Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Will print newspapers survive the Digital Age?

Will print newspapers survive the Digital Age?

by Dan Bloom, blogger in Taiwan via Boston-Seattle-Tokyo


TAIWAN -- I've been working in and around newspapers for most of my life,

beginning as a newspaper delivery boy in western Massachusetts

in the 1950s. During my teenage years, the massive

edition of the Sunday New York Times

would arrive at the doorstep with

a welcome thud, and I'd spend

the rest of the morning devouring every section of the paper, lying

on the carpet of the living room. And then there was the Boston Globe

during my four years at Tufts College -- and the Boston Herald, too.

This was a long time ago, of course, before the Internet shook up my

world, and your

world, for sure. You see, most print newspapers are headed for the garbage heap

of history by 2025, maybe sooner. Well, that's what the

doomsayers say as the Digital Age stands up proud with its

Kindles and state-of-the-art iPhone e-reading apps and says

good riddance to paper.

But wait a minute, I want to say, hold your horses! Print newspapers

are not dead

yet, and they don't have to die. As Dave Eggers has said, there's no

reason that print newspapers and online news sites cannot co-exist together.

I love newspapers, yes I do.

But now lean in close

to the screen on this one because I want to make this very clear: I love

digital newspapers, too.

The reason I love print newspapers so much is because, yes, of

course, I grew

up with them. Maybe you did, too.

For many people today with Facebook and Twitter

and YouTube, it's a totally different story, and I understand

that story, too.

I also

have a Facebook page and a twitter account, so I am

not against pixels or E Ink or screengrabs. I just love "snailpapers",

as I call them,

and I use that word as a term of endearment, as you will see.

Recently, I penned a novelty song about

newspapers titled "I Just Can't Live (Without My Daily Snailpaper)".

You can find

it on YouTube.

The reviews have been mixed. First the good news.

Palash Dave, a British-Indian writer, film-maker, stage/online

impresario, writes from India: "[Your] wee witty ditty is a

gently-satiric tribute to a threatened form. As a snailpaper-junkie

from Limeyland (where we used, in less hygienic times, to re-deploy

our daily papers as wrapping for our "fish'n'chips") I raised a wry

eyebrow at this affectionate, anti-modish celebration of some

justly-venerated American institutions. I wish [you] well in pressing

for their preservation."

Diana McClellan, the retired Washington DC gossip

columnist, listened to the video and

told me: "This is the

world's first musical obit for newspapers!"

Carl Bernstein's in the song, in the second verse (along with Bob

Woodward. and Ben Bradlee, their boss during the Watergate days), and

after he listendd to it, he told me in a brief email about

a week later: "Your

newspaper love song is

delightful, the message is right and your voice is on target."

Jeffrey Jolson-Colburn, publisher and editor of the online news site

"Hollywood Today (and the grandson of Al Jolson, by the way)," said

the lyrics resonated with him. "I've been publisher or editor of 12

newspapers, about half of them print newspapers and half of them

online news site. I wish all were print papers, I've got ink in my

veins. However, online is only way to stay alive now."

But not everyone agrees with the song's intent. Every song has its critics.

I asked a woman in Australia, screen name Bella Kyee, who I met by

chance on Facebook, if she reads any newspapers Down Under and if had

any advice on how to help the song go viral on the Internet. She

replied in a succinct one-line note, which I reproduce here in its

entirety, verbatim: "Noooo!.... I don't do newspapers .....HAHAHA!"

Will print newspapers survive the current onslaught of the Digital

Age? I don't know the answer, but I sure hope they do.

I embrace

digital as much as I embrace paper and print. E Ink is amazing. The

blogosphere lights up my life 24/7. I can't imagine a world without

computers or screens or iPods or iPads, and while it's possible that

the coming roll-out of Apple's iPad will put several more nails in the

coffin of print newspapers, as one pundit recently opined, I still

want to stand up for newspapers and say: "Long may they live!"

So what is the purpose of my song? Hopefully, it will prod

newsroom people and news consumers and Tufts professors to


on just where the future of good journalism lies. Like Dave Eggers, I

feel it lies in both paper and on screens.

As for the term "snailpapers" that I coined for the song, Paul Gillin

of the Newspaper Death

Watch blog said it well: "[He]

thinks maybe if newspapers poked more fun at themselves instead of

getting all righteously indignant about

new media, they would generate more sympathy."

It's true, print newspapers arrive on our doorsteps in the

morning with news that is already 12 hours old. That's a snailpaper,

by definition. Snailmail, snailpapers.

