Friday, August 08, 2014

Tucson.Com...The Entertainment Site

There are so many bells and whistles on the Arizona Daily Star’s cluttered new web site that you pretty quickly forget that it was once an on line version of a newspaper. 

What the Star offers us now is not just an e-version of the dead tree edition; it’s an entertainment site filled with so many special features that the old-fashioned Star quite disappears. The reader is invited to pick from the potpourri and, acting as his own editor, assemble a newspaper.

Happily an e-version of the star still exact replica of the paper that you look at page by page exactly as if you were reading it at the breakfast table. Ads? Sure, but only what you see in the paper.

A newspaper is still the best way to read  the newspaper.

More comment on this to come.



Thursday, August 07, 2014

Back In The Game

The Data Port has been silent since Gannett abruptly pulled the rug out from under and left its contributors twisting slowly in the breeze. Media outlets that own newspapers are tired of supporting newsprint with the income from electronica, so they are splitting the sheets with their newspaper partners.

Gannett assures readers and stockholders that the newspapers will do well since “they are without debt.” Yeah, now. Meanwhile is forging ahead with brand new on-line bells and whistles. Makes ya wonder how much life is left in the Daily Star. 

It will take The Old Lefty in Charge of things a few days to reacquaint himself with the Blogger platform, but he'll check in just to remind you we're back.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Blogs and Non-Blogs/ Retrospective II

Thinking back to the early web world I  remember that there were no blogs, and community on the electronic frontier depended on mail lists. If you wanted to homestead there you depended on e-mail.

During my own tentative journeys on what was then being called the “information super highway” I found that personal web sites were rare. They required a good deal of technical knowledge and most newcomers simply lacked the skills necessary to code and maintain them.

The development of blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger opened the web to a broader public presence. The personal website was within reach of just about everyone, thanks to easy-to-use templates and simple control over how the site looked...background colors and images, type styles and sizes, and arrangement of sections of the blog on the page.

Those first blogs were intensely personal. People wrote about themselves, their daily lives and passions. Considerable attention was paid to the blog’s appearance and each blogger tried for a unique look.

Bloggers had different special interests of course...poetry, child rearing, politics, cooking and so forth...but they also wrote about themselves and the blogs were their way of telling the world what was happening in their lives.

Blogs were the first Facebook pages and it seems to me that the original, highly personal, function of many blogs has been replaced by Facebook pages. 

The writers that you read here at  Tucson Citizen are called bloggers...the reason for this we’ll discuss in a subsequent post...  but as they exist, in the context of an e-journalism enterprise, they more nearly resemble newspaper columnists or freelance journalists than they do traditional bloggers.

At the risk of laboring the obvious the columns you read here are very unlike traditional blogs. Consider: unlike free blogs they can only be reached in the context of their location in the Tucson Citizen; bloggers have very little control over the appearance of their blogs, except for the banners that head them. There is no control of typeface in the body of the article. In other words these “blogs” are exactly like news stories or opinion columns in a newspaper.

Most significantly writers write very little about themselves. We know what interests them, or what their particular social or political concerns are, because those interests and concerns are the subjects of their articles. But if you want to know what they had for dinner or what their vacation plans are you’d better look at their social media pages.

Next: A Community of Bloggers

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The earliest example of The Data Port to which I have access is a post on  the Blogger platform dated August 31, 2005. The subject was Gary Hart’s proposal for an Iraq settlement.
The settlement was to include, among other things:
 Organizing a genuine international reconstruction program for Iraq with European and Asian contracting companies involved in competitive bidding for major infrastructure (water, waste management, transportation, communications, etc.) projects;
Establishing a Bank for Iraqi Reconstruction financed by all Western democratic governments to finance national reconstruction; and…
Creating a new Iraq oil company, composed of a consortium of the Iraq Oil Ministry and major international oil producers to build modern production and distribution facilities and allocate revenues fairly to all Iraqis.
(And do you remember when the Bush administration explained that a grateful Iraqi people would repay our costs of their freedom with their oil revenues?)
My comment to this was the slightly snarky comment that this  plan did not strongly insist that since the destruction and suffering in Iraq was largely due to Bush’s bogus war the moral obligation was on us to finance the recovery. Would Western democratic governments rush to finance recovery? Frankly, my dear, I didn’t think they’d give a damn.
Before Blogspot I was a Salon blogger for a year or more, using the RadioLand format. When Salon began to close down its blogging program I moved to Blogger, as did many of the Salon blog family. I’ll be returning to to comment on how this affected the community in my next Retrospective.
On June 9th 2009 I announced another move:
The Data Port has been resident here on Blogspot for a good long time. Sometimes it’s been very active and sometimes it’s just passively occupied this site, too exhausted by the little disturbances of politics to offer much in the way of comment.
As some readers may already have discovered I’ve switched platforms to WordPress and accepted an invitation from TucsonCitizen.comto move over there to take part in building the Citizen’s web-only presence. Will it work? Who knows? But I think, given the rapidly changing face of American journalism, it’s worth taking a shot.
The “beta” site is not, according to Editor Mark Evans, a beta in the true sense but only a kind of holding position while extensive redesigning goes on. A good thing, too, since the present site is uglier than a junkyard dog. But, hey, it’s my dog now, so don’t kick it around.
Having lived with that dog for quite some time now the best I can say is that I've got used to it. It still needs a redesign, but perhaps "junkyard Dog" is a bit harsh.

