This evening I attended ‘Adapting Journalism to the Web’, a communications forum sponsored by the MIT Center for Civic Media, featuring NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen and Center director Ethan Zuckerman in a wide-ranging discussion about where / why journalism has been and where it is going.
On Wednesday, I was happy to attend a conversation with Assistant SecState PJ Crowley at the MIT Center for Future Civic Media. On Saturday, I was saddened to learn that as a result of that conversation – specifically after characterizing the inhumane conditions of Bradley Manning’s detention as “ridiculous, counterproductive, and stupid” – Mr Crowley resigned his office.
The C4 meeting was intended to be an informal conversation between top-flight academics and a leading government official about social media and state policy. Mr Crowley was candid and forthright in his remarks. He provided wonderful insights about his challenges at State. And, when he agreed at the end of the talk that his informal comments could be on record, he did so presumably so that those not fortunate enough to physically attend could still profit from his wisdom and experience.
Mr Crowley’s job
is was to represent the opinions of the Obama administration. And he did not do so accurately in this discussion. Some have argued that this discrepancy justifies his allegedly encouraged resignation.
However, Mr Crowley also stated clearly that these were his personal, not professional, beliefs. Candid, forthright discussions between policymakers and their constituents are a necessary condition for a functioning republic. All law may be politics, but not all policy need be positioning. And if a public official can’t speak honestly in a conversation with leading academics at MIT’s center for civic media, then there is no safe space left for honesty in governance.
Accordingly, I have added my name to an open letter issued by attendees in support of Mr Crowley. Will it accomplish anything? Probably not. But the least I can do to support someone who as candid as Crowley is to be just as forthright on his behalf. Because, under the circumstances, the resignation of PJ Crowley is ridiculous, counterproductive, and stupid.
A random response to a MacRumors thread I completely forgot I’d created years ago reminded me that I created this video back when I was an Apple Campus Rep, which demonstrates how to use a Guitar Hero controller to input music into Garageband:
It never went anywhere – the Campus Rep program never did anything with it – but it was fun as hell to work on, even if it wasn’t especially technically challenging.
Documentation on the YouTube comments if you click through.
Soon after the WSJ article criticizing the Banned Books Map, I was approached by one of the administrators of the Barnes & Noble Unabashedly Bookish blog community. He wanted me to write about my experiences setting up the map, what I had wanted, and what I thought I could achieve.
The article is now up (and reproduced below the fold). Furthermore, I have a special announcement:
Today, I’m launched the Mapping Banned Books project. As you can read below, the project intends to create a grassroots, ground-up documentation of all the book bans and challenges that go on in the U.S. today. The website is still under heavy development – I’m rolling this out very quickly – but please, check it out, contribute what you can, and help us along the way. I’ll have more in the next few days.