquaintances online, but managing three different online communication accounts just wasn't fun. You can imagine the traditional comically inept infomercial actor, exasperatedly searching for Facebook on my row of browser tabs to use their chat service and accidentally closing other important ones, hunting for the Google Talk icon in my quick launch bar and accidentally deleting the contents of my hard drive ...
“If only there was a better way!”
Guess what, readers—for about seven months, I've been using a desktop-based instant messaging client called Pidgin, which has support for every popular chat program, and some you probably haven't even heard of. Desktop instant messaging clients are a good way to consolidate unwieldy lists of accounts across major service providers into a single location. What finally drove me to house all my accounts using Pidgin was its native support for Facebook chat—instructions are available directly from Facebook, not only for Pidgin but for a host of other chat programs. While this allows you to always be available to converse with friends, it does have a drawback— a friend messaged me once to ask why I was always using Facebook, because always being logged into Facebook Chat through Pidgin makes me appear to always be online.
Pidgin is also customizable through extensions, much like popular web browsers Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, allowing users to extend the software's functionality. Pidgin is free and open source, and makes the wild world of online communication a lot simpler.
This addictive website satisfies your urge to be nosy. Yet it comforts you with the fact that you are never alone—your most shameful thoughts may even be shared by someone halfway around the globe. People all over the world send in hand-decorated, anonymous postcards revealing a secret. Every Sunday, PostSecret publishes these private musings.
The site has complied years of cryptic postcards into books. The secret-sorters host live events, too.
The site can also be a support network. Last Sunday, a card came through that revealed the sender’s intention to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge this summer. Only hours after it was posted, more than 11,000 people joined a Facebook group especially created to reach out to the sender and convince the secret-sharer that life is worth living.
Though this is particularly dark example, PostSecret also has a lighter side. My personal favorites?
“I’m taking pleasure in watching my roommate gain the Freshman 15.”
“I’m a grown man, and I still pretend that I’m a rockstar when I stay at hotels.”
“You pretend to be so happy now that you are remarried, but I know you stalk my MySpace page daily.”
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its plan to change how it regulates the entire Internet yesterday, attempting to balance a its charter, which states that the FCC should keep internet regulation to a minimum, with a desire to enforce net neutrality.
The new policy only affects broadband transmissions, meaning that the actual data online won't be regulated by the FCC. Internet service providers (ISPs) will be subject to telecommunications services regulation, which currently governs land-line telephones. However, the FCC's general counsel said that only six of the 48 provisions that govern telecommunications services might apply to broadband Internet – for example, the FCC won't have the power to regulate prices. These six provisions forbid ISPs from “unreasonable denials of service and other unjust and unreasonable practices,” a response to a dispute between the FCC and Comcast, where the FCC ordered Comcast to stop limiting data-heavy Bittorrent uploads. Other provisions allow the FCC to push forward on bringing universal broadband to the United States, require ISPs to keep private information obtained from their customers private, and make broadband service accessible to the disabled. While I barely understand what's going on, most major tech blogs have weighed in, and GigaOm has found a pair of videos that attempt to explain the ruling and the situation.
The reregulation came about after the FCC discovered that Comcast was delaying Bittorrent uploads and attempted to use its power to stop the interference. When a court ruled that the FCC didn't have the authority, rather than abide by the decision, the FCC got to work changing the rules. Of course, neither side is happy; ISPs say they're worried the FCC has overstepped its bounds, while net neutrality advocates say that the FCC didn't go far enough.