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We in the Gulf Watchers community have been discussing for some time how best to go forward now that the well has been declared effectively dead and the ROV activity has all but ceased. This diary attempts to be an amalgamation of viewpoints on that issue culled from the last dozen or so ROVs, which are the liveblog, nonrecommendable babies of what we call our Mothership. The Mothership is both commendable and recommendable.

We would appreciate commentary from more Daily Kos readers as to how the Gulf Watcher series can best meet the needs of the wider community and the needs of all those affected by the Deepwater Horizon blowout. If you have comments about our future format, frequency, content, please put them here.

Be kind to those with bandwidth issues and do not post videos or images, although though links are welcome.

Kudos to the Gulf Watchers who have worked so long and hard to keep accurate information available. We honor the eleven men who died in the disaster, and extend our best wishes to their families for peace and healing.

The "why" of Gulf Watchers
In BP Catastrophe Liveblog Mothership #118, one of our community explained our purpose to a not particularly supportive inquiry as to why we don’t get over ourselves. Here is her comment, with her gracious permission.

FYI, Gulf Watchers was watching oil seep from the well head weeks ago when Thad Allen was declaring that no oil was leaking.  As of last night [September 19] there were still hydrates forming around the HC connector.  This should not be happening.

The purpose of Gulf Watchers up to this point has been to provide the most extensive eyewitness documentation of this disaster by knowledgeable observers who have dedicated themselves to ensure the information we get is as accurate as possible, and to provide a library of related information and materials to those who wish to further read about the DWH disaster.  

Every so often someone drops by the Mothership to question WHY we continue to do so. We do so because this is the worst environmental disaster to ever hit happen to the United States and if we do not learn from this disaster, it could easily happen again.  If nothing else, we have learned that they (the oil companies) may the technology for drilling in water this deep, but they do not have adequate safeguards to prevent disasters like this one, nor do they have the technology to adequately stop a runaway blowout such as this one.

Knowledge is power.  One of the main reasons for Gulf Watchers was to provide a clearing house of technical information regarding this disaster, deep water drilling in general, regulation and legal issues, and the economic and environmental impacts of this disaster.
by gulfgal98 on Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 09:14:04 AM MDT

When to start our new format
It has been suggested (I heartily agree) that Mothership #125 should be our last. (We are currently at Mothership #122.)
The ROVs attached the Mothership #125 will end with ROV #400. The body text will be changed to solicit recommendations for the ROV itself. Each ROV will retain a link to the last Mothership (#125) and to the GW digest. The ROVs up to and including #400 will continue with the current titling convention and sequence: - DK GW ROV ### - Title - BP's GC. I assume that after that we are abandoning the term ROV, but as widely agreed, keeping the Gulf Watchers title. I am not married to any of the other names I use below.

If I understand Peraspera correctly (9/23 post) she is willing to post the first few diaries after final ROV #400 at 5:00 am when the community at large expects to see our daily appearance...Gulf Watchers Morning Edition, or whatever. As noted above, the text of each diary would request recs. She suggests this might help reduce confusion while we discuss plans going forward.  Those early editions of our new format could also be used to solicit volunteers for the next few Evening Editions, should we choose to have them (see below).
These early post-ROV diaries might also, in the body of the text, ask readers to comment on their dream of what Gulf Watchers could become, how it can best serve the Daily Kos community as a whole, what issues are dearest to them, and in what way they feel best able to contribute.

