Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

Well, it is Christmas Eve and I have not posted anything for a while. I hope everyone has very happy holidays. This is my absolute favorite time of year. I love the lights, the music, the family gatherings and church events. I hope that no matter what your religious and political beliefs are this is a joyous and peaceful time for you and yours.

On a light note, I highly recommend Orson Scott Card's short story Homeless in Hell. It is a little festive, a little thought provoking and a little fun. Card is one of my favorite authors and you can read this story for free on his website. It is not a typical Christmas story, but I enjoy it.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

What will replace the laptop?

What will replace the laptop? Good question. I am rather excited about the idea of wearable computers. It will be interesting to see how things turn out. Maybe we will be telling our kids when we got our first laptop and they will not believe us (You must be as old as dinosaurs dad!). MSNBC has an interesting column on the subject by Michael Rogers. He points out some of the new technologies that are being developed to make our handheld devices and cell phones more powerful. The most interesting project:

NASA is currently working on a technology called “subvocal speech recognition” in which electrodes taped to your neck recognize the signals your brain sends to your larynx. It turns out that those signals are sent even when you’re just thinking of words. The NASA researchers have conducted Web searches on a computer merely by thinking, but not saying aloud, the commands and search terms. Several laboratories are working on this technology but it’s still very delicate and—as its origin suggests — probably a bit too close to rocket science for near-term practical purposes.
That is awesome, even if it is still a long way away. I don't think I will miss desktops much. I already do almost everything on my laptop.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Check out my link blog

Scoble keeps writing about his amazing link blog and how wonderful Google Reader is so I decided to make the jump too. I was not very happy with the RSS reader I was using, so it seemed like a good time to do it. It is great. It is nice to have the reader online so I can access it from any computer, which I could not do with my old one. I also have a page that you can access to see what I am reading and sharing. You can even sign up for an RSS feed for the articles I recommend. I will try not to share too many things and I will still post about the ones I think are the most important.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Friedman for president!

I have been reading Thomas Friedman's book The World is Flat. It is a little long, but I am really enjoying it. The premise of the book is that technology has flattened the world and brought people and industry closer together. My favorite quote so far comes from an aside as Friedman talks about how other countries are more advanced than the US is in terms of wireless technology.

The more I thought about this, the more I wanted to run for president on a one-issue ticket: "I promise, if elected, that within four years America will have as good cell phone coverage as Ghana, and in eight years as good as Japan – provided that the Japanese sign a standstill agreement and won't innovate for eight years so we can catch up." My campaign bumper sticker will be very simple: "Can you hear me now?" (Page 188)
I love it. I will vote for him if he can really do it. Certainly there are more important issues that our country faces, but we should not be proud of the fact that we are lacking in technology that we originally helped develop.

Friedman does point out some of the good reasons why we are behind.
New players (other countries) are often stepping onto the playing field legacy free, meaning that many of them were so far behind they can leap right into the new technologies without having to worry about all the sunken costs of old systems. It means that they can move very fast to adopt new, state-of-the-art technologies, which is why there are already more cell phones in China today than there are people in the United States. Many Chinese just skipped over the landline phase. To put it another way, many Chinese went from no phones to cell phones in the space of a decade. (Page 215)
Interesting, I can understand that these other countries can implement new technology without losing the investments in the old technology they are replacing, but I still think that we are missing out here in the US. I say Friedman for president!

Elder Brandon's Pictures

My little brother, Brandon, is on a mission for our church in the Philippines, Capoocan Leyte to be exact. He emailed us this morning with the news that they had a major bagio, or typhoon, this weekend. It sounds like there was quite a bit of damage in the area, but he said no one was injured.

Anyway, for my JMC163 multimedia project, I made a slide show of the pictures he has sent home over the last five months. He is having a great time, and some of the pictures are really cool. It is always interesting to hear about a different country and what life is like there. Here is the movie, I hope you enjoy it. It is my first movie, let me know what you think and how I can make it better.

Thanks again to Olin Fields for the music and Spencer Fields for the web space.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

SJSU Blog Community

Andrew Venegas has made a bold jump and decided to give other people posting privileges to his blog, The Soapbox Prophet. His goal is to make an online community for SJSU bloggers. He also has a great drop down menu with links to other SJSU blogs. It is definitely a step in the right direction. I will be posting there occasionally, but I will keep posting here as my major online outlet. If you are interested in participating, let Andrew know.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The future of media? 2014 EPIC

This video is a little old (by Internet standards only, it is from May 2006), but my friend Keith just sent it to me and I had to post about it.



It is awesome - as in it fills one with awe. It is fiction, I think, but certainly could be possible. However, I am more optimistic for the fate of journalism. I think that there will always be a place for professional journalists. Even this look at a possible future includes people who get paid for their online editing. The traditional news organizations still need to wake up and make some changes, but they are starting to come around.

The scary part of the video is that in their future all of the news is shallow.

At its best, edited for the savviest of readers, EPIC is a summary of the world, deeper, broader, more nuanced than anything every available before. But at its worst, and for too many, EPIC is merely a collection of trivia, much of it untrue, all of it narrow, shallow, and sensational. But EPIC is what we wanted, it is what we choose, and its commercial success preempted any discussions of media and democracy or journalistic ethics.
There certainly is, in my opinion, too much celebrity news and gossip around today, but that is what people want and pay for. I am not sure if there is much we can do to change that other than to train our children to focus on important social and moral issues and encourage them to get involved and be part of the world around them. (Here is a transcript of part of the movie.)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Techies take on newspapers and newspapers take on blogs

Sarrah Phuong pointed out an interesting article from USA Today on what techies would do if they owned a newspaper. Of course, they would make it all digital, and they would allow users to interact with the news more.

"The media brands that will be successful will open their content to the masses and participate heavily with everyone else, including their competitors," Hot or Not's Hong says. "I would do everything I could do to embrace the new world rather than fight tooth and nail to protect my old business models."

Local newspapers would want to assimilate and link to local bloggers and get readers to network with each other through topic areas — like fans of the local minor league baseball team or musicians involved in the local scene. Add Digg-style ratings so readers can rate stories and move them to the front page. "Make it personal — you can see that now with The New York Times," Miller says. The Times and some other newspaper sites have a feature that lets people rearrange the website to their liking.

The digital generation "wants to customize everything — what news they receive, how they receive it," says author Don Tapscott, whose books include Growing Up Digital. "They increasingly want to not only read the news but write and produce the news. Media companies need to think of themselves as community builders, not just content providers."

As for going aggressively local, Jones says, newspapers need to do way more. In his newspaper, he says, "There would be local emphasis on restaurants, classes, events, things to do, including pictures and videos. Think YouTube, but with a local orientation, of every school soccer game, art festival, church picnic or black-tie affair."
That is what we need. Quality news that is easy to access, organize and comment on. Plus a way that users can create their own content to share with others. Is that too much to ask?