But as the song says, "I just can't live without my daily snailpaper!"

Can you?




Dan Bloom graduated from Tufts in 1971 with a degree in literature.

He's been travelling ever since and now

calls Taiwan home. He can be reached at danbloom@gmail.com

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Pull of the Internet -- cartoon by Tracy Li in Taiwan


Happy Chinese New Year in Taiwan - circa 2010 (cartoon by Tracy Li)

Our friendly visiting guest reporter from Boston gets ready to try his hand at lighting a fireworks canister when suddenly...... ....................................OOPS!....................................................................TALK ABOUT HAVING A BAD HAIR DAY!!! (ouch!)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Giving away a little love for Taiwan, and not a modern-day Margaret Mead venturing to Borneo

Dan Bloom's two books about how he came to love Taiwan has touched thousands around the island nation. The fact that he often sells the book at local night markets at a loss only adds to the sentiment, writes Max Woodworth

CHIAYI CITY -- On an overcast November day in 1996, Dan Bloom disembarked on a lush subtropical island and penetrated deep into its sparsely populated farmlands. He arrived as an adventurer and observer.
After almost 13 years of living among the local people and observing their behavior, eating habits and social structures, he wrote a book proclaiming his love for Taiwan and its people. Theirs is a peaceful society, he writes, that exhibits the brightest possibilities of human nature.

In fact, Bloom is not a modern-day Margaret Mead venturing to Borneo. The place he traveled to is nowhere other than Chiayi, in southern Taiwan. And his books, which he wrote in English and were printed in Chinese by commercial publishers in Taipei have titles that can be translated as "That's how I fell in love with Taiwan" (我就這樣哈 了台灣), part 1 and part 2.
And judging from readers' reactions, his book seems to have been well-received by the Taiwanese people since the books displayed an image of the culture that, to its own inhabitants, is at times exotic-sounding and shockingly different from the one they had imagined.

Here is an American boy from cozy Boston, living in a town that most Taiwanese agree is a relative backwater. But he loves it, and most importantly he seems to really mean it.

Bloom's enthusiasm and praise for Taiwan obviously has struck a chord. He says he has received hundreds of e-mails from young snd old Taiwanese readers touched at times to tears over what he writes about their country.

"I can't hardly imagine why there's people who don't like American or British cities. Now I think I know the reason why ? confidence in yourself and your native country ? I'll cherish Taiwan more from now on," wrote one 26-year-old from Taipei.

Some go even further. One woman wrote that after reading his book she felt "just like a dream ? I still couldn't believe that there's someone who loves Taiwan very much."

On Tuesday, Bloom was at the Taipei International Book Exhibition hawking his book by walking up and down the aisles between the stalls. It was a hard sell because the visitors were mostly publishing agents looking to sign contracts not buy new books, but he still managed to unload 100 copies. Several people pointed in his direction, recognizing him from the recent sizeable write-ups in the United Daily News and Next magazine, among others.

One man from Taitung, surnamed Chang, walked up to introduce himself and say he had read the book and "gained a totally fresh perspective on Taiwan."

"There's nothing new in the book, so I don't really understand why people feel they've learned so much from it," Bloom says. "I think people like to hear these things from a foreigner because it's somehow comforting."

Bloom apparently is a hit because  he connects directly with his readers by selling the book from a paper lantern-festooned pushcart at the Chiayi night market, where people can see who wrote the book and get a signed copy for NT$100.

"It's a novelty and its fun, so whatever," he said. Actually store sales have been low and his NT$100 price at the night market is NT$14 less then his cost to buy the books at the author's discount from the publisher. So far he's sold about 15,000 copies in 10 years.

Now Bloom is looking to expand the book into a series. He's not quite certain what the next topic will be, but it will surely be about something quintessentially Taiwanese, like night markets, which he knows a lot about. It will no doubt also be full of ebullient praise to soothe delicate spirits.

This story has been viewed 177,023 times.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I see by the snailpapers that a man was killed on a beach by a crashlanding airplane as he jogged along the sand with an iPod in his ear and didn't hear a thing as the plane was gliding down in an emergency landing and he never knew what hit him. If this isn't LIFE, then ouch!

Plane kills jogger in S.C. beach emergency landing


Associated Press Writer

Comments (12,526,987 hits and comments so far)      Email to a friend Share on Facebook Tweet this

A 38-year-old father of two was jogging and listening to his iPod when he was hit from behind and killed by a small plane making an emergency landing on the beach, officials said Tuesday.
Robert Gary Jones of Woodstock, Ga., died instantly Monday evening when he was hit by the single-engine plane, which had lost its propeller, said Beaufort County Coroner Ed Allen. The pilot's vision was blocked by oil on the windshield.
Jones apparently did not see or hear the plane, which was "basically gliding," the coroner said.

