My Progressive Platform For 2006

progressive-platform

Terrance, over at The Republic of T, asks a simple, yet provocative question in preparation of the 2006 elections: What’s Your Platform?

Okay, I’m game. Here are my most imperative policy reforms, in no particular order:

1) 2.0 the hell out of government
Congress was only able to see “finished” intelligence before voting to give the Bush administration power to go to war (as a last resort). In my world, anything that the Executive branch sees, the Legislative branch sees. My voice is represented by my state officials, not the president. This one example of a non-transparent government directly led to the deaths of more than 30,000 human beings.

The most applicable 2.0 philosophy for reforming government is the philosophy of openness. From open source to open content, imagine the possibilities of employing a government that makes all de-classified government documents, congressional voting records, appointee resumes, etc. instantly available in a relational database with open APIs for public use. All of this information is available now, but it’s not prepped for accessibility and reuse. This is the future of accountability. Up communication and transparency, reduce the “Fuck You!” noise of the left vs. the right blogosphere to constructive collaboration… that is until government tries to pull something, and then we get back on them like white on rice.

2) Create a nominal tax to directly supplement teacher salaries
Great teachers are few and far between nowadays. Why? Well, you try dealing with kids, administrators and parents all day, adhere to and circumvent the red-tape and legalities of this age with the grace of a seasoned politician and pull in ~$45k per year.

I’m talking about, say, a .1% tax that goes directly towards teacher salaries. I gotta admit, I got the idea from Mini-Me when he appeared as a genius teacher on an episode of Boston Public a few years back. His thesis was that the degree to which students are prepared by their public school years directly impacts their earning potential, so reward their hometown education system with a nominal, flat tax return to impact teacher salaries. Tell ’em. Verne!

3) Rip up the Patriot Act
As alluded to in the first part of my platform, transparency of government will lead to politicians being held accountable to create humane national and global policies. It’ll also foster the innovation of extremely real-time and smart communication user experiences, which can then be applied by government in the authenticated realm of classified material.

This edict of transparency cannot be applied to individuals. Our individual right of privacy is what has distinguished us from the rest of the world for centuries. The Patriot Act is legislation with language that allows for the control, intimidation and investigation of Americans through the guise of terrorism. It’s like the old censorship debate; who defines what is terrorism? The abuse of American rights have already begun.

4) Election reforms
First, all television campaigns are free. Each major candidate (there would have to be some way to determine “major,” possibly something akin to the BSC polls/stats via past political progress made) is provided a set amount of credits to apply to the “purchase” of air time. This opens up the playing field to a diverse class of politicians who can focus on the issues, not their fund raising. I bet Tom Delay would even go for this.

Second, ensure that voting is both easy to access and secure. All voting systems could easily be tied together into one database, while creating alternative voting options, such as over the internet and by phone. We’ve been to the moon people…

5) National health care for everyone… Yes, you too
Riddle me this: Large corporations get major discounts on health care coverage due to the amount of employees they staff, right? Okay, then why not treat congressional districts as semantic equivalents of large pools of employees (citizen residents) by submitting them as huge groups into the bidding process? C’mon, try to tell me why that doesn’t make any sense.

6) Incentivize industry to reduce our dependency on oil and clean up the environment
I know, the oil industry has major power claws dug deep into our political system, but this is my platform, so I’ll risk the blunt gas nozzle to the back of my head. This current administration gave tax breaks to manufacturers who create hybrid vehicles, but capped the production of cars to 60,000 that qualify for the break. Yeah.

First, we create California-like emmission standards and apply it nationally. Second, we apply money to develop alternative forms of fuel instead of planning a trip to Mars or building that damn bridge to nowhere in Alaska. Third… well, I’m not that smart, but these people are.

Well, that’s my platform. God knows there are other extremely important issues (like getting out of Iraq, impeaching Bush, etc.), but that’s all the brainpower I have for tonight. I’m sure many of you want to label me as a liberal communist or some other disparaging nomenclature, and if I just described your take on me, my message to you is grow the fuck up. These are serious times, calling for serious people. The longer you avoid engaging in honest discussions along these lines, the easier it becomes to spot your agenda.

To the rest of you, let’s work together to get these bozos out of office in 2006.

America Is Mos Def

(originally uploaded by dreadfuldan)
(originally uploaded by dreadfuldan)
Mother nature dropped Katrina.
The federal government dropped the ball.
Kanye West dropped the illest freestyle in the midst of the harshest climate.

