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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation

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this is only because i couldn't find any good porn
children of dune - leto 1
This may seem questionable on the surface, but there should be a day when it's socially acceptable to sit on the floor and throw a temper tantrum with as much energy as you can muster.

My Dell Mini, after having taken it apart down to removing the system board to get to the LCD wires, has in fact a cracked screen. I do not know how. I do not know why. But it is cracked, and after putting it back together in its component parts and finding two extra screws left over (IDEK), I sat down to stare at it, and think, I need a temper tantrum. Instead, I verified this wasn't repairable, then made it worse to relieve my feelings, then decided it was worth it for the sheer joy of disassembly and reassembly. Well, except I need a new screen, and I just don't feel motivated to find one tonight.


How to Win Friends and Influence People Like Police to Raid Bloggers

Answer is be Steve Jobs, who has successfully done what I thought only people who ran small, thriving regimes in South America managed; he used the government to retaliate against the free press. Or, Jason Chen of Gizmodo got raided, his computers and personal information confiscated, because he released information on the new iPhone.

Lacking a sophisticated understanding of the legal statutes that allegedly buying a phone lost by an employee and found by someone else cover, we'll skipped poisoned fruit to the part of the debate that actually interests me, which is the current and deeply fascinating defense that a tech blogger isn't a journalist, so they cannot have the protections offered journalists.

I personally find this fascinating. By that I mean, wtf'ing and kinda hilariously unsettling at the same time. The use and abuse of the blogosphere and self-published content is still radical, granted, and I'm not saying Katie's Kake Blog (I made that up, I think?) is a competitive source of reliable information on par with the New York Times (because I can't prove it), but when casually googling for what constitutes a journalist entitled to the protection of the free press, I was unsurprised to note how many people believed a prestigious journalism school would be a requirement, and possibly employment at some established non-internet media center. As these internetz bloggers are like, not reliable and evil and you know, sometimes do it for free or burrito coupons or something.

This isn't to say journalism isn't a career, a skill, an art, and should at its best be objective, well-researched, and adhere to a professional standard; it's because the debate isn't about about any of those things. It's about the icky internet and it's crazy free content people going out there like they know how to observe, ask questions, and frame a relevant report. It's also a really good way to take some kind of tentative control of a source of information that answers to no one but itself and the people who read it. Engadget is not CNET is not Associated Press is not TMZ is not Perez is not Gawker; if you say some of these are not like the other, I'd like a definition as to what constitutes real reporting of news, because I was trying to do it and came to a conclusion I'm not entirely comfortable with on what they mean when they say "journalist".

Ted Coppel is not Perez Hilton, nor am I arguing Diane Sawyer can be replaced with Random Female Blogger A; however, the dangers inherent in depending on single large media news and it's affiliates isn't exactly subtle here, and let me invoke the name Murdoch as warning, reminder, and convincing argument to get a foil hat and hide in a Faraday cage.

If a standard must be set to earn the right to report and earn the protections that come with being a journalist, then Jason Chen might be a really good way to make a statement and maybe a warning to bloggers who won't shut up when told to.

I'm not making an argument that all blogs are CNN and your LJ/DW/blog is on par with MSNBC--I'm saying, when I read people talking about what constitutes a real journalist, they're not talking about reliability, truthfulness, objectivity, professionalism, or the ability to string words together in a way that generally aligns with current trends in grammar and spelling. They're saying if they aren't given the stamp of approval by a major media corporation, they aren't real.

And on a sidenote?
This week, Chen's house was raided by officers from California's Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (REACT), a special task force of police officers and federal agents created to combat computer-related crimes -- and which just happens to have Apple on its steering committee. The cops took all of Chen's computer equipment. - link

I'm incredibly comforted when publicly traded major corporations are deeply involved with the police force. That can't possibly go wrong.

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we bat this around at the office every couple of months -- usually re bloggers who've been denied access to prisons or other government institutions when seeking information that's not covered by FOIA - and the problem is that there's just no good law in any circuit to support the extension of 1st Amendment protection (as it regards the press) to people who don't work for some kind of accredited press company or organization. I think the general consensus is that new media does not equal real media in the eyes of the law.

honestly? the difficulty in making good law on this is finding an irreproachable plaintiff. most bloggers interject a lot of opinion in their pieces, and many run rumors and suppositions as well -- it's kind of impossible to get a favorable opinion (in the judicial sense) when the defense can point to obvious bias and/or lack of factual reporting. and the fact that Gizmodo knowingly committed a crime in paying for a piece of equipment that was for all practical purposes stolen... does not an irreproachable plaintiff make.

it's a really troubling situation on all sides.

