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Dear WashingtonPost.com: Either You Are Censoring Bloggers Or Your 3rd Party Widget Isn’t Working Properly
|| 8/18/2009 || 4:25 pm || 5 Comments Rendered || ||

Screen grab from the Washington Post article on the Real World highlighting the link that is supposed to show who is blogging about the article you are reading

On Sunday I was pleased to see that Washington Post staff writer Dan Zak had transcribed my poster in his article on MTV’s Real World filming in DC. So pleased in fact, that I spent about an hour writing and formatting a blog entry about the article.

Fast forward to this afternoon. I decided to go back to the article to see what kind of reaction Dan Zak’s article made on-line. The metrics for ascertaining this information is somewhat straightforward; the more comments the article generates, the larger the reaction. This, however, only gives the basic information of who decided to comment on the Washington Post website. The second metric that can be used to gauge the popularity of an article is to see who is blogging about it.

Since the Washington Post’s print edition does not make it’s way out of the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia to other parts of the United States and the rest of the world, bloggers are an integral part of the Washington Post’s digital distribution model. As a way to track this digital diaspora of off-site responses to an article, the WashingtonPost.com has a link posted in each article that is supposed to show who is blogging about the article you are reading (see red arrow above). This link is managed, err, powered by a third party called Sphere, which is supposed to track instances of when bloggers use the URL of a specific article in their blog entry.

Screen grab from the Washington Post article on the Real World questioning why my blog entry does not appear in the listing of who is blogging about a article

So why wasn’t my blog entry mentioned? Does this third party widget not work as well as it should? Are the 206,000 websites that Sphere.com says are using their product not really getting the best product they thought they were receiving? Or is there some form of censorship that is being employed at the Washington Post to scrub out blogs that the web editors don’t want their readers to see?

In my opinion, I think Sphere.com is not working to the best of it’s theoretical ability. I say this because I would rather not think there is some sort of censorship taking place– but I will not rule that prospect out. In my original blog entry I made sure that I hyperlinked to the article, used the entire name of the article, included the name of the author, and I even sent a trackback to the URL on the WashingtonPost.com. Combined together, all of these factors should have put my entry in the “Who’s Blogging” listing. But, alas, its not.

This has some important implications. First and foremost, the author of the article is not able to fully see the extent to which his article was covered on-line. His boss might incorrectly assume by reading the Sphere.com information that the article had minimal on-line reaction and possibly make future editorial decisions based on this partial & incomplete information. Secondly, WashingtonPost.com readers are unable to see other opinions about the article. Instead they are only offered the opinions written by other WashingtonPost.com readers (which I’ve griped about before) and not writers who have their own established blog and dedicated readership. Lastly, since I was not given credit for writing the sign transcribed in the article, I was further excluded from receiving any residual credit, and the WashingtonPost.com readers were never informed of why the sign was put up in the first place.

In conclusion, I hope the WashingtonPost.com and/or Sphere.com fix this widget or refrain from this type of subtle censorship. This exclusion of other viewpoints only hurts their readership and stifles subsequent information discovery. My opinions are just as valid as those expressed by the commenters on WashingtonPost.com and its disingenuous to present a link that appears to give accurate information about who is blogging about an article, when it’s clearly not showing all the bloggers who took the time to participate in the discussion.



The sign I posted outside of MTV’s Real World DC house is transcribed in today’s Washington Post
|| 8/16/2009 || 3:01 pm || 2 Comments Rendered || ||

Last month's photograph of the sign I wheatpasted outside of the Real World DC house in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC

Last month I posted the photograph above in my entry about adding some political commentary to the area around the Real World DC house in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC. This morning a friend of mine left a somewhat cryptic comment on my Facebook page telling me to check section E6 in today’s Washington Post. I ran downstairs, opened the paper up, and let out out a hearty laugh.

