Monday, February 11, 2013

A website about "Greater Washington" illustrates collaboration among bloggers; a coming thing?

Once again, the Washington Post carries a story about a local Internet entrepreneur of webmaster. This time, the subject is the site “Greater Greater Washington”, run by David Alpert, 35, a graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington. (Somehow, I don't like to repeat words in names of sites or other media.) 
I went to the site and found an interesting post about the Metro, to which I just posted a comment here.  

The comment system tests for spam by showing a map of the “Five Lines” (the name of an indie movie set on the Metro) and asking a question about the map, like on a geography test in school.

I did not see ads on the site, and I don’t know how or whether it makes money.
The Washington Post story by Rachel Weiner (on the front page of the Metro section) is here.  

The story says that many “amateurish” posts are rejected before publication.  Posters probably can’t introduce overly personal metaphors like I do on my own blogs. 

That raises another question.  Why would someone write for someone else’s blog, unless one was a regularly paid reporter or syndicated columnist (to write for well-known sites like Salon, Huffington, etc., or even Ars Technica or Wired) ?   Someone “like me” prefers to run his operation so that “he” can “do whatever he wants” (to quote a notorious line from the indie short horror film “Bugcrush”).  I think that “the future”, however, raises sustainability questions.  Concerns like “do not track” or even “digital executors” could some day make free blogging services less lucrative and make shared hosting less practical for individuals than it is today.  A big hooker could be political pressure to undermine Section 230 downstream liability protections. Right now, they protect Google, David Alpert, and me (for comments made by others on my blogs).  But I don’t know if we can count on this forever.

On the other hand, the site (like the "Fairfax Underground" forum  that I discussed Saturday) shows that there are other innovations more in the Web 1.0 to "early 2.0" world still taking place and attracting participation. 

The idea of “standing alone” is drawing increasingly negative attention.  Sunday, I attended the Vienna Presbyterian Church (in western Fairfax County, VA, near Tysons), and heard a relevant sermon in the “Life Is Messy” series called “Power Play” by Pastor Pete James. His source was Luke 8:26-39 – I give this not to preach but because the story has real literary applicability to the idea of “going it alone”.  The church projected a Plasma screen high-definition image of a shadow-man walking on top of a desert sand dune in front of an alien sun (like in the [Frank Herbert] book or movie “Dune”, 1984).  The story, according to the pastor,  indicated that socially isolated people tend to migrate to the moral border zones, away from the center, and become vulnerable to (satanic) temptations, as indicated by recent high profile horrific and tragic events (like Aurora and Newtown).   I spoke to him after the service, and he indicated (like Piers Morgan) that gun control reform should be a “no brainer” but thought that there needed to be considerable reduction of the use of violence in media and games. 
Once again, I can “change the subject” in my own post – but I come back.  The world has up to now encouraged people doing a lot on the Internet by themselves.  It might not do so forever.  For example, fifteen years ago, many individuals ran their own web hosting services.  That is no longer the case, as large companies can do a much better job.  In the area of news and content, it’s not so simple. 

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