lovehate: Google Buzz... Now With Twice The Caffeine!

Is it just me or has Google really come up short in calling its latest endeavour "Buzz"?

Sounding more like something you'd mix with Vodka at a party than a segue into microblogging, Google has not only pursued an exercise in redundancy by ripping off the brand of a years' old Yahoo service, but they've reminded me of the evil sound my clock radio makes every morning.

Is it just me, or does someone wish that Google would just prefix "G" onto everything ala Apple's "I" moniker. We could call it Gstatus or Gstate. Isn't that infinitely cooler? The question by your update window could ask "What kind of Gstate are you in?" Instead, I'm expected to revisit Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice by answering "What's the Buzz, tell me what's a-happening?"

You know, I don't throw the word "stupid" around too often, mostly because it's an unimaginative insult that begs for a more creative insult. And so, in considering the best descriptor for Google Buzz, I considered the words uninspired, doltish, inane, puerile, or witless. And the reason I settled on stupid, is because I figured it appropriate to just follow your model and go with the first crass idea that came to head: stupid.

Come on Google. You're more creative than that. I love your products and your flair for the dramatic with brands like: "Gmail, Maps, Videos, News, Books, Docs, Reader... hang on a sec! Other than Wave, Buzz is about the most creative name you've come up with for one of your web services. If this evidence is an indication of what we're to see in the future, can we expect animals, cars, or countries next?

At least I can hope you won't name a service after feminine hygiene product. I mean, I don't know what Google Douche will do to freshen the web, but I imagine it may put some people off.

Impromptu Podcast 37: Twitizen Journalism

Yeah, I can ramble a bit, but when someone says "Citizen Journalism" it kinda gets my back up a bit. It's not that I don't think the person on the street can't contribute to the ongoing dialogues and diatribes about everything from the crucial to the mundane. It's simply that, almost all the time, it ain't journalism. And with Twitter, there's even less of a chance... but I digress... give a listen.

twitter journalism

lovehate: Footnote to Favicon

Media authority is getting winnowed.

Even just within the world of the web we've moved from longer form blog entries to shorter form commentaries to microblogging. There has been a persistent belief, since our formalized education, that opinions should be backed up by proof or some other substantiative measure. Such examples used to be in the form of quotations with carefully constructed footnotes and bibliographies all meant to validate the expertise of our sources and the wisdom we showed in choosing them. There was an expectation that if one backed up an opinion from several so-called experts with innumerable of degrees after their names, that the opnion became valid. Authority was reduced to our effectiveness to parse the researched opinions of others and, in turn, call it research ourselves.

Blogging reduced the opinion authority down to a buy-in on the blogger's established integrity, established through experience, or some percevied experience found through a Technorati rating or the like. Opinions didn't have to be so much established as simply linked up to other opinions that, in themselves, were largely unsubstantiated. The authority of a blogger's opinion was given leeway as we expected more entertainment and information than hard facts. We didn't, and still don't, read blogs for news. We read for insight, and the currency that is not evident on most major news outlets anymore. After all, how often does CNN talk about tech gadgets or iPhone apps? Blogger authority was reduced to link selection and how many people linked back to you.

The explosion of microblogs has reduced authority even further because 140 characters offers little more than a sentence with an attached link. What we are left with is an implied opinion that can be gleaned only by a perceived "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" on the link's efficacy. But ingesting information from microblogs is often an exercise in profound filtering as one has to suffer through lifecasting and other such minutae. Not that there isn't a place for those things within the microblog environment, but when searching for information and authority, it seems like most of the credence we are willing to give a tweet or like entry is through what we assume the tweeter is trying to say, instead of what they are actually saying. A funny thing happens though with the persistent use of url shrinking utilities. With shrunken web addresses, it's become impossible to know the source before you actually go there. Relative web and domain experience gets rendered useless when trying to determine most microblog authority. Much of any positive or negative expectation comes down to the microblogger's avatar.