Ryan Sholin pointed out an article from the American Journalism Review on how professional newspapers are turning to blogs and some of the questions and concerns that blogs raise.
Newspapers' current passion for blogging is fueling a vigorous, industry-wide debate about everything from staffing to sourcing, standards to liability. There's an inevitable clash of values between a newspaper, which has a journalistic reputation and brand name to protect, and a swiftly changing medium that has grown in power and prestige precisely because it has flouted many of journalism's traditional rules.
There are a lot of concerns that need to be addressed, and maybe some papers have gone overboard (a bowling blog is okay, but from a newspaper?), but blogging is here to stay and journalists need to learn how to use them effectively.

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A Blogging Community

I have been thinking a lot about JMC163, blogging, a new club, and Daniel Sato's online community. I think that we definitely do need more of an community feeling here at SJSU both online and in the regular sense. The Spartan Daily could certainly do better in this area, but there are other ways to make it happen as well. I found Sean Gilpin's post really interesting:

I have been looking for community information on the web about SJSU. I mean that I am looking for information about SJSU from students. I would like to hear what other students find interesting about our campus. Of course I could just spend more time talking to the people who are all around me. I guess that’s what most people do because I haven’t been successful in finding that sort of thing online.

There are several blogs by SJSU students that I have found, but they are mostly from Journalism students. I don’t like reading blog entries from journalism students because they tend to cover “the news”, which I can get by reading the newspaper. I am really more interested in something I can’t get from the newspaper. Basically I’d like to hear from students in an unfiltered format what they like or dislike about our campus.
There are a lot of bloggers here, we just are not all aware of each other. Many of them are journalism students, but not all. I think we all can try better to write about what is happening on and around campus. We also need to link to each other, make comments on each other's blogs and do everything we can to build a community from the ground up.

I know of two classes that are very active in blogging. One is JMC163 and the other is Lilly Buchwitz's MCOM 72 class. Both classes have students blogging and linking to each other, but there has not been much interaction between the two. So I thought I would start. Lilly asked her students to post about the proposed changes to JMC163 and many of them did. A few mentioned that they hope to take the class next semester. Here are the students that I saw that talked about JMC163:
Andrea Nutopia
Billy Passerino
Chris Bausinger
Cindy Diep
Megan Rocko
Nicole Lieurance
Rossa Dono
Sandra Santos
Tomoyo Ohashi

That may or may not be all of them; they are very good, insightful and honest views.

As I looked at the many blogs from the MCOM 72 students, I was impressed with the diversity of the class. Some students are journalism majors, others are advertising or PR majors. Many of them have recently moved here from other parts of the country or even from other nations. It was interesting to me to look through all of the blogs from the class. There are many different subjects and opinions from the group. I hope that they all continue to blog once the class is over next week. They are definitely a group of voices that we need. Keep on blogging!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Let's organize!

Some people are concerned that our writing about the need for change at SJSU reflects poorly on the school. I disagree. I think that San Jose State is a fantastic school. The fact that students and staff are able to voice their concerns and make suggestions is proof of the quality. We all learn from each other. The point of attending a university is to broaden your horizons, see things from different perspectives and learn that it is okay to be wrong and change your mind some times. The best way for a good school to get better is to listen to the people that are around: students, faculty, alumni and community members. I am proud to go to SJSU and hope that I can help make the school better for those who will come here in the future.

As we have discussed some of the things that we students need to learn, it was suggested that we organize so that students who are interested in technology have a place to gather and work together. There are some pros and cons to organizing and being officially recognized by the University, but I think that it would be good in this case for us to have an official group. We do not have to do anything fancy, but we can get together occasionally, maybe have some food, invite guest speakers and the like. We would like feedback from students and others associated with SJSU to see what you think we should do. The more input we get as we begin the process the more successful we will be. I am going to go to the Student Life and Leadership office to get the forms we need so that we can discuss it more in the JMC163 final next Tuesday. Please let us know if you are interest in participating, even if you do not want to be an official member but would like to come to an event every once in a while. You can leave a comment here or email me.

Our first task is going to be defining what exactly the group will focus on. We could be focused on all new media, or we could just be journalists interested in technology or something completely different. I would like to see lots of collaboration and hopefully involve people from all over the university, not just the journalism school. Hopefully it will not all be geeks or engineers or anything else. A diverse group with different interests will make the club more interesting and successful.

You say you want a revolution...

Andrew Venegas posted a Student Manifesto on his blog yesterday. I absolutely agree with his thoughts on the future of journalism at San Jose State University. As he says, JMC 163 has been a huge success in its inaugural semester as a class on new media. If we as journalism students want to survive as journalists in the future, we need to learn these skills. SJSU needs to save the class and expand its curriculum to include more on new media. His proposed solution is a great idea:

I propose a complete overhaul of the journalism curriculum at SJSU, starting with the development of New Media as a concentration. Print and Broadcast are fast becoming niche markets as consumers more often than not are reading hard print and watching the TV AFTER already seeing or reading it online. The Long Tail is gaining a larger viewer and readership than traditional media.

It is true that we need specific tools, but we also need theory and core journalistic values. A core GE specifically for journalists must be established, which should include an introduction to Dreamweaver, InDesign, and Photoshop, as well as stressing objectivity, fairness and truth-seeking.

After completion of this GE, journalism students should be able to concentrate in Print, Broadcast, or New Media.

In this new concentration, students could then delve into the concepts and software that make Web 2.0 technologies, podcasting, and vodcasting work.
The only thing I am not sure about is using the labels of print, broadcast and new media at all. I think that any journalism degree needs to include aspects of all three. I want to learn the basics of writing for broadcast, for example. But I am a print major so that is not offered in any of my classes and I do not want to go back and take classes over again (but in a different focus) just to learn these things. A good new media journalist will need to know how to write, design, edit, take photos and broadcast, just as a print journalist needs to know how to write, edit and some basic design. That does not mean that we need to know everything, but we need to go over the fundamentals.

Those who are going to survive the difficult transition our industry is going through are those that can produce quality content in any medium, or even better, in every medium. We are seeing more and more integration and cooperation of text, graphics, photos, video and the like. A good news report now is not just a written summary; it is good text, with good photos, video and audio. The media need to complement each other and work together. We need to learn how to use all of them and how to integrate them all into our work.

Steve Sloan says that we are going through a revolution.
I do not see blood on the streets, what kind of revolution is this? It is a revolution about conversation. It is about the power of ordinary citizens as well as new media journalists to be able to go to their virtual windows to the world and (using their blogs, podcasts, video blogs and other forms of new media) to be able to shout out, "I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore!" In the fictional 1976 movie Network, Howard Beale from his TV pulpit was able to inspire folks to go to their windows and yell that out. Each individual's voice carried maybe a few houses. It was only Beale's voice that was able to reach across the nation, only Beale had the network. Now we all have a network, it is called the Internet. That is the revolution.
He is right. The world is changing, and we are in a unique position to make our thoughts heard. What we say makes a difference. As we call on the University to update its program and rethink new media in journalism, we enable future generations to be better prepared to produce quality content and survive in a changing industry. Good journalists are a powerful force in the world. Let's make sure that SJSU continues to produce only the very best.

