November 8, 2004
Election good news, bad news
More from JOHO the blog re the election. The good news: folks from the University of Michigan have provided some additional maps for those depressed by the garden variety red maps. Here's their cartogram by county, which adjusts the sizes of counties according to their population and the color by proportion of votes:
Now the bad news: there's already a report that appears to show that traditionally heavily Democratic counties in Florida apparently voted overwhelmingly for Bush. Gay marriage opponents? Or something else? I'm sure we'll never know.
November 5, 2004
Stupid is as stupid does
Here's a loosely coupled post with some key points I want to refer back to over the next weeks and months as I try and figure out "what next?" First, I'm finding that there's a lot I agree with in Kottke's How George Bush won the election:
I don't think America is that divided. I think most of us are ill-informed in two major ways, "conveniently" split along the lines of the two major political parties available to us. ...
So...while I am as depressed as anyone to be facing four more years of W, I'm pretty sympathetic to the point above. Hell, this is the picture of my family. I'm the bleeding heart liberal, former Catholic turned Unitarian Universalist, who has a brother who was a Promisekeeper and is now a member of some evangelical Christian church in the boonies of Pennsylvania. As Tom Hanks says in You've Got Mail, we are an American family.
For another "the truth hurts?" slap at blue folks, there's this from Camille Paglia:
Progressives must do some serious soul-searching. Too often they are guilty of arrogance, insularity and sanctimony. They claim to speak for the common man but make few forays beyond their own affluent, upper-middle-class circles. There needs to be less preaching and more direct observation of social reality.
That said, when you tally things up like my co-worker Justin did, and you throw in some conspiracy theories a la Diebold, the question of reaching out to the middle and/or "work against the force of intolerant fear-mongering that has swept this country" (JOHO the blog) isn't just an exercise in bloggerbation.
I agree Bush and his people are smart, very smart, but I believe there's a difference between the people who voted for Bush, and the people whose interests he serves. Do the people who voted for him understand that?
To the extent that they don't , reaching out can only be helpful. But in the same way we differentiate between civilians and militia, we need tougher tactics for those who would willingly mislead. (Wanna be further depressed? Read FactCheck.org's piece on false ads.)
And in either case, I think we need to revisit how we organize. In particular, one question I have now is just how much decentralization? The MoveOn folks are rightly proud of the turnout, but was there a backlash because people were hearing from MoveOn, from America Coming Together, from the Kerry-Edwards campaign, from their local dems campaign, etc? Did my writing moms in West Virginia help, or did I come off as pretentious as the Limey Assholes did in Ohio? If there had been some loose coupling between these groups, would the resources used have had more impact?
And we have to find room for religion in our politics. In Salon, Edgar Rivera Colón writes:
That African-Americans were able to forge both an abolitionist and civil rights movement with the resources of the King James Bible and the Constitution of the United States should give Democrats some food for thought about the progressive possibilities inherent in the most widely owned and read book in this country.
Getting better at this isn't key, it's fundamental. After all, Richard Nixon was re-elected too.
October 29, 2004
Karen Schriver on ballots
Karen Schriver, one of my fave info designers, has been fairly active on the InfoD-Cafe list recently. In her first post, she points to some interesting press coverage in Florida re ballots. This one (Miami Herald; no registration required) points out issues with so-called "broken arrow" ballots. This one (Orlando Sentinel; registration required...feel free to use IDblog/IDblog as your login/password) is a more in-depth critique of Florida's ballots, with Karen as one of the expert reviewers (Tim Shanahan, from the University of Illinois at Chicago's Center for the Study of Literacy, is the other).
Karen's post has led into a very interesting thread, so check out the ID-Cafe archives if this topic is of interest.
An enblogment for Kerry
Larry Lessig pointed to an effort of Dave Winer's to use the blogosphere to indicate support for various candidates thru blog links. So here is my link for Kerry. See Dave's explanation if you are wondering what the hell an enblogment is.
October 6, 2004
Wonkette pointed to the fact that the URL factcheck.com -- which Cheney incorrectly attributed in the debate last night instead of the correct factcheck.org -- had been recently redirected to georgesoros.com. This is really amusing, as Soros is the billionaire philanthropist who has recently been a big source of funding to MoveOn.org and whose site is visibily anti-Bush.
Alas, as of right now, georgesoros.com isn't serving any traffic. Earllier this afternoon, the site disclaimed any responsibility for the redirect (which seem valid...the whois database doesn't show an obvious link to Soros) and was pointing folks to the right site.
