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John Proffitt
Anchorage, AK
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Well, I'll be interested to read more. I do think we need a new approach to thinking, science, society, etc. We're uniquely ignorant of risks and consequences.
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Okay. Then I would ask what is "safe"? What qualifies? So much of what we do isn't safe.
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My concern with the piece posted is that it has some unique "facts" in it that aren't recognized by multiple independent sources. It's also written by a news group based in Tehran. I don't think this is some kind of Iranian-run disinformation campaign, but I don't know these folks and I'm wondering what their motivations are for writing a piece like this. The biggest "fact" in the story is that basically 1,000,000 people were killed by Chernobyl, directly and then indirectly via cancers that popped up after the event. But due to the complexities of life you point out, making a straight-line connection between Chernobyl and all cancers in Europe is impossible. There are genetics, diet, environment, education, access to clean water and radiation exposure issues all gathered together and they can't be separated from one another so easily. Did Chernobyl have a big effect? Yes. But how big, we really don't know and never will. This is exacerbated by the fact that the USSR was (and Russia largely is) a third-world country run by a powerful class of people that want to hide all information that makes them look culpable in the Chernobyl disaster. It's undoubtedly worse than officials say, but to prove the claims of any group is flat-out impossible. Your point is taken, however, that nuclear power has been deployed in lots of places where the real-world risks outstrip the risks that officials chose to recognize. In essence, those officials have chosen to accept risks that we in the public may consider unacceptable. We're incredibly bad at having risk mitigation discussions. It's a huge failing of ours individually and as a society.
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I guess I'm not quite sure what you're saying, aside from the fact that we have an inadequate world view when we exclusively use Newtonian methods of calculation (linear) and observation (isolated). I can certainly agree with that in principle. If that's all you're saying, then we're in agreement. But if you're going further than that, suggesting that we must primarily use this newer chaos/complexity theory primarily for the engineering of nuclear power plants or any other form of technology, and that Newtonian models lead to bad thinking, I think we disagree. Don't we have to have both? Nearly all the advancements of man (assuming you agree they are advancements) in the last few hundred years come from Newtonian thinking and the scientific method. Those approaches never took into account chaos theory, which is why our history seems to lurch around at times. Look at the relative period of "peace" following the end of World War II -- after the atomic bomb was used on Japan. That, plus technological developments, halted the world's tendency toward war, I would argue. It was the Newtonian technology of The Bomb that created a chaotic/complex outcome of comparative peace for 50+ years. In the case of nuclear power and weapons, we instinctively recognize that the technology has outstripped our ability to integrate it into the organizations and networks explained in Kurakin's ideas. It's too big for us to integrate. It's too scary. We don't know how to use it or deal with it. It stokes a chaotic fear response in all of us. As for the specific engineering failures of Fukushima Daiichi, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and the rest, anti-nuclear folks basically call out, "They said it would never happen, but it just did and it will again!" To that, I say, "Who said it would never happen?" Well, the answer is the politicians and businessmen who profited from the plants. No self-respecting scientist would ever say "never," because they deal in the knowns and unknowns, and like Rumsfeld, they know there are things they don't know. Consider what's been said by nuclear power engineers and scientists when commenting on the Daiichi plant. In talking about a complete meltdown or talking about a significant radiological disaster of Chernobyl scope, they all call it "unlikely" or "extremely unlikely" but they never say "impossible." Consider also the design of the Daiichi plant. It was designed to survive earthquakes without disaster. But it was NOT designed to withstand