I'm still erring on the side that lost != stolen, but that's legalese, so leaving that out, since "real" reporters have done as much or worse legally speaking for a story.

There's really not much about this that doesn't make me wonder about how the law and common practices are going to catch up with new media. If bloggers are deliberately excluded from legal protection--and Gawker Media isn't Kate's Kake's either--that's a precedent that simply won't stand up for long but could cause problems while it's being enforced.

of course much worse has been done for a story, but those aren't the ones standing in front of the judge at the moment, you know?

mind, I'm not disagreeing with you, just saying that creating good law on this matter is a lot harder than common sense would dictate. I spend a lot of time going "holy shit, is this even legal?" and then finding out that yeah, under the current state of the law, it IS. I mean, I'd have to do a lot more research before I could tell you precisely what the current legal definition of "press" is as regards Constitutional protection, but I can tell you that challenging that is an enormous undertaking whether you're Nick Denton or not. and just because it seems common sense doesn't guarantee success.

I'm defending neither side here, just trying to offer a picture of the gears and cogs, I guess?

That's pretty much what I've been doing since I read about Chen being raided and trying to work out the technicalities--because I would ahve assumed that Gawker media would count and that it doesn't really makes me wonder exactly what standard is going to be used and how it will be applied.

well, Gawker Media is a wretched hive of scum and villainy. and yeah, so is the New York Post. :p

Like I said, it IS troubling. I'll be interested to see if they try to litigate the Constitutional issues.

It's not legalese; Calfornia law is extremely explicit. If you find a lost object, you must make a good faith attempt to return it -- and the thief admits he did nothing at all -- and _even then_, if it is worth more than $100 you must turn it into the police. And very specifically, selling it instead is defined as theft. Gizmodo brought stolen goods, and knew it was doing so. If I was Apple, I would feel obligated to legally pursue them, otherwise I would be rewarding them and punishing Wired and Engadget, who behaved correctly and refused to buy stolen goods.

I am by nature normally more on the side of places like Gawker than I am of Apple, but they fucked up bad and committed a felony, and a press card does not give you carte blanche to do that.

This is is why I said I wasn't going into the legalese.

how many people believed a prestigious journalism school would be a requirement, and possibly employment at some established non-internet media center.

Really? That's hilarious. We live in a world where Sarah Palin is allowed to call herself a news corresponent for Fox News. Granted, we're talking about Fox News here, so one should already have a sizeable grain of salt on hand. However, we also live in a world where the metaphorical journalistic equivalent of a four year old running with safety scissors (i.e. Stupid, yet ultimately still scary on some level) is allowed to speak Gospel as News as Truth. Actual education and some kind of basic human adult intelligence hardly plays a role in what constitutes a Real Life Journalist nowadays.

But maybe I'm just being annoying and cynical about life again. It's like my default setting.

Speaking as a "real" journalist (by any of the standards listed above except for the journalism school part, which incidentally is hilarious since most U.S. journalists don't go to journalism school), yeah, this "who is in the club or not" thing is ridiculous. Gizmodo certainly counts and frankly, if Kate's Kake blog is full of news and reviews about where to get the best cakes, then she counts too.

Which isn't to say I think Perez Hilton is a *good* journalist, but quality judgments, just like platform judgments, are a slippery slope.

If we ever get a federal shield law, I think that's where we're likely to see a precise definition come into the law, but until then, as noted above, it's mostly about who's willing to fight lawsuits or not. (We go through legal training every year and it's always stuff like, 'We're not saying *don't* do this, we're just saying, if you do it *this* way it'll be easier to defend against if we get sued.')

Re: the screws. The holes they go in to disappear somewhere along the reassembly and only reappear after a hard search and many cusswords. Then, there's the ones that breed...

I have to admire the Gizmodo guy, since Apple/Steve Jobs is rather draconian about keeping its secret tech secret. Poor guy's in for it, may all the forgotten gods help him.

This is probably going to cause a fight over what a 'real' journalist is. Gonna be interesting.

I was reading up on this a few days ago on the NYTimes tech blog (appropriate, no?) and Gawker's taking the stance that Chen is a journalist--and NYT found a few lawyers in California who agree that Chen is covered by 1st Amendment/CA shield laws. My understanding is that the police are attempting to frame the issue in a non-journalistic light to avoid the 1st Amendment issue, but I'm not sure how well they'll do at that. Quite frankly, I want them to fail because if "journalism" gets more narrowly defined then a LOT of institutions can come under attack. WikiLeaks, for example, or a publication which usually lacks redeeming social value until it does something awesome (National Enquirer, anyone?). Protection for journalistic freedom to whistle-blow is one of the most important safeguards of a free press and an open society--I'd prefer they err on the side of protecting Perez, even if he is a crazy.

