Cognitive Surplus – Chapter 3


A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was a part of some online communities for Nine Inch Nails and the Lords of Acid. So long ago in fact, that my username is no longer in the system. It’s ironic that it’s been so long I don’t exist in their little sphere of existence anymore, as I used to be on those sites incessantly a few years back.

My motives were purely to talk to other fans of my favorite bands. To get information about when I could see them perform. To find out about fan appreciation fundraisers before anyone else. I still to this day have a limited edition CD from LoA, signed by all the members of the group, that has the distinction of being a different color from the mass release. Oh, and my signatures are real, not a copy. But I happily paid $50 at a time when I didn’t have a lot of money purely to have music from my favorite group before anyone else.

There was a time in my life where my life revolved around music. I worked as a DJ at 2 separate times in my life. Once for our local college station KSUA, and once for our local rock station (now it’s alternative) KKED 104.7 the Edge. Both for between 3 1/2 to 4 years. If I was awake, I had music on. Driving, reading, on the computer, at work, whatever. There was always music. Now, I find that I consume music differently, but almost as intensely.

My motives were to surround myself with music I enjoyed. Immerse myself in it. Be connected to my favorite artists, and the fans that were just as rabid as myself. I followed LoA for a month across the US attending multiple concerts, meeting up with fellow fans. For the music. For the shared experience. I think that what I was seeking, and participating in is similar to what Shirky was talking about, with intrinsic motivation. No one was paying me to do anything. I wasn’t being paid to follow the band. I wasn’t paid to be online all the time, talking about their music, planning trips, exploring art and future releases. It was all because I was intensely interested in them, and wanted to be there. Wanted to be part of the experience.

Part of me still wants to be part of the experience. And part of me just wants to get the music before anyone else, go to a quiet place, and just lose myself in it. Just for a little while.


Blog It – Blog Reports

So for this assignment we are to do a review of a sort of 3 blogs. Following are the blogs I read and my opinions of them.

Blog 1 – The Daily Howler

This blog is political, and whoa baby, its to the left. It cites sources for its information, and even quotes sources. This blog, while reporting news has a definite color to its reporting. While I am a liberal myself, I probably wouldn’t read this type of blog on a regular basis. It’s a little extreme for my tastes. That and I don’t really care for politics. This is the story I read and it has a definite slant. I think they embrace their liberal stance a little too much. Talking about “our tribe” and “their tribe” seems to me to defeat the purpose of uniting America by pitting us against them.

Blog 2 – Little Green Footballs

So I seem to be picking all the liberal blogs tonight. This one seems to be largely political, with a liberal lean, although they don’t seem to be as up in arms as The Daily Howler. I actually had to read more than one post to figure out their agenda. It cites sources, and quotes interviews. It’s reporting news as they see it, with a liberal slant, but it is still more palatable to me to read. Here’s an interesting article I read that made me giggle a bit. The quote from him about why he didn’t know it was wrong to be publicly engaged to one woman while married to another is well worth a read.  I found this site more engaging and interesting to read, but I still don’t think that I would find something written like this on

Blog 3 – Moonbattery

Found a conservative one! And it seems to be almost Tea-bagger-ish. Is that a word? It’s a political blog, and it sort of seems to be news, but its so jaded and slanted, its almost hard to see the news for all the bitching. They are WAAAAAY to the right. They refer to President Obama as “Barack Hussein” and Hillary Clinton as “Shrillary”. Notice here: As for sources, nothing more than “on a tip from TED” or “on a tip from The Only Other Conservative in Seattle” or “on a tip from “Ummah Gummah”. No link back to the source and it almost smacks of political ravings. There is no way I would find something like this in the newsminer. Never. I don’t like how they can’t divorce their opinion from the facts. Derogatory names are not necessary.