an 8.9 so close to the site. It failed, and people are saying, "See? It can't be made safe!" Well, it wasn't designed to be safe in these circumstances. It's failure was predictable. Indeed, some scientists in Japan had been harassing the government to shut down the Daiichi reactors for years, fearing just this kind of disaster. They predicted it. What happened in the 8.9 was what you describe above: complex/chaotic network effects. A series of networked possibilities happened at the same time. These were each unlikely events and were not accounted for in the design of the plant. Combined, they've wreaked havoc. Bad? Yes. Impossible to predict? No. And it was predicted. It's just that no one in power listened. Here's what gets me... We're freaking out about a plant in northern Japan that has been operating fairly uneventfully for 40 years. Yes, TEPCO has been a bad player over the years and has made mistakes driven by avarice and laziness, but by and large we haven't seen anything like the current Daiichi situation. Right now, a few hundred people have definitely been exposed to some level of radiation, but the levels vary by person and most are, from what we've seen, so limited as to not be considered serious (yes, from a Newtonian perspective). If the worst happens and the cores completely melt, melting through the bottom of the reactor vessel and dumping on the containment floor, then we'll have a serious radiological event surpassing what happened at TMI and approaching Chernobyl leves. Immediate deaths among workers at the plant might hit 20 or 30, and perhaps another couple hundred deaths over the next several years as workers develop cancers and so forth. The nearby population will be largely spared because they've been evacuated. Still, let's say the winds blow the wrong way and they can't keep the heavy stuff contained at the site. Then we'll have a real mess on our hands, perhaps thousands or even tens or hundreds of thousands sickened if they can't get the iodine tablets out there fast enough. But what about the presumably 10,000 already dead from the tsunami? From the way we and the media are talking about it, the radiation stuff is far more important. But the radiation stuff is not likely to kill 10,000 people. Perhaps we should be talking more about tsunami preparedness or where human habitation is reasonable or unreasonable. Or lets talk about other ways to die. No one knows for sure, but the 2004 Indonesia quake and tsunami killed anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000 people. That was just 7 years ago. Have we developed the detection and warning networks we talked about? Nope. Or how about annual driving fatalities? In the United States alone, 33,000 people a year are killed. More people die in the United States every year in car accidents than have apparently died in this once-in-300-years tsunami event in Japan. We indeed live in a complex/chaotic world. We humans do things (or don't do things) for lots of reasons, good and bad. We have motivations that drive us that aren't Newtonian- or scientific-method-related. I still drive a car, despite being at much higher risk of death from that than from a nuclear plant in Japan. Or anywhere. If we want to demonize a technology, perhaps we should look in the driveway first. Or should we talk about fossil fuels and global warming? I'm not saying that nuclear power is safe or inherently safe. It's not. But neither is driving. Neither is burning fossil fuels at a planetary scale. Neither is deforestation. Shall we talk about hydro-fracking for natural gas? What bothers me is we're evaluating nuclear power unfairly -- a Newtonian engineering technology -- based on learned fears and social reinforcement. Ironically, it's the organizations and networks of our feelings and mythologies that are driving us to freak out. When it comes to nuclear power, here's what I would say: It's not foolproof and it can fail. When it does fail, it creates unusual and (largely) unnatural risks. The risk factors are invisible, which makes them scary. They're health-related risks, which makes them intensely personal. They're extremely difficult to calculate and are susceptible to outrageous downplaying and overstatement at the same time -- so you're left with more unknowns than knowns, adding to the fear. We don't have to have nuclear power. We have other options and these days we're creating new options at a rapid pace. Nuclear power has a lot of problems intertwined with it's technologies. But so do all the others. They're ALL entwined in complex and chaotic network effects. And we're entwined with them. All I hope is that we judge all our technologies fairly.
