July 9, 2001-- Newsletter #138
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July 9, 2001--Newsletter #138
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Greetings, Weekend Silicon Warriors,
My wife just started a great new job and is going through training for the position. I have written on the topic of an employer setting boundaries regarding what an employee can and cannot do with the Internet, but this is the first time it came to reality for me. Her manual contains four full pages on what is and what is not acceptable use of the Internet. Whoever wrote these pages was thorough to the point of it becoming tedious but in today's climate I guess that is what is required. Furthermore, she will be tested over this material. How about that?
I think the most interesting rule is that one can observe chat rooms and bulletin boards but cannot post. Huh.
July has arrived and none too soon for the IPO domino tumble in June. According to Reuters, another 53 dot- coms closed their doors in June bringing the past year- and-a-half total to 555. The stats came from the company Webmergers.com.
The free net concept has been dealt another blow. USA.net will now charge for their email service. The price is pretty good actually. If you change over to the new service before July 31, your current email and saved messages will simply be transferred over. Plus it'll only cost you $29.99 for a year. If you wait until after the end of July there's an increase in charge up to just a penny under fifty bucks.
Hitachi has developed a really, really, really, really little chip. It's so small in fact that it could be woven into a dollar bill to help catch fakes. The chip is called Mew and is only .04mm on a side. It has 128k of ROM and can actually transmit an RF signal up to a foot. Unbelievable.
A study by a British manufacturing firm has concluded that 25% of computer users have, at one time or another, struck a part of their computer out of anger. I hate to admit it, but I am part of that 25%. I've clocked my monitor a couple of times.
Now onto today's topic
I have what may be an odd question. At least it has been odd to the few that I've run it past. Have you noticed an Internet trend that seems to feel something is better if a non-professional does that something?
Allow me to elaborate. I write little news blips at the top of each of these newsletters. Often someone will take exception to the facts of one of my stories. I have sources for each of the facts I post. I would certainly not make anything up. That would just be silly.
Well, now and again, someone will contact me and tell me that a Web site disagrees with me. That Web site will most likely have been put together by a single person who feels or has good information that something is true. Usually these are very conspiracy-minded sites. The person who wrote to me will take what the Web site said as gospel simply because it is not the mainstream press. The thinking is that the mainstream is in the hip pocket of politicians and this single person's Web site is somehow the ray of truth simply because the author is not affiliated with any media.
I was hit with another dose of this thinking when I read an article on Salon.com about FanCast.com. It's a site where amateurs will act as announcers for sporting events. The owner, Adam Epstein, claims the site will overthrow the 'one size fits all' sportscasting regime.
Notice what happens? The thinking that because information is coming from the Web unfiltered, it is better, is simply not enough. The argument that the information is better in some way is almost always accompanied by a slight of the competition.
The unfiltered opinions of someone, in the know are somehow better because the traditional news sources are biased. Sporting events called by fans will be better because the sports regime can give us little more than Brent Musberger.
Now, I understand that Mr. Epstein is attempting to get a new site off the ground so a little bravado is expected. He needs to set his site apart and he obviously feels that bringing down what is already available is better than bringing up what he is offering. That kind of thinking has always makes me a little suspect. I use to see it in radio advertising a great deal. Many radio stations would push themselves by saying other stations were terrible rather than stating that their station was great. That, in my mind, brings the consumer choice down to we're the best of the worst listen to us.
I know a great many sports fans. These are fans to the point where they become a tad annoying. I had a friend who was such a fan of the Washington Redskins that I would purchase the banner of the opposing team when he threw a game party. I found it to be great fun. I wasn't invited back much.
This is the guy I can see being the voice of a Redskins game on FanCast.com. Now, he is a non-professional and a fantastic fan. He can quote stats and names and history like nobody's business. Would he do a great play by play or color announce? I'll bet he wouldas long as you were also a Redskins fan.
I think this guy's great and I think the world of him but I can only imagine the one-sided broadcast he would create. All penalties against the Redskins would be pure blasphemy. All penalties against the opposing teams would be the most brilliant call known to the game. I would think it would almost be like the opposing team never made the field.
Right now, I guarantee there are people reading this that are livid. I guarantee they know a guy that would be perfectly fair. They know a guy that would be able to give perfect stats. They know a guy that would do better than Brent Musberger. They know a guy.
Yes, the Web is a fantastic place because it is unfiltered. The opinions of those on the Web come flying through without any thought of editing or restraint. They are the thoughts and feelings of true people, not the mainstream media or sports regime. These are people who have the real scoop. They have the unfettered truth. They are those who are speaking the facts.
They speak the facts as long as one agrees with them.
Now, I have no doubt people will write to me with the few stories of Web reported facts that did scoop the mainstream press. There are examples out there. You bet. Those are the examples that are remembered. What about all the times they were wrong? Those aren't remembered quite as clearly.
I wrote this newsletter because I am putting together my Broadcast Journalism syllabus for the upcoming year and I know that somewhere along the way, a student will use an Internet source in the know and report something the mainstream press hasn't touched on. Maybe that fantastic story will pan out. Most likely it won't.
I just want to have my thoughts together when I am hit with the argument that simply because the facts came through unfiltered that they must be better than what the biased news media is feeding us.
The Internet is a great source of informationbut that information isn't necessarily better simply because it is from the Internet.
That's that. Thanks for taking the time to read what I wrote. It keeps the joy in the writing.
Joe Burns, Ph.D.
And Remember: Are you familiar with the RCA logo that shows a dog peering into an old phonograph speaker? That was a real dog. His name was Nipper and he was part bull terrier and part fox terrier. Nipper's owner's brother, Francis Barrud, created the painting that RCA used for their logo. You see, the actual owner of the dog had died and the dog began to follow Francis to work where it would sit, just as you see it in the logo, listening to the music. Barrud believed the dog was hoping to hear his deceased owner's voice. The thought led him to paint the now famous scene and title it, His Master's Voice.
The current Nipper was rescued from a pound and is paid a salary. That salary is donated to preventing animal research.