Archive for the ‘New Media’ Category

Alan Turing Apology

I love it when a plan comes together. Or, in this case, an online petition accomplishes something.

(Honestly, I don’t want to see statistics on what percentage of online petitions result in action… I bet it’s a low number.)

Today, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologized for the British Government’s treatment of science hero Alan Turing in the 1950s. From Gordon Brown’s statement:

Turing was a quite brilliant mathematician, most famous for his work on breaking the German Enigma codes. It is no exaggeration to say that, without his outstanding contribution, the history of World War Two could well have been very different. He truly was one of those individuals we can point to whose unique contribution helped to turn the tide of war. The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely. In 1952, he was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ - in effect, tried for being gay. His sentence - and he was faced with the miserable choice of this or prison - was chemical castration by a series of injections of female hormones. He took his own life just two years later.

AlanTuringThis news is exciting not only because a war hero and scientific giant (you’ve probably heard of the “Turing Test,” for example) has finally been exonerated, but also because of the manner in which it was done. The British government maintains an online petition system as part of its website, and 10,000+ British citizens signed this one, moving it up the list quite rapidly. I first found out about it via Facebook last week.

Online activism is still evolving a great deal, but I believe that this is a successful form of it. It used social networking sites in conjunction with an established infrastructure for online petitions that someone somewhere with some amount of authority or influence looked at. It’s great that the UK government has embraced online petitions in this way. Given the overture toward online openness for which the Obama administration is already known, maybe we’ll see something like this soon in the States.

For now, as someone who spent a significant amount of undergraduate classroom time proving that this-or-that algorithm is reducible to a Turing machine, and as someone who wants to see an end to homophobia, I call today a good day. Launches

A new website for Lubbock area progressives has launched:

The site is run by Dr. Brian Carr, former webmaster of the Lubbock County Democratic Party. Here is his description of the project from an invitation email he sent out:

A new voice in politics for Lubbock has launched and you are invited to check it out.

Located at the site was developed to provide a gathering point on the Internet for those in Lubbock and surrounding West Texas to discuss, review and organize.

After 15 years as the web master for the Lubbock Democratic Party I felt it was time for a new presence for those who are not blindly aligned with the major political parties. As a life-long resident of Lubbock I am seeking interest and support among those citizens that support open review free of the mindless agitation that is today so common in debates.

So, please take a moment and check out the new site. I welcome submissions of news articles or personal writings that you may want to present to other visitors. I hope that you will help me to “get the word out” about the site and together we can help to expand interest and knowledge about our community, state and nation. has several features I like, including lots of good contact info, Dr. Carr’s opinion page (essentially a blog), and the News/Events page. Definitely worth a look.

And, when it comes to Lubbock progressive websites, the more the merrier!

Twitter Time

These days, everyone’s got a Twitