I come not to praise Caesar June 30, 2007 9:54 PM   Subscribe

NYT Mag on Wikipedia as Breaking News Source. Three years ago, MeFi was the place this stuff went down, in my web at any rate. I miss it, and prefer MetaFilter's style of developing breaking news to Wikipedia's. But I understand the orientation that led Matt away from it, and God knows it's more efficient than reading through an entire thread in the blue to figure out where things stand as of the time you loaded the page. Posting this here seems more in tune than in the blue, yes?
posted by mwhybark to MetaFilter-Related at 9:54 PM (31 comments total)

Yes to that last sentence, but...it's a little weird anyway. Here's an article that is conspicuously not about Metafilter, basically?

I don't think Mefi had ever been the place to go for developing news—certainly it's been a place a few times, but I think those of us who spend a lot of time on the site tend to see it disproportionately through that lens.

From another perspective: I don't think Metafilter has changed so much as the rest of the web has. It's been near to eight years now in real time, which is just ages in web time. Of course people will look to Wikipedia for developing news: it's hugely, hugely visible, and accommodates that format well.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:23 PM on June 30, 2007


Mefi isn't now and hasn't ever been reliable place for breaking news. It isn't meant to be. I'm really not sure where your idea that it ever was comes from.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:33 PM on June 30, 2007


That was a surprisingly interesting article, thanks mwhybark.
posted by Phire at 10:33 PM on June 30, 2007


What does this article have to do with metafilter?

I get my 'breaking' news from blogs. There are about 12 political blogs I keep up with via RSS and they'll all post stuff about whatever topic during the day. Chances are if those blogs aren't talking about it, I probably wouldn't care enough to get up-to-the minute updates.

If it's major major news (like the recent war in Lebanon) I'll just turn on CNN.

I don't think wikipedia would be a good way to keep up with constantly updating news, because you get a snapshot, but you don't really get a sense of what's changed from hour to hour. It would be a good way to catch up, though.
posted by delmoi at 10:36 PM on June 30, 2007


Mefi isn't now and hasn't ever been reliable place for breaking news. It isn't meant to be.

Quoted for truth. There have been a small handful of breaking-news type threads; the exception rather than the rule.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:43 PM on June 30, 2007


Actually, I think the reaction to breakingnewsfilter has been largely negative overall. Except for 9-11 of course.
posted by puke & cry at 10:51 PM on June 30, 2007


There's another war in Lebanon? I should probably get a TV, I guess.
posted by trip and a half at 11:32 PM on June 30, 2007


delmoi,
If you don't mind me asking, what 12 blogs are those?
posted by Sangermaine at 11:34 PM on June 30, 2007


If it isn't reported on MetaFilter, it didn't happen.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:12 AM on July 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jonathan Dee, who wrote this Wikipedia article, also wrote about Nickelodeon's "tween-coms," shows developed for viewers aged 8-14 with the idea that "kids win." It's a really good piece, too, and I'd never heard of the guy before. Thanks from me, mrwhybark.
posted by cgc373 at 3:45 AM on July 1, 2007


Weblogs for news? Strange modern creatures. The daily three-hour cycle of depression, outrage and anger fomented by Today is what you need.
posted by jack_mo at 3:50 AM on July 1, 2007


What eyeballkid said.
posted by languagehat at 5:23 AM on July 1, 2007


I stopped reading when they used the word "cyberconversation".
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:29 AM on July 1, 2007


Mefi isn't now and hasn't ever been reliable place for breaking news.

I'm shocked that people consider wikipedia to be a reliable news source. I mean, maybe as something to provide backstory, but not much else. But not for breaking news. That's what Digg is for.
posted by Dave Faris at 6:39 AM on July 1, 2007


I don't think Mefi had ever been the place to go for developing news

I tend to enjoy it more as the place to go for the developing reaction to the news.
posted by srboisvert at 7:38 AM on July 1, 2007


...but we have MeFi Intelligence and information gathering services. I mean....we could still have some pull...
"oh look another pheasant"
posted by clavdivs at 10:30 AM on July 1, 2007


Having now read the article, I agree with Phire: it was quite well done.

clav!
hey, did you ever get my e-mail about the curses book?

posted by languagehat at 11:13 AM on July 1, 2007


If you don't mind me asking, what 12 blogs are those?

Well they include Matthew Yglesias, Talking Points Memo, Sadly, No! TIME: Swampland, Eschaton, and Digby's hullabaloo. You should be able to Google for all of them. There are others in the list (MyDD) that I don't really care about that much, and some that are not updated as much lately. (such as James Wolcott). Another good blog that doesn't happen to be in my RSS Reader would be Glenn Greenwald. These are all political blogs with a progressive bent.
posted by delmoi at 12:05 PM on July 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's been near to eight years now in real time, which is just ages in web time.

