Lots of folks have been having some good, clean fun diving into the details of the recent phone exchange between Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Ian Murphy, a blogger posing as Tea Party financier and liberal bogeyman David Koch. The individual excerpts make good reading, especially the part in which Walker talks about potentially tricking Democratic lawmakers into returning to the state, plus when the governor says that he and his team had considered importing “troublemakers” to discredit protesters. Oh, and when “David Koch” promises to “fly [Walker] out to Cali and really show you a good time.” And don’t forget the “hobos in suits” line….
But here’s the internet effect — yes, a published transcript is one thing, but listening to the actual audio is more powerful and ultimately more effective (I love how Scott just plows ahead in the face of “Koch’s” constant and often obscenity-laced interjections). Without the ‘net, Murphy would have needed to catch a reporter’s interest to get the word out, and even if parts of the discussion were published, it’s not likely that the general public would learn the full contents. But since he could publish his own recording of the call online, journalists, other bloggers and citizens in general can listen for themselves and get a real sense of what the governor believes in private. And, they can see just how eager he is to talk with a prominent Republican donor and a key hub in the “vast, right-wing conspiracy,” even as he has no time to talk with Democrats and labor supporters.
In other words, an audio clip is more than just an audio clip in a universe of blogs, YouTube and Facebook: when everyone’s a potential publisher, a simple prank call can be a shot heard ’round the world. Audio of the calls embedded below.
The current election cycle’s potential Republican candidates for president may be a little slow out of the gate, but past aspirants to the nation’s highest post haven’t been so shy. So on this, our nation’s day to celebrate discount waterbeds and fine lease-to-own furniture, let’s remember a President’s Day announcement that should have shaken the world and a candidate who might have been, had 2008 gone a different way.
Silly bipeds! Your time has come. Prepare, if you dare, for the iron paw of Monty.
BTW, this week turned into a federal-budget frenzy over at the NWLC, which took up most of my time during the week, leaving poor E.pol all sad and lonely. But take a look at the results: a comprehensive guide to how President Obama’s budget and the Republican plan for the rest of 2011 would affect a huge range of vital programs. Stark differences!
E.politics is taking to the airwaves today! Well, the virtual airwaves — I’ll dropping in to chat with Karen Jagoda on her Digital Politics Radio show, broadcast live on WS Radio from 3-4 Eastern time today. I’ll be on the 3:30 segment to talk about “disruptive technologies” on the political front, with a particular emphasis on their role in Egypt, Tunisia and beyond. If you can’t tune in live, the archived version of the show will be posted on the E-Voter Institute site within a couple of days. Hope you can make it!
A great observation from Jason Lefkowitz at Sunday’s Organizing 2.0 conference in NYC — while we may all want to be magic and unique individuals on our own, and every nonprofit is special to its mother, following that logic when it comes to technology is a bad, bad idea. Instead, when you’re looking at databases, website technologies, office networks and the like, you want to be as standard as possible.
Why? Because “unique” means “custom,” and “custom” typically means “expensive and hard to maintain.” A decade or so ago, it was common for nonprofits and campaigns that wanted a database-driven Content Management System for their website(s) to have one built just for them by a vendor using Cold Fusion, Perl or some other development language or environment. The problem? Besides the fact that custom software typically costs big bucks, that vendor usually soon moved on, or went out of business, or got hit by a bus, leaving the client with a system that no one else knew how to update or even keep running.
Did Twitter and Facebook “cause” the Tunisian Revolution and the protests in Egypt? Not according to Malcolm Gladwell, since he and others have questioned the role of social media in social change in North Africa. But he’s not there, and neither are most other Western observers weighing in on the subject, giving their debate a whiff of the abstract and the academic.
Fortunately, the people who change the world these days get to tell their own stories, and on January 26th I was lucky enough to hear one of them. Despite a snow storm that shut down the District of Columbia, a few dozen of us made it to a presentation and discussion at NPR’s headquarters led by Rim Nour, a young Tunisian protester. Organized by social media guru Andy Carvin, Social Media & Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution: A Firsthand View provided fantastic details on how Tunisians used technology to accelerate their revolution, and in the process gave us a preview of how other people around the world might do the same.
Nour’s background in technology and public policy not only makes her uniquely qualified to speak on these questions, but she was also on the street as the revolt happened, risking the consequences of standing up for her beliefs and the rights of her people. In her eyes, social media tools didn’t CAUSE the revolution — it was a Tunisian Revolution, not a Twitter/Facebook/Wikileaks revolution — but they definitely seem to have speeded it up. Plus, they let the rest of the world watch and offer such support as we could. And as the country risked descending into chaos, digital tools also helped people organize themselves to protect their communities and the political gains they had won.
Just a quick reminder, on a day when I stayed home from work and tried to sleep off a case of the creeping nasties: tomorrow night I’m speaking (briefly) at what should be a very fun Network for Progress party, which you should attend if you like good times and/or Progress. Next, this weekend it’s time for a quick trip to NYC for this year’s Organizing 2.0, which should also be a hoot and a half plus a chance to learn a thing or two. See you there!
There is an e-revolution happening right now, citizens using the internet to demand a change in government policy, but I’m not talking about Egypt…this is happening in Canada.
It’s been called Canada’s “biggest citizens’ movement in generations” and it’s a fight of the future of the internet (something of particular interest to readers of this blog). It’s a battle against the major telecom companies and the government over access and the affordability of the internet.
Big news this morning in the online content and advocacy fields — AOL is buying HuffingtonPost for $315 million, meaning that a site that’s become a prime outpost for liberal-oriented commentary and news is coming coming under the wing of a major corporation. What are the implications for progressive activists?
It depends, of course, on the direction that AOL takes HuffPo. It’s hard to imagine that the new owner would allow what is intended to be its main content-provider to be entirely liberally focused, but does that mean that Huffington Post would change or that AOL would set up some kind of balancing outlet with a conservative bent? The latter would obviously have much different consequences than the former, since a shift in HuffPo’s own editorial slant would likely drive away many or most of the huge number of contributoring bloggers who’ve really built the site. Plus, it would seriously undermine HuffPo’s brand — though the Post has steadily hired full-time writers and has become more of a news-generating site than when it started, its public image revolves around being a platform for voices on the political Left.