Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Boris: The New Wave?

May 3, 2008

Despite my fears for London under Boris (such as the consequences of the abolition of Livingstone‘s commitment to 50% of new housing being “affordable” – see Question That‘s reasoned analysis), I admit to a guilty pleasure in listening to him perform, and a hope that his refreshing style will revitalise our politics.

Photo by lewishamdreamer: some rights reserved.

If Boris really can pull of an effective job, without losing his humourous flair, he will demonstrate that politicians can be colourful and serious. 

Watch his acceptance speech; his openness and self-deprecation are disarming.  He acknowledges that some of those who voted for him may have let their pencils hover in hesitation before putting a cross in his box.  How refreshing not to hear the usual spin about this being a victory for Conservatism in the face of Labour incompetence.

You get the impression that this was really Boris speaking, not the Tory Party, who surely must have wanted to ensure their big moment on camera went according to script.  I think he will need to build a strong support team to do the job well, but if he can do that whilst resisting any attempts to handle him against the grain of his character, he might just find a formula that works, and in doing so, champion political oratory of the intelligent, spontaneous form that we lack.

I don’t think the voters are just tired of Labour, I think we are generally disenchanted by the boring government-speak and play-it-safe attitude that has characterised British politics for at least 15 years.  If nothing else, our kids will hear a prominent politician speak with an unusual vocabulary and an intelligent turn of phrase.

If Boris brings back delight in eccentricity and the nuances of the English tongue, he will have done us a favour.


Scoble un-minimalizes

May 1, 2008

Coincidentally, a few hours before Scoble redesigned his blog, I was admiring his persistence in sticking to old school white minimalism.  I even thought, “Gee, maybe I should go to plain white with a header graphic, à la Dave Winer” (before he replaced the charming rotating header photos with text). 

And yet there was something about the old that didn’t sit right.  The header graphic didn’t suggest Scoble – his public persona and pursuits – the way the new one does.  So I’d keep the new header (not sure about its subtle inclusion of part of the Seagate logo though – ad, okay, but sponsor’s logo in your personal header?), and I like the Friendfeed widget, but I’d rather have them on the old plain white background.  The new style is clean and user-friendly, I just miss the amateur character of the less slick approach.

Given that I read Scoble’s and others’ feeds in a reader, why do I care?  Because the blog as a physical place on the web – rather than a stream of thoughts I can access in any RSS-friendly space that suits me – still matters, as a projection of the blogger, and a place I go to “visit” him/her.  I somehow feel more connected with a blogger when I click through to their site for a change. 

LATER: Apparently the riff on the Seagate logo that is in Scoble’s header was accidental.  Just shows how designers can get too close to their work – it jumped out at me straight away, and seemed a little too cosy with the sponsor.  I hope it is changed.

Keller on Romney, and the value of local journalism to national reporting

September 25, 2007

I enjoy Jon Keller’s political reporting and commentary on Boston’s WBZ-TV. His irreverent style provides light relief, but is also incisive.  It seems he doesn’t often miss a trick in the world of Massachusetts politics, of which he is a veteran reporter. (Although I have to admit to surprise at how blunt he can be, and wonder if he sometimes jeopardizes his objectivity.)

His light-hearted assessment (flash video) of the latest Romney ad, “Change Begins With Us” (embedded below), gave me a giggle. He also makes a serious point about the precarious nature of Romney’s attempt to distance himself from unpopular Republicans by taking an unveiled swipe at them in this ad.

Keller’s work highlights how useful local and state political reporters can be in covering the home state record of candidates that have moved to the national stage. Some have followed a candidate’s rise to prominence over years, whereas national reporters, lacking such a detailed knowledge of their political past, can overlook the nuances of a politician’s back story in favour of recycled caricatures based on perceived wisdom .

(Hat tip to Seth Gitell for bringing Keller to my attention.)