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Current Events

Factiva

Factiva Launch Video

In 1999 I was at the founding of Factiva, a joint venture between Dow Jones and Reuters, two of the leading news organizations at the time. This global JV brought together the news archival databases of both companies and made them available “on the web” which was a big deal back then.

With the right information, our possibilities are endless.

The Factiva product had a super-complicated search UI which allowed you to create complex search statements that could find articles that mentioned Ford and Aardvark in the first paragraph within 5 words of each other but only in articles written by Phillip Roth (no, I do not think such an article exists btw). This database had over 9,000 newspapers, magazines and news wires. Every single article going back decades, fully indexed and fielded for detailed spelunking. The web was only a minor side tab, we crawled something like 300 sites.

With the right information, we can seize opportunities we never realized we had.

Factiva was a huge business, 26 offices around the world, hundreds of millions in revenue each year. We sold our product to the top global companies around the world. We consulted with them on their information needs and delivered the news and information they needed to run their business. We thought we were hot shit.

If information is going to be our most valuable asset, facts will be its currency.

Playing back the marketing launch video at the top of the post, its funny how innocent it all sounds. All you need are facts to make the world a better place. With facts, all will be right.

Every fact can invigorate and improve the way we think.

Today our elected leaders will decide if testimony and documents from key individuals with first hand knowledge of the Ukraine/Biden/Zelensky affair are necessary to pass judgement on Trump’s impeachment. I really hope our Senators answer a higher calling and #TakeOneWeek to remove any doubt but I’ve become too cynical to see that happening. Facts are not needed in the “pick your truth” world we live in today.

Just imagine what we can do with hundreds and thousands of facts at our fingertips.

So back the Factiva promo video. 1999 was a time when information was scarce. You usually had to work with a corporate “information professional” to use specialized databases to locate and find what you needed. Information was mediated, curated by editors and fact-checked by many layers of the media ecosystem.

Today it’s the opposite – we have such easy and direct access to information that it’s time, focus and attention that are scarce. Because our attention is limited and we are bombarded with shiny things on the internet to look at (and of course, share), news organizations need to hoot, scream and holler to get and, more importantly, hold our attention.

I was hoping that our leaders would rise to their test during this impeachment trial but I fear this will not be the case, they will vote in their own self-interest, circling the wagons to protect themselves. It will be up to us, the public citizens, to seek out facts and the truth and hold our leaders accountable.

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Current Events

#TakeOneWeek

As we get closer to tomorrow’s vote on additional witnesses, Adam Schiff pleaded to the Republican Senator’s conscience to set aside one week to prepare depositions.

I think we can. I think we should. I think we must.

Senator Mazie Hirono from Hawaii was not so subtle.

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Current Events

Smaht Pahk

Hyundai celebrates the Boston accent

Perhaps Hyundai was over-confident that the Pats would make the Super Bowl again and had already finished this commercial and didn’t want to see it go to waste. If so, I’m glad they didn’t because this is gem.

Appearance by Chris Evans, John Krasinski, Rachel Dratch, and local hero David “Big Papi” Ortiz.

By popular demand, here’s SNL on the New England institution that is Dunkin’

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Current Events

Two Sides

I hate to pitch politics as just one side vs. the other because it ignores the fact that we’re all Americans (shout out to the guy in the MAGA hat that waved and cheered me on my morning run) and are lucky that we even have the luxury to debate issues and participate in a political process, however flawed it may be.

Adam Schiff closing arguments

Here are the closing arguments of the impeachment trial. It’s instructive to place them side-by-side and compare style and substance.

Pat Cipollone closing arguments

Let’s see how things go over the next two days in the Q&A portion of the trial. Please focus on the facts, try and remain objective while the political winds swirl around us. Everyone is speaking to a camera.

While watching, I’ll be keeping these words from New Yorker columnist, Jia Tolentino in mind.

The early internet had been constructed around lines of affinity and openness. But when the internet moved to an organizing principle of opposition, much of what had formerly been surprising and rewarding and curious became tedious, noxious, and grim.

This shift partly reflects basic social physics. Having a mutual enemy is a quick way to make a friend—we learn this as early as elementary school—and politically, it’s much easier to organize people against something than it is to unite them in an affirmative vision. And, within the economy of attention, conflict always gets more people to look.

Excerpted by Ezra Klein in Why the media is so polarized – and how it polarizes us
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Current Events

Coronavirus visualization

The Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins is pulling together data from the WHO and CDC and two Chinese health site, the NHC and Dingxiangyuan into a Google Sheet the drives the visualization above.

You can read more about the map and how they put it together on their blog.

In California the SF Chronicle launched a California tracker.
Closer to home, Alameda has this crowdsourced effort.
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Current Events

Kilian Jornet

Spanish ultra marathoner Kilian Jornet is crazy. He apparently climbed Mt. Everest twice in one week (although there is some controversy about that claim) and holds the Fastest Known Time for ascents of the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc.

A runner and a BASE jumper race on the Romsdalshorn in Norway

His latest stunt was to race a someone up and down a 1500 foot mountain in Norway with the catch that his competition had a wingsuit so he could literally fly down. Stating the obvious, Kilian says, “he would be quick to climb and of course very fast on the way down.” (via Runner’s W0rld)

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Current Events

Nike on Chinese Culture

Nike has done it again, this time capturing the sometimes comic ritual of gift-giving (in this case, the tradition of hongbao red envelopes given out during the Chinese New Year) in Asian culture.

These envelopes are often filled with money and given to children by elder relatives for good luck. The 90-second spot from Wieden+Kennedy Shanghai depicts a cat-and-mouse game between an aunt attempting to give an envelope and her niece who repeatedly declines out of politeness.

The Drum

Hat tip to my son Tyler who has always had his finger on the pulse of pop culture.

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Current Events

Game Show Fails

Not a good moment for Reed College.
Surf Clay?
A classic
Don’t forget Family Feud
He’ll never get over this one.
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Current Events

Impeachment Bon Mots

I know that members of this committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’ As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is ‘yes.’

Ambassador Gordon Sondland, November 21, 2019
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Current Events

Impeachment Bon Mots

Because this is America. This is the country I’ve served and defended, that all of my brothers have served, and here, right matters.

Lt. Col. Vindman testimony, November 19, 2019