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Not-Liveblogging the Blogs and Politics Event at NYU

Posted by chanders on October 27, 2006

I attended the October 25 "Blogs and Politics" event at NYU, and couldn’t liveblog it (as I had planned) because there wasn’t any wireless. So I took really detailed notes instead. Here they are.

Some other attendees at the talk blogged about it themselves. They include Liza Sabater

7:00 Can”t liveblog– no wireless, at least, not anything thats available to non NYU peons like me.

7:03 The people here look like people who desperately care about “Blogs and Politics,” which, of course, happens to be the title of this panel, sponsored by the NYU Law Dems and DL2LC. The crowd here looks like a slightly less self-assured, slightly more awkward version of a crowd that would be comfortable hanging out in various  bookstores in Washington DC. . I need to come up with a name for this particular type of audience, the type of wonky audience I know really cares about this shit, but whom I would never encounter either at Indymedia or at Columbia in quite the same way.

7:06 Survey says: most visited blogs, 4 out of 5 (at least) are side projects of the mainstream media; Room8 (what’s that??) seems to be the only real exception (maybe). So much for the end of professional journalism as we know it. So much for an insurgent band outsiders crashing the gates. Maybe this is a particularly NYC thing?

7:11 A flyer just got passed out to join the NY Democrat Mobile Action Network– txt messages and cell phones. More than 2 years behind NYC Indymedia, though thats not really fair, maybe they’ve been doing this for years.  Wonder if they’ll text anyone to go out and block the buses on the way to the convention center. Ha ha ha. Inside Indymedia joke.

7:13 Question to ask: all the panelists

Elena, DMI Blog
Gur Isbar, Room8
Scott Sala, Urban Elephant
Liza Sabater, Daily Gotham
Jon Dolan, ?

7:15: Opening Statements

Scott: Wanted to create something to show that there actually was life in the Republican Party in NYC. Mentions that “it all changed when the newspaper blogs entered the scene.”

Liza: Created Daily Gotham because MyDD and Daily Kos were blogging about NYC issues but not doing much in NYC; not covering local politics, as influential as they are.  Talking up “Civic Space.” “Before we came along, blogs in NYC were personality sites, not community sites.” “We are non-partisan when it comes to software.”

Elena: NYC doesn’t have a fully developed blog ecosphere. Newspaper blogs, community blogs are new. Public policy: not just represented in the NY blogosphere, but underrepresented everywhere, thats what DMI blog is. Trying to bring new voices to the public policy debate.

Gus: Started Room8 with Ben Smith from NY Daily News. Wanted to give people a say in a system thats not very open to public discourse and public input. Worked behind the scenes and knows how little the politicians care about what people think. Politicians + Oridnary People.

Jon: Started blogging for NY Magazine. Also a pofessional Rock Critic by trade. “What’s in the paper and whats funny about it, and how politians are all celebrities.”

7:20 Moderator: Brought up the survey and the 20% who dont read blogs. Do you care about these people?

Elena: People want to be the media themselves and talk about what the papers aren’t covering. Maybe that 20% are the people who don’t get angry.

Liza: There’s stil a beief that journalists aren’t biased; people are optomistic and pollyanish about the media in the US. 20% are the people who want to believe that journalism is omniscient and objective. NYU is Liza’s alma mater. BA / MA / Mphil in post-structuralist cultural studies and worked as a freelance journalist .

Jon: You seem to have more sameness as bloggers than you have differences as political activists? Is this true?

Scott: We share upstart outsider-ness.
Liza: I consider myself an Independent Democrat. I’m an outsider in the political blogosphere.
Jon: How do you know?
Liza: [Brought up the Clinton blogger meetup debacle again.]
Scott: Fearless because I have no political ambition.

7:33    [… something of a contest then occurred where each of the panel tried to claim that they were each the biggest outsider in the room.]

Gur then asked the audience to start talking about themselves; “blogging isn’t a one way conversation.” The first person to repond was the typical slightly insane NYC person who was angry that he doesn’t get email.

Liza: Introduced Michael Boudin; discussed how their site traffic trippled when they started providing inside coverage of the CD-11 race and how that conversation on the Daily Gotham may have influenced mainstream media coverage of the CD-11 race.

7:46 Chris: Ased the question about the survey discrepancy.
Liza: Pisses me off that we have to go up against the mainstram media blogs; “they’re not bloggers, they get paid.” Part of it is the NYC media merket.
Scott: People want to talk about national politics. You have to recognize the media landscape that you’re in– here we have a media lanscape where there are media blogs and there is big media.
Guy from rentwars.com: You’re comparing Apples to Oranges when you compare big newspaper blogs with indy blogs.
Scott: Doesn’t worry about his audience.

Room 8: Says he gets 2,500 to 3,000 unique vistors a day. Ben Smith probably gets double that.

Another audience member talked about how there are two trends in the blogosphere. One is major media outets trying to use technology to keep their top-down command of information; another is based on an economy of abundance. Also discussed how much NYC broadband access sucks (I agree!!!). Hope lies in the young people, don’t bother trying to change the media behavior of the 65 year old in StuyTown.

7:56 The average NYC kid gets to spend 1 hr a week with computer, so lets not be too utopian.

    [bit of a discussion on the future of the media. The NYTimes will be a video site in 5 years, and Times Select is making them less influential even though they made 8 million dollars off it]

Elena: Question: Why do the people here who don’t contribute to blogs not do it?
A1: Laziness

Question:  And what about politicians?
Room8: We’re trying to get as many politicans to do this as we can. Its part of a conversation. But there’s a lot of fear there.
Politican speechwriter add her two cents: Blogs are a middle gound between writing a speech and talking to a person.

    [More back and forth audience discussion]

Liza: Centralized blogging is leaving; decentralized and distributed blogging is coming. Open ID. TechCrunch.

    Person who works in the “new media industry”: Have you ever looked at Backfence.com? What do you think about social media? What does that do to you guys?]

Liza: Blogs are social media.
Elena: The Gotham Gazette is sort of hyperlocal.
Liza: And as far as Web 2.0 is concerned, I think its mostly an excuse to grab advertising real estate.

Question: People read blogs for information, which ultimately comes out of a comitted group of people who actually know stuff and who have an obessive group of junkies who follow them. Citizens journalism.

    [long conversation about information overload spurred on by a gentleman who seemed to be very dismissive of the notion that 3,000 posts of 100 words could be anything more than informational garbage.]

    [do we really want our politicans responding to bloggers? Isn’t that creating populism and  destroying republican government?]

A long and passionate conversation about this. Guy from the sunlight foundation: “The issue that we’re talking about here is transparency, and enough transparency that will recreate a sense of trust.” Talked about the sunlight foundation DC timeclock program.


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