Archive for the 'Politics' Category

Technology and Politics Camp, December 17

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

Meet me at Technology and Politics Camp, December 17 in San Francisco.

The Technology and Politics Camp is intended as a hands-on day of networking, brainstorming, and planning for organizations working at the intersection of politics and the Internet (or technology in general). The idea came out of the Technology and Politics session at BarCampStanford.

The general goal is to create stronger and more coherent coalitions devoted to democratic technology, freedom, social justice, and sustainability.

This is the re-scheduled Barcamp TechnoPolitics that I had announced here.

Factcheck exposes inaccuracies in 2006 campaigns

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

Factcheck has been reporting from the campaign trail once again this year. They just published their summary: The Whoppers Of 2006 — We review the worst deceptions from House and Senate campaigns.

Summary

The mid-term elections of 2006 brought an unprecedented barrage of advertising containing much that is false or misleading. We found examples of disregard for facts and honesty – on both sides – that would get a reporter fired in a heartbeat from any decent news organization.

Candidates, parties and independent groups have faked quotes, twisted words, misrepresented votes and positions, and engaged in rank fear-mongering and outright fabrication. Here we review some of the worst deceptions we found.

Analysis

We haven’t addressed every false or misleading statement in 2006 House and Senate campaigns – there were too many of them and our resources are too limited for that. For the full record of our work please refer to the earlier articles on the home page and in our archive.

Disregard for Facts

Much of what we found went well beyond the bounds of honest advocacy, and would warrant dismissal for any reporter who tried to pass it off as an accurate news story. We believe reasonable citizens will also find these distortions to be unacceptable even in political advertising, where a certain amount of puffery is expected and tolerated. It’s one thing to present your own case in the best light and to point out the flaws in your opponent. But a lot of what we encountered was far from the truth. …

Factcheck is a great service and recently won PoliticsOnline’s The Top 10 Who are Changing the World of Internet and Politics award.

Update 2006/11/05: In the title, it must say “inaccuracies” (not “accuracies”).

The top 10 ways the Democrats can win the 2008 elections

Saturday, November 4th, 2006

Listen.

US Presidential Speeches Tag Cloud

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

This is cool: US Presidential Speeches Tag Cloud

Via: Digg

Crowdsourcing — Opportunities for politics and government

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

What is crowdsourcing?

Crowdsourcing” is a term coined by Wired magazine writer Jeff Howe and editor Mark Robinson in June 2006. It describes a business model akin to outsourcing, but relying upon unpaid or low-paid amateurs who use their spare time to create content, solve problems, or even do corporate R&D. Crowds targeted for crowdsourcing include garage scientists, amateur videographers, freelancers, photo enthusiasts, data companies, writers, smart mobs and the electronic herd.

Overview

Crowdsourcing attempts to replace selectively hired, trained and managed workforces with mass volunteer participation and self-organization. While not a new idea, it is becoming mainstream. Open source projects are a form of crowdsourcing that has existed for years. People who may not know one another work together online to create complex software such as the Linux kernel, and the Firefox browser. In recent years Web 2.0 technology has evolved to allow non-technical people to participate in online projects. Just as important, crowdsourcing presumes that a large number of enthusiasts can outperform a small group of experienced professionals. The tagline for Jeff Howe’s website, crowdsourcing.com, is The Rise of the Amateur.

Back in July, over on Tim’s blog, I asked:

I wonder if this could be applied to the world of politics as well: Citizen engagement, crowdsourced policy development, only an engaged citizen is a good citizen etc.

Now two very critical postings by Chris and Tara make me want to get back to this.

Chris: Crowdsourcing — the neue sweatshop labor

Wired got it wrong when it established the term, putting business interests ahead of the community’s — suggesting it’d discovered a gold mine of cheap labor that could become the next wave after international outsourcing. What Wired should have said of course, casting it in such a light, was that it’d discovered the next source of legalized sweatshop labor where you never even need to meet face-to-face, let alone account for, the people doing the work.