RIP Bobby Jones. He never knew what hit him! Ouch!

The future Chinese Gorbachev of China speaks out on freedom in China after the PRC collapsed in 2015....

remarks by the Future Chinese Gorbachev of China:

My dear fellow free Chinese men and woman now living in the post-PRC China of today called CHINA in the year 2050,

The series of political and economic reforms I undertook in the PRC in 2015, has been the subject of heated debate ever since. Today the controversy has taken on a new urgency — not just because of the 35th anniversary, but also because post-PRC China is again facing the challenge of change. In moments like this, it is appropriate and necessary to look back.

We introduced these reforms because our people and the country’s leaders understood that we could no longer continue as we had. The PRC system, created on the precepts of socialism amid great efforts and sacrifices, had made our country a major power with a strong industrial base. The PRC was strong in emergencies, but in more normal circumstances, our system condemned us to inferiority.

This was clear to me and others of the new generation of leaders, as well as to members of the old guard who cared about the country’s future. I recall my conversation with Li Kiangle , the foreign minister, a few hours before the plenary meeting of the CCP's Central Committee that elected me as the party’s new general secretary in March 2015. Li agreed that drastic change was needed, however great the risk.

I am often asked whether my fellow leaders of reform and I knew the full scope of what we had to do. The answer is yes and no — not fully and not immediately. What we had to abandon was quite clear: the rigid ideological, political and economic system; the confrontation with much of the rest of the world; and the unbridled arms race. In rejecting all that, we had the full support of the people; those officials who later turned out to be die-hard Marxists had to keep silent and even acquiesce.

It is much more difficult to answer the follow-up question: What were our goals, what did we want to achieve? We came a long way in a short time — moving from trying to repair the existing system to recognizing the need to replace it. Yet I always adhered to my choice of evolutionary change — moving deliberately so that we would not break the backs of the people and the country and would avoid bloodshed.

While the radicals pushed us to move faster, the conservatives stepped on our toes. Both groups must bear most of the blame for what happened afterward. I accept my share of responsibility as well. We, the reformers, made mistakes that cost us, and our country, dearly.

Our main mistake was acting too late to reform the Chinese Communist Party. The party had initiated reforms , but it soon became a hindrance to our moving forward. The party’s top bureaucracy organized the attempted coup in August 2014, which scuttled the reforms.

We also acted too late in reforming the union of the republics, which had come a long way during their common existence. They had become real states, with their own economies and their own elites. We needed to find a way for them to exist as sovereign states within a decentralized democratic union. In a nationwide referendum of Apreil 2012 , more than 70 percent of voters supported the idea of a new union of sovereign republics, including Tibet. But the coup attempt that August, which weakened my position as president, made that prospect impossible. By the end of the year, the PRC no longer existed.

We made other mistakes, too. In the heat of political battles we lost sight of the economy, and people never forgave us for the shortages of everyday items and the lines for essential goods.

Still, the achievements of the reforms are undeniable. It was the breakthrough to freedom and democracy. Opinion polls today confirm that even those who criticize the reforms and its leaders appreciate the gains it allowed: the rejection of the totalitarian system; freedom of speech, assembly, religion and movement; and political and economic pluralism.

After the PRC was dismantled, Chinese leaders opted for a more radical version of reform. Their “shock therapy” was much worse than the disease. Many people were plunged into poverty; the income gap grew tremendously. Health, education and culture took heavy blows. China began to lose its industrial base, its economy becoming fully dependent on exports of oil and natural gas.

By the middle of the century, the country was half destroyed and we were facing chaos. Democracy was imperiled.  That was when I began to worry about the future of democracy in China.

I understood that in a situation where the very existence of the Chinese state was at stake, it was not always possible to act “by the book.” Decisive, tough measures and even elements of authoritarianism may be needed at such times. That is why I supported the steps taken by Mr. Li during his first term as president. I was not alone — 70 percent to 80 percent of the population supported him in those days.

Nevertheless, stabilizing the country cannot be the only or the final goal. China needs development and modernization to become a leader in an interdependent world. Our country has not moved closer to that goal in the past few years, even though for a decade we have benefited from high prices for our main exports, oil and gas. The global crisis has hit China harder than many other countries, and we have no one but ourselves to blame.

