ConvergeSouth 2006 – Wrap Up

Saturday, October 14th, 2006


Back from a great meal at Ganache. Fantastic conversations with quite a few participants, GerryC, Anglico, SouthernDem, MisterSugar, Josh, Zabouti, Pam, AE, DB, Ed Cone, Anonymoses and so many others. A highpoint of the day was hearing during dinner the incredible backstory of local ‘blogger Serbian Bora Coturnix – Red-State Serbian Jewish atheist liberal PhD student posting on BlogAroundTheClock. It started with his narrow escape just one week from pre-war Yugoslavia. Bora’s story was initiated by’s Daniel Rubin Blinq tale of high journalistic adventure following the fall of Milosovich.

It also appears the GSO “secret report” on police chief Wray’s discharge is out in the public domain. A very interesting story in civic discourse. Dave Hoggard says “What I can tell you is the report is complete, disturbing and damning and city manager Mitch Johnson did what had to be done.” Wow! Strong stuff.

More starting here.


Ed Cone starts by announcing that the “confidential” report floating around Greensboro about their police force will surface on a ‘blog sometime today. A special add-on session is being proposed for after the wrap-up to discuss the release.

As far as ConvergeSouth (and I haven’t eaten yet), it’s been fun but there are a couple criticisms I’ve heard from more than a few folks – criticisms I share of what was basically a good conference.

One, that there wasn’t enough “UN” in this unconference. Folks, including myself, were surprised that room wasn’t made for more ad hoc sessions (at BarcampRDU – time and space was allocated for sessions that each person had to pitch to the whole group).

Two, that while last year there were too many interesting sessions concurrently scheduled, this year it felt a bit threadbare.

There was some excellent give-n-take during the sessions, so some of the “UN” was restored.

If one thing comes out of this years ConvergeSouth, I hope it’s the bit of “social networking” I facilitated during the MySpace session results in an under-served GSO community getting free gear and free access.

Now, off to some beer and then dinner. I’ll follow up with any interesting tidbits coming out of our dinner with Ed Cone.

My dinner partners:

ConvergeSouth 2006 – Social Networking, MySpace

Saturday, October 14th, 2006

Walked in on Bora Coturnix ( BlogAroundTheClock ) discussing his use of MySpace to identify folk by common Yugoslavian last names and then reach out through th “Add to Friend” function of MySpace to contact them…

Nearly every one contacted joined. He goes on to describe, given the youth of those folks responding, how his profile makes it absolutely clear he’s 40 years-old, a parent, a husband and not some freakish MySpace stalker.

OK, this post got lost in the ether. I’m reconstructing from memory.

Several comments on privacy on social networks. Jen – “as soon as you put your private information in it becomes public…”

Ed Cone – taught kids to treat the ‘net like the local mall – your kids know not to wander off with strangers – real problem is folks don’t understand that interacting on the ‘net is just like the “real” world…

Audience member – it isn’t like the “real” world…when someone is reviewing a college grads history they probably know there’s a good chance that person had been drunk once or twice – that’s OK – it doesn’t disqualify them – BUT if a picture of them drunk shows up on MySpace – that’s it….

Moderator starts a digression on rural Internet access up Edenton way…”there should be an effort like rural electrification to bring Internet to everyone” – I point out that the telcos have been collecting surcharges since 1996 (specified in the 1996 Telecommunications Act) but that they hadn’t fulfilled their obligation and squandered 100’s of billion dollars. I mentioned our Chapel Hill effort to create a muni-network – to bridge the digital divide. A professor at NC A&T asks “what about computers?” I mention that it’s connectivity not computers that we’re short of – that we’re awash in cast-off computers. She says “I want those computers”. Turns out she was part of an organization of 90 GSO churches trying to get computers into the community. They’d tried everything.

Cool thing happens. Several GSO tech people jump in and offer to coordinate getting free gear and free access for her group! There’s about a 10 minute side-bar where various GSO folk do a quick ad hoc plan to make things happen.

I kid the group saying “for the young folk, what you just saw was some old-style social networking”. I really hope the GSO folk rise to the challenge.

Moderator steers the discussion back to social networks. Anonymity, privacy and identity discussion ensues.

Moderator: as soon as everyone can log into MySpace a bunch of “illegal immigrants will flood the MySpace nation” . Audience picks up on dilutive effect of opening flood gates – diminishment of special quality of MySpace.

Student: While she was working with Turner (? Broadcasting) this summer they had their interns search MySpace to report back on prospective employment candidates. They farmed out the job to students because the company didn’t have direct access to MySpace [kind of sleazy, ethically questionable on the company’s part].

