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April 27, 2013

Why we stayed inside

Dave Winer addresses a perception I hadn’t realized was common: Boston stayed inside a week ago Friday because we were afraid to go outside. Nope.

I’ll speak for myself, but I actually have good reason to think that I’m talking for many others. I stayed inside because the mayor and governor told me that they needed the streets clear in order to catch the child-murdering bastards who attacked my city. The bombers were being cornered, and on that Friday there was nothing I desired more than they face justice. I never felt in danger, and I am not a brave person.

My evidence that I’m speaking for more than just myself: In the many conversations with people afterwards, not one of them mentioned being afraid, or it being a scary day, although many (including me) talked about it being a very weird day. Our only fear was that they might get away. (It was undoubtedly very different for people in Watertown. Here in Brookline/Brighton I didn’t see any police or hear sirens or gunshots.)

Dave nicely ties it back to a talk he had given the day before to the Boston Globe:

People feel a need to be part of the world they live in. Most of us feel like we’re on the sidelines, spectators, consumers, eyeballs, credit card numbers, and that’s not what we want. We want meaning. We want to make a contribution. We want do do good and have that good make a difference. If you look at what people actually do, not the stories you read in the paper or hear on CNN, this is obvious. The bombings not only worried people, for a short time when the scope of the danger was unknown, but people also saw the opportunity to get some of the precious stuff, meaning and relevance.

Yup. Our participation that day was minimal — stay at home! — but it was what we could do, and it would only work if we all did it together. It was a moment of civic focus and solidarity that palpably transformed the city for one day. Fear had nothing to do with it.


April 20, 2013

[2b2k] What we can learn from what we don’t know

I wrote a piece in the early afternoon yesterday about what we can learn from watching how we fill in the blanks when we don’t know stuff…in this case, when we don’t know much about Suspect #1 and #2. It’s about the narratives that shape our unserstanding.

For example, it turns out that I only have three Mass Murderer Narratives: Terrorist, Anti-Social, or Delusional. As we learned more about Suspect #2 yesterday, he seemed not to fit well into any of them. Perhaps he will once we know more, or perhaps my brain will cram him into one even if he doesn’t fit. Anyway, you can read the post at CNN.


I find myself unwilling to use Suspect #2’s name today because Martin Richard is too much with me.

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August 29, 2012

Moving Day in Boston is so confusing!

Moving Day in Boston ought to be declared a holiday since no one can get to work anyway. The streets are chockablock (and the blocks are chockastreet) with vat migrating herds of UHauls.

To make matters worse, I can’t tell if this sign means what it says or means the opposite of what it says:

I’m leaning toward the opposite: You don’t threaten to tow cars that are in motion. And if it just meant to say “No standing” for any car, it wouldn’t have put in the clause about moving cars. I think.

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November 9, 2011

You Barcelona Birds

You Barcelona birds don’t know how good you have it.
You give your city two stars
because once a tourist left you a crust that had some mustard on it —
Don’t eat the yellow bread, is that so hard to remember? —
and last February a pigeon bullied you aside.
You ought to come to my city some February.
Is there even a word in Spanish for slush?
Yeah, Boston would grow you a pair,
and then would shrivel them up until they make a high-pitched ting.
How you like them tiny frozen apples?
So why don’t you go back to TripAdvisor and fix your ratings
even if you have to make up a new login.
Try “A_Little_Perspective23”
or “WuzWrongDaFirstTime.”
Stoopid Barcelona birds.

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January 27, 2011

Boston surrenders, snow declares victory

That’s it, snow. You win.

After two more hours of shoveling this morning, the pile in the yard is approaching 7 feet. Our neighbor kindly agreed to let us deposit snow from our driveway onto their narrow walkway. Without that, we would have had to clear the snow by melting it teaspoon by teaspoon in our mouths.

Not that it matters, but you shouldn’t feel too smug. You only won because you were able to throw more and more troops into the fray. No strategy, just a ruthless willingness to send your young — each a unique individual, not that you care — into the breaches that we kept trying to open. Whatever clever stratagem we came up with, you countered simply by throwing more snow at it. Still, it worked. We hope you’re very proud of yourself.

So, call off your dogs. No need for another blitz. We surrender unconditionally. Please take these frozen tears as a first small token of our capitulation. Plus Fluffy, whom we haven’t seen in a couple of days anyway.


November 8, 2009

Order of Magnitude Quiz: How many travelers

According to the Boston Globe, how many travelers fly in or out of Boston’s Logan Airport every year?

You win this quiz (and get exactly nothing as a prize) if your answer is within an order of magnitude of the right answer. (And I should periodically acknowledge that my friend Paul English invented the Order of Magnitude Quiz.)

