Obama's Strength

Obama's Strength, originally uploaded by Aldon.

Recently, I've been seeing ads by the McCain campaign trying to stir up fears about Obama's willingness to confront America's Toughest Problems. That isn't quite the way they are putting it, but it perhaps is the real message that needs to be communicated.

Hence, my modification of their ad.

(Anyone with better graphics skills is encourage to take the idea and make a better version of it.)

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Recent ma.noglia bookmarks

Here are pages I've recently bookmarked with ma.gnolia:

SPAM® - Monty Python's SPAMALOT™ - Play this very silly catapult game for fun!

SPAM® - Monty Python's SPAMALOT™ - Play this very silly catapult game for fun!

Spamalot game!

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linkfluence - home

linkfluence - home


PresidentialWatch08 » Map

PresidentialWatch08 » Map

Curious map of the Blue and Red blogosphere. Not clear how they determine who counts. Looks like it may ignore the long tail

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Impersonal Democracy

Today is the first day of Personal Democracy Forum, #pdf2008, and I am trying to make sense of my feelings about not being there. I don’t think it is sour grapes. I couldn’t justify paying the price of attending, and I just didn’t feel like scrambling to get in as a panelist, volunteer, scholarship, member of the press or so other sort of comp.

No, it feels to me like PDF has lost the personal touch. I spoke a little bit about that last year, and it feels even more so this year. It all feels so predictable, the usual speakers saying the usual things, various attendees complaining about panels led by four white men, and others being too crowded to get into.

Yes, I would have loved to hear Zephyr Teachout speak. I got a sense of what she was saying through Andy Carvin’s Tweets. It sounds like she still gets the personal aspect of it. I suspect that a discussion with her about her ideas in a coffee shop in Burlington would be great, but I suspect the hall at Lincoln Center was a less personal venue.

Yet from other tidbits I’ve picked up on Twitter, I wonder if the growing community of PDF is the growing community of those working, one way or another, in Internet Enabled Electioneering.

Micah Sifry started things off with a comment about how small donor networking has taken big-money politics down a notch. Has it? Sure, there are a lot of smaller donors fattening the campaigns’ coffers, but these coffers are larger than ever. On the spending side, politics is bigger money than ever. It would be interesting to know how much of this is going to media companies, both new and old.

So, what do we see at PDF this year? Wonderful maps of the influence of Internet based media. Presidential Watch 08 gives a map of the political blogosphere. All of the big name media companies are there. The campaigns are there. The DCCC and DNC are there, but what is missing is the long tail.

There was a brief discussion about MoveOn being on the fringe and Tracy Russo noted that this is one of the problems of web-only metrics. I suspect that if you look at the long tail of blogs by unknown and unidentified MoveOn supporters, you might see a very different picture.

The problem is that it is very hard to quantify the impact of these unknown and unidentified MoveOn supporters, and if you can’t quantify it, it doesn’t really matter, right? After all, what matters most is the quantified results of voting scheduled to take place in November, right?

Well, I think this reflects the myopic perspective of those who focus on electioneering to the exclusion of governance. How do you quantify Learned Hand’s criticism Oliver Wendell Holmes’ opinion of Schenck v United States and the effect that it the criticism had on subsequent First Amendment jurisprudence? How do you quantify the value of some unknown medical professionals who voluntarily provided an operation on James Lowe’s cleft pallet and its effect on the debate in health care in America?

All of this makes me think of this scene when a Cardinal was coming to Assisi in the moving about St. Francis entitled “Brother Sun, Sister Moon”. One of Francesco’s friends urges a mutual friend who has taken up with Francesco to come and speak to the Cardinal. The friend says that he doesn’t have anything to say to the Cardinal, but Francesco says, there are many that you could say, much of it centered around helping the poor. (Note, this is my vague recollection of the movie from many years ago and I may not have the details exact, I couldn’t easily verify them online, but it captures the idea.)

Perhaps this captures my ambivalence about going to PDF. On the one hand, I don’t feel like I have a lot to say to Arianna Huffington or Ana Marie Cox. I doubt they would listen anyway. On the other hand, perhaps Francesco is right. Perhaps we need to remind those focused on Internet Enabled Electioneering on the bigger picture.

Lets work on making our democracy, all aspects of it, a little more personal.

