Hanging on to the Hub

Having left Boston, do I still need the Globe? I certainly value some of its content. But I no longer need to visit the paper’s main page frequently.

I’ll follow links to Globe content from various places, notably Largehearted Boy and Universal Hub. LHB, a music and lit blog, is based in the deep south (of the USA), but frequently links to Globe content. A recent link goes to an article on collecting music in the age of downloading.

UH is very much a Boston blog, curated by Adam, a former near-neighbor who I never had the pleasure of meeting in real life (although we were in the same room at least once). The most recent post at the time of this writing proclaims today Malls Suck Day at the Globe, on the basis that there are three articles comparing malls to downtowns, with the comparisons being in favor of downtowns. It’s good to see that the Globe isn’t pandering to its mall-based advertisers.

Haiku: 5/7/5 for 06/04/09

Red Sox season dawns
As sunset threatens the Globe
Boo Big Apple twice.

Here in Boston, it’s Red Sox opening day. Or at least it would be, had weather not caused the postponement of the (home) opener until tomorrow.

Another stream of local news focuses on the Globe, the newspaper in danger of closure. The direct source of the threat is the New York Times, owner of the Globe. Jay Fitzgerald (with the help of “ExGlobieInTheNickOfTime”) questioned NYT’s reasoning.

There has got to be something really wrong with 85 million dollars in annual losses … Either the number is crap, or if it’s close to true, it indicates the entire Globe business is crap, and what the heck has the NYT Co. been doing with the Globe for the last several years?

This via Universal Adam, who also provided a roundup of blogging about the prospect of a Globe closure.

Since I wrote the haiku, the Sox opener has been postponed until tomorrow. That seemed like a good idea when I heard about it this morning, and seems like an even better idea given the rainstorm I’ve just come in from.

Boston, Limerick, and Beyond

The Boston Globe is calling for urban limericks. Here’s the one I posted.

Harvard started in Cambridge, not Boston
Then purchased huge portions of Allston
Allstonians were told
There’d be buildings and gold
But the Crimson, it seems, double-crossed ’em.

And now, since you didn’t ask for more…

Here is some poetic advice:
A limerick is very nice
With rhyme it’s alive
But of lines it has five
So a haiku is much more concise.

So, move west to east
that is, from Ireland to Japan
try hand at haiku.

Two Examples of Political Intelligence

globeiqGallup recently surveyed Americans on what the federal government should do about banks. A majority of Americans (54%) favor a temporary government “takeover” of major U.S. banks.

So most Americans would support bank nationalization? Not exactly: when Gallup used the n-word (nationalization) itself, support dropped to 37%.

If, in the search for political intelligence, we turn to our local Boston broadsheet, we find, in today’s Globe, new of Michelle Obama’s sleeves, or lack thereof.

Globe Gets Linking

The Boston Globe has often been criticized (by me, among others) because articles at its web site are lacking in links to other sites. Strange, then, that there is a lawsuit against the Globe and its parent company because of… links.

The account of the story in today’s Globe is good in several ways. It links all over the place. I like that. I also like the apparent lack of a link to the plaintiff in the case.

GateHouse, a national chain of local daily and weekly newspapers based in Fairport, N.Y., filed its suit Dec. 22, alleging that Times Co. violated copyright law by using “verbatim” headlines and snippets from GateHouse stories.

Robert Weisman drew on a commendable variety of sources for his story, which closes with a quote from Hal Abelson of MIT. “My view is the reason you put stuff on the Web is so people can link to it.” That’s a view I share.

If We Obsess About Terrorists, Then the Poodles Have Won

Today’s Boston Globe has a great headline: 8 flights at Logan delayed as poodle toys with freedom. Here’s the story.

Choochy the poodle broke free after her plane landed at Logan and for the next 17 hours, the tiny white fugitive managed to elude nearly a dozen Massport employees and State Police, holding up runway traffic as she cavorted on the tarmac… a Massport spokesman… said the pup “did create a little havoc.”

One passenger remarked that his plane “sat on the runway for 25 minutes as five Massport vans drove in circles trying to corral Choochy” while others were “a little incredulous that it would take so many men so many hours to catch this little dog.” But caught she was, and the story ended happily.

The State Police dog unit assisted Massport’s fire and rescue staff and operations personnel in corralling Choochy at about 12:40 p.m., enticing her with dog food… A safe but tired Choochy was reunited with her family.

