Local Politics



Local Politics, originally uploaded by Aldon.

Supporters of Gayle Slossberg and Vinny Marino parade around the Milford Oyster Festival

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Help Send Bloggers to Denver

I've been spending a lot of time talking with various bloggers going to Denver to cover the Democratic National Convention. It is expensive to get there, pay for food, housing, and whatever else. Many of the bloggers have set up 'ChipIn pages', so I've gathered several of these.

Uppity Wisconsin

African American Political Pundit (AAPP)

Momocrats

Buckeye State Blog

Ohio Daily Blog

Black Women in Europe

Pam's House Blend

Avalon Farmblog

There are also a few blogs that simply have PayPal links. These include:

BlueGrassRoots Paypal

Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis Paypal

TalkLeft Paypal.

North Decoder Paypal

Natchez Blog Paypal
Note: I'm told that Nachez has reached their fundraising goal, but I felt I should list them anyway.

Crack the Bell, TipJar

I hope that you check out each of these blogs and then contribute what you can to help them get to Denver.

More about Laconi.ca Federation

Recently, there has been a discussion on the Laconica mailing list about how to make remote subscriptions easier. Remote subscriptions are crucial to federation and an important part of what make Laconi.ca so interesting. People discussed how to make remote subscriptions easier which brings up the question of what the different use cases really are.

Let me start off by explaining what remote subscriptions are, how they related to the larger microblogging world and how they work with Laconi.ca. From their I will suggest some use cases and ideas about how remote subscriptions could be handled better.

Essentially a remote subscription is when you use one microblogging service and within that service, subscribe to people in another service. Right now, anyone can set up their own Laconi.ca server and subscribe to people on other Laconica servers. Ideally, they could subscribe to people on any microblogging service, if that service supported appropriate standards, such as the Open Micro Blogging protocol.

What sort of use cases might this create? Well, currently, I have an id on Twitter, Plurk, Pownce, Jaiku, Identica and several other Laconica based servers, and so on. It is sort of like the old days before email systems were interconnected and I had email addresses on many different email systems.

However, I hope the day will come when these service all get connected together and I can choose whichever service I like best and bring in messages from my friends on other services. With that, I would end up having one microblogging profile, which would be how to find me on the service I use. Then, people could subscribe to that profile from any other service they are on.

Currently, Laconica allows you to visit someone’s profile on a Laconica based site, and subscribe to their profile. If you are logged into the server, they assume that you want a regular subscription, very similar to how you would follow people on any of the existing microblogging sites. However, if you aren’t logged in, it assumes that you want to do a remote subscription. It asks for your profile on the remote service and then subscribes your remote profile to the profile that you are visiting.

It seems pretty straight forward, although until you get a sense for it, it can be confusing, especially if you have set up accounts on many different services and you are logged into the server you want to do a remote subscription to. However, as remote subscriptions become more stable and more common place, I expect that people will stop having as many accounts and this will be less of a problem.

Instead, one may think of their Micro Blogging Profile in a manner similar to how they think about their OpenID profile. As a matter of fact, this would be a nice extension to Laconica. Instead of putting in a Micro Blogging Profile for a remote subscription, it would be nice if I could put in my OpenID and then have Laconica use OpenID’s attribute exchange to find my default micro blogging profile and use that for the remote subscription.

However, we are probably a long way away from enough people using OpenID and enough OpenID services supporting attribute exchange for this to be a good near term solution. So, we may want to look at other solutions.

To do this, we need to look at how people find others to subscribe to. One is that they get messages via email when someone subscribes to them. I’m not sure if this works properly for remote subscriptions. That is an area that I need to test. When I get an email like that, I go check out their profile and decide if I want to subscribe. If so, I subscribe directly if they are on the same server as I am on, and if not, I subscribe remotely.

Early on, people asked about customizing the email message that people receive. For example, it would be nice to add a ‘subscribe’ link. Right now, if you try to subscribe remotely to me, you are brought to this link:
http://identi.ca/main/remote?nickname=ahynes1.

If a subscribe link was added to an email, your profile could be added as a parameter, e.g.
http://identi.ca/main/remote?nickname=ahynes1&profile=http://example.com/you.

Then, if you click on it, your profile would already be filled in and you could simply accept the remote subscription.

Another way that people sometimes subscribe to others is by ‘snowballing’. That is when you go through a list of other people’s subscribers, subscriptions, or even the notices that are in the persons feed.

As an example, if you look at my subscriptions you will see that I’m subscribed to http://whojusttweeted.com/jay. For people that are logged in, adding a parameter the link to pass their profile to the remote site, thereby making it easier to remote subscribe might help things out a bit.

However, currently the link goes to a person’s profile, and not their remote subscription page. So, to get this to work, you might have to pass the remote profile, if it is received from the profile page to the remote subscription page. It is a little more work, but not bad.

So, these are a few ideas and use cases of how remote subscriptions could be improved, thereby strengthening federation on Laconica. So, what do you think? Do these make sense? If so, any thoughts on how best to tackle it? It seems as if tweaking the gallery program to adjust the links would be the easiest starting point.

Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

Random Stuff

I’ve been pretty busy the past few days and fighting a sore throat on top of that, so I’m way behind in my emails and commenting on various things that have come up, so this will be a bit of a catchall post.

First off, I’ve been tagging more sites recently with Mento. Mento then sends them to del.icio.us and magnolia. My delicious tags automatically show up over on my Wordpress and blogspot blogs. The magnolia links show up daily in posts on this blog. So, people who regularly read my blog will have seen some of these links already. Yet, some of them should be commented upon themselves.

