ME and Ophelia

Thursday, January 15, 2004

For those of us in the blogosphere and the emergent democracy movement

Last month, Dr Jim Moore, a senior Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard Law School in Boston, Massachusetts, was appointed Director of Internet and Information Services for the Dean campaign.

Yesterday, after a long, long, busy day, Jim was blogging at 1:15AM from his office at Dean for America, in Burlington, Vermont. The temperature was well below zero, the predicted wind chill that night was 30 below zero, and he was far away from his house west of Boston.

As he sat in his office relaxing and blogging, and finding some rest and humour, before travelling the windy, frigid path to Wendy and Kelly's, to sleep, he posted a picture of his peaceful home, an image of the serenity that he treasures.

Around the same time, he was wondering in his blog: "How we can shine an ongoing, daily light of accountability on those involved in helping select a leader for the United States?"

Already this morning, he has blogged an answer: Media monitoring network, from Alex Moody.

Jim suggests that the Media Monitoring Network might be hosted at Berkman, and could be started by selecting a dozen major press journalists who are covering the candidates, and by forming a non-partisan network of bloggers to monitor them. It could be done on a trial basis to explore what it takes to sustain it, and make sure that "we" are indeed fair and balanced.

These ideas, germinating in the Daily Kos community, Jim says, are a healthy start at answering the need for a higher level of accountability in the process of selecting the next President of the United States.
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How people validate the information they receive

Tom Watson MP blogs about a colleague of his being categorical in his view that the Internet will become the single most important method of political engagement in the UK.

In America, apparently, the Internet now equals US radio as a source of political news. Tom points to an article summarising a new survey. I have selected the following extracts:

--More than one-third, or roughly 40 million Americans, have done some form of information gathering or more direct participation in politics via the Internet. Of this group, more than half (52 percent) have gone online to look for more information about candidates' positions on the issues, and 29 percent have used the Internet to find out about campaign organizations or activities in their communities;

--Hitwise found that visitors to the sites in the political category were typically 35 to 44 year old (25 percent) males (56 percent), with household incomes above $75,000 annually (45 percent), who accessed the Internet from home (64 percent) in California, during a session that lasted more than 7 minutes;

--Of the sites where Internet users are accessing political information, Rainie expects that voters will begin assessing credibility. " will be interesting to probe how people validate the information they receive or decide what information they can trust. There are really interesting 'brand' questions about this (do I trust what's coming to me from all the National Review channels?), rather than the 'channel' questions about how people get their information (do I trust this because it's coming from the National Review's magazine as opposed to its Web site?)."

Tim Swift (a non-blogger) posted this comment to Tom's blog:

"...The interesting developments will be about the difference between campaigns that just use the internet and email as a marketing tool, and those that use it as a real mechanism to involve people.

The Dean campaign - and I believe to some extent, the Clark campaign, although I have not followed this much - has not just been about internet as marketing; the campaign has in many ways been shaped by the individuals who have participated through the net - quite different from 'political spam'. This is in stark contrast to the Bush campaign use of the net which, so far, is very effective as a rapid communication tool, but is entirely 'top down'.

Further, in the case of Dean, it is not just about the internet - the blog and email has been a way of motivating and informing people, but the impact of the campaign has been about getting a lot of people involved who have then gone out and talked face to face, written letters, and done all the other things that are about real and practical politics. It's not just about the internet - it's also about empowering and involving people. ..."

Source courtesy of Tom Watson MP and article published on CyberAtlas Internet Statistics and Market Research for Web Marketers.
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The Guardian and the fourth estate

Clive Soley, Labour MP for Ealing Acton & Shepherds Bush, blogs about the media and Guardian newspaper in his post The Guardian and the fourth estate. Here is a copy of Clive's post, along with my comment posted in response:

"...It is not easy for people to get their general views into the newspapers so I was pleased to see a whole page in the Guardian quoting the views of a panel of voters chosen by them at the last General Election.

