*edit – August 28, 2014 – WP has come around to undoing – so far as I can tell – the big ‘improvement’ it made to its editor. I’m talking about what everyone is calling ‘the internal scrollbar’. There’s a window with the editor page, where the post content is displayed. It had its own scrollbar, in addition to the page’s scrollbar, which meant that needed features, buttons, on the right, were always handy. The content field could be scrolled independently of the rest of the page and the controls to the right, a system that I would call normal and instinctive. Then they removed that internal scrollbar, leaving only the page’s scrollbar, and forcing the user to scroll the entire page, with all of its controls, to get to the bottom of a growing post. Quickly, Your control buttons disappear, above. I will attach a few screen shots of the WP forum discussion where a spokesperson for WP announced the reversal of the ‘improvement’.
I am thrilled to see Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and other progressive figures together under one roof socking to it power. First Look Media is that roof. I’m not thrilled that for that to happen, it took a billionaire with questionable loyalties to become the funder. How’s that old saying go?: ‘Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies even closer’.
From “Revealed: Visitor logs show full extent of Pierre and Pamela Omidyar’s cozy White House ties,” by Paul Carr, the following:
Speaking to the Daily Beast, documentary maker Jeremy Scahill mentioned his boss explicitly when comparing the cozy relationship between other news organizations and the White House. First Look, he insisted, would be different…
I think that the White House, whether it is under Republican or Democrat, they pretty much now [sic] who they are dealing with. There are outlets like The Daily Beast, or The Huffington Post that have risen up in the past decade, but they are very quickly just becoming part of the broader mainstream media, and with people that have spent their careers working for magazines or newspapers or what have you, and the White House believes they all speak the language on these things. With us, because we want to be adversarial, they won’t know what bat phone to call. They know who to call at The Times, they know who to call at The Post. With us, who are they going to call? Pierre? Glenn?”
Scahill’s question is a good one — and it’s also very easy to answer: If the White House has a problem with First Look, it’s a pretty safe bet they’ll pick up the phone and call Pierre Omidyar.
After all, according to records made available under Obama’s 2009 transparency commitment, Omidyar has visited the Obama White House at least half a dozen times since 2009. During the same period, his wife, Pamela Omidyar, who heads Omidyar Network, has visited 1600 Pennsylvania Ave at least four times, while Omidyar Network’s managing partner, Matthew Bannick, has visited a further three. In all, senior Omidyar Network officials made at least 13 visits to the White House between 2009-2013. (In fact the logs indicate that, on several occasions, Omidyar visited the White House more than once in the same day. To avoid unfairly inflating the numbers, I’ve removed same-day duplicates from all the totals cited in this article.)
To put the numbers in perspective, Omidyar’s six visits compare to four visits during the same period by NBCUniversal chief Stephen Burke, two by Fox News boss Roger Ailes, two by MSNBC’s Phil Griffin, one by New York Times owner Arthur O Sulzberger, and one each by Dow Jones’ Robert Thompson, Gannett/USA Today’s Gracia Martore and Omidyar’s fellow tech billionaire turned media owner, Jeff Bezos.
Why do we not see much about this in major media? Imagine the following headline in either the New York Times or The Toronto Star: “Pierre Omidyar’s new ‘speak truth to power’ org, with progressive stars like Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald on board, may be undermined by Omidyar’s cozy White House connection” People would be going “Huh? What’s that about? Progressives have been tricked?” If they didn’t have the concept of ‘progressive’ even in their minds before, that would have planted it there, along with the idea that ‘progressives’ are good and ‘good progressives stand up to the bad White House’. Corporate-owned media isn’t in the business of attacking its class. It’s not in the business of attacking the system it’s a part of, in a positive sense.
I was trying to comment on one of the blog posts on The Intercept (part of the First Look organization), but don’t remember which one exactly, when I found myself being jettisoned to the top of the post after posting. At first, I was disoriented. It took me a minute to figure out what had happened. Who has time for this crap? It never fails to amaze me how poorly websites are designed. After all these years! And these are websites by people and organizations that have the money to pay for their construction. My free WordPress.com website is more useful and organized than many of them, although I have to qualify that since WP has recently done a nasty ‘improvement’, a la Microsoft (windows 8), that has made it less efficient to desktop users, who I didn’t think, collectively, were that ‘small’ in the grand scheme of things.
Then again, We are living under corporatocracy. Search as you may for the democracy in it, you won’t find it. If hardware makers make more money making smaller devices (less material, same or greater prices to consumers), and if they don’t give a crap about the zillions of desktop users out there who get left behind as software gets tweaked for the newer, smaller devices, So what? Why can’t there be more than one kind of market, in computers, for capitalists? I can only speculate that the owners just couldn’t be bothered. They are only prepared to work so hard at scamming us, as they evade taxes, and the democratic factor isn’t a factor. (And from the 1%’s standpoint, Anything that introduces into society manageable chaos is a plus. Keep the people weak – which we are when we can’t communicate effectively – and that will keep the corporatocracy strong.) And if orgs like WP don’t care about that, What can people like myself do about it? Yes, I use WP for free, but I’d be happy to cough up something for the old WP.com which was more amenable to my laptops. (I’d be happy to cough up for a lot that I don’t cough up for, but I don’t earn a living wage. Actually, As of yesterday, I don’t earn any wage. The site transfer that I asked for from my company, G4S, and which was granted, hasn’t come through, even though they’ve got my replacement doing my old job and I’m left without work and nervously twiddling my thumbs. They aren’t communicating with me! Corporations can do what they like. If they don’t like you, they can abuse you – more than they already do.) WP spokespersons don’t discuss it. They just bullcrap us about their new improvements that some (You’ll see them in the WP forums. Who are they?) say we’ll get used to.
Note the number of comments for the WP ‘improvement’:
A screenshot of my email to Lynn Oberlander at First Look and her reply follows, to be followed by a clearer repeat of the content of those emails:
Lynn Oberlander to me:
Dear Arrbyy: Thank you for your email. You raise a good point about having a contact for website issues. I am going to forward your email to the relevant party and also raise the question of a webmaster.
My email to Lynn (which was a contact I just randomly selected from the few provided):
Hello. I am entirely supportive of all that The Intercept is doing. (I’m not sure about it’s owner however.)
Why, why, why doesn’t TI have a contact for webmasters in order to receive feedback on website issues? That’s why I’m bothering ‘you’. Who the hell am I supposed to contact out of that short list that you (whoever ‘you’ refers to) provides? I just want to note that, while I truly like the ‘function over form’ approach taken here, the functionality should look at all users of the site, creators and visitors. I replied to another reader’s comment and was unceremoniously jettisoned to the top of the page. WHO HAS TIME for that?!!!
I sent my email to Lynn on August 4, 2014. I just popped into First Look today, August 15, to see whether anything’s changed in their contact list. Everyone’s busy. I know that. Still… You’ll note, in the screenshot below, that First Look isn’t interested in providing the standard webmaster contact link, even if some within the First Look org think it’s reasonable to do so.
That was First Look. Below is a screenshot of WP’s better performance, so far, in relation to a quite serious problem with its WordPerfect.com blogging platform.
and a little further down the page…