Thailand’s coup and citizen journalism

September 21, 2006

The Revolution Will Be Televised

Of Thailand’s coup, Search Engine Journal’s Loren Baker observed: “Two years ago this would not have turned many heads in the online community, but now is the age of citizenship journalism. . . . Included in the coverage are some citizen video journalists documenting the Thai constitutional cycle as it turns, and sharing their footage on YouTube.”

I don’t know if I agree. Certainly citizen journalism has accelerates the news cycle and expanded the options within it, but I don’t know that a coup, however peaceful and bloodless, would have failed to “turn heads”, journalistically. The increase in video means more are or at least can be emotionally connected to events and people groups that previously would have seemed academic. The medium really is the message. But after the brief amusement value has worn off, what of lasting benefit will more footage, more clips on YouTube and GoogleVideo and other such sites mean? We should beware of hype.

Related, Global Voices Online is tracking several Thai-based bloggers who are live blogging the coup. This really is significant, giving us a connection, an information pipeline into the heart of the event, of the change, much like Salam Pax and the Iraqi war bloggers did for us during the invasion.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Student Writers

September 15, 2006

The seven deadly sins.

1. Dangling modifiers. “Being the most spectacular event in the nation, newspapers were obligated to devote major coverage to the hurricane.” “By reversing the color scheme, the eye is captured.” “Claiming to be a simple man leading an ordinary life of a male as he enjoys watching football with his buddy’s, Smith’s lifestyle is far from ordinary.”  . . .

2. Omitted commas. As the popularity of the book Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation suggests, punctuation problems are endemic and, perhaps, epidemic. However, in my experience they are clustered in a few areas. One is the omission of a comma after an appositive or a parenthetical phrase. “All residents of Wilmington, Del. were issued paper bags in which to place their leaves”; “Prof. Jackson, who joined the faculty in 1978 is on sabbatical this year.” My students usually leave out the comma after “Del.” and “1978.” Almost as common is neglecting the comma before an adverbial phrase, as in “The football team won yesterday ending a five-game losing streak” . . .

3. Gratuitous commas. Let me count the ways. . . “Approximately, fifteen percent of the class are minority group members.” “Smith described the concert as, ‘a blast.'” “He shares a house with three, senior, pre-med students.” “Class president, Joe Rockwell, presented the award.” . . .

4. Semicolons. I’ve learned to pretty much count on it: Virtually any time a student uses a semicolon, the use is wrong.

5. Use of the word “they.”

6. Spell-check errors.

7. Wrong word. “Of the many things the students aspired [expected] to see, a terrorist attack was not one of them.”

“The drop in candidates can be accredited [attributed] to. … ”

“Stories about the hurricane invade [dominate] the entire first section of the newspaper.”

Ben Yagoda is a professor of English at the University of Delaware and author, most recently, of When You Catch an Adjective, Kill It: The Parts of Speech, for Better and/or Worse, to be published in February by Broadway Books.
Section: The Chronicle Review
Volume 53, Issue 3, Page B13

Blogosphere as Fourth and Fifth Estates

September 12, 2006

‘Blogosphere’ spurs government oversight

The socially networked Internet means we will see more collaboration like that described in this USA Today article about bloggers and blog readers cooperating to shine light into government’s reflexively dark places. It just makes too much sense. Power to the people!

Posted 9/11/2006 10:47 PM ET
By Richard Wolf, USA TODAY


WASHINGTON — When watchdog groups that monitor federal spending wanted more information on 1,800 “pork barrel” projects buried in a House appropriations bill, they listed them on the Internet and asked readers to dig deeper. Within days, details began pouring in.

The same thing happened when enlisted readers of its website to find out which senator had blocked legislation that would create an online database of federal grants and contracts. One by one, senators were eliminated until Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., were uncovered.

The two episodes illustrate the latest trend in government oversight: More light is being thrown on Congress, not just by the media and public interest groups, but in the “blogosphere” where Internet users meet.

“It’s probably the biggest expansion of government oversight that we’ll ever have,” says Thomas Schatz of Citizens Against Government Waste, one of the groups pioneering the effort. “It will turn every American into a watchdog.”

Adding movies to your blog

September 8, 2006

Camtasia just released an online tutorial about how to put Camtasia movies into your blog or Web site. A demonstration. I haven’t tried this, so I’m not sure how useful the product is, or how it compares to others, but this screencast shows how to install the embed plugin into your WordPress blog and display Camtasia Studio. It claims to be as easy as displaying an image.