Google Video Provocation

From the How-to-Inspire-Nuclear-Apocalypse-from-your-Laptop Dept:

via OgleEarth:

Somebody’s posted a video to Google Video that claims the Iranian city of Tabriz is actually in southern Azerbaijan. It’s a breezy but calculated insult, much like the doings of the Frenchman on the rampart in the Monty Python movie The Holy Grail.

But horrors, Iran’s government seems to have fallen hook, line and sinker for the video, and are now urging Iranians to vent their wrath on Google, reports the Guardian’s Tehran correspondent Robert Tait:

The text of a tourist film on the site has drawn accusations that the US-owned search engine is deliberately trying to undermine Iran’s territorial integrity by fomenting separatist sentiment in the mainly Turkish-speaking province.

(Why they don’t link to the video in the story is beyond me.)

Many seem not to be aware that Google Video hosts user-contributed content, so believe this must be a deliberate ploy by Google (including, incredibly, The Guardian’s Tait!). Others apparently think that it is Google’s job to censor all content anyone finds objectionable. Either way, this fracas will require that Google explain once again the workings of the internet to witless people in power, but at the same time it presents an opportunity for education on the principle of freedom of speech. The worst possible outcome? Google takes down the video.

(Data point: at 8:22 UTC, the video was downloaded 11,431 times after two days.)

LINK

Let’s Go Own the Times

The headline sounds facetious, but the past two times it has been brought up it makes quite a bit of sense.

Harry Chandler writes in the Sunday L.A. Times:

If 20% of Times readers invest $1,000, it could work. I’ll write the first check for the Los Angeles Times Community Owners LLC.

Chandler is the son of Otis — the man who MADE the Times. The Chandler Family Trust owns about 15% of Tribune Company — the largest single stake.

Calvin Naito opined in August, “If you, my fellow 10 million residents of Los Angeles County, each chip in $300, we can cough up the $3 billion needed to buy and collectively own the most powerful local institution — the Los Angeles Times.”

Steve Lopez has been begging the likes of Eli Broad to up and buy the paper for months. (Oddly, this column can no longer be found in the Times online despite being found in two alternate versions — “Free the Press From Corporate Profiteers” and “Finding a Benefactor Could Be Tall Order” in Lexis).

In Saturday’s paper, Tim Rutten made turning the Times back around sound like an impossible task: “the only way to reinvigorate local coverage and to establish the kind of strong online presence that will guarantee the paper’s future is to stop doing something we now do for readers or to do it less thoroughly and less well, hoping that those readers just won’t mind.”

But Chandler, whose two cents really count for something, has a more hopeful outlook — and I think I like it: “Publish only columnists with original, even provocative, perspectives. Pursue more investigative pieces and assign fewer reporters to a story that 75% of readers already saw on ESPN or CNN or Yahoo.”

Hope for a happy ending soon. Expect to hear about it first at LAObserved.