Monthly Archives: June 2005

News Portals

Not only does mainstream media remain relevant, its content might serve as a way to differentiate portals in the future, argues Andres Martinez of The Los Angeles Times.

Newspapers have been agonizing about the degree to which they will
control this revolution via their own websites, and with good reason.
In the digital world, the Yahoos and Googles have built brands that
eclipse those of the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times. As
Murdoch put it in his speech last month, we are digital immigrants and
they are the digital natives. But like Murdoch, I remain optimistic
that there is a great deal of opportunity in this migration, even if
newspaper types in the long run lose direct control over the
distribution of our product, much as movie studios did when they had to
divest their theater chains. Our content, like the studios’, will
remain valuable on other distribution channels.

It’s only a
matter of time before a Yahoo or a Google decides to buy an old media
company in order to differentiate itself by offering high-quality,
proprietary news. Or a company like Amazon could buy a prestigious
newspaper publisher and reinvent itself as a portal, leapfrogging over
those that treat news updates as a commodity.


The Slate’s Timothy Noah says he has a solution on how to improve stale, irrelevant editorial pages: get rid of them! He writes his column in reaction to news about Michael Kinsley’s shakeup of the Los Angeles Times op-ed pages. The changes include experimentation with "wikitorials."

The New York Times:

This week, the newspaper, will introduce an online feature called
"wikitorials," as a way for readers to engage in an online dialogue
with the paper. The model is based on "Wikipedia," the Web’s
free-content encyclopedia that is edited by online contributors. "We’ll
have some editorials where you can go online and edit an editorial to
your satisfaction," Mr. Martinez said. "We are going to do that with
selected editorials initially. We don’t know how this is going to turn
out. It’s all about finding new ways to allow readers to interact with
us in the age of the Web."

Steve Outing of Poynter asks, "what the heck is a wikitorial?"

Wikis applied to editorials? I have my doubts about that one, but we’ll see. I think the concept can be successfully applied to factual information; the intelligence of the group serves to correct errors. But opinion? Won’t we just see warring factions vying for their point of view to be included? OK, we’ll watch this with interest. If nothing else, it’ll be fun to see the original staff-written editorial alongside the wiki-edited version.

Update 6/20 – L.A. Times Suspends ‘Wikitorials’.

NYC Photobloggers 4 is hosting N.Y.C. Photobloggers: An Online Exhibition, "the fourth in a series featuring New York city photobloggers. (As seen mentioned on

Speak and Look on Skype

Skype has launched the beta version of vSkype, a service that will allow its users to hold video calls.

A Phrase and an Image

From a Sonny Williams interview of K.E. Duffin off of the blog.

For me, a poem usually begins with a sense that something is about to happen in a timeless space beyond the ordinary. I know that makes it sound like the appearance of an aura, or something unfashionably mysterious. But it is mysterious. It usually begins with a phrase and an image. I sense a relation between them, something combustible, maybe. A sense of a completeness I am charged with getting right. The relation is one of sound, but always in a space whose dimensions I am not quite sure of: will it be compact like a sonnet? will it be more opened-ended? All these possibilities are usually open at the very start. Something like synaesthesia is involved: hearing a space, seeing a sound. What rings truest for me is what Milosz says: it’s like dictation. I am listening for something. And receptivity seems the greater part of it. Some syllabic rustling that suggests a rhythm. The poem grows around this nucleus (now that I’m thinking in terms of biology), which may wind up in the middle, at the end, or in the beginning. I rarely know at this point, although I may Selection is there from the start: this word fits and not that. Why? It’s not yet clear. But form is suggested by these initial sounds and their relation. Then the words begin to encounter the constraints of limit, the thrill of finding a sound, and a placement, that harmonizes with other sounds and placements. I begin to see that the poem is taking a certain shape, and I suppose I could say that this shape exerts a selective pressure. Words have to fit a niche, and this is one of the beauties of working within form: the pressure it creates, and the counter-pressure of invention it provokes.

Duffin’s first book of poetry King Vulture was recently published by The University of Arkansas Press.

My Patris, My Deep Design

You’ll understand I draw the line
At being robbed of what is mine,
My patris, my deep design
  To be at home
In my own place and dwell within
  Its proper name–   

Seamus Heaney, "An Open Letter," Ireland’s Field Day 26

American Gothic, American Icon

Slate’s Mia Fine reviews the new book American Gothic by historian Steven Biel, and tells us why the painting by Grant Wood has endured.

But the key to this painting’s enduring appeal is not its subject or
its inherent ambiguity, but its form—specifically, the stark frontality
of the figures. Think about the other iconic images from art history:
the Mona Lisa, Munch’s Scream, Warhol’s Marilyn, Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother.
All of them depict human figures directly facing the viewer—just like
the flatly frontal images of saints in medieval Christian icons.
Rendering figures in this way imprints them on our memories and endows
them with both authority and immediacy. Early Christians believed icons
were like portals that allowed the viewer to communicate directly with
the sacred figure represented. Modern secular icons like American Gothic
still retain some vestige of sacredness, in the sense that they connect
with something larger—not with the divine, but with the collective
memory of our image-loving culture.

A Yanchao Temple (photo)

A temple in the Yanchao district of Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Disposable Digital Camcorders

Drugstore chain CVS began selling disposable digital camcorders earlier this week, according to Reuters. Not surprisingly,  people have already started hacking them.

The camcorder program sounds similar to CVS’ program for its disposable digital still cameras, which The Washington Post profiles.

Experience with film throwaway models may tempt you to call these
cameras, made by Pure Digital Technologies, disposables, but
technically they’re rentals. You can’t get your digital pictures
"developed" anywhere and instead must return the camera to the store,
which will transfer your photos to a data CD while you wait. The store
keeps the camera.

Some of the hacks of the still camera include making them reusable, adding USB connections
and adding storage. describes some of the hacks of the Dakota camera from Ritz Camera. Engadget in the past has noted how cell phone cameras have hurt sales of disposable film cameras, but The Washington Post notes some of the creative uses that people are getting out of the digital still cameras, like attaching them to kites.

Publisher Jossey-Bass is coming out with a book called Hacking Digital Cameras this Fall.

Technorati Tag(s) – photography.

Police at the Nolita Body Shop (photo)