Media news

Three articles today I found interesting:

The New York Times has an article on how web advertising has taken off in Brittan. There are many factors that have made online advertising more successful there, but the one I found most interesting is the difference in attitude:

Some analysts say British advertisers may simply be quicker to embrace new marketing ideas than American companies. “I’d like to think there’s a cultural factor in the U.K., where we’ve been a bit more experimental on some of these things,” said Rob Noss, European chief executive of MindShare Interaction, a new media division of Group M’s MindShare unit.
I always thought that Americans were always on the cutting edge, okay, not really, I knew that we are behind on a lot of things. We seem to start a trend and then other countries pass us up. What's up with that?

Newsweek tech columnist Steven Levy wrote about how the Internet is changing the way we act in public.
There used to be a safer middle ground between an inviolate privacy sanctuary and a no-holds-barred public space, a zone of local accountability and global anonymity, where a gaffe, a humiliation or even a serious lapse in judgment could occur without making waves from San Diego to Sydney. No more—all it takes is one digital rubbernecker who quietly captures the event with a cell-phone camera and posts it to a Web site. From there the aberrant behavior is subject to a social-networking mob of looky-loos who unfailingly unearth and promulgate the most chatter-worthy clips.
We have to be careful what we say and what we do in public, but we cannot live in fear.

Finally, Melinda Liu has a column about the new rules China just announced for journalists that will be in the country for the Olympics. The rules are a huge shift in a country that has been tightening up its control of the media in the last year. Last Friday's announcement is a huge step in the right direction, but the question is, will it last?
The new rules are slated to expire on Oct. 17, 2008, a month after the end of the 13th Paralympic Games. Foreign Ministry officials have declined to speculate whether the new regulations will be extended. Yet reverting back to antiquated rules hammered out in 1990 would be an egregiously retrograde step. If the new regulations are implemented successfully through the end of the Olympic season, the Chinese government may find it impossible to put the toothpaste back into the tube.
We can always hope.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Chron 2.0: How the Chronicle is trying to save itself

The cover article of this week's SF Weekly is by one of my journalism professors, Michael Stoll. It is a great inside look at the San Francisco Chronicle and how it is trying to save itself.

Recently, though, editors have begun to think that the Web could be a lifeboat for their creative talent until the seas calm. They are gambling that somehow they can morph the Chronicle from a publishing company into an information company. Yet while the popularity of their own Web sites is growing fast, it could be a decade or more before the sites pay the bills for quality journalism — if they ever do.
All newspapers are trying to save themselves right now. What is most interesting about the Chron is its celebrity editor. Since Phil Bronstein has taken the helm, the paper has been almost constantly redesigning the front page to attract readers. The Chron figures that they need to do whatever they can to attract readers while leaving the breaking news and major headlines to the website. They might just be right, but it is hard to say what the future will be like.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The future of JMC 163

Steve Sloan recently posted about the discussion the journalism department at San Jose State is having on what to do with the JMC 163 class on new media. This has been one of the best classes that I have taken in my four years so far at SJSU. I have learned more in this one class that will actually help me in my career than in all of the journalism classes I have previously taken combined.

Some people from the school want to change the class by adding software to the curriculum. I totally agree that we need to learn the software programs that they are talking about, but this is not the right place to do it. First off, InDesign and Photoshop are not new media by any stretch of the imagination. They are important programs that we need to learn and they should offer more classes on how to use them, but they need to keep at lest one, preferably two, classes on new media and Web 2.0.

I completely agree with Andrew that we need new media to be a concentration within journalism just as print and broadcast are.

I said it once and I'll say it again, the University needs to revamp its curriculum and consider making New Media a concentration unto itself. What's happening now is essentially like having all Nursing and Biology students in the same major because it might increase costs to the school to have both.
I am a print major and am very disappointed that I have not learned anything about photography, design, video or audio until now, let alone web design, HTML, RSS, blogging, podcasting or any other new technology. We need to learn the history of media, how to write and edit and all that, but we also need to learn where the future of the industry is going to be or else we will be completely useless when we graduate and try to get jobs.

My favorite comment so far comes from what Whitney Hoffman wrote on Scoble's blog:
As Dr. Spence said to the group (at the Univ. of DE): “Most classrooms haven’t changed their knowledge delivery methods since universities first came into existance. A mideval professor would feel quite at home in most of today’s classrooms- a talking head, lecturing to a bunch of seated students, whose job it was to absorb and spit back knowledge” rather than absorb it and then transform it, work with it, to create something new.
Amen. I think there is a lot to learn from lectures but we also need to apply the things we are learning into today's world. We need to learn the things that employers are going to want in five, ten, fifteen years. That is why I am going to college, and that is why I am taking JMC 163.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bloggers are journalists

I have been a little behind on news because of my vacation, but last Friday, a Canadian judge ruled that a blogger is a journalist! Blogger Charles LeBlanc was arrested while reporting on a protest last June. The judge ruled last week hat he was working as a journalist and that the police should not have arrested him or deleted the photos from his digital camera.

"Members of the so called mainstream media were taking photographs and filming in the same area without interference from the police,” the judge wrote in a 20-page decision. “I believe it’s fair to say that the defendant was doing nothing wrong at the time he was approached by Sergeant Parks and placed under arrest. He was simply plying his trade, gathering photographs and information for his blog alongside other reporters."
This is good news for those of us that believe that journalists should be free in gathering information and publishing their information. Unfortunately, as demonstrated by the Josh Wolf case, the US courts have still not been able to figure out how the First Amendment applies to bloggers.

TV websites are Election Day winners

The New York Times also had an article about the success of TV websites in the recent election coverage. The Project for Excellence in Journalism followed 32 different new outlets to rate their coverage. TV websites performed the best:

The Web sites of both network and cable television delivered results quickly, allowing users to dig as deeply as they wanted into exit poll information and interactive maps with reports on hundreds of races.
Unfortunately, we bloggers do not always do so well in breaking news situations:
Perhaps faring least well in the Project for Excellence survey were bloggers, who, the report said, were left empty-handed because there were few snafus to discuss and they offered no original reporting.
That is the real disadvantage of blogging. We lack the resources of the larger organizations. I think that it is definitely a reminder that citizen journalists will never completely replace the pros.

The future of television advertising

I am back. I spent most of the last week in Idaho for Thanksgiving. It was a good time.

NBC has announced that Nightly News will have a solo sponsor for next week, Philips Electronics. The deal means that Philips will be the only advertiser for the half-hour show with three commercials totaling one minute and 15 seconds. That means that there will be five minutes and 45 seconds more news in the show. In the new Internet and TiVo age, companies are looking for new ways to get their messages to audiences. A half hour has never been long enough for the news anyway. Hopefully more companies will come forward with similar plans.

Another example of new ways of looking at television advertising comes from TBS' new show "My Boys." The show will feature Match.com in all 13 episodes as well as on the website.

The sponsorship is another example of an advertising technique that is being revived, decades after fading from the media landscape. Known as branded entertainment, it recalls the days when announcers intoned at the start of TV and radio shows that they were being “brought to you by” some name-brand consumer product.

Branded entertainment is returning to television because of its ability to interweave product pitches into the story lines of the shows that consumers want to watch. The goal is to counter viewers’ increasing ability to ignore or avoid more interruptive advertising like traditional commercials....

