Got this note from my buddy Miriam Rabkin, a doctor who's on the ground in Maputo, Mozambique this week: When I started this weird type of travel, it seemed as though our world - email, iPods, taxis - was the real world and this was 'elsewhere.' But how can our world be the real world when so few people live in it? There are hundreds of millions of people here. This - constrained lives and lost opportunity; flame trees glowing over heaps of garbage; despair and laughing children - this is how most people live and die. It's not romantic or exotic. It's just the way it is. She's in Africa regularly working on the MTCT-Plus program. MTCT is Mother-to-Child-Transmission of HIV. Remind me not to sweat it next time I get a relaying error trying to send email.

Since the surprises of the Iowa caucus, positivity is getting some positive press. After his shocking second-place showing, Sen. John Edwards told supporters "America was not built by cynics, America was built by optimists." Corny, but nice to hear nonetheless. That night on CNN, James Carville apparently praised Edwards as the best stump speaker he's ever seen, including Bill Clinton. (That was shortly before right-wing pundit and personality Ben Stein called Edwards "The Breck Girl.") Howard Dean has a hard time being positive. Or maybe a hard time not being negative. Or maybe he's just a man of his time and the mobilized base up til now has been the bitter base, the people who didn't want a war, don't like the feeling they're being watched and don't think the man in the White House is their duly elected leader. Whatever the history, Dean is now facing the cost of…

I know tabloid newspapers are purveyors of fear just by nature, but the three large-type headlines on the front and back of today's New York Daily News struck me as especially sensational in combination. I don't think we'd have seen quite this tone without the fear culture born on 9/11/01. The fact that I can paste small images below and still make my point should be some indication of the problem: ... jeez, the more I look at these, the more alarming critiques occur to me ... blur between Hollywood and journalism, umbrella and basketball breaking the picture frame the same way the whipped-up fear tries to "leap" off the page, curiosity about how often we see blacks who are not entertainers, sports figures, criminal defendants (or, in a tabloid fantasy, all three!) on newspaper covers, and finally, more trivially, the fact that when you flatten the cover pages, it…

In late winter 2000 I was just barely hip enough to get to go to a Silicon Alley 2000 after-work bash. I think a colleague had extra passes. The booze flowed, the music boomed, and my dot-com counterparts all seemed slightly younger, significantly richer, and like folks who ought to have known by then that, to paraphrase, "the content was on the wall" for the Internet boom. But they didn't, quite. And I didn't, entirely. And my strongest impression of that careening scene was of its now-ness. It was, without question, the place to be, circa winter 2000, NYC, U.S.A. Like Wall Street, 1987. Or Seattle, 1992. You could feel that the crowd could feel it. That is how it felt at MoveOn.org's Bush in 30 Seconds event last night. The crowd hummed and rattled its rusty left-wing saber. As people filed in to the Hammerstein Ballroom on West 34th…

Tonight I'm going to MoveOn.org's awards for the winning ad in their Bush in 30 Seconds contest, which sought the ad that "best tells the truth about President Bush's failed policies." The web site for the contest also has a simple, effective list of concerns about the president and the administration. In another sign that e-advocacy has arrived on the map, coverage of this contest is highlighting the way MoveOn is "ceding control over much of the content to motivated online participants, producing interactivity that adds grass-roots credibility." Technology has given rise what Steven Johnson recently called a "curatorial culture", in which thousands of individual selections yield results that are stronger for the hive-like collaboration that created them. Sites like Slashdot, epinions and Kuro5hin showed what's possible when all participants became co-curators of information. But since the Dean campaign revitalized interest in the Internet, the idea of peer-to-peer politics has…

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