Thursday, June 30, 2005

Seeds of Insurgency Part I: "We Think the Price was Worth It!"

Posted by AmishThrasher at 2:10 pm
No Fly Zones
Iraq's No Fly Zones:
A map of the areas they covered
Yesterday I posted comments from various people connected with the Bush Administration. One of the comments came from Paul Wolfowitz, who stated that "I am reasonably certain that (the Iraqi people) will greet us as liberators, and that will help us to keep requirements down." Meanwhile Ghazi al-Yawar stated that "We're not fighting a Viet Cong, which has principles and popular support. We are fighting Saddam loyalists. ... They know they are fighting for a losing battle. The whole Iraqi population is against them."

The question to ask is why this didn't transpire as planned?

Consider the following:
United Nations sanctions against Iraq were imposed by the United Nations in 1991 following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and continued until the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 because of the failure of Saddam Hussein to satisfy the UN that the conditions for lifting them had been met.


On August 6, 1990 the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 661 which imposed stringent economic sanctions on Iraq, providing for a full trade embargo, excluding medical supplies, food and other items of humanitarian necessity, these to be determined by the Security Council sanctions committee. After the end of the 1991 Gulf War, Iraqi sanctions were linked to removal of Weapons of mass destruction by Resolution 687.

Effects of the sanctions
According to UN estimates, a million children died during the trade embargo, due to malnutrition or lack of medical supplies. Among other things, chlorine, needed for disinfecting water supplies, was banned as "dual use". A 1998 UNICEF report found that the sanctions had resulted in an additional 90,000 Iraqi children dying per year since 1991. In a 1996 interview US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright infamously replied, in answer to whether these deaths were "a price worth paying".

Denis Halliday was appointed United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Baghdad, Iraq as of 1 September 1997, at the Assistant Secretary-General level. In October 1998 he resigned after a 34 year career with the UN in order to have the freedom to criticise the sanctions regime, saying "I don't want to administer a programme that satisfies the definition of genocide". Halliday's successor, Hans von Sponeck, subsequently also resigned in protest. Jutta Burghardt, head of the World Food Program in Iraq, followed them. According to von Sponeck, the sanctions restricted Iraqis to living on $100 each of imports per year.


First, meet Madeleine Albright:

Madeleine Korbel Albright née Marie Korbel (born May 15, 1937 in Prague, Czechoslovakia, now in the Czech Republic), American diplomat, served as the 64th United States Secretary of State.

She was nominated by President Bill Clinton on December 5, 1996 as Secretary of State. After being unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate, she was sworn in as the 64th Secretary of State on January 23, 1997. Albright was the first female Secretary of State, which in turn made her the highest ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government (Condoleezza Rice has since become the second female Secretary of State).


As Secretary of State, Albright incurred the wrath of many Serbs in the former Yugoslavia because of her role in the Kosovo and Bosnia wars as well US policy in the Balkans per se.

Albright has been condemned for remarks she made during on interview on December 5, 1996, for the 60 Minutes television program. On the theme of US sanctions against Iraq, Lesley Stahl asked:

We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Albright replied: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it.

In 2000, Secretary Albright became one of the highest level Western diplomats to ever meet Kim Jong Il, the reclusive leader of North Korea.


Note that Albright wasn't Secretary of State when sanctions were imposed; that honour goes to James Baker. Lawrence Eagleburger, and Warren Christopher were also Secretaries of State while Sanctions were imposed on Iraq, yet before Albright.

What sort of impact did these sanctions have on ordinary Iraqi citizens - you know, the ones who were going to greet the United States and its coallition as 'liberators'? According to John Pilger:

Before 1990 and the imposition of sanctions, Iraq had one of the highest standards of living in the Middle East. Now Unicef reports that at least 200 children are dying every day. They are dying from malnutrition, a lack of clean water and a lack of medical equipment and drugs to cure easily treatable diseases.

The current food ration, while nearly sufficient in calories, does not include enough vitamins, minerals and protein for health or growth. Malnutrition is now endemic amongst children. Diseases like kwashiorkor or marasmus are common in paediatric wards. Before 1990 the most important problem faced by Iraqi paediatricians was childhood obesity.

Many sewage treatment plants were targets of the air strikes during the war. Others have since disintegrated without equipment and spare parts from abroad. Chlorine and other water purification chemicals are now banned under 'dual use' considerations. As a result children are dying of what should be treatable diseases: simple diarrhoea, typhoid, dysentery and other water-borne illnesses.

The health system has disintegrated under sanctions. Hospitals are short staffed with doctors' and nurses' salaries insufficient to support them. Medical equipment like incubators, X-ray machines, and heart and lung machines are banned. The Security Council consistently blocks vaccines, analgesics and chemotherapy drugs, claiming they could be converted into chemical or biological weapons. Problems with transportation and refrigeration mean that even drugs that are allowed - like antibiotics - arrive only intermittently. Children with leukaemia, who can be saved with a full course of antibiotics, die, because one dose is missing.

Morphine, the most effective painkiller has been banned by the Security Council. At the same time the number of cases of cancer has risen sharply especially in southern Iraq.

After the Gulf war Iraq was not allowed the equipment to clean up its battlefields. More than 1 million rounds of weapons coated in depleted uranium (basically nuclear waste) were used by the allies during the war. As much as 300 tonnes of expended DU ammunition now lies scattered throughout Kuwait and Iraq. Depleted uranium dust gets into the food chain via water and the soil. It can be ingested and inhaled. Prolonged internal exposure leads to respiratory diseases, breakdown of the immune system, leukaemia, lung cancer and bone cancer. Cases of cancers in Iraq have risen tenfold since 1990. If cancers continue on the present upward curve, 44 per cent of the population could develop cancer within ten years.


Depleted Uranium you ask? Here's some background from The Guardian:

Scientists urge shell clear-up to protect civilians
Paul Brown, environment correspondent
Thursday April 17, 2003
The Guardian

Hundreds of tonnes of depleted uranium used by Britain and the United States in Iraq should be removed to protect the civilian population, the Royal Society said yesterday, contradicting Pentagon claims it was not necessary.

The society's statement fuels the controversy over the use of depleted uranium (DU), which is an effective tank destroyer and bunker buster but is believed by many scientists to cause cancers and other severe illnesses. The society, Britain's premier scientific institution, was incensed because the Pentagon had claimed it had the backing of the society in saying DU was not dangerous.

In fact, the society said, both soldiers and civilians were in short and long term danger. Children playing at contaminated sites were particularly at risk.

DU is left over after uranium is enriched for use in nuclear reactors and is also recovered after reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. There are thousands of tonnes of it in stores in the US and UK.

Because it is effectively free and 20% heavier than steel, the military experimented with it and discovered it could penetrate steel and concrete much more easily than convential weapons. It burns at 10,000C, incinerating everything as it turns to dust.

As it proved so effective, it was adopted as a standard weapon in the first Gulf war despite its slight radioactive content and toxic effects. It was used again in the Balkans and Afghanistan by the US.

DU has been suspected by many campaigners of causing the unexplained cancers among Iraqi civilians, particularly children, since the previous Gulf war. Chemicals released in the atmosphere during bombing could equally be to blame.


The impacts weren't just towards the citizen's health, however:
In 1990 Iraq had one of the highest rates of literacy in the world. The Iraqi government maintained its commitment to high quality education even during the Iran/Iraq war.

The government built schools, trained teachers, and distributed free textbooks and other school supplies. Graduates from high school were accepted in universities throughout the world. Primary school children received milk, cod liver oil, hummus, fresh fruit and vitamin supplements on daily basis.

This system has been gradually destroyed over the last ten years. Iraqi teacher salaries have fallen from $400 to $3 per month. Teachers have to work a second job in order to earn enough to survive. Delegations from Unicef, AFSC and other humanitarian organisations paint the same picture. In classrooms all over the country children sit on the floor during lessons. There are no desks or chairs even for teachers. There are no school supplies: books, pencils and paper are all banned under 'dual use' considerations. Each class shares a single dilapidated textbook.

'We are told that pencils are forbidden because carbon could be extracted from them that might be used to coat aeroplanes and make them invisible to radar. I am not a military expert, but I find it very disturbing that because of this objection, we cannot give pencils to Iraqi school children.'
Farid Zarif, deputy director of the UN humanitarian program in Baghdad. New York Times, 3 January 1999

Schools have no heating or cooling systems where previously each classroom had a stove and a fan. Sanitation facilities are minimal. Children with gastroenteritis have to be sent home because toilets are broken. Many of the children in the classrooms appear visibly malnourished or stunted. It is common for children to faint with hunger.

In 1999 74% of Iraq's arable land had salinity problems. This figure is increasing steadily with several thousand hectares of land going out of cultivation annually. This coupled with a lack of functioning agricultural equipment, fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides and seeds has resulted in a massive decline in food production.

Livestock poultry and fish industries have suffered through severe shortages in spare parts for equipment and veterinary drugs. Bombing raids during and since the Gulf War killed many livestock. The bombardment affected conditions of surface soil, destroying plants and causing soil erosion. Foot and mouth disease is now present throughout Iraq and is threatening to spread to neighbouring countries. The factory that was used to produce food and mouth disease vaccines was put out of commission by Unscom's biological weapons monitoring programme. Lack of refrigeration and transport facilities make it hard to distribute the vaccines that can be imported from abroad.


Just imagine that you're the parent of one of those 500,000 Iraqi children who has died as a direct, or indirect result of sanctions. Perhaps the parent of a child who has died of lukemia, or as the result of an easily preventable disease. You're old enough to remember life before the sanctions - or at least have someone old enough to tell you about life before sanctions were imposed on your country. Either way, the memory of life before the sanctions is clear in your mind - before the deterioration of your local hospital and school, when food was plentiful in the local store.

Or imagine that you're a farmer who lives under what was one of the No-Fly Zones. Foreign fighter jets have repeatedly bombed your fields and cattle, but it's not newsworthy enough to make the news anywhere - the citizens of the foreign state don't know about it. Meanwhile your farm equiptment collapses, but you can't source any parts for it as those parts could supposedly be used in weapons.

The state which imposed those sanctions is going to invade your country - again. Even if you absolutely hate the guts of your country's current leader, would you greet the foreign, sanction imposing, invading army with songs and dance? Would you see them as 'liberators'? Would your friends and extended family?