Virtual Rally is an interesting use of a very simple two dimensional world, where you really can’t do much of anything, as a means of getting people to express their concern about oil taxes in the Philippines. Last time I checked, it had received less than four hundred virtual protestors, and some of them are people from the United States creating people simply to test the software. Is it because lowering oil taxes in the Philippines isn’t that compelling an issue? That the site isn’t that compelling a site? Or something else? It seems like a simple thing that could be set up for some fun political action here.

Then, there is the Sharkrunners game put up by the discovery channel for Shark week. I haven’t played the game yet, but my brother-in-law is fascinated by sharks so I need to point out the game to him.

In terms of Twitter, there is an interesting video that is up on the Red Cross Chat blog talking about using Twitter during an emergency. It isn’t a great video. The guy seems to think that Twitter is used mostly by kids and the content usually isn’t very important. Needless to say, I disagree with the characterization of the Twitter users and their content.

However, he makes an important point about sending text messages being much more efficient on an overburdened cellphone network when there is an emergency. He talks about how the RedCross (which is on Twitter) is using Twitter to gather information about people that are safe and well in an emergency. However, his instructions aren’t all that great. He suggests texting ‘follow safe and well’ to Twitter. Actually, the Twitter account is safeandwell. I don’t know if putting in the spaces between the words will cause a problem.

Yet what is more important is that you don’t want to follow safe and well. In the case of an emergency you want to send a direct message to safeandwell On the safeandwell Twitter page, they ask that you send a direct message in the format ‘d safeandwell FIRSTNAME LASTNAME #### STREET CITY STATE ZIP CELLPHONE and a brief note about how you are. This gets automatically entered into a database that Red Cross keeps to help people find out how their family, friends and neighbors are in the case of an emergency.

Using Twitter to let people know how you are might be useful if you are in Denver for the convention and get swept up in any mass arrests. The CBS affiliate in Denver has an article about 'Gitmo On The Platte', a warehouse owned by the City of Denver where people taken into custody will be held. When I read about this, my mind goes back to the Republican Convention in New York City in 2004. Back then, it was Gitmo on the Hudson, and the city detained thousands of people without regard to due process or habeas corpus. Bill Katovsky has an article on Huffington Post about what has gone on with Gitmo on the Hudson. It will be interesting to see what happens in Denver.

In other convention news, people are starting to share convention calendars. SquareState.net has these events around DNC Convention. Rootswire has this calendar of convention events. Meanwhile, all my friends who are going are busy trying to figure out which events to attend.

Common Cause has a Symposium on Media and Democracy happening on the 26th from 10 to 4 PM.

CSPAN is teaming up with New Media Strategies to bring their Convention Hub which will launch shortly before the conventions. It will include real-time tracking of credentialed state and national political bloggers, real-time feeds from Twitter users using the hash-tags #RNC08 and #DNC08, as a bunch of other tools.

Also, in preparation for the convention and the ensuing battles, Jerome Corsi, author of Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry, has his latest book out, ‘The Obama Nation’. You can read about his ‘opposition to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign’ in the New York Times. The DNC is preparing for such attacks and are encouraging people to sign up for the Rapid Response Team.

Meanwhile, I continue to read The Faith of Barack Obama by Stephen Mansfield which I’m finding quite enjoyable and informative. I’ll write more about this later.

It’s a lot of random stuff, but I wanted to highlight it before I started digging through more of my inbox.

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@noneck Deported

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to get anyone going to Denver to start using mobile social media. I’ve spoken with delegates and bloggers about how to start using Twitter, how to send text, pictures and videos directly from their cellphones. We’ve talked on phones, IM, emails and podcasts. I’ve talked about the importance of getting the raw, unfiltered and unedited stories out there as quickly as possible.

Today, I came across a story that really ties it all together. Noel Hidalgo, Noneck on Twitter and numerous other sites was deported from China for live streaming a pro-Tibet rally. The story is rapidly spreading around Twitter and the blogs. Rahaf Harfoush has this exclusive interview with Noel. Laura Fitton highlights the story, and everyone is talking about it on Twitter.

Years ago, soon after I married my first wife, I dragged her to a polling place for some election in New York City. I went in and voted. When I came out, my wife went into vote, but the machine wasn’t working. She came out and explained the situation to the poll worker, who said that she had lost her vote by coming out of the booth the way she did.

This was soon after Ferdinand Marcos had been removed from power in the Philippines. I started arguing with the poll worker saying he could not disenfranchise my wife. I talked about people dying in the Philippines for the right to vote. A police officer came over, and then the moderator of the polling location. It was early in the day. Six people were listed as having voted. Yet the voting machine only showed five votes. It turned out that the poll worker had forgotten to press some button which would have enabled my wife to vote. The moderator addressed the situation and my wife received her chance to vote.

Yeah, there were differences between New York City and Manila. There will be differences between Beijing and Denver, but there are similarities. In the United States, we hold the right to vote and the freedom of the press as sacrosanct. Yet too often, we take it for granted. Yet one thing that is important about Sen. Obama’s campaign, is that it is reminding all of us about the importance of our vote, that our vote can make a difference.

Likewise, Noel’s experience in Beijing should be a reminder of the importance of a free press. I hope that everyone going to Denver will do their part to support a free press, especially by bringing their cellphones and posting from Denver as events happen.

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