Citizen Journalism can be a wonderful thing. It has tremendous potential for bringing to the fore ground news that would otherwise pass under the radar of mainstream media. It does not (usually) suffer the political and financial pressures that mainstream media have and it does not have to maintain a profit margin. Citizen Journalism brings out news that we find interesting and relevant and is a very good indicator of public opinion. Usually.

I for one have always been in favour of Citizen Journalists. Most of us on Kottu have our own posts on politics, human interest stories, reviews, opinions and the usual rants. We are Citizen Journalists in some form of the other, and we find that this works out well for us. But can the same disease that infects Tabloids affect us? Can the need to have the first picture, get the first blog post out, tell the first story, actually make us stretch our morals a bit? Does it damage our sense of human dignity?

I was reading an article by Paul Carr this week. He usually writes semi-satirical Tech related articles at TechCrunch, but his post this week (which has already received over 200 comments) was unusually thought provoking. He starts of with the incident at Fort Hood and then points out how at this very serious and very upsetting time, a lady was snapping pictures with the iPhone and tweeting minute by minute her opinions on what was happening. Perhaps you might say that there was nothing wrong with this, and that this is what citizen journalists do. At such a serious juncture and such a traumatic event, things would be on lock down and information would be restricted until the situation was stabilized. No one would want a woman snapping pictures of injured soldiers in a hospital and tweeting irresponsible messages to the public when even family members of the injured soldiers were not informed. Reactions to her actions were mixed, with people unhappy that she would be snapping pictures in a hospital.

One commenter even stated:

If I ever saw you taking pictures of my friends being wheeled into the hospital, I’d beat you senseless.

The lady’s (Ms. Moore) twitter account is no longer functioning but you can access her tweets here and judge her actions by yourself.

Carr also states in his article that :

the ‘real time web’ is turning all of us into inhuman egotists. How we’re increasingly seeing people at the scene of major accidents grabbing their cellphones to capture the dramatic events and share them with their friends, rather than calling 911.

Her behaviour had nothing to do with getting the word out; it wasn’t about preventing harm to others, but rather a simple case of – as I said two weeks ago – “look at me looking at this.”

Do you recall the video of Neda Agha Soltan that rocked the world and dragged the violence of the Iran protests into the forefront? Now can you imagine it from her point of view as she lay dying, all she could see were some faces and a camera pointed at her face.

While the concepts of citizens being journalists is wonderfully empowering, how far do we let that empowerment stretch our moral codes, our basic human decency. Do we rush to electronically capture a tragic moment? Is our first thought to help, or to record.

I am not saying that Citizen Journalism is bad or should be avoided. The drowning of a handicapped man in Bambalapitiya would never have come to our attention if it wasn’t for the video taken by a camera man on a roof top, but did the camera man bother to alert authorities while this was going on, or did he simply record the entire event for a sensational news cast?

I am not calling for censorship, or restriction, or any curtaining of freedom. Far from it. We have the technology now to make huge social advances, to empower people who would otherwise not have a voice, but we should not forget about our dignity and our responsibility.

Remember, your fellow man first, everything else comes later.


There’s a ton of hype about the iPhone, but all that proves is that its got a great marketing campaign. Me? I think I will pass.

Hey, iPhone. How’s it goin’?

Hey, WinMo. Be right with you. Have to finish with this iFart app.

… …

Sorry ’bout that. I’m a one-track phone, ya know.

So I hear. Isn’t that going to change when you get your 3.0 upgrade?

I was afraid you’d bring that – oops. Hang on. Got a text message. Hit my home button, will ya?

… …

Sorry ’bout that. What were you saying? Oh, yeah. What’s that called, what you were talking about? Multifrisking?


Never heard of it. I’m getting background notifications. Is that the same thing?

Not hardly. Oh, well. Never mind.

Oh, c’mon, WinMo. Can I give it a shot? Huh? Can I? Can I?

I dunno. It’s pretty tough stuff. Not sure that you’re up to it. Never mind that those Apple people say it robs me of my power 80 percent faster. I can handle it. You, on the other hand …

C’mon, WinMo! Puleeeeeeeeeze?

Fine. But don’t say I didn’t warn you. Hope you’ve been working out.

OK, I got special permission from my mommy to try this. Here I go. iFart: Open. Crossword puzzle: Open. E-mail: open. Safari: Open. …

Wait. I’m starting to feel a little dizzy. Something’s not right. Can’t … keep … screen … on. Wuzzhappenintome?

Oh, no, iPhone! Your battery can’t handle the big-boy workload! Quick! Better swap it out!

Can’t. Still … Only … Have … Baby … Built-in.

Uh oh. Here, use my USB-cable (with its handy micro/mini-USB connector).