Blog It! – Blogging and Journalism

Are bloggers journalists? Some are. Not every blogger is a journalist, and not every journalist is a blogger. I’m here, blogging, and I’m nowhere near being a journalist. But, some are. Bloggers have been responsible for breaking and carrying news stories that have resulted in senators losing their jobs and possibly changing the course of a presidential election. Good or bad. In my opinion, good. I don’t think that you need the distinction of a fancy corporation backing you and a fancy paycheck to want to find and report the news. If your only medium to do so is a blog, so be it. I think that if you are a serious citizen journalist, blogging, you should have the same rights and protections as a regular journalist. You’re doing the same job, with more dangers sometimes.

Scenario One: A reporter for a major newspaper reports, using anonymous sources, on a falsified government document. When the government agency attempts to force him to reveal his source, he refuses, and is protected by a “shield law” that he does not have to reveal those sources. A blogger breaks the exact same story at the exact same time. Should he receive the same protection? I believe that he should. Just because he doesn’t have the backing of a major media outlet doesn’t make him any different in this case. I don’t think that my answer would change if it was revealed that the blogger had been running a news and politics blog for years. Also I don’t think that the situation would change if they’d never posted a news story before but had stumbled onto this one. The end result is the same. They broke the story, with an anonymous source, and deserve to be protected.

Scenario Two: A blogger applies to receive press credentials so he can get into a political event. He is denied, because he’s not a “journalist,” even though many reporters are allowed in who have fewer readers than the blogger. Is that fair? In my opinion, no. If the blogger reports legitimately on news topics, regardless of the fact it is on a blog, and not backed by a newspaper, they should be allowed to apply for press credentials. Now, if they write a cooking blog, no. Would it matter if, instead of news bloggers and newspaper reporters the same situation arose at a fashion show with a writer for a fashion magazine and a fashion blogger? Nope. I still think that if the blogger can prove that they consistently write a fashion blog, they should be able to apply to get in. They are reporting the same information, sometimes faster than that fashion magazine writer, and sometimes to a wider and more diverse audience.

I don’t think that every blogger in the world is a legitimate journalist, and they shouldn’t all get the rights of genuine “journalists”, but in some cases, they are doing the same job, and don’t even have the benefit of pay. They are, in the truest sense of the word, amateurs. Reporting for the love of reporting.

Cognitive Surplus – Chapter 2



FaceBook is taking over our lives.

No really. Everyone has it. I haven’t met anyone in ages where the question “Do you have a FaceBook?” was met with a negative response. We log on and read it multiple times a day. We’re more involved in other people’s business than our own. Shirky puts forth the idea that the separation between “cyberspace” and the “real world” is becoming increasingly irrelevant. And you know what? He’s right. I know more about people from high school I haven’t seen in 19 years than I do about my brother. They’re right there. Every day. Telling me how their day went. About their new cat. About the car wreck they were in, and a reason for every day in November that they’re thankful to be alive, and what they’re thankful for. I’m pretty sure my brother still works at Trademark, but I can’t be 100% sure. I’m sure I’ll find out at Christmas.

According to Shirky, we are in the midst of another printing revolution. Where the first printing revolution came about with movable type, enabling quick and easy printing on a massive scale, this new printing revolution is more about “the shock of the inclusion of amateurs as producers”. In other words, the explosion of self publishing that has come about in the past few years. Media has become not just something we consume, but something we contribute to, we help produce it. Shirky says we live in a culture of “abundance” rather than “scarcity”. Growing up we had 4 channels. 2, 4, 9, and 11. And for our intents and purposes, channel 4 didn’t exist. Most of the time, we watched channel 9. PBS. Now you can get basic cable, and instantly have 100+ channels. Never mind getting something beyond basic. I personally have 600+ channels, and a DVR. And I don’t watch TV except for the occasional movie or DVR’ed show. 4 channels vs 600+. It’s staggering to think about. Books are much the same way. Musical CDs are released at an exponential rate. I remember walking to Peaches with my dad to look at vinyl, and them having 3 rows of albums. 3 rows. Now you can walk into a large music store like Virgin, and see thousands upon thousands of different CDs. On one level. Then go upstairs. There is so much more out there now that it’s almost impossible to see or hear it all.