To Donald Rumsfeld, the answer to these questions was clear: Yes. It is worth remembering, however, that it is against this background that the insurgency in Iraq is taking place.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Iraq Timeline

Posted by AmishThrasher at 11:39 pm
USS Lincoln Mission Accomplished
That wasn't a lie now was it?
George W. Bush, Tuesday June 28th, 2005:

"I recognize that Americans want our troops to come home as quickly as possible. So do I. Some contend that we should set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces. Let me explain why that would be a serious mistake. Setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis - who need to know that America will not leave before the job is done. It would send the wrong message to our troops - who need to know that we are serious about completing the mission they are risking their lives to achieve. And it would send the wrong message to the enemy - who would know that all they have to do is to wait us out. We will stay in Iraq as long as we are needed - and not a day longer."


Hold on, I'm confused. See, I thought that the Iraq War was won - or at least as good as won - already. Weren't the Iraqi's going to greet the Americans as 'liberators'? Wasn't the only thing uncertain about this war was the number of days or weeks it would take to win? Weren't there only going to be 30,000 US troops in Iraq by the end of 2003? Didn't Bush declare victory on the USS Lincoln? Wasn't the resistance just a bunch of small groups of maybe 10 Saddam dead-enders? Wasn't capturing Saddam supposed to bring the insurgency to its knees? Didn't (re) - capturing Fallujah break the insurgency's back? Didn't this month mark the return of 'some normalcy' in Iraq? Won't the insurgency be totally gone by Christmas, this year? Isn't the insurgency in its last throws?

After all, it couldn't be that we've all been lied to, now could it?

Let's take a little trip down memory lane, shall we?

In 1999, Bush Demanded A Timetable
In 1999, George W. Bush criticized President Clinton for not setting a timetable for exiting Kosovo, and yet he refuses to apply the same standard to his war.

George W. Bush, 4/9/99:

“Victory means exit strategy, and it’s important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is.”

And on the specific need for a timetable, here’s what Bush said then and what he says now:

George W. Bush, 6/5/99

“I think it’s also important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long they will be involved and when they will be withdrawn.”

[ed. note: article originally ran in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on 6/5/99]


George W. Bush, 6/24/05:

“It doesn’t make any sense to have a timetable. You know, if you give a timetable, you’re — you’re conceding too much to the enemy.”


Pentagon briefing transcript
March 27 2003, 11:58 AM
Defence Department Operational Update Briefing
Briefers: Secretary Of Defense Donald Rumsfeld;
General Richard Myers, Chairman, Joint Chiefs Of Staff
Pentagon Briefing Room, Arlington, Virginia
1:30 P.M. Est, Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Rumsfeld: Good afternoon. It's now about five days since the major ground forces entered Iraq. It's almost four days and 30 minutes ago that the air war began. We're still, needless to say, much closer to the beginning than the end. The men and women in the uniform, the U.S. and coalition alike, are performing superbly. They're doing an outstanding job. The resistance that's being encountered was expected. It has not affected coalition progress. Iraqi forces are capitulating by the hundreds. The total now, as I understand it -- at least early this morning -- was something in excess of 3,500 Iraqi prisoners of war and thousands more that have been part of units that have simply disband (sic). With each passing day, the Iraqi regime is losing control over more of the country. Coalition forces are closing in on Baghdad and will not stop until that regime has been driven from power. Their defeat is certain. All that is unclear is the number of days or weeks it will take. The threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction will be removed and a regime that is one of the world's most notorious sponsors of terror will be no more.

This war is an act of self defense, to be sure, but it is also an act of humanity. Coalition forces are eliminating a regime that is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of its own people and which is pursuing weapons that would enable it to kill hundreds of thousands more. In recent days, the world has witnessed further evidence of their brutality and their disregard for the laws of war. Their treatment of coalition POWs is a violation of the Geneva Conventions.


Days or weeks? Weapons of Mass Destruction? Geneva Convention?

Iraq: When Can We Go Home?
For obvious domestic political reasons, the Bush Administration going into the war had downplayed the scale and duration of a post-war occupation mission. When then-Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki told legislators that such a mission would require several hundred thousand U.S. troops, his assessment had been immediately dismissed by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz as "wildly off the mark." Wolfowitz explained that "I am reasonably certain that (the Iraqi people) will greet us as liberators, and that will help us to keep requirements down." Six weeks ago, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld was still suggesting the U.S. force in Iraq could be reduced to 30,000 by the end of the year. But the prevailing assessment in Washington appears to be shifting to the idea of a figure closer to Shinseki's.


Bush makes historic speech aboard warship
Friday, May 2, 2003 Posted: 0148 GMT ( 9:48 AM HKT)
ABOARD THE USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CNN) -- The following is an unedited transcript of President Bush's historic speech from the flight deck of the USS Lincoln, during which he declared an end to major combat in Iraq:

Thank you. Thank you all very much.

Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans, major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.

And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.

In this battle, we have fought for the cause of liberty and for the peace of the world. Our nation and our coalition are proud of this accomplishment, yet it is you, the members of the United States military, who achieved it. Your courage, your willingness to face danger for your country and for each other made this day possible.

Because of you our nation is more secure. Because of you the tyrant has fallen and Iraq is free.


Major combat operations in Iraq have ended?

Rumsfeld dismisses Iraq's 'dead-enders'
Associated Press
Posted 6/19/2003

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Wednesday played down recent deadly attacks on Americans in Iraq, equating those losses with everyday violence in large U.S. cities.

Attacks and accidents have killed about 50 American troops - including about a dozen from hostile fire - since major combat was officially declared over on May 1. Between March 20, when the war started, and May 1, 138 Americans died from accidents or hostile fire.

Asked at Pentagon press conference about the Iraqi resistance, Rumsfeld described it as "small elements" of 10 to 20 people, not large military formations or networks of attackers. He said there "is a little debate" in the administration over whether there is any central control to the resistance, which officials say is coming from Saddam Hussein's former Baath Party, Fedayeen paramilitary, and other loyalists.

"In those regions where pockets of dead-enders are trying to reconstitute, Gen. (Tommy) Franks and his team are rooting them out," Rumsfeld said, referring to the U.S. commander in Iraq. "In short, the coalition is making good progress."


...and hasn't he made good progress since June 19th 2003! I mean, the US death toll isn't much higher than 138 now, right?

Iraqi interim president: Insurgents will be gone in a year
Thursday, December 9, 2004 Posted: 0854 GMT (1654 HKT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Iraq's interim president has said he sees no reason why the insurgency should not be vanquished within a year and Iraq well on its way toward becoming a constitutional democracy.

"Why not?" Ghazi al-Yawar said in a CNN interview on Wednesday. "We're not fighting a Viet Cong, which has principles and popular support. We are fighting Saddam loyalists. ... They know they are fighting for a losing battle. The whole Iraqi population is against them. I'm sick and tired of them.

"I think one year from now, exactly, we'll be very busy preparing for our free democratic election after we have a constitution."

Al-Yawar said he believes the United States was wrong when it eliminated the Iraqi army.

"In hindsight, it was a mistake to disband the Iraqi military," he said.

He said he foresees U.S. forces remaining in Iraq until enough Iraqi forces have been recruited and trained to replace them.


One year from December 4th?

World still waits for Saddam trial
Last Updated: Monday, 13 December, 2004, 09:35 GMT
In a television address, President Bush declared: "In the history of Iraq, a dark and painful era is over."

General John Abizaid, head of the US Central Command, said the capture had dealt the insurgency "a huge psychological blow" that would "pay great benefits over time".

And the commander of the 4th Infantry Division, Major General Jay Odierno, whose troops were credited with seizing Saddam, declared the insurgency to be "on its knees".

"Within six months I think you're going to see some normalcy,"
he added.


Insurgency on it's knees? Normalcy 6 months on from the 13th of December?

Iraq insurgency 'broken,' general says
MSNBC News Services
Updated: 4:55 p.m. ET Nov. 18, 2004

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The U.S. offensive in Fallujah has "broken the back of the insurgency" in Iraq, disrupting rebel operations across the country, a senior U.S. commander said on Thursday.

Lt. Gen. John Sattler, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Fallujah, said the all-out assault on the city, which had been a stronghold for Iraqi insurgents who rose up after last year's ouster of President Saddam Hussein, had flushed the rebels out of their lair and scattered them.

The comments by the top Marine commander in Iraq came as insurgents in Mosul attacked the governor's office and amid bloodshed elsewhere in the north, while U.S. forces and allied Iraqi government troops continued house-to-house sweeps to find remaining insurgents in Fallujah.

"We feel right now that we have broken the back of the insurgency and we've taken away the safe haven," Sattler said in a briefing from outside Fallujah monitored at the Pentagon.

Sattler, citing records captured from rebel positions inside Fallujah, said insurgents had lost its "means for command and control" and "the turf where you're operating, the town that you feel comfortable moving about in, where you know your way about."

'Now you are scattered'
Speaking as if he were addressing the insurgents, he added, "Now you are scattered. You've been flushed from your hide-out. You have no friends in the area you move into. You must make new contacts."

"Each and every time we can force these individuals to go to new locations, expand their circle of friends - if you want to call it that - to include some that they don't know and they don't trust, they'll bring in rookies, more junior people that will, in fact, make mistakes," Sattler added.

"And that's why I mentioned that this has disrupted them, I believe - my personal belief - across the country. This is going to make it very hard for them to operate. And I'm hoping that we'll continue to breathe down their neck," Sattler said.


Sattler spoke as U.S. troops continued to mop up pockets of resistance in Fallujah, occasionally coming under heavy fire.


Awfully long mop-up?

Iraq insurgency in 'last throes,' Cheney says
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The insurgency in Iraq is "in the last throes," Vice President Dick Cheney says, and he predicts that the fighting will end before the Bush administration leaves office.

In a wide-ranging interview Monday on CNN's "Larry King Live," Cheney cited the recent push by Iraqi forces to crack down on insurgent activity in Baghdad and reports that the most-wanted terrorist leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had been wounded.

The vice president said he expected the war would end during President Bush's second term, which ends in 2009.

"I think we may well have some kind of presence there over a period of time," Cheney said. "The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."


Come to think about it, maybe it's better there isn't a solid timetable - I somehow doubt it would be remembered anyway. And, as history has shown, we've gotten the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but... Right?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The major issue before us is disarmament!

