the new front pages

Buzzfeed, which was started in 2006 by Jonah Peretti, a founder of The Huffington Post, operates on the philosophy that social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are America’s new front pages and that the content people view online is determined more by what their friends share than what is found on the home page of a news organization. As such, the distinction between Web ephemera like baby videos and traditional journalism has all but disappeared.

(Douglas Quenqua, NYT, Feb 15, 2013)

These has to be some middle ground between Quenqua's sneering description and BuzzFeed's airhead premise. "Bloggers as citizen journalists" has a quaint ring, now, but an RSS reader stocked with skeptical long-form blogs* (that link to other sources but also digest them) is still an excellent way to get news and opinion. This can be supplemented by a catch-all service such as Google News to see what a wider spectrum considers newsworthy. But we can perhaps all agree that New York Times editors have lost our respect as news gatherers and agenda setters, after Iraq, the Eliot Spitzer takedown ("ties to organized crime," they said), Adam Davidson, etc.

*e.g., Juan Cole, Naked Capitalism, Lobelog, The Big Picture

"Graph Search" debated

"Is this the Facebook we all signed up for?" asks the hipster VJ interviewer from his desk inside the office command center on HuffPo live, a digital interview show with Skyped-in guests.
The topic is Graph Search, the new Facebook tool that mines subscriber uploads for data useful in research, dating, stalking, etc.
The guests include an activist, a philosopher, a BuzzFeeder, and a token ex-Facebook user, art world tech whiz Barry Hoggard, who makes the best contributions despite being patronized by the show's host because, eh, everyone pretty well has to be on Facebook at this point.
The NYC-based Hoggard, who runs the ArtCat artists' web hosting service, among other projects (recap here), points out that as a host (predating Facebook) he made certain pledges to customers not to exploit their data: "it would never occur to me to change my privacy policy every few months in order to increasingly use the data that people had given to me, when I was promising that I would do very little with that data. I just don't feel it's an ethical way for a company to behave."
Ethics, gulp. You can almost hear the gears grinding in the heads of the other panelists. "We have to talk about ethics, now? In connection with this service we all use and promote? What are ethics, even?"