The Verdict: How do we handle dissent?

On July 6, 2003, Joseph Wilson wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times criticizing the Bush Administration’s rush into the Iraq war. Eight days later, Robert Novak wrote a column revealing Wilson’s wife’s role within the CIA. We may never know exactly what happened within the office of the Vice President and discussions with members of the media, but one way of dealing with dissent is to attack the dissenter’s family. When attacks step over the line, the U.S. legal system gets involved, and we shall see if I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby will be found guilty of obstructing the efforts of the U.S. legal system to get to the bottom of this.

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Regionalized Social Media

Over the past several months, I’ve been involved with various regional efforts in the progressive political blogosphere. I keep posting on my own blog, as well as various national blogs, but I also participate in Connecticut’s progressive political blog of record, MyLeftNutmeg. From time to time I visit neighboring regional progressive political blogs of record like BlueMassGroup, Below Boston, Blue Hampshire, Green Mountain Daily all in New England, and blogs like Culture Kitchen in New York, and Blue Jersey in New Jersey.

Yet social media is much more than just progressive political blogs. In New England, the New England News Forum is convening a conference on how changing media is changing civic involvement. It will include journalists, bloggers, educators, people interested in economic development and social issues.

I will be co-leading a session, “From DC courts to NH campaigns: Has blogging gone mainstream media?” I hope that many of my friends from New England regional blogs attend, and participate in discussions of how the broader spectrum of social media interacts in New England for the benefit of us all.

(cross posted at a bunch of the blogs listed above)

Be the change you want to see on the web

Recently, everyone has been talking about Sen. Obama’s online social networking software. Obama has some great people working for him and people tell me his software is very good. As an Edwards supporter, I haven’t taken the time to look closely at Obama’s system.

However, I like the Edwards social networking tool, OneCorps. It may not be as sophisticated, but it has the important focus, of getting people to get out and take action, to (paraphrasing from Gandhi), be the change you want to see on the web.

This weekend will be the next day of action for the Edwards campaign. Edwards supporters around the country will gather to take action to help our country. The focus, this month, is on health care. In Connecticut, Edwards supporters are gathering to give blood. In Florida, Edwards supporters are joining in a neighborhood cleanup day.

Beyond this, the other day, I got an email from Sen. Edwards on is the hot new social networking tool that “aims to transform social activism by serving as the central platform that connects likeminded people”. It is just getting off the ground and I was impressed that Sen. Edwards has a page up there. There is a small group of Edwards supporters there and a small group of Obama supporters there.

As a final note, I do not want to get into an argument over which presidential candidate has the best tools or is doing the most to encourage their supporters to take action now. If the Obama team uses their social network to empower and encourage their supporters to get out and take action that surpasses the actions that the Edwards team is doing, then that is great. We should be competing to see which group of supporters can do the most to bring about the change we want to see in the country, not in 2009 but starting right now.

If the Richardson, Dodd, Clinton, or other teams come in and raise the stakes, even better. We need to show that Democratic working together caring for our neighbors can restore the empathy which has always been part of what makes America great.

(Cross-posted on DailyKos)

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Random Stuff: Media, Games, Wind, Coal and psychology

From time to time, my email box gets over run with things that I really want to spend time reading and then writing long blog posts about, but I just don’t get the time. There are a few different things like this piling up right now, so here is my latest collection of random stuff.

New England News Forum

The New England News Forum is now public and planning their first conference. Robert Cox of the Media Bloggers Association and I will be leading a fun wrap up session entitled, “From DC courts to NH campaigns: Has blogging gone mainstream media?”.

NPAP's Conference on Politics and Paranoia

The National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis in collaboration with a lot of other groups is presenting a conference, Politics and Paranoia, The Political Exploitation of Paranoid Anxiety. If you don’t attend, something really bad could happen to you.

For more information check out

Games for Change

On a mailing list of people interested in Games for Change, I found two things jumping out at me. First is from Robert Steele, whom I first ran into as part of the Greater Democracy community. He has a group called, the Earth Intelligence Network. They also link to Tom Atlee’s Co-Intelligence Institute. I need to go out and see what both groups are up to these days.

The second thing that jumped out at me was a blog post by Jason Ellis. I don’t know anything about Jason, other than what he’s written in his email. He mentions that he was a student of Amy Bruckman’s. That is a name from my past. I think I ran into Amy at the first Association of Internet Researchers conference in Kansas several years ago. I knew of her work from my earlier days of MOOs. Who knows. Maybe I even met Jason there.

Anyway, he has a blog entry entitled It’s Only Fun When You Ain’t Learning. It looks like a blog entry that I want to go back, read in detail, follow the links, etc. Maybe by adding a note here, I’ll be more likely to get around to that.

Wind vs. Coal

Tara Lohan has an interesting article on AlterNeton Wind and Coal in West Virginia. I fired off an email to Bethe Wellington, whom I met through the National Conference on Media Reform. She writes a lot on this subject and I was sure she would have some useful additional information.

She starts off her email by pointing me to a campaign to stop mountain top removal. Note to self: Link this into as well.

She also links to the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, another leader in the fight against mountain top removal. The Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition has a lot of links to renewable resources. Beth talks of the support for wind farms, but owned and run by locals.

Lohan’s article is long and it has already attracted over 150 comments. It is well worth reading and thinking about all the different viewpoints presented.

Well, that’s my collection of random stuff for right now.

About Social Networks

Obama’s social network and Edwards’ campaign office in Second Life have spawned another round of discussions about the value of online social networks. Second Life is more than just a social network, but a lot of the concerns about Second Life apply to a general discussion of social networks.

I’ve been writing about social networks for a few years now and you can see some my posts about social networks here.

Before I start talking much about social networks, I would like to address some of the general criticisms of social networks. It seems like a common occurrence with any new technology is as the technology starts gaining popularity, people start coming out and pointing out how the technology might be less than people expecting. Some of this is, perhaps, just a normal part of a technology adoption curve. It may be in part, people who are afraid of being disrupted pointing out the problems with a disrupting technology. Some of it may simply be people looking at a glass being half empty instead of being half full, and some of it may be best summarized in the quote that Robert Kennedy adapted from George Bernard Shaw, "Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not."

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