Archive for May, 2007

Gordon Brown’s web presence: whither the Tech Prime Minister?

May 30, 2007

I just searched a bit more for Gordon Brown stuff (see previous post), and it turns out he has his own YouTube channel. That I didn’t know about it, despite being subscribed to the Labour Party YouTube channel, and searching YouTube for Brown, tells me his web team are not doing their job. It has 16 subscribers.

I found it via his own site, Gordon Brown for Britain, which is itself only fifth in a Google search for his name. The profile of his site and his YouTube channel could easily be raised, and should be if his staff want to serve the next Prime Minister well. The site tries, but leaves much room for improvement. The “moblog” links to a somewhat half-hearted flickr account, which nevertheless has some potential when used with Google maps to “Follow Gordon“. The “Team Blog” is written by Oona King, and hasn’t been updated for a week.

Mr Brown, we want more. Show us you will be the first Tech President Prime Minister.

British Foreign Secretary on YouTube

May 30, 2007

Margaret Beckett, the British Foreign Secretary, appears in a new video on the UK Labour Party’s YouTube channel, Labour:Vision.

She is at least talking to us directly, asking for questions/comments, and promising to reply in a future video, which is an improvement – in style at least – on Tony Blair’s attempts. Whilst the channel hasn’t been a YouTube hit (only 1122 subscribers to date), and it is difficult not to feel cynical about the sincerity of the claim to want a conversation with the public, the branding as a place to discuss Labour’s “vision” is a wise move by the party web strategists. The channel description reminds us of Labour’s role in recent British history, and attempts to move our minds off current controversies, and on to themes of social justice.

I hope Gordon Brown’s conspicuous absence from the purpose-made-for-YouTube videos is not a hint at the future Prime Minister’s attitude to web video. (See this attempt at interaction at a moderated hustings event.) Brown could have exploited his honeymoon period online with a cosy, spoken-to-camera, message to the web, telling us his “Labour Vision” for the future. It would be an opportunity to show himself as distinct from Blair. The new, web-savvy, PM would be embedded in blogs making obvious favourable comparisons with the outgoing premier. If nothing else he really needs to make something to change the top YouTube search result for “Gordon Brown”.

BBC solicits YouTubers’ footage

May 29, 2007

The BBC’s Andrew Marr is asking YouTubers to upload their own archive footage from the 1950s to 1990s to a YouTube group complementing his History of Modern Britain TV series.

I’m delighted to see the Beeb embracing YouTube as a way of connecting with an existing user community, not just relying on its own massive web presence, and this project plays to YouTube’s strengths. To date, only four videos have been submitted, but this surely has potential to get those dusty cine reels down from the nation’s attics and out to an appreciative audience.

I am looking forward to the eventual release of the BBC iPlayer, which should begin a major change in BBC viewing habits. Perhaps the next generation BBC download tool will incorporate upload, so that we can contribute in the same space as we consume video. More likely, where online won’t matter anymore, as the tagging paradigm takes off and opens a universe of content from all sources to communities such as this one interested in modern British history.

By the way, I love Andrew Marr’s unselfconscious emphasis on substance, not vacuous style.

Candidates in TweetVolume

May 27, 2007

TweetVolume is rather limited (no link to charts, no search returns other than frequency), but quite fun, and does what it says on the tin: provides (unverifiable) volume data on words or phrases used in Twitter. It will be the Twitter fight tool-du-jour for bored Google jousters.

To add to the cornucopia of web 2.0 candidate comparisons, here’s a TweetVolume chart for five of the ’08 candidates.

Candidate tweet fight

What does it mean? Probably not a lot. I picked five so-called “front-runners” , whose names happen to be distinctive enough to merit use of surname only. Comparing Ron Paul would be problematic, because his surname alone is too common to make results meaningful, but to compare “Ron Paul” (398 Twitter mentions)┬áto just “Clinton” or “Obama” won’t do either.

Whatever the (massive) margin for misinterpretation, Obama’s showing is quite impressive, and I am surprised to see such a huge difference in tweet volume between Clinton and Giuliani (or any of the three Republicans here).

Questions for the candidates by public poll

May 27, 2007

I like Jeff Jarvis’ prezconference idea for tagging YouTube videos offering questions for the ’08 candidates. As he suggests, it needs developing to maximise its usefulness, and to provide a clear, simple system for presenting the “best” questions online, so that candidates will be more encouraged to respond.

I had an idea to build a site enabling up/down voting of all videos submitted to YouTube with the prezconference tag (I envisaged pulling in the content using the tag’s RSS feed, and enabling voting, possibly using the Drupal vote up/down package).

Now I realise that David Colarusso has made a start on the concept. It’s early days yet, but this is a good way for the community to bring attention to the questions that most voters want answered, and to marginalize the spammers/navel-gazers.

Clearly the concept would get more attention – and be harder for the candidates to ignore – if voting were integrated within YouTube, but I encourage you to support Colarusso’s effort. If politicians are to embrace web video as a way truly to interact with the public, we will need a straightforward way to present our questions. This is a decent start. Well done, David!

Ron Paul making waves online

May 20, 2007

Tonight on Technorati.

Let the Eagle Soar!

May 20, 2007

Perhaps a somewhat frivolous post with which to begin this blog, but I can’t get enough of former Attorney General John Ashcroft singing his own composition, Let The Eagle Soar.

It is a classic; hilarious, but mainly surreal. I don’t wish to belittle the guy. At least he had a go, and I actually rather enjoy it!