Posted by AmishThrasher at 10:54 pm
Colin Powell
Colin Powell:
"We think the Iraqi people would be a lot
better off with a different
leader, a different regime," he said, "but
the principal offence here is weapons of
mass destruction ... The major issue
before us is disarmament."
Since the start of the Iraq War, proponents have increasingly tried to understate the emphasis placed on the Weapons of Mass Destruction which have never showed up. The reason for this is that it has become increasingly apparent that there are, and were, no WMD's in Iraq. Given this, and the current spin about why we went to war in Iraq (to stop Saddam's human rights violations), it is worth takeing a trip down memory lane. For , as the following story illustrates:

MSNBC News Services
Updated: 7:30 p.m. ET Oct. 6, 2004
WASHINGTON - Contradicting the main argument for a war that has cost more than 1,000 U.S. lives, the top U.S. arms inspector reported Wednesday that he had found no evidence that Iraq produced weapons of mass destruction after 1991. He also concluded that Saddam Hussein’s weapons capability weakened, not grew, during a dozen years of U.N. sanctions before the U.S. invasion last year.

Contrary to prewar statements by President Bush and top administration officials, Saddam did not have chemical and biological stockpiles when the war began and his nuclear capabilities were deteriorating, not advancing, said Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraq Survey Group.


In the face of such revelations, the public has been presented spin, like the following comments by Alexander Downer to the PM Program last year:
PM - Friday, 19 March , 2004  18:22:00

Reporter: Mark Colvin
MARK COLVIN: No but clearly what David Kay is talking about is whether we misjudged his actual intention to have and use, and whether he had weapons of mass destruction.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: Well, we didn't misjudge the fact that he had programs, we didn't misjudge the fact that he completely refused fully to cooperate with the United Nations, which he was required to do under Security Council resolutions, but we haven't found the stockpiles.

Now, I guess, look, it just depends where you come from on these issues. I don't place as much emphasis on that as some do. I mean, some people say, well, we haven't found the stockpiles so the war was wrong.


So who, exactly, placed the emphasis on disarming Saddam of his stockpiles of WMD's? And was the emphasis really on getting rid of Saddam because of his human rights violations? So you all don't forget, I dug up this little article from 2002:

Saddam can stay if he disarms, Powell says
By Anne Kornblut in Washington
October 22 2002

It would be possible for Saddam Hussein to remain in power in Iraq if he eliminated his weapons of mass destruction, says the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell.

Mr Powell, raising the possibility that the US might not seek "regime change" as it has repeatedly promised over the past 18 months, said on Sunday that if Saddam abandoned his chemical, nuclear, and biological programs, the Government would be altered so dramatically that in effect the goal would be reached.

"We think the Iraqi people would be a lot better off with a different leader, a different regime," he said, "but the principal offence here is weapons of mass destruction ... The major issue before us is disarmament."


The last time Mr Powell suggested that the US could accept Saddam continuing to govern was during a meeting with the editorial board of USA Today three weeks ago. He was then seen as stepping out of line with the Administration. Other officials have continued to insist that only with Saddam out of power can the world be assured that the weapons of mass destruction are no longer a threat.

However, other White House officials have quietly suggested the Administration is sincere about its desire to avoid war, a necessary tack if it hopes to reach a compromise on a new UN resolution.

Mr Powell said on television that although the UN negotiations were moving forward, there was no guarantee of an agreement on the resolution by the end of this week.

"Whether they can get to a final solution this week or not, I don't know. There are still some difficult issues. It isn't just going to be, 'Here it is' and that's it."

Asked whether Vice-President Dick Cheney and the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, two of the leading proponents of aggressively pursuing Saddam, agreed with his assessment that Saddam could remain in power, Mr Powell said: "The President has made it clear what the United States position is."


Fancy that -
Powell was willing to let those terrible human rights violations slide, as long as Saddam got rid of the WMD stockpiles he never had! Why "if Saddam abandoned his chemical, nuclear, and biological programs,"(ibid.) which it turns out he didn't have, "the Government would be altered so dramatically that in effect the goal would be reached."(ibid.)

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Problem with Federal Labor.

Posted by AmishThrasher at 5:05 pm
Kim Beazley
Is he competant?
Since the last Federal election - and even before it - there has been debate about why Labor isn't winning elections Federally. The ongoing debates have been re-fuelled by forthcomming biography about Mark Latham, as well as Beazley's inability to build popular support against Howard.

An example of this line of reasoning is an opinion editorial in The Australian, by Trevor Smith, which suggests that "While Labor sees its job as being to attack 'Tories', we are constantly reminded that Australians are inherently conservative." But as Kim Beazley has pointed out, Labor holds all 8 state and territory governments. Indeed, if Latham had (somehow) managed to win the last federal election, you would have had a sitatuation where nowhere in Australia (at state or federal level) there is a Liberal government. Indeed, the same conservative commentators who have been crowing about how it shows Australia as a nation of conservatives would themselves be under attack for being irrelevant. The obvious question to ask for Federal Labor is why the party has been so universally succesful at state level across Australia, yet such a failure federally?

And there are clearly lessons that federal Labor can learn from their state counter-parts. Take, for example, Bob Carr's handling of the media. Carr, a former journalist, has applied the skills he has learned in his previous life to his career as NSW premier. He employs those skills to control how his message is delivered to the media, and subsequently how it is handled by the media. Sydney based journalists often get SMSes simply announcing when and where Carr is going to deliver a press conference, with no further details. The journalists often have no time to prepare, and no information on what will be discussed (thus no opportunity to prepare themselves). Carr is thus able to deliver his message unchallenged to the waiting journalists.

I raise this as an example, because part of Labor's problem has been in getting its message across to voters. Federal Labor must effectively package its policy positions and deliver them to the general public - to point out the flaws in Liberal policy, and get convincing arguments in favor of their positions to the public. New technologies could help labor do this - beyond just getting its 60 second soundbytes and quotes out to the mainstream media, hows about presenting messages expalining policy - and providing details - to the left wing blogosphere? Similarly, setting up and funding think-tanks, policy lobby groups and policy institutes (and that means beyond the ACTU) is a worthwhile investment.

Of course, this assumes that Labor actually has some policies - some workable policy positions which help it to determine which liberal policies to attack, and what its positions are. Policy positions should not be something that gets wheeled out in the lead-up to an election, they are important in presenting a party which the public can be confident in serving as a real alternative. A long-term view in formulating these positions is a good thing: If Simon Crean had come out strongly against the Iraq War, it would have paid dividends to the ALP as the Weapons of Mass Destruction didn't materialize, and Labor plays the strong anti-Iraq War party now that Iraq is increasingly looking like a quagmire.

There is a central point to this that federal Labor needs to get: that most people don't give a flying fuck about politics. Many Australians would fail a basic test on current issues, or which MP's are responcible for what. But don't get this twisted: people who don't give a fuck about politics in general can get worked up about a particular issue, depeing on how it's framed. And this happens the easiest on the things which matter to people in their everyday lives. When you have children at school, their education matters to you. When you wait for a train running an hour late, public transport matters to you. When you pull in to Mobil, the price of petrol matters. At tax time, tax matters. Put people in these situations, and you'll see the most aepolitical people have opinions - either left wing or right wing. Exploit the issues that generate left wing responces.

Similarly, people who are aepolitical can, depending on the circumstances and how the issue is framed, get very passionate about issues which don't affect their everyday lives. Sometimes you can do this by tieing something abstract into the lives of everyday people. Sometimes you can ellicit a responce by framing an issue in terms of justice or compassion (think the Asian tsunami). Labor should keep this in mind both when it picks and frames its battles, and remember that popular policy is not necessarily good policy, and what by one measure is a good policy may be an abject failure by another. The question to be asked is whether the ALP wants to find a popular frame for good policy, or aim for populist policy regardless of who wins or loses as a result. And if people don't give a fuck, either give them a reason to, or move on to focus on something else.

I quoted Trevor Smith earlier, and the reason why I'm saying all this is because Smith, the national forestry secretary of the CFMEU, doesn't get it. Smith thinks in terms of stereotypical voters - the universally conservative suburbanites as opposed to the 'latte set' and writes - for example "One mystifying question for Labor is this: how did it end up in the web of the cafe latte set, given that it had a leader who could contest the culture wars against John Howard?"(ibid.) Creating an artificial divide in the left, creating two categories, and assigning to those groups various 'values' is not going to fix the problems of federal Labor. The label is also particularly stupid - you can get a latte in Footscray or Knox just like you can in South Yarra (and obviously someone drinks them).

In fact, Trevor Smith buys into a notion of a left-wing elite lock, stock and barrel - but presents nothing to back up his opinion. He wrotes "Inner-metropolitan voters are attracted to a secular, socially progressive party and have been the biggest beneficiaries of privatisation and globalisation. In the regions and outer suburbs, there is scepticism, if not antagonism towards economic rationalism, and family and community are still important."(ibid) The idea of a massive wealthy left-wing elite being the only people who support progressive policies, and that all suburbanites think alike is patently absurd. The real issue isn't in appealing to "suburban" or "latte" voters, it's in framing policy debate. Get a real, detailed breakdown of voters - by gender, by seat, by party or issue alliegiance, as well as by economics, and build policy stratergy around that.

But there is a deeper problem in the federal parliamentary party: their sheer, utter incompetance. The hardline refugee stance that led to Howard winning the 2001 election is coming back to haunt him. Petro Gerogiou, and a group of back-bench MPs have pushed Howard into a policy back-flip. In this situation, what was Beazley, and Federal Labor, doing? Were they sticking a crow-bar into the divide by pry apart dissenting Liberals from Howard? Perhaps offering sweetners to dissenting Liberals, such as a good preference deal from Labor (and the minor parties) if they run as independents - or automatic preselection to their seats as a Labor candidate - if they don't win Liberal preselection as a result of their views. Those dissenters will be the only thing potentially blocking Howards legislation and policies after July 1. Alternatively, Beazley could attack the Liberals over their in-fighting or that Howard's famed 2001 hard-line stance - by a very important measure (it has deported and illegally arrested Australian citizens) has failed. Instead, he's talking about blocking a tax cut which will become law as of July 1 regardless!

Take a look at the last federal election: John Howard pinned his political hopes on people trusting him. Yet the very notion of people trusting a politician is patently absurd - for good reason, people don't trust politicians. And, given Howard coined the phrase "non-core promise", and the little issue of weapons of mass destruction that never showed up, Howard is as untrustworthy as any. The mark of federal Labor's incompetance was that he got away with it. The question determining the future of federal Labor is what are they going to do about it?