September 2, 2004
Pleasure Boat Captains for Truth
Not a W fan? Then you'll likely appreciate this very funny (IMO) Swift Boat parody.
If you are a W fan (or are annoyed by deviations from the subject of information design), do check out this post from Christina about why Target's junk mail isn't.
July 29, 2004
It won't hurt...please give!
<bleeding-heart liberal on>
After he accepts the nomination for president tonight, John Kerry is expected to accept $75M in public financing, which means he can no longer accept (or spend) money from donors. George Bush is expected to follow the same path, but because the Republican National Convention is 5 weeks later than the Dems, he has more time to spend the $$$ he's raised.
According to Salon, Joe Trippi thinks that Kerry should take the risk and reject this public financing. But Salon points out that this route means that "if Kerry revved up his fundraising machine again he'd be competing with national Democratic congressional and state candidates." There's also the risk of "unleashing a new campaign-contribution arms race that the GOP would in the end win, given its superior resource base."
Well, what this means to me is that for the first time, I'm planning to donate money to the Democratic National Committee, which has just pledged to spend $6 million in August to make sure that W isn't the only one on the airwaves.
Please...pass it on.
July 12, 2004
Blogs, power laws, and assault weapons
Okay, this is a slight off-topic post. Yes, it's political, but it also has interesting implications for those who like to study how blogs are affecting journalism, politics, and culture, and there's even something for info designers.
Tom Mauser has enlisted blogs to help recruit signers for his petition against assault weapons. It's a personal thing for Tom; his 15-year-old son Daniel Mauser was one of 13 people killed at Columbine High School.
For a knee-jerk, left-wing (I say that like that's a bad thing :) perspective, see Ariana Huffington's column in Salon last month:
Attention, al-Qaida sleeper cells, domestic terrorists, school shooters, David Koresh wannabes and bloodthirsty lunatics everywhere: Be sure to mark Sept. 13 in your day planners because -- thanks to President Bush and his GOP pals in Congress -- your murderous missions are about to get a whole lot easier.
Here's the little something extra for the info design fans...a cool map showing
geographic support by bloggers for Tom's petition:
I didn't figure that there would be enough IDblog readers who'd sign to get me over the tail of the power law curve, but feel free to sign on kottke's page if you want to sign with the head of the curve :).
July 2, 2004
Mobilizing against Nader
Alrighty then...one last off-topic post before the holiday weekend and I'll be caught up.Ouch. Salon recently ran a feature called the dark side of Ralph Nader. They write:
While Nader's legacy as a consumer advocate is unparalleled, it is worth noting that the onetime national hero wasn't celebrating his landmark birthday surrounded by the hundreds of people he has worked with and influenced over four decades. Indeed, virtually no one who worked with him since the heady days of Nader's Raiders is supporting him politically or personally today.
Unlike 2000, it seems that there are more folks that are vocal about Nader's role as a potential spoiler. This time, the Green Party says "no thanks" to Nader as their candidate, and there are groups like United Progressives for Victory (who generated the funny graphic above), Don't Vote Ralph, and the Nader Factor who are getting some press. (Salon claims there is a Nader's Raiders for Kerry group, but I couldn't turn up anything about them on Google).
Now if only I lived in a swing state:
June 28, 2004
Sorry...this is long, and it is a bit off-topic. Skip it if you aren't into political posts!
Shocker, I saw Fahrenheit 9/11 this past weekend. I'd read a few of the "why this movie sucks" reviews beforehand (like this one from Slate by Christopher Hitchens, and this one on Salon (who ran a pro and a con review).
Because of this, my knee wasn't jerked as much as it might have been...I was prepared for the "propaganda" (or what a Salon letter writer more aptly calls counter-propaganda):
Is Moore's work propaganda? Almost. It's counter-propaganda. The Bushies, aided and abetted by almost every organ of the "So-Called Liberal Media," have been propagandizing since 1999; really, since the election of 1992. Even now, Bush and Cheney continue to pretend that Saddam and al-Qaida were in bed together, confident that there will be no loud and sustained resistance to the Big Lie.
The hardest part for me was seeing the woman whose was calling on Allah to avenge her losses (her uncle's home had been bombed and they'd had five funerals because of it). I live in DC, and am just a bit concerned with whether the Bush administration policies will in fact create more terrorism than prevent it. (I was driving to work the other day and wondered when DC would adopt London policies and get rid of its on-street mailboxes and trash cans.)