Pretty good session. I had more notes that got truncated. Hopefully someone else took good notes.

ConvergeSouth 2006 – Building a Media Culture within the News Organization

Saturday, October 14th, 2006

A room chock-full of “real” journalists. Followed by media/PR consultants and then a sprinkling of citizen activists.

So far, introductions.

Local political whiz, former Council member, Gerry C is here – I look forward to meeting him face to face.

Anglico (Jim Protzman) and SouthernDem are here for BlueNC. SouthernDem is a great, citizen journalist.

Zabouti (George Entemann) , Kirk Ross (ExileOnJonesStreet), GSO’s Lex Alexander, Dave Hoggard (Hogg’s Blog) – former GSO Council candidate and now general pain-in-the-side of the current GSO political apparatchik.

It’ll be interesting to see if the conversations are dominated by the producer-side (media/journalism side of the house) or the consumer-side (folks like myself, the BlueNC’rs, etc.)

Ed Cone – the people that own news organizations are not interested in putting out high-quality journalism – the people working there want the highest quality product but are stymied by the “business”-side of journalism

WillR – “not here to kill traditional journalism” – want to strengthen journalistic institutions. I added my rant on how limiting the community’s access to their story – access to the “long tail” (i.e. paywalled archives of former articles) only serves to weaken the institution.

Jim P. (Anglico) – who watches the watchers – he jumps in on the benefit of ‘blogs as watchdogs of the journalistic institution.

Allen Robinson (N&R) – on managing comments on the N&R – starts with story on how the SBI contacted him ecause a commenter had threatened to blow up the civil rights memorial – moves on to comments in general – Mr. Sun argues they have an overly bureaucratic approach to managing comments – Allen argues that it requires too much staff time to weed out vulgarities or “name calling” – Mr. Sun can’t believe that they spend as much time – that they need to open up comments

The audience joins in an speaks about “wisdom of crowds” type solutions to the comment problem.

Democratic Underground approach of putting a “think button” on their blog to let the community notify the admins of questionable content. Allen says their email would overflow. I think of Slashcode that runs Slashdot – it allows the community to vote comments up-or-down based on the community’s own standards (and also a peppering of “special” designated users). I suggested this to John Hood of the John Locke Foundation last year when he expressed concern about allowing folks to call out his Pope supported think-tank on their own website. I suggested that the critical mass of their “type” readers could squelch dissent quite fine 😉

Kirk Ross – the business of journalism is not willing to fund R&D – every other type business invests money in developing new technology and strategies to meet change head-on – traditional media organizations, especially print, is not willing to invest money or time in developing methods to deal with new trends.

Killian –

Doug Fisher – newsrooms are manufacturing operations – Allen is talking cost not profit – the big hump is to understand they’re in a service business not a manufacturing business….journalism is a cottage industry…
newspapers as aggregators…

Audience – comments as profit centers – some newspapers take the LTE’s and online comments – put them on paper – wrap them in ads and turn them into profit centers

Fisher – let’s change the term from newspaper to newsroom – newspaper implies manufacturing

Wendy – driving attention to your site – do a stunt – get on Romanesko – get A-listers to jump in – “money,stroking,money,stroking” – when the hits go through the roof your publisher might pay attention [ I think it might take the ‘blog-o-sphere breaking a story and making lucre on it time after time before they’ll pay attention]

Gerry – he knows that politicos read ‘blog entries, comments, etc. and send them on to their staff to find out about – that this new medium is having current and direct influence on the political sphere…

Audience – “we’ve been dealing with this since the days of Compuserve” – there’s been this tension with commenting for a long time – moderated vs. unmoderated discussion groups – the group that would succeed was the one with the highest “signal-to-noise” ratio.

John Hall – John Locke rep. – newspapers aren’t interested in local content – reporting what the community wants – instead they report/print what the editor wants…

Roche – problem with purchasing ads online – email Roanoke Rapids paper publisher couldn’t get a rate card, took weeks to get rate cards from others, turned it around right away – someone in the audience comments “they must like making money” – utility of ‘net escapes folks that are interested in profit but don’t how to understand monetization…



RSS Feeds:



Local Politics



Recent Comments

Recent Posts

AffordableHousing arts Campaign CarolinaNorth Carrboro ChapelHill Chatham CitizenWill CivilLiberties Community Development Downtown durham EconomicDevelopment Elections Endorsements environment Event Government Hillsborough LocalArts LocalPolitics Lottery Media MunicipalNetworking NationalPolitics OrangeCounty Orthogonal Ruminations sustainability SxSWi Technology Transportation UNC Uncategorized WeaverStreetMktLawn Zorch