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Site / Personal Update: June 26th, 2005

Posted by AmishThrasher at 10:02 pm
Am I reviewing music again?
Okay, I've just about posted all of my old essays (at least for the time being). Reading back over them, you can see how they have improved over the past year and a half. It's great to see the number of people who have visited the blog since I began - it stands at 1,283 (as of typing this) and, more importantly, it has had over 1,100 unique visitors.

With the old essays up, it leaves a good opportunity to fill you all in on what will be happening with the blog over the next while. While I will try to - for the time being - still try to get a new post up most days, there may be a few fewer updates, simply for the fact that it is a helluva lot easier to copy and paste an old essay than it is to come up with something from scratch. Please note also that university holidays (which I'm on at the moment) have freed up some time to work on the blog, which is why I have been, and will be able to, put up more posts on the blog. However, I do have a life outside the blog, which means that some days I may only be able to manage a "quick update" via my mobile, or no update at all - especially once I start back at uni. That said, when I get a chance I will try to post either a "Personal update" (about what I've been doing with myself of late), a site update - like this one, or some news analysis (usually in a format I've used a number of times already on this blog - news story, some background info from Wikipedia or elsewhere, and personal opinion).

Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to look into any of the things I've hinted at doing with this blog in some of my earlier Site Updates. Don't take the lack of - for example - an Podcast as a sign of my unwillingness to experiment with different mediums; more it's a sign that I haven't had the opportunity to put one together (for example getting webhosting for it, or putting the right people together for it). A related idea to some of these site updates is putting together a static AmishThrasher site (with content that won't change often) linked to this blog (filled with dynamic content).

On a different, thanks to Charlie I've had a chance to listen to a few new albums, and I'll share my first impressions of a couple of them:

The first of these is "Mesmerize" by System of a Down, which is an awesome album. Before going any further, a little annecdote - when I first heard Metallica's Saint Anger, my first impression of it was that it sounded like a bad System of a Down demo, with James Hetfeld filling in for Serj Tankian. One of the problems with trying to sound like someone else - as Metallica were obviously doing - is the question of why bother listening to a cheap imitation when I can listen to the real thing. Cutting between hard / fast and soft / slow riffs and next to no guitar solos works for System, but not Metallica (in the end, St Anger was blown away by Megadeth's The World Needs A Hero, which sounded like a Megadeth album).

Mesmerize is an example of artistic progression done right. The wierd experimental stuff the 'crazy Armenians' in System often do clicks well with the more serious, political undertones of the album. Like Metallica's St Anger, this also sounds like a SOAD album - done right. The first single (BYOB) is on a plane with - if not better than - Sugar and Chop Suey; and unlike Eminem's Encore, is favorably comparable to the band's earlier work.

The second album I'll look at is Encore by Eminem. And while this isn't a terrible album, it seems also to be lacking. Look, there's probably nothing I could say here about Eminem that hasn't been said already elsewhere ad nauseum - over the past 5 or 6 years he has been one of the most commerically successful artists, and one of the most controversial; Mathers is undeniably skillful at what he does. That said, you can't help but notice that this album isn't half as strong as his pervious albums. For starters, one of the big appeals of Mather's earlier albums - particularly the Mashall Mathers LP - was the politically incorrect guilty pleasure aspect of his work (made more appealing by those who weren't 'in on the joke' and thus got offended). That aspect is gone from this album - the whole world is in on the joke. His old material no longer shocks, and he seems either unwilling or unable to find a new angle upon which to create controversy with. In a way, it's the old Madonna syndrome (has anyone been 'shicked' by anthing Madonna has done over the past decade?) - except at least Madonna made a comeback in the late '90s as a 'soccer mom'.

The lack of shock value - while the icing on the cake of Eminem's earlier albums - is not the only thing which both made his earlier albums worthwhile to listen to, and yet is completely missing here. During his previous albums, Eminem was able to cash in on the zeitgeist - an anti-'boy band' pop music backlash. And Eminem, while still attacking fellow popstars and ridiculing various celebrities - has not been able to tap the same zeitgest (which is unsuprising, given that part of that backlash currently brewing will be against the dominance of rap music in the charts). Where in the past Eminem attacked individual 'pretty boy popstars', he also attacked pop music (in general) on tracks like Criminal, yet while Eminem attacks reality TV stars like Jessica Simpson, there is no track attacking the whole reality TV genre. Other old stand-by gimmicks are also feeling tired here. I really wonder if there is much more he can say about his family - particularly about hwo he hates (yet somehow loves) Kim and how much he loves his daughter Hailie - that he hasn't said already. He's worn out the earnestness that made The Eminem Show and 8 Mile so compelling.

One of Eminem's great skills is as a storyteller - particularly in the style of tracks like Kim and Stan - or even Drips. While there are a couple of tracks on here along those lines, like One Shot 2 Shot, they seems to have vanished beyond a few running narratives in the background. Similarly, his political tracks here (like Mosh) lack the anger and emotion of - say - White America (or System's more political tracks). Finally, this album seems to be lacking is some of the production values of hsi previous releases - Em seems to have regressed back cheesy, 80s style to synth-pop.

Why am I being so harsh on an album that, while not that great, is not the most terrible album ever either? Because we have seen Eminem do so much better, and (even within the mainstream) there is much better new music out there. Note also that these are just my first, and inconsequential, thoughts. And ultimately, time is the only marker of a great album.

Who invented the Macintosh?

Posted by AmishThrasher at 11:55 am
Who 'invented' this?
As the full implications of the technology revolution become increasingly apparent, it seems a worthwhile exercise to reflect on the history of the earliest personal computers. Of particular interest is the first commercially successful GUI (Graphical User Interface) based personal computer, the Apple Macintosh. During my research for this essay, I came across several ‘technological determinist’ accounts of the development of the Macintosh, which had attempted to present an individual (for example Steve Wozniak, or Jef Raskin) as deserving single-handed praise for this important event in the ‘computer revolution’. From a cultural determinist standpoint, such accounts are somewhat misleading in that they overemphasise the importance of the individual at the expense of other, arguably more influential, socio-political, economic and cultural factors. In the example of the Macintosh, some of these factors include years of academic, government, and privately funded research and development, business / consumer demand, external competition, and business / consumer reaction.

Please note that there are several key limitations on the scope of this essay, the most notable of which are the length of the essay, and the time limitations to complete it in. To condense the subject matter of many books, covering events spanning many years, a range of key issues, and countless individuals into 3,500 words is an impossible task. Claiming otherwise would create an account that does not do justice to its subject matter, and doing so is not my intention in this essay. Rather, my intent is to create as rich an account as possible for analysis (discussing the aforementioned socio-political, economic and cultural factors) within the academic framework of cultural determinism; in contrast to other accounts based on a ‘great man of history’ technological determinist framework.


Great man of history’ accounts
A good example of a ‘great man of history’ account is Lee Butcher’s book ‘Accidental Millionaire: The Rise and Fall of Steve Jobs at Apple Computer’. Butcher’s book sets up a great man of history narrative from the very first two paragraphs of its introduction, which state that “It isn’t possible to write a meaningful biography of Steven Jobs without including Stephen Wozniak. Wozniak was the young genius who created the first Apple computer.”1 The reason why Butcher does not believe that a biography of Jobs can be written without discussing Wozniak is simple: Wozniak is the great man of history who ‘created’ Apple, and Job’s role in this ‘morality play’ narrative is as the great pretender - a villain - who falsely claims credit for what ‘great man’, Wozniak, single-handedly ‘created’. In this ‘morality play’ we see Jobs, who was “a true child of the sixties, a youngster who explored the world of mind-altering drugs, tried hippie communal life, and had an avid, if short-lived interest in alternative lifestyles and philosophies”2 . Meanwhile, our great man of history, “Unlike Jobs, ... was a ‘straight arrow’ who had a healthy distrust of drugs. He also escaped experiments with alternative lifestyles, largely because he was so involved with electronics.”3

Brian Winston was critical of such accounts, stating that in such accounts “Real contributions are seen as coming solely from the genius of a single figure, when, in fact, they were the product of collective inventiveness.”4 In the case of Butcher, the inventiveness of Wozniak (who ‘created’ the first Apple) and Raskin (who ‘designed’ the Macintosh), at the expense of a vast array of people whose work eventually led to the Macintosh. When it comes to explaining how great inventions come about, “The only explanation offered... is that great men, out of their genius, think of them”5. For these reasons, great man of history accounts, like Butcher’s, are thoroughly inadequate in understanding the history of communications technologies. This essay will investigate the other factors - political, cultural, and economic - left out by biographers like Butcher.

Academic and Government Involvement
Long before Raskin, Jobs, or Wozniak, the first steps towards modern GUI - based computers were being made in government, and academia. Levy believes that theoretical work written by MIT’s Vannevar Bush (in the wake of World War II) “...sparked a chain reaction that led, almost forty years after the article was published, to the Macintosh computer.”6 According to Levy, Bush’s hypothetical memex machine would be “...capable of sucking in many kinds of input - mathematical, textual, vocal, and visual.” Levy also quoted Bush’s own description of the memex’s design: “On the top are slanting translucent screens, on which material can be projected for convenient reading. There is a keyboard, and sets of buttons and levers. Otherwise it looks like an ordinary desk.”7 A later piece of key research, cited by Levy, was led by Douglas C. Engelbart, who “...was hired by a think tank called the Stanford Research Centre (SRI), and he set up a group called the Augmentation Research Centre.”8 A lot of key work - building on Bush’s theoretical work - was undertaken by SRI, including the development of the computer mouse, and a window-based computer interface.9 The elements were clearly moving into place well before Wozniak’s first creation, or Raskin’s first ‘design’.

Perhaps as interesting is that the United States Government, through ARPA (the Advanced Research Projects Agency) invested in early theoretical, research, and development work. Levy notes that “Engelbart’s project had a single major patron: the Advanced Research Project Agency of the United States Department of Defence.”10 The same ARPA which funded key research into what has become the modern internet also funded key research into modern computing and GUIs. Decades before a profitable product would emerge, the US government funded research which it believed would allow it Cold War military and technical superiority; work often undertaken out of academic inquiry rather than a profit motivation. What we can infer from this is the pivotal role that government and academia can play in developing new technology.