Transcribed near the end of Dan Zak’s article, Neighborhood Watch: MTV Is in the House, and Everyone Else Just Wants to Be, is the text of my sign:

Reality Bites

Sometime in July, a sign is posted on the base of the lamppost on the northeast corner of the intersection. In simple black lettering on a plain white background, it reads, one word per line:

IN
THE
REAL
WORLD
ALL
AMERICANS
DESERVE
FULL
REPRESENTATION
IN
CONGRESS.

In the next section of the article there is choice quote from some teenagers from Maryland:

“It’s been 23 years. . . . D.C. is a treasure. . . . They’ve been to New York, like, five times. . . . It’s the capital. . . . It’ll be a really good representation of the city. . . . I talked to the cast before and they’re really down to earth.”

(underline added for emphasis of the Congressional lack thereof)

While I was not identified as the creator of the sign, even though a simple Google Search would have brought the author to my website, and the author only mentioned that there was one sign (there are 8 still up last time I counted), I’m very pleased that my sign was mentioned in today’s article. In that respect, the ten dollars spent making those signs & purchasing the wheatpaste was completely validated— my message made it into the Washington Post. But the real question is if the message will make the cut and be mentioned in any of the episodes set to air on MTV in 2010?


Since the sign(s) has been up now for just about a month, I figure its time to remove them and put up something new. I already have the next flyer made, but I’m debating if I should put them up or not. The flyer is a bit over the top, but well, umm, so are most of the people mentioned in the article. But unlike the ones who actually give two shits about the show, my aim is not to get in the house or hang out with the cast (I really could care less about that), but to use their presence in Washington, DC as a vehicle to get out the larger message of DC residents being second class citizens denied representation in Congress.


Click on the screen grab below to read the last page of the article:

Screen grab from the Washington Post article about the Real World in DC where the text of my sign is transcribed

What’s interesting about the text on-line versus the text in the printed article is that there is extra space between lines of the poster in the on-line version captured above. These extra line breaks actually make the point of the poster appear more important on-line than it does in the print edition, which does not feature extra line breaks. But since the print edition of the Washington Post is not delivered outside of the Washington, DC area, this typographical difference carries significantly more weight on-line than in print. In that respect, I must thank the web editor at the Washington Post for giving the text of my sign a little bit more emphasis than it would otherwise have received if it were identical to the print edition.


UPDATE – After I posted this entry, I went back to the Washington Post website and found that the poster was briefly shown at the beginning of the video portion of the article:

Video still of the poster being shown on the video that accompanies the article


A message to MTV’s Real World DC cast members: IN THE REAL WORLD ALL AMERICANS DESERVE FULL REPRESENTATION IN CONGRESS
|| 7/14/2009 || 11:58 pm || 2 Comments Rendered || ||

MTV’s show “The Real World” is currently filming their next season here in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC. There has been a lot of hoopla regarding the cast & crew being in DC; from a pop culture blogger hoping to actually get inside of the house to neighbors who started an Anti-Real World DC blog which describes in detail the comings and goings of the cast to even a Twitter user that only tweets gossip, errr, Newz about the cast. I haven’t watched the show in years, so I’m mildly amused by this type of hype.

For the last few weeks I had been brainstorming about a way that would hopefully spark a discussion about DC’s lack of congressional representation on the show. I came up with phrase: “IN THE REAL WORLD ALL AMERICANS DESERVE FULL REPRESENTATION CONGRESS.” Earlier today I went to Kinkos, printed up 10 copies, and this evening I put them all up around a one block radius of the house. I am curious how long they’ll stay up! I am even more curious if they’ll even discuss this civil rights issue on the show.


Update: below is a TwitPic photo by Mehan Jayasuriya that taken the following day. It’s been viewed over 1,500 times!


The message made its way to the Washington Post on Sunday, August 16th, 2009:

Screen grab from the Washington Post article about the Real World in DC where the text of my sign is transcribed




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  • thank you,
    come again!