And so we move from footnote to links to avatar with the ultimate reduction in newsfeeds and the shortcuts that take you there from your row favicons on your browser's bookmark bar. A small pixellated area of real estate becomes the annotated bibliography of your life. Where the grad student still spends months putting together annotated bibliographies for research topics, we have reduced years of research to tiny graphics. If anyone asked you to rate or assign a value to any of those favicons, you could probably talk for minutes or hours on each one. You could rate their effectiveness, efficiency and usefulness to you in your daily browsing. Authority for you has been reduced to a small pixel box that guides your day to day web experience.

lovehate: Blograffiti

While I've been blogging, in one form or another, for a few years now, my serious efforts at trying to maintain a site based largely on blog entries has really only been going in earnest for about six months. In that time, in addition to writing, discovering, encapsulating and reporting on things from significant to pop culture minutae, I've also been taking a critical look at other blogs and trying to uncover the archetypes and patterns which make them up.

I would never try to assert myself as some sort of grand vizier of blogging, but I do have a background in arts and media studies, and the patterns I am familiar with from traditional media aren't too foreign when trying to overlay them on new media. One of the claims I'm quite comfortable making after dabbling in the medium for this time is that blogging is web graffiti.

In the same way that most of us look around our cities and shirk and scowl when we see a building or statue defaced, I often feel the same way when trolling from blog to blog looking for content. Graffiti suffers the fate of being incredibly easy to do, but incredibly difficult to do well. Anyone can pick up an aerosol wand and wisp their grey matter onto concrete, but how many instances of such unburdened creativity do we find of any use or interest?

For every hundred or so pieces of bloated misshapen letter on boxcars, storage units or overpasses, there is the rare instance that captures our eye. Whether its style or message, graffiti as an art form is only complained about because the process of experimentation, which takes place in private with other art forms, is obscenely public in its most nascent and phrenetic stages. Where a sculptor may shape and reshape a dozen time with the same piece of clay, the graffiti artist pepper the community with every failed incarnation of a vision that often becomes, itself, a long-standing indicator of failure or incompetence.

Quite simply, blogs are a medium rarely well-done.

Blogging has become the lowest common denominator of the collective thoughts of New Media. Anyone can contribute, and they do. There is insufferable dreck to be mined through before reaching even a nugget of gold, but the mines are endless and the intent is telling. 

And while I loathe the concept of "lifecasting" (at least in a dedicated form) and deride (yet am often engrossed in) the parasitic viscious cycle of tech blogging, the single subject blog (no matter if the subject is person, place or thing) has become sterile to my wandering eye. I can certainly give ten seconds of my time to peruse the "blog" entries on Gizmodo, Engadget, TechCrunch, CNET or Lifehacker every day or two and often find a link that's worth clicking, but such sites are essentially webmags. The jewels come from the chaotic style that is wrought from personal insights and bridging gaps between things that seem inconsequential.

I firmly believe the growing popularity of Twitter and like microblogging services is largely due, not to the improved quality of ideas on the part of the users, but, instead, the ability to separate the wheat from the chaff in an economic manner. Instead of sifting through twelve pages to find interest, now I can flash twelve tweets on one screen and complete the task in mere seconds. But this strength of microblogging is also it greatest weakness in terms of providing entertainment value.

The appeal of a socially-poignant piece of graffiti lies in the message behind the art. There is little art to microblogging - sure it takes a certain amount of skill to craft a cogent message in 140 characters, but essentially it's caption writing. In most cases, I would never ascribe an artistic sense to blogging, there is most definitely a style that accompanies the content.

I love words. I love using words to manufacture meaning. While I can find some relief in a well-crafted "report" on an event or a product, it's the writer that breaches parameters that I seek and try to become. Lifecasting is best realized not through the physical report but the mental. Try Mindcasting. On a day to day basis I am impacted by countless things that I can draw together and present in a unique fashion. I want to enjoy the ride of expressing these connections. I hope that others enjoy the ride of reading some of them, but the mindcast exists for its own sake: thought, creativity, expression - what makes an alluring piece of graffiti, makes an engaging blog.

message graffiti