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Rob, I don't know about Greek Tragedy. It strikes me that this situation is much simpler. The NPR Board, composed mostly of scared local station heads that got a lot of fake angry calls during the Juan Williams episode, basically wanted to lay down for conservatives immediately this time around. I'm absolutely sickened by this episode. Schiller (Vivian, not the other guy) was doing a fantastic job of publicly kowtowing to Station heads with her talk of collaboration as well as pushing forward with excellent developments in digital media. She was threading the needle of doing what needed to be done in a rapidly-changing media world while also keeping station managers calm -- and even getting some of them to join her in the new mission. The NPR Board didn't like former CEO Ken Stern because he was blunt about the future of the station/network dynamic. He knew NPR would win and the stations would lose, and he didn't hide it. He was a rough-and-tumble operator that ruffled feathers and they dumped him for it. Then they had Dennis Haarsager as a caretaker, and he did a fine job keeping the place together (and healing the Stern wounds) until the NPR Board could find a new CEO. Then the NPR Board pulled off a miracle and found this person with online credentials AND news credentials in one. No doubt with Haarsager's help, they groomed Schiller to say the right things to and about stations and allowed her to develop NPR's news and digital strengths. She was nailing it. Now the NPR Board, in capitulating fear, has hacked a huge swath through the management team, killing off Weiss (a news pro) and two Schillers (one a brilliant fundraiser, one a brilliant executive), all to appease the Faux News jocks that are experts at making mountains of mole hills and even faking evidence and stories (Acorn, Shirley Sherrod) well enough to gin up the pitchfork crowd. These actions haven't just damaged NPR's operational capacity, they've damaged the very reputation and trust of the entire brand. Rather than standing their ground and fighting the nutcases on terra firma, they've turned tail and run, apologizing as the bullies catch up to them and slug them in the gut. "Sorry! Did my spleen hurt your fist? Oh dear. Just punch me in the face!" The truth that conservative operatives know is that NPR's content is centrist to a fault, not liberal, but they don't care -- it's another scalp to add to their collection in this culture war they're waging (and Democrats aren't fighting). It's revolting. There's something sick and dying in much of what we call public media today. Corner offices are filled with people just straining to reach retirement using dollars collected from little old ladies that like buying 1950's pop tunes on CD and lilting Celtic Women (on DVD for your $150 pledge!). Innovation in news gathering is rare, even in a fractured media universe. But NPR was participating in it. I'm not a fan of the bloated Argo project, but it's pointing in the right direction and has a collaborative model. Local stations? Bah -- they're clinging to NPR's radio coat tails and the costs of keeping old guard management in jobs are just out of sync with the way the media world will work going forward. Media today must be lean, small, nimble and smart. NPR and PBS stations are anything but. As you know, I've had my issues with public media management almost from the start, but I believed in the underlying mission. However, at this point, my only conclusion is that defunding may be the only path to reformation and innovation. Posting the "95 Theses" on the church door and breaking with the Pope worked once. It's time to take that tack again, come what may. There are a lot of good people I've met in the last 6 years that I wouldn't want to see lose their jobs. But on the whole, we're going to have to kill public media corporations to save the integrity of the mission of public service news and information. It's time for a new generation to rise up and take on the mission that most local stations gave up long ago. Ironically, the NPR Board has now set into motion the very thing they fear: the end of local stations and the permanent and independent ascendance of NPR.