And Mos Def just dropped Katrina Klap, a jam that will undoubtedly mark this moment in the annals of hip-hop and social activism.

1, 2, 3, 4 bust it!
This is for the streets
The streets everywhere
The streets affected by the storm called… America, huh.
I’m doing this for y’all
As for me, the creator

Get busy, y’all!

God save these streets, one dollar per every human being
Feel that Katrina Klap!
See that Katrina Klap!
Listen, homie
It’s dollar day in New Orleans
It’s for the water everywhere and people dead in the streets
And Mr. President, he about that cash
He got a policy for handling the niggers and trash
And if you poor, you black
I laugh a laugh, they won’t give when you ask,
You better off on crack
Dead or in jail or with a gun in Iraq
And it’s as simple as that
No opinion, my man
It’s mathematical fact
Listen
A million poor since 2004
And they got illions and killions to waste on the war
And make you question what the taxes is for
Or the cost to reinforce the broke levee wall
Tell the boss he shouldn’t be the boss anymore

God save these streets, one dollar per every human being
Feel that Katrina Klap!
See that Katrina Klap!
God save these streets, quit being cheap, nigger, freedom ain’t free!
Feel that Katrina Klap!
See that Katrina Klap!
Lord have mercy!
Lord, God, God, save our soul, a God save our soul, a God, a God save our soul
Lord, God, God, save our soul, a God save our soul, soul, soul… soul survival!

It’s dollar day in New Orleans
It’s for the water everywhere and babies dead in the streets
It’s enough to make ya’ holla out
Like, where the fuck is Sir Bono and his famous friends now?
Don’t get it twisted man
I dig U2
But if you ain’t about the ghetto
Then fuck you too
Who care about rock n’ roll when babies can’t eat food
Listen, homie man, the shit ain’t cool
It’s like, dollar day, for New Orleans
It’s for the water everywhere, homies dead in the streets
And Mr. President’s a natural ass
He out treatin’ niggas worse then they treat the trash

God save these streets, one dollar per every human being
Feel that Katrina Klap!
See that Katrina Klap!
God save these streets, quit being cheap, nigger, freedom ain’t free!
Feel that Katrina Klap!
See that Katrina Klap!
Soul survivor!
Lord, God, God, save our soul, a God save our soul, a God, a God save our soul
Lord, God, God, save our soul, a God save our soul, a God, a God save our…

God did not intend for the wicked to rule the world
Said God did not intend for the wicked to rule the world
God did not intend for the wicked to rule the world
And even when they do
It’s a matter of truth
Before their wicked ruling is through

God save these streets
A dollar day for New Orleans
God save these streets
Quit being cheap, homie, freedom ain’t free!
God save these streets
One dollar per every human being!
Feel that Katrina Klap!
See that Katrina Klap!
God save these streets
Quit being cheap, nigger, freedom ain’t free!
Feel that Katrina Klap!
Ghetto Katrina Klap!
Soul survivor
Lord, God, God, save our soul, a God save, God save our soul
Feel that Katrina Klap!
Let’s make them dollars stack!
And rebuild these streets
God save these streets
God save these streets
God save the soul!
Feel that Katrina Klap!
See that Katrina Klap!
Soul survivor

Don’t talk about it, be about it.
Peace.

Push it along. You’ve got to push it along

Newsweek Blog Talk: An Innovator?

blog-talk

Newsweek and Technorati are in bed together and I’m really hoping it isn’t a monogamous relationship.

I’m not sure when this started, but Newsweek is now citing “Blog Talk,” creating a contextual column from the Newsweek article page that links to a full Blog Talk page which presents the last 10 blogs posts that have linked to the Newsweek article. This is being done automatically, sans any editorial review.

I’m currently working on a project for which I presented this exact context scenario for our blogger design persona. I couldn’t believe the serendipity. So to ensure the API and execution would support our needs, I ran a quick test and posted a response to the “I’m So Sorry” article, linking back to the story URL. Within 10 minutes of pinging Technorati, my post appeared on the Newsweek page. Okay, that’s very progressive. Sure, it’s only a glorified trackback system, but the underlying philosophy has huge implications.

We’re quickly moving to a sustainable model for presenting the individual perspective on the same level as mainstream media’s editorial-driven journalism. It’s a win-win; a site like Newsweek gets an increased blogger readership and bloggers have the opportunity to share their perspectives with people that may not even know how to navigate the scattered blogosphere.

