Coverage Tone

It’s interesting to think how much (and how little) influence news anchors have in the portrayal of stories they tell on network news. This piece from the Washington Post talks about the dilemma people like Charlie Gibson and Brian Williams faced in how to talk and the words to use about the worsening situation in Iraq after the situation started falling apart.

For example, from Brian Williams:

Every day, Williams asked the question: Did Baghdad correspondent Richard Engel have any news other than another 20 Iraqi civilians killed when an IED detonated, leaving the same smoking carcasses and pathetic scenes of loved ones crying? That, Williams felt, was the problem: The horrible had become utterly commonplace. To most Americans, he believed, the war could not be more ephemeral. It was half a world away, and it required no sacrifice by those who did not have a family member in the armed forces.

The article also talks about how Katie Couric had been somewhat browbeaten by the NBC president on how persistently she probed for answers from Rice.

Couric felt there was a subtle, insidious pressure to toe the party line, and you bucked that at your peril. She wanted to believe that her NBC colleagues were partners in the search for truth, and no longer felt that was the case. She knew that the corporate management viewed her as an out-and-out liberal. When she ran into Jack Welch, the General Electric chairman, he would sometimes say that they had never seen eye to eye politically. If you weren’t rah rah rah for the Bush administration, and the war, you were considered unpatriotic, even treasonous.

I’ll leave conclusions as an exercise to the reader.

Mobile Broadband

I’m pretty sure mobile broadband is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. I’m on CalTrain, riding down the Peninsula at 80+ MPH, and online! My speed test showed 296 kbps downstream and 105 kbps upstream, with a 265 ms ping to LA. Pretty sweet. I can’t wait for WiMax and true 3G to start showing up in the marketplace.

A Boy and His Blackberry

I don’t think I’ve ever liked a phone this much. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever liked nearly any gadget I’ve owned this much. Only my iPod is in the race. I recently (off of Craigslist) bought a Blackberry 8830 on Sprint. It has 3G (EVDO), it’s a CDMA phone in the states, and has unlocked GSM capabilities when you take it overseas. Did I mention it has GPS? And Sprint lets you thether for free?

The interface isn’t pretty, but it works so well that who cares about pretty. All my messages (text, email, Google Talk IMs, voicemails, missed calls) are integrated in to one messages view. The phone application keeps a history of who I talked to. The browser is great (okay, it’s no Safari, but still it works really well). Plus, there are a ton of 3rd party applications that can be downloaded to the phone that work with the same UI model, so they feel consistent across the RIM made and 3rd party made apps.

I’m a Blackberry convert. After using the Moto Q, a RAZR, a Sony Erickson set of phones, Samsung phones, Audiovox SMT, even a NeoPlanet smartphone, this is hands down the best phone I’ve owned. Only the Sony Erickson comes close in how it “felt” to use, that I enjoyed using the phone, and didn’t find it a chore.

Burma and the Internet

Let’s start with this from the NYT:

Myanmar has just two Internet service providers, and shutting them down was not complicated, said David Mathieson, an expert on Myanmar with Human Rights Watch. Along with the Internet, the junta cut off most telephone access to the outside world. Soldiers on the streets confiscated cameras and video-recording cellphones.

Ouch. These last two weeks, following the news in Burma/Myanmar have shown how powerful the internet can be as a tool for communication and the freedoms of speech that we value. Reading the articles, it’s amazing that mobile phones, blogs, text messaging, and all these modern technologies are being used to help the outside world understand the insanity. But when it’s so easy to cut off, it’s saddening that the voices of the people who live in Burma can be so easily silenced. It also speaks to the fact that we have grown to expect things like connectivity, redundancy, and resilience in our communication systems. When they’re this fragile, we feel exposed and alone. For those in China after the Taiwan earthquake in 2006, you have a good idea how it feels to go from connected to cut off.

Images like these are what we won’t be seeing any more (also from the NYT article): 

Soulja Boy

If you listen to “urban” radio at all, by now you’ve certainly heard the Crank That single by Soulja Boy, a 17-year old rapper from Atlanta. The track features Caribbean sounding beats and a fairly unique (to me) chanting style of rap. The reason I’m writing about it is not because of the song’s mundane lyrics or catchy sound, rather the way in which it got famous.

The MySpace page has the song heard over 4.8 million times, and over 12 million views on the profile. If you look at YouTube, there are tons of remixes and fan videos that have taken clips from shows like Family Guy and put the song over them. The best remix is by far Travis Barker drumming over the song. I could totally imagine this mix ending up on a rock station with the original playing on the hip-hop stations.

It’s pretty amazing how much momentum this artist has picked up by the way of the internet and community driven sites. A few of the reviews I’ve been reading of his upcoming album basically say that it was due to the huge viewership on MySpace and YouTube that drove the song to the top position on the Billboard charts. That’s just plain cool.