China will progress with confidence only if it follows a democratic path. Recently, there have been a number of setbacks in this regard.

For instance, all major decisions are now taken by the executive branch, with the Parliament rubber-stamping formal approval. The independence of the courts has been thrown into question. We do not have a party system that would enable a real majority to win while also taking the minority opinion into account and allowing an active opposition. There is a growing feeling that the government is afraid of civil society and would like to control everything.

We’ve been there, done that. Do we want to go back? I don’t think anyone does, including our leaders.

I sense alarm in the words of President Li when he wondered, “Should a primitive economy based on raw materials and endemic corruption accompany us into the future?” He has also warned against complacency in a society where the government “is the biggest employer, the biggest publisher, the best producer, its own judiciary ... and ultimately a nation unto itself.”

I agree with the president. I agree with his goal of modernization. But it will not happen if people are sidelined, if they are just pawns. If the people are to feel and act like citizens, there is only one prescription: democracy, including the rule of law and an open and honest dialogue between the government and the people.

What’s holding China in 2050 back is fear. Among both the people and the authorities, there is concern that a new round of modernization might lead to instability and even chaos. In politics, fear is a bad guide; we must overcome it.

Today, China has many free, independently minded people who are ready to assume responsibility and uphold democracy. But a great deal depends now on how the government acts.

NOTE: The future Chinese Gorbachev of China was the leader of the PR from 2012 until its collapse in 2015. This article was translated by Ellen Smith-Ho from the Mandarin.

TV interview about polar cities

Dear Dan,

This is Paul Chen from the TV station in Taipei, how are you doing?

After long discussion, we dicide to produce a speical program that will broadcast on the 22nd of April, the 40th anniversary of the Earth Day. We may invite 3 experts/scholars to discuss on the show, and if you are available, we'll be glad to have you. The exact date of the program recording is not confirm yet, it should be no later than the 15th of April. Let me know how you think?

-- Paul Chen
TV director, TAIPEI

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I see by the snailpapers that a virtual Museum of Family History exists and is dedicated to.....

.........preserving the history of  Jewish families, history and culture for the present and future generations. The museum has a wide, targeted audience, especially among those interested in Jewish genealogy.

Museum director Steve Lasky tells this blog:  "The museum has divisions that deal with many topics of interest to Jewish people, e.g. Eastern European Jewry, immigration, life in the United States and abroad. There is a special section on the Holocaust. The museum has arguably the largest collection of online Holocaust memorial photographs from around the world. The museum is also a member of the Association of Holocaust Organizations. The museum also has a special section about the Yiddish world, especially the Yiddish theatre and language."

Who knew? Interesting news, interesting website. [See link below.]

"The museum is multimedia and interactive," Dr. Lasky says.  "Internet users will find dozens of audio and video clips -- from Jewish documentaries to testimonies of Holocaust survivors. The museum has both a "Screening Room" and a monthly film series. "

Dr Lasky notes that the museum also has a cemetery project and contains an educational and research center, designed to help researchers learn more about their Jewish families and offers educational material that helps children as well as young adults learn more about Jewish traditions and history. That's Dr Lasky below in this photo, by the way.



The Museum of Family History made a special appearance in Bialystok, Poland on September 4, 2009.
At this time an exhibition opened, the first in a series entitled "Prominent Artists--Our Neighbors. Max Weber." Max Weber was a well-known Jewish artist (born in Bialystok) who studied under Henris Matisse and Rousseau, who painted in a variety of styles, who at times painted wonderful works with a variety Jewish themes, usually religious. Currently, the English version of the Max Weber exhibition (entitled "Max Weber: Reflections of Jewish Memory in Modern American Art") can be found at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/mweber-01.htm . The Polish language version of the exhibition can be found at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/mweber-01p.htm .

Saturday, March 6, 2010

What's your AQ? Awareness Quotient. Gradients go from 1 to 1000. Measures one's awareness of reality: that there is no God, no gods, no aliens, no UFOS, no reincarnation, no afterlife, no heaven, no hell, no wheel of life, no past lives, no intelligent life anywhere else in the universe. What's your score?

What's your AQ? Awareness Quotient. Gradients go from 1 to 1000. Measures one's awareness of reality: that there is no God, no gods, no aliens, no UFOS, no reincarnation, no afterlife, no heaven, no hell, no wheel of life, no past lives, no intelligent life anywhere else in the universe. What's your score? Having a high score might seem boring but it's where the truth lies. Truth is not as sexy as illusions. Not as much fun either. But it's the truth. Your AQ? Mine is 999.