From my perspective, this is the first step to truly legitimizing the blogosphere.

What’s next? Well, if Google, Yahoo! and other mainstream news aggregators begin to index blogs for their search queries, we’d be one step closer to breaking through the mainstream media stranglehold on information for the average American that receives their news on-line. All of this is what the promise of Community TV was supposed to provide twenty years ago, but ran into the obvious production challenges.

This is really good. It’s good for business, good for bloggers, and most importantly, good for bubbling up numerous perspectives of a story to the surface. This is discourse.

Tag! We’re It! Part II

A few months back, I stepped out of my dead-bolted existence within the walls of Ameritrade and began to digest the current state of this Web 2.0 explosion; the Semantic Web seems so much closer to fruition than it did just a few years back. Much of the renewed push and entrepreneurial spirit that has driven this industry-wide rebirth of shared data has been driven by our economic recovery from the dot-com crash. That’s a fact, but it’s not a sufficient answer to the focus behind 2.0—something deeper feels at play.

I decided to dig in and head down a rabbit hole of sociological context on a journey for clarity, and what I’ve come to realize isn’t particularly shocking.

dictatorial-democracy

We live in tumultuous times.

The air we breathe is being compromised more and more every day. Poverty around the world is increasing exponentially. Our country is knee deep in another Vietnam, another occupation, another struggle for gaining natural resources at any cost. People are becoming polarized by important and moral, personal and social issues, seemingly on a daily basis.

All of this is occurring during the reign of an administration that has even the staunchest of conservatives questioning whether we, the people, are living within the midst of a dictatorial democracy, rather than a thriving Republic, built on the principles of political discourse, government checks and balances, fiscal responsibility, the separation of church and state and the power of the individual voter.

So where does this leave us as a people?

Personally speaking, I’ve decided to refocus my effort to publish my views, opinions, perspectives, experiences, etc., in an effort to make even the slightest dent in the discourse surrounding our roles as American citizens.

What motivates me? Pick your poison: the War on Terror; the Rove/Plame/Wilson scandal; the Bolton push-through appointment; the Cindy Sheehan vigil. It seems that every day a new flow of bullshit only fuels the righteous indignation I’ve come to hold regarding this administration.

Is it even possible to imagine a more visceral description of an Aristocracy at play?

For me, the complete disregard of the intelligence and voice of the American citizen begins to explain the groundswell of blogging that has occurred over the past four years, specifically the political blogs and mainstream media watchdog sites.

Sure, the potential for capital gains plays a large role in the motivation to advance technology or any other industry. The web, though, is a bit different due to it’s low cost of entry, so I believe that moral conviction plays a role in both driving the evolution of technology and the passion to leverage it to it’s fullest degree.

So what’s the connection between geo-political events, blogging and the tactical fervor of Web 2.0? (social bookmarking, tagging, open source, open content, etc.)

In a nutshell: everything.

Without a true social democracy in the real, we’ve evolved to create one on-line — where boundaries can be broken down, hierarchies can be dissolved, control can be minimized, etc.

I blog in order to get my voice out into the ether of this new social construct; I tag my blog posts to provide context and semantic relationships on numerous levels, yet with a similar purpose:

  1. On the base object level to provide a succinct description of how I perceive this content from a conceptual perspective, perhaps creating a) a greater connection with the reader on a discernible level and b) connections on associative & relational levels with other objects (within my domain and elsewhere)
  2. On the categorization level to establish context within a particularly defined category or across a faceted classification scheme. If I were an actual brand, this would be how I’d ensure my position was reflected within my editorial construct and navigation scheme.
  3. On the retrievable object level to allow for more avenues of findability (four, well-thought descriptive tags exponentially increase the odds of object retrieval rather than none or even one, either in straight queries or in contextual presentation on the base object level)

These are tactical strategies in the information revolution.

The same principles apply to tagging even more granular object such as photographs, video and sound files, as well as the macro-level social bookmarking of URLs. The effort, I believe, is based on the desire of individual voices to be heard amidst the shelling of the mainstream media. While technically speaking, Web 2.0 is about the creation of richly defined object models and attributes — the more good data we entrench within our objects (be it content, files or URLs themselves), the better the chance for a semantic web experience — the movement behind it is much more compelling, much more philosophical in nature.