Next: When a blog is not a blog.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

The Best Political App of 2013 (So Far)

Progressive activists should rush to the app store and download a free iPhone app called BizVizz.

With this App you can quickly find out what tax rates major corporations pay; who they have supported for political office, and for how much, and  government subsidies. Still ahead is information on CEO pay. The app is for iPhone and iPad  now, with an Android app promised.

The search feature in this app is a camera. Simply take a picture of the company logo and you’re presented with the relevant data...assuming it’s in the data bank. If you don’t have a logo or a box to photograph you can type in a name the old fashioned way. Here’s what a camera-based inquiry about CocaCola would look like. The user has just taken a snap of Coca Cola cartons.

If you’re just interested in poking around, use the search feature, which presents a selection of corporate logos. Two questions: Will the BizVizz databank be added to and will users suggest further targets for investigation. 

I had some difficulty finding BizVizz on iTunes, but this link should work:  Click 

Saturday, February 02, 2013

The Nighthawks Phenomenon... Part III

  Whoa...just checked my last journal entry and it makes no sense at all. I must have been half asleep. Hell, I must have been completely asleep because I have absolutely no recollection of getting up in the middle of the night, firing up the ‘puter and writing a word.

I’ve checked the image on my computer and it hasn’t changed. The cat, or cash register, or whatever it is, is still on the counter of the store across the street.

Ms Celarent is right. The more you look the more you see. The coffee urns are different. The one you can see most clearly....on the right... is fed by a pipe that goes through the counter. Water? Gas? Water probably because it doesn’t look like  a gas valve fitting. The tops of the two urns are different.

I’ve been looking at the counter guy, who is bent over and doing something under the counter. Washing glasses? Hard to say, but he’s not looking at what he’s doing, his head is up and turned slightly toward the man sitting with the lady in red. She’s not paying any attention but it seems to me that the man sitting with her is talking to the counter guy, or listening to him.

The coffee shop doesn’t have a name, or at least not one that visible  from this angle. I can just make out the word “Phillies” over the window. Is that the name...or an advertisement? 

I’ve about had it for tonight, I can barely keep my eyes open. I kind of hate to quit...every time I start to shut down the ‘puter I pull back for  one last peek at my friends the Nighthawks. I’m “seeing” more and more.

There’s an empty glass on the counter and the cat has jumped off the counter across the street. I’m pretty sure I’m not asleep. WTF?

(to be continued )

