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Saturday, 7 June 2008

Scrapbook clips catch up

The U.S. Embassy in London is running a series of forums about the election and held one May15th about the web impact: Digital Politics - Effects of the Information Age on the 2008 U.S. Election and Beyond.

Unfortunately they worked with YouGov and and the implementation is awful. First, the video is an obvious add-on to a live event, the sound is terrible (smartcom:tv production), the sell is about watching live, not watching later. No links to speakers texts or speakers notes. And it's not embeddable.

Pity because it was excellent.

Phil Noble, who runs PoliticsOnline, predicted that Obama will raise $1 billion online and put 5-6 million organisers on the streets in November. Andrew Chadwick from University of London spoke about why the UK is lagging. He reminded people about the video conversations going on around politics (which is happening here) and how the predictions missed this, thinking slick would rule. He highlights difference in political environments and how the US is more pluralistic, and we're more vertical. He points at UK candidate selection as dragging us down but sees some hope in the decline of party membership 'incentivising' parties to reach out.

In his very pessimistic speech Jimmy Leach, former No. 10 digital guru, noted that Boris' website the day after the Mayoral election simply noted 'this site will no longer be updated'. He links this to politicians cynical attitude; 'putting the tools away' once elected, take them out again in five years time. He also notes how out of touch politicians are with the basics, Blair sent his first text message after he left office! "If they don't get it they aren't going to try unless they absolutely have to". He also says that "amongst the machinery of government the enthusiasm isn't there".

Definitely worth a view if you can cope with crap sound. has started an initiative to add video from the House of Commons to their site, so you can see what your MP is saying. It's not possible to automate, so they're asking for volunteers (aka crowd-sourcing). Marking the video is easy to do and you can contribute ten minutes and that helps.

Andy Key from Hampshire CC sourced some hard numbers on online take-up for secondary school admissions. "Hackney were top of the form for online secondary school applications, with 85.3%; Medway were at the bottom with 1.1%. " As I commented, I wasn't aware Medway was that 'poor' and Hackney that 'rich'.

Actually, it wasn't the Sun wot won it. Sun readers did — Martin Kettle needles at Brown's courting of the Daily Mail and reminds that: "People choose a newspaper that suits and reflects them culturally. One of the ways it reflects them is political stance - though it is by no means the only one, as politicians like to believe. If politics were all, why would a quarter of Mail readers vote Labour, as they do? Only a fool would say that newspapers have absolutely no influence at all on politics, or say that there is no reason whatever why politicians should try to get good coverage in newspapers. But the rewards to politicians from such efforts are marginal at best."

Follow up on the BBC Trust report from the BBC Web Team. Others have picked up on the linking issue and their positive view on BBC blogging. No one though seems to be picking up my point on their attack on embedding.

My dad got me watching a rah-rah BBC doc on Scots Oil (Video). Jeremy Leggett, a solar champion, says it was so flawed it shouldn't have been screened. The chutzpah I noticed was the endless recitation of how 'no-one is reporting this Scottish success' from a reporter for the channel which would be most responsible for that non-reporting!

Hillary supporters for McCain, oh god. And you could hear some of them booing her at her - great, really - concession speech, even at this point: "don't go there .. the stakes are too high."

LA Times says that McCain's Web gap is showing. But it is starting to close, RNC ads and supporters vids are getting circulated and views in the low hundreds of thousands. They're all character hit pieces (Wright/Rizco) or experience vs. inexperience. The pump pieces for McCain are weirdly unsuccessful though.

The web is having a fascinating impact on Egyptian politics, both big P and little p. YouTube has been used to fight against violence against women. Much of this activity was by bloggers - see the Egyptian Blogs Aggregator. Alaa Abd El Fattah: "Through the aggregator, blogs were used to recruit for and engage with the pro-democracy movement Kefaya, to organize protests, strikes and sit-ins. The aggregator became a platform for various ambitious campaigns, from election monitoring to a broad anti-torture movement." Some bloggers, like just released Karim el-Beheiri, have been jailed and tortured for this work. Now that Facebook is being used to actually organise anti-government protests - about food and oil prices and the gap between rich and poor - the government is considering shutting it down.

Another Bush legacy. Rural America is not online and it's because of the power of lobbyists distorting the market. "The shortcomings of the U.S. broadband market are tremendous - more than 10 million U.S. households remain un-served, while nearly 50 million homes are priced out of subscribing to broadband services - and the social and economic consequences are dire ... The U.S. stands alone among OECD countries without a national broadband program." In Australia this was a major election issue.

Like with the US's 'rendition' planes, aviation enthusiasts have tracked and now set up a Google Map to follow what Silicon Valley Insider calls 'the Google party plane'.

Great line from Etre's newsletter about what's called familiarity blindness, how the brain learns to screen out the familiar, which is why you won't see the letter 'f' in 'of' if given a paragraph and asked to count the number of 'f''s (you won't, I promise you). "It doesn't matter whether you're a web designer, programmer, marketer, manager or CEO, if you are involved in a website's development, you are oblivious to the majority of its flaws. Familiarity blindness means that your nose is pressed so firmly against a tree trunk, that you simply cannot see the forest around you."

Mnemonic from Maureen Dowd: "I’m-A-Dinner-Jacket."

Line of the week from a man (Richard Godwin) about Sex and the City: "But in the end, it comes down to the shoes. I used to imagine the world would be a more peaceful and just place if it were run by women. Sex and the City suggests a more Orwellian vision: a Jimmy Choo stamping on the human face forever."

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