In some instances, they are even getting marquee billing in the names of the shows they are sponsoring, a throwback to the era of “Schlitz Playhouse of Stars” and “The United States Steel Hour.” For example, the AMC cable network announced yesterday the creation of an ad package to be called the “Lincoln Friday Night Feature,” sponsored by the Lincoln Mercury division of the Ford Motor Company.
I have noticed over the past few years that there have been many more instances of product placement in TV shows as well as movies. I think these things are all part of a trend that is going to continue to grow.

Monday, November 20, 2006

How to Count Eyeballs on the Web

Another great article from Newsweek, this one on the battle to become the provider of ratings on the Internet. Nielsen ratings have long been the standard by which television shows and stations have been judged, but there is no one established way to count viewers on the Internet.

Why the fuss over collecting data on which sites you visit, how long you stay and what you do during your visits? The simple answer: data equal dollars. As in television, where Nielsen ratings are a key measure for setting the price and placement of commercials, UV numbers are used to help determine Web advertising rates and positioning.
There are close to 100 companies in the battle to be the "Nielsen of the Web," and many of them use different ways to count views. It will be interesting to see how things work out. I doubt that there will every be one company doing all of the counting like there is for TV.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

'Expose a scandal, face a prison term'

The LA Times has an article today that is a good summary of what is happening with the two reporters from the San Francisco Chronicle that broke the BALCO story and now face prison time. Even after being praised by President Bush, they have been sentenced to 18 months in prison each, more than the combined sentences of everyone involved in the scandal they wrote about. It is a reminder and a warning to journalists that they are not safe, despite what the First Amendment might say.

Media advocates say cases like BALCO are eroding the press' check-and-balance role in society. Lucie Morillon, of the Paris-based advocacy group Reporters Without Borders, said the United States' ranking in its annual survey of press freedom fell from 17 in 2002 to 53 in 2005. "The main thing in the U.S. is attacks on confidential sources," she said.
I can understand the need to protect witnesses and defendants in grand jury proceedings; however, journalists need to be able to protect their sources and write freely, even when they disagree with the current administration.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Technology changes the world

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that he thinks that the future of technology includes free cell phones. More and more people are relying on wireless devices for news, information and communication.

Schmidt said Saturday that as mobile phones become more like handheld computers and consumers spend as much as eight to 10 hours a day talking, texting and using the Web on these devices, advertising becomes a viable form of subsidy.
I am excited to see where this technology is going to take us. There has been much speculation of what a "wearable" computer might be like. We are quickly making computers and technology part of ourselves. We are always connected, with cell phones, PDAs and iPods.

There are definite positive and negative results. We have so much information at our feature tips, and so many new tools to do things that were unimaginable not long ago. Yet, we need to learn how to control the technology instead of letting it control us. The first thing almost everyone does after a class at school is over is check their phones. I use a laptop in class to take notes (and, I admit, sometimes to blog and do other things). We cannot let technology replace the more important personal, face-to-face relationships we need as humans in order to survive. Technology is amazing, I love it, but we need to use it wisely.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

More election coverage

A couple of quick updates on the election:

Republicans in the rest of the country are looking towards Gov. Schwarzenegger for an example of how to gain favor with voters. There is definitely a need for anew type of politician, one that is willing to work with people of the other party.

Newsweek had an interesting analysis of last night's TV coverage. Pretty much the same thing as my last post, the coverage was not too exciting.

They just said on the news that voter turnout was even lower than expected, just 44 percent. Not good.

Election night on TV

There is a great column by Troy Patterson on Slate about last night's TV coverage of the election. My favorite part, about "the first-ever election-night blogger party:"

As you know, and as the blogger may not, the term party carries certain connotations: If the people being entertained are, in the main, younger than 11, they expect to find cake, balloons, games, and maybe a pony. If the guests are any older, they show up anticipating alcohol, possibly drugs, a chance of getting laid, and maybe a pony. At this party, however, we saw a handful of Americans, none of them remarkably telegenic, sitting in front of computer screens in a Washington, D.C., coffee house. No ponies.
I am proud to be a blogger, and a politically interested one too, and I see nothing wrong with a party on election night with computers.

Unfortunately, I did not get to watch much of the coverage myself, but it did seem like they did not have much to talk about. After the mistakes of 2000, the networks are hesitant to predict outcomes too early, so we really have to wait until the next morning to see what happened anyway. All I will say about the results is that I am happy with some and not so happy with others. At lest people got to have their say on some important issues.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Gannett turns to 'citizen journalists'

Gannett has announced that they are going to try to more actively involve the internet world by taping into "citizen journalism."

Gannett Co., the nation's largest newspaper chain, plans to create stories with information from bloggers, people who post in Internet discussion groups and other non-journalists in hopes of winning readers from the Internet, television and other news sources, officials with the company said.

Gannett, which operates 90 newspapers, including the nation's largest, USA Today, is hoping "citizen journalism" will reverse the company's part of an industrywide trend of declining circulation and advertising revenues, officials said.
The folks at Gannett are finally getting that the Internet is important, but I am not sure about the effort to combine the online operations of USA Today and their other papers. We will have to see how it turns out, but the local papers need to have their own online presence, not just force readers over to the national paper.

Google goes to print

Google has made the big jump into advertising for newspapers. It has been selling ads for magazines for a little while, but this is a big move for the Internet giant into the realm of the struggling newspaper world.

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The new big three on election night

It is election day! Hopefully you have all voted already; if not, shame on you. The New York Times had an article today about the opportunity this important election has given "the (New) Big 3" (Williams, Gibson and Couric) to prove themselves with breaking news. It is an interesting to see the competition between the three networks. Brian Williams had a column this week in Newsweek about the impact television has had on his life and on our country. News viewers are sharply declining, but as Williams points out, the big three are still the major "still represent the largest single news audience in the nation." I love watching breaking news on TV, it is sometimes journalism at its worst as the same people who are usually so polished and professional (and maybe even seem perfect) make mistakes (like in the 2000 presidential race). We will have to see how the new anchors do.

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College training for the 'real world'

The My Turn column in Newsweek this week is by a recent college grad who talks about the things college did not prepare her for. I have been posting about the lack of technology and new media training at San Jose State, Caitlin Petre writes about some of the other real life things that she was not taught, such as how to get a job, fill out tax forms and find an apartment. There are so many things that we need to know to be prepared for the "real world," college can not train us on everything, in fact, some of it should be taught in high school, but there is more that could be done.

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Head Hunter Helps

We had to do a podcast for my JMC163 - New Media class. Here is the url for the RSS feed:

http://www.helaman81.net/kylehansen/HeadHunterHelps.xml

You can open it in iTunes or in your browser to listen. For now, it is just job hunting advice from me. The into and conclusion music is from Olin Fields. Let me know what you think.

Thanks to Spencer for the web space and Olin for the cool music.

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Students strugle with textbook prices

The LA Times has an article on the rising costs of college textbooks. Nothing new to any students, but a confirmation of what we have been saying all along.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office reported last year that college textbook prices have climbed at twice the rate of inflation over the last two decades.

That is ridiculous!
A College Board report released last month estimated that students at public four-year colleges are spending $942 on books and supplies this school year. Another analysis found that hardcover college textbooks are selling, new, for an average of about $120.