The Nighthawks Phenomenon....Part II

  I’ve started on Ms. Celerent’s assignment. Note to self: don’t put this stuff off. A half hour per day is plenty. Trying to pack two or three sessions into one gets really creepy.
So…I finished the Physics reading, grabbed my tablet and stretched out to study the painting. Okay, so I cheated just a little. Went to Wikipedia to see if there was anything I was supposed to see. Well, three figures at a lunch counter, not talking to one another…isolation and loneliness a common emotional tone in Hopper’s work.
Probably can’t get away with saying that. Too much like a Wikipedia article, better to just let my eyes float over the surface of the image. Oddly shaped building; seems to be flat-iron shaped, with the lunch counter more like a triangle than a square. Must be a squeeze for the counter guy to get into the serving area from the narrow end.
Light. I guess I slowly noticed the light, which was different colors. Mostly greenish on the sidewalk outside the coffee shop, probably due to being filtered through the shop window. You can just make out the faintest wash of yellow, a reflection of the color of the coffee shop walls, and two long shadows cast by an inside pillar and the window seam. Where is the light in the coffee shop coming from? What is the counter guy doing? His mouth seems to be open…is he talking to the couple?
Can’t quite figure where the light in the slanting light in the store window across the street is coming from. There is a cash register on the counter, invitingly left in full view through the front window. At least I think it’s a cash register. Sometimes it looks like a very large white cat.
I must have really got into the “seeing” mode. I don’t believe I fell asleep but I’d spent almost two hours looking at this picture. Somehow the more I looked the more I felt pulled into the image. Odd, but not unpleasant.
Later. Quick note. Dreamt about Nighthawks and woke up needing to take a quick look to check on something. Must have been a cat, because it wasn’t there any more.
(To be continued)

The Nighthawks Phenomenon...The Journal of Jason Ferison

It began here, with a no-problem Fine Art course that promised to be kind to my GPA.
Fine Arts 106 Spring Semester
Course Title: Seeing Art
Instructor: Barbara Celarent, MFA
The course is designed for the student who is not a Fine Arts major. It is intended for students who want to develop their skills as appreciative viewers of fine art and in the process learn to see the world around them with greater clarity and understanding.
In this digital age we are accustomed to a bombardment of flashing image streams, the impact and meaning of which depend on what amounts to a film-strip velocity. Seldom do we concentrate on a single image in the strip of images.
In this course we will spend the semester looking at works by such American painters as Edward Hopper, Grant Wood, George Bellows and Winslow Homer. (For image sources and complete list see my website:
Assignment One Image: Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks.” This may be familiar to some students as it is frequently satirized. Some of you may have this on your laptops already as one of the provided desktop images. If not see the source list on my web site.
1. Spend at least 1/2 hour each day looking at the image. Keep a journal each day of what you see, what puzzles you, what emotions, if any are aroused in you; and what you actually see. Don’t just glance at it; let yourself be drawn into the picture. Try not to “make up” some story for the picture, simply look and describe.
2. E-mail or hand in your journals once a week.
3. Your final grade depends on these journals and a term paper to be discussed with the instructor.
There will be no final exam.
So how much of a problem could this possibly be?
(To be continued)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Barber to Run in Congressional District 2

Democrat Ron Barber has an uncontested shot at the nomination to be the Democrats’ candidate to fill out Gabrielle Giffords’ Congressional District 8 term. He is, for this election at least, unopposed. Hence, liberal-leaning independents have the opportunity to influence the election by voting in the Republican primary.
This strategy is not an unheard of was reported the other day that even Mitt Romney has done it. In states with closed primaries, where  independents can’t vote in the party primaries, you must temporarily change your registration to do this.
In Arizona an Independent may vote as he or she chooses. So if you want to help Barber in the general election you might choose  
the Republican you judge his weakest possible opponent. (Jim Kelly, Frank Antenori, Dave Sitton, or Martha McSally)
Independent voting is a two-edged sword of course. Republican- leaning Independents may vote for the Republican candidate they judge strongest against the Democrat in the general election.
Now that Barber has announced that he will run for the full Congressional term in the new District 2, as well as running to complete Giffords’ term, voting decisions for both Democrats and Republicans become more complicated.
Beginning with Barber, his decision to run again in November imposes on him  a series of contests in which he will not get anything like a free pass. 
The current run for the District 8 congressional seat will surely be more hotly contested by the Republicans, regardless of which Republican wins the primary. They will not wish to risk ceding the power of incumbency to the Democrats in the November election.
If he loses the District 8 race it is an open question whether he would choose to run for the district 2 seat against the new incumbent congressman who had just defeated him.
If Barber wins, he will most likely have a contested primary for the District 2 seat against a slate of Democrats who chose to honor both him and  Gabrielle by passing on the District 8 race.
The primary opposition could be serious. Three Arizona legislators have thrown their hats in the ring. Paula Aboud, Steve Farley and Matt Heinz have sound legislative backgrounds and solid name recognition.
Just in the wings is Stanford Law School graduate Nan Stockholm Walden who is widely believed to be favored by early Giffords supporters. 
Until Barber announced today this was the Democratic candidate slate.
Who knows what it will be tomorrow...but now the fun begins.