Monthly Archives: October 2004

Election doing for Bittorrent what 9/11 did for blogs

Never Forget: Internet Vets for Truth is the perfect example to show how easy it is to distribute video, to a huge audience, on a shoestring budget. Bittorrent empowers folks to publish large files quickly and easily, where once it would have required costly infrastructure. The distribution of the Jon Stewart Crossfire confrontation video illustrates just how far things have come. I believe this election has encouraged folks to push broadcasting?s boundaries, to make up for what the media has not provided, just as 9/11 encouraged bloggers to do the same for publishing.

(RSS + Bittorrent) * Video/Audio Content = the true new media. It’s disruptive technology. Check out TvTorrents for an eye opening peek.

Bin Laden still alive, and we went to war in Iraq why?!?

George W. Bush diverted our forces and their efforts from the bastard who attacked us to go after someone who didn’t. Read this Washington Post story for the sad details.

Speaking of taking our eye off the ball, do you know that Iran tested a strategic missle? With North Korea’s help? Or that North Korea recently threatened to turn Japan into a ‘nuclear sea of fire’?

Want to know why? For one, Bush said he wasn’t concerned with Bin Laden (Yahoo!), and just look at all the reasons given for attacking Iraq:

Foreign Policy Iraq excuses chart
From Foreign Policy magazine. Now that’s a lot of double talk if you ask me.

Just one more thing the mass media isn’t reporting

…researchers compared the mortality rate among civilians in Iraq during the 14.6 months prior to the March 2003 invasion with the 17.8 month period following the invasion. The sample group reported 46 deaths prior to the March 2003 and 142 deaths following the invasion. The results were calculated twice, both with and without information from the city of Falluja. The researchers felt the excessive violence from combat in Falluja could skew the overall mortality rates. Excluding information from Falluja, they estimate that 100,000 more Iraqis died than would have been expected had the invasion not occurred. Eighty-four percent of the deaths were reported to be caused by the actions of Coalition forces and 95 percent of those deaths were due to air strikes and artillery.

eurekalert.org : 10/28/2004

About that apathy….

After the election, when all is said and done, I’d love to revisit conversations I’ve had about the apathy my generation has been accused of (NPR from 1998 – great stuff). By all accounts, things have changed. What I’d like to know is how accurate were the pundits in trying to figure out why were weren’t engaged, and what it has took to turn it around.

According to LA Weekly writer Harold Meyerson, we now have a “fully functioning American Left”.

Well whaddya know.

Six more days – get involved

This blog, and plenty of others, have shared the importance of what’s going on. Philadelphia and the surrounding burbs can swing the tide of Pennsylvania. By all accounts PA is a must win state for Kerry.

There are plenty of great ways you can get involved and help to make a difference with the election. In fact, the choices are bewildering. But let me break it down for you.

You can join me and the great iFlipFlop folks at PA Victory. It’s the official Pennsylvania Democratic Party campaign for Kerry and Edwards.

You can take a more independent route and join the foward looking team at MoveOn. If you are in Northeast Philly call my Kerry Meetup friend Charlie Miller at 215-885-5544. If you are in other parts of Philly see Mithras. Area phone numbers: Allentown: 610-821-9761, Bryn Mawr: (610) 520 1920, Jenkintown: (215) 572 1310, Langhorne: (215) 757-4680, Philadelphia: (215) 592 0967, West Chester: 610-719-8160.

You can volunteer with the non-partisan Committee of Seventy, assisting voters and monitoring the election. Call 215-557-3600.
You can

It’s easy to get involved. Both groups will work with you on the time you can commit and what you feel comfortable with.

Four months on continued…

The feeling I could do more was dogging me and others in our meetup group. Talking about the issues with friends and family online and in person only goes so far after all.

Lynne was great at letting us know about a variety of ways we could get personally involved. One of the ways talked about was MoveOn. I had signed a few of their petitions over the years and recently bought 50 Ways to Love Your Country. It’s inspiring stuff and I suggest a purchase. A few of us volunteered for their Leave No Voter Behind effort. It’s focused on helping get out the vote thru one on one personal contact. They empower you with the tools to go canvassing in your own neighborhood. Mithras, a local blogger, has been posting about his work with them. The word that I get from my meetup friends is really positive.

Me? Well I’ve always felt that somewhere out there is a place where I can apply what I do for a living for a positive purpose. So early last month, on a lunch break, I decided to walk into the local Pennsylvania Democratic campaign headquarters and offer my help.

I introduced myself at the front desk, told the fellow who I?ve worked for and what I do, and within minutes was introduced to PA Victory’s Internet Director (and overall technology manager as far as I could tell). He gave me a tour and a review of their work. There was lots of energy flowing all over the place. The site team was a bit understaffed, but the Director was, like many work mentors of mine, someone who could hold together a massive operation on will power alone. I was taken aback at the sheer number of people who have put their lives on the line by taking breaks from work and school to volunteer full time. Here were people believe with all their hearts and minds that Kerry can lead us out of the mess we?re in. Contrary to what some bloggers say, these folks made the choice based on who to vote for not who they were voting against.

To make a long story short, we launched an instance of Movable Type to manage event postings and news items, with RSS flowing out in every direction. There is a great back story to this, and with a follow up piece I’d like to outline the techniques (the right mix of templates, plugins, and some Movable Type source code hacking) we used to pull it off since event listings and editorial workflow are not Movable Type strong suits.

It launched two weeks ago and since then I’ve switched gears and am now assisting with PA Victory’s Get Out The Vote effort. I attended a training class this past Saturday (there are still classes available) and all I can say is to repeat what I did earlier today – we’re going to win folks.

