Monday, October 27, 2008

"Hi I'm Steve Garfield from"!

One of the most important parts of video citizen news is in making sure one always names ones Web site, usually the place where the video was originally provided, that's what Steve Garfield said guessed it

Steve goes around the New England area with his video camera, no his cell phone collecting stories and posting them to the Internet, LIVE. He showed our class all about video blogging and the best ways to accomplish it.

I thought one of the most interesting sites he showed us was Qik, which is a site that allows its users to submit live video broadcast from their cellphones. Yes, you read that correctly. This gives every single person with a compatible cellphone the capability to be a video journalist. Steve demonstrated this in our class by filming us showing off our own websites....I took the opportunity to pitch mine of course, As he was filming on his phone we saw that LIVE video on the Internet a second later it was really fascinating, and you can see that here.

From his Web site, Steve has links to all of his different blogs, and even though he has four or five different blogs, all with different names and domains he makes it very easy to access them all by just accessing the site with his name attached (another plug for One of his pilot sites is called Cup-O-Politics and offers videos and commentary by Steve on politics. Take a look, he does a parody audio slide show about Hilary Clinton losing the democratic primary to the tune of great Eagles jam, Desperado, very funny stuff.

Another Steve Garfield video blog website is what he calls Steve Garfield's Video Blog, it's similar to the Cup-O-Politics by being a video blog, although it seems to be updated more frequently and has videos on just about every type of subject, not restricting itself to politics alone. This is a video he posted where he calls out Staples for a false advertising scheme. In it he got a coupon where Staples promised 50 business cards for free. Steve shows the information and then relays what happened when he went to Staples and tried and failed to get the said 50 free business cards.

I really like what Steve is doing by supplying obscure news like this to his audience. He is leading the way in video journalism and doing it with no professional sound equipment, camera, or even a studio. His only tools are his cellphone and laptop, very modern, very cool.

Web sites run by its users....the way of the future. Class Presentation.

As the Internet grows so do the domains, one of the more popular characteristics of late is for the content of Web sites to be totally user driven and user submitted.

What does that mean?

It means that most of the information on the Web site has been submitted by somebody just like you, only with a lot more time on their hands.

I want to look at two news-ish sites that totally rely on user content.

The first site is Fark. The site was started by Drew Curtis, and basically allows its members to submit "not news" stories and the link where the story was initially provided. Curtis says this about his site:

The first thing you should know is that isn't a Weblog., the Web site, is a news aggregator and an edited social networking news site. Every day Fark receives 2,000 or so news submissions from its readership.

Curtis then chooses which articles he wants to give the public access to, which is usually about 20 stories a day. If the user wants total access he must pay Curtis $5 a month for access to every story link that Curtis gets a day. This is a really cool site because it allows users to share interesting "not news" with other internet-aholics. Although the users submitting the stories are not necessarily jounralists, they are news-enthusiasts who want to share some fun reading with others like them. Thus Fark is a news site, when one goes there they will be reading (mostly) legitate news which has been supplied along with the link where it was published.

Although it is possible to get articles posted to Fark that are not cited by any publication, except for maybe another user-content driven database. When one types in smoking cigarettes in an airplane lavatory into Fark, the first article they will get is not from a reliable news site but from a very special place on the Web called Totse.

Totse was started in 1989 as a BBS (bulletin board system), which is essentially an interent forum, and was originally called the Temple Of The Screaming Electron (TOTSE). For it's first decade of existance the site was not open to the Internet public, but when it did in 1997, it already had dedicated users and writers who submitted thousands of their personal stories and experiences to the site for Web publication.

Totse's goal as stated on its homepage is to promote the first ammendment and freedom of speech, therefore one can find almost anything on the site, from articles about Jewish Dietary Law to How to Make an Atom Bomb, really nothing is off limits to this site.

An argument could be made that a site like this is not news nor is it of news value, the site doesn't have normal editors nor does it give any legitamate sources to the information it provides. Most of the people who submit the articles are Totse users and go by an alias username, so it makes it impossible to check the validity of the articles. Therefore it is important to take most of the articles one finds on Totse with a grain of salt, although with the plethora of information it makes available it also serves as a good starting point and check point for real story ideas. It could be that the articles are based on opinions, prejudices and false facts but guess what, so are thousands of the blogs that people read everyday, it's just another source of information, hopefully one can find some news value in that.