Tara: Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

The word crowdsourcing makes me sad.

Why don’t people just say: “wanting you to give your time to my project for free” or “could you do me a favor that will never be returned?”. It sounds so much nicer.

I don’t think I agree. If the terms are transparent and participation is strictly voluntary, I don’t see why crowdsourcing is necessarily a bad thing. Obviously, it may require a lot of effort in building relationships and community (much more so than with traditional outsourcing, I would guess, and something that not all corporations may be capable of doing).

On the contrary, I see enormous potential for crowdsourcing in the area of politics, government, and citizen participation. In a way, projects like AmericaSpeaks (to name just one among many others who were present at the NCDD conference in San Francisco this past August) do just that: they help governments and organizations crowdsource the process of finding smarter solutions and building consensus around them.

And why does that make sense? Because even if they wanted to, governments and the people involved in politics are oftentimes simply not capable of doing it on their own. Without consulting their citizens, they seem less likely to find the right solution to a complex, messy and controversial issue, let alone bring about consensus or get group buy-in. Instead, since citizen involvement is usually not an option due to organizational and budget constraints, they have to go it alone, achieving mediocre results at best.

This is what we have been used to. And this, in my opinion, is one of the main reasons why so many people around the world are frustrated with the political class, with the people who represent them, with the system as a whole.

Now what if…

What if there were an easy and fun way to do this type of collaborative work between governments and their citizens on the web? What if engaging your citizens became a viable option — efficient, affordable, rewarding for both sides? What if, as a government, for the first time in history you could ask the people for help when you need it?

Would citizens be interested? I believe so, and it’s worth a try. I am pretty convinced that more people have a pretty good idea of what makes a good citizen, and they would love to contribute a lot more than they already do — if only it wasn’t so hard.

And as for payment? My guess is you wouldn’t even need to pay people for this type of work, at least not in money terms. If you can convince someone that their contribution as a citizen, their time and effort, their learning about an issue, engaging with their peers, trying to understand each other’s points of view, trying to move things forward, going through all the sweat, tears, pain, and difficulty — if you can prove to that one citizen that all this wasn’t just a waste of her time, but instead, that her input really made a difference, then you will have rewarded her already.

Hotsoup is live

Friday, October 20th, 2006

Hotsoup has launched (and already they made it on national tv last night). What is Hotsoup?

HOTSOUP.com is the first online community that joins Opinion Drivers from across the spectrum. The community connects well-known influencers from the worlds of politics, business, religion, and popular culture with influencers who drive opinion at the grassroots and community levels. Harnessing the power of social networking technology, HOTSOUP.com levels the playing field by giving anyone and everyone a voice in how America’s institutions can work better.

Opinion Drivers are the individuals who, every day, influence their friends, colleagues, and peers. …

Collectively, grassroots Opinion Drivers are an enormous and growing force because Americans place decreasing trust in old-line opinion leaders such as network anchors and politicians; they’re turning to each other for advice and guidance in these fast-changing times. Where is a good place to eat out? What’s the best car to buy? Who’s the best candidate for school board and for president? More and more, Americans are turning to trusted friends and neighbors to answer such questions and manage the crush of information at their fingertips in the info-tech age. If you’ve ever been asked, “Hey, what do you think about…” then you are probably an Opinion Driver. Welcome to the HOTSOUP.com community.

…CONNECTED BY ONE PLATFORM

Opinion Drivers across the country are losing patience with party lines and PR spin. They recognize the complex challenges America faces and want intelligent discussion and reasoning. They want smart debate, real answers and, most importantly, they want the opportunity to be heard.

Carter, Chip, Joe and Mike, prominent Democratic strategists, and Mark and Matthew, Republican heavyweights, had successful private sector practices that specialized in helping corporate clients find Opinion Drivers. It was frustrating; the rise of the Internet and other societal trends made Opinion Drivers both more important and harder to reach.

At the same time, Internet veterans Allie, Bart and John were consulting on better ways to reach and engage Opinion Drivers online while simultaneously launching a new social networking site called Sisterwoman.com.

