French Spiderman/Environmental Activist Becomes Paid Promoter

June 18, 2008

On June 5th, Alain Robert (aka French Spiderman) boldly scaled the 52-story New York Times building in Times Square to call attention to global warming. This afternoon, he climbed the 32-story Dresdner Bank building in Frankfurt.

robert dresdner

No environmental activism or political intervention behind today’s stunt, though. It’s all legal, secure (Robert wore a safety harness) — and paid for. His 40-minute climb was filmed for a German program called “Unglaublich!” (which NYT translates into “Unbelievable!”). This time, his call-to-action was replaced by a T-shirt with the name of the show.

Why do so many independent acts get turned into promotional vehicles or media opportunities? As our visual landscape gets more and more jampacked with promotional messages, corporations are always on the lookout for the next out-of-the-blue spectacle. And they’ve got the budgets to monetize these unusual acts.

Does everything and everyone ultimately have a price?

Photo: Arne Dedert/European Press in NYT
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Bill Moyers Fights Back, Sends Fox News’ O’Reilly Henchman Scurrying

June 8, 2008

Free Press is holding its 3-day National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis this weekend. Bill Moyers delivered the Saturday morning plenary to an audience of more than 3,500. (Closing remarks are later today, tbd.)

Describing the media reform movement as “the most significant citizens’ movement to emerge in this new century”, Moyers’ address called on independent and alternative media producers to challenge “the stranglehold of mega-media corporations over our press” and deliver “information that people can trust”.

Moyers’ 39-minute speech on stage is inspiring, indelible, and hopefully viral. But here’s a 9-minute video that’s REALLY worth seeing. Moyers puts his words into live action.

Background: Moyers appears cornered by Porter Barry of Murdoch’s Fox News. Barry is on assignment, sent by Bill O’Reilly on a mission to drag Moyers into his nucyular waste dump of a show. Trained in O’Reilly’s draconian intimidation tactics, Barry badgers Moyers. Without blinking, Moyers proceeds to throw it right back.

Raw video captured by correspondent Noah Kunin of Uptake. Originally found on fearless Fark.

A blixity tip of the hat to Bill Moyers! A rare class act. Here’s to learning from a master of words and slowly turning the cameras back on big media. Support public broadcasting and the fight to sustain independent productions. To paraphrase Moyers, freedom of speech is the basis of all our freedoms.


Anonymous Blogging with WordPress and Tor

April 18, 2008

A tangential follow-up to yesterday’s entry on uncensored blogging:

Ethan Zuckerman (co-founder of Global Voices Online) published a very thorough how-to guide titled “Anonymous Blogging with WordPress and Tor”, a free downloadable pdf available on the Global Voices Advocacy* website. Recognizing the dangers certain people face when they express themselves openly in certain environments, Zuckerman also wrote a technical guide back in 2005 that explains how a combination of web tools could be deployed to maintain a high level of anonymity. It was intended particularly for human rights activists, aid workers, and whistleblowers who needed to “ensure that their writing couldn’t be traced back to their identity”.

*Global Voices Advocacy is an online project whose goal is to “build a global anti-censorship network of bloggers and online activists throughout the developing world that is dedicated to protecting freedom of expression and free access to information online”. Different kinds of pirates! We love them just the same.