Why though, did the Guardian spoil the exercise by printing a picture of Tony Blair with the long nose of a liar? No one in the survey accused him of lying and I thought the critics were more thoughtful then that. We still have this problem in the media of editorial policy slanting the news. Pictures do tell a story and if there had been people in the survey accusing him of lying it would have been fair but that picture under a quote saying *This is not the government I voted for* implies that the critics in their survey are claiming he is a liar which they were not.

The fact that a range of views was printed in this form is good policy for a newspaper and the nearest they get to blogging! It compares well with some other papers who come from the *all the news that fits the print* school of journalism!

I remember some years ago when the Evening Standard ran a story about London MPs not being present in sufficient numbers in the chamber of the House under a picture of nearly empty House. The picture cut off at precisely that point which would have shown the press gallery to be completely empty!

I wrote to the Editor saying the Standard could help hold MPs to account by publishing a weekly page with short statements by MPs about current events. Answer came there none!

The media used to be the fourth estate with Parliament, Monarchy and Church in first three places. Has the media replaced the Monarchy in second place and has that helped push Britain into a more presidential form? Discuss!..."

Here is the comment I posted in response:

Clive, Last month the UK's Guardian Unlimited announced the winners of their awards for the "Best of British blogging". Final winner for "Best Written" category went to a London call girl. It's definitely not representative of the best of British blogging and certainly is not an example to be held up for young bloggers to aspire to.

We Brits live in the land of the English language, Shakespeare, historically great literature and world famous writers, theatre and comedy. Thumbs down to the all male Panel of Judges for the "Best Written" category: their selection was a disgrace and their reasoning utter twaddle (many bloggers thought it was not any better than thousands of other blogs out there). Because the winning entry centred on prostitution, the Guardian could not even publicise extracts from the winning blog, nor could I quote or link to the winning entry in my blog.

Instead of fuming or emailing them: my blog enabled me to do something about it. I felt empowered. Firstly, I blogged a post about it. Secondly, I deleted all links to the Guardian in my sidebar. Thirdly, I planned never again to read or link anything to do with the Guardian. I'm a Sunday Times reader anyway, so no great loss. But, if more people turned their backs on certain newspapers, it could send a powerful message.

No, I do not think the media (broad description includes tv, newspapers, radio) have replaced number two the Monarchy. But I do think many people are wising up to the media. I believe blogging and the Internet, in years to come, may become a more powerful and influential medium. In the future, the traditional media will be forced to sit up and take notice of the truth because bloggers would not let them get way with any editorial policy slanting the news.

This is a copy of my January 12, 2004 post re the great increase in Spanish blogging:

Blogs coming of age in Spain

Thanks to W4 and Dowbrigade for highlighting this post (written by Madrid-based blogger Marta Peirano of Elastico) that explains how world events, including the Prestige oil spill and the Iraq war, sparked growth and a new sense of significance for Spain's blogs this year:

"...It's easy to forget, ensconced as we are each in our own corner of the Blogosphere, the true depth and breath of this movement. Even when we reach out and link with far-flung blogs that somehow come to our attention, we can still not do more than scratch the surface of the sphere.

If you would like a reminder that Blogging is a world-wide phenomena which is working its magic hither and tither around the globe, check out this just-released article in Wired on the explosion of Spanish-language blogging during the past year.

"All of a sudden it became obvious that TV and newspapers weren't providing us with the truth," Peirano says. "We saw things on weblogs that contradicted what we were seeing in conventional media -- digital snapshots and first-person reports posted by independent people, individuals, who'd traveled to the oil spill site to help with cleanup."

"We were reading these live blog accounts, and it was as if the entire country realized at the same time we weren't being told the truth," adds Peirano. "The media was just lying..."
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Free commenting facility

Apologies to readers for the disappearance of this blog's commenting facility from BlogSpeak. Here's the explanation from BlogSpeak:

BlogSpeak is in the process of being acquired by HaloScan. Everyone's account will be transferred there, with all comments in tact. Further information will be posted here in the coming days to advise you how to take advantage of this. Also, an email will be sent to all users informing them of the switch.

It was fun serving all of you, and sorry it had to come to an end. You can blame that one on I have a special for everyone who has recently donated. Look for an email from me in the coming days to explain.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 1/15/2004
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