Can’t. Only … Use … Proprietary … 30-pin. Good-bye … Win … Mo …


Moral of the story: Some phones are meant for getting things done. Others are meant to be shiny. Maybe next time you’ll get your multitasking, little iPhone.



by Phil Nickinson from WMExperts

Ever forwarded an email containing the latest Miss World Bikini pictures and realized your boss was on the forward list? Ever sent a party invitation by accident to someone you don’t really want to see? How about those embarrassing personal emails that end up in acquaintance’s inboxes? Well, finally Google has added an Undo feature to sending an email. Now, its not as brilliant as you think. It’s not going to grab that email from someone’s inbox and give it back to you, but there is a 5 second delay from the time you click ‘send’ and the email actually gets sent. During that 5 seconds you can cancel the send by clicking on the ‘Undo’ button.

Just go to your Gmail settings, Labs, and then enable ‘Undo Send’. Hope it saves your behind!

Do you remember that feeling you got when you first set eyes on her? Those glistening smooth curves, that sleek figure, attired in the latest fashions? Do you remember how much you wanted to find out what made her tick, and how you wanted to get her all the latest accessories; the best of everything laid at her feet? Do you remember wanting to push her buttons and see her light up, connecting her and enjoying what she can do? Well, those feelings never really go away. Men are technologically adulterous by nature, and no sooner do they get used to one gadget that they simply have to have another, and I have not been spared this blessed curse.

I love mobile phones.

I really do.

I remember not being able to sleep for a week when I was about to get my first mobile phone. It was this tiny little Alcatel (I cant remember the model) with its little antenna and I thought I would be happy forever. Then I saw a friend of mine having an Ericsson (yes, the old days before Sony came into the picture) that was the size of a brick and as heavy, but that was rubber coated and water and shock proof. How I loved that monster. It was getting old, so I traded it for a 3310 which in my opinion is still one of the most solid phones around. Drop it, kick it, wet it, it still worked. I knew it so well, I could write my Chemistry notes with my right hand while typing an sms to a girl with my left hand underneath my desk. I managed to pass Chemistry by the way. Somehow. It was about then that depression hit me. Colour phones had come out, but they were too expensive for a college student like me to afford at that time. First it was these pixelly models with tiny screens, but gradually the resolutions improved, cameras were added, video capabilities, and then memory cards all taking these lovely little machines further and further away from me. When technology finally increased to a point where camera phones became affordable I grabbed one, took pictures of everything in sight, and walked around with its headset in my ears like some malfunctioning android. It was pretty much the same story for the next couple of years, I was going to say that I calmed down after a while but I am afraid that might be a lie.

It all changed last year though when I got my hands on a Blackberry in Sri Lanka. That opened a whole new set of doors for me, email straight to my phone, a platform I could install software on, almost limitless possibilities. Almost. I put on a EBook Reader, a Bible and some games and I thought I was set for life.

That lasted a few months.

I tried the Symbian OS in the Nokia N Series for a while. It gave me better multi media facilities, 3g downloading speeds and a lot more style, but it still lacked the functionality that I wanted, so that was when I decided to try Pocket PCs.

I first cut my tooth on an HP IPAQ running windows mobile 2003, and that was a revelation to me! Windows in my pocket! Just what I needed! But then we all know how IPAQs work right? Hardly the type of thing you want important data on, especially since this did not have a user replaceable battery, and since the memory gets wiped out every time the battery completely drains. I had to get something new.

So now we come to the whole point of this almost boring blog post: I got a new gadget.

And I love it.

It has WM 6.1, it has Wi-Fi, 3G, a 3 Mp Camera, a bunch of other stuff, and its all mine!

Ok, I am calm now, this just happens sometimes.

I decided to side step the heavy brand names and go for an HTC manufactured PPC. It offers you the most adaptability along with the usual functions you would expect. I did not go for the Touch Diamond because I rather would not have to depend completely on a touch screen, so I went for the Kaiser instead which has a slide out keyboard. After a few days hunting software and adapting this baby, I can watch movies on it, stream youtube, surf the internet, check my email (without enabling pushmail even), write my notes and blog posts straight into word, and read EBooks where ever I go ( I average a book every 3 days, mostly reading on the bus and while walking). Oh, I can also make calls and take pictures. There’s no turning back for me now, I don’t think I can ever switch back to a simple mobile phone after I have seen the light. I believe that I won’t need to change this baby for another for quite some time. The Lady expresses doubt about that, but what does she know. It’s not like I am fickle when it comes to technology or something. Hmph!

I will probably write another post about some must-have software for your PPC, but that will have to be when I am not fiddling with my new toy. Stay tuned!