After I posted the first few articles in the "six-year-old Anthony learns how to program in python" series, a friend asked me, "does Anthony really understand the program he typed?" Honestly, I wasn't sure. I did have to help and teach him quite a bit to get "GuessANumber" working. Maybe I was actually doing all the programming, and Anthony was just a spectator.
It turns out we had a good chance to test this theory a couple weeks later. The original GuessANumber game was too hard for Anthony's little sister Piper. At 3, Piper could just barely count up to 20 and didn't have any way of knowing whether 75 should bigger than 57 or not. And so every time she would try to guess a number from 1 to 100 in five guesses, she would lose and be unhappy. The booming vampire audio echoing "I win!!!" did not help.
Soon Piper told us she wasn't really into vampires. She wanted a princess game.
There is a crisp and clear difference between traditional media and internet media. It is the most obvious thing in the world, yet it is baffling.
According to Google News, there are more than 3400 news articles on the internet about the U.N. commissioned Mehlis Report that was released on Thursday. The report implicates Lebanese and Syrian Military Intelligence in the assassination of recent Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. It is a report on one of the most dramatic and pivotal scandals of modern times.
3400 news articles posted on the Internet does not necessarily make good internet media. Yes, there is variety: the best articles are written by diligent reporters who read the report and try to summarize it neturally for global readers. The worst articles are patched together from second-hand sources and full of ill-informed commentary, opinion, speculation, conspiracy theories, pandering, even threats and incitement.
But among them all I could not find a single news article that linked to the actual Mehlis report. I find this lack of links distasteful, almost criminal. This traditional media habit of standing guard between the readers and the original sources is not acceptable in 2005. The way the world fragments over events like Hariri's death is not about ego or profit: it is the hinge between war and peace. Information flow in these moments in history will determine the future for whole populations.
The original Mehlis report, of course, is posted on the UN website, and is available for anybody in the world to read. Why doesn't the news link out to it? Internet media is all about link flow. So link!
There are some articles discussing an extraordinary marked-up version of the report that was distributed to journalists. The Microsoft Word document includes past revisions with far more specific accusations, including specific names of Syrian and Lebanese officials "Maher Assad, Assef Shawkat, Hassan Khalil, Bahjat Suleyman and Jamil Al-Sayyed" who "decided to assassinate Rafik Hariri" and planned the crime. The editing markup also shows that the names were removed at 11:55 AM on October 20. Strangely, although Brian points out that the UK Times article above links to the official Mehlis report, it does not link to the extraordinary marked up document that it discusses.
Nor do other major news outlets; instead we get language such as "CNN obtained a copy of the document". CNN is so special.
So here is a link to the actual Word Document itself. Slate did link to it. Christopher Allbritton links to everything in the way I'd wish everybody did, and he did it early and quickly. The unflitered blogging world is doing a far better job at working with the story than the traditional media.
I've also mirrored the marked up Mehlis report word document here in case it is removed elsewhere.