Some states have begun to take action, but there is still a lot that can be done.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Students make cell phone movies

Students at Boston University are part of a new experiment class (I know that feeling, JMC163 is all a big experiment). They are in a class that is on movie making - with cell phones. It is a trend that has not really caught on big here in the States, but from other articles I have read, other countries are way into content for cell phones. It is a cool idea, a cell phone company working with a University to the benefit of both the company and the students. Just think a school on the cutting edge of technology. Boston of course, not San Jose.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The joy of jury duty

About midnight last night I realized that I had jury duty this week. My bad. So I went online and saw that my group had been called and saw that if you don't show, "the court may find the prospective juror in contempt of court, punishable by a fine of up to $1000.00, or 5 days in the county jail, or both." So I was feeling really great.

Now, I am not as bad as it seems. I actually want to serve on a jury, or at lest get called to the courthouse. I have never sat in on a trial before and I think it would be interesting to watch. That said, I am pretty busy, and when I got my summons I noticed that full time students can postpone their service until a time that school is not in session. Of course the form that you are supposed to fill out in incredibly confusing, but I filled it out and sent it in with a copy of my class schedule and then forgot about it. But I never heard anything back, so last night when I remembered that I had jury duty this week I was not really sure if I did or not. Then I came home this afternoon and found two identical letters from the county saying that my request was granted and I do not have jury duty until the week before Christmas. I was quite relieved that I am not going to be in jail anytime soon, but I was a little upset at the tardy and wasteful two notices. I should have gotten them at least a week ago.

Overall, I was very surprised and disappointed at the difficulty of the whole thing. The form to request a postponement is very confusing and parts are contradictory. If a college student like me that enjoys studying English, government and politics has a hard time figuring it out, how is a new citizen that has only been in the country for a short while supposed to figure it out? The judicial system, at least here in Santa Clara County, needs to make some changes.

P.S. Can someone email me the week of December 17th to remind me I have jury duty again?


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Liberating students online

Andrew has a great post on the need for students to have access to a server to post content online. He points out that SJSU is part of iTunes U. There are a few podcasts in iTunes, but why don't we have a page like Stanford? And, more importantly, as Andrew points out: "There has been no explanation from the University or iTunes about how STUDENTS can access the server. That's like writing the PHP for Digg and then removing the submit button!"

As I posted before, students need to be able to create a presence for themselves online. As Scoble told us when he visited JMC163:

“I don’t care if you blog or not, but if you are not in Google and your work is not in Google, I don’t trust you, I don’t know what you do, I don’t know that you are participating in the community and sharing and building a brand around your journalism…. They are not hiring people that do not have a body of work that they can demonstrate.”
San Jose State, and probably most other colleges, needs to recognize this and make it easier for students to create a presence online. I think it is embarrassing that there are not more classes for us to take to learn this stuff. The only way to learn is to do it yourself. I have seriously been thinking about taking a class at a local community college to catch up on the web skills I need, the skills that are not taught in any classes I can take at SJSU.

Newspapers urged to embrace the Web

A group of online editors told the Associated Press Managing Editors annual conference that "their industry's survival depends on how well they can engage and excite the masses of readers on the Web."

Funny, most of us (at lest the people my age) would probably say "duh, of course, everybody knows that!" But for some reason the people running newspapers need to have a meeting with experts telling them the basics.

For some reason, the traditional media companies have been super reluctant to do anything online until very recently. Even now, they are not sure what to do and how to do it. I do not have all the answers, but it is clear that newspapers cannot keep doing what they have been doing.

As one of the editors pointed out, newspapers cannot just take their content and replicate it online. The content and the site itself needs to be fresh and new.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

'Google Bombs' and Reader Beware

Interesting article from the National Journal via MSNBC today:
Political bloggers coordinate 'Google Bombs'

Of course, I had never heard of "Google Bombs" before, but the concept is not new. Companies have been using the same techniques for years to get their companies listed first among search results. It is not surprising that some political consultants finally decided to do the same thing.

This highlights the danger of relying on Google and the Internet in general for your information. There is a lot of important information out there that is not findable via Google, and the information you do get is not always reliable or trustworthy. Of course, the Internet is a very valuable tool, but the user must beware.

A good example of this is to do a quick Google search for "Martin Luther King." There are probably thousands of young students who go online for information about King, and what do they get? The very first (unpaid) link is to martinlutherking.org. Sounds like a good source, right? Take a look at the page, it is anti-civil rights. The website calls King a "liar, cheater and traitor" and calls for the end of the King Holiday. At the bottom of the page, we see that the website is hosted by stormfront.org, a "White Nationalist Community," not exactly the type of organization you would expect to get unbiased and correct information about a black civil rights leader.

Be careful. Not everything you read online is true.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

SJSU needs tech

We discussed in my JMC163 class today the need for San Jose State University to provide more technology for students to use. We really need ftp access so that we can post things online, on space provided by the University. The class is on new technology and tools, but many of the resources we have are provided by the professors at their own expense, or we have to get it ourselves. We are in the heart of Silicon Valley, and yet our facilities and equipment are way behind. I am not ungrateful for what we have, but it is sad that the school can not provide some of the tools we need. Professor Stephen Greene spoke to the class and talked about how the school really needs to proved more technical resources for students. He said that he visited a number of colleges in other parts of the country and they were all jealous that he was from Silicon Valley, but he said that they had better technological resources than we do here at SJSU.

Virtual Reporting

Reuters announced that they now have a reporter stationed in the virtual world of Second Life. It is an interesting concept, a big international media company reporting events that are not necessarily happening in the "real world." I have not taken the jump to join Second Life yet, but it is on my to do list. It will be interesting to see what happens as media companies try to deal with more people spending more time in the virtual world.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Josh Wolf still in prison

The Chronicle had an update today on Josh Wolf, the blogger and filmmaker who "is well on his way to becoming the longest-jailed journalist in U.S. history." This is a topic that we journalists like to talk about a lot. The ethics of journalism often conflicts with the desires of government. I will not say that Wolf is right or wrong, mostly because I do not know. It is just important to note that this is a difficult issue that comes up again and again. A journalist must protect his sources and have the freedom to investigate and publish as he will, but I can also understand the need for the grand jury to get information and punish those who have broken laws.

College Volunteers

An AP article from the Merc today said that college students are volunteering in ever increasing numbers - up more than 20 percent from 2002 to 2005. That is great news if you ask me. I think that volunteering is one of the best things you can do, not only to help your community, but also to further your own education and help yourself. I am not as involved now as I have been in the past, but my best memories of high school come from the service activities I was involved in. I was able to go to Denver, meet Erin Brockovich and was on the front of the local section of the newspaper and was on multiple TV news shows. It was lots of fun, and I learned a lot about my community. Get involved, go volunteer!

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Blogs all over the world

I just got back yesterday from a quick trip to New York City. It was great, it was my first time there and I hope I can go back to see everything that I missed.