Private Research
The academic and ARPA funded research carried computer technology development through to the early 1970’s, when private research took over. Often cited as the most important research in regards to the Macintosh was carried out at Xerox’s PARC (Paolo Alto Research Centre) facility. According to Levy, there were two key factors precipitating the shift from private to public research. The first of these were short-sighted fiscal conservatives in the US government; “For eight years the money flowed... until some persnickety senator forced the agency to limit its spending only to projects with specific military applications.”11 The second was Xerox realising - and feeling threatened by the fact that - “the ‘office of the future’, to use Engelbart’s term, was yet to be invented.”12 The commercial value of the previously public research was becoming apparent. Thus Xerox hired ARPA’s Bob Taylor, who “ran his domain as if it were a continuation of the ARPA effort to push computation into the realm of the intimate.”13

Education and Microprocessors
While PARC was important both to the Macintosh, and its successors (both MacOS and Windows based), perhaps more important - to the computer revolution in general - was the development of microprocessors. The cultural forces leading to the microprocessor is an essay in itself, though it is interesting to note that “ 1975 Intel itself thought its microprocessors were too limited to be useful as anything but specialised controllers, say, for traffic light systems.”14 Meanwhile another cultural factor was at play:

Secondary schools and colleges could afford to buy, or rent time-sharing space on, DEC’s minicomputers, and they vaguely understood that ‘computer literacy’ would be important in future decades. A number of the better secondary schools began to offer the brightest kids elective courses in BASIC.15

By the late 1970’s, microprocessors allowed hobbyists to begin assembling ‘micro’ versions of the minicomputers they had used in high school and university. Entrepreneurs (like Steve Jobs), seeing an emerging market, began selling hobby-kits (like the Altair and the Apple I). Later models, like the Apple II and Commodore VIC-20 came pre-assembled to fill a market demand, and software (like the VisiCalc spreadsheet) saw the market expand beyond hobbyists. While, as Butcher happily points out, Jobs had little to do with the design of the early Apples, Jobs was arguably important in that he commercialised them.

IBM enters the market
The entry into this emerging microcomputer market by IBM was a key event leading to the Macintosh. This was both because of Big Blue’s rapid growth in market share, and because of a resulting market shakeout. Ferguson and Morris note that “PC revenues for the last four months of 1981 were $40 million”16 , and this was growing fast: “In 1984, its third full year of life, PC revenues were $4 billion.”17 Similarly, Moritz notes that “IBM’s share of world-wide sales... grew from 3 percent in 1981 to 28 percent in 1983.”18 What IBM’s rapid microcomputer growth led to was a ‘shakeout’ of its competitors. Amplifying the shakeout, in the wake of IBM’s entry - following the reverse-engineering (by Compaq) of IBM’s BIOS chips - there was a range of companies manufacturing IBM compatibles. The effect of this move in the marketplace to the IBM PC was devastating to many hobbyist-founded computer companies:

Osborne Computers and Victor Technologies declared bankruptcy; Fortune Systems, Coleco, Vector Graphic, and Eagle were weakened by losses; Texas Instruments, Timex, and Mattel pulled out fo the battle to sell low-priced machines.19

Apple, as the largest competitor to IBM, was far from immune, as “Apple’s share slumped from 29 to 23 percent.”20 In this situation, Apple was faced with three choices: either join the clone vendors, produce a superior product, or go out of business.

Cannibalising Products
Making the decision more urgent was the fact that 8 - bit microcomputers like the Apple II were becoming low end commodity products, and Apple’s product line needed updating. This is often done through market cannibalisation, where a superior product takes market share from an inferior product manufactured by the same company. Butcher attacks Jobs for following such a strategy with Lisa / Macintosh and Apple II, by stating:

Jobs had vowed that they should compete on the open market, and was confident that the Macintosh would blow the Apple II away. Fortunately for Apple, he was dead wrong in his feelings about Apple II, and the cannibalising that could have occurred without market divergency was avoided.21

Given Butcher’s narrative, as the cannibalisation decision was Jobs’, the cannibalisation must automatically be bad. This point is contradicted by David Lammers, who writes in an article on the introduction of DVDs that “Getting DVD systems out on the market in late 1996 is of critical importance to Japan's electronics companies, which continue to suffer from a lack of new products and market ‘price destruction’ ”22. The computer business, like the home electronics business, is often centred around selling new technology to consumers at ‘premium’ prices, rather than undercutting competitor’s prices on commodity products. Similarly, one of Ferguson and Morris’ conclusions from their study of IBM’s early 1990’s downfall is that “The issue is not whether a company’s technology will be supplanted, but by whom. Companies that resist internal cannibalisation will die at the hands of outsiders...”23 Unlike Butcher, Apple clearly recognised this with their strategy.

Business and Consumer Perceptions and Needs
The question then emerges as to why Apple would choose to cannibalise their Apple II market share with a superior product, rather than just take the easy route, and produce an IBM compatible like Compaq. As explained by Kawasaki:

Most people told Apple that it had to create an MS-DOS clone if it wanted to survive. The genius (or luck) of Macintosh was understanding people needed an easy - to - use, what - you - see - is - what - you - get computer that integrated text and graphics.24

Thus the superior product option was largely chosen due to consumer perceptions about computers, and their needs in navigating, and creating, data. Another reason for choosing to further develop this GUI-based platform, rather than adopt another standard, was widespread tech-illiteracy in the general population. As stated by Steve Jobs (in 1984), “...of the 235 [million]25 people in America, only a fraction know how to use a computer.”26 As we have already seen, a key priority in the PARC line of research was ease of navigation for large amounts of information.

Another reason Lisa (and later Macintosh) was built on the work already done by MIT / Bush, ARPA / SRI, and Xerox / PARC, rather than moving in another direction with their OS was the simple reason that it was available. While those familiar with the folklore of Silicon Valley have undoubtedly heard of the Alto (an unreleased research computer based on Xerox’s PARC technology), fewer people are familiar with the commercial product of this research: The Xerox Star minicomputer. Ferguson and Morris note that the Star, released in 1981, “by common consent, was a truly impressive piece of engineering”27 , yet one which ultimately failed in the marketplace. The fundamental reason seems to be that Xerox was fundamentally a photocopier manufacturer which did not understand the computer business, and thus “Xerox salesmen were trained to sell photocopiers and probably never completely understood the Star’s power and potential”28 . Xerox also kept the Star’s technology closed and proprietary, like a photocopier:

Xerox purposely shut out independent software vendors from writing Star programs: if customers wanted a spreadsheet program, they would have to wait for Xerox to provide one.29

In spite of owning superior technology, in many respects, 2 decades ahead of its time, Xerox’s foray into the computer market was a commercial failure. And with the failure of the Star, Xerox would close PARC and licence their technology to Apple.

A common - and untrue - myth is that Apple received Xerox’s technology whole, with no need for further development. The truth is that, upon securing a licence for Xerox’s PARC intellectual properties, Apple engineers engineers undertook further research and development for the Lisa platform. This research is the source of many of the conventions of GUI-based computing even today. Take, for example, “Apple’s successor Xerox PARC’s pop-up menu - the pull-down menu.”30 The Lisa designers also improved the level of interactivity in contrast to PARC - “In the PARC world, things mostly got done by moving selections on pop-up menus”31 , while Lisa allowed users to drag-and - drop to move icons or resize windows. Another legacy left by the Lisa designers (and interestingly enough lifted into Windows) is the double click, which came about as a result of the Lisa designers choosing to use a single-button mouse. Even issues around something as mundane as Save As would have to be decided by Apple’s engineers, where “the open question was, which of the two - the original file or the newly named file - should be the one remaining on the screen, ready for more text?”32

This research was informed by extensive user testing to make the Lisa as user friendly as possible, with Levy noting that “User testing was a Larry Tesler’s fetish”33 (Tesler being in charge of the division designing Lisa division at the time). When the Lisa engineers were having difficulty deciding how to implement a feature, Tesler would sit a user - who was unfamiliar with computers...

before a Lisa and conduct controlled experiments on isolated features... After four or five testers had slithered through this interface maze, the correct solution would usually emerge.34

Much of this work was carried forward into the Macintosh platform - as Kawasaki notes “Lisa Technology bought to Macintosh a user interface (pull-down menus, windows, desktop metaphor), bitmapped graphics, and integrated applications.”35 Doing so, far from being Raskin’s ‘original’ design, was spelled out in the Macintosh Product introduction plan, which stated that “Lisa Technology at a recognisable price / performance advantage... will allow us to successfully compete with IBM for the next 18-24 months.”36

Business Consumers
One of the largest changes that occurred to the computer industry with IBM entering the market occurred in the business market. It is for this market that the Apple Lisa had been targeted. The problem, for Apple, in targeting this market was that “the one hundred strong sales force Apple set up to call on large companies was puny compared to IBM’s 8,500 regiment”37 , while “ departments were intimidated by Lisa’s price.”38 Lisa also suffered from a lack of software, and these factors would eventually see IBM’s DOS-based PC - and its clones - defeat the technologically superior Lisa in the marketplace.

The same business consumers who sunk Lisa would play a pivotal role in the success or failure of the Macintosh. As explained by Jobs “Macintosh is targeted at... the 25 million 'knowledge workers' who sit behind desks, and particularly those in medium, and small-sized businesses.”39 The success, or failure, of the Macintosh platform would hinge on its ability to attract the business market, and doing so would mean a platform that rectified the mistakes Apple made with Lisa. Similarly, the failure of Lisa in this market would play an important role in shaping the Macintosh.