This is a rather problematic, disconnected, and skewed way to view the world. Time is time and things are here now...
posted by Burhanistan at 1:04 PM on July 1, 2007


I am the walrus, Burhanistan.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:22 PM on July 1, 2007


That's odd, 'cause I'm the eggman.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:57 PM on July 1, 2007


There's such a plethora of good news sources on the web, why in the world would someone want to rely on blogs as news sources unless they're the Fox News type who wants their news pre-filtered to their worldview? With all due respect (and I mean this sincerely because I recognize how easy it is to fall into a pattern of getting your news from only strongly ideologically-friendly sources), if it matters to you to be informed of "news" and such, you should look elsewhere than blogs as the primary source.

Blogs, on the other hand, are very good at two distinct things. The first is the trivial—a place to shoot the shit (or read others shooting the shit) among people with whom you largely agree. The second, though, is quite valuable (and rare), and it's the informed and thoughtful analysis of news and events, especially getting deep into a particular subject in an ongoing fashion, as TPM has done with a few issues, particularly the US Attorney firing scandal.

Interestingly, though, I found that TPM's intense and relentless focus on that scandal and how it pushed almost everything off the page for months slowly began to push me away from TPM. I value that, but I want TPM to be more well-rounded.

As anyone who reads the comments knows, I read Yglesias regularly. But I'm not sure why—among the group of smart kids to which he belongs, I think he's perhaps the least. I think many of us may read him because he's sort of, well, amiable.

I highly recommend BBC Online as a chief source among primary sources for news. There's some others we should be reading alongside it—I have to confess I'm much less of a news junkie today than I was three years ago. This stupid presidential administration has driven me away from news to a certain extent because I just don't like to be newly-enraged twenty times a day. Anyway, what I've long done (for over ten years now) is to use My Yahoo! as my browser homepage and aggregate their mostly various news sources, as well as my frequent links and a few other things. I've tried switching to Google's customized page, but I've not really liked it, it seems slow—probably not for the same purpose for which I use My Yahoo!, but I want my Google search to be immediate. I know, I know, I need to use the search from Firefox. Old habits die hard.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:11 PM on July 1, 2007


Speaking of Matt Yglesias, he just wrote this today in a post:

I'll have to plead guilty to resolutely avoiding any systematic examination of my moral premises. I spent some time doing this in college and it genuinely didn't seem to lead anywhere productive.

As I wrote in a comment, this seems to me to be a very strong indictment against both himself and his education. I also think this makes him a dangerous person to be involved in civil discourse. Unfortunately, however, he's more remarkable in his honesty about this characteristic than he is in the characteristic itself.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:11 PM on July 1, 2007


Ongoing collaborative ... journalism? aggregation? does happen here, when major events happen. 911. Katrina. The London bombings. A handful of other things.

It's a good place to find links and cross-reference facts and dig down to primary sources. People will generally cooperate to find the truth, point out sources that disagree with previously-mentioned facts. It works very well. It's totally ad-hoc, and I've been impressed by the community coming together like that when it happens.

We aren't Wikipedia, we're not trying to be an exhaustive resource of everything. Or Wikinews, or anything like that. We have a community, though, and it does shine when it needs to. (Even if it is massively superhuge now.)
posted by blacklite at 6:59 PM on July 1, 2007


why in the world would someone want to rely on blogs as news sources

because frequently they provide more detail, and often more breaking and perhaps yet substantiated news (the good ones point out the lack of substantiation). So, you start with your reliable providers with feet on the ground, CNN, AP, UPI etc., but for the other angles you hit the blogs. Caveat emptor, with CNN and with blogs, just more so with the latter. You don't rely, you supplement.
posted by caddis at 8:21 PM on July 1, 2007


You don't rely, you supplement.

Yeah, that's what I said one should do. And since it's what you say one should do, then it's hard to see how you're answering my question "why in the world would someone want to rely on blogs as news sources" with a paragraph which seems initially to answer my question in the affirmative before ultimately taking the same negative position as I do. So what was your point, exactly?

I don't mean to sound argumentative, but your comment is strange.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:06 PM on July 1, 2007


There's such a plethora of good news sources on the web, why in the world would someone want to rely on blogs as news sources unless they're the Fox News type who wants their news pre-filtered to their worldview?

I suppose you could call it pre-filtered, but who cares? It's not like you'll ever be able to get truly accurate News. Everything is riddled with bias and error. If a journalist isn't passionate about the topic, then they are probably going to miss things. And usually blogs will link to news stories on more traditional sites like the NYT or whatever.

And ultimately, who cares? I find dispassionate reporting boring, and I'm only reading this stuff for enjoyment. It's not like a bitter pill I feel like I have to take in order to be "well informed". I feel like I'm pretty well informed.

Interestingly, though, I found that TPM's intense and relentless focus on that scandal and how it pushed almost everything off the page for months slowly began to push me away from TPM.

Yeah, I was bored out of my mind when TPM was all about the attempt to phase-out social security (even with the war going on). But, I find the US Attorney scandal fascinating.

As I wrote in a comment, this seems to me to be a very strong indictment against both himself and his education. I also think this makes him a dangerous person to be involved in civil discourse.

