Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sunday blog roundup

I'm late in posting the weekly blog roundup — I've been editing the first drafts of your final projects. The good news is that I had a chance to go through all of them, so you'll be getting them back on Monday rather than Wednesday. With that, here is what you've been writing about online during the past week.

Third World laptops.
Adam Marschilok is taken with a New York Times story on a project to provide laptop computers to children in the Third World at a cost of just $150 apiece. Adam also notes that the Times discussion board allows readers to react to the story immediately. Indeed, as of Sunday at 4:45 p.m., there were already 350 comments.

Free speech isn't free. Celia Sourdy observes that expressing yourself on social networks such as MySpace and Facebook can get you fired. She also asks whether Muslims are being unfairly singled out, finds an odd report about a high-school fight triggered by MySpace, and offers a disturbing example of Craigslist-fueled child abuse.

But sometimes it is free. Chelsea Petersen is a lukewarm supporter of a court ruling that Web sites cannot be sued for libel successfully for material placed on their sites by third parties. "This, to me, is both good and bad news," Petersen writes — good for free speech, not so good for people wondering if what they read online is reliable.

Pulitzer Prizes 2.0. Chris Estrada reports that the Pulitzer Prize folks will now allow newspapers to submit various multimedia packages, including blogs, slideshows and videos. Chris also takes a look at an article that claims the New York Times Co. has flatly refused to sell the Boston Globe to a group headed by former GE chairman Jack Welch.

Press those words. Evan Brunell sets up a WordPress blog and finds it's incredibly easy. "Everyone who's on Blogger should just basically move over," he writes. (I know, I know, I just have to find the time.) Evan also recounts an unpleasant run-in he had with a contributor to his sports site, Most Valuable Network, over the abuse of a press pass.

Mitt and Mormonism. Glenn Yoder notes that Time magazine is taking a close look at how Gov. Mitt Romney's Mormon religion could affect his presidential campaign, a subject that has been explored locally for some time. (Here is the definitive piece, by the Phoenix's Adam Reilly.) Glenn is also a little unnerved by a CIA recruiting campaign and psyched over the new, tech-savvy Congress.

The Doctor is right on. Jane Mackay digs up some wisdom from Dr. Hunter S. Thompson that is as pertinent today as when he wrote it. Also, Jane loves a recent New Yorker profile of O.J. Simpson ghostwriter Pablo Fenjves, who appears to combine cheerful amorality with an acute awareness of his limitations.

From Swarthmore to Baghdad. And speaking of the New Yorker, Lisa Panora is impressed with a piece about "War News Radio," a student-radio production featuring telephone interviews with residents of Baghdad. Lisa also shares the joy of an ear-piercing teenager repellant that she is still young enough to hear.

HSTV on Mike Naughton tells us that the Boston Globe's Web site,, has begun to solicit user-submitted videos of high-school football games — an interesting citizen-journalism twist on an old standby. "Are home movies of little Billy's high-school football games just the beginning?" asks Naughton.

Podcasting politician. Rachel Slajda writes that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has begun to record three-minute video podcasts, and they've proved quite popular — except with the news media, which do not like the idea of a politician communicating directly with her constituents. Rachel also notes that two of the Washington Post's top political reporters are Web-bound.

The Little Red Wiki. Rajashree Joshi observes with some consternation that the Wikipedia entry for Mao Zedong differs considerably depending on whether you're reading it in Chinese or English. "It is hard to say whether this is deliberate because after all, Wikipedia is an open encyclopedia where viewers edit the information," she says.

Targeting informants. Thomas Chen views the notorious Web site Who's a Rat, reported on most recently by the Associated Press, and wonders about a site that endangers the lives of police informants. Still, he notes, "The documents and information that the site posts are of public record and no one's challenged the idea that the site is not protected by free speech."