Technically, it can be argued that the reason that bloggers don't have the same rights as journalists is because they don't have the same duties. Bloggers can and often do write pieces without properly verified sources. Journalists writing for accredited papers or working with any other form of media are required to conform with certain practices.

But I do think that the Chen raid is a serious breach of privacy and total abuse of power. It would have been one thing to retract whatever he'd written about. Confiscating his property? Way to overstep the bounds of what is appropriate.

This week, Chen's house was raided by officers from California's Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (REACT), a special task force of police officers and federal agents created to combat computer-related crimes -- and which just happens to have Apple on its steering committee. The cops took all of Chen's computer equipment.
I'm incredibly comforted when publicly traded major corporations are deeply involved with the police force. That can't possibly go wrong.

This, exactly. I don't have time to research things like 1st Amendment protections for journalists, or what qualifies someone as a journalist (because I'm doing this at work while I'm on my phone), but the idea of large businesses being deeply involved with the police force is alarming to me--it's like the people who decide to do this shit have never opened a book. *headesk*

Well, as I understand it, lost = stolen despite the popular “finders keepers.” It’s just that it’s sometimes impossible to find the original owner for something like an umbrella found on a bus and a lost ’n’ found isn’t easy enough to find. So, no one really cares. As for the iPhone prototype, the case is stronger here as the person who found it did realize it was an Apple prototype and made only one lame attempt to return it to the company and made no attempt to return it to the employee who was supposed to have possession. And this is Silicon Valley where it’s common knowledge that prototypes always belong to the company. And then he sold it to a tech blog. Engadget posted real photos of the prototype before Gizmodo did, but no one’s raiding them. Gizmodo is the one under investigation because they paid money for possession of it. (Although, I understand their latest defense is that they didn’t pay for possession of, they paid for access to. But I’ll let the lawyers split those hairs.)

As for journalist protections, I’d really hope that bloggers get a bone; they do deserve protections. But then, I’d also want lines drawn on the kind of news the blogger is reporting in that it has to be something for the public good. You wouldn’t give the gossip columnist at the back page of the entertainment section the same protections as a front page reporter. Uncovering politics corruption is a public good. Nude photos of celebrities, not so much. I think tech prototypes lean further from public good and closer towards public curiosity. Now, if they were trying to prove that Apple were putting toxic things in that phone that the company said it wasn’t, that’s closer towards public good.

While it might be scary trying to decide what’s 4th estate vs what’s gossip — because that spectrum has no lines, only gradients, and I do acknowledge that will be one very hot debate — I’d rather the law and common practices turn in that direction and away from trying to define “journalist” because I think the convo needs to move in that direction in this age where anyone can be an investigator/reporter/content creator of some sort. And I think it’s a direction that needs to happen so that bloggers spend less time defending their existence and more time pondering, “Okay, how far am I willing to go for this story? How far does the public want me to go for this story? How far does the public need me to go for this story?”

You wouldn’t give the gossip columnist at the back page of the entertainment section the same protections as a front page reporter.

Really? I would. The public good != the public interest, but as far as I know, they are both legitimate news sources; I'm not a huge fan of celebrity stalking culture, but eliminating public interest as a protected journalistic endeavor shuts down most news.

Journalism vs bloggers. I don't really understand all the technical ins and outs of this particular issue but I believe that bloggers deserve a bit (heck, a lot more) respect. Now, that's not all bloggers and not on all issues, but you really don't need a journalism degree to be a journalist. A good blooger with ethics, good writing skills and a focused vision is often more than what you get in a mainstream newspaper.
Of course, I'm also thinking about myself. I writer for the EXaminer.com which is a newish experiment on on-line citizen journalism. I had to present writing samples, information about my knowledge of the subject (in my case, art, museums and art history) and while getting the job wasn't that hard, it wasn't a piece of cake either. I even get paid! As far as I know, I'm only one of a few on-line journalists/bloggers who covers the SF Bay Area art world on a regular basis, yet none of the museums that I cover link to my pieces or seem to consider what I do "really legitimate." I think that in the tech/financial world there's a lot more acceptance of the blogging community but in the "official" art world, we are still persona non grata.

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