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Barry-ing the Hatchet

By Robert MacMillan
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 28, 2004; 11:48 AM

Oh, the things technology writers will do to shoehorn their pocket-protector-wearing selves into the day's top news...

Seeing as how all the cool reporters are hanging out under lockdown conditions at Boston's FleetCenter, Filter will take yet another dive into all things tech going on at the Democratic National Convention. But first, an update from the "I swear I'm not making this up" files:

_____About Filter_____
Filter looks at the day's top technology news through snapshots and analysis of what the world's media outlets are covering. Washingtonpost.com's new Mon.-Fri. feature is penned by technology reporter Cynthia L. Webb. If a technology story breaks, a company falters or triumphs, or there's a new trend in technology, Filter wants you to know about it.

_____Filter Archive_____
Google: Should You Search for a Better Deal? (washingtonpost.com, Aug 2, 2004)
No Synchronicity for Apple, RealNetworks (washingtonpost.com, Jul 30, 2004)
Bloggers Type It Like It Is in Boston (washingtonpost.com, Jul 29, 2004)
The Blogger Circus (washingtonpost.com, Jul 27, 2004)
Democrats Get Wired in Boston (washingtonpost.com, Jul 26, 2004)
More Past Issues
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The last thing I expected to do yesterday at 8 a.m. was become The Washington Post's blog critic, but thanks to Miami Herald columnist Dave Barry, I am now the pretender to that awesome throne. Taking a look at what the bloggers were up to convention-wise for yesterday's Filter column, I came across Barry's site and labeled it "threadbare" (though I thoroughly enjoyed his photo with presidential candidate Vermin Supreme). The threadbare comment got me some attention from one of the sharpest wits in syndication.

A sample from Mr. Barry's blog: "CONVENTION UPDATE INTENDED SOLELY TO KEEP THE WASHINGTON POST BLOG CRITIC FROM CALLING THIS BLOG 'THREADBARE' There is nothing happening here."

And another: "ANOTHER ENTRY DESIGNED TO GIVE THIS BLOG A 'MEATIER' LOOK FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE WASHINGTON POST BLOG CRITIC. There continues to be virtually nothing happening here in Boston. We will continue to provide you with our personal blog-style 'take' on this situation as warranted by the constantly developing lack of events.."

This is how you know you've really made it -- when you've annoyed Dave Barry (and Judi, the mysterious other poster on his site). Incidentally, I discovered my unwitting exposure to other Dave Barry fans through Providence Journal columnist Sheila Lennon, whose Subterranean Homepage News offered a link to his site. Lennon writes some of the best blog observations coming out of the convention thus far, and as I mentioned yesterday, her site's name is seriously cool. Today's entry reads, "The Washington Post covers me covering bloggers covering the convention. (Got that?)." To return the compliment, I now am officially covering Sheila Lennon covering me covering her covering bloggers covering the convention.
Dave Barry's Blog
The Providence Journal: Subterranean Homepage News

No, Not That Wire

Now, an answer to the question -- can journalists do their jobs without the Internet? Reuters reported that hundreds of reporters were left hanging for more than an hour Tuesday "after engineers caused a portion of the network in the media center to go offline. Web connections in the two-story media pavilion erected next door to the FleetCenter to house dozens of media outlets went down for over more than an hour shortly after 6 p.m. ET. 'We noticed slower-than-normal traffic on the system and in making adjustments to take care of that we must have knocked some connections offline,' said Peter Bowman, an on-site spokesman for Verizon Communications Inc. While he could not estimate the extent of the problem, Bowman said he did not think "it was a wide outage by any stretch of the imagination."

The wire service, in its own just-the-facts-ma'am way, hinted otherwise: "Reuters was also affected."
Reuters via USA Today: Convention Internet Access Crashes for an Hour

The Seattle Times worked the outage news into the bottom of its blogger story that ran this morning: "It hasn't been all smooth sailing on the boulevard. Just a few hours before the convention was gaveled to order, [Democratic National Committee] technicians were trying to ensure the bloggers had constant high-speed wireless Internet access inside the FleetCenter as promised. The system was on the blink. 'If we're not online, we don't exist,' said Jay Rosen, 48, a New York University journalism professor and an accredited blogger. "We're going to be useless."
The Seattle Times: 'Bloggers' Boulevard' Is a Detour From the Conventional Coverage

Bloggers: Piranhas by Any Other Name?

Wired's Adam L. Penenberg wants to know exactly what is going on with this blog craze: "Blah, blah, blog: Knight Ridder has a blogger. So does MSNBC, which borrowed Newsweek reporter Howard Fineman for the convention. The Associated Press has three bloggers. Chris 'Hardball' Matthews touts Hardblogger. Not to be outdone, CNN.com hosts a multi-headed blog and monitors millions of other blogs in real time. Blogs here, blogs there, blogs everywhere. What's going on? This absorption of the blog model by mainstream media has left Josh Marshall, who operates Talking Points Memo, almost speechless. 'When I see the mainest of mainstream outfits buying into the concept or the model, I really don't know what to think,' Marshall wrote. 'The best way I can describe my reaction is some mix of puzzlement and incredulity.'"


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