Four months on and eight days to go

I got involved in the campaign, in an active way, far too late to make much of a difference, but I?ve been trying my best to do what I can. Along the way, I?m learning a few things about rapid online community building, effective online communication, and most of all, being part of a team.

My initial, trepid step, was to join a Kerry in 2004 Meetup. Its meetings were being held at a local diner in Northeast Philly called Tiffany?s. I have many good memories there and knowing the location took away some of my anxiety. There was no need to feel that way, as I soon found out. The group was a friendly, diverse bunch with something that we all cared about to that made it easy to relate. Among us was a veteran of WWII, a few middle age housewives, three or so middle age men who?ve taken part in various campaigns in the past, and most notably, Ross Schriftman candidate for PA State Representative. Except for Ross, all had little political experience. Most of us were motivated by this particular election to act, since the stakes are so high. All were types I could share a seat with on the train or a bus. Typical Joes just like myself.

Our organizer, Lynne, would pass out a newsletter to keep us abreast of opportunities to get involved and important news that we needed to be keyed in on. After a discussion on each item, we would have open discussion on the campaign and on what new outrage had come out of the Bush administration. We had some terrific conversations, and having Ross there gave us a perspective we wouldn?t have had otherwise. One of the things that bothered all of us was the lack of communication with us by the Kerry campaign. A few were in Dean meetups and lamented how different it had been. The disconnect here was an opportunity lost. The energy we shared was terrific. People wanted to get involved and do something, anything, to help.

One of the team, a very bright 16 year old, had been working on a site for group, but it was under used. Our Meetup forum, likewise, had few posts, but I failed to notice. I offered my help. If, I thought, the software were easier to post to, maybe more folks would add news items regularly and we could have a solid news channel that would serve to bring others in. This was a mistake. I didn?t take into account how folks in the group used the net, because if I did, I would have realized the site was overkill. Email was the primary way they communicated, and it would remain so. In any case, it did give me the opportunity to become very familiar with Civic Space. For an average blogger, CivicSpace provides too many features and is too complicated to configure, but if you are planning a site that will have multiple contributors, that aims to be a Slashdot-style community, I highly recommend it.

Our meetings have changed, partly on my suggestion, so that that we can donate our time to a campaign. We moved into Allyson Schwartz?s Northeast Philly headquarters and now meet every Tuesday. The last three weeks our team has helped to send out mailers, and do phone banking. Tim Kearney?s headquarters is in the same apartment building, so we?ve tried to help there as well. Our numbers have diminished a bit, Lynne had a personal situation arise and she had to hand over our leadership, but we?re all trying to help in anyway we can.

If you are in Northeast Philly, and would like to help a worthy candidate win office, call the Tim Kearney, Joe Hoeffel or Allyson Schwartz office. If you are in the burbs, Northeast of Philly, take it from me, you want to help Ross Schriftman.

If you?ve taken note that I am leaning hard towards Democratic candidates, well, I am. All three legislative house of our government are one party right now. Witness the results.

Tomorrow I’m going to post about the work I’ve been doing for PA Victory and provide you with some information on how to get involved with the campaign to elect Kerry for President in these last few days. It’s a community effort and we all have ways we can help.

BTW – Kerry and Clinton will be in Philly tomorrow.

You don’t get how someone can be a Bush believer?

Let me share my own thoughts for once instead of letting a link do it for me. I feel, from the bottom of my heart, that Bush’s “true believers”, those with their bumper stickers, and who refuse to face facts, believe most news media to be untrustworthy. They feel it doesn’t speak to them, that it doesn’t talk their language, and worst, talks down to them. They feel it doesn’t address their concerns. They feel left out. Disenfranchised. History seems to be moving far too fast, or at least this explosion in media makes it feel so. They fear it. They fear change. They appreciate someone who sounds “straight up”. They recognize that as the sound of honesty, even while *we* may think of it as bluster. They recognize loud volume as strength, and strength is something to desire in someone you want to have protect you. They want to kick some ass. That comes back to volume. Speak like you mean it. They trust that. Gray areas? Nuance? Those are for girlie-men. Girlie-men can’t defend their goldfish let alone a country.

Let’s get something clear – people do not communicate the same way. We respond to tones, colors and words differently. The Bush campaign is playing the tune it thinks will reach out to its base. It recognizes their feelings and instead of repuditing them, it connects with them. It relates to their concerns, and says it will address them. It comes down to marketing. It’s that simple. If newspapers marketed themselves to the Fox News crowd – it would be a different picture. But by and large, most don’t. So it’s not about “truth”. It’s about Coke vs. Pepsi. There are some who drink one, those that drink the other, and the rest of us folk who really don’t give a damn and rather have a beer. What you’re witnessing is the result of the nichification of mass media and those who use it for exploitation.

Until there is a source of news that these folks feel they can trust, that shares stories with the same view of truth as yours, well…

…for those who don’t get it? That was explained to me in late 2002 by Mark McKinnon, a longtime senior media adviser to Bush, who now runs his own consulting firm and helps the president. He started by challenging me. ”You think he’s an idiot, don’t you?” I said, no, I didn’t. ”No, you do, all of you do, up and down the West Coast, the East Coast, a few blocks in southern Manhattan called Wall Street. Let me clue you in. We don’t care. You see, you’re outnumbered 2 to 1 by folks in the big, wide middle of America, busy working people who don’t read The New York Times or Washington Post or The L.A. Times. And you know what they like? They like the way he walks and the way he points, the way he exudes confidence. They have faith in him. And when you attack him for his malaprops, his jumbled syntax, it’s good for us. Because you know what those folks don’t like? They don’t like you!” In this instance, the final ”you,” of course, meant the entire reality-based community.

Ron Suskin, New York Times: 10/17/04