The Internet and Political Journalism

Lots of neat discussion in the United States in the wake of last Sunday's
column by Frank Rich
in the New York Times. The piece was titled “Napster runs for president in 04”. In it Rich says that Big Media — the NY Times, the Washington Post, American network television — just don't understand how Democratic hopeful Howard Dean's use of the Internet and an “interactive” campaign are changing
the way politics works in the U.S.
Rich writes: “It was not until F.D.R.'s fireside chats on radio in 1933 that a medium in mass use for years became a political force. J.F.K. did the same for television . . .” Dean, Rich suggests, is, like FDR and JFK, the first to really understand and use a new medium. But the beltway media are missing this point: “The condescending reaction to the Dean insurgency by television's political correspondents can be reminiscent of that hilarious party scene in the movie
“Singin' in the Rain,” where Hollywood's silent-era elite greets the advent of talkies with dismissive bafflement. “The Internet has yet to mature as a political tool,” intoned Carl Cameron of Fox News last summer as he reported that the runner-up group to Dean supporters on the site was witches . .”
Jay Rosen, chair of the journalism program at New York University, reconstructs Rich's essay and provides some commentary of his own: “If it's true the press plays a vetting role in the campaign, then it must be true that the press is a player. Or to put it another way, political journalists have come to understand themselves as supplier of a service–vetting the field–that the body politic cannot handle itself, because of high information costs and low motivation to bear them. “Too many
choices, too much information to present.” But what happens when these costs shift, and new motivations spring up?
Suddenly the supplier may be supplying something that people can make for themselves, or no longer want from that source– like, say, political proctology via the pens of Washington journalists. . .”
The San Jose Mercury News columnist Dan Gillmor sounds a bit pessimistic that things will get better before they get worse. “What worries me most right now is that political journalists are even failing even in their gatekeeper/megaphone role. It beggars the imagination — hell, it terrifies me — that a majority of the American public still believes that the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqi and that Saddam somehow had a key role in this.”

The inside story on getting a job at Microsoft <i>and</i> Amazon

Matt Goyer is almost finished his studies at the University of Waterloo, a school famous for turning out top techies. (Research in Motion and lots of other top Canadian tech companies set up shop within spitting distance of the U of W campus). He was keen to put his new degree in computer science degree to work at either Microsoft or Turns out he got job offers from both. Read his blog to find out which one he took and also go through a fascinating journal of the hiring process at both. Congratulations Matt!

Canada and Wi-Fi

Canadians would rather buy wi-fi access by the hour than by the day, says a
study published this month by the Ottawa office of
Decima Research, a polling and market research
firm. In quizzing actual and potential users of wi-fi hotspots, Decima found
that Canadians would rather pay-as-they-surfed, buying time on a wireless
LAN in hour-long or two-hour-long chunks. Buying a 24-period of time wasn't
so popular.
Moreover, those polled said they would pay between $4 and $10 for that one
or two-hour chunk of time.
[I'm afraid I cannot provide an URL of this report at Decima's site. Decima
e-mailed me a PDF copy of the report. Contact info for Decima is at the link
above and these findings are from the firm's Report on Wireless of
Dec. 3.]
Interestingly, the survey found support for all-you-can-eat monthly pricing
plans with an arbitrary price point of $25. The survey said students and
Albertans (?!?) were the most enthusiastic about the monthly flat fee idea.
And here's another encouraging stat: Decima said that one in 10 Canadians —
not one in 10 Canadian Internet users, but one in 10 Canadians — have
already accessed a wi-fi hotspots. Folks in Ontario and B.C. love being
wireless the most (12 per cent said they have used a hotspot) while those in
Manitoba and Saskatchewan are little behind the curve (6 per cent of those
living in Canada's flatlands say they've surfed from a hotspot.) Younger
Canadians are more likely than older ones to have used wi-fi technology.
Decima also finds that Canadians use hotspots for fun as much as they do for
The survey of more than 2,000 adult Canadians was conducted by telephone
from November 13 to 23. Decima said the results of the survey are accurate
to within 2.2 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Infotech 2004 predictions from IDC

Consultancy International Data Corp. of
Framingham, Mass. has published its predictions for the IT industry for 2004
and they're relatively thought-provoking, as lists at this time of year
ought to be. Here's what Frank Gens, senior VP, research at IDC has to say
about 2004:

  • A tech resurrection will occur In its most recent official
    forecast IDC says worldwide spending on tech stuff will grove 4.9% in 2004
    compared to 2003, “the first significant uplift in several years.”
    Unofficially, IDC says spending could grow by as much as 8%.

  • Commodity strategies will take the lead Software and hardware
    vendors will finally get the message from their customers, that is, they
    want standards-based technology products, not proprietary ones. As a symbol
    of that trend, look for shipments of servers pre-loaded with Linux to eclipse 10 % of all server sales in

  • Utility computing will equal futility computing Utility computing is a good long-term bet, IDC says, but the concept is still waiting for a market leader, despite the mega-marketing by the likes
    of IBM and HP. Vendors are focused too much on the infrastructure market and not enough on solving problems that businesses have, IDC says.

  • Offshore IT services are here to stay Offshore outsourcing in 2004
    will double to $16-billion. Offshore, in this context, means “not in the
    U.S.”. Canada, incidentally, is right up there with India as a beneficiary
    of this “Offshore trend” in the U.S.

  • IT suppliers struggle to put on a business faceIT vendors must
    and will do a better job of explaining to their customers how the purchase
    of software, hardware, and services actually helps their customers'

  • CEO-level business priorities will drive spending From issues
    surrounding new regulatory compliance to an improved return on invested
    capital, IT vendors, products, and services that help with the priorities of
    CEOs will do well in 2004.

  • An RFID bubble will form — and burst The interest of Wal-Mart
    and the U.S. Department of Defense won't be enough to make 2004 the year of
    RFID. There will,
    however, be lots of hype about it next year, IDC says.

  • The Wi-Fi race is onThe number of wi-fi hotspots
    worldwide will double while big business customers test out new ways to
    deploy wi-fi within the enterprise.

  • A new China and a new European Union will emerge China will
    consumer $30-billion in TI spending in 2004 and a newly enlarged EU will
    also mean newly enlarged business opportunities.

  • The next digital leap will be in the house From Dell's decision to start selling TVs to the increasing popularity of camera phones and DVD
    recorders, digital media adoption by consumers will be one of the big
    stories of 2004. Oh, and for the first time in 2004, more than half of
    online households in the U.S. will have broadband access.

ZDNet columnist Dan Farber identifies offshore outsourcing, utility computing, and wi-fi as his big issues for 2004.

Hey, buddy, wanna buy an Apple? They sure did in Tokyo

Apple Computer has seen sales of its
products revitalized partly by a neat retail strategy, that has seen Apple
stores open in trendy urban shopping areas, such as Chicago's Miracle Mile.
Apple recently opened its first store in Tokyo. Interest in Apple products there is apparently high — and their customers
are infinitely patient.
(Requires QuickTime)
There's a report on the store's opening here and Apple itself has put up some pictures of the Tokyo store. True to Apple's tremendouse sense of aesthetic, the stores look like they should be selling jewellry, not hard drives. They're beautiful.

New way cool capabilities at Google – Find FAA codes!

Tara Calishain, super-searcher and compiler of the excellent Research Buzz newsletter reports that
Google has
quietly added some new search capabilities
, many of which will be boon
for reporters.
You can now search by certain kinds of classification numbers — UPS and
FedEx tracking numbers, for example, or U.S. patent numbers, or U.S. FAA
airplane registration numbers.
This is way cool.