Content
It is widely agreed we need to focus more on substance, with less light stuff than we have now in order to attract more of the greater Kos community (and perhaps galaxies beyond) with our relevance. God knows there is enough to be substantive about. Some of the issues we’ve concentrated on so far are:
What went wrong at Macondo 252, who did what when, commissions, investigations
Various aspects of offshore drilling
Human health and safety
Effects on wildlife and environment
Cleanup operations (in general, a euphemism)
Action items (who needs help, how to get it to them)
Federal and local actions, inactions
Legislation and regulations
Compensation for those harmed
Litigation
Ethical issues
Election issues
Economic impacts
Links to coverage by MSM and local media, federal agencies, other relevant blogs

There is also a consensus that we Gulf Watchers want to continue to nurture the sense of family we have developed over the last few wrenching months. We’ve shared music, poetry, personal problems and histories, family stories, recipes, and strings of silliness that had me running for my Depends. Yasuragi and David PA have offered to host a once a week GW social diary so that we can air the neighborly stuff there. (I am keen on this myself, being given to fits of frivolity.) We should chose a specific day for this and remind people in the prior day’s substantive diary, and it can run with continuing comments until the next week’s fresh social diary.

Frequency
Aye, there’s the rub. Over at least the last dozen ROVs, we’ve discussed everything from once a week to twice a day. We’ve had 2 polls. The first had a total of 35 responders, 3 of whom wanted 2/day. The second had a total of 29 responders, 5 of whom wanted 2/day. No other frequencies were offered in the polls, and we’re still going back and forth. It’s time to fish or cut bait.

Compromise? Let’s have a Gulf Watchers Morning Edition posted at, say, 5 am Eastern. It would contain Peraspera’s inimitable news summary in the body of the diary as long as she wants to do it. She has pointed out that the news summary can be a pain because of untested html. However, if the summary is included in the body of the diary, the diarist can publish the diary without the news summary if there are errors, in which case single news items can be posted one at a time as updates in order to simplify locating the html errors. (Hope I got that right, as I have no idea what I’m talking about.)

Let’s also have a Gulf Watchers Evening Edition posted at, say, 5 pm Eastern. We could limit it to weekdays, and one of the weekday evening editions would be the social one.

With elections coming up, some feel this will be too many diaries. Time will tell in pretty short order. If we’re making a mistake, let’s make it and learn from it and move on. That's my opinion. Dear readers, please let us have yours.

Items Not Addressed Here
DKos4, tags, searchability, digests, eKos, SUs, the idea of email alerts for action items. I do not do technical stuff, and several loyal Gulf Watchers are already at work on this.

Summary of Summary

  1. Mothership #125 will be our last.
  1. Accept Peraspera’s offer to post the first few morning diaries after final ROV #400.
  1. Schedule volunteers for subsequent morning diaries.
  1. Schedule volunteers for evening diaries of substance on 4 weekdays.
  1. Accept the offers to host one evening diary of GW community fun (does not preclude substance).

Let ‘er rip!

Originally posted to ursoklevar on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:39 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Beautifully organized and delivered. (18+ / 0-)

    I vote "aye" on all points in the summary of summary.

    Thanks, urosoklevar. It's easier to envision when it's organized...

    :-)

    (-7.62/-7.90) .....It was their destruction. They delved too greedily and too deep... Gimli in Moria, JRR Tolkien

    by Lorinda Pike on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:50:55 AM PDT

  •  Ugh. I Don't Know Where To Start (17+ / 0-)

    I've maintained a blog since before Katrina hit until, well now. It is hard. IMHO the low hanging fruit of news stories are gone. But the real pain, the real affect is now. And it needs to be covered.

    New Orleans after Katrina to a large extent was forgotten. Well large parts of the city are still a total waste land.

    I can't even, and I've read it twice, get your new focus. My fault and maybe not yours. But you have to keep the focus on the Gulf.

    "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

    by webranding on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:55:24 AM PDT

  •  I have to run now but T&Rd for (15+ / 0-)

    discussion and hopefully so more eyes will see it. I've been wondering what the next stage would be. I wish I had time to read this and comment. Thanks, Gulf Watchers. Your work is much appreciated.

  •  Regular Periodic Diaries Would be Valuable (18+ / 0-)

    New news about the ecological consequences is certainly going to be surfacing for months to come. Obviously the damage itself will be continuing for decades.

