Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/11/08

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Midpeninsula Community Media Center (CA)

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Check out what the Media Center’s interns are up to: Videos! Editing! Office Assistance!
A short promo featuring interviews with campers and examples of their work. (03:00)

AT&T rolling out U-verse, a new TV, Internet service
by Kristie Swartz
Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)

AT&T considers its Internet-based television service, U-verse, to be its next multibillion-dollar product, but the company has been rolling out the service in some parts of Atlanta with little fanfare and won’t say when the entire metro area will have access to it.

U-verse, which AT&T hopes will be another way to snag customers from cable companies such as Comcast, has captured 231,000 subscribers in 43 markets nationwide, Michael Antieri , senior vice president for consumer marketing, told investors at Bear Stears annual media conference in Palm Beach on Tuesday. The San Antonio-based telecom giant wants to increase that number to more than 1 million customers by the end of the year, he said. “We believe video is truly a game changer for AT&T,” Antieri said via a Web cast.

AT&T quietly started selling U-verse in some Atlanta neighborhoods last December. Spokesman Steven Smith offered few details as to which neighborhoods have U-verse now as well as which ones were next in line, saying the company didn’t want to tip off the competition. “We’re looking forward to expanding the service into the Southeast,” Smith said. “We’re very committed to this product and very committed to the Southeast.”

But there’s been little, if any, advertisement for U-verse, which costs $44 to $154 per month depending on the package. What’s more, AT&T did not announce that Georgia granted the company a statewide franchise last month, allowing it to offer U-verse across the entire state. —>

Verizon hearts suburbs
by Jasonix
(remix) feat. Elevato (MA)

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As you might already know, the Boston Metro has a regular feature where people write in to Mayor Menino. On March 6, there was a letter about Verizon’s FiOS fiber optic cable/internet service and why we in Boston (or Cambridge or other big city in the metro area) are bombarded with ads about it, but can’t actually get the service. Turns out its because we aren’t in the suburbs.

“Thank you for this question. My Office of Cable Communications monitors cable TV franchises and mediates consumer issues regarding cable TV service. I have recently written to Verizon asking them to bring FiOS to the entire City of Boston. To date, Verizon has declined the City’s repeated encouragement to enter a cable franchise negotiation, opting instead to slowly build in the suburbs. Meanwhile, the cities and towns of Boston, Brookline, Somerville, Cambridge, Everett, Revere, Chelsea, Medford, Melrose, Watertown and Quincy are left without this service.

“Verizon has said in the past that their business plans do not include urban areas, but how do they explain their FiOS builds in New York City and Washington, D.C.?”

I don’t know, man. —>

Public access TV may be on ropes
by Lewis Delavan
Saline County Voice (AR)

Public access television’s future may be threatened. No, not really from an irate alderman upset with programming, although backers of Benton’s public access Channel 12 may think so. The greatest threat to Channel 12 and community public access stations across the country is state, rather than local, control of content. AT&T, Verizon and other phone providers are lobbying state legislators to grant broadcasting rights for an entire state, an article in the February issue of Governing magazine says.

Local public access stations began appearing in the 1970s, but this threat arose in the past three years. In fact, 20 states have granted statewide broadcasting licenses in only three years. (Backers of constitutional amendments often could only dream of such fast action from legislators). Often with scant public notice before the legislation, local public access, education and government stations are being squeezed off the air. It could happen in Arkansas, so advocates of local public stations should take notice. —>

VON TV Webcast on Net Neutrality Features Leading Experts, and Intro Remarks by FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps
by PR Newswire
Sys-Con Media

Pulvermedia today announced that the live Net Neutrality webcast on the Internet TV Channel VON TV ( will take place today, March 11th, at 2 PM ET. As the Net Neutrality battle heats up in Washington D.C., today’s debate, featuring policy experts and industry professionals, promises to be an intense exchange of views on this controversial subject. To access this webcast, or for more information, please visit:

In introductory remarks pre-recorded for playback just prior to the debate, FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps calls on the FCC to adopt “a specific and enforceable principle of non-discrimination” that “should allow for reasonable network management, but make crystal clear that broadband network operators cannot twist reasonable network management into a not-so-reasonable mechanism for blatant network discrimination.” According to Copps, where “the line between discrimination and reasonable network management” is drawn should be determined through “a systematic, expeditious, case-by-case approach for adjudicating” discrimination claims.

Joining the debate will be Harold Feld, senior vice president of Media Access Project, Ken Ferree, president of the Progress & Freedom Foundation, Marvin Ammori, general counsel for Free Press and Lawrence J. Spiwak, president of the Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal and Economic Public Policy Studies. The discussion will be moderated by VON TV legal commentator Marty Stern. The webcast will also include a special pre-recorded feature with Paul Gallant, Senior Vice President and policy analyst with the Stanford Group, discussing reactions on Wall Street to recent developments in the net neutrality debate, and how various potential outcomes may impact industry performance. —>

[ As “community” media moves inexorably onto the internet, its practitioners are faced with fresh questions and possibilities. Andrew Keen raises a couple good ones here. – rm ]

Anonymity: The Enemy of Civil Online Discourse
by Andrew Keen
The Independent

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When it comes to the destructive consequences of online anonymity, Wikipedia is actually quite tame compared to the latest generation of open source information sites such as, and, for example, encourages its contributors to anonymously rate people — especially politicians — in terms of their personality, looks and skills in the bedroom.

