My Disappointment for the Day: News, Steve Jobs, and Plato

Yesterday started out nicely enough. On deck yesterday in my course on Christianity and Media: Plato’s discussions of the arts in The Republic (books 2, 3 and 10) and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The grandfather of criticism and the great articulation of freedom of expression. The goal of the class was to start exploring different approaches to interpretation of art and media. What does media do and how do we know that it has succeeded? Does good art portray reality accurately, express the emotions of the artist, or teach lessons? Is the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech and press an unlimited right, or are there times when the right may be legitimately curtailed? My students were great, offering some profound insights and unpacking the complexity of the question.

Steve Jobs and the News

All of that was floating around in my mind as I returned to my office to read the tech news. Of note was a Reuters report about the “civil lawsuit brought by five tech workers against Apple Inc, Google Inc, Intel Corp and others, alleging an illegal conspiracy to eliminate competition for each other’s employees and drive down wages.” The companies seem to have agreed not to poach each other’s employees, which seems to be a common practice, but also seems to be illegal. I say “seems” because I’m not a lawyer and am not really able to say for sure. Morally questionable, in any case. But that’s just context, not the point.


Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving, Love Actually Edition

Many things to give thanks for this year. Among them, the fact that no one at dinner even came close to answering the phone or checking messages. That alone made it feel like a sacred time.

Favorite piece of technology today? Instant read thermometer. I should probably know what temperatures feel like on a pork shoulder or turkey, but I’ve never been good at that.

Favorite technology of the season? Pretty much anything having to do with travel. Phones and videoconferencing are great. But nothing like being there face to face.

There is probably something to be said for the fact that cars have played a major factor in the atomization of American society, enabling us to leave birthplaces and families behind to strike out into the world alone. (Actually, Putnam has said some insightful stuff there.) Same for cell phones. But given where we are–both figuratively and literally–it is great to be able to maintain the ties, some sense of community, over the distances.

I’m not a big fan of romantic comedies, but the opening and closing scenes of Love Actually gets me every time. Joy and gratefulness among those greeting each other at the arrival terminal at Heathrow airport.

Blessings to you and yours this Thanksgiving. Give them a squeeze to be sure the connection is solid.

Storytelling, #nbcfail, and the upstanding guy Jeff Jarvis

My wife and I just watched NBC’s evening coverage of the US Women’s gymnastic team winning the team gold medal and Michael Phelps win his 19th Olympic medal.  Lots of commercials, but compelling tv.  I’ve been enjoying watching the evening coverage so far. Yes, even though it wasn’t live.

That’s why, aside from the issues with the coverage of the opening ceremonies, I’ve had a hard time getting on board with the #nbcfail movement. Jeff Jarvis articulated what he saw as the root of the problem for NBC in a post on Sunday.

The problem for NBC as for other media is that it is trying to preserve old business models in a new reality.…The bottom-line lesson for all media is that business models built on imprisonment, on making us do what you want us to do because you give us no choice, is no strategy for the future. And there’s only so long you can hold off the future.

The problem is that people are tuning into NBC’s coverage.  Lots of them.  Indeed, record numbers of them.  Maybe there’s a future in good, old-fashioned tv channels after all. Perhaps the rumours of its death have been greatly exaggerated.


Institutional Trust and Silencing a 9-Year-Old Girl

Happy Father’s Day, belatedly! My parents and in-laws were in town this weekend, so I was not able to finish this post on time. But here it is, hopefully still of interest.

Over the course of Friday, we saw an interesting story unfold about an Scottish food blog written by primary school student. John Russell at The Next Web (UK: Local Authorities Silence 9-Year-Old Girl Behind School Lunch Blog) writes:

A nine-year-old British school girl has had her popular blog about school food closed by a local council. Martha Payne, a primary school student in Western Scotland, began posting photos of her school dinners with commentary in May and today ‘Never Seconds‘ passed more than 2 million page views.


Rodney King In Life

It has been reported widely that Rodney King was found dead yesterday at the bottom of his pool. For those of us over in our early forties, the video of Rodney King being beaten literally senseless by police officers in Los Angeles will stand as one of the truly brutal and horrifying media experiences of our lives. But it was also one of the first of what we now call “viral videos”. Before YouTube, before the web, the Rodney King video was everywhere. Everyone had seen it. And because it was shot by a bystander, it it was also one of the first major events of citizen journalism of the digital era.


Best Absence Note Ever

Mr. Ackerson-

Please Excuse Tyler … he was with me!

Barack Obama

Check out the photo of the note written by President Obama himself.

President Obama Gives 5th Grader Best Absence Note Ever, via Jim Dalrymple and Peter Cohen at The Loop.

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