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Going Ape For BloggerCon! | blog.deanland.com

Going Ape For BloggerCon!

Will there be complimentary bananas, coconuts, and palm vines (for flossing and transportation) at BloggerCon?

By Reg Istry -- Boston Blog Staff 9/29/03

In his second escape in two months, a 300-pound gorilla stormed out of the Franklin Park Zoo last night, storming in a frenzied rampage, heading directly toward Cambridge. Stopping only to shake bananas and coconuts off Palm Trees by the Charles River, the primate, reportedly a zookeeper favorite, was running at pace far eclipsing many of those accustomed to the path, which is also used on the annual Patriotís Day Boston Marathon. The escape occurred after the captive mammal broke through the bars of his cage.

Passing by nearby bloggers using WiFi connections available in the Franklin Park area, the gorilla knocked over laptops, and caused connectivity problems for many. Two blogging WiFi users were knocked off their Primate-View benches as Little Joe raced past, making his escape.

The animal was tireless, leading authorities on a massive chase through darkened woods and along a nearby street until his capture nearly 2 hours later.

Both blogging humans survived the ordeal. The 5-foot adolescent male gorilla, known as Little Joe, was shot at least four times with tranquilizer darts as a cordon of authorities used noise to try to drive him back toward the zoo. The animal, described as nervous outside his enclosure and energized by adrenaline, eluded authorities despite the initial shots of sedatives, drawing large crowds of curious spectators and even pausing for a rest at a bus stop.

More than 50 officials from Boston police, State Police, environmental police, the zoo, and the Animal Rescue League swarmed the area around the zoo, closing Blue Hill Avenue and all streets into Franklin Park. As the gorilla prowled the edge of the park, a police dispatcher was heard warning officers to "kill the lights" of their cruisers to avoid attracting the animal.

Famous for its astounding facility with computers, the animal had recently begun to use speech recognition software on the desktop in its cage. Able to communicate both through typing, and using animal-speech-recognition software, Little Joe had expressed a great desire to attend next weekendís BloggerCon. Taking place at in Cambridge at Harvard Law, BloggerCon will be a convention of people and primates who use and study weblogs as a medium for journalism, animal husbandry, business, research, veterinary medicine, scholarship, art, culture, education, biogenetic coconut and banana harvesting, and politics. BloggerCon is hosted by Harvard's Berkman Center for the Internet & Society. Weblog pioneer and Berkman fellow Dave Winer will lead the two days of discussions.. Zoo personnel had discovered e-mail and blog entries on Little Joeís PC, indicating his strong desire to convince BloggerConís host, Dave Winer, to include special BOF sessions on Primates in The Primaries, Going Ape over Blogs, The Hairy Situation: XML-RSS-APE, and a method of aggregating and syndicating recipes for Bananas Foster.

On his speech recognition memory program files, Little Joe had developed theoretical models using the gorilla and ape metaphor. ìExemplary of the development of mankind from animal to the human condition, primates would be perfect for discussion the evolution of blogs, and the net itself as communications medium. Our drum beating was the original Alpha Mail, a popular Boston Area blogging topic, even today,î the animal wrote, in an apparent reference to a noted blogger known for her gloves and submissions to the Harvard Business review. ìI went ape when I saw that Suitt she was wearing,î the gorilla noted in a subsequent e-mail, found in his Outbox, addressed to Winer.

As the animal broke free of its Franklin Park confines, Christopher Lydon, who sarted the Connection show on National Public Radio, was a news host on Boston public television, a reporter for the New York Times, and candidate for mayor of Boston, was enjoying an early Autumn day at the zoo, nearby the gorillaís cage. Lydon, now a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, was wearing headphones attached to a laptop, reviewing interviews he had recently compiled for his web-available interview programs. No stranger to modern trends in Internet activity, Lydon commented that the gorilla was on the cutting edge of interconnected communicativity. ìHear it now!î exclaimed Lydon, ìHere what you might have seen and heard in Franklin Park by the Primate Cages on Sunday evening if you'd drifted into the Zoo trail with Dave Winer and me. I pass it along in three long sound bites, with a minimum of filtration by me. First, the ìooh-ooh! ah ah!î of the primates speaking among themselves, as they are wont to do. Second, there's another 20 minutes or more of Q & A (thatís monkey talk for kumquats and apples, a common jungle swingerís snack food, much like the trail mix of those who might be inclined to be a member of, say, The Sierra Club). And Third. Third, there is my own open-ended sampling of the crowd by the cage as Little Joe broke forth in his quest to come to Cambridge, attend BloggerCon, and represent the anthropoidal notion of a gorilla conducting a new paradigm guerilla blog. I asked them to opine, to speak, to offer conjecture on why had they come, and how did they account for all the attention Little Joe has been getting? I heard less of the cranky-Yankee "ay-yuh" Boston accent in this crowd than I expected, but the spirit and variety of New Englanders attracted to the message of the hairy head-turning blogger is all here, I think, so tune right in and make of it what you will.î

ìI think of myself as a journalist and all-purpose searcher, not at all a techie,î said Lydon. ìBut as a citizen and as a media practioner rolling through the trend storm, I am fascinated by the possibilities in this blogging space. This going ape by Little Joe represents yet another new direction in the emerging, exciting blogosphere. Had I pondered it further, perhaps the idea of Little Joe escaping as a means of getting his ideas across using the forum of BloggerCon might have become an ever clearer reality!î

After Little Joe escaped the apes' enclosure at the Tropical Forest exhibit in the zoo, ticket-taker Nilsa Silva said, only a thin pane of glass separated her and some co-workers from the gorilla. Silva said the animal pressed his face against the glass, just inches from her own, and lifted his arms menacingly as he banged on the booth, apparently trying to get inside.

