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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Online archives solve the problem

Posted on Tue, May 31, 2005 at 3:09 PM

Great essay in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by David Shribman. He writes about the ephemeral nature of the newspaper biz, how what we write today is pretty much gone and mostly forgotten tomorrow.

There's a lot of good writing in newspapers today — in this one, in the national papers, in little papers across the country — and the inescapable fact is that we throw a lot of it in the recycling pile every day, along with the container of cat litter and the empty pickle jars...

I think about this a lot. It's one reason I'm a fan of free online archives. The fewer barriers that keep us from accessing good writing online, the more that writing will be read. That's why I was so excited when 7D finally launched a permanent archive this year, and why I think the Stowe Reporter and the St. Albans Messenger are wrong to keep much of their content offline. The Internet can keep your stories in circulation for years instead of days, effectively boosting society's collective intelligence.

I've heard the argument (from the publishers of the two VT papers listed above) that putting content on the Internet is expensive. To which I say, quit dragging your feet and find a way to pay for it.

Real VT: Dandelions!

Posted on Tue, May 31, 2005 at 7:34 AM

Even the dandelions look spectacular at the Old Shaw Farm in South Peacham.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Why Not Wi-fi?

Posted on Mon, May 30, 2005 at 11:00 AM

Bill Simmon from Candleblog raised this question yesterday, and I want to draw attention to his post about Burlington's conspicuous and bothersome lack of wi-fi access. He writes:

In Burlington, the owners of the excellent cafe Muddy Waters have made a conscious decision to not offer wireless internet to their customers — free or otherwise. When I asked Carrie, one of the owners, about this decision, she said that they wanted to foster a more interpersonal environment and not have people sitting at tables in the cafe with their noses stuck in computers all day. This response confused me. If interpersonal interaction is the goal, then why line the walls of the cafe with bookshelves full of books? Why discriminate between digital and analog antisocial behaviors?

I got a similar response when I asked about Muddy's lack of wi-fi last August. Read more and comment, both on the blog, and to our esteemed local cafe owners.

FYI, you can find free wi-fi at Radio Bean and at Speeder and Earl's on Pine Street. Also at Bruegger's on Church St.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Posted on Thu, May 26, 2005 at 8:51 PM

Got a disappointing email from Jessamyn West, 802's favorite librarian blogger, who lives in Bethel and reads the Randolph Herald. The RSS feeds she reported a while back were not as exciting as she thought.

well it turns out the rss feeds were just an advance for the paper
CHARGING for access to the online version of the paper. don't know if the
rss feed will be free or not.


too bad.

Save Kinko's!

Posted on Thu, May 26, 2005 at 7:24 AM

Effective June 1, Burlington's Kinko's copy shop (aka FedEx Kinkos) will no longer be open 24/7. Fortunately, it's not too late to complain about this grave injustice. Call 1-800-2KINKOS or email customer.relations@fedexkinkos.com

Read my moving eulogy for 24/7 service — featuring comments from Greg Giordano aka flameape, and Capt. Randy Gates of the VT National Guard — here.

Them's fightin' words

Posted on Thu, May 26, 2005 at 7:16 AM

Did anyone else realize that there are actually two anonymously written and sourced blogs focusing on Vermont politics? I didn't. I've been linking to Politics VT for awhile now, and I just assumed this Con Van Ness character was a real guy. Guess not.

Honestly, I didn't pay that much attention to it because it's kinda dull. Looks pretty conventional, just a collection of articles from various news sources, unlike the similarly named VT Politics, which appears to be a rough-around-the-edges purveyor of gossip.

But apparently there's some actual writing going on at PVT, as "we are insiders and you'd never guess" from VTP pointed out yesterday in the comments from the Frauds? thread below.

They point out that PVT, aware of the anonymity conversation here at 802, posted a pre-emptive thread defending their use of anonymous sources. The "Insiders" at VPT offer their own comments, which I'm reprinting verbatim here despite my overwhelming urge to correct their spelling and grammar:

What is fascinating to me is their pursuit and presentation as a “real” or legitimate news source. Sure, they post a lot of other peoples “real” news. But there own writings are all commentary and doesn’t pass journalist muster. Their double and triple checked sources are certainly no better than the sources that we have or even Frayne or Allen or a dozen others who can pick up the phone and call around.