    My hunch would be that weekly diaries would be enough unless your community consensus is that enough is still ongoing that multiple times per week or daily.

    Another periodic diary that might be valuable to the community, possibly quarterly, is a total-newbie's recap of the disaster from the pre blowout negligence through the summer of dithering and on to current status of well, formation and environment. Your expert skeptical commentary would be invaluable of course.

    Thanks to all the Gulf Watchers for such an informative effort all these months.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 09:03:06 AM PDT

  •  I am really hoping a transition to (16+ / 0-)

    TM news, local activist reports , scientific studies, oceanic institutes and colleges etc about the chemicals and oil covering the sea bottom and beaches of the Gulf and peninsular Florida.

    I have been going to  www.floridaoilspilllaw.com and also just signed up for a subscription (free just email) to Testing the Waters. Also, Testing the waters needs cash to test sand and water, perhaps a money bomb to help them out?

    I do not beleive for a second that this crap is not going to enter the Loop Current. Updates on this as well.

    Perhaps a diary pleading to Ed, Rachel and Keith for more coverage. I posted to my Facebook a link that found toxic levels at Siesta Key.  People replied thinking that they were surprised because they thought the spill was over.

    I am no scientist, but I live along the beach in Broward County Florida and I am scared about going in the water and would like to know what toxic residue may be there. And we all have seen pictures of vacationers and locals swimming and playing in the sand.

    Not sure about frequency of diaries. I guess it would depend on how much information is trickling out.

    I am happy to volunteer on some of these proposed diaries. It is a great way to learn what kind of hell future generations are going to have to go through.

    Thanks for all you do.

    "If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading."- Lao-Tzu

    by Pakalolo on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 09:20:54 AM PDT

  •  I recommend a name change to just "The Watchers" (8+ / 0-)

    as other inevitable catastrophes unfold that need watching and it is not catastrophe specific. For example one could have The Watchers: Gulf edition...The Watchers: Katrina edition, The Watchers: Stolen election edition, etc...

    Indeed, we do need "Watchers" over all the BS the Republicans allow to come to fruition.

    "We are a Plutocracy, we ought to face it. We need, desperately, to find new ways to hear independent voices & points of view" Ramsey Clark, US AG

    by Mr SeeMore on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 09:23:21 AM PDT

  •  As discussed elsewhere, I'm in the camp of a (15+ / 0-)

    morning re-cap for awhile; then moving to 2  diaries a week; focused on the many issues that remain before us.  A 3rd diary may come into play for the GW "community"---but that is a side issue.

    whatever the outcome on how many---they need to be regular; random diaries is not going to get it done.

    I can take a loaded rifle into a National Park. No problem. But I can't dig in the sand. --Fishgrease

    by Phil S 33 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 10:22:38 AM PDT

  •  Thanks much for the excellent summary urso!! (14+ / 0-)

    I don't understand why if only 3/35 and 5/29 poll respondents wanted diaries twice a day, posting diaries twice a day is what is proposed. With that kind of poll response, didn't less frequent diary posting get more votes?

    Really like the once a week fun diary and being substance-focused otherwise! It will allow us to attract more people by being substantial as well as have a day to have fun and blow off steam, etc.

    Kos created a site promoting a variety of views & communities; some [believe] they created dKos & it should conform to their image of it. MKSinSA 2/7/10

    by David PA on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 10:23:18 AM PDT

  •  Thoughts off the top of my head (16+ / 0-)

    Yeah, that is dangerous!  LOL

    Ursoklevar, thank you for doing such a wonderful job of organizing the discussion that has occurred over the last two weeks involving the future of the Gulf Watchers series. Since I have not been consistently participating in the ROV diaries for the last week and a half due to being out of town, some of my thoughts below may have already been discussed.  Ultimately, whatever the group decides is fine with me.