Well you would. But compare his policy prescriptions to the people who leveled that charge against him, namely libertarians and sundry morons. Frankly I feel that people who spend a lot of time trying to come up with a rigorous moral framework are people who are trying to justify something most people would find reprehensible. Most Ayn Randroids will tell you their moral philosophy is completely consistent and true, for example.
posted by delmoi at 9:31 PM on July 1, 2007


Frankly I feel that people who spend a lot of time trying to come up with a rigorous moral framework are people who are trying to justify something most people would find reprehensible.

That may be, but that's not the same thing as seriously questioning one's moral foundations which, I think, works against such impulses.

There's a difference between thinking about moral and philosophical foundations for the purpose of rationalizing what one already believes and doing so in a critical and careful manner that, often, will call into serious question many things one believes. The serious and earnest experience of a deep investigation into moral and political philosophy is quite similar to the serious earnest experience of a deep investigation into science and mathematics, which my education emphasized as equal alongside moral and political philosophy.

Notwithstanding the strong argument that science and math are objective while, ultimately, moral and political philosophy are subjective, the process of deep and serious investigation into both results, or should result, in the construction of a worldview that is more rational and, more importantly, less bigoted and merely self-serving and infantile than what one has in the absence in such efforts.

I don't object to you or Yglesias calling into question the seriousness or good-will of the libertarians who make similar accusations against him. What I don't understand and am frankly amazed at is someone with a philosophy degree from Harvard asserting that the whole enterprise of an investigation into moral and political philosophy and one's integration of them is "not particularly productive".

What it cynically leads me to believe, perhaps stereotypically as a johnnie, is that Yglesias's education in philosophy at Harvard was an abstracted and formal exercise that was not only in practice divorced from his experience as a human being, but perhaps deliberately encouraged to be divorced from his experience as a human being.

In contrast, I observed a significant minority of my classmates so morally and philosophically challenged as freshmen that they were extremely disoriented by real life, unmoored and somewhat terrified of the complexity and ambiguities of human experience with regard to the moral realm and what we commonly think of as "truth". Most students weren't pushed to that extreme, but most were in many ways essentially challenged. The course of moral and political philosophy in the west is nothing if not challenging throughout its entirety—I think I can safely say that most johnnies leave school substantially altered by their education in good ways. Some, even in this very challenging environment, do manage to use their education as a self-serving exercise in validating their preconceptions and ex post facto rationalization, but most do not. I can tell you that there's a certain amount of eye-rolling, if only imaginary, at such persons, whether their views can be categorized as either leftist or rightist.

I wouldn't be surprised at such a sterile experience in philosophy at certain educational institutions that are strongly ideological in one direction of the other. One may look at deep foundational issues in moral philosophy at Bob Jones or BYU or even some strongly leftist philosophy departments and find only convenient validation, but I would have expected better from Harvard. Perhaps I still think too highly of Harvard, even though I have friends who left Harvard in disappointment and came to SJC for more seriousness and rigor. I've always found that a self-satisfying anecdote for me as a johnnie, but I've always sort of thought it was doing Harvard a disservice. But in this example and others, Yglesias has done a lot to lower my estimation of the value of a Harvard undergraduate education.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:41 PM on July 1, 2007


Lh, hate to use meTa as a talking board yes i got it but have had my e-mail account tampered with...will set up another. Thought that was a joke and no I cannot have the Koreans hating clav in print. it is an insult of the highest caliber and....well.
posted by clavdivs at 9:33 AM on July 2, 2007


Wikipedia on news is like an only slightly less retarded Digg clubbing you over head with OCD-ish crowd "wisdom". It really is just a big D&D convention where the loudest, most obsessive shouters win. People have covered NA news pretty well, but you know that for Euro it's got to be the Spiegel, and for Asia nothing but Wai Wai will do.
posted by meehawl at 7:32 AM on July 3, 2007


On finally reviewing this thread, i think I can illuminate why I preferred MeFi to other news sources: I feel, however inaccurately, that I know the contributors, something which is professionally discouraged in traditional journalistic practice.

I'd rather read an AP link found by languagehat on random language-involved story A than the same link uncovered on my on my own via Google, or the same link cited at the foot of a wikipedia story. By the same token, a music-oriented story illuminated by a jonmc link is of greater value to me than the same story illuminated by the same link located independently. Even links contributed by personae whom I specifically disrespect due to differing political orientations or personal distaste or whatnot are of greater value to me than the same link provided by the equivalent organization (say, Fox, LGF, TPM, Indymedia, NPR, The Guardian, NYT, or BoingBoing).

I think that aspect of MeFi-as-news-source (and there are many more examples beyond 9-11, such as the Columbia thread) is what was specifically valuable here and has been programatically eschewed elsewhere.

But I come not to praise Caesar, but to bury him, for it is said that he was ambitious. Those that charge him with ambition are persons of reason and judgement. Honorable, one and all. Yet my heart is in the coffin there, and I must pause 'til it returns to me.
posted by mwhybark at 10:56 PM on July 14, 2007


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