Saturday, March 24, 2007

How Web 2.0 can change politics

People have formed a new open source political party in Boston, based on the principles behind Social Media – such as Digg type voting.

I found the story about the open source political party at the spanking new Assignment Zero web site.

The manifesto of the open source political party declares:

1. We support the democratization of local governments through the use of digg-style lawmaking.
2. We believe social media websites represent the future of participatory governing.
3. We believe traditional voting processes should be augmented with secure web-based voting systems.
4. We want to see open source software, formats and philosophies replace proprietary products such as the ruling Microsoft monopoly in public agencies.
5. We demand that all politicians keep regularly updated blogs, with open comment systems, to maintain contact with their constituents.
6. We want to see wiki-style collaborative writing of proposed laws and bills.
7. We demand that all governing bodies publish Youtube-style video of all public meetings and votes.
8. We support a total reform of patent, copyright and intellectual property law to reflect free and open Creative Commons-style licensing.
9. We are against the implementation of draconian DRM systems.
10. We want open VOIP, email and IM lines of communication with our elected officials.

The party aims to elect a representative to the Boston City Council this year.

Looking at the manifesto a second time, it becomes clear that the proponents of the open source political parties want to usher in ‘Equality of information distribution’, a big and pompous phrase I concocted to mean ‘openness’.

The manifesto of the open source political party is also about the Web 2.0 version of the much hyped electronic governance idea (e- Gov in consultants' speak). It might help people think beyond the ‘kiosk nature’ of electronic governance in most countries.

The idea of open source political party gives me an opportunity to talk in brief about anarchism, a much abused term people often confuse with lawlessness.

The Wikipedia definition of anarchy says:
(anarchism) refers to the situation in which a human society exists without government.

It is befitting that this revolution is taking place in Massachusetts, the place of Thoreau.

There are many things wrong with the present state of government systems around the world and people like Gandhi, Tolstoy and many others have long advocated for a less demanding and imposing government.
Interested readers can learn in detail about this in Peter Marchall’s great survey, ‘Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism’.

Alvin Toffler discussed about the future of democracies in his books, Powershift and Third Wave.

Can we take this open source political party idea and build upon it?
Like, changing political systems?

Some questions for readers to ignite creative thinking on web 2.0 + anarchism:
1. Why can’t we have 1 year governments to start with? Switzerland has this.
2. Why do elected governments stray away from their manifesto and enact stifling new laws?
3. What progress on instant, nation-wide referendums and elections?
4. What do we think about the absurd Great Personality theory of history?
Why must history be the preserve of kings, tyrants, warriors, Presidents and Prime Ministers?

I would like to see how the open source political party fares and whether Web 2.0 tools will really help anarchist thought thrive.

Related links:
Open source political party on Assignment Zero
Assignment Zero uses crowdsourcing to build feature stories.

The questions participating citizen writers have to answer about the open source political party are:
1. Do you know of any other open source political groups?
2. Identify and Interview the founder(s),
3. Write the story,
4. How else should we be covering this topic?

The open source Political party page. [ They are moving a new site at Diggocracy]

History of Anarchism

Friday, March 23, 2007

The NBC/News Corp deal and why they don't call bloggers to conferences

This writeup on the online video deal between NBC and News Corp. is in two parts.

Part 1: the real impact points

After a long time, I got to read good analysis on Techcrunch.

A summary of the real points behind the deal between News Corp and NBC over online videos:

The two key messages Chernin and Zucker were selling were (1) a focus on respecting copyright, and (2) the fact that they were creating what they called “the largest advertising platform on earth.” That may be good messaging to stockholders, but it isn’t what the public cares about.

… a better approach would have been to focus on the user experience,

… blindness to the reality of this Bittorent and YouTube world.

The challenges for the parties:
(Via Techcrunch)
1. Only two networks joined is a really bad sign.
2. None of the two parties have useful experience in creating web applications that users will love, like YouTube,

3. So far, big media companies have not been successful in developing a user-love worthy online media product.
As Valleywag says, ‘EMI, BMG, and Sony Music banded together in 1999 to deal with the Napster situation and created Musicnet, which was a dismal failure and was named by PC World as one of the worst tech products of all time.’

Paidcontent has the details about the ‘NewCo’ deal.

The Paidcontent story agrees with Valleywag and Techcrunch and says that ‘NBCU-News Corp is More Like The Anti-YouTube Than YouTube Killer’.

Also mentioned in the Paid Content story:
A Google exec had called the proposed company “ClownCo.”—a play on the “NewCo” nickname.

My take:
The MSM CEOs are happy with the spreadsheet analysis that says that paid video is the thing of the future.

They seem to have forgotten two other threats:
On demand content will boost IPTV. As the panelists discuss in Guardian Changing Media Meet :
(using IPTV) People will be able to buy content at a discreet prices like premiership football, children programming and niche programming (such as) Sports, premium movies and adult content.