    1.  The name Gulf Watchers should be retained.  While we may not be watching the ROV activity, we are still monitoring and reporting on the issues related to this disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.  
    1.  The one poll that I voted in offered an option of twice weekly diaries.  In order for our diaries to be substantive, I would prefer no more than two or three regularly scheduled diaries per week.  We can always add more diaries on an as needed basis.  Hopefully by keeping to several substantive diaries a week, we will attract none-regular Watchers to post diaries under the Gulf Watchers banner.  There are many people here who would have the knowledge to contribute a Gulf specific diary, but did not have the time to spend watching ROV activity on a regular basis as many of the regular Gulf Watchers did.  Having new people contribute to this series is something I would love to see.
    1.  Much of the sense of comraderie for the Gulf Watchers originated in the long hours, often overnight, when the ROVs were most active.  A number of you (not me) gave up much of your normal sleep time to monitor the overnight activity, and often during some of the down time, you had some wonderful and hilarious conversations.  May I suggest either an early Friday evening or early Saturday evening Gulf Watchers Happy Hours diary for this purpose. Some of the things we learned were that many of the Gulf Watchers are also artists and musicians, as well as several who have a wonderful sense of humor.  In addition, we saw several very talented writers among us too (khowell, I am looking at you, girl!).  Gulf Watchers Happy Hours would allow for even more folks here to participate in the light hearted banter and stories that often happened in the wee hours of the night.  Gulf Watchers was both a very serious and fun group.

    Just my 1.5 cents worth.  Thank you all.

    Sadly the truth is the first victim in both war and in politics...--ovals49

    by gulfgal98 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 10:50:56 AM PDT

  •  Thanks Urso (11+ / 0-)

    for organizing these ideas. I have to agree with gg that in order to keep the diaries substantive, and not a burden on any particular diarist, we should limit them to twice a week, unless developments give us more to write about. Hopefully they would be topic specific(?), at least eventually.

    Would be helpful for us diary novices to have a template like the google doc that was used for the rov diaries.

    Agree wholeheartedly with the need for a social diary weekly. Y'all have become too special to lose touch with!

  •  urso....bless you. That's all I've got to say. nt (8+ / 0-)

    "Mysteries Like This And Many Others~~ In The Trees Blow In The Night~~ In The Southern Skies" Allen Toussaint

    by rubyr on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 02:15:39 PM PDT

  •  Thank you urso...... (5+ / 0-)

    I am just pleased you all are willing to continue wrtiting and watching. However and whenever you decide to proceed will be fine with me. I wish I could contribute more.....maybe I can in the future. Regardless, I will support you as best I can. My thanks to all.

    Love is the lasting legacy of our lives

    by princesspat on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:37:37 PM PDT

  •  Will there be a title that captures BP and (5+ / 0-)

    catastrophe in the heading?  At $10,000,000,000 and counting for costs, I would hope we can keep a frosty eye on BP, in these...

  •  Thanks, urso. And thanks to all who (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David PA, gulfgal98, ursoklevar

    contribute to Gulf Watchers.

    We are to hold fast to what we believe is right, fight for it, and find allies....We become a nucleus ..... - David Brower

    by DawnN on Sat Sep 25, 2010 at 08:25:49 AM PDT

  •  The future of Gulf watching (5+ / 0-)

    I have some thoughts on the future of Gulf watchers that I would like to share. Many hours on the road left me too much time on my hands. All of this is intended to be flexible, not set in concrete, fluid, subject to change. Its just food for thought that I hope moves this discussion forward.

    Start as described in ursoklevar’s diary.

    Schedule

    First let me say that I think two diaries a week, plus a GW community diary is about right. Too many diaries, and we run the risk of making them mundane. Too few and there is the possibility of loosing the momentum we now have.
    It is my best guess that we are not going to see enough new information to run daily. On top of that, diaries need to be substantive, and that takes work. Let’s give ourselves time to write good, well researched diaries. We have been committed to providing information. Let’s make sure we can maintain that standard.

