SAN FRANCISCO (08/17/2000) - As news spread of 2,500 demonstrators protesting police brutality around Staples Center at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday, I headed outside, virtually that is, for live coverage of the demonstrations.
A quick search of Yahoo Inc. brought me to Lainsider.com and its live "protest cam." In this movie-obsessed city it was little surprise that protesters had placed a camera on a rooftop (presumably of the downtown Chevron Car Wash, which received a special thanks on the site) to provide a steady stream of photos of the area outside the Staples Center. When I checked it at 7.30 p.m., just as Sen. Joseph Lieberman was introducing himself to the nation, all I could see was a smattering of people and three lone cars. I'd obviously missed all the action of an hour before.
Recalling how the Philadelphia Independent Media Center posted first-person protest accounts and regular arrest updates online, I sought out a similar version for Los Angeles at the Los Angeles Independent Media Center (la.indymedia.com). In addition to its one-paragraph breaking news snippets updated about every 20 minutes, the site included a demand for an apology for Day 1 events, in which the D2K Labor Organizing Committee described how the L.A. Police used clubs, horses, rubber bullets and tear gas on the protesters.
Wednesday's standoff between the police and protesters was well over by the time of the main speeches so, to ease the ennui of another slice of primetime political cheerleading, I went in search of the lighter side of the DNC. I tested my political knowledge on a couple online quizzes - "signs of an expert" the BBC's 10-question exam on Yahoo told me.
At MSNBC.com. the question of the day was: What year did Sen. John F. Kennedy nominate Adlai Stevenson? Seventy-one people responded, and MSNBC reported that 87 percent of them said 1956. That was as close as the site came to giving the correct answer. "Tune in to NBC cable for the correct answer," the site teased viewers.
Finally, I decided to revert back to my childhood via the Accept-o-tron at www.realcities.com/rc/election/ - an online version of Mad Libs that created a quick acceptance speech. One of the better lines concocted: Our vision of better schools, lower taxes, safe streets and squishy children.
At the same time, I could still listen and glance to the other side of my screen as Hadassah Lieberman shared "personal thoughts about my Joey." Did Mad Libs write her speech too?