Today has become a culture of more, more, more, now, now, now. Citizen reporters  and journalists have help feed that need for more, right now. The London subway bombings are one example. The riots in Egypt are another. While I appreciate news from a fresh perspective, when I want to find out the news, I will still typically check something like While they have iReport, and citizen reporting, I find that those reports tend to have a definite slant to their point of view rather than just reporting the news. Sometimes they’re a good thing, especially when they have footage that hasn’t hit the wire yet, but I still tend to prefer a professionally written story that has done their fact checking. But if I hear through the grapevine about something, I’m going to start peeking at that iReport section. Or even just use Google and see who’s blogged about it.

Social Revolution?

Rioters in Egypt

So, for this assignment we were to read 3 articles.

1. Malcolm Gladwell: “Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted”

2. Clay Shirky: “The Political Power of Social Media”

3. Clay Shirky and Malcolm Gladwell: “From Innovation to Revolution: Do Social Media Make Protests Possible?”

Interesting stuff. I think they both have a point. I think that Gladwell is right that the lunch counter sit-ins would not have been as effectively wrought in our modern age with FaceBook and Twitter. I mean, when you have an option to go and you vote “Yes”, “No”, or “Maybe” and there is no way to check up on whether or not you actually did what you voted, you’re going to have less efficacy than word of mouth, or face to face interactions with people you KNOW.

At the same time, I honestly believe that the uprising in Egypt and the protests in the Philippines wouldn’t have been as effective or as far reaching without social media. The difference is that those 2 “socially driven revolutions” still had a basis in face to face interactions. Both places were physically affected by a bad situation, so there was more personal investment than your typical “Come to ___ and do ____” that you might find on FaceBook or Twitter.

Case in point: the personal investments in the 2001 Philippines protests…. or Boobquake on FaceBook. Yeah, you got a bunch of women to wear cleavage enhancing or revealing shirts for a day, but what is the social impact? Did the religious leader’s brain explode at the sheer level of scantily clad ta-tas? Did the earth in fact shake and tremble at our might? Did he recant anything he said and improve situations for women? Nope. And unfortunately that is probably one of the more popular and participated-in FaceBook random events. Most times, there is not as much personal investment in issues, and the participation is spotty.

So yeah, social media is useful, but you have to pick your battles.

Tunisia? Social media was useful.

Egypt? Definitely useful.

Boobquake? Not so much.

I think we need to be sure to pick the battles that social media will play a significant part in. Think of it like the boy that cried wolf. If we try to motivate every cause through FaceBook or Twitter, eventually people will stop paying attention, and that form of connectivity will be useless.

Blog It! Finding Blogs

So after a bit of searching, I found some blogs I enjoy. Some of them I actually read before this assignment! Whoa!

Gaming news! I usually go to this blog around the holiday event times on World of Warcraft. They have really awesome guides.

Music! Electronic Music! This blog looks awesome! It reviews new music and posts about new and awesome music. Me likey!

The very latest in sci-fi entertainment news? Yes, please.

Blog It! Web 2.0

What is Web 2.0?

It’s not a newer version of the web, its a change in mindset of how people utilize the web. It’s social networking, blogging, wikis, hosted services, mashups, video sharing sites and more. Like YouTube? Technically it’s Web 2.0. Use FaceBook? Web 2.0. Twitter? Tumblr? LinkedIn? All Web 2.0.

Before I started taking this course, I had heard the term Web 2.0, but had never really pursued what it meant. Ironic, as I use several sites that could be considered Web 2.0 on a daily basis. I read FaceBook a couple times a day, use Tumblr occasionally, stalk the Sarcastic Rover on Twitter, and surf around YouTube until I hit the weird part. (You know what the weird part is… those videos that you were compelled to click on and you can’t seem to stop, but the whole time you’re thinking “Oh my god, why am I watching this?!”)

Now that I have a more clear definition in my head, it’s easy to see how prevalent this social form of sharing and building the web has become. I don’t use Flickr, but millions do, and I’ve looked at pictures on there occasionally. I tend to avoid Twitter… until I get bored and feel compelled to go read what the sarcastic rover has had to say recently.

Who knows what kind of Web 2.0 site they’ll come up with next. Guess we’ll have to wait and see. I might use it. Maybe.