October 31, 2006
So I’m sitting at my desk this morning catching up on email and the building-wide PA system here at NPR suddenly announces, “The Chicken Man is in the house. The Chicken Man is IN DA HOUSE!!!” I didn’t make much of it at the time because, well, this is NPR.
Then a few minutes later the Chicken Man showed up on our floor. He (or is it a she in there?) came by my desk and silently dumped a handful of candy on a stack of paperwork. (Two Reeses peanut butter cups and a few other tasty treats.) Before he/she/it vanished to the next desk, I managed to snap this picture on my phone as proof of the encounter.
And to think that you, too, can work in my office. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll get to meet the Chicken Man as well.
October 26, 2006
October 25, 2006
I’ve waited 16 years to tell this story publicly. Every couple of years I edited this essay, tweaking this and tweaking that, but I didn’t want to post all of it until the time of the execution. It seems that time has come – just a few minutes from now.
Over a three-day period in August 1990, the mutilated bodies of five young people were found scattered across Gainesville, Florida. With the whole state in panic, police quickly apprehended a student named Edward Lewis Humphrey. The police, the media boldly announced, had caught the Gainesville Murderer.
Or so they thought. Eventually – over a year later – the actual perpetrator of the crime, Danny Rolling, was charged with the murders while serving a life sentence for armed robbery. In late February of 2004, Rolling changed his plea to guilty.
Tonight he will die for his crimes. But this probably won’t change the image most Americans have in their mind from that horrible summer: an image of Ed Humphrey, paraded in the courtroom in an orange jump suit, looking, so we thought, like a serial killer.
October 24, 2006
Funny story from NPR today about Lady, a cocker spaniel who got into the habit of licking toads from the local pond to trip on the hallucinogenic compounds excreted by their skin. Now the family is working tirelessly to help Lady get the monkey (or toad) off her back.
Just say no, Lady. Think of the puppies. And the toads, for crying out loud…. -andy
read more | digg story
October 23, 2006
At 4am this Saturday, Kayleigh started babbling to herself. She hasn’t stopped since then.
I dare you to find two minutes of cuter footage on a video blog. I double dare you.
October 17, 2006
For the last week, there’s been an extraordinary online exercise taking place in Minnesota. Actually, it’s taking place in cyberspace – a 10-day gubernatorial e-debate in which the six leading candidates for governor are interacting on a group blog. Moderated by online democracy whiz Steve Clift in partnership with e-democracy.org and the Blandin Foundation, the e-debate takes advantage of a variety of Web 2.0 tools to give the public a whole new way of observing – and participating – in a political debate.
The debate began as a video blog, with each candidate posting a brief introduction on YouTube. These have been followed by a series of questions, answers and rebuttals on a wide range of topics, from the digital divide to healthcare to the national guard. Different questions request the candidates to respond in different formats. For example, a question on what the candidates would do to improve access to wifi and broadband would only allow a 70-word response, forcing the candidates to be succinct, while discussions on healthcare could be open-ended. Candidates could submit their responses by email or by voicemail, which would be transcribed by the debate organizers.
Meanwhile, the public can participate in a variety of ways. They can follow the debate on the website, as well as via rss and email. The responses include a rating system, allowing the public to grade them on a scale of one to five (the average rating seems to be around 2.5 at the moment.) All the candidates’ responses can be reused according to a Creative Commons attribution license, meaning anyoen can do pretty much anything they want with it as long as they cite the e-debate website as its source.
For those people who wish to dive into the debate, Steve and his colleagues have set up multiple platforms for online interaction. You can join their bulletin board or e-list. You can upload your photos or video to Flickr.com YouTube respectively and tag them “mn06,” which causes them to be displayed automatically in a photo gallery. If you have a microphone one you computer, you can record audio comments. And of course, they’re aggregating blog post that mention the debate.
On the whole, I’ve been very impressed with the e-debate so far. The website is easy to use, allowing for various forms of multimedia while recognizing the importance of accessibility and low-bandwidth access. In some ways, though, the e-debate mimics the modern political debate a little too closely, with only limited direct interaction between the candidates. I would love to see more instances where candidates are responding directly to each other’s posts rather than sticking to their pre-determined answers. I’d also love to see more of a public imprimatur on the individual questions, as in “Jenny Malcomsen of St. Paul asks, ‘What would your administration do in regards to immigration reform,” with their questions being presented in the media format of their choice. But these are small bones to pick in comparison to what’s being accomplished.
Once again, Steve Clift is making the world safe for e-democracy – and every politician should take notice. -andy
October 16, 2006
Fighthunger.org, the blog of the United Nations World Food Programme, recently announced the launch of what they’re calling the Walk the World Viral Video Contest. They’re looking for people to produce a short video (120 seconds or less) offering an upbeat message that spreads the world about ending child hunger by the year 2015, one of the UN Millennium Development Goals. Anyone 18 years old or older is welcome to submit a video, and they’re encouraging users to upload their clips to either blip.tv or Ourmedia.org and tag them fhvideo.
The winning video will be used in official media campaigns of the UN World Food Programme, and the vlogger who produced the video will also be given a free trip to visit a school somewhere in the developing world where they’ll get to personally experience the World Food Programme in action.
If you’re interested in participating, please be sure to read the contest rules All videos submitted to the contest should use a Creative Commons Attribution – Non-Commercial – Share-Alike License. Videos must be submitted no later than December 15, 2006. So get out that camera and put together a video for a great cause! -andy
ps – Turns out this post is my 1300th post on this blog.