Last week (and I am just now writing about it), David Weinberger spoke to my new media class via Skype. He told us about GlobalVoicesOnline.org, a website about people are blogging all over the world. It is always interesting and enlightening to see what other people are writing about in other places. I posted before about WatchingAmerica, which has stories from news sites in other countries. These two websites help us see what the rest of the world thinks of us and gives a new perspective to current events.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Scoop on Dig

Newsweek has an interview with Digg.com's founder Kevin Rose. Digg is an interesting take on the concept of getting news online as it allows users to determine which stories are important. It is changing the way that many (especially young) people get their news. I have not really caught on yet, I still check the traditional sources (like Newsweek on MSNBC), but I will have to start checking out Digg more often.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Objective Reporters

In other journalism news: Newsweek had an interesting article about journalists expressing their opinions. Normally we think that journalists are not supposed to have opinions or biases, but face it, they all do. A good journalist is able to admit they have opinions, but those opinions do not show in their writings. That is really hard for people to understand because on a day-to-day basis, we all express our opinions in thousands of ways. It is never going to be possible to completely keep one’s opinion out of one's writing, but with a conscious effort, it is possible to write objectively and honestly. That is the goal of every good journalist.

CA First Amendment Coalition

I just got back from the first round of sessions from the California First Amendment Coalition (CFAC) Assembly at UC Berkeley. There were two sessions this evening. The first was on students and school newspapers and MySpace. The second was on access to public meetings. It was neat to hear from so many journalists and see their enthusiasm. The most interesting part was hearing from the Bert Robinson the Assistant Managing Editor of the Mercury News and how that paper is trying to get sunshine reform laws passed here. Some journalists do not agree in taking such an active role in politics, but as Robinson said, if there is anything that journalists can get involved in, it is gaining access to public officials, meetings and records. This is an important time in San Jose as we work on reforming our local government and providing a way to clear city hall of some of its ethical problems.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Big 5 Mayoral Debate

I just got home after the Big 5 Mayoral Debate. It was held at the San Jose Rep and sponsored by the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, the SJ Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the San Jose Downtown Association and the SJ/SV Chamber of Commerce.

The first big surprise of the evening was the very load protestors outside. I was not really expecting that, and I am not quite sure what they were protesting. There were people handing out information on various candidates and issues. I could not understand the really load people, but their signs were about ending homelessness.

The big news of the night was that Chuck Reed announced that he has reimbursed the city for all of the reimbursements he has received over the last six years.

Other than that, the debate was fairly normal. The usual issues and attacks. Overall, Cindy Chavez is a much better and more polished speaker and did, in my opinion, a better job. Of course, I do not think that someone's speaking ability is the most important thing. Cindy's performance actually surprised me a little. I assumed that this would be Chuck's big night. He has had the support of the business community while Cindy is usually closely associated with the labor interests. But Cindy definitely got more support from the audience. It will be interesting to see what happens. I am not sure the race is over; it seems to me like both candidates have a good chance of winning.

What the rest of the world thinks

Professor Terry Christensen sent out a link to an interesting website, WatchingAmerica.com, which publishes news articles from other countries about the United States. It is interesting to know what other nations think of us and our leaders. The website translates many of these stories by computer (isn't technology amazing?) so they are not always perfect, but are not subject to an American bias in translation either. Check it out.

E-Tutors and the future of America

There is an article on Reuters today about the increasing popularity of outsourcing tutors, mostly to India. Parents that can not afford one-on-one tutors for their kids in America can pay much smaller rates for similar services from India, done online. It was a strange coincidence to see this article the same week I read about exactly this thing in Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat. Technology has allowed us to communicate and do business in ways never before imaginable. While this does mean that we lose some jobs in America, it also helps to force us to stay on top of technology and development to be competitive. One of the people Friedman interviews said that it is easy to see where India is going to be in ten years because they are following the US, but no one knows where the US will be in ten years because no one has every been there before. All the more reason for us to better educate our students and work harder to develop and use new technology.

Skype Update

The Spartan Daily has an article today about the Skype ban and Phil Wolff's talk. The key point of the article is the official word from the school:

"According to an e-mail written by Don Baker, interim associate vice president of university computing and telecommunications, there is nothing new to report in regards to the possible banning of Skype.

"'Skype and San Jose State University agreed on a technical solution that is mutually beneficial and as a result, Skype will continue to be used on the campus network,' Baker wrote in his e-mail."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The beginning of a new University, not the end of the Skype story

Andrew has two great posts on the status of Skype and Skype Journal's Phil Wolff's speech last night. One is on his blog, and the other is on the Spartan Daily blog. You can also listen to the podcast of Phil's presentation in case you missed it.

I am of course very happy that they have decided not to block Skype, at lest for now. But honestly, I do not think that that was the major issue here. I can understand the University's concerns and reasons for the blocking. Overall, I think that they do a great job and there are some great people working for the University. We just wish that they would do a better job of including the people that are affected by their decisions in the process. It is all about having a conversation. I would not have a big problem if they decided to block Skype, but made the decision after discussing the issue with eBay as well as students and faculty, but that is not what they did. Hopefully we all can learn from this and make the decision making process more transparent and participatory.

I still think that Skype is a great tool that will benefit my education, and maybe the University is a little better now that we have gone through this together. I especially hope that Associated Students will see what happened and decide to be a little more proactive in being a voice for students. If nothing else, this was a great example of the power of blogs and the strength students can have when they voice their opinions. Now we just need to get people to show up and vote...

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College makes you stupid

Finally there is proof that going to college makes you stupid. Newsweek had an interesting article online this week about just that. A study tested to see how well US colleges and Universities teach civics and US history. The result, college makes you stupid:

"Not only did many respondents at the 50 participating colleges fail to answer half of the basic civics questions correctly, but at such elite schools as Cornell, Berkeley and Johns Hopkins, the college freshmen scored higher than the college seniors."

I have begun to wonder what colleges do teach in America? We are constantly hearing about how other countries are turning out more engineers and scientist than we are, and we are obviously not teaching history and government, so what are we teaching? A lot of the classes I have taken at SJSU have spent a lot of time going over the same exact things we studied in high school. I do not think it is a problem of just the colleges, but our whole educational system is under performing. Honestly, I have no idea what to do to make it better.

The other concern here is the overall disinterest in government and politics. This type of knowledge is crucial to the success of our democracy (ok, our republic). We as citizens need to understand how these things work and then be active participants if the nation is going to succeed. Now, I will admit that I am not perfect either, and I will give the students who took the survey some credit. The sample questions from Newsweek were hard and I only scored 75% of them right, but that is a lot higher than the average.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Ethics in Local Government

I went to a panel discussion last night on ethics in local government. The panel included SJSU professor Lawrence Quill, Councilman Ken Yeager, City Manager Les White, the Survey & Policy Research Institute's Phil Trounstine (a former Mercury News reporter), and lobbyist Dustin DeRollo and was held in the City Council Chambers at the new City Hall. It was really interesting to hear each of their insights and comments on ethics.

Ethics is one of those subjects that is usually only talked about when there is a problem, and there have been plenty of problems in San Jose. The lobbyist especially was critical of the Mercury News for their attacks on lobbying in city government.

"In San Jose," DeRollo said, "the lobbyist has been the whipping boy for everything that has gone wrong in city government."

The Merc has been leading the call for change in city government, and we do often focus on the bad and forget that San Jose is actually not too bad of a place to live. Trounstine pointed out that for journalists, bad news is good news. But bringing down politicians is not the purpose of journalism.