After leaving Ameritrade in April, I spent a month digesting Noam Chomsky‘s Understanding Power, which introduced me to the specifics of his propaganda model thesis, which I fully digested by watching the documentary Manufacturing Consent. Recently, Dave Sifry (CEO, Technorati) posted a graph on the Technorati Blog displaying the impact that blogs are making within the once dominated realm of entrenched, funded, mainstream media.

I’m only guessing that if Chomsky has studied the progression of the web, he’s smiling up in Cambridge right about now.

The legitimization of the individual (creative and political) perspective is being sustained in the 21st century by the conviction of the blogosphere, passionate focus on the possibilities of 2.0 revenue models and domains, such as Technorati, taking a leadership position. The concept of social dialog, networking and organization and the elemental foundation of capitalism are beginning to shift in exciting ways.

Imagine a near future where:

  • Individual perspectives can be made more readily sustainable through a common revenue model, reversing the big money/power structure of publication and media saturation? How would that impact the politics of our nation? Our wage labor practices?
  • Algorithms and interfaces allow for rich, precise retrievals of topical queries, with just as precisely retrieved contextual objects presented within a usable format, based on better clustering techniques and taking richer and more valuable attributes into account? How would this impact the way we learn and connect to one another?
  • Information domains allow topically defined objects to be rolled up into navigable concepts by users instead of predefined categories by information architects? How could this seamlessly raise the bar for common folk in their efforts to research online? To manage information across numerous domains?
  • Mainstream media articles and blog posts are presented on the same level (query or article), ensuring checks and balances of mis/disinformation, without a partisan bias? How important is it for check and balances to be rooted within the last bastion of traditional governmental checks and balances—the media?

And the great thing is that we’re not too far away from this revolutionary existence.

Blogs are beginning to bridge the social and communication gaps between nations. My peers are thinking differently when developing this medium, even in traditional business development circumstances. The tactical approach to producing, managing, sharing, finding and using information objects — defined from the bottom up — is finally getting it’s due.

Yes, these are tumultuous times, but they’re exciting as well.

north

woolworth

up is down
left is right
it’s time to move on
time to reach for new heights
got change for a dollar?
how about a match for my five?
sense
it’s a common drive
to pass on the right
and look to the left
riding a broad shoulder
trouble cleft
bassline theft
deft movements abound
around the town goes the sound
of a pound
of flesh
of blood
brothers switch up
retake the fight
retake the plight
retake the might
y
problemas del hombre comun
the time is soon
a half past June
three months in on the out
i hold my breath in order to shout!…

carolina

Bowling For Columbine: A Perfect 300

bowling
Michael Moore is the man.

Well, not “The Man” (that would be the racist, greedy, loathsome persona he’s tirelessly chasing down), but he is one righteous cat. Damn, it’s refreshing to hear a man speak from his heart—not from the corner of his mouth—while backing it up with facts. If you hadn’t guessed by the title of this entry, I saw ‘Bowling for Columbine’ last night. I’m (almost) at a loss for words, but I’m now provoked and really upset.

Top 10 things that struck me after watching “Bowling…”

10) Work for Welfare is a joke
9) Right wing Christians (or anything else right wing) live a scared life
8) Dick Clark has as much compassion as real skin left on his face
7) If James Nichols had Osama bin Laden’s bankroll… he’d be more dangerous
6) You probably won’t get shot in Canada
5) Marilyn Manson is more intelligent than most of our leaders
4) You can get a rifle when opening a bank account in the US… really
3) I’d probably consume raw sewage before ever working for Lockheed Martin
2) This country was built on fear, violence and oppression. Sounds like a modern day TVlineup, eh?
1) Charlton Heston needs to be put out of his misery… with a rifle

I understood most of these points before going to the movie (except for the part about Dick Clark…what a… dick), but the presentation was worth it’s weight in gold.

I don’t consider myself to be left or right on the political spectrum, unlike the masses that will debate the credibility of this film for the near future—I attempt to formulate my opinions based on the situation, issue and facts at hand. To a righty, that’s the definition of a lefty, and to a lefty, it’s a non-committed vote. To me, it’s the only way to remain sane in this twisted society we live in.

Michael Moore has the courage of a warrior and the conviction to follow up. Thank God. Hopefully, my brother’s documentary gets picked up and he can follow in Moore’s enormous footsteps.

Righteous cats.