The next time you want to read something really bizarre, something you might never have thought you'd want to read before, visit Fark and Totse, but be cautious because you never know what you will find or how much truth there is to it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Ins and Outs of a Local Coffee Shop

American's love coffee, in fact the NCA estimates that 80% of American adults drink the beverage regularly.

Most people get their "giddy-up" from coffee shops (not like the kind in Amsterdam), and it is my firm belief that most people take their local coffee shop for granted. These cafes service hundreds if not possibly thousands of people every day and therefore it is essential to have a smooth operation and healthy atmosphere to ensure coffee satisfaction. This past Sunday morning, in order to investigate the workings of the cafe to get a better understanding of how they operate, I was given VIP access into the morning operations of Espresso Royale Caffe (ERC), a local coffee shop near Northeastern University.

The baristas arrive at the cafe at 6:30a on weekdays, 7:30a on weekends, they open the shop to their patrons a half hour later respectively. I showed up at 7:18a this Sunday to observe the opening. It was still dark when we walked in, the cafe has neon signs that light up the room in a very cool and colorful way (picture above), setting a nice mood, even in the dark. The lights were turned on and work began. In the process of setting up shop the first thing to do is "clock-in, turn on the music, and then start brewing the coffee," said barista Lea Spencer, 21.

With the baristas hard at work getting ready for business I took a look around the normally busy but now empty cafe, and thought about what I saw. It seems to me that coffee shops are mostly set-up to look very trendy and Utopian, they try to attract coffee drinkers not just with their coffee but also with the style of the cafe. They strive to create a unique and artsy feeling place where young intellectuals want to hang out. This is easily apparent in any Starbucks, usually upon entry into those establishments there is immediately a snooty looking fellow on his lap top in the corner looking all snotty. I hate Starbucks.

ERC is no exception. Not so much in terms of its snoots but with what seems an innert desire to to create a unique and trendy place to have coffee and hang out. Albeit, I believe ERC does this in a more unique way than the other chain shops and locals. ERC has local art and photographs on the walls, really crazy colors, and great tables. The tables are all individually hand painted by different artists who might have been employees, former employees, or even customers according to Laura Webster, 22, barista at the cafe. The cafe uses recycled cups for their coffee to help preserve the environment, a policy which I'm sure appeals to all the Greenpeace solicitors on Huntington Ave. These local ideals are some of the what make ERC special. "I love the fact that we're green and we're funky," said general manager, Chris Davey, 34.

At about 8:17a the first customer of the day came in, totally unaware to all the prep that had been done to make him the perfect cup of coffee at that moment. He was the first of what would be hundreds of people to get their daily dose of coffee at ERC today. Why did Lucas Maclaurin, 27, alumn of the New England Convervatory decide to get his coffee at Espresso Royale Cafe today?

"I've been coming here for seven, years, I just think the coffee is better and the place is nice," he said.

So the early morning work has paid off.

(click photo at top of post or click here for photo slide show)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Interactive Radio Sites or Intergalactic

It is very difficult for me personally to think about radio, because to be blunt, I never listen.

I do have a car in Boston but it has a CD player, and for no reason I can pin-point, the radio really irritates me. It's much more relaxing and easier for me to listen to music that I choose, rather than listening to music radio which never has anything decent on it or to talk radio which really puts me to sleep.

With that being said, it does make sense to me that radio is thriving while newspapers are suffering. Radio is a free way to get the news for Americans while they drive to their offices in the morning and home in the evening. My father listens to conservative radio whenever he can, he drinks it in as if it's the elixer of Americanism, the talk show hosts ranting with their lib-hating and lib-terrorism remarks that sound like non-factual bullshit to me but somehow seem very contrite to my father. These talk shows and the deliverance of the news on the radio seems to me to be quite an "American" past-time and I believe is something that reminds the children of the baby-boomers (like my father) of their childhoods, the time of a purer America.

I really don't know anybody aged 18-25 who listens to news radio, we get our news on the Internet. Period. Even though radio may be thriving now, I do believe that it too will experience a large drop off in audience as the older generations go deaf and as more and more of our world of information gathering and producing is geared towards the Web.