"I could smell him. He was really big and scary. We were trying hard not to scream," said Silva, 22, of Dorchester. "His hands were up on the booth, and he was trying to figure a way to get in.

"I was terrified," she said.

Various observers, speaking on the condition of privacy, noted that the animalís cage was a mess. Full of stacks of leaves, outlines of branches, twigs, and other piles of manure, some noted that there is no separating bullshit from journalism, jungle boogie from anthropological analysis in the booga-booga-blogozoo. ìSome of this is brilliance, but some of it is just the tripe of wild, untamed amateurs, the work of mere animals. Not all of it is necessarily so high up the trail, the chain, the hierarchical architecture of the organic directory.î Another anonymous eyewitness commented that Little Joe might have been a source for Harvard Books on the Animal Kingdom.

Reached later for comment, BloggerCon host Dave Winer noted that the zookeepers had piped in ìA Touch of Grayî into the primateís cage, using an unlicensed MP3. Concerned for the blogging primateís rights, Winer offered discussion of an essay in the works for BloggerCon. ìAs long as the music industry labels all use of music on the Internet as piracy, the "problem" will never be solved. The music industry is insisting on a moral principle that they don't hold themselves to, that musicians should be paid for their work.î Possibly referring to the cleanliness of Little Joeís cage, Winer added, ìThey need to clean their house first, and that's going to mean disclaiming ownership of some of their supposed property, and deciding what they want to be paid for, and then asking for (and maybe receiving) help from the online community, in much the same way the US presidential candidates are.î

Asked about the zookeepersí ìMP3 of The Dayî for Little Joe falling under attack due to the RIAA-sponsored restrictions put on file sharing and copying, Winer added, ìThe music industry is going over our heads (by going to Washington), and under (by suing users), but the solution is here. First, give up trying to control the old music. We understand that there was no money in this anyway. Don't give up the copyrights, so if the music is used for commercial purposes, like in ad jingles or public radio pledge drives, you can charge your license fees.î

Editorís note: Franklin Park did not endorse using music files for fundraising, nor was that even an issue covered in the reporting and fact-checking for this article. Jayson Blair was not involved in or a part of the research or writing of this article.

Once back in the cage and awakened after the effects of the sedative shots, Little Joe began making loud noises. Yelling something that sounded to many like, ìWiki! Wiki!î the animal calmed down and sat at the keyboard of his laptop. A decidedly downcast blog entry emerged. ìIs this Democracy?î asked Little Joe in his entry. ìMy Ecosystem is disrupted. I am shot at and sedated without having been read my rights. My diet is controlled by my keepers, not by my personal will or choice.î

Quoting from A-List blogger Joi Itoís Emergent Democracy, Little Joe blogged further, ìíThe world needs emergent democracy more than ever. Traditional forms of representative democracy are barely able to manage the scale, complexity and speed of the issues in the world today. Representatives of sovereign nations negotiating with each other in global dialog are very limited in their ability to solve global issues.í It is the same here as animal and human kingdoms collide. But why collide when this new form of linked communities can offer a convergence? And yet I remain in a cage. Unable to attend BloggerCon. Not even the Sunday sessions, the free ones.î

ìHad I saved the pennies the children throw at me, my version of a PayPal link, I might have scrounged up the scratch (and no-one knows from scratch like a gorilla!) to attend Saturday. But now I must again devise a way to escape again --this time without causing a scene-- to attend the Sunday sessions.î

The hirsute Silverback groused further, "Am I not an A-List bloggorilla? A as in Animal, as in Ape? Ok, fine. Ape-List, but the top of it. I update every day. I use all the dexes and blog-support tools. I link all over the place. I post comments. Why did I not get an invitation for Saturday? I joined BloggerConimal, that Yahoo site. And they passed over me for a scholarship. Probably they just considered me a big dumb ape. I feel so victimized by this bias. Subject to such old school stereotyping."

Is there no Animal Rights Blog speaker on Saturday? Who better than I? I know my way around those vines. Am I not a poster ape for new communications protocol? I have a clue! I use this speech recognition software to further the conversation!! I'm not monkeying around, I mean it!"

He finished his comments by saying, "I guess there's no use beating my chest over this. Gee, I wish Fay Wray or some other friendly human, someone with a voice that grows and matures and is intermediated, and groks the animal condition, would just come here and give me some love. Maybe there should be a Gorilla Blog Sisters, and I could correspond with someone over there. . .strike up an e-mail relationship, talk about being a vegetarian, and how it is to be shut in, to be caged, and stared at by these oglers at the zoo. . ."

Nearby animal brethren Hoss and Adam, also with laptops in their cages, were Google-eyed over Little Joeís exploits. ìItís a jungle out there,î said their patriarch, Ben. Hoss agreed, stuffing his face with straw and grooming his hairy paws as he scrolled through the TundraDex and Chimporati, seeking links to the story of Little Joeís escape attempt.


Excuse me, can you give me directions to the Pru Tower?  I understand it is the closest thing in the Cambridge-Boston area to the Empire State Building.

And, now, getting back to reality, click here.