Tagged: Barack Obama

Tory Boy 2.0: All Mouse & No Trousers

This month’s UK edition of Wired has a rather breathless article about the way that David webCameron’s Tories are using technology in their bid to get to No. 10. It starts with their discovery of paid search as way to target messaging, and takes in their attempts to utilise everything from Facebook to building their own social network. At several points it seems to suggest that they are en course to replicating Obama’s achievement of clicking their way to power. Which is all well & good if it weren’t for one thing – the only thing the Tories seem to have learned is how to harness the web for marketing, not about what is really necessary to ‘do an Obama’: fundamentally change and offer something new.

Because, as the recent news about the Tories’ desperate attempts to prevent one of their main fund-raisers having to pay tax shows, the Tories may be full of talk about open data and people powered government, but they still rely on an old boy’s social network of influence and inherited power; the person making the best use of YouTube is Daniel Hannan, a delightful character who is of the rather retrograde opinion that we shouldn’t even be in Europe and toured the US to support the view that the NHS is all about death squads (as well as voting to cover up expenses); progressive policies such as minimum wage, equal rights for gays and the like were all opposed by webCameron and his merry band of digital toffs.

David Cameron’s opinion of Twitter? “Too many tweets make a twatt“. Brilliant, Tory 2.0 wants us to elect a chinless version of Bernard Manning.

Compare this with Obama, or even, dare I say it, Tony Blair. Obama used the web to connect individuals & communities, and raised the majority of his money from ordinary citizens. Cameron uses it to push his barely thought out policies and takes his money from tax-dodgers. Obama then used this money to run a huge TV campaign, something the Tories won’t be able to do. And these ads pushed Obama’s message of real change: health-care reform, pull out of Iraq, etc… If Cameron could run such ads, they’d mumble something about the defecit (despite the fact that Tory plans almost certainly would have seen the recession become a depression) and tax-breaks for millionaires. Cameron is more of a George W. Bush than an Obama.

And what about Blair, the obvious model for everything webCameron’s done over the last couple of years? Well, whilst his record has been irrevocably shattered by a disastrous war and a devastating charge after big business (cheered on, let’s not forget, by the Tories but not the Lib Dems), his early days saw the kind of real changes Dave’s mob would never make, and didn’t want made at the time – minimum wage, equality acts and the like. Cameron’s level of shallowness makes Blair look positively deep by comparison,

I should probably add at this point that whilst I’ve voted Labour in every general election I’ve been eligible to vote in, this time I don’t think I’ll be able to: the Lib Dems seem to have been right about every major issue over the last 10 years and the thought of Vince Cable as Treasurer is one of the few positive things that might come out of the next election. But whilst I’ve little love left for Brown’s New Labour, what I can’t stand is the thought that working out how to use AdWords will be enough to convince those interested in technology & progression that David Cameron’s Tories are anything other than the children of Thatcher, but with a Facebook page.

Nope by Tom Edwards on flickr


As Obama Progresses, MPs Regress

Yesterday, as I’m sure I don’t need to point out, saw the inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States. We had an event on here at work where we invited clients to watch it, served food & drinks (with an American theme) and gave a couple of presentations on lessons for marketers from Obama’s campaign. And a lot of fun it was too.

So it seems rather depressing that in the same week that the new President said,

And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad  habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

British MPs may vote to make details of their expenses secret. This would mean that we wouldn’t be able to find out that MP Barbara Follett, claimed £1,600 for cleaning the windows of her London home last year. In an effort to update Tom Lehrer’s pronouncement that satire died when Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize, I should add that Follett is a Labour MP & married to a multi-millionaire author.

Anyway, the website mySociety are encouraging people to campaign against this disgusting move, and there’s only one day to do so. So join the Facebook group & write to your MP. I’m not sure I could stand the embarassment of having such a bunch of self-serving crooks serving us if this vote is passed.

UPDATE: In a sign of the amazing political power that this blog wields, Gordon Brown has backed down on this issue. It seems that the Tories decided not to support it: I’m not really sure that they can take any moral victory out of this though as their 1922 Committee were one of the driving forces behind it.

Obama image by Maya Mem on flickr


If Google Chose The Cabinet

Along with minced pies, repeats, The Queen’s Speech and a vague sense of unease the morning after the office party (what I refer to as THE FEAR), Google’s annual Zeitgeist list is fast becoming a Christmas tradition. It’s a list of the phrases that have been searched for the most over the preceding 12 months (excluding adult terms which would otherwise dominate year in, year out): it’s basically a 12 month Google Trends chart.

This year is, I think, the first year that the Zeitgeist has been compiled for countries other than the US which means that you can find out what people have been searching for in countries ranging from Argentina to the United Arab Emirates, Mexico to Malaysia. And, as its second biggest territory (in revenue terms at least) it’s no surprise to see that the UK is one of those countries that now features in Zeitgeist. What is surprising however is the things people have been searching for, or at least how Google describes what people have searching for.