I love this story for many reasons. Here are two two-word reasons.

  • Security theater. If you aren’t familiar with the term, Bruce Schneier will explain it to you. I hope that Bruce will join me in congratulating Choochy: you went out there a “tiny white fugitive,” but you came back a security theater star. You showed that security theater is farce: security at Logan costs millions, but can’t cope with a poodle.
  • Boston Globe. Some of the people who work there can write, and the Choochy story is one of the better examples.

Presidential Wordle

The image shows words appearing in a certain blog, with word size corresponding to frequency. The blog in question is the official campaign blog of John McCain.

The image, along with its counterpart generated from Barak Obama’s blog, appeared in the Boston Globe. But, alththough I live in Boston, I saw it first on a Guardian blog, along with these words.

One overwhelmingly obvious fact emerges: the Obama campaign can’t stop talking about Barack Obama, and the McCain campaign can’t stop talking about Barack Obama, either. You can, of course, use these facts to convict Obama of self-absorption or McCain of relentless negative-attackery, as is your wont… I quite seriously wonder whether this might not be a more enlightening way of analysing the candidates’ messages than actually, you know, listening to their words in the right order.

The images were generated using Wordle, which most better bloggers drew to your attention a while ago.

Newspaper Websites

There’s a ranking of the top 25 newspaper websites at 24/7 Wall St (via Techmeme). 247WS is, by the way, nothing to do with the Wall Street Journal.

I was disappointed to find that it’s a ranking of large US daily metropolitan newspapers. So my favorite newspaper website doesn’t get a look in. I thought it was the world wide web.

The New York Times gets the top spot and an A grade from 247WS. However, it doesn’t get a link, and neither do any of the other sites. Evidence that 247WS doesn’t get the web mounts.

The Boston Globe is about halfway down the list, in 12th place.

It is odd that NYTimes.com is such a good website and Boston.com has such a long way to go. Both are part of the same parent company… There are some creative sections, like a homicide map of Boston, to keep readers on the site… But, the overall effort is uninspired. Grade: C.

My favorite newspaper website is The Guardian. Here’s a rather lovely bit from an interview with Ravi Shankar, in which the sitar man talks about being scheduled to follow Hendrix at the Monterey festival in 1967.

“I thought he was fantastic, but so very loud,” Shankar says now, shaking his head. “And then he would do that thing with his instrument when he would open up a can of gasoline and burn his guitar… for me, the burning of the guitar was the greatest sacrilege possible… I told them that even if I had to pay some kind of compensation to get out of playing the festival, I just couldn’t do it.” The organisers’ solution was to give Shankar his own stage for an altogether more civilised afternoon performance of assorted ragas, during which Hendrix sat quietly in the front row.

It might appear that my preference for the Guardian over the NYT, etc., is a bias in favour of the UK and against the USA. Let me reassure you that it isn’t. Why, I’m even in favour of the idea of naming July 4 Independents Day, rather than Thanksgiving.

Thoughts on Old Media

Every now and again, I see something about how old physical media, such as paper, will outlast newer media, such as the disc that this post will be stored on. There was such an article in yesterday’s Boston Globe.

The confusing thing is that digital memory offers the illusion of permanence. Even when people would like to see a file disappear, for instance, delete just doesn’t seem to last forever – whether it is on social networks like Facebook, or e-mails or text messages that surface years later.

The article refers to services to convert analog music to digital. I shed my last vinyl records the last time I moved, a few years ago. Next time I move, it’ll be time to shed my cassette tapes.

The ones I took care to keep during the last move are the tapes of Richard Thompson live shows. Perhaps I should convert them to digital. But I haven’t played them in years, and I can probably find the same or similar stuff on the web.

By the way, I read the Globe article on paper, and I paid money for it. And some of you were thinking that owning cassette tapes marked me as a dinosaur…

Globe Links to Free Music From Anti

Looking at the Boston Globe online today, we see a link to an Anti label digital sampler. The remarkable thing is that the web page we arrive at contains a real live link. It’s good to see a sign that someone at the Globe understands these interweb tubes.

The link goes to the blog for the record label Anti, where a 16-track sampler is available for download. There’s Billy Bragg, Bob Mould, Devotchka, lots of good stuff (encoded at 128kbps, which won’t be hifi enough for some people).