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Some end of the year thoughts

By December 30, 2006current affairs

Person_of_the_yearLet me say first that being named Time‘s Person of the Year was a pleasant surprise (even though I have to share the honor with all of you).  The Internet, for some reason, continues to be big news.  I started blogging almost five years ago, and a lot has happened since then.  In 2004 ‘blog’ was picked as Word of The Year by Merriam-Webster.  It’s strange to think back on how the whole blog thing evolved, with ‘social networking’ offshoots like del.iciou.us, Flickr, YouTube becoming popular to the point of being acquired by other larger companies like Yahoo or Google.  Businesses have figured out that social networks are important, which is why books like Naked Conversations have been so successful.  The first line of that book captures so much of what drives the engines of online social networks: "We live in a time when most people don’t trust big companies."

Indeed.  People also have less trust in organized politics and mainstream media.  We instinctively know that where money and power combine the information that is put forth is often skewed to increase profits or advance an agenda.  Are bloggers immune from distorting reality? Absolutely not.  And many bloggers are not stellar communicators.

But they are passionate, and they want to be heard.

There are a lot of really great blogs out there.  Here are four blogs that you should consider checking out every day for one week.  If you aren’t hooked by then move on.  But, something tells me that you will find at least one that you become hopelessly addicted to.

Schneier on Security –  Supposedly only techies care about security.  That would be sad.  Security issues now affect us in every aspect of our life, and so reading this blog wouldn’t be the worst way to spend some extra time.  Bruce Schneier is a math wiz who once thought that computers would bring us perfect security.  Then he realized that human behavior is a critical factor.  If I were President of the U.S. I’d find a cabinent level post for this guy.  At a minimum, he’d reduce the insanity of our current airport screening procedures. In the post-9/11 world we need some common sense, and he’s got the right balance of technical knowledge and practical sensibility.  A balance that most of our current leaders glaringly lack.

The Dilbert Blog – Scott Adams is a clever guy who figured out how to make a living drawing cartoons. I laughed at his Dilbert cartoons, but I didn’t start to appreciate Adams until I read his book God’s Debris.  Now, after reading his blog (which he updates daily), I have come to appreciate his keen insight even more.  Stephen Colbert should interview him on his show, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens soon. Unless, Colbert is afraid of pairing up with someone who is both incredibly smart and incredibly funny.

The Freakonomics Blog – When I was younger I thought economics was boring.  Somehow I associated economics with tedious statistical analysis.  In law school I learned about the so-called Chicago economics school of thought that influenced certain federal judges, including Richard Posner.  More recently, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner wrote a wonderful book that shattered my misconceptions about economics, and now they have created an engaging and informative blog.  Where else are are non-mob types like me going to learn about a service that provides you with alibis?

Do Not Pass Geaux – I have to list a law blog (aka ‘blawg’), right? I really like the Wall St. Journal’s law blog for general news and snarky commentary.  But I would rather highlight a blawg that’s unique and compelling.  Hence, I recommend Do Not Pass Geaux, by someone who took a sabbatical from his respectable D.C. white collar practice.  Brian Privor is now representing indigent defendants in the New Orleans criminal justice system, a ‘system’ that was deplorable before Katrina made it even more Kafkesque.  Brian is a great observer and a great writer, and he’s doing valuable work.  We need more thoughtful people like Brian in New Orleans.  His blog is top-notch and getting better with every post.


P.S. If you appreciate these kinds of observations, you might want to read this as well.

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