Adding Friend Feed comments to Drupal

Last night, Bill Anderson added a Friend Feed comment on my Feed graph in Flickr.

Whoa! This is an engineering diagram that *is* a picture. What kind of systems are we building? The kind that Aldon has drawn here

What kind of systems are we building? Who is thinking about how all the moving pieces fit together? It is a very interesting line of thought to be following.

It led me to a different question. Are people adding comments to my friend feed that I, and others are missing? Have people commented on Orient Lodge blog posts over in Friend Feed?

At the same time I noticed that Friend Feed evangelist Steve Rubel posted a link: NEW FriendFeed Comment Widget (Blogger, Tumblr and FeedBurner).

It got me thinking. Can I add Friend Feed comments to Drupal? My first pass was to try and tweak some of the code in the article that Rubel linked to. That didn't work particularly well. So, I checked around on Drupal and found an example in this blog post

Doing a little tweaking, I came up with:

function friendfeedcomments(json) {
if (json.count > 0) {
var ffsection = "<div class='subheadlg' style='padding-top:15px;padding-bottom:10px;'>FriendFeed Comments:</div>"
for (var i = 0; i < json.count; ++i) {
var ffcomment = json.value.items[i];
ffsection = ffsection + "<dt class='comment-author friendfeed-comment-icon'><a href='" + ffcomment.link + "'>" + ffcomment.title + "</a>"
ffsection = ffsection + " says...</dt><dd class='comment-body'><p>" + ffcomment.description + "</p></dd>"
<script src='http://pipes.yahoo.com/pathawks/ffcomments?_callback=friendfeedcomments&_render=json&ffid=ahynes1&url=<?php print url($node_url,NULL,NULL,TRUE) ?>'>

which I added to my node.tpl.php file. Note: ahynes1 is my id on FriendFeed. If you lift this code, you should change ahynes1 to be whatever your FriendFeed id is, or you probably won't find any comments.

It looks like it is working. What would be really nice would be if I could add a link to the FriendFeed item even if there are no comments there, so that people could add comments on FriendFeed if they wanted to. That will wait for another round of tests.

Friend Feed and the Twisty Maze

Today, I received a direct message from a friend on Twitter complaining about receiving my status updates six times on Friend Feed. The problem, put simply, is that I use ping.fm to update my status on about a dozen different systems, Twitter, BrightKite, Plurk, Jaiku, Pownce, Tumblr, etc. Then, many of those systems get read by Friend Feed, so the same message shows up in Friend Feed half a dozen times, once from each of the different systems.

Another tool that I’ve been working with recently is Mento.info. Mento sends bookmarks to multiple places; del.icio.us, ma.gnolia, and straight to Friend Feed.

In addition, some of the systems feed each other. So, BrightKite currently feeds Twitter, Twitter feeds Jaiku. Then, there are all kinds of other connections. I use Twitterfeed to update Twitter when I update Orient Lodge. My updates to Orient Lodge also show up in Facebook and Jaiku. Ma.gnolia, which I mentioned above, also updates Orient Lodge.

Beyond this there is the connection between picture sharing sites. Blip.tv feeds Flickr and Orient Lodge. Flickr also feeds Orient Lodge and much of this ends up in Friend Feed as well.

Of course, if I send messages from my cell phone, particularly pictures or videos, I typically send them to multiple services. I haven’t even mentioned Utterz or Twitterfone.

It all becomes a fairly complicated mess, as illustrated by this graph. Not included in the graph is the way I use my cell phone, IMs, Utterz, Twitterfone or other services that I’ve probably forgotten.

Feeds, originally uploaded by Aldon.

Oh, and Friend Feed isn’t the only site other there aggregating data. The same thing happens in MyBlogLog, BrightKite, and probably several other sites that I’m forgetting.

To address this, and appease my friend, I’m starting to cut some of the links. I’ve changed my setting on BrightKite to not send updates to Twitter when I post a note.

I’ve also removed BrightKite Jaiku, Pownce, Tumblr, and ma.gnolia from my Friend Feed. Since the vast majority of the information that they receive is coming from other sites, it will significantly cut down on the duplicated entries on Friend Feed without Friend Feed loosing a significant amount of content initiated on these sites.

Now, it would be really nice if Friend Feed and other sites that aggregate social information could check for duplications like this, so I could keep all the different sites more fully connected. Perhaps that will come in the future.

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