United States

How an FCC regulation allows anonymous political robocalls

Communications law in the United States is a little peculiar at times. If I buy time on for an advertisement on television or radio to reach thousands of people over the public airwaves, I have to abide by one set of rules. If. If I use an auto-dialer to reach thousands of people in their homes over the telephone (“robocalls”), I abide by a different set of rules.

Intellipedia Oversight

I had some questions for the Intellipedia project, the wiki-based, open-editable encyclopedia for use in the U.S. intelligence community.

I’m a bit late in responding to Clive Thompson’s article Open Source Spying in the New York Times Magazine from December. Naturally the subtitle "Could blogs and wikis prevent the next 9/11?” caught my eye, due to my work in teasing out the different claims of technology boosters claiming to have solved the larger problems of information retrieval. Case in point? It’s not just the ability to find information; I was able to find the article by giving Google the search terms Thompson Times Magazine. I also needed to evaluate the quality of that article, and whether any information was out of date. That problem is hard (ie., not yet automated). The blogs, by themselves, don’t do anything at all to solve it. The favored blog search engine, Technorati, lists 341 blog posts linking back. How do I find the needle in that haystack? (Wikipedia was at least helpful by suggesting related sources for Intellipedia.) The general problem of a blog community as an echo-chamber I have discussed at length in the New Gatekeepers series of two years ago.

The Talking Points Meme

Several months ago, I decided on a simple experiment: I’d stop reading most blogs I’d been reading, and just get news from my regular sources, and see if I’d be any less informed. I think I’ve stayed sharp. In this three-thousand exercise, I looked to see whether I missed anything in the U.S.

2020 Democrats: Principles for a New Generation

On Sunday I went to hear Howard Zinn speak at the Boston chapter of the National Writers Union. He said that he sees more activism today that any time during the 1960’s.

I wasn’t there then, but it’s possible that the perception leads reality. Wherever one looks on the Internet, there is activism, though the physical evidence, and quantifiable acheivements, are harder to discern (Zinn did not admit to much web-surfing, let along blog-reading, other than reading his email).

Theories of the Bulge

Whatever happened to the bulge on President Bush’s back, visible in the Presidential debates? It was referred to by the usual family of -Gates: AudioGate, PrompterGate, and, my favorite, “The Battle of the Bulge.” I had followed the story develop first-hand on various blogs, and saw how it played out in the national media, fading out by election day. It’s returned to the news, briefly, courtesy of a Dan Kennedy column in the Phoenix. I thought I’d take another look at the story, and try to answer the question as to why the Internet blogs, for all their supposed powers, could not shake the truth out. This is part of a series on “Truth Exposure: Getting the Facts to Light.”

Theories of the Bulge: The Timeline

For Theories of the Bulge, I needed to come up with a timeline of when theories were developed. I researched through the core websites, and had a look at a few more that were linked. Afterwards, I gave this a bit of structure by splitting it up into weeks. And then I thought, what else was going on in the news that week? This was quite a busy month– and it didn't help that four debates were cramed into the first half of it. If the debates were spached out by a week or two over a longer period of time, it perhaps would have allowed the country to spend more time on the issues covered– as well as the meta-issues like this.

Was it the blogosphere that exposed the 60 Minutes memo forgeries?

What role did the bloggers play in taking down CBS's 60 Minutes, Dan Rather, and the "liberal media?". The conventional wisdom is that the blogosphere played a central role, and that the mainstream media missed the boat. Too bad that the defenders of the mainstream media are still missing the facts to make a solid analysis.
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