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Tom -- I recommend you get your facts straight. Vivian Schiller never made comments about the Tea Party. That was the NPR Foundation (not NPR News) fundraiser (also named Schiller, but unrelated) making personal comments. The NPR Foundation is a separate entity from the NPR everyone knows, and it's purely a fundraising operation. Related, yes, but not the same in any way. The Foundation gets zero dollars from government and zero dollars from stations. Vivian Schiller did make off-hand remarks about Juan Williams' mental health last fall, for which she apologized. But the fact is that Williams was a low-brow commentator on NPR that served little purpose for the network except to add some much-needed "color" to the air. They fired him after his silly Muslim-baiting remarks, but his firing was years in the making. They just mishandled it. I think NPR has earned the right to make some mistakes along the way. Vivian Schiller's true crime was firing Ellen Weiss, the news director at NPR (not the Foundation) over the Williams affair. Weiss may have been callous, but she was a true professional and worth far more to the organization than all their yapping commentators (like Williams) combined. But the sniveling NPR Board forced it on everyone as a way to appease the conservative faux outrage. Finally, the notion that NPR gets federal money (barely) to be fair and unbiased is not accurate. Nowhere in the Public Broadcasting Act does it create any kind of fair and unbiased test for funding, and you'd be hard-pressed to make the case that NPR's coverage of everything is anything but straight down the middle. They're boringly apolitical, actually. Only the right wing rage machine makes people think NPR is liberal. It's painfully not so. As for public trust, who's the most trusted news purveyor in the nation? PBS. Public media sources routinely score high in trust and NPR is up there, too. They work hard to focus on facts and information and deflect spin from any side. Sadly, this also means that much of their programming is less-than-illuminating, as they resort to he-said-she-said reporting and press release relays far too often. But there you go -- that's what they do to say in the middle and not take sides. Your notion that NPR has an "unwavering liberal bent" are based in right wing talking points and misinformation, not fact. All that said, NPR should most assuredly drop all federal funding, and I'll bet you they drop 100% of it (in direct funds) in the new fiscal year. Stations will still get funding, but NPR will kill it all off. It's only a couple million anyway, all told. And most of that is for special joint projects with stations and other nonprofit news collaborats, not ongoing operations.
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The commentary coming out of the PUBRADIO list is indicative of the overall management and vision capacity of the public radio system and public media generally. Presented with simple facts and trend lines in usage of alternative modes of media distribution, much of this group falls back on the tired old saws of "radio is better because..." rather than engaging with a changing world. This *could* be an exciting time for leaders in public media. The opportunities to reach new audiences and fulfill the original mission of public media (now largely lost to 40 years of professionalization) are staggering and wonderful. Yet managers spend their time bitching about costs, denigrating the interests of the next generation of potential members and pimping a business model started 50+ years ago that's now falling apart, piece by piece. It's no wonder the NAB recently proposed making FM receiver chipsets mandatory in all new mobile electronics. That's just how "professionals" in the broadcasting field think. But, as noted in a response from the Consumer Electronics Association, an FM chipset law would make as much sense as requiring every car to include its own quarter horse. This industry needs better management and better leadership. NPR is showing that leadership. PRX is showing it. Parts of MPR/APM are showing it. Even hidden parts of the CPB are showing it, in their own special way. But the bulk of stations and other corporations are loaded down with last-generation managers with a view of budgets, but not missions.
I feel for you, Rob. I was surprised at the loss I felt at leaving Anchorage earlier this year. I lived in Anchorage for 9 years before leaving -- as long as I've lived anywhere in my life. And it was terribly hard to leave, far harder than I imagined. Which, of course, is much of the reason that I'm back in Anchorage! Earlier in my life I never put down roots, never connected myself to a place, mostly because my family moved around when I was a kid and being uprooted was just too painful. My roots in Anchorage developed when I wasn't looking. Uprooting is always painful. And for you, after 15 years and after developing the life you wanted, it's especially hard. I don't envy your choices or the road ahead. But we must all move on, I suppose. To me, it's akin to this idea that it's "better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." Or the notion that "time is the fire in which we burn." There is no light without dark and vice-versa. I think it was Joseph Campbell that talked about life as being a series of "loss, loss, loss," which we must renew. Best wishes from another far-flung land, for what it's worth.
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I don't see it in quite the same black-and-white terms, Rob. On the one hand, I completely agree with you. Boomers and the Silent Generation do need to step aside for later generations. As a red-blooded member of Generation X, I've labored under the Boomers for decades now and I'm WAAAY past ready to move up, but can't. Not to mention I'm pissed at the way the Boomers, the so-called protest generation, has sold us out in government and in the financial world. A curse upon their house! On the other hand, both my parents are in their early 70's and are still working. Both love working. Both don't know what they would do if they weren't working. And neither have a pension or other substantial retirement plan because my father, in particular, lived through the downsizing years and bounced from company to company, never reaching pensions status. And there aren't any more pensions these days. Perhaps it's a character failing, not finding a way to retire while also remaining active. Perhaps it's poor planning to not have a pension or other financial cushion for retirement. But I can't fault my parents for their choices. Given their situation, I'm not sure I'd do things any differently. Is it different in Canada? Is there a better retirement support system in place? 'Cause down here Social Security is relatively meager and likely won't be there for me.