Oooh, sounds like a catfight! Don't know about you, but I'm sheepishly looking forward to seeing these two duke it out. But guys? What's with the dull, unimaginative names? Jeez. Leave it to the politicians to kill creativity.

UPDATE: Upon further reflection, I have updated my assessment of Politics VT from "dull" to "earnest," which is not necessarily a bad thing in politics.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Posted on Wed, May 25, 2005 at 3:48 PM

Vermont cartoonist Alison Bechdel, who draws the strip Dykes To Watch Out For, just posted an interesting entry on her blog (which, as her assistant, I helped her launch).

Seems she got an email this week from conservative David Horowitz. Who's he? Says Alison: "He’s the once-radical-now-conservative force behind Students for Academic Freedom—an organization that is more or less to academic freedom what Bush’s Clear Skies Initiative is to reducing mercury emissions."

Horowitz contacted her and asked for permission to reprint a panel of her leftist, lesbian-centric comic on the SAF website. She drew a panel recently in which conservative lesbo Cynthia chastises Ginger, her liberal lesbo professor, and reports her to SAF. Alison was making fun of SAF, but no matter.

She gave them permission to reprint the strip (here). They paid her $100, and now she's asking people to comment on her blog and tell her where to send the money. Weigh in here.


Posted on Wed, May 25, 2005 at 6:18 AM

This is what happens when you insist on anonymity — check out the first comment on Politics VT's post about a possible Rainville/Dubie rift. You'll recall this blog is written by "we are insiders and you'd never guess."

I think you're a fraud. This is a ridiculous scenario. If it doesn't pan out, you should stop calling yourself an "insider"

# posted by Anonymous : Tuesday, May 24, 2005 2:25:14 PM

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

RSS in the VT Guardian

Posted on Tue, May 24, 2005 at 5:07 PM

In the discussion thread of my last post on RSS in VT media, Morgan aka Norsehorse pointed out that that Vermont's newest — and only — state-wide newspaper, the VT Guardian, has begun offering RSS feeds. Here are some excerpts from an email I got today from Editor Shay Totten (who — full disclosure — gave me my first paying writing gig at the Vermont Times years ago):

We've had an RSS feed up for a few weeks now. I finally figured out the XML coding I needed to do...We're about to top 40,000 unique readers this month (May) and climbing - and lots of folks have asked us for an RSS, so here it is: http://www.vermontguardian.com/rss/feeds.xml

Yep, Shay's updating the website and dealing with the feeds himself. Ya gotta admire his dedication. How many other VT editors are so tech-savvy? My guess: not too friggin' many, which is too friggin' bad.

Shay also pledges to bring up web awards at the next Vermont Press Association meeting. And maybe something'll get done, as he's on the executive committee.

Finally, he says, Believe me, there is so much more we could be doing (as a profession).

I believe you, Guardman.

Freep still seeking online editor

Posted on Tue, May 24, 2005 at 4:45 PM

And now a word from the Keeping An Eye On The Competition Department...

Apparently, the Burlington Free Press is still looking for a full-time online editor. The big box ad in Saturday's classifieds says:

This position requires applicants to work directly in the newsroom and report to the Executive Editor. Applicants should have a college degree, writing experience, a background in delivering content to a web site in a college or work setting and possess the necessary technical knowledge, including familiarity with a range of web-based and database software. Other skills: creativity, developing interactive features, planning and presenting information in an easy-to-use format, and the ability to adapt to a fast-paced, fast-changing environment.

So, will Gannett give the new online editor the freedom to experiment with interactive features like blogs and forums and comment threads? Will they implement RSS feeds? Will they find someone to fill the job who knows anything at all about Vermont? Hey, Brian Brown from iBurlington, what are you doing for work these days?

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