Citizen journalists are self-serving. Just like ordinary journalists.

Paul Carr (yes, the same one who writes for the Guardian) has posted on TechCrunch that citizen journalists are doing it all wrong. The post is so stupid it makes me angry. What's is Mr. Carr's point? That people who report the news are sometimes doing it for the sake of their own aggrandizement rather than pure altruism? Then why is there a byline link on your post, Mr. Carr? Why do you draw a salary as a journalist? Is this something new? I remember CNN journalists covering Katrina visibly preening themselves as they got more and more worked up about what a tragedy it was, and what good work they were doing by reporting it. The anchors who kicked off the 9/11 reporting knew that not only were they covering a world-changing event, but a career-changing one for them. To be a journalist is to have this conflict of interest. The fact that it happens on Twitter and other social media too, when the journalists are amateurs, is completely and utterly irrelevant. Everything that happens in real life happens...
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Dear Window #5 at 10am on Thursday, 12th November 2009

Forgive me for not using your name, as I was not given it. You are an employee of the US embassy in London. Your job is to take the form DS-156, which gives the embassy information about who is applying for a visa. You are not approving the visa -- that's handled beforehand. You are simply making sure it's dished out to the right person, and doing some perfunctory checks to make sure that person isn't a terrorist, with a form that asks subtle questions like "have you ever attended a madrassa?". Nevertheless, you have a certain petty power. You can render the appointment invalid, forcing the applicant to re-book, a process with a 6-day waiting period, thus ruining their travel plans. It's tedious and expensive. So today, when I handed my forms to you, I was nervous. I didn't want to have to extend my trip -- I don't have any vacation left, so I can't -- and the forms are big and scary. You could have been understanding and kind about this, but instead you chose to be a dick. DS-156 asks for your current...
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Three easy ways to fix the App Store. And one really, really hard way.

The iPhone App Store is broken. Everyone can see it's broken, and the nerdosphere is abuzz with people wondering aloud why doesn't Apple do something? The answer is: because it's really, really hard. But they're going to have to do it, and soon. The background When Apple launched apps for the iPhone, it also launched the App Store. It had a bunch of good reasons to do: Discoverability: a traditional limitation of mobile apps has been that because browsing (in the sense of "browsing a book store" rather than "browsing the web") on a mobile device is quite finicky, people are willing to spend less time doing so. Installation: installing apps on phones prior to the iPhone was almost always a gigantic hassle that involved downloading the app to your computer, running software on your computer, hooking your phone up to that computer, and transferring over the apps. On-device installation was pretty rare and combining it with a purchase mechanism essentially unheard of. Trust (from consumers): people are...
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Faith in humanity

Back in 2000 -- back before I had a blog, so it wasn't recorded at the time -- a boy my age tried to con me and steal my mobile phone. I lived for six months in 2000 in Streatham, London, which at the time was a pretty dodgy neighbourhood, and caught the train into central London through some even dodgier bits of south-east London like Peckham and Dulwich. It was at one of these stops that the thief got on board, taking a seat opposite mind. He was dressed normally for the area -- track suit bottoms and white sneakers. He was very pale and quite spotty, which was also pretty standard. After a few minutes of sitting in silence -- what I later realized was a very carefully timed move -- he asked if he could borrow my phone to call his mum, who was supposed to be meeting him at the station. He didn't know where she was going to be. I hesitated, and he said "it's not like I can run off with it, we're in a train". I conceded the point and handed it over. He made a call and proceeded to talk, and just then the...
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Bing and News Corp: it'll never happen

News Corp. and Microsoft are reportedly negotiating a deal under which News Corp. would de-index their sites from Google (and presumably all other search engines?) and be indexed exclusively by Bing, for which Microsoft would pay News Corp. a fee. This is a stupid idea that is doomed to fail. I think np publisher has sufficient bargaining power to pull it off. People do not switch search engines easily, and will not do it for a single publisher. If a really, really big group of publishers grouped together to do it, they might have a shot -- but since they would in effect be colluding to raise prices (thanks Ed), that would probably be illegal. Plus, by far the biggest single publisher of original content on the net is Wikipedia, which has no commercial incentives of any kind and a mission to be as open and accessible as possible. Even with legal questions aside, News Corp don't have the clout. From Google's perspective, it doesn't really matter if you're a news site or a blog host -- they just want...
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More on the App Store: are web apps the solution?

The incredibly respected PPK has added his own thoughts to the debate on fixing the App Store problem (which I was talking about last week). Initially he said that iPhone developers are idiots who should be building web apps instead, where Apple has no say over how their applications get delivered. He has subsequently recanted somewhat, given the lack of several key APIs and, even more importantly, a practical, easy mobile payments option beyond the app store. This opens up the debate in a useful direction. I think some apps could be web apps that are currently not, but I still think native apps have the edge. However, this reiterates for me that half of the value of the App Store is that Apple have invented a simple, easy, secure mobile payment solution. They should open this up, entirely independently of the app process, and start raking in PayPal-sized dividends.
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To the disaffected supporters of the UK Labour party

I had a conversation with Owen on his Facebook wall over the weekend about Tony Blair and the Labour party, spurred by an off-handed comment of his that Tony Blair had deliberately lied to the nation about Iraq. I genuinely believe that Blair never intentionally lied about Iraq, and more generally that Labour has got a lot of mostly undeserved flak from a lot of ex-Labour supporters. Since the UK seems to be heading towards an inevitable victory by the Conservatives, a fact that deeply distresses me, I figured I'd make my own small case on their behalf. Firstly, on the subject of Iraq, someone else chimed in: But how was he [misled by US intelligence], when we went through the dossier and found it so full of holes it was like a macro of a tea bag? Either he knew it was a crock, and lied about that, or he lied about being competent to judge it. I think he took the US at their word and didn't give a toss about the dossier. In fact, I'd be surprised if he even read it. The US are the UK's closest allies...
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