It didn't exactly help to read an interview with Mark Federman of the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology (you know, the medium is the message people) who theorizes that the US will see a Spain-like episode in terrorism meant to affect our elections. What's more shocking is one of his scenarios for responding to this:
Here is a hypothetical. What does the world do, never mind what America does, if they say we are postponing the election to even January from November. What does the world do in response? Well, what does the United States do to a rogue nation? It cuts off trade. It embargoes trade. It freezes currency. What would happen if the world said, 'you have become a rogue nation'? Look at the definition of a rogue nation: democratic rights are suspended. If that happensand man, I'm painting this doomsday scenario, and its pains me that the idea even comes forwardbut if the democratic rights are suspended... We know the constitutional Bill of Rights has been suspended. There is lots of evidence of that. That has already been done. The biggest stocks of weapons of mass destruction exist in the United States. They have used them in the past.
Yikes. All it all, it's not really about whether Michael Moore is a crappy filmmaker, is it?
Anyways, I was both relieved and distressed to read this article about dirty bombs from MIT's Technology Review. It's nice to know that the radiation won't kill you, but the whole evacuation/decontamination scenarios are pretty damned depressing in themselves. (As an aside, it took me over an hour to get out of my parking garage in downtown DC when we were evacuated on 9/11. It sounds like hanging out in the office next time makes a lot more sense.)
Anyways, I'm not adding Michael Moore to my list of "fair and balanced" reporting sources any more than I'd add Bill O'Reilly. But I was glad to find Media Matters for America. That and FactCheck.org are going to be on the regular bookmark list from now 'til November.
April 16, 2004
Bake sale for democracy
Rats. I'm probably posting this too late for folks to see, but just in case you see it on or before Saturday (and you're in the US), consider stopping by one of MoveOn's bake sales for democracy.
April 12, 2004
September 11 and libraries
On December 18, 2001, by a vote of 407-0, Congress designated September 11th as Patriot Day. We believe the most patriotic gesture citizens can make on this day is to come together in public places like local libraries. Through talks, roundtables, deliberations, and performances, citizens will participate collectively and think creatively about our country, our government, our community, and encourage and support the well-informed voice of the American citizenry.
The project seems geared more towards those directly involved in libraries themselvs, but I figure it's worth passing along now so that those of us who are friends of libraries too.
March 24, 2004
Free speech and Howard Stern
This is probably tilting at windmills, but if you're so inclined, you may want to voice your opinion about the forthcoming legislation. Not just Howard fans are against this legislation. The ACLU has a way for you to voice your opposition, as does the Creative Coalition.
I don't know what Howard will do once his own assets are at risk (when the bill passes), but there are some interesting things going on on his website.
March 17, 2004
ID in motion
I'm into convergence. I have a combo TV/VCR, a combo TV/DVD, a phone/answering machine, and a Treo that does phone, WWW, and syncs with my Outlook. So I'm not one of those "convergence is a myth" folks. Thus I'm very interested in seeing what happens as broadband becomes commonplace on the Internet. This was part of the reason that I titled my chapter in Content and Complexity (more links in the bottom right nav) "Information Design in Motion."
Anyways, all this is a prequel to a couple of interesting video snippets that came across my inbox today. Not exactly in the traditional ID sense, but both are great examples of how motion on the Internet/WWW is so much more compelling than their broadcast counterparts.
First, there's MoveOn.org's snippet of Donald Rumsfeld who "got caught blatantly contradicting his past statements." You can probably count on one hand the number of people who watched Face the Nation (okay, just a gross exaggeration), thus the ability to actually see Rumsfeld squirm is so much more effective than reading a transcript. And given the blogosphere/email, this snippet is going to be seen a magnitude or more frequently than the original. (Hmmm...it's like Janet Jackson's breast...turnabout is fair play?)
On a completely different note is this slick page from the folks at Lebonze over in the UK. No, it's not exactly a great delivery of any critical information, but c'mon, even if you hate Flash, you have to be just a little bit impressed by the accomplishment. It's seeing this kind of experiment that may help someone else think about new possibilities for interacting with web readers/visitors (a la You Don't Know Jack).
February 5, 2004
See Ralph not run
If you're not sure, or you want a good place to argue with folks about it, see Lessig's take on the situation.
IDblog is Beth Mazur tilting at power law windmills. A little bit Internet, a little bit technology, a little bit society, and a lot about designing useful information products. Send your cards and letters to email@example.com.
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