And Ron, one of the country’s most respected journalists, was observing his readers’ behavior change and co-authoring a book, Applebee’s America, about this audience and the community-building potential of the Internet.

Despite representing both sides of the political aisle, Internet media and journalism, we all reached the same conclusion: There is no single place for Opinion Drivers to gather online. That was the day we set out to build HOTSOUP.com.

Intelligent discussion. Smart debate. A voice for everyone. Will be interesting to watch if and how the makers of Hotsoup will be able to grow the community culture necessary to achieve these goals.

Keith Olbermann: ‘Beginning of the end of America’

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

Keith Olbermann of MSNBC addresses the Military Commissions Act in a special comment: ‘Beginning of the end of America’

And now—our rights and our freedoms in peril—we slowly awaken to learn that we have been afraid of the wrong thing.

Therefore, tonight have we truly become the inheritors of our American legacy.

For, on this first full day that the Military Commissions Act is in force, we now face what our ancestors faced, at other times of exaggerated crisis and melodramatic fear-mongering:

A government more dangerous to our liberty, than is the enemy it claims to protect us from.

If you like Olbermann’s article you may also like his recent A special comment about lying.

The good news, though, is that there’s elections coming up. If you are a U.S. citizen and 18 years of age, you really shouldn’t miss it. If you haven’t done so already, you may still be able to register to vote (at least in some states).

Remember: The right to vote is a privilege that should not be taken for granted.

Online deliberation research — Berlin, Cologne, Brussels

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

Aside from attending Barcamp Berlin and Blogtalk Reloaded, I plan to do a little research in the area of online deliberation and citizen participation.

I’d like to get in touch with people in the field (members of parliament and their staff, party officials, union members, NGO activists, lobbyists, researchers etc.) to find out where their biggest pain points are today with regard to political participation and decision-making. I will organize two casual evening meetups in both Berlin and Cologne. If you’re interested, please contact me and I’ll share the details with you.

Also, it looks very likely at this point that I’ll be going to Brussels, Belgium to take a look at The European Citizens’ Consultations. Don’t know if there will be time for a quick meetup or what form and shape it would take, but let me know anyway if you’re around and want to get together.

Citizendium

Friday, September 15th, 2006

The Citizendium Project

The Citizendium (sit-ih-ZEN-dee-um), a “citizens’ compendium of everything,” will be an experimental new project. It will begin life as a “progressive fork” of Wikipedia. But we expect it to take on a life of its own and, perhaps, to become the flagship of a new set of responsibly-managed free knowledge projects. We will avoid calling it an “encyclopedia,” because there will probably always be articles in the resource that have not been vouched for in any sense.

We believe a fork is necessary, and justified, both to allow people a place to work under the direction of experts, and in which personal accountability–including the use of real names–is expected. In short, we want to create a responsible community and a good global citizen.

The Citizendium will be launched as soon as possible, meaning within a few weeks at most.

Read the essay, Toward a New Compendium of Knowledge (longer version), for a more in-depth introduction to the project.

Is it just me, or is the space of online deliberation, citizen participation etc. picking up speed?

Via Tim: Öffentliches Wissen (in German)

9/11

Monday, September 11th, 2006

In case you haven’t seen it yet, this film is one of the most stunning (and sad) documentaries ever:

9/11

On September 11, 2001, filmmakers Jules and Gedeon Naudet were filming a documentary on a rookie New York City firefighter when they noticed a plane overhead. That plane would hit the World Trade Center. The firefighter and the Naudets rushed immediately to the scene. The Naudets filmed throughout Sept. 11 and the days afterward from the firemen’s perspective, as it became clear to them that this was the only known footage from inside the Twin Towers that day.

Today, five years later, where do we stand? Do we have a good understanding of what is going on in the world around us? Can we identify the right threats? Have our responses been wise enough? Are we making the right choices? What are our goals? And what is the moral compass by which our actions should be guided?