Say ‘Hello’ to Macintosh...
It was in this environment that, on January 24th, 1984, Apple would introduce the Macintosh. The release came with lofty ambitions: Apple “forecast total first years sales of 425,000 units... by the end of 1984”40 , according to Kawasaki. In retrospect, “...the amazing thing was not our optimistic projection, but that we were able to sell 250,000 units of a 128K computer with no [bundled] software and no hard disk.”41 For comparison purposes, “in December 1983, [the Apple II] sold more than 100,000 units or about three-quarters the number that had been sold for the first four years of its life.”42 Yet Kawasaki need not have felt so surprised; the Macintosh met a number of key consumer demands that were not met by either the Star, or Lisa. First, there was a concerted effort to ensure adequate software was available at the time of its release. Behind the scenes, Apple (and its team of ‘software evangelists’) worked overtime to secure developer support for the platform, with a goal “to have five-hundred applications out into the marketplace by the time Macintosh had been out for the year, and double that the next year.”43 Secondly, Apple’s sales and advertising efforts had improved significantly over those for Lisa. Beyond Apple’s now-famous 1984 Super Bowl advertisement (and the subsequent advertising campaign), it ran two particularly successful sales promotions. “To persuade dealers and their sales staff that Mac was a dream, Apple offered them their own machines for $750”44, under the Own-a-Macintosh promotion, while Apple “enabled [its] dealers to loan Macintoshes to customers for a test drive”45 under the Test Drive a Macintosh. Finally, where the Star had cost $16,000 (with Xerox imposing a $250,000 minimum purchase) and a Lisa had cost $10,000, “Macintosh would cost $2,495.”46

Yet while the 1984 launch of the Macintosh was clearly a success, “It took four years - until 1988 - to achieve the 1984 sales forecasts.”47 While the foundations of the Macintosh platform (the focus of years of research and development) were solid, a number of key pieces would need to be put in place before it could be the success that Apple had hoped for. The first of these was a letter-quality business printer (named LaserWriter); a key peripheral for attracting corporate clients. “More than anything else, [LaserWriter] showed the distinct advantage of owning a Macintosh and... enabled Apple to re-emerge from 1985.”48 Yet “from 1984 to 1986, the front door of most corporations was [still] closed to Apple and Macintosh.”49 This began to change in the late 1980’s with the introduction of desktop publishing. This was an application which, while not possible given the limits of the original Macintosh - was made possible on later Mac’s due to the platform’s foundations. “The advertising, communications, and marketing departments bought Macintoshes for desktop publishing and graphics, not desktop computing.”50 The Mac was now a viable platform with a strong niche, and a backdoor into corporate America.


This is not to negate the influence, or importance, of individuals like Wozniak, Jobs, and Raskin. However, it is critical to remember that individuals act, and history transpires within the context of, socio-political, economic and cultural factors. As interesting as great men of history biographies may be, their narratives come at the expense of some of the insights that could otherwise be drawn, and some of these insights have become readily apparent even within the limits of this essay.

The first is the importance of government and academic involvement in new technology. Decades before a useable end-product (like the Macintosh) was on the horizon (which would make corporate research was feasible), essential research was being carried out by Bush at MIT, and ARPA’s SRI. Xerox and Apple used this pool of research when - due to changes in the office environment and competition from IBM respectively - the marketplace called for new products. Similarly, the computer hobbyists who fuelled the computer revolution were products of education policy (putting minicomputers in schools and teaching students BASIC), and it is from these hobbyists that the microcomputer market emerged.

The second big insight is the role of various economic factors. It was competition from IBM, the erosion of market share, and the comodification of older products which prompted Apple to adopt, and further develop, research into the graphical user interface. We have seen the role of consumer demand; the failure of the technologically superior Star and Lisa was due to the failure to meet such demand for reasonably priced, powerful computers, with good software, and peripheral support. Thus superior technology can be stifled by cultural and economic factors.

Ultimately, this provides a deeper, and more insightful explanation into how the original Macintosh came to be, than those that can be accomplished in a ‘great man of history’ technological determinist account. For it is a collection of cultural, social, and economic factors, as well as the research of countless people over many decades, that has created and shaped the Macintosh; rather than the work of a brilliant individual who mistrusted narcotics.


Butcher, Lee, “Accidental Millionaire”, New York, New York: Paragon House Publishers, 1988.

Ferguson, Charles H., and Morris, Charles R., “Computer Wars”, New York, New York, and Toronto, Canada: Random House, 1994.

Jobs, Steve, “1984 Apple AGM Keynote”, in TextLab, “The Lost 1984 Commercial”,, downloaded 27/3/2005.

Kawasaki, Guy, “The Macintosh Way”, Glenview, ILL: HarperCollinsPublishers, 1989.

Lammers, David, “Despite agreement, DVD camps still at odds”, in “Electronic Engineering Times”, Oct 23, 1995 n871 p22(1).

Levy, Steven, “Insanely Great”, Ringwood, Victoria, Australia: Viking, and Penguin Books Australia Ltd., 1994.

Moritz, Michael, “The Little Kingdom: The Private Story of Apple Computer”, New York, New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1984.

Winston, Brian, “How are the Media Born and Developed?”,, downloaded 27 / 3 / 2005

1 Butcher, Lee, “Accidental Millionaire”, New York, New York: Paragon House Publishers, 1988, p. ix.

2 ibid, pp. ix - x.

3 ibid.

4 Winston, Brian, “How are the Media Born and Developed?”,, downloaded 27 / 3 / 2005

5 ibid.

6 Levy, Steven, “Insanely Great”, Ringwood, Victoria, Australia: Viking, and Penguin Books Australia Ltd., 1994, p. 31.

7 ibid., p. 33.

8 ibid., p. 35.

9 ibid., pp. 36-42.

10 ibid., p. 43.

11 ibid., p. 44.

12 ibid., p. 51.

13 ibid., p.52.

14 Ferguson, Charles H., and Morris, Charles R., “Computer Wars”, New York, New York, and Toronto, Canada: Random House, 1994, p. 18

15 ibid., p. 19

16 ibid, p. 321.

17 ibid.

18 Moritz, Michael, “The Little Kingdom: The Private Story of Apple Computer”, New York, New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1984, p. 32.

19 ibid.

20 ibid.

21 Butcher, Lee, “Accidental Millionaire”, New York, New York: Paragon House Publishers, 1988, p. 153.

22 Lammers, David, “Despite agreement, DVD camps still at odds”, in “Electronic Engineering Times”, Oct 23, 1995 n871 p22(1).

23 Ferguson, Charles H., and Morris, Charles R., “Computer Wars”, New York, New York, and Toronto, Canada: Random House, 1994, p. 29.

24 Kawasaki, Guy, “The Macintosh Way”, Glenview, ILL: HarperCollinsPublishers, 1989, p. 54.

25 If you listen closely, Steve Jobs actually stated “of the 235 people...”. I assume this to be a misstatement, given that 235 million is a somewhat closer estimate of the US population than 235.

26 Jobs, Steve, “1984 Apple AGM Keynote”, in TextLab, “The Lost 1984 Commercial”,, downloaded 27/3/2005

27 Ferguson, Charles H., and Morris, Charles R., “Computer Wars”, New York, New York, and Toronto, Canada: Random House, 1994, p. 135.

28 ibid.

29 ibid.

30 Levy, Steven, “Insanely Great”, Ringwood, Victoria, Australia: Viking, and Penguin Books Australia Ltd., 1994, p. 93.

31 ibid., p. 91.

32 ibid., p. 174.

33 ibid., p. 92.

34 ibid.

35 Kawasaki, Guy, “The Macintosh Way”, Glenview, ILL: HarperCollinsPublishers, 1989, p. 77-8.

36 ibid., p. 49.

37 Moritz, p. 319.

38 ibid.

39 Jobs, Steve, “1984 Apple AGM Keynote”, in TextLab, “The Lost 1984 Commercial”,, downloaded 27/3/2005

40 Kawasaki, p. 20.

41 ibid.

42 Moritz, p. 323.

43 Levy, p. 162.

44 Moritz, p. 325.

45 Kawasaki, p. 20.

46 Levy, p. 180.

47 Kawasaki, p. 20.

48 ibid., p. 22.

49 ibid., p. 79.

50 ibid., pp. 79-80.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Motivated to Blog: Are Bloggers Journalists, Amateurs, or Political Flacks?

Posted by AmishThrasher at 11:32 pm
Dan Rather
Are some bloggers Rather biased?
Political blogging (particularly in the lead-up to the 2004 Federal elections in the United States) has come to the attention of both the general public, and the mainstream media. It is worth examining some of the events where the emerging medium has had a significant impact commanding public attention. These events - including the Jeff Guckert affair, and the rise of Howard Dean - have had very real implications for American society and politics. This leaves us questions about the motivations of the bloggers, and their future. Were their acts the work of enthusiastic amateurs? Should they be considered a new breed of journalist? Or has blogging become a new soapbox for partisan political hacks? This question of motivation is not merely theoretical; it has very real legal, political, and ethical implications. And beyond the implications of the bloggers motivations, how will technological advancement (at a pace which will no doubt render this essay out-of-date within minutes of printing) augment the medium in the future?

Certainly, the fact that political blogging has had an impact is undeniable. A recent study by Pew Internet and BuzzMetrics into the roll of blogs in the 2004 US Presidential campaign concluded that “A blog is a remarkably suitable place for buzz to form. A blogger can spark conversation with choice comments on documents drawn from the internet, and the conversation can build through the tools which make the blogosphere possible.”1 Its potential for impact has grown as its reader base has exploded: as recently as 2003 - just two years ago - an Ipsos-Reid study found that “Only 17 percent fo adults are aware of blogs, and fewer than half of those (5 percent) say they have actually ever read a blog”2 . In contrast to this, it is interesting to note that, according to Pew Research, there are more US adults reading blogs today than there were US adults even aware of blogs two years ago:
Two Pew surveys conducted in early 2005 show that 16% of U.S. adults (32 million) are blog readers. After a 58% jump in readership in 2004, this number marks a levelling off within the survey’s margin of error. But the blogger audience now commands respect: it stands at 20% of the newspaper audience and 40% of the talk radio audience.3

Before progressing further, it is worthwhile to note that blogging, and its impact, does not exist in a vacuum. As the Pew researchers note “..the political blogosphere seems less an entity unto itself than a well integrated part of the national discourse”4 , and that “’s not that [blogs] have a separate agenda, but that they have a distinct role to play on a topic of common interest.”5 This is an interplay where an issue may gain traction in the blogosphere, and subsequently become an issue in the mainstream media, become a political issue, and become an issue of concern to the general public. The same is true in reverse: a story that has gained traction in another sphere may be furthered in the blogosphere. The interaction is similar to how a story may ‘break’ in a newspaper, or on talkback radio, and similarly gain traction as a political, social, and media issue. Thus, when we talk about political blogging having an ‘impact’, what we are really talking about is the important role that blogs may have in placing an issue on the media, political, and public agenda, or contributing to issues which have already gained traction.