The answer is in the first comment.


July 21, 2009

Boston: The New Marketing hub!

As everyone knows, Boston is the Hub of the Universe. The fact has been well-documented in Boston tourist literature, and in the way Bostonians superciliously ignore outsiders. Super-superciliously! We couldn’t do it if we weren’t the hub!

Now Scott Kirsner has proved that Boston is also the hub of the new wave of marketing literature, and he’s built the Amazon list to prove it.

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April 9, 2009

The future of the Boston Globe

The New York Times owns the Boston Globe and is asking the unions to come up with $20M in savings. According to a report on WBUR this morning, the Times isn’t even giving the unions enough time to go through their own legal processes for making such decisions. So, here are some possible outcomes:

The Globe folds.

The Globe is bought, presumably by someone with a drug problem.

The Globe becomes an insert in the New York Times. The insert covers not just local news but maintains some of the Globe’s identity, personality, and personalities. (Also, the comics.) If I were the NYT, I’d be running spreadsheets to see if folding the Globe into the NYT (quite literally) would increase local circulation and ads enough to make it worth the considerable operating expenses.

And, as an auxiliary idea, I wonder if people would be willing to pay for online access to the Globe if it did two things: 1. Continue to provide free access to individual articles, for we need to be able to link to them both to keep the Globe relevant and to grow our culture. 2. Enhance the current Globe site so that it has more of the unitary newspaper feel. That is, let us have more of a sense that we’re reading an object that has a start and a finish, so that we’re tempted to sit down with it once a day and go through it. Let us turn pages until we’re done. (Of course, the pages would be full of links.) Provide us with all the electronic reading tools we could ever want, but tempt us to treat it as a whole through which we take a walk every day. And charge us $100/ year for the privilege. Since we’d be able to get at any of the individual articles for free, the Globe would be charging us for the online equivalent of curling up with the paper in the morning.

I acknowledge that that may be the stupidest idea since unsliced bread, and perhaps it is merely an old fogey desire. But, heck, it’s not like I’m writing for a responsible newspaper!

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December 23, 2008

Newton TAB publisher sues New York Times Co. over Web site

The national media syndicate GateHouse Media owns 125 local newspapers in Massachusetts, and runs the Wicked Local local news sites. The Boston Globe is not part of GateHouse Media. The Globe has started its own local sites, such as this one in Newton, MA. The Globe’s local sites run lots of news from the Globe, but they also aggregate local headlines from other sources, including from GateHouse. Those headlines link to the original sites, of course.

So, GateHouse now has sued the Globe‘s parent for copyright and trademark infringement, because GateHouse would prefer that no one know about or care about what it writes.

GateHouse is apparently unsure of how this whole Web thang works. Plus, the company’s lawyers skipped class the day Fair Use was discussed. Bad combination. Bad for GateHouse. Bad for the Web.

By the way, the title of this post is the headline from the Newton Tab, a GateHouse publication.

PS: There’s some feisty coverage of this in Cape Cod Today. [Tags: ]

Later: Dan Gillmor raises good points, unsurprisingly. He usefully complicates the issue.

Later: Berkman’s Citizen Media Law Project has written up some preliminary thoughts. These are some topnotch lawyers and legal writers, so that’s the pond in which you’ll want to do your initial dives.


November 19, 2008

Tech community party in Boston

Harvard Free Culture, ROFLCon, and Public Radio Exchange Proudly Present…

A Gathering Of Boston Tech

November 29th, 2008, 8:00 – 12:00
Berkman Squared, 50 Church Street, Cambridge MA
RSVP on Upcoming:

Boston is full of cool Internet people. Why aren’t they meeting each other?

INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY is Boston’s monthly party gathering hackers, activists, artists, designers, nonprofits, startups, academics and general geekery to hang out and connect with one another.

*No agenda, no “networking,” no presentations. Just beverages, food, ideas and cool people.
*Best of all the price is free, just like your courtesy black helicopter flight to A Secure Undisclosed Location

*This time: come out and meet Boston’s Secret Masters of Hidden Hackspace, Homebrew Mad Science, and Cyber Revolution
*Also: hear about our scheme to rent a decommissioned missile silo. And how you can too, on less than $10 bucks a month. (No, seriously).

With Featured Guests and Organizations:
*Jason Bobe, (DIYBio)
*Meredith Garniss and Andrew Sempere,(Willougby and Baltic)
*Alex Hornstein, (NUBLabs) (FabLab)
*David Weinberger, (Joho The Blog) (The Berkman Center For Internet and Society)
*Jake Shapiro, (The Public Radio Exchange)
*Jason Scott (Textfiles)
*Matt Lee (The Free Software Foundation)

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