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Lara Logan, You Suck

In the aftermath of the McChrystal affair, CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan slams Rolling Stone’s Michael Hastings, which then leads to a scorched-earth rebuttal from Matt Taibbi:

If I’m hearing Logan correctly, what Hastings is supposed to have done in that situation is interrupt these drunken assholes and say, “Excuse me, fellas, I know we’re all having fun and all, but you’re saying things that may not be in your best interest! As a reporter, it is my duty to inform you that you may end up looking like insubordinate douche bags in front of two million Rolling Stone readers if you don’t shut your mouths this very instant!” I mean, where did Logan go to journalism school – the Burson-Marsteller agency?

I should really buy an issue of Rolling Stone sometime. Too bad about the music coverage.

Martin Margiela

Via New York’s sales & bargains page, I came across Martin Margiela, a label I’m not familiar with but which has a remarkable web site for a fashion label:

They’ve decided to style it after the default Apache directory navigation, complete with the words “Apache/1.1.34 Server at www.maisonmartinmargiela.com Port 80” at the bottom. If you spend any time on fashion sites you’ll recognize this is pretty gutsy, since 99.99% of the fashion websites are these heavy Flash affairs that scroll you through pictures at a pace you can’t control while playing some generic loungy music. As an added benefit the MM site actually has deep links, which I guess might come in handy if I were so into fashion I were bookmarking specific pages.

Of course, I have to imagine the intersection of men who are really into fashion and care about bookmarkability is probably pretty small, and whether or not this unusual fashion site is helping them or hurting them overall, I couldn’t say. In many ways the values of fashion and the values of web are opposed, and not just because the web is built by people with baggy hoodies and messenger bags.

Death in Tehran

The web makes it easier to publish media that would be considered too graphic to appear on CNN or in the New York Times. Andrew Sullivan ran a lot of photos of people tortured to death by American hands over the past year, and now on YouTube, we have tremendously upsetting footage of an Iranian girl, shot by a member of the Basij, apparently dying on video:

I’m inclined to say that this is a good thing. Horrible things happen in the world and it’s useful to be reminded of them. But being reminded of them certainly isn’t easy.

If you’re interested in more, less graphic information about the girl, Neda Soltani, is being collected on Wikipedia.

Quis custodiet ipsos pundits?

(hat tip: Barry Ritholtz)

Tiny dance videos

My brother Albert recently graduated from theater school. He studied directing, but since getting out of school, he’s been tinkering with online video and dance—the stuff you’d see at a rave, not what you’d learn in a conservatory.

In last week’s video, Virtual Boxes, he combines planar movements with overlaid animation to manipulate translucent blue rectangles hovering in air with his hands. There’s an interesting connection here to mime or prestidigitation, and in fact Albert is pretty good at card tricks.

Virtual Boxes video

But I think my favorite is Finger Dancing, a closely shot video of Albert dancing mostly with his hands. Apparently this is a nascent style that goes by the name “digits” (or “digitz”), and he’s combining it with a more fluid West-Coast approach.

Finger Dancing video

One curious takeaway from this is that it would appear that club dancing communities are starting to take root online through free video sites. Go to YouTube and search for terms like “digitz”, “tuts”, or “rave”, and you’ll find lots of people videotaping themselves dancing in their own bedrooms and living rooms, and then posting the results online for others to comment on. Possibly kids are now learning moves from YouTube, the same way they once did from American Bandstand or Soul Train—the difference being, of course, that now everybody can have their own show.

Secondly, videos such as these point to possible new directions for what we could term “microvideo”: videos with small budgets, small resolutions, and small durations, meant to be displayed through portable devices such as PSPs, cell phones, and video iPods. The tight framing of Finger Dancing makes it easier to watch on a subway ride than, say, an episode of Lost—and when the picture’s so tiny it’s not as noticeable how low-budget it is. Maybe this is obvious, but it would appear that the future of portable video rests mostly on freely available viral content, not clips from movies or TV shows that you download for a fixed price. On a 2-inch screen, a $50 million movie and some suburban teenage girls dancing to “My Humps” look different, but you know, not that different.

God bless you, Lewis Lapham

“I was impressed by the remark, not only because it was tasteless and vulgar, but because it was a cliché ...”
Harper’s editor Lewis H. Lapham, testifying in London that he did, in fact, once see Roman Polanski offer to make a Scandinavian model the “next Sharon Tate”.

Yesterday's news

This past month has brought a flurry of posts from various net-media luminaries concerning newspapers and online archives: First Simon Waldman and Jay Rosen on PressThink, followed by Dan Gillmor, and then Cory Doctorow over on BoingBoing. All three posts are worth reading in full, but the gist of what they’re saying is that newspapers should keep their archives free and open for all time, thus allowing the web to work its intertwingly magic on the results. This is inspiring stuff, but I think the discussion so far has glossed over some of the business realities facing newspaper publishers today. There’s no question that permanently free archives would be a boon for online discourse and public journalism. But can newspapers make it pay?

First, let me clear something up: Some of the discussion I’m linking to has conflated the concepts of permanent URIs with free archives, but we should keep the two separate. It’s trivial to support permanent URIs while not providing free archives; that many newspaper archives don’t do so is less indicative of some money-grubbing publisher’s desire to piss off Tim Berners-Lee than of the blindly-lurching-forward nature of web programming. Personally, I think in the near-term the permanent URI is even more important that the free archive, but that’s a subject for another day.

All the news that’s fit to give away

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