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“FloridaThinks No More.”

The news I had been subconsciously dreading since a couple months ago when internet start-up FloridaThinks went on summer hiatus arrived in my inbox at 3:07 am, as many other of its editions had over the last seven months. It read “FloridaThinks was a success in all areas except revenues. But financial reality demands that we cease publication.” Read the whole piece HERE.

Editor & Publisher John Koenig, Managing Editor Michael Joe Murphy, and Associate Editors John Kennedy, Martha Musgrove and Tom Zucco offered us daily smart and divergent thinking on Florida’s future at a time when we really need it. It looks like we’re going to have to do without it now.

From the beginning I saw their idea as very much in keeping with the spirit of The Village Square and was rooting them on.

As I was reading over the last edition of FloridaThinks, I heard Jonathan Alter say on TV “one of the big stories of our politics is the wacky has moved from the fringe to the center of our politics.” Had John and his cohorts launched an angry online screed, maybe they might have made a go of it financially. Fury is good for the bottom line these days, the market for mainlined ideological heroine is strong and growing. But offering up citizenship, doing the hard work of reading and understanding, it’s like serving up a plate of broccoli and apparently we’re not eating our vegetables these days. Of course we all know that over time broccoli makes you strong and smart and healthy and heroine kills you but we’re in no mood to be reminded.

So cheers to John Koenig and FloridaThinks for giving us the vegetables Florida needs to grow strong for seven months, and doing it in style.

And while it is sadly too late to change their financial future, maybe today’s the day to do something about someone else trying hard to get us the information we need to make good decisions about our future, either locally or at a state or national level. It can be as simple as restoring your subscription to your local paper.

The future of a country may depend on it.

FloridaThinks: Do Communication Tools Drive Behavior?

Today’s FloridaThinks.com features a very smart article on the impact of texting and other communication tools on our lives and on our children. I don’t know if the author Barry Chudakov (founder of Metalife Consulting) coined the term “cyber tattoo” but I, for one, intend to start using it today and often with my teenage children. Every communication ever sent out, every photo ever posted to Facebook can become a cyber tattoo, following you around forever in life and possibly fundamentally changing it. At least when you walk into the tattoo parlor and take the plunge, you get to decide what will forever brand you. With cyber tattoos, someone else gets to pick. Here’s a snip:

Overnight, it seems, the intersection of our lives and our communications tools has gotten complicated. We’re seeing the complexity more often because these tools are reaching deeper into our lives, and they are now fundamental to how we touch and value each other. This entails more than simply acting on impulse. When we use communication tools, if we are not careful, we think and act at their speed and in their logic, instead of fully considering what we’re doing. In this scenario, the logic of the tool becomes the logic of our behavior. We need greater awareness of this process and how it changes us.

At The Village Square, we think a lot about how these same communication tools have changed the nature of our civic and political lives (sometimes we do so while we cuss about the need to express ourselves in 140 characters or less).

Read the whole article HERE.

FloridaThinks Friday: While national debate rages on, Miami-Dade out front on greenhouse gases

This week in FloridaThinks, Martha Musgrove asks: What if going green isn’t just smart, it’s good business. Miami-Dade might just have something to teach us on this front:

What if, there are real money-saving efficiencies to be found in concerted efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions? While developing climate-friendly alternatives?

Miami-Dade County has found such savings. In a four-year effort to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in its own operations, the county also managed to reduce fuel purchases by 3.7 million gallons. Roughly calculated that’s a savings of $7 million to $10 million, based on the high-low range of prices the county paid for fuel.

Mayor Carlos Alvarez lists a wide range of strategies to keep Miami-Dade “ahead of the curve in the green movement.” He has also committed $12.5 million of the federal stimulus dollars to projects with cost-saving benefits and the potential for reducing emissions. Included were the purchase of hybrid buses, replacement of high-watt traffic-light bulbs with LED modules (a $2 million annual savings), the use of landfill biogases to power nearby water and sewer plant, installation of high-reflective “Cool Roof” systems on county buildings, and the addition of solar-power systems to recreation facilities.

FloridaThinks Friday: “Wrong without consequences”

Today’s FloridaThinks.com features an article by Jon Mills, former dean of the University of Florida law school and author of “Privacy, The Lost Right,” looking at the consequences of technological changes in our media and information environment both to our privacy and to the quality of the information we receive.

The world had changed drastically since I represented the parents of the victims of the monstrous serial killer Danny Rolling to keep autopsy photos private. In 1991, there were no autopsy Websites. In 1991, those in the mainstream press said they would not publish the victims’ photos, and I believed them. Even then however, there was the fringe press that would have. Wisely, the judge in that case restricted publication of photos of these victims.

You don’t have to be a famous NASCAR driver like Dale Earnhardt for the new press to intrude. You can be an innocent victim or the family of an innocent victim. Today, if obtained, photos of the horrific crime scenes of the Danny Rolling victims would be on the Internet.

Please jump on over to FloridaThinks.com to read the whole article. Before you do, though, consider what Jon Mills says about the relevance of efforts like FloridaThinks.com to addressing the challenge our technological innovations have created:

There is a desperate need for credible, civil media – especially in the electronic media. That is why the advent of FloridaThinks.com is so important. In this new era, a publication that takes advantage of the access, speed and distribution capabilities of the new media and preserves a commitment to civility, accuracy and conscience is welcome and needed.

Just think, you can help by just taking the time to read the good work they do. That’s falling-off-a-log good citizenship.