This is my third blog post assignment for my Journalism class. I went for the reflection option this time instead of the news topic option because I had something to say about my experiences with the class in the last two weeks.
As I’ve worked to find people I can interview for my feature article, I’ve found that it can be really difficult to actually connect with even one person who can address the topic in question. Many people will simply ignore interview requests.
I’m sure part of the problem is my choice of subject. Not that many people know about Bitcoin, after all. What’s more, privacy and anonymity are cornerstones of Bitcoin’s design. That makes them part of the user culture…or maybe that just means Bitcoin attracts privacy fanatics.
In any case, I’ve successfully found only one source, an assistant professor of economics here on campus. I found him through the head of the economics department, and even that wasn’t in time for me to include in my first draft anything he said. (He’s only on campus on Fridays, and I didn’t get his name until the Saturday before the Thursday my draft was due.) I also couldn’t take the time to properly write my first draft. It was probably the roughest piece of writing I’ve ever submitted to a teacher, whether graded or not. (Well, there were those bits of writing I did in elementary school, but I won’t count those because I don’t count those years as part of my real education.)
On the social media front, I’ve had a nibble or two, but no real responses. I got a really good referral on Twitter from someone I interact with pretty often, who told me about a Bitcoin fanatic he knows, but this fanatic 1) has a private Twitter stream and 2) ignored my attempts to get in touch. What I said about privacy before definitely applies to this guy.
Actually, a follow-up message to the economics department chair here at Brandeis fell through the cracks when I asked about another source within the department who might be available for interview sooner—in time for my first draft. (I hope it fell through the cracks; the alternative is being ignored, and I don’t like being ignored when I’m trying to do an assignment. No, Brandeis’ email system doesn’t lose messages. Google Apps has higher reliability than that. I use it for my personal domain, so I have some experience there.) I guess that can’t be blamed on the Bitcoin culture.
Having failed to find any more sources in the week since turning in my draft, I plan to launch something of a guerilla campaign on Friday. (The rest of Wednesday and all of Thursday will be dedicated to making sure I finish my Java programming assignment by the deadline, and to studying for my Hebrew midterm on Friday morning.) My current campaign hit list includes the economics and computer science departments of several colleges, a few friends of mine who must either know about or know someone who knows about Bitcoin, and a couple of legal firms with which I have connections. This last item is important, as I need to understand the legal environment surrounding Bitcoins competing with the United States Dollar (and with every other nation’s currency).
May my campaign result in a deluge of responses. If it doesn’t work, I guess I’ll be asking my professor for help on or around Tuesday afternoon.
As an aside, Bitcoin is also hard to research. In looking for material online (for not much has been said about it in physical media), I followed many dead links. The system is somewhat unstable, as shown by what happened when the Mt. Gox exchange was compromised (a part of my research); the information resources about it are even more so.
Thanks to my source-finding campaign plans and my need for better research, I foresee that my weekend will be full of work for my journalism class. Well, the part of it that is not taken up by tech week for The Last Night of Ballyhoo, for which I am the sound designer.
Perhaps I should just say that I will be having a busy week(end).