Tony Pierce to the LA Times

Pajamas likely headed to Blogger Hall of Fame

tony pierce will be ditching the pajamas and blogging for spring streetThe blogger and LAist editor who inspired myself (among others) to dedicate much time, passion, and keystrokes to group blogging, is moving on after 17 months at the helm of Gothamist‘s Los Angeles operation.

Myself and Zach Behrens interviewed Pierce soon after he dropped the bomb on LAist staffers last Friday.
Read the whole damn thing here.

The news doesn’t surprise me — Known to some as “The Blogfather,” Tony Pierce worked hard for many years to land this gig. LA Times Interactive under Meredith Artley continues being proactive, taking chances and gaining steam tony pierce in pajamas at LAist party popping a celebratory bottle of champagnetoward staking its claim as the new media beast it should be.
Perfect match.

Pierce worked his ass off for LAist as I imagine he did in previous jobs — always doing it his own unique but successful way. A big fan of city-centric sites since my days with Centerstage, I considered trying to write for Chicagoist and LAist but it wasn’t until I got hooked on Tony’s and his bulked-up, liberated staff’s posts (OK, and also because Tony is an insanely die-hard Cubs fan like myself) — about one year ago — that I gave it a shot.

Continue reading “Tony Pierce to the LA Times”

Back to My Blogging Roots

mirror lake, yosemiteOn hiatus this weekend at Yosemite and very much recalling my travels of yesteryear. I hope to take advantage and get out some next month in between interviews for the NextBigGig in my oh-so-linear mission to save the world (at least a little (ok, microscopic) bit, every day).

The Wall Street Journal, of all publications, wished a Happy Blogiversary to all — declaring the 10th anniversary of the blog, complete with videoi and top billing in the editor’s picks sidebar. And somewhere, Rupert Murdoch is smiling, or perhaps this is just a sign that Dow Jones truly is in his back pocket. OK, it actually is a cool feature, check it out, but I don’t see where it admits to WSJ’s blogibviousness… only WSJ’s LawBlog is a regular read in my newsfeed, and it’s been around less than two years. It appears there are more here. But it seems nothing existed at blogs.wsj.com before late May of last year, according to archive.org. (Am I missing something?) Nice of them to acknowledge blog, of course — even if it’s just the Saturday paper. I always thought Justin Hall was credited as the first “blogger,” circa 1994, but whatever.

My first attempt at blogging was 8 summers ago. I was teaching English in Ecuador and documenting my experiences and travels for myself, my family and friends. It was pretty outstanding, circa 1999, being able to hit a cybercafe in virtually any city in South America on the cheap, and most served beer (a pleasure I rarely enjoyed again before I moved to San Francisco for this summer where there are places such as Bean Bag Cafe — with microbrews on tap for $1.50 and free wi-fi).

With the help of one BJ Freeman, I set up some archaic message board on this Web site (Click to see the remnants of this message board and posts — I can only find the European 2000 stuff), in hopes of spurring conversation and comments on my travels and thoughts. Of course, since many didn’t understand the “blog” concept — which was what it was in principle, but not in name — I had to simultaneously send my dispatches in the form of mass e-mails (bcc style). I continued this practice — after virtually breaking the discussion board format — kinda like this.

Click here for photos and commentary from Yosemite.

The LA Fire Department and Web 2.0

My interview with LAFD Public Service Officer Brian Humphrey is live at LAist. Thanks, Brian for taking the time to geek out with me for a bit re: the LAFD’s cutting edge experiments and efforts in making full use of ubiquitous Internet connectivity to provide the ultimate in public service.

Read the interview here.

Also, congrats to Assignment Zero for having its first series of crowdsourced articles (on crowdsourcing) published in Wired.

I don’t know whether or not my interview with Newsvine CEO Mike Davidson will make it into Wired, but either way, it was a great experience writing and editing for the project and I look forward to collaborating again in the future!

Blogging for Knight Center on Politics 2.0

I’m blogging for the rest of the week for the Knight Foundation from their Politics & Cyberspace conference. It’s been excellent so far, all of the posts are here — my post on the keynote is copied below. On the right, John Amato of CrooksandLiars with James Joyner of Outside the Beltway.

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“You know how they say we only use 10 percent of our brains? I think we only use 10 percent of our hearts.” — Owen Wilson in Wedding Crashers.

Campaigns are only using 10 percent of the Internet, said political scientist Michael Cornfield, former director of research for the GW & Pew-backed Democracy Online Project (now VP of ElectionMall), in his opening keynote, “Politics and the Internet: What Do We Really Know?”

The public and in some ways the press are now trained to expect the marriage of Web 2.0 and politics to produce breakthrough discoveries or disseminate ill-conceived media that can make or break political campaigns. But as Cornfield stressed, George Allen’s 2006 “macaca” moment was simply the nadir of an already disintegrating campaign.

“Tech innovation brought into the marketplace is not significant on its own,” said Cornfield. While 2006 was YouTube’s year, it didn’t make or break these races, the campaigns and candidates did. Similarly, the first televised presidential debate — Nixon v. JFK in 1960 — did not necessarily produce a sudden sea change in which voters went purely on looks as much as the candidates themselves reacted to their performances.

Television remains the mass medium of choice among Americans, although the Internet is gaining in popularity, especially among the younger set. But it was not an Internet campaign that definitively changed the tone of the media and in turn the momentum of the 2004 election. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth was a donor-funded political group that, in the final weeks of the campaign, created TV and radio ads disparaging John F. Kerry’s Vietnam service and spread rumors — most of which, if not all, have only been verified as false — insinuating that, among other things, he acted unethically on the battlefield during the incident for which he was awarded a purple star.

Who exactly were the donors and private interests behind the Swift Boat Fund and how long had they been planning it?

Cornfield could not have possibly overstated the importance of micro-analysis of campaign usage of media and new tech and of profiling big donors and supporters. As the public’s use and comfort level with the Internet as a socially and politically reverent medium continues to grow, so will the number — and the power — of individual campaign donors. Thanks to the resources made available by the FEC and OpenSecrets, major donors can be identified and their campaign contributions, monetary and otherwise can often be tracked. Cornfield recommended journalists band together and create forums in which they listen to — and interview — groups of donors. It would be interesting to see how this could be effective on both sides of the political aisle — we’ll see if any donor profiles come out of large-scale events like YearlyKos in Chicago in August or even the GOP debate May 3rd at the Reagan Library.

McCain and Giuliani may have been early frontrunners to be the GOP candidate, but, now, where did all of Romney’s millions come from?

The general public will continue to dissect the candidates, their histories and intentions, but who will follow the money to the source? Are campaign donors the new kingmakers as Cornfield suggests?