You see one of the lists is related to politics and is described by Google as Politicians (Most Popular). Now of course, what Google means is that these are the most popular search terms that happen to be the names of politicians, but what if Google was actually suggesting that these were the most popular politicians in the UK? It would certainly make for an interesting Cabinet:

  1. Gordon Brown
  2. David Cameron
  3. Barack Obama
  4. Tony Blair
  5. Sarah Palin
  6. John McCain
  7. George Osborne
  8. Alistair Darling
  9. Boris Johnson
  10. Nicolas Sarkozy

Can you imagine?!

What intrigues me is the reasons that people searched for these names. Some of them are pretty obvious:

  • Alistair Darling – to find out who the hell this guy is that’s meant to be saving the economy
  • Sarah Palin – for comedy value
  • Boris Johnson – to find out who he’s offended now
  • Nicolas Sarkozy – in the hope that the photos will also include his wife
  • David Cameron – checking whether this old-Etonian has dropped all this man of the people crap
  • Tony Blair & Gordon Brown – to find out whether it really is too late to invite the former back to take over from the latter
  • George Osbourne – in the hope that there might be some tips on how to get invited on holiday by Russian billionaires
  • Barack Obama & John McCain – just to check that the right man really did win

Why do you think people might have been searching for these people?

Zeitgeist image by Eric Rhoads on flickr


Downing Street Word Cloud

Apparently there was a word cloud going round last week showing a word cloud of the Obama site created by Wordle which I’ve written about beforethescrapbook has one which you can see here. As I noticed that 10 Downing Street recently relaunched their site I though I’d see what Wordle had to say about our very own Obama, Gordon Brown. You can see the results below, and make your own judgements as to what, if anything, it means.


TechCrunch Turns Into Digg/YouTube

I was flicking through TechCrunch a moment ago and noticed that they had also published the Barack/Wassup YouTube ad. The post, by TechCrunch owner Michael Arrington, made no suggestion as to the rights or wrongs of the candidate, but merely suggested that it was a pretty cool video. At which point TechCrunch transformed into the bastard child of YouTube & digg.

The very first comment was

If Obama gets elected I’m moving to Canada.

To which the (oh so interwebz) response (note the use of LOL) was:

Lol you’re racist

And it just went down-hill from there.

Whilst a few people tried to point out that TechCrunch is meant to be, hence the name, a site dedicated to technology & business and not politics, most were happy to follow Godwin’s Law, though in this case it seemed like no-one was likely to be called a Nazi, but quite a few were going to be called racists/call Obama a socialist/Muslim/monkey face (I’m not making this up). Reading the comments was, I have to say, one of the most depressing things I can remember doing in a very long while.

One commenter suggested that the ‘discussion’ wasn’t really going anywhere:

Geeeez… someone should have disabled comments on this post.

“You’re a racist!”

“No, you’re a racist!”

“Jesse Jackson’s a racist!”

“I’m not racist, but seriously, Obama looks like a monkey!”

“Oh maaannnnn, can someone pass me the Sunday spliff?”

I have to say that I agreed with him. If a conversation is doing nothing more than descending into racial hatred and tit-for-tat insults, no greater good is served by leaving them open. In fact I’d argue it’s quite the opposite: the level of public discourse was so low that everyone involved was dragged down just by joining in. Of course the Mob 2.0 disagreed.

Hey Rowan, if you want censorship start your own blog, OK –Wherever you are. You sound like a rabid ‘towel head’ Chill, man.

“Sunday spliff?” –Yeah, right!!!
You must be in China. TC is in the US and here there is no thought/blog police.
Sorry to disappoint you.
Go away

Apart from the amazing irony of all these rabid right-wing loons calling Obama a socialist when their own President has just nationalised the banking industry, or the fact that they scream about censorship whilst trying to shut down any line of discussion not in line with their own thoughts, the sheer hatred here is scary. I’ve written before about the horrible vitriol that often comes out online and how I think it’s to do with the anonymity that the web brings. After all, very few people have the courage to attack someone when they’re on their own – give them a mob and they’ll have grabbed the pitchfork before you can say “That bird’s a paediatrician!

None of this is new, or should indeed be that surprising. I guess that I just hoped that a site I read might be slightly more immune than places like digg and YouTube, where the comments are regularly over-run with ignorant arseholes spreading vile hate. And also that Michael Arrington, or another TechCrunch employee might have stepped in at some point to say that these types of views wouldn’t be accepted on the site. I guess that makes me just as stupid as the idiots posting over on TechCrunch.

Racism sucks image by blmurch on flickr


Barack Uses Bud Ad

YouTube Preview Image

Remember the Budweiser Wassup ad? The one that very quickly went from amusingly catchy, to iconic to eye-gougingly annoying in a record time? Well, it’s 8 years since the boys sat around screaming WASSSSSSUPPPPPPPPP?!?!? at each other and quite a bit has changed in the USA.This is a nice bit of advertising by, I presume, supporters of Barack Obama. And if this type of things turns out not to work, and it’s another 8 years before the boys can see real change, they might not have to mock up the suicide scene.


Obama Gets Rickrolled. Kind Of

YouTube Preview Image

Some enterprising young so & so has taken a load of clips of Obama dancing, set them to the musical meme that is Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up and then cut a load of Obama soundbites to have the Democratic candidate singing the lyrics.

Well, if nothing else this should at least guarantee him the Digg vote (although how many of Digg’s users are over 18 is open to discussion.)