Garance Franke-Ruta provides some examples where such an ‘impact’ has occurred (particularly at the behest of known political activists), one example being that of Eason Jordan. Row Abovitz, a Conservative blogger at the World Economic Forum, broke the story that “Eason Jordan, the chief news executive for CNN, made controversial remarks... at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, suggesting that the U.S. military had targeted journalists in war zones.”6 The resulting story - picked up by sections of the mainstream media after gaining traction in the conservative blogosphere - eventually led to Jordan’s resignation. On the opposite side of the political divide was the issue of Jeff Guckert, where:

Liberal bloggers forced... James D. Guckert, aka ‘Jeff Gannon’, to resign after it was revealed that he was writing under a false name for a Republican activist group, that he was not really a journalist at all, and that he had posed nude on the Internet in an effort to solicit money for sex.7

Another commonly cited example of the impact that political blogs have had is the rise of Presidential candidate Howard Dean. This point has been noted by blogger Chris Lydon, who wrote that “The Howard Dean campaign... has come to stand for the possibility of an Internet democracy. From the beginning there was no separating the ‘political’ and ‘media’ tracks of the Dean campaign’s offensive.”8 The genius of how Dean presented himself was not that he was a Trotskyite in his policy positions; political analyst Matt Bai noted that “While Dean was a leftist, antiwar presidential candidate, he was also, as he never tired of reminding people, a defiantly centrist governor of Vermont (Early in the presidential race, Dean told me, ‘I was a triangulator before Clinton was a triangulator)”.9 Rather, the genius of how Dean presented himself was quite simple: DEAN IS ANGRY! ANGRY about the Iraq War, ANGRY about the lack of mainstream media criticism of the Iraq War, ANGRY at the power held by conservative Republicans, and ANGRY at Democrats for not being angry about the things Dean was angry about. There issues, and this feeling of anger, evidently already had traction with progressive bloggers (and blog readers), and subsequently Dean’s campaign gained traction with a section of the general public. The point is echoed by both Bai and Lyndon; in Lydon’s analysis “He sounded an antiwar alarm that the institutional media had muffled. Millions of people knew intuitively that his warning was wise”.10 Meanwhile, Bai explained in the New York Times Magazine that “Lashing out at Washington Democrats as timid and feckless during the primaries, he vowed to ‘take back our party’ and he did exactly that”11 . While Dean's failure to win Democratic nomination could be interpreted as a failure (or a sign of the continuing strength of the mainstream media, depending on your perspective), Howard Dean was able - due in part to the constituency he found online - to secure the Democratic Chairmanship.

The impact of political blogging raises some interesting questions about the motivations of the people behind the blogs. A popular view - that bloggers are simply amateurs - is put forward by Reid Goldsborough, who begins by asking “Are blogs sources of interesting or useful information, or are they exercises in narcissism by writers and voyeurism by readers?”12 The implicit and explicit answer for Goldsborough is the latter: bloggers are indeed narcissistic amateurs, and for two key reasons. The first is a definition of journalists as people who are “...trained to distinguish news from rumour and self-promotion, to dig out relevant, interesting information, to make the complex clear and to minimise mistakes”13 . The second reason being that “Typically with blogs, what’s most conspicuously missing is editorial oversight.”14 Due to a number of reasons I will discuss later in this essay, such a view of blogging is problematic.

Garance Franke-Ruta also believes that bloggers are not journalists. But unlike Goldsborough, the motivation for some is more sinister than narcissism; for “Not only are most bloggers not journalists; increasingly they are also partisan political operatives whose agendas are as ideological as they come”.15 Such a view is premised on the fact that the Eason Jordan incident I discussed earlier, as well as several other examples where a scandal has gained traction as a result of conservative blogging, have more than one thing in common: “Scratch the surface and the same names turn up in each scandal, revealing the events of mid-February to have been part of an ongoing and co-ordinated proxy war by Republican political operatives”16 like Mike Krempasky; a similar phenomena is occurring with some bloggers on the left of the spectrum. Franke Ruta alerts us to a dangerous pitfall for Goldsborough (and those holding similar views): the false assumption that highly trained political activists are merely well-intentioned amateurs.

Certainly, Franke-Ruta puts out a well-researched case as to why political bloggers should be considered ‘activists’ rather than journalists. In defence of bloggers as journalists, it is important to remember that - as Michael Schudson points out - many early newspapers (from the middle 18th - 19th centuries) were often partisan political organs:

...the American newspaper began its long career as the mouthpiece of political parties and factions. Patriots had no tolerance for the pro-British press, and the new states passed and enforced treason and sedition statutes in the 1770’s and 1780’s.17

And while now, at the dawn of the 21st century, newspapers are supposedly ‘neutral’ and ‘unbiased’, perceptions about news media bias persist. It is not difficult to find someone who perceives, for instance, The Herald Sun as being populist, reactionary, or conservative; The Age is often perceived as being socially progressive or socialist (once infamously described as ‘The Spencer Street Soviet’ by a conservative Victorian Premier), while economically neoliberal. Conservative groups have produced numerous studies suggesting journalists are generally (politically) left-of-centre, while many social-democrats echo Chomsky’s concerns that various factors (including advertising, self-censorship, and proprietor bias) as inherently putting a neoliberal or conservative slant on news. The veracity of either discourse is a topic for another day, suffice to say that it is against this background that claims that bloggers are self-edited journalists (in spite of bias) are made. Lydon eloquently states that such bias even acts as a counterbalance to media bias, and that “...if our politics is about more than one thing, then its next fight is about the voices in this democracy... The Internet invites a vast expansion of that expressive franchise”18. Politics and media are indeed intertwined.

Ultimately, the debate over motivation appears to be about discourse and definition. In the terms of set theory, the question is whether the set of people x (political bloggers) is a subset of y (journalists)? And this question centres - in large measure - on how broadly we want to define journalism, and raises the issue of whether those excluding political bloggers from the ranks of journalists are defining ‘journalism’ too narrowly. Phillips and Oakley remind us that “...verbal definitions, whether simple or contextual, specify the meaning of a word or sentence by giving another word, phrase or sentence which is synonymous with (i.e. has the same meaning as) the one to be defined”19. In the theories of why bloggers are not journalists, we notice journalism defined by a list of characteristics synonymous with journalism (yet not shared by blogging).

In response to such verbal definitions, “...the simplest way of showing that they are straightforwardly wrong is to give a counterexample”20,, and there are clear counterexamples to how sceptics of blogs have attempted to define journalism. As we have already seen, a sceptic of the journalistic merit of blogs, like Goldsborough, may suggest (for instance) that independent editorial oversight is critical in defining what a journalist is, and given that many bloggers are self-edited, they are by definition not journalists. But if we accept this, then bloggers would become eligible to become journalists by hiring an independent editor, while every self-edited piece ever published in any magazine or newspaper would - by definition - not be journalism. Similarly, Goldsborough raises the issue of journalistic training as defining journalism, but some bloggers (like Steve Gilliard of do have formal training in journalism; meanwhile the work of anyone not trained in journalism would by definition not be journalism. Another attempt at definition used by Franke-Ruta was to suggest that journalism and activism are mutually exclusive, but is this necessarily true? If this is the case, then the people in the employ of the early newspapers described by Schudson are, by definition, not journalists. This debate over the motivation of bloggers - and how broadly we should define journalism - is not merely a theoretical battle between academics attempting to grasp a new technology, but rather is increasingly becoming a very real legal, political, and ethical dilemma.

A legal dimension to the debate was created when Apple Computer (the company responsible for the Macintosh line of computers, as well as the iPod) launched legal action against two websites which published leaks about forthcoming Apple products. Technology journalist Dawn C. Chmielewski wrote that “Apple maintains that disclosures about an unreleased product, code-named ‘Asteroid’, constituted a trade secret violation.”21 The issue emerges because under Californian law, according to the BBC, “Sources who give journalists details of corruption or wrongdoing are traditionally protected by law, if the story is in the public’s interest.”22 This case drew immense attention both in the blogosphere and the mainstream press, as it raised the possibility that bloggers should not be granted the same legal protections, and privileges, as ‘legitimate’ mainstream journalists. Alternatively, as noted by the New York Times’ Jonothan Glater:

If the court, in Santa Clara County, rules that bloggers are journalists, the privilege of keeping news sources confidential will be applied to a large new group of people, perhaps to the point that it may be hard for courts in the future to countenance its extension to anyone.23

Apple Computer eventually won on the grounds that keeping trade-secrets represented sensible business practice, rather than corruption, or ‘wrongdoing’. Yet analysis of the case shows the broad legal implications (in some jurisdictions) of the inevitable test-case on the status of bloggers.

Another similar debate is being played out in the United States, where the status of blogs, in regards to fundraising, has become a political issue. Declan McCullagh (of technology website ZD-Net) explains that “The US Federal Election Commission (FEC) has begun the perilous process of including political blogs and Web sites in campaign finance rules.”24 This process “ expected to end with a final set of Internet rules -- governing everything from whether bloggers are journalists to bulk political e-mail -- in place by the end of the year.”25 Again, the pivotal issue here is whether bloggers are journalists, given that “A section of current law known as the ‘media exemption’ says that campaign related expenditures aren’t regulated if they’re made by certain types of journalistic outlets.”26 One possible implication of deeming bloggers not to be journalists, as raised by McCullagh, is that “...bloggers that get paid by political campaigns should be required to disclose their involvement on a prominent notice on their website”.27 Another important development here is that “FEC commissioners on Thursday in the US said that they would make ‘case by case’ decisions about who qualifies (as a journalist).” This may mean a situation where some blogs are classified as journalistic, while others are categorised as pieces of partisan political or ideological activism. But this raises its own dilemmas: where do the boundaries lie, who decides and how?

Debate over the status of bloggers is not merely confined to the courtroom. A non-legal privilege mainstream journalists receive is access to important individuals, documents, and press conferences - both private, and political. Yet there is an ethical dimension to such privileges, as shown in the case of a blogger named Jeff Guckert. Frank-Ruta notes that Guckert, using the pseudonym ‘Jeff Gannon’, “ a question to the president in the White House press conference that morning, had falsely accused new Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of ‘talking soup lines’ and said Democrats ‘seem to have divorced themselves from reality’”28 (unsurprisingly, Guckert was an example of an ‘activist blogger’ used by Frank-Ruta). Extending to a blogger, like Guckert, an invitation to cover a press conference raises some ethical dilemmas for press conference organisers. For example, if bloggers, as activists, gain such non-legal journalistic privileges, should event organisers have an obligation to extend similar privileges to bloggers of opposing views? Should bloggers in such situations have to disclose their biases to the public, and to other journalists? And if bloggers are activists rather than journalists, should they gain such access at all?

