Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Monday, June 16, 2003day link 

 TV ruining Bhutan?
picture Bhutan is one of the most remote and isolated countries on the planet. Or, rather, it WAS very isolated. A buddhist shangri-la where people lived a basic and happy life, far away from outside influences. There were no public hospitals or schools until the 1950s, and no paper currency, roads or electricity until several years after that. Bhutan had no diplomatic relations with any other country until 1961. Still, after those innovations, it remained a peaceful place with strong traditions, where people didn't even hurt insects. But then it all changed, in 1999, when the government decided, as the last country on earth, to give the population TELEVISION. See the interesting article in the Guardian. Now there are 46 channels on cable, and kids spend their time thinking about Eminem and the Simpsons and The Rock. And suddenly Bhutan has crime waves, murders and drug problems. Is that really all just from TV? I don't know, but this certainly seems like the perfect laboratory for testing it. Rather depressing really, whether we're talking about crime or not. Depressing that remote villages in the Himalayas are aiming at being copies of the San Fernando Valley. Loss of cultural diversity.
[ | 2003-06-16 01:46 | 15 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 FCC hands U.S. media to media giants
In case anybody missed it, on June 2nd the FCC approved a measure that practically wipes out the traditional concentration protections that existed in the U.S. in terms of media. I.e. there were rules in place to avoid that any one company could own a significant portion of the media outlets, locally or nationally. Seems like it is curtains for that. The changes include:
- National concentration: A national television network may now acquire dozens of local broadcaster stations and control up to 90 percent of the national television market;

- Local concentration: A single corporation may now acquire, in one city, up to three television stations, eight radio stations, the cable TV system, numerous cable TV stations, and the only daily newspaper.
Read about it from close to the source, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, one of the two dissenting votes. Apparently 750,000 people wrote in about it, 99% against it, and most of Congress weren't for it either. So, eh, why did they make such a decision? It's called corruption. More here.
[ | 2003-06-16 22:21 | 14 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Phonecams and moblogs
picture I'm green with envy about not having a cell phone with built-in camera. Xeni Jardin has a nice article in Wired about the phonecam phenomenon.
The trend started innocuously a few years ago, when novelty cameras that plugged into mobile handsets were marketed to gadget-obsessed kids in Japan and Europe. But in the past few months, a global phonecam revolution has begun to emerge. Take the device's portability, add its ability to post images online, multiply by its growing ubiquity, and what do you get? A cheap, fast strain of DIY publishing in which everyone is an embedded reporter. The rise of the technology resembles the leap from late-'90s personal homepages to today's weblogs: Like blogs, phonecams are a fresh combination of familiar elements that equal way more than the sum of their parts.
A "moblog" is then when people post pictures they take with their phonecams on weblogs. Which provides a more lively way of connecting with what people are doing and what they experience during the day. I always have a digital camera in my pocket, but still, since I have to go through several steps, of taking it home and downloading it, and uploading a picture, it isn't really something I use to document my day. But with a phonecam it would be more of a one-step process and would flow more easily. So, I'm hoping that a Nokia 3650 will fit in my budget sometime soon. Like, when I get new cell accounts in France. The deals don't look as great there yet as in some other places, but hopefully they'll get better.
[ | 2003-06-16 22:49 | 5 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 NYC: Inexplicable Mobs
Via SmartMobs, hear about "Inexplicable Mobs" happenings in New York. Somehow I really like that kind of thing, even though it is a little hard to explain why. Large groups of people show up at the same time in unexpected places, doing inexplicable things in a coordinated way, and then they leave. I love it.
(4) Leave the bar and walk to the MOB site as quickly as possible. It will take you longer to get there than you think. If you arrive near the final MOB destination before 7:27, stall nearby. NO ONE SHOULD ARRIVE AT THE FINAL MOB DESTINATION UNTIL 7:26.

(5) Find the item and stand around it. Unlike in MOB #1, where the participants were not to acknowledge one another, here you should greet even those you do not know. Talk among yourselves about the item and its relative merits and demerits. Only if you are blocked from seeing the item should you stray to examine other merchandise at the site.

(6) If you are approached by a salesperson, explain that everyone present lives together, in a huge converted warehouse in Long Island City, and that you are there looking for a "[secret phrase]." Explain that you make all purchases as a group.

(7) At 7:37 you should disperse. Thank the salespeople for their help, but explain that the item has been "voted down." NO ONE SHOULD REMAIN AT THE MOB SITE AFTER 7:39.

(8) Return to what you would otherwise have been doing. Await instructions for MOB #3.
It reminds me of ... hm, I forgot what they called themselves, but there was this group of people I ran into 8 or so years ago who did a similar kind of thing online with Usenet Newsgroups. They would show up en masse in a fairly randomly picked newsgroup, and would utterly confuse the regulars for a few days. They would have an invented cover story for why they were there, and had studied with great skill for their roles, but it wasn't obvious at first that it was a coordinated activity. It happened to a group I was participating in, and when we finally figured out what was going on, everybody had a good laugh.
[ | 2003-06-16 23:27 | 17 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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