NPR gets this. Their website has a lot of interactive portions with video, photos, and blogging.
WBUR has some really great ideas also looks to be a (McCain/Palin unrealted) maverick in joining the hands of radio and the Internet. The Listener Photo Project is a WBUR link to flickr where WBUR listeners can post their photos and comment on others as well. As good an initiative this is from WBUR, I don't like how this is set up at all. I think it's annoying that one can only access these photos from a seperate Web site ( instead of the photos being directly uploaded to the WBUR site is not user friendly and explains why the last post was from February.

The future of radio Web siteslies in totally linking the two. WFAN, a New York based sports radio station does this well. While listening to WFAN, the listener will notice that a plethatude of listeners call up just to trash talk; rival teams, weekly opponents, and most of the time their own team! New Yorkers just love to complain, even when things are going alright. This brings such strong personalities to the airwaves that it makes the trash talking a lot of fun, WFAN has found a way to bring the same trash talk to their website. They have a special section called Rants and Raves, which makes it very easy for listeners to comment on every single part of the station or their teams, the conversations are limitless and hilarious. WFAN makes it very easy for these comments to be posted as well, it supplies three fields for "Name," "Web site," and "comment," once the user fills out the three (of which they can choose just to fill out just one, the comment form) and press post and it's on the Web site. It's very simple and very easy, I also like that it doesn't make anyone register for anything, it makes for a very smooth post.

The two other news radio stations I'm familier with WCBS and 1010 Wins, both New York based did not have anything innovative in the form of combining the radio and Internet experience. Both have the basic podcasts and videos that are now expected on news sites. Neither of these sites are paving the path in conjoining radio and Internet into a combined experience of awesomeness. They both look a lot like your basic news website.


Why not record every single time a listener calls up to comment on their programs. Take those recordings and upload them on the internet with a comment field so others can discuss what these regular listeners had said. Therefore anytime a listener wants his friends and family to hear what he said on the radio he can pull up the exact broadcast on his computer. Another benefit from this, it will censor all the idiots who call up and talk out of their @$$, because they too will be subjected to the endless critisism of their Internet peers. Take that all you lib-smearing idiots.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Mystery Lounge on Wired Journalists

This is the Mystery Lounge, a LIVE magic show, performing every Tuesday night at the Hong Kong restaurant in Harvard Square. The show brings together some of Boston's best magicians and comedians for an evening extravaganza of entertainment, a truly unique Boston experience that is not to be missed.

More photo's of the Mystery Lounge show from last night can be found on my wired-journalist homepage, a site geared towards journalism hobbyists who want to share their expieriences in photos, stories, videos, and blogs with the rest of the wired community. The site is really neat and gives the user a lot more freedom and customization than other more popular social-networking sites like facebook and myspace.

It was very easy for me to both take photos and upload them to my laptop and then wired journalist, as I've been doing this same thing on facebook and myspace for years. Although I had no problem with the technical aspect, it was difficult to find photos that were newsworthy. After walking around campus for a day and half looking for something to peak my interest I decided that I was going to the Mystery Lounge on Tuesday night anyway and that would be the perfect place to take some photos and try to help spread the word. The show last night drew a smaller than normal crowd as it seemed most people in the city wanted to watch the Obama-McCain debate, so hopefully this blog and the photos I posted can help draw a bigger crowd for next week! Hong Kong restaurant, 1236 Massachusetts Ave, Tuesday nights, 8:00 PM in the Comedy Studio (3rd floor).

The group I joined on wired-journalist is called History and Mystery and I understand the group to be about the fact that history contextualizes the news today, something that I feel very strongly about being a History minor. There are only 10 people in this group and unfortunately it doesn't look like the group is very active, since the last activity in it was in July, but I think that if I ever have any questions about relating a historical scenario to the news today that those in this group would be helpful in developing that thesis.

Overall, wired journalist is a very useful site in sharing media and ideas and I think I'll definitely be hanging out there when I'm wasting time on the Internet.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Oliver Stone's new biopic about the life of President George W. Bush is set to be released on October 23rd, several weeks from now.
From what I understand based on bloggers from the Boston area, the film is set to highlight the ineptitude of the current president.
The film is being released just two weeks before election day, a move that makes it apparent that Oliver Stone thinks this might effect the election outcome. Film makers are so pretentious, obviously it's all about making a statement for him, so I don't know if I'm expecting it to be very accurate. Stone, after all, is not an journalist, oh wait....maybe that means he's less biased, the way the media has been swinging lately and all...

So what are Boston bloggers saying about this movie?

