Only 40% will vote today, if you keep your plan not to

I agree with Seth Godin’s latest, explaining that political advertising is designed to suppress the vote. If you’re planning to not vote, in protest, you are giving these campaigns exactly what they want.

We do have a choice. And that choice still matters.

Some predictions:

If it does play out the way many talking heads and pollsters say it will, just like last election, there will be talk of a shift in American politics: Ross Doughthat in the NYTimes parrots this view and expect many others from Fox and elsewhere to trumpet it.

NYTimes: Ross Dougthat: “How We Got Here”: an opportunity has opened for the Right that would have been unimaginable just two years ago — a chance to pre-empt a seemingly inevitable liberal epoch with an unexpected conservative revival.

I believe in something different than that. Brought on by modern communications technology and Gen-X’s marketing-sense – independents have swayed the last three elections. Neil King Jr., in the Wall Street Journal, along with NPR parrot this:

WSJ: Neil King Jr. “Revival of Volatility Signals Historic Era in U.S. Politics”: Voters this week look set to do something not seen since the early 1950s: Oust a substantial number of sitting House lawmakers for the third election in a row. “GOP Leads Pew Poll, But Surprises Still To Be Found”: “This is the third election in a row where they voted against the party in power. They are not happy.”

Lastly, Pew research produced a report whose headline really hammers it home: “Independents Oppose Party in Power … Again”.

There are two parties on the ballot, not three. And like Obama in the last election, the ‘Tea Party’ movement has apparently captured the enthusiasm (anger/hope) of independents to channel that energy into potential votes to an established party.

So it goes? Maybe not.

It all comes down to today and whether you decide to go in the voting booth and take a chance.


Howard Hall: “democracy’s chorus”:

there’s no harmony

in democracy’s chorus

unless we all sing

Rebooting Democracy thoughts on Activists versus Pundits and Law

The difference between an actual organizer/activist working in a movement and someone of the punditry; there are *concrete* artifacts pursued by an organizer/activist and the primary artifact of a pundit is their cult of personality.

If there aren’t proposals behind the bluster of someone considered a leader, maybe what you have isn’t a leader, but a pundit in pursuit of nothing more than fame and power.

There is a Rebooting Democracy movement brewing among many in technology spheres. Lawrence Lessig is one of the activists (not pundits) behind this and a perfect example of this is a movement he and many others are pursuing to pass the Fair Elections Now act. Check it out.

Activists tend to be far more boring than pundits in my experience (no offense you activists out there). When you start to coalesce energy into real action (which in turn means facing the gears of bureaucracy and process), it can be frustrating, slow and yes, boring. But it’s the body of democracy. And we are part of it.

YouTube: “Schoolhouse Rock- How a Bill Becomes a Law”:

There is a challenge here for the Rebooting Democracy movement. Where is the list of laws or bills on the books that lets me find those I might be interested in supporting or fighting to have dismantled? The tools that are out there require a lot of work and are not where they need to be. Until I can locate laws and bills, Local, State, and Federal that would call me to action (even ‘like’-ing them on Facebook) and such activity can be aggregated some how for our representatives to act on, we remain in a position where those who speak the loudest, or have the greatest cash pile, have the ear of our law-makers.

We say we want an informed citizenry and participatory democracy. To me, this is an achievable small measure along that path.

So if you are a software engineer out there who would like to build the infrastructure for this, or are part of this, let me know, because I want to be involved where I can. There is code to write. System’s to build. So that all of us can better connect, be informed, and participate.


O’Reilly Radar: Mark Drapeau: “What does Government 2.0 look like?”

Rebooting Democracy

Code for America

Sunlight Foundation

ProPublica relaunch includes ‘future of context’ ideas

You can read about it at Nieman Journalism Lab.

Check out some sample reports:

ProPublica: Gulf Oil Spill

ProPublica: Tainted Drywall

ProPublica: Buried Secrets: Gas Drilling’s Environmental Threat


The Future of Context

Comcast releases open source software

Comcast Voices: “Comcast Labs and ISC donate IPv6 Open Source software to open Source Community”. Conversation at Hacker News.

And check out Arpit’s post about his work on Comcast’s Xfinity Remote Prototype, “Have you seen the XFinity Social Remote app?”.

Online heroes – David and Barbara Mikkelson profiles the hosts of in “Mom-And-Pop Site Busts The Web’s Biggest Myths”.

Using the Internet and Media to Make a Difference

Being the Difference names Mark Horvath “Person of the Year”.

Read the link – be inspired – then find a way to act. No matter how small. A tweet here, a blog post there, actually can push the ball forward. Making a donation to organizations like Project HOME or donating your time, even better.

Lately, my mind has been thinking about Camden Hopeworks. They are a nonprofit teaching program that provides youth with experience building websites and GIS/Mapping solutions for clients across the area. Check out the Hopeworks GIS Gallery.

Bob Burtman, for Miller-McCune, recently wrote a related piece about GIS, “The Revolution Will Be Mapped”. You will want to check out the Metafilter thread it spawned.

Quotable – out of context – but worth it – on maybe why Bill O’Reilly is more popular than Bill Moyers?

Alan Kay on comp.lang.smalltalk.squeak.beginners: Re: Smalltalk Data Structures and Algorithms:

What is wrong? Why is mere opinion so dominating discussions held on the easiest medium there has ever been that can provide substantiations with just a little curiosity and work? Is the world completely reverting to an oral culture of assertions held around an electronic campfire?

That quote is going to be passed around a lot.

It’s a one paragraph penetrating question into why the Bill O’Reilly’s of the world have so much more popularity then those who pursue the fact based journalism that a Bill Moyers pursues.

BTW – Howard Rheingold’s recent post at SFGate, “Crap Detection 101” is highly recommended (via Rebecca Blood).

Challenging conventional wisdom about the direction of media

New Yorker: Malcolm Gladwell: Priced to Sell – a scathing review of Wired’s Chris Anderson’s new book “Free: The Future of a Radical Price” and the concepts promoted within.

NYTimes: Keeping News of Kidnapping Off Wikipedia – the NYTimes coordinated with Wikipedia staff to keep a factual event from appearing on the service.

Say Everything: Chapter One: Putting Everything Out There [Justin Hall]: a review of Justin Hall’s history and his efforts on the Web. How they laid the foundation for all that came later.

NiemanJournalismLab: Four crowdsourcing lessons from the Guardian’s (spectacular) expenses-scandal experiment

Scott Rosenberg: IPO: It was ten years ago today

Chris Anderson (not Wired’s): We’ve Been Living Through a Twitter Revolution for the Last 10 Years

Doc Searls: “What if the roles we play are not to pass along substances called ‘data or ‘information’ but rather to feed hungry minds?”

Doc Searls: Beyond mediation: We are all media now, right? That’s what we, the mediating, tell ourselves. (Or some of us, anyway.) But what if that’s not how we feel about it? What if the roles we play are not to pass along substances called “data” or “information” but rather to feed hungry minds? That’s different.

I believe that we truly are the media now.

When we criticize ‘the media’ we are criticizing ourselves. Media is intermingled. It’s everywhere and each of us take part from the smallest of web forums to the largest of social networks. That implies a civic responsibility.

People hate that word – responsibility – but there it is. And when it comes to media – the responsibilities that spring from it are now shared by us all.