"What makes great journalism is hard-headed reporting," he said, "Not hard-headedness."

Journalists, he explained have to maintain the Jeffersonian ideal that if people have all of the information, they will make the right choices. That means that our job as journalists is to get the people all of the information they need, even if we do not agree with it, or think that it is going to help the causes we like.

It is often hard to determine what is right and what is wrong, the panel concluded. But, as Trounstine voiced, there are two types of politicians: "those that want to do good and those that want to do well." Most politicians really want to do good. They seek to improve the communities they serve, and most of them do their best.

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Cluetrain Manifesto Review

The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual is the book the common person has been waiting for and just did not know it. The basic premise is that businesses need to adapt to the new world technology has created. In this world, consumers, or publics, are not merely sitting around listening to messages crafted by marketing and P.R. departments. Instead, consumers today want to be part of the conversation. They want to hear from employees at the companies they are doing business with. They want the companies to hear them, and listen to what they are saying.

My favorite of the author’s 95 theses are:

20. Companies need to realize their markets are often laughing. At them.
21. Companies need to lighten up and take themselves less seriously. They need to get a sense of humor.
22. Getting a sense of humor does not mean putting some jokes on the corporate web site. Rather, it requires big values, a little humility, straight talk, and a genuine point of view.

The authors certainly do not take themselves to seriously; the book is filled with wit and humor as well as personal stories and experiences. These stories help to make the book enjoyable, but also make the message more powerful. But theses 22 also points out the big mistake a lot of companies make. They think that they can just put a few things on their website and everyone will be happy and buy their stuff. But that is not enough. It is all about communicating, having a conversation between businesses and consumers and vendors and everyone else involved.

Every businessman in America should be required to read The Cluetrain Manifesto. Although very unlikely, these principles have the potential to change the world. Companies have already begun to implement the precepts of the book, simply because they have to if they want to survive. We demand it, insist on it, and they are starting to give in to our demands.

Breaking News! Skype Stays!

Steve Sloan just posted that SJSU is not going to be blocking Skype.

Phil Wolff from Skype Journal is speaking tonight and I am sure we will hear more.

Mayoral Debate

There is another mayoral debate this Thursday, 5:30 p.m., at the San Jose Rep downtown. I am not sure if I am going to be able to go, but if you are interested, you have to register. If you live in San Jose this is a great opportunity to hear from the candidates and decide who to vote for.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Mayoral Candidates Face Off

Last night I helped out at the Neighborhood Candidate Forum at the San Jose High Academy. It was really neat to see the two candidates for City Council District 3, Manny Diaz and Sam Liccardo, as well as the candidates for Mayor, Cindy Chavez and Chuck Reed. I was there to help as part of my local politics class. The forum was sponsored by CommUniverCity, collaboration between community groups, San Jose State University, and the City. The forum was very well attended; there were easily 250 people there, probably closer to 300.

I am not completely on top of the issues relating to District 3, but it was great to see the candidates for both offices and hear from them in person. I thought it was awesome that so many of the neighborhood groups were able to participate and ask questions of the candidates. The best part was that they also allowed people in the audience to submit questions. The people there were just ordinary people asking questions and getting (mostly) honest answers from the candidates. Too often we are detached from politics, campaigning is mostly done on TV instead of person to person. As the saying goes, all politics is local, and this was an example of politics as local as it can get.

The biggest surprise to me was that more people seemed to be interested in the city council race rather than the mayor's race. There were a number of people that only stayed for the first half and left when it was time to hear from Chavez and Reed. I would have expected the opposite.

Some of us that were helping went out for pizza after the main event was over and I enjoyed the opportunity to talk to the people that put the whole event together. CommUniverCity is a great concept, trying to get different groups to work together to benefit a struggling community. This was one of the first service-learning projects I have been involved in since high school. It is a great idea, and I hope that I can help out more in the future.

Look what blogs can do

I may be just beginning my life as a blogger, but it is exciting to see how quickly things spread and the word gets out there. I just noticed that my blog was quoted in SiliconValley.com's Good Morning Silicon Valley blog! It is so exciting! Ok, so I am a geek that gets excited about a blog, but I still think it is cool. Here is a list from Steve Sloan of blogs and articles about the Skype issue. Keep on blogging, folks, the battle is not over yet!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

SOS - Save Our Skype

The movement to save Skype at San Jose State continues to grow. The JMC163 class blog has a list of recent posts about the issue. Andrew Venegas sent an email to Bob Neal, the Sr Director, Network & Telecom Network Services UCAT, and got a response. Steve Sloan sent out this letter to the campus community (I also copied the SOS title from Steve). It is a great perspective from an educator. The Spartan Daily and the Skype Journal have all picked up the topic, and it looks like it will soon be in the Mercury News. Keep the letters coming. Here is my email to Bob Neal:

Dear Mr. Neal:

I am one of many students that were very surprised to learn that San Jose State University is contemplating blocking the use of Skype on campus. Skype is a powerful tool that seems to me to be a great way to enhance my education. Not only is a working knowledge of Skype and similar services going to be necessary for me to get a quality job when I graduate, but students and teachers can use it to improve the quality of education at San Jose State now. Skype is a tool that expands our universe as students; we now are able to connect with people all over the world in a way never before imaginable. Just think of the possibilities! Blocking Skype is nothing but a shortsighted move on the part of ignorant University staff. Please do not let this happen! We need to stay on top of the very latest technology, not pretend like it does not exist!

Sincerely,
Kyle Hansen

It is not nearly as elegant as Steve Sloan's, but the more people he hears from, the better. If you are a SJSU student, email him at bob.neal@sjsu.edu or call 408.924.7862. I will post any response I get and any other news I hear.

PS - for those of you that are Mac users, there is a new version of Skype, and it is pretty cool.

Register to Vote and Meet the Candidates

This is an exciting year for those of us that follow local politics. Not only is Arnold Schwarzenegger running for reelection, but San Jose gets to elect a new mayor. Hopefully you are already registered to vote. If not, do it now! You can request the form to register from the CA Secretary of State. Right now is the perfect time to do it. There are some really important issues on the ballot and it is crucial that you register study and then show up and vote!

I am also going to be helping at a candidate forum for Cindy Chavez and Chuck Reed this Friday. This is a great opportunity to meet the candidates, hear them speak and ask them questions. The candidates for the 3rd City Council District, Manny Diaz and Sam Liccardo will also be there. It is at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, September 22 at the San Jose High Academy Cafeteria,
24th and Julian Streets (park across Julian from the school or on Bulldog Blvd). I will be there and will post here about how it went, but if you are available, come and see it in person!

Cynthia McCune has a great post on voting with links to helpful websites and more. There are a lot of important and complicated issues that are going to be on the ballot. It is about time to start taking a serious look at them and decide how you are going to vote.

China's Iron Grip on Journalism

To many of us young Americans that do not remember the height of the Cold War, the threats of Communism are also often forgotten. But they are still there, and with the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, they are going to be brought again to our attention. One specific example is China's strict control of news and information. In preparation for hosting the games, China has not loosened restrictions on journalists, but has increasingly tightened them, according to an article from Newsweek online.

