Carl's Jr. Experiences the Clash Between Economies of "Stuff" and "Fluff"

Things have been busy lately, but I wanted to drop in and make sure the blog stayed alive.

Wired has an interesting story about a Carl's Jr. promotion gone wrong:

During a promotion at a recent Los Angeles Lakers-New Orleans Hornets game at the Staples Center in L.A., the 276 winning contestants were texted a passcode and a 48-hour-only URL on the Lakers' website, showing where they could download their free red meat.

A day later, the URL and passcode spread faster than a Paris Hilton homemade porno. Hundreds of bargain-hunting websites posted the URL and passcode -- prompting the hamburger outlet to discontinue honoring them amid fears of a run on their burgers.

Bill Ayers' confrontation with 'sound-bite' culture

Bill Ayers' New York Times Op-Ed explains why he felt the need to steer clear of Election 2008's attempts to suck him in. He was being called a "domestic terrorist" and he was described as someone Obama was "palling around" with. But he saw no viable way to enter the discussion:

With the mainstream news media and the blogosphere caught in the pre-election excitement, I saw no viable path to a rational discussion. Rather than step clumsily into the sound-bite culture, I turned away whenever the microphones were thrust into my face. I sat it out.

Faced with a rhetorical infrastructure of speed, Ayers "sat it out." He saw no path to "rational discussion." I would not argue with Ayers on this one. I don't think there was a useful way for him to join the conversation. However, it raises some interesting questions: What are the ethical implications of sitting things out? If rational discussion is not an option, then how do we proceed? Do we attempt to slow down "sound-bite" culture, or do we develop new rhetorics?

I have no real answers to these questions, but they interest me. I'm hoping to address some of this in my 4C's presentation, but I'd be interested to hear others' thoughts. What other rhetorical options were available to Ayers?

Thanks to Matt for the link.

"Building the community" recently posted a guide to commenting for those wanting to contribute to various policy discussions. The guide gives five general rules:

1: Know the comment policy
Our comment policy lays out the basic guidelines for material that should and should not be part of the online conversation.

A diverse group of commenters with a variety of opinions post their thoughts on these pages. We won't censor any ideas based on their content as long as the comment is respectful and adds value to the discussion. Goes With CC License.

We asked, and they acted., the Obama Transition Website, is now published under a Creative Commons license. I'm pretty amazed at how quickly this change happened. The Obama Transition folks heard the call and answered quickly.

Link via Lessig Blog. and Intellectual Property

Tim O'Reilly recently suggested putting under revision control. After a recent dust up about content on Obama's Transition website being taken down and then re-posted, many have questioned the transparency of the site. O'Reilly's suggestion of revision control is interesting because it would better allow members of the community to see what's changing on the site. However, I'm not sure I'd go as far as O'Reilly's suggestion that the site be run on a Wikipedia model.

The Centripital Force of Obama Wikipedia Page edits

Check out jamiew's visual representation of edits on Obama's Wikipedia article, and note that "users who edit a lot drift toward the center." That is, the "community" of users here slowly congeals and communes around its center (Obama). But also note that those "other" community members on the outskirts never fully go away. They're always gnawing away at the edges of the center. This is what community looks like. It never communes fully...however hard it tries.

Obama Wikipedia page edits from jamiew on Vimeo.

Link via All the Modern Things

Slow Down

New York Times Photo of a 55mph speed limit sign with traffic speeding by
My latest geekly obsession is speed and rhetoric. I've been following the advice of a certain yellow dog and reading some Virilio. I've cleaned the library out of Virilio, in fact. But more on that at another time.

For now, I'd like to point you to current discussions about the link between the 55-miles-per-hour speed limit (or lack thereof) and the current financial mess. Yeah, really. Here's Michael Lewitt, editor of The HCM Market Letter and a money manager, wondering why neither presidential candidate has suggestion lowering the speed limit:

Wikipedia and Looking Good on Paper

Nate Silver at has dubbed Sarah Palin the "Wikipedian Candidate":

The problem is that Palin's faults have been precisely those sorts of things that might be difficult to detect from a Wikipedia page. For instance: her tendency to let her nerves get the better of her in interviews, her seeming lack of intellectual curiosity, and the way that her mannerisms, fairly or not, could easily become the butt of jokes. When I saw her debut event in Dayton, I was underwhelmed, asking "how will SNL and Jay Leno react?" and declaring that "this is a pick that looks better on paper than in practice".

Why the Obama Model is Working

This morning, I made another donation to the Obama campaign. I have probably donated more than I should given my financial situation, but this is the first time I've ever been a "part" of a political campaign (I volunteered during the primaries). When Obama turned down public funding, I was skeptical. I was worried that this would cloud many voters' view of his stance against corruption in politics. However, I think it's fairly clear that a majority of Obama's donations are coming from individuals and not PACs, and I think this is a good thing.

Creating, Editing, and Narrating a Wiki-mess

I'm teaching a course entitled "Anthologics" this semester. This is a word that I kind of made up. I say "kind of" for a couple of reason. For one, no one makes up a's all a matter of citation. But also, as I was writing my course description I stumbled into a post by Derek that mentions this word (Derek? You out there? Did I steal your word?) Anyway, students are creating their own anthologies based on a topic of their choice. They're compiling sources, designing a book jacket using InDesign, and writing a book proposal (crafted for a particular publisher).

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