Archive for December, 2006

Ahh, the holidays.

Spent the last several days up in Vermont with my family and am now home after enjoying the spoils of yet another successful holiday feast. Much cajoling was had, and I believe that after all was said and done, several gallons of wines of differing types were consumed.

Now that’s my kind of holiday.

Most of my time after getting home was spent tinkering on my computers (new extra large hard drive means that I have to clone some drives and move one to another machine for more space there too) and setting up the new surround speaker set I bought on the way home with some Christmas money (thanks, Dad!), spent, of course, in the not so glorious solitude to which I have become accustomed.

I just came to the realization, though, that as much as I liked getting home to my own place, I really enjoyed being with my family. I made the remark to my sister this past Saturday, after leaving my grandmother’s farm, that too many people dread spending time with their families at the holidays. I’m glad that I don’t. Every time I see my family—extra large, of course, thanks to our proper Catholic upbringing—I have a fantastic time. Every time. I love spending time with my family, holidays or otherwise, and only spending time with my closest friends can even come near that.

I guess that’s a pretty rare thing. Most times, I don’t really think about it, but the holidays always bring out the sentimentalist in me.

Next up: Where am I spending New Year’s? Come on, people, I need invitations to megaparties! I’ll drive anywhere as long as I’m given a place to crash at the end of the night—although, I suppose, I could always stay up all night and drive back without any sleep. But most of all, I need a set of female lips to kiss at midnight. Are the requirements clear? Good then. Chop chop!

Because obviously, they aren’t making enough money.

I just read a story on Slashdot that states that the RIAA is requesting that royalties given to recording artists actually be lowered.

Do you ever have that moment where you read something that makes the least amount of sense ever, and your brain actually has to reboot before you can continue? Yeah, I totally had that happen to me just after reading that story.

The argument made by the RIAA is that the royalties should be lowered “for use of lyrics and melodies in applications like cell phone ring tones and other digital recordings.” So in other words, they’re saying that the use of things like ringtones shouldn’t make as much for the artists—presumably the argument is that ringtones, being shorter, don’t warrant the same royalty as a full-length song.

I can’t even begin to articulate how downright awful this is on the part of the RIAA. As the article states, “in the past week the RIAA has made it quite clear whose profits the group is truly out to defend, and it’s certainly not the artists who actually make the music.” As if it wasn’t obvious in the past, it certainly is obvious now that the RIAA has absolutely no desire to protect the interests of the recording artists and is out for only one client—its record labels. The funny thing is that they aren’t even pretending here: they’re stating that the royalties need to be lowered because the labels aren’t making as much as they could be.

It’s not even like the labels aren’t still making money hand over fist. I’ve always wondered how on earth they expect us to feel sympathy for them because they aren’t making as much money as they used to make. Excuse me while I cry a river for you because you only made six hundred million instead of seven hundred million this year.

Citizen Journalists: One weekend a month, two weeks a year

Reports of my death, yadda yadda yadda.

I’m alive. My friends are starting to ask where I’ve disappeared to, so I thought I’d at least post something. I’ve had ideas for things to write, but I’ve pretty much been too tired or lazy to start writing about them.

I did read something interesting today, though: Apparently, Yahoo! and the Reuters news agency have partnered up with a new service called You Witness News. It’s a service that lets citizens upload photographs of news events and get paid to have them published. Say, for example, that you’re present at a political demonstration and take pictures of a person giving a speech. You could be paid to have those photos published. Think of it like the ultimate freelancing gig.

Naturally, the “professional” news outlets are decrying this. I can only assume that they feel that this “cheapens” their own profession because now any joe schmo with a camera could get paid for what they’re worked hard for. You know what my advice to these professionals is?

Deal with it.

As a former student journalist myself, I’m firmly of the opinion that journalism has changed subtly but significantly over the last several years and with the Internet has grown into a different beast altogether. It’s only through its evolution and ultimate re-emergence as a new form of media that it will be able to survive. Journalists had felt for years that blogs weren’t true journalism either—that is, until they needed to start citing blogs as news sources. Then it suited them just fine. Now, even the news organizations have blogs.

So how is this any different? This is just another extension of “Web two-point-oh.” It’s another means to get the community involved in what happens around them. I don’t really see how getting the general public more involved in the world around them is in any way a bad thing.

Now, I’m not suggesting that any person with a cameraphone can suddenly be the next Pulitzer winner. But even point-and-click digital cameras are getting to the point where they can take print-quality photos (or, hell, near-print-quality at any rate) without a second thought. And sure, most of what they take is going to be crap. But that’s really no different than professional photographers. 95% of what they take is crap, too, but professionals know what the trick to true greatness in a photo is: timing. They take and take and take and take photos until they manage to snap that perfect shot. It’s only a matter of time before the ordinary joes can do it too.

Hell, maybe this will even increase competition in the journalism industry. At least by paying these citizen journalists, they’re creating demand. Maybe we’ll ultimately see better journalism come out of this.

…Or maybe we’ll just see more paparazzi. I haven’t decided yet.

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