2. Joost:
The user-friendly streaming P2P platform for television from the founders of Kazaa and Skype.

Part 2: Like most entities of the 'establishment', MSM’s new media & technology coverage sucks (& what to do about it)

You will agree when I say that the MSM media coverage of the NBC + News Corp story focuses on the inane details about the deal – who puts in what and so on.

There is a serious mismatch between knowledge levels of people who read web 2.0 blogs and people who read technology & media business stories in the papers and on television.

Where is the impact coverage in MSM properties?

Michael Arrington also touches upon some points that have been on my mind as well for quite some time now.

The arrogance of the two big media CEOs.

- The ‘probable subservience’ of MainStream Media journalists – e.g. MSNBC reporter starting with “Hi Boss”, when addressing NBC chief.

- The big media CEOs still don’t now what Web 2.0 is and how it impacts media.
It is akin to Michael Eisner having no idea what Steve Jobs did (Jobs also founded Digital Animation film maker Pixar).

- The mainstream media’s coverage of emerging media technologies sucks.
The best they can do is be like Time – wait for as long as you can and then come up with a great linkbait idea of calling 2006 the year of ‘You’. Cute.

The mainstream media overage often throws up a serious lack of understanding and numbing levels of putting out PR puff pieces on latest media and technology news and trends.

- When Google bought out Youtube last year, Techcrunch got the scoop. I noticed while researching for my roundup stories about the deal that there were no Web 2.0 bloggers at the analyst conference call except, perhaps Michael Arrington.

- Top web 2.0 bloggers should be on first call list on all the big media and software conferences and analyst meets. Mind you, merely copying Microsoft and calling up only fawning and gawking bloggers doesn’t cut it.

Some of your favorite Web 2.0 bloggers:
Michael Arrington (, Richard Macnamaus (, Pete Cashmore (, Jeff Jarvis (, Om Malik ( and anyone from

In fact, all the contributing writers in these above blogs are good writers and analysts.

Update: I was tempted to mention Steve Rubel. He is a good writer but he is a PR blogger and that may be dicey for many.
Check his incessant twitter about twitter. I don't know whether he does PR for Twitter (does it need PR?) or whether he backs certain things just for the fun of it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Google launches “Cost per action ”: affiliate marketers, don't worry

Better late than never, Google has finally launched a “cost-per-action” advertising program.

Aaron Wall at Seobook sums up the probable effect of Google’s ‘Cost per action” advertising program:

If they push this as hard as they did AdSense or search it is going to teach advertisers and publishers to create efficient conversion oriented content and sales funnels. It will fundamentally change the structure of the web.

At first look, Google appears to be targeting the affiliate marketing business. With Google Base, Google went after eBay and Craigslist. With 'Cost per action', Google is eying Amazon.

However, I would like to think that affiliate marketing will survive – many web sites would still like to filter who and who doesn’t advertise on or sell for them.

Many advertisers have this 'problem of randomness' with Adsense and unless you were a very big media property, Google would not personalize Adsense for you.

The jury is still out on whether Adsense helps build brands online. Again, I would like to believe “Cost per action” may help branding activities on the web – with the added benefit of number-crunching.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Microsoft vill Plateau, for a while and then…

Microsoft has already plateaued for quite a long time despite te billions from Windows and Office. I was thinking about a take on MVP and thus the German type ‘vill’.

Even the might Scoble is angry with Microsoft’s present situation:
The words are empty. Microsoft’s internet execution sucks (on the whole). Its search sucks. Its advertising sucks. If that’s ‘in it to win’, then I don’t get it.
Vista has not been that big a success.

What of Microsoft is not able to mount a suitable challenge online until it is too late – Google and others have already started offering online versions of Office applications. Next up: a serious challenge to Office and server?

By that time Microsoft should have done what it had done well in the past – buy all that it can’t . Buy Yahoo?

If that doesn’t happen…


Rules of the Superstar Economy

Let’s the end debate about the existence of A-listers here: Yes, Jason, there is an A-list. Just like there are A-listers in movies, music, sports, writing and law businesses among others. Bill Clinton is an A-List politician cum speaker, having made $40 million from speaking alone.

There is no denying it and there is no complaining about it. Brad Pitt wore chicken costumes before he…you know what.

I know it sucks for bloggers who complain – there have been many times when a great article doesn’t get much traction, but is later a big hit when a top blogger writes about it. It has happened with me quite often.

I wrote about The A-Listers’ economy in January a couple of times in January, here and here.

However, it got scant attention.

Calacanis suggests B and C listers email to top bloggers to move attention. To some, this advice may feel like ‘polish’ – they have a term for thus type of practice in India –‘chamchagiri’. However, point taken, Jason.

A typical top blog on Technorati is on average 33 months old and makes more than 2 posts daily.

To probable A-listers, Calacanis says,
… a couple of years ago Scoble, Jarvis, and I were the blue collar bloggers …They busted their butts for years blogging in an intelligent way

Calacanis’ suggestion:
Go to 2-3 events or conferences a week.

Hmm..wonder what happens to all those who live outside the United States.