    Run the substance diaries on whatever 2 days are decided. I would think that times/days when readership is likely to be high are best. These diaries may be placed equally apart during the week; same day/time each week to be consistently present.

    The GW community diary may be best when the most GWs can stop in. Evenings may be better, and during the week. Many aren’t around on weekends or during day times, but always the same day/time.

    One last thought. It will happen that breaking news comes up and may get missed by our regular GW diaries. I do not think we should not engage in "Breaking" diaries. Let’s leave those to other Dkos diarists. GWs may want to write one, but shouldn’t use the GW title. Let’s reserve GW titles for only the regularly scheduled diaries. GW diarists can cover the breaking news in the next regular GW diary if they choose.

    Topics

    Because there is so much that we could cover, I think it would be wise to break topics into some categories. Each category could then be addressed in our weekly diaries.
    I have this idea that we can "rotate" the topics week to week, based on new information or GW enthusiasm. This will help us coordinate presentation of topics as well.
    Example: Week #1 environment & Legislation; week #2 personal interest & economics, and so forth. I think this offers anyone interested in a particular area, the time to write a diary of substance, and will include new information that’s available. These can be moved around as diarists make them available, or based on current events.
    Example: we might have a research coming out but no economic information; we could do two in a row if needed.

    Here are the major categories that make sense to me:
    1.Environment
    Cleanup
    Wildlife
    Habitat
    Oil presence in the gulf
    Research
    A broad topic to include environmental effects and energy research that moves us away from oil production. Maybe too broad?

    2. Law
    Civil suits
    Criminal investigation / charges /trials
    All manner of litigation

    3. Personal Interest
    Stories of people or communities around the gulf.
    It’s important to put a face on the disaster now and in the future.
    This could include stories about economic hardship, illness, trauma, recovery, lifestyle changes, etc.

    4. Economics
    Money talks.  
    All economy/money/spending/relief/ dollar activities related to the DWH.
    Examples: How has the gulf economy been impacted,
    what are the effects of oil drilling or not.
    Who is feeling the effects most?

    5. Accident investigation
    Self explanatory
    All areas related to the investigation and discovery of what happened.
    For hearings on the investigation

    6. Legislation / Administration / Oversight
    Past/present/future legislation, Regulation, administration, application, and oversight.
    Legislation promoting alternative energy.
    Activities of government agencies at federal and local levels involved in oversight or legislation.

    I believe the area of future legislation and regulation is a most important area.
    Many have said that this should never happen again.
    This is where we can push to make sure it doesn't.
    Here we can promote alternative energy legislation and improve current oversight.
    I think all other diaries provide testimony/argument to support this effort.

    7. All other topics
    Any topic outside or unanticipated other topics

    In an ideal world we would be able to present all the topics once over a 3 week period, and each diary would address something new to keep it fresh and current.

    Diary coordination

    This is about how we decide on what diary and when. I like it that the ROVs have largely been volunteer; we should keep it that way. My one concern is that like the ROVs, diaries tend to be published by a few individuals. I don’t want to see any topic dominated by one person. One of the principles that we have operated on is encouraging as many as possible to participate regardless of expertise or experience.
    I guess the flip side of this is that there isn’t enough interest to generate diaries. If that is the case then there isn’t much we can do. Take diaries as they come by whoever is willing at that point.
    But if someone has a great idea and wants to publish on a topic, and they aren’t a regular, let’s encourage it.

    In order to coordinate our topics we could use the weekly GW community diary to offer topic ideas and coordinate publishing. Use the "META" tag to indicate topics of discussion. Example: "Meta: Law topics" . Under this tag interested parties can decide who and when diaries are published, and allow input from all GWs to express thoughts and ideas.

    Links to prior discussions and decisions should be kept in the current GW community diary so anyone can find out who has committed to what in the prior week(s). Similar to the way we link to previous ROVs or Momboats. We can also keep links to published diaries as we did with the ROVs here.

