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Web Monitor

16:16 UK time, Wednesday, 15 July 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Web Monitor clicks through the internet to find the most interesting bits. Make sure you share your best links by sending them via the comment box.

Jimmy Carter• One of ex-US President Jimmy Carter's old speech writers, Gordon Stewart, has given an insight into what it takes to say the right thing in a crisis situation. During the 1979 energy crisis, even a young Bill Clinton, then a governor, was shuttled into Camp David to offer advice to Carter on what to say to the nation. Stewart's "malaise speech" was the result:

"There was never any way the Jimmy Carter we all know would avoid saying: 'There is simply no way to avoid sacrifice.' Where the speeches of Reagan and Barack Obama evoke the beauty of dreams, President Carter insisted on the realities of responsibility and the need for radical change. Mr Carter's sense of our own accountability, his warnings about the debilitating effects of self-centered divisiveness were the speech's true heresies. They are also the very elements that keep it relevant today."

• The figure 750 million lifetime album sales has been popping up in Michael Jackson obituaries and retrospectives without anyone really questioning the figure. Now, Carl Bialik, the numbers guy at Wall Street Journal is giving the numbers a proper look. Bialik found in his blog that the figure for lifetime record sales curiously leaped from 200 million to 600 million at the end of 2006, when Jackson was trying to make a comeback. Record sales figures are sketchy - international data differs from country to country and in the US sales weren't even recorded in any detail until 1991. In the end, Bialik turned to bloggers for help. The Fan of Music blog puts the figure at 205.5 million whereas Hitsville blog reckons 131.5 million albums were sold world-wide, along with 65.6 million singles.

Sasha Baron CohenRichard Corlis in Corlis is arguing that Bruno could be the first one-day-wonder film after the figures for the first weekend dropped off after Friday. Time put it down to bad twitter reviews. Seth Jacobson in First Post points out that Borat took more in its second week than its first, saying:

"But then Borat was released in 2006 BT (Before Twitter). And maybe the word of mouth has it right - that Borat was a better film. "

Pixar character• Always on the lookout for original viewpoints Web Monitor has been on the search for an intelligent feminist blog for some time and yet to come across one. So WM was hopeful when Jezebel flagged up the teenage feminist blog the F-Bomb. It seems the teenage feminist is very concerned about celebrities - from Lily Allen's feminist lyrics to Tori Amos on sexual politics. When talking about the Pixar film UP! F-Bomb founder Julie Zeilinger said:

"UP is the best movie ever. I'm hypercritical of everything and I couldn't find anything wrong with it."

Surprising, given the online uproar about the lack of Pixar female characters noted in Web Monitor.

Tori Amos• One set of musings on sexual politics the F-Bomb unearthed was Tori Amos in the Guardian, talking about powerful men:

"A powerful man is a man that knows who he is and doesn't need to manipulate people to get what he wants... I've worked with many powerful men in the music industry. The big power brokers in the industry are still men for the most part. And not just them: it's the people behind them, the business affairs, the structures, the boards - it's all men. And there are the good guys and the not- so-good guys. There are the controlling men and there are those that want the exchange."

Yesterday's Web Monitor touched on why flash mobs make a grown man cry and asked if it's still the case on the occasions that they are organised to advertise something. Said grown man Euan Semple replied in his blog:

"I guess marketers and advertisers have become adept at playing on human emotion in all sorts of ways over the years and getting me to associate - however unconsciously or unwillingly - the emotional impact of a flash mob with a particular brand is just more of the same. Hopefully the balance of trust is shifting and we are much less likely to accept being manipulated if that manipulation feels too overt or too direct - much as witty and entertaining TV ads feel more acceptable than out and out sales pitches. It's a fine line though!"

On a second glance at the original blog post, it looks like it's not just Euan who cries at big gatherings, but his commenters do too:
"It's not just flash mobs. It's parades, marching bands (adult or children), displays, amateur performances of singing and dancing."

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