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It seems like when we talk about "diversity" we're usually talking about equal opportunity rather than actual diversity of cultural background or mental models or experience. Usually it comes up, like Affirmative Action, when it deals with people in powerful positions handing power to other people from the same cultural background. That's an inherently unfair approach if you're not already in the "preferred" culture. It's human and natural, but is it good for our broader society or culture? Is there a responsibility on the part of a majority group to ensure minority group members are afforded "equal opportunity" to succeed at the majority-owned game? Tough questions, I know, but it seems like this is usually what we talk about when we talk about race or diversity or anything else like that. It's who's got the power and who doesn't that really gets people upset, and understandably so.
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Slate's Jacob Weisberg had a great article this weekend on Obama's failure to connect with people and show any kind of leadership born from outrage or concern... http://www.slate.com/id/2242223/ I've recently said that Obama will be a one-term President for these very reasons: he makes no connection / he's not "human" and he leads from a position of compromise. The lesson to anyone that wants to change the world, either in small or big ways: NEVER lead from a position of compromise. Compromise is a TOOL to reach consensus or to solve immediate tactical problems. It is not a goal or mission in and of itself. Even the peacemakers of the world do not seek compromise -- they seek "victory" for both sides. Obama believes the way to solve the left/right ideological war is to find a middle path and just get everyone to stop fighting. It's led to the tepid designs of healthcare reform that hand far more control to drugmakers and insurance companies than ever before. It's caused him to hire Wall Street apologists and insiders to prop up a deeply corrupt system. This don't-upset-the-status-quo has led to protection for torturers, spying on Americans at home, continuation of the Iraq debacle and now an expansion of the Afghanistan campaign, despite centuries of failures by every empire that's tried to tame that land. Yes, he's dealt with a lot of issues in his first year, but pretty much every issue he's handled has been run through this blandification machine, leading to... nothing much new. Some are suggesting that now, on the eve of the healthcare implosion, he may be gearing up to fight, especially given the 2010 elections. But I'll believe it when I see it. He's incredibly smart. Probably too smart. Jimmy Carter was (and is) smart, but it didn't make him a great President.
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I think Schiller is right that news is a commodity. But that's because of the way we define "news" today. News, as practiced by newspapers, is largely a regurgitation of facts that is then endlessly copied from paper to paper. They rag on blogs for copying papers, but really the papers copy each other incessantly. Everyone covers the same stories the same ways. What is NOT a commodity is intelligent and unique coverage of issues. NPR has succeeded with news on the national level precisely because commercial radio has commoditized and correspondingly fallen apart as they couldn't maintain their cost structure. NPR has stepped in on the news front while everyone else has walked away. Good for them. But to say all news is commodity isn't quite right. Trustworthy news is still scarce. Baseline facts, parroting official statements and time-bound event reportage is a commodity and worth almost nothing. But getting intelligent, precisely-calibrated insightful stories is still unique and worth something.
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Insightful and spot-on as usual. When I saw the recommendations last week from that SRG report, I just about had steam coming out of my ears -- it's the perfect advice. For 1995. CPB should never fund a study like that one again, since we have plenty on the shelves already. I've been too busy with other stuff to blog on this yet, and now that you've handled it so masterfully I probably won't bother (it's like following a better comedian -- who wants to do that?). But the core message I would give to station is that the relationships of network to stations and the relationships of users to stations and networks are being completely reshaped, and the ways we act, interact and collaborate have to change, too. Ugh. Too much to say, but even now I have to run off to do some other stuff. Meanwhile, thanks for the thoughts, Stephen. I only pray people start listening. You've been a beacon of good ideas -- and proven digital media success -- since I first heard you speak back in 2005.