"Today’s targets are not just domestic media and foreign correspondents, not just our Chinese sources and local assistants. Less than two years before Beijing hosts the 2008 Summer Olympics, authorities are in the midst of a concerted—and disturbing—effort to slam stricter controls on what Chinese know and how they know it. The aim of the recent crackdown is not only to silence individual “troublemakers,” but also to beef up institutional controls over the free flow of information. This is a grim portent for the 2008 Games, when some 20,000 international journalists are expected to descend on Beijing."

New rules even change previous agreements that allowed international news outlets to directly provide some financial and other data to some Chinese clients. Now, everything has to go through the official news agency, Xinhua.

This is scary stuff for those of us who really value freedom of the press. The First Amendment rights we Americans often take for granted are still almost nonexistent in places like China, North Korea and Cuba. This is certainly going to be a major issue during the Olympics in two years.

"For the Olympics, Chinese authorities insist they’ll live up to their promises of free and open press coverage. Even so, how long will it last? Will authorities relax some curbs for, say, a couple of months during the games, but keep the media muzzled before and afterwards?"

Good question. Unfortunately, we may have to just wait and see.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Help San Jose Arts

I am not a major supporter of the arts, in fact, as a starving college student, I do not very often pay to support any art organization. However, I do enjoy theater and other music, and occasionally go to see musicals and other shows. I got an email today from the Chair of the Arts and Culture Roundtable asking for help. The American Musical Theater of San Jose sent it to me. He says:

"The value of the arts is immeasurable. Local arts groups bring soul and texture to our communities. Beyond the intrinsic value of art for arts sake, cultural enterprise is good for business. It creates a local culture that attracts the best and the brightest to our Valley and therefore plays an integral role in the success of the region. We simply cannot afford to go culturally bankrupt."

I cannot agree more, and while I may not be able to donate big bucks to solve all of the problems, I can voice my support. Here is a copy of the letter, and here is a list of contact information for the Mayor and City Council members.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Advertising of Politics

We had an interesting speaker in my state politics class today. Michael Terris is a political consultant based in San Francisco. He mainly specializes in direct mailings all over the country, but he also does general consulting for campaigns in California. It was interesting to hear the insights of someone who basically makes junk mail for a living, but only for political campaigns. It sounded a lot like the advertising class I took last year. Basically it is the same as any other advertising campaign, except you are selling people, politicians to be precise. One of his most interesting comments:

"Our job is not to educate voters, that is a really expensive proposition to actually change someone’s mind. Our job is to match our client’s viewpoints with the already held views of voters. . . . I am not going to try to convince them that they are wrong about something; I am not going to try to convince them that they are right about something; I am going to match my client’s strength and ideas with their previously held convictions and strengths and ideas so that I help my client accrue votes."

Sounds like a politician? It is not really any different than most business people would sound like when talking about their product or service. It is all about make whatever you are trying to sell match the consumer (or voter). Sometimes we get frustrated with politicians and especially campaigns, but we should be grateful for the freedoms we do have, and I think that most politicians are not as bad as we make them out to be.

More on Skype

Just an update, Steve Sloan, SJSU Tech on a mission, has a great post on why SJSU says that they are blocking Skype and why it is such a bad idea. He specifically gives examples of how Skype can be used to enhance our educational experience and how blocking it is a short-sighted move by the University.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Scary Voter Statistics

It is nothing new, but there was an article in the Mercury News on Thursday reminding us of the huge correlation between ethnicity and voter participation. It is realty simple, ethnic "minorities" and the uneducated do not vote. Here's the most startling, in my opinion, fact:

"California is the only state in which no ethnic or racial group constitutes the majority, with whites representing 46 percent of the population and Latinos 32 percent. Yet, whites make up 70 percent of the electorate, and Latinos only 16 percent."

My Local Politics class is going to be out every Saturday for the next month or so trying to register voters in a predominantly minority neighborhood in San Jose. It is really hard to get through to these people who do not realize the power they have if they would just vote. Please encourage everyone you know who is eligible to vote. Get them to register before it is too late. And then show up and vote!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Telephone Telepathy

I had lunch today with some friends from church. We were discussing how strange it is that sometimes you know before the phone rings or you get a text message that it is going to happen. We knew a study had just been done, so I had to see if I could find it. Here is the Reuters article about a study done in England that supposedly "proved that such precognition existed for telephone calls and even e-mails." I am not sure how believable it is though. The study did not have a very large sample. It could be just coincidence, but it does seem to happen often. I think that I just check my phone and email a lot because I am a news junkie. I want to know right away if something happened or if someone is trying to get a hold of me. But sometimes you just seem to know, even before it happens. Coincidence? Science? Who knows?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

SJSU to block Skype

Steve Sloan set out the word yesterday that San Jose State is going to be blocking access to Skype from the school network. Perhaps I should not be surprised, but I was anyway. Skype is a great tool that can only help improve our educational experience, and yet the school is unwilling to support it. Hopefully the people in charge get the message that we need these tools if we are ever going to be prepared to face our competition for jobs in the future, jobs that will require a high level of proficiency in technical tools like Skype, blogs, and other Internet services.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Scoble at SJSU

I just got out of my JMC 163 class at San Jose State on new media in journalism. Today we had Robert Scoble speak. Scoble is one of the premier bloggers out there and had great advice for us budding journalists turned bloggers. The most interesting thing to me is the future of the field. It is kind of scary for those of us that love the news and think that they want a job in the industry, but we have to accept that fact that newspapers are dying fast. But, at lest according to Scoble, we should not despair, the jobs are still there, they are just online now instead of on paper. This class is teaching us how to use the technology that is going to be the key to getting these jobs. Scoble and others have already made careers in this stuff. And he had lots of great advice on how to get our blogs out there. Hopefully this blog can become a forum for people to express their ideas as well as being a way for me to express myself.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five years later

Today is the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. There has been a lot said and written about the event. The events of that fateful day five years ago have profoundly changed the lives of every American, and perhaps every person in the world, whether we like it or not. As I look back on what has happened over the last five years, I am not sure we are any safer today than we were before. But I think that there is a greater sense of community and unity among Americans, despite our divisiveness over the war in Iraq. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a catastrophic event to remind us what is most important. Hopefully we can stay focused on the essential aspects of life, such as community and good will, so that when the next disaster comes we are more prepared.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Don't Let Your Resume Kill You

Part of my job as a recruiter is to look at resumes. Lots of resumes. Most resumes are ok, but every once in a while there is one that is really bad. They give us all a good laugh and then we move on. It is nice to have the laughs occasionally, but if you are looking for a job, it is not good when a recruiter is laughing at your resume. Here is my all-time favorite line from a resume:

"Despite my speaking impairment, I get along well with people and work well under pressure."

Now, I don't have problems with people that have speech impairments or any other disability for that matter. I even try hard not to discriminate against them. But they still should not put it in the resume. Any negative that has to be explained is best left for the interview.

Another candidate had a lengthy comment on how he thought about going into the priesthood, but could not really make up his mind. Then for his next job, he included:

"Food service, cashier and stocking at a convenience store. Owner was my cousin and she hired me whenever I needed work."

That's what we call too much information.