Xark began as a group blog in June 2005 but continues today as founder Dan Conover's primary blog-home. Posts by longtime Xark authors Janet Edens and John Sloop may also appear alongside Dan's here from time to time, depending on whatever.
My mother, Joyce, was raised in little Eldora, Iowa, but her family moved to Florida when she was about 13. In November, my travels took me within two hours of Hardin County, where our family once had deep roots, and so on Nov. 7 I toured the area with my camera. This Flickr photo set and this annotated Google map are the result, and it's my Christmas present to my mom for 2009.
Love you, Mom. I hope this feels like taking a little trip back home.
There are more pleasurable stops on The Wheel of the Year, but the day that always gives me the greatest private joy is this one: The Winter Solstice.
Tonight is the longest night of the year, and the coldest months still lie ahead of us. Yet our ancient grandmothers and grandfathers found hope in this darkness, telling stories that recognized that when things seem to be at their worst, hope is stirring. The days will just keep getting longer from tomorrow until Midsummer, six months from today.
In pagan mythology, the god is conceived tonight, in the middle of the longest darkness. He will grow in the womb until his birth at the spring equinox. He reaches sexual maturity in May (with the often-bawdy observance of Beltane) and the full power of adulthood at the summer solstice. We'll celebrate the abundance of the god's mature life with distinctly different harvest festivals in August and September, the latter marking the start of his final decline into death (a third harvest festival, remembered by moderns as Halloween).
In the two months since this year's god expired, the earth has recharged itself, preparing for the next cycle of growth. The weather will get colder before it gets warmer -- but the ancients call on us to remember that this is the way hope works. The sun hits the comeback trail tomorrow, and the god grows in the hidden belly of the earth.
The goal of his CUNY study wasn't to consider outlandish ideas, but to consider what might happen in a metro media market if its daily paper folded;
He states his bone fides on the subject of outlandish long-term ideas;
He says I unfairly slapped the Knight Foundation by asserting that foundation money is most likely to continue funding studies that reflect conventional wisdom;
He says I'm judging the entrepreneurial future of journalism through old, institutional glasses;
He concludes that futureshockers (a group in which he includes himself) are not realistic when they imagine wild new models for news. "I’ll repeat: think about TODAY. I mean that. The paper dies tomorrow.
You have people eager to do journalism. You have some – but very little
– investment. You have a proven amount of revenue and nothing more.
What do you do?"
If that's a fair summary (and by Long Now rules, I wouldn't get to respond to Jeff's post until he agreed that my summary was sufficient), then let's see what's left to discuss.
My original post either stipulated or never challenged the points in items 1-3. My critique wasn't interested in the internal logic of the study, didn't challenge the rationale behind the concept of the study, didn't suggest that Jarvis lacked radical ideas of his own and never claimed that Knight and Jarvis deliberately conspired create a report that reinforced conventional wisdom.
Instead, I talked about how the forces that shape such studies tend to produce prudent, rational results that don't do a good job of creating predictive accuracy. I'm not really interested in being fair in that context. I'm interested in trying to understand what's coming.
So here's how I'd summarize the difference between Jeff's response and my original point:
Jeff: You're unfairly critiquing my study for something it was never intended to be!
Restated? Thank you, Jeff, for a useful study. It gives us lots of
interesting, high-value, milestone data within an artificially limited context. Some of us simply consider your
data and reach different conclusions, largely because we're trying to answer different questions. And while you're passionate in asserting that what matters now are immediate answers, I'm equally passionate in contending that the context you've defined is too limited to produce answers that lead us somewhere.
While eating my breakfast at George's Restaurant in Oak Park this morning, I noticed that just about every other customer, upon entering and saying hello to George, stopped at the counter and browsed through a stack of newspapers: The Sun Times, the Tribune, the local Oak Park paper. They'd pick out one or more and carry the papers to their booths to read over breakfast.
On their way out, the diners would pay their bills and return the free (to them, anyway) newspaper to the stack for the next patron. And so on.
I've noticed similar systems elsewhere, including coffeehouses that provide free copies of The New York Times despite selling The NYT out of a rack by the cash register.
So yes, somebody paid for the content in those newspapers, but certainly not everybody who consumed it paid.
Which raises the question: Why aren't newspaper companies cracking down on the sharing of their products in restaurants, diners, bars, coffeehouses and other public gathering places? Why should newspapers sell copies to libraries, which are just going to share them with the public, at the same rate that they sell subscriptions to individuals?
And if newspapers aren't all whacked out about this blatant theft of their intellectual property at George's Restaurant, then why do so many otherwise rational newspaper employees wax certifiably insane whilst lecturing the rest of us about the evils of "giving away content on the Web?"
And the answer is: Because they're in the business of giving away content in order to sell ads. The only difference between "stealing" a read in a print copy versus the same free read online is that print ads are expensive enough that newspaper companies never had to care about all this rampant diner piracy. If online advertising were nearly as valuable, newspaper companies wouldn't be bitching.