    Content
    One other area of coordination I see is content. Example:  If a diary were to cover environmental impact this could overlap with economics or personal stories. I think a diary should mention prior or upcoming diaries on the overlap issues of but remain focused the primary topic. I know this may be a no-brainer, but with so much to cover we should try not to be redundant. Then again, two topics could be combined where there is a minimum of info for either.

    We need more people speaking out. This country is not overrun with rebels and free thinkers. It's overrun with sheep and conformists. Bill Maher

    by Kairos on Sat Sep 25, 2010 at 12:55:41 PM PDT

  •  Urso, my 2 cents... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xylem, Yasuragi, ursoklevar

    Yes, a diary twice daily; plus everything you said Urso.

    I'm a ditz on the frequency question. I've been pushing for once daily, thinking that the alternative was twice a week. TWICE DAILY RULES. Start big.

  •  Urso, I'm not seeing a "recommend" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Yasuragi

    box underneath most of the comments on this diary -- with the exception of the comment by Kairos. Wonder why.

  •  *Please* continue to post, at least once/day (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Yasuragi

    Indefinitely!!!  It matters too much, and the continuity of this format is so critical, in all the ephemerality of the hundreds of diaries posted daily -- many others of which are indeed good and commendable -- this just matters so much in so many spheres.  And yes, the 'market' of DKos rec'ers will make the decision, right?

    I hope to see many of the Gulf Watchers diaries also make the Reclist, and will search for them to rec, too, which i basically don't do with any other diaries (except for BWD's).

    So -- this is one strong vote for yes, at least once a day!!!

    Peace--
    X

    •  What a warm and kind comment, xylem. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xylem, ursoklevar

      At least for a little while longer, you'll have your Gulf Watchers diaries daily.  But I'm not sure how practical it is to post one every day without breaking news or or new research to report.  

      But rest assured, we will be a steady presence at DKos, and you'll know our schedule before the mothership is put in drydock.

      Without social justice our politics would be Republican. -- Onomastic

      by Yasuragi on Sun Sep 26, 2010 at 11:43:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thx Yas - i appreciate all each of you do.. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Yasuragi, ursoklevar

        And will understand whatever decision the community of Gulf Watchers makes -- just wanted to say i have in my time of 2 1/2 yrs as a Kossack never seen such a strong community knit itself together as has happened through these diaries, and i think for the sake of long-term activism for the planet and world, that itself means so much.

        I look forward to watching it grow and continue on the site in whatever form it takes. :->

        In peace and solidarity--
        X
        (from a rainy Rio de Janeiro, at the moment)

        •  It's been quite peaceful. (0+ / 0-)

          But let's not forget that it's hard to disagree over a topic like this -- and we make a strong effort to keep specific politics (is the administration to blame, for example?) out of the ROVs.

          I know I've had sharp political disagreements with some of my co-ROVers in the past (don't know whether they know or not), but I glady put all that behind me for this cause.

          So as much as I'm willing to accept all praise for Gulf Watchers as a singularly healthy group that functions with unique solidarity, I also have to point out... what's there to fight about?

          Yes, we have serious disagreements about the use of dispersant, and a few other matters, but that's handled quite civilly, and overall our horror at what's happened, our commitment to move forward covering investigations, hearings, recovery, etc, all keep us bound and in step with one another.

          I used to live in a building that had 32 units -- and was like a dormitory.  Every knew everyone; when the elevator was broken, the younger folks looked out for the old folks and made sure their shopping and laundry were taken care of.  On New Years' we had parties at each others' places or in the lobby, rather than going elsewhere in the city.

          What made that building work so well?  A common enemy: our landlord.  Bound us together tightly.

          BP does the same for us here.

          Not that it's any less amazing.  Just saying, it's hard to not get along when we all have some powerful common ground -- and that's the difference between us and, sadly, the rest of Kos.

          Without social justice our politics would be Republican. -- Onomastic

          by Yasuragi on Mon Sep 27, 2010 at 01:23:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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