The debate about the motivations and status of bloggers, and the legal outcomes of this debate, will undoubtedly shape the medium in the future. But this is not the only factor destined to shape the medium’s future, as technological advancement also holds an enormous potential to do so also. The first is the emergence of pod-casting, which is a term for adding audio files to podcasting services (or blogs) for the purposes of downloading to phones or portable MP3 players. What podcasting represents is “ on demand' radio service designed by the listener, free of charge or annoying advertisements (so far) and untouched by the puritanical paws of the FCC.”29 Podcasting could be seen as an extension of blogging beyond text, into the sphere of audio.

And beyond blogging in text and audio, another new trend has emerged: vlogging, or video blogging. In a manner somewhat similar to podcasting, “Broadly, creating a vlog involves storing video clips as compressed .mov files on a hosting service, such as .Mac”; the blogging franchise, it seems, is moving into video. Perhaps more fascinating still, however, is the emergence of WikiNews ( ), where “...the team behind Wikipedia is attempting to apply its collaborative information-gathering model to journalism”30 . WikiNews is a collaborative news service where anyone is free to either create (or contribute to) collaborative, open-source news stories in a manner similar to WikiPedia. While not technically a blog, it does exist in the same ‘citizen journalist’ vein as the blogosphere.

The key factor driving these technological advances (beyond other socio-technological factors, such as the growth of broadband internet access, and increasingly sophisticated computers) is economics. More specifically, the economic driver is interest from media conglomerates, and big business. A good example of this is Rupert Murdoch who, in a recent address to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, stated that “we may want to experiment with the concept of using bloggers to supplement our daily coverage of news on the net.”31 He added “The digital native... goes online, and starts a blog. We need to be the destination for those bloggers.”32 Should Murdoch choose to oursue this path, he would be entering the battleground between the Yahoo, MSN / NineMSN, and Google web portals. This competition has seen the launch of Yahoo 36033 and MSN’s Spaces 34 in response to Google’s popular Blogger35 and Orkut 36 services. Beyond hosting text blogs, while Yahoo recently acquired flickr.com37 and added video search 38 Google have added their own video search39 and has also begun hosting video40; as noted by Murdoch, “Google and Yahoo already are testing video search while other established cable brands, including FOX News, are accompanying their text news stories with video clips.”41 The motivating factor behind this interest is simple: highly targetted advertising. Murdoch admitted as much when he stated that “Plainly, the internet allows us to be more granular in our advertising, targeting potential consumers based on where they’ve surfed and what products they’ve bought.”42 It would be reasonable to suggest that the future of blogging, and the futher development of the blogging medium, will ultimately be fueled by the quest - undertaking by media companies and web portals - for advertising dollars.

We can conclude several things from this analysis of blogging. The impact of blogs has not occured in a vacuum. Rather the impact of blogging has occured as part of a complex interplay (in a manner somewhat similar to the opperation of the mainstream media) between blogs, the general public, the political sphere, and the general public. The genius of a politician like Howard Dean was to advance his career by tapping into this interplay. While many bloggers are undoubtedly political activists (and for this reason, considering them to be amateurs may be a mistake), whether or not they are still journalists depends on how broadly define journalism (but there is a good case for a broad definition). The debate - as shown in the Apple Computer lawsuit, the ethical dillema of Jeff Guckert, and the political dimension of the FEC’s hearings - has very real implications for the medium’s future.

Please note that there are several topics discussed within this essay which, in themselves, could easily fill 3,500 words. Futher investigation of such topics would be a worthwhile future excercise. A second limitation impsed on this essay is a lack of crystal balls: as noted earlier, blogging (and related technologies, including podcasting and vlogging) are developing technologies experiencing rapid growth . Re-examining the issue of the impact of these emerging technologies (and other topics discussed in this essay) once they have matured also appears to be a worthwhile future reasearch project.

Bai, Matt, “What Dean Means”, New York Times Magazine; Feb. 27th, 2005; Academic Research Library, pp. 21-2.

Buckman, Brian, “Invasion of the Podcasters: The Radio Revolution is Underway”, in “New City Chicago”, uploaded April 12th, 2005.

Chmielewski, Dawn C., “Apple 1, Bloggers 0: Judge says Web Sites can be Forced to Reveal Secrets”, Mercury News, , Uploaded Friday, March 4th, 2005.

Cornfield, Michael; Carson, Jonathan; Kalis, Alison; and Simon, Emily; “Buzz, Blogs, and Beyond: The Internet and the National Discourse in the Fall of 2004”, Preliminary Report; May 16, 2005; Pew Internet & American Life Project, and BuzzMetrics.

Frank-Ruta, Garance, “Blog Rolled: That Most Bloggers are not Journalists is a Given. That Some are Trained Partisan Operatives Out to Take Scalps is Not”, The American Prospect; April, 2005, v16 i4; American Prospect Inc., pp. 33-39.

Glasner, Joanna, “Wikipedia Creators move into News”, in Wired News,,1284,65819,00.html Uploaded 2 AM PT, November 24th, 2004.

Glater, Jonathan, “At a Suit’s Core: Are Bloggers Reporters, Too?”,, Uploaded March 7th, 2005.

Goldsborough, Reid, “Blogs: Latest Option in Raising Your Voice Online”, in “Black Issues in Higher Education”; May 22, 2003; 20,7; Academic Research Library, p 40.

Lydon, Chris, “When Old Media Confronted Howard Dean”, Nieman Reports; Spring 2004; 58,1; ABI/INFORM Global, pp. 30-1.

McCullagh, Declan, “US Bloggers get set for Election Rules”, 28 March 2005,,2000061791,39186147,00.htm Downloaded April 7th, 2004.

Murdoch, Rupert, “Speech by Rupert Murdoch to the American Society of Newspaper Editors” , Uploaded April 13th, 2005.
Phillips, Ross, and Oakley, Tim, “Reason and Argument”, Clayton, Victoria: Monash Philosophy, 1996.

Schudson, Michael, “Where News Came From: The History of Journalism”, in “The Sociology of News”, New York: Norton, 2003.
Unknown, “Apple Bloggers get Press Support”, BBC, Uploaded Tuesday, April 12th, 2005, 0:931 GMT.

Whelan, David, “In a Fog About Blogs”, American Demographics; Jul. / Aug. 2003; 25, 6; Academic Research Library, pp. 22-3.

The following websites were also cited as examples as recent examples of the technological advancement of blogs:

1 Cornfield, Michael; Carson, Jonathan; Kalis, Alison; and Simon, Emily; “Buzz, Blogs, and Beyond: The Internet and the National Discourse in the Fall of 2004”, Preliminary Report; May 16, 2005; Pew Internet & American Life Project, and BuzzMetrics, pp. 3.
2Whelan, David, “In a Fog About Blogs”, “American Demographics”; Jul. / Aug. 2003; 25, 6; Academic Research Library, pp. 22-3.
3 Op. Cit., p. 30-1.
4 ibid., p. 19.
5 ibid., p.19.
6 Frank-Ruta, Garance, “Blog Rolled: That Most Bloggers are not Journalists is a Given. That Some are Trained Partisan Operatives Out to Take Scalps is Not”, The American Prospect; April, 2005, v16 i4; American Prospect Inc., pp. 33-39.
7 ibid.
8 Lydon, Chris, “When Old Media Confronted Howard Dean”, Nieman Reports; Spring 2004; 58,1; ABI/INFORM Global, pp. 30-1.
9 Bai, Matt, “What Dean Means”, New York Times Magazine; Feb. 27th, 2005; Academic Research Library, pp. 21-2.
10 Lydon, Chris, Op. Cit.
11 Bai, Matt, Op. Cit.
12 Goldsborough, Reid, “Blogs: Latest Option in Raising Your Voice Online”, in “Black Issues in Higher Education”; May 22, 2003; 20,7; Academic Research Library, p. 40.
13 ibid.
14 ibid.
15 Frank-Ruta, Garance, “Blog Rolled: That Most Bloggers are not Journalists is a Given. That Some are Trained Partisan Operatives Out to Take Scalps is Not”, The American Prospect; April, 2005, v16 i4; American Prospect Inc., pp. 33-39.
16 ibid.
17 Schudson, Michael, “Where News Came From: The History of Journalism”, in “The Sociology of News”, New York: Norton, 2003, p. 73.
18 Lydon, Chris, “When Old Media Confronted Howard Dean”, Nieman Reports; Spring 2004; 58,1; ABI/INFORM Global, pp. 30-1.
19 Phillips, Ross, and Oakley, Tim, “Reason and Argument”, Clayton, Victoria: Monash Philosophy, 1996, p. 70.
20 ibid.
21 Chmielewski, Dawn C., “Apple 1, Bloggers 0: Judge says Web Sites can be Forced to Reveal Secrets”, Mercury News, , Uploaded Friday, March 4th, 2005.
22 Unknown, “Apple Bloggers get Press Support”, BBC, Uploaded Tuesday, April 12th, 2005, 0:931 GMT.
23 Glater, Jonathan, “At a Suit’s Core: Are Bloggers Reporters, Too?”,, Uploaded March 7th, 2005.
24 McCullagh, Declan, “US Bloggers get set for Election Rules”, 28 March 2005,,2000061791,39186147,00.htm Downloaded April 7th, 2004.

25 ibid.
26 ibid.
27 ibid.
28 Frank-Ruta, Garance, “Blog Rolled: That Most Bloggers are not Journalists is a Given. That Some are Trained Partisan Operatives Out to Take Scalps is Not”, The American Prospect; April, 2005, v16 i4; American Prospect Inc., pp. 33-39.
29 Buckman, Brian, “Invasion of the Podcasters: The Radio Revolution is Underway”, in “New City Chicago”, uploaded April 12th, 2005.
30 Glasner, Joanna, “Wikipedia Creators move into News”, in Wired News,,1284,65819,00.html Uploaded 2 AM PT, November 24th, 2004.
31 Murdoch, Rupert, “Speech by Rupert Murdoch to the American Society of Newspaper Editors” , in, Uploaded April 13th, 2005.
32 ibid.
41 Murdoch, Rupert, “Speech by Rupert Murdoch to the American Society of Newspaper Editors” , in, Uploaded April 13th, 2005.
42 ibid.


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