I passionately despise the Growing the Audience report series and CPB's hand in funding it. It reinforces bad thinking on the part of stations. The lesson: Just follow these formulas and tricks and you can grow your audience and make more money. These are classic mass media tactics. Now, I'm not saying it won't work -- in many cases, it will, at least for a while. But in a media landscape that the audience is selectively slicing and dicing for themselves, these tactics won't last for long, and all the while your core audience -- your tribe -- will drift away and you'll be on increasingly shaky ground. I know this report series started several years ago, before there were other ideas readily available in the field. But there have been plenty of thinkers out there now to provide newer / better ideas. NPR's social media work (via Andy Carvin and team) has done wonderful things for their coverage (e.g. Haiti) and deepened their relationships with the core audience. To be fair, there's still plenty of mass audience thinking at NPR (and as a national entity, that actually makes sense), but stations would be better served following NPR's human-scale innovations than their mass media tactics. Definitely write more about this Rob!
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$40 billion could have built up a far better rail system than we have today. It's not enough for a total national revamping, but it would have been a start. Instead, we bailed out companies that are fundamentally flawed from an economic and ecological perspective. Those companies that weren't strong enough to survive should have been let go, and we should have plowed our money and our talents into transformation, into making rail travel as vital and vibrant as it is in western Europe and Japan. Amtrak ridership in the U.S. is up over the past couple of years, but the service is still second-rate in terms of quality, speed and distribution across the country. I remember returning to the U.S. in late 1992 after spending a semester abroad in Europe. We rode buses, trains, boats -- all kinds of public-style transit -- while over there. When I landed in Columbus, Ohio I was happy to see my parents, but then depressed that we hopped into a single car and drove the 40 minutes home across sprawling interstate highways. I recognized then what most Americans still don't know: there IS a better way, and it actually works. Let's stop spending on personal cars and start spending on shared community infrastructure.
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I've told the story before, and I'll probably never stop telling it, but... I remember what an accomplished public broadcasting veteran once told me, when I dared suggest that we get the public involved in programming and public service decisions at the station... "This is public broadcasting. We're the professionals. We decide. We don't want the public getting involved." I'm glad that's changing. At least in a few pockets here and there.
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I hope everyone in the public media community reads this and really digests what is happening. This is big. Huge. Bigger than any technological development. Bigger than DTV. Bigger than the Internet. Because the issue for public broadcasting is to break free of the old and find new, relevant ways to serve the community. It's rediscovering purpose and finding a passion. KETC, at least from the outside looking in, seems to be doing just that. KETC looks to be the first public media company I've seen in the last 5 years to be able to answer the question, "Why are you here?" clearly. That's incredibly powerful.
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I worry about public radio. I fear public radio stations are lulled into a false sense of security. Commercial radio continues to collapse in quality and relevance and financial performance, while pubradio is holding steady. Public TV is financially struggling to tread water. Commercial news is shrinking. So it's easy to sit at a pubradio news station and count your blessings while ignoring the broader trends. I've even heard, recently, people talking about HD Radio as a sector for "investment" in public services. That really shows how out of touch some are. The Internet's massive growth into the mobile space is what will disrupt public radio services, not other radio stations or HD Radio developments. Not even Pandora-in-the-car is as big a threat as ubiquitious wireless broadband. It's the larger trend that's a threat. NPR is making some investments (using money from the local stations, we should point out), but the locals are really lost here. I continue to worry.
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Congratulations on the launch, Rob. Should be a great experience for everyone, and an incalculable public service.
