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Stateside with Rosalea: Fat Pipe Mama

Stateside with Rosalea

Fat Pipe Mama

Is that a pipe in my wallet or are you just glad to see me? After less than a month with broadband--heck, I haven't even got my first bill yet--I can see clearly now what all the fuss is about.

The trillion-dollar industry fuss, that is. It's like having a big fat pipe straight into my wallet. Not just because the monthly fee is unjustifiably high when you consider that the physical infrastructure for carrying data was already in place, but also because practically every site I can now get to without waiting wants me to part with my money.

I feel like a happy little aphid that settled on the underside of leaf somewhere, only to find that it's right next door to an ant colony and they're going to milk me for all I'm worth. Hell, they don't even need to come out of their place to suck the juice out of me--I'm paying for them to come right into mine!

But enough of fraughticulture. I'm actually very pleased with the first thing I bought to go with my new download speeds. It's a home video server. Now I can get programs delivered to me to watch on TV at my leisure. A great deal of it is alternative programming, simply because the company I'm getting it from is only just starting up.

If you're really into skiing, golf, flying your own plane, extreme sports, short films, yoga, world music, and the like, then Akimbo is the gizmo for you. One of the attractions for me was the (free with my $9.99 per month subscription) classic Britcoms--Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, Porridge, The Brittas Empire--and the costume dramas like Moll Flanders.

But I'm not averse to a little new fare, so I'm also watching BBC's Two Pints, which is like a cross between Friends and Coronation Street with a great deal of sexual humour thrown in. It's not something that would ever get to air in the US.

An equivalent British show featuring an older, richer class of friends plays very late at night on free-to-air PBS and is practically impossible to follow because all those earthy words the British happily use have to be bleeped out. Mercifully, PBS doesn't actually use a bleeper--in this show, that would be as annoying as a cellphone on a bus. Instead, there's a reversion back to the early days of film where people mouth complete scenes in silence.

Another Akimbo download is Rocketboom, which is a videoblog that makes fun of news shows. Fortunately, it's only three minutes long, so if it's really bad it's only really bad for a short time. The host is army specialist Amanda Congdon, an actress whose resume includes a stint with Acting On Impulse in Sydney. You can see the show online at

Sadly, I have gotten to the world of videoblogs far too late. For heaven's sake, John Edwards has got one now, where he answers video questions sent in from viewers. And of course, the first other vlog he got himself onto was Rocketboom.

The reason I call Congdon an army specialist is because the U.S. Army has latched on to her as a conduit. She now has an army contributor preparing to go to and report from Iraq, who says in his June 02 segment that when he's over there there's more to his mission "than just public affairs, just reporting, rather."

Which brings me to this whole new crock called citizen journalism--the supposed fine, democratic outcome of Internet technology. It's a crock simply because it is becoming increasingly hard to distinguish between public affairs and reporting.

If someone who has been to journalism school--as Army Specialist Kever has, paid for by the Army--can't tell the difference between the two, that's one thing. At least he's in uniform, so you know where he's coming from. (On the Internet site there's an interesting text discussion around these very questions, which is not available on the TV download.)

But if viewers of "news" bulletins can't tell the difference between public affairs and news, then we are in very, very serious trouble. As for all those "citizen journalists" out there who are not in uniform, but purport to be bringing news to the village square--how do we know they're not just from some public affairs department anyway?

For an excellent discussion of what is in store and what is at stake in the coming telecoms battles, see these blogs from bona fide journos at the World Editors Forum in Korea last week:

Unfortunately the blogs from the first few days of the conference seem to have been removed from the site, so you might want to also check out the World Association of Newspapers blog of the World Editors Forum at


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