Ten days ago, I coheadlined a Commonwealth Club of San Francisco debate with Jimmy Wales, the founder of the hugely popular open source Internet encyclopedia Wikipedia Latest News about Wikipedia. Held at the Bubble Lounge, a fashionable downtown San Francisco martini bar, this was a much-hyped dialectical wrestling match — pitting wiki-crusader Wales, the wannabe slayer of the Encyclopedia Britannica, against me, a wiki-skeptic lovingly described, by my Internet critics, as the Antichrist of Silicon Valley.

But, as so often happens at this type of staged gladiatorial contest, it transpired that Wales and I actually agreed more than we disagreed. So the debate, I suspect, might have tasted disappointingly bland for those in the Bubble Lounge audience thirsting for a splash of intellectual bloodshed to spice up their early evening martinis.

Naming Names

But the one issue over which Wales and I did profoundly disagree was Internet anonymity. Wiki technology undermines the authority of professional editors and enables anyone with an Internet connection to automatically become an author. But when you do away with editorial gatekeepers, there is no way of checking the identity of your contributors. Thus, Wikipedia’s content is created by a nameless and faceless army of potentially corrupt or ignorant contributors. Unlike Wales, I simply can’t trust information when I don’t know the identity of its authors. Rather than a right, I think Wikipedian editors have a responsibility to reveal who they are. As I told Jimmy Wales at our debate, I believe that Wikipedia will only become a genuinely reliable information resource when he changes the site’s rules to force Wikipedians to reveal their real identities.

When it comes to the destructive consequences of online anonymity, Wikipedia is actually quite tame compared to the latest generation of open source information sites such as, and, for example, encourages its contributors to anonymously gossip and rate people — especially politicians — in terms of their personality, looks and amorous skills in the bedroom. This site is, of course, just a way of legitimizing unverified and unverifiable witch-hunts against elected officials. Meanwhile on, a notice board for law students, anonymous correspondents have posted so much abusive content about a couple of Yale University law students that the two women have been forced to take out a lawsuit against the site (Doe versus Ciolli). Meanwhile, — a Wikipedia-style site that encourages the anonymous leaking of corporate and political documents — recently posted content from a Swiss bank (the Julius Baer Bank) that revealed personal information from some of its clients.

So how, exactly, does the American law limit the rights of anonymous Internet users to post personal details about individuals, corporations or governments? It’s a highly complex set of legal issues around which American courts are struggling to legislate. Take the case for example. In mid February, Jeffrey S. White, a judge at San Francisco District Federal Court, ordered that should be disabled as punishment for its anonymous posting of confidential information about clients of the Swiss bank. But on March 1, White withdrew his order and so today is free to continue to publish its anonymous leaks.

A Challenge

The case shows the curse of Internet anonymity can’t be cured in the courts. As I told Jimmy Wales at our debate, discouraging anonymity is our collective responsibility. The solution to incivility of anonymous posts is education rather than legislation. We — parents, teachers, employers and policy makers — need to educate Internet users in to understanding that anonymity is the refuge of scoundrels and cowards. Wikipedia,, and are all fostering an ugly climate of personal irresponsibility.

Internet companies are also responsible for developing Web sites that actively discourage anonymous posts. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Latest News about Google is setting an excellent example here. Knol, Google’s open source encyclopedia, has been set up to bar anonymous entries. I publicly challenge Wales to follow Knol and force Wikipedian editors to reveal their identities. Come on Jimmy! Join the war against anonymity on the Internet and I’ll buy you a martini next time I run in to you at the Bubble Lounge…

Could the Internet Be Africa’s Savior?

Another week, another wrestling match. Last week, I was in London, at the swanky Holborn headquarters of the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) debating Charles Leadbeater, the author of We-Think — likely to be the most controversial book about the Internet to be published in Britain this year.

Leadbeater, once a Tony Blair’s Internet maven, is Britain’s leading digital visionary, and We-Think is an optimistic take on our digital future. A highly readable British synthesis of James Surowiecki’s Wisdom of the Crowds and Chris Anderson’s Long Tail, Leadbeater’s We-Think is definitely an important book, even for skeptics like me who are suspicious of the seductive techno-utopian promises of the Web 2.0 revolution.

The Internet will revolutionize innovation, Leadbeater argues in We-Think. Collaborative Web sites will transform innovation from a selfish, individual preoccupation into the socially responsible activity of the community. The Internet will prioritize public interest over individual interest. The old Cartesian principle of “I think therefore I am” will be replaced by the communitarian credo of “We-Think therefore we are.” The consequences of this technological revolution on the future of capitalism, private property, the law and politics will be epochal, Leadbeater promises us.

We-Think is inspiring in its analysis of the impact of the Internet on the less developed world. Leadbeater suggests that the collaborative Internet will foster democracy, economic equality and social justice in Africa. For this insight alone, We-Think is thoughtful. I urge you to read it.

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable franchising, cable vs telco, internet use, media theory, media use, Michael Copps, net neutrality, new media, participatory culture, PEG access TV, public access television, social media, U-Verse, user-generated content, video franchising, Web 2.0, webcast, youth media

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