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I think you're right about the timeline. Obama will be seriously damaged no later than June if he doesn't cast out the charlatans feeding at the trough. I'm blown away by the fact that he brought in so many of the cronies from the old system -- the ones that CREATED the mess. It raises questions about everyone else he's selected. How much worse off could we possibly be with someone that simply kills off AIG and Goldman Sachs and others that destroyed everything? Obama's populist message, which may have been heartfelt at the start, may turn out to be the most cynical and hollow power grab in history. He's either been duped by the powers that be or he's the most dangerous man to take the Presidency in history -- far more dangerous than Cheney because at least you knew where you stood with Cheney. Does he not see this? He seems smart enough to know better.
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I'd bet on a device shipping from Apple anywhere from June to November THIS YEAR. The various rumors, gathered together, point to a 2009 release. That is assuming they don't run into a major roadblock technically or supply-wise. Ironically, the down economy makes for a perfect time to release this kind of device -- sales pressure will be lower, allowing Apple to produce fewer, sell them all, learn their lessons and have a version 2 ready for late 2010 or early 2011. Netbooks have been an interesting diversion in the PC world, but this new well-done tablet will show the way and take the lead, at least design-wise, for several years. I hope the print media producers listen to you!
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Be sure to take a look at this speech Umair Haque gave in Stockholm recently. He has one graphic that points to what you're talking about and the whole talk is based on your theme. The video is a total of 70-some minutes, but the meat of the presentation is done in about 50. A little slow, but it's pure economic and social gold... http://vimeo.com/3204792
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I am SO bummed I couldn't go to IMA this year. It does feel like now is the time. It's been said many times by many analysts -- the best time to reorganize, to focus anew on your goals and to gain traction in a market is during a downturn. When everyone else is licking their wounds and hiding out, that's the time to strike forward with new projects, agendas and ideas. One question... Conversations like these -- deep conversations about purpose and process -- need a safe "place" to happen. Do you have a sense of where that place might be? Is there any organizing force around these ideas? Some of us on the fringe have talked for years about transformative reorganization within "the system," but the powers-that-be (stations and networks alike) have been threatened by the changes and have either fought them or failed to participate. Is there a coalition forming? Is there a consensus building, and if so, where is all this happening? How can we help or participate?
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A constitutional convention is EXACTLY what is needed. But I fear the leaders in comfortable positions in the networks would fear to join the conversation. I predict the "system" will have to go through at least 18 months of repeated station failures/bailouts/closures before getting serious about building a new approach. That, or the Obama administration will somehow tackle the public media question more broadly and force a gathering that finds a new path, with or without the legacy stations. But several station failures are probably a requirement even to reach the second stage.
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Rob, I'm more convinced than ever that the revolution we seek will not come from the system. There are individuals in the system that understand and are making small strides and setting good examples -- people like Jake Shapiro and his team at PRX, Todd Mundt in Louisville and quite a few folks working at KQED, WGBH, PBS, KPBS and many other stations and networks. MPR/APM has some smart people. But the web people, the forward-thinking people, are NOT in charge. As you've seen in Alaska, we're led by people that love print and like radio and tolerate TV. The web? That's a neat toy, but it doesn't make any money. Well, no, the web doesn't make money in the same ways, but it also doesn't cost money, either. Either the forward-thinking types will find a way to make it work and then break free of the ties that bind us to the old models, or we'll die right alongside the companies we're trying to help. Newspapers are done. If 2008 hasn't proven that to everyone, 2009 will. Radio and TV are next (TV first) due to the immense overhead costs brought on by both the technology used, the real-time-only format and a suffocating regulatory structure rooted in mid-20th-century morality and technology. Perhaps it's the deep, dark winter of Alaska getting to me, but I believe I've more or less given up on "the system" waking up and breaking free. NPR's strides over the last year have been gratifying to see and encouraging, but it's the interlocking mess of network-and-stations that will ultimately be the undoing of all. A chaordic approach MIGHT work, or might not. But status quo WILL fail... for everyone. It's time a few of us started to break free.
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