The Cynical-C Blog (395 authority) is actually not interesting at all, the blogger seems suprised that Bush was a drinker and gambler. something that really shouldn't be a surprise for anyone who's been alive in the USA for the past eight years.

Hub Blog (30 authority) is also a short post about the movie, but the blogger brings up an interesting thought in its brief simplicity. He says:

I want a fair, true portrait of the man

I think we all want that, but let's be serious. Now I'm no Bush supporter, but with horrible way this president has led the USA for the past eight years in, every respect, I have a hard time imagining that this movie will be anything close to a fair portrayal.

The most informative of the blogs about "W" came from the Boston Globe's website. They have a movie blog called Movie Nation (No Authority for this Blog?) which reviews the movies and has the critic's comments and thoughts on the movies even if the film isn't out yet, in this case the critic talks a bit about "W". The blogger describes the movie as a comedy..... SO YOUR LIBERALS THINK THAT AMERICA IS A COMEDY?!?!?! Woah, that was just me thinking of what Mark Levin's reaction to that comment would be. The republicans are always thinking of ways to make everything un-American. This blog also has a trailer of the movie which is interactive and cool.

Edge Boston (no authority yet) calls the film:

A Halloween Horror film
And gives a preliminary review of how the movie will be received by Americans. It seems that Edge Boston has recently hired a fortune teller to find out how unreleased movies will effect society.

The last blog that I visited regarding the movie "W" was a very short post on the Daley News (30 authority) blog. The actual post gets right to the point:

Oliver Stone and George Bush are in cahoots?

It seems that this blogger has it all figured out. Oh, his source for this cahoot-esque information is Hugo Chavez but he gives a bad link.

So with "W" coming up in the next two weeks it seems that the Boston bloggers just really don't care that much about this biopic/epic and that maybe it's time for Oliver Stone to try something creative and not stay safe by making movies with existing stories like....

W, World Trade Center, Alexander, The People v. Larry Flynt, Nixon, the Doors, and JFK.

Move on from these biographical epics Mr. Stone. Nobody cares about these statements your trying to make, just move on.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Understanding the Database

During our last class meeting we had a special guest speaker, Boston Globe database genius, Matt Carroll. Carroll was very enthusiastic about his work with databases and their importance to the newspaper community.
He described the database as, "columns and rows, and a list of different things." Basically a chart with numbers and information that is specifically sorted to make a statement. Of course if a newsman is putting a database together themselves they do have to be careful not to misplace a decimal, "that mistake is a career ender," Carroll said.
I want to take a look at a few databases that we can have fun looking at and interpreting.

The first database is a complete list of the Dunkin' Donuts stores in the Boston metropolitan area.
In the city of Boston itself, a small city of amount 560,000 people has 67 Dunkin' Donuts stores. That's exactly 1 store per every 8, 358.209 people. Not too shabby Dunkin'. Starbucks on the other hand, otherwise known as the store of Demon Spawn, only has around 38 stores in the city of Boston.

The next database we can look at I found on, it contains all of the Open House listings in Jamaica Plain for Sunday, October 5th. I think this website does a very good job of listing the open houses. It gives you the viewer the option to limit the search to what one is specifically looking for, it also supplies a the Google Map locations of exactly where the open houses are. On October 5th there will be 23 open houses in Jamaica Plain, so if anyone is looking for a new home that's the place to check out. I'm probably gonna go to all of the open houses because usually the realtors bring free cookies, I love cookies.

The last database we can look at lists all of the churches in the greater Boston area. Again one can limit this search to their specific neighborhood. Being that Brookline is usually considered a very Jewish neighborhood (and I know this because I'm one of the chosen) let's take a look at the number of churches in Brookline. In the city of Brookline, population around 60,000, there are only 20 churches, while in the neighborhood of Jamaica Plain, population of 30,000 people, a neighborhood with half the number of people than Brookline has more than twice the amount of churches with 50 of them.

I think that this database would make for a particularly interesting story in measuring the religiousness of Boston neighborhoods. Obviously the database is only the start of the story, it would be very interesting to find out how many of these churches fill out every Sunday and if membership seems to be growing or dwindling. With the plethora of churches in the area it is apparent that the Boston area, historically a Puritan and early Protestant home base in the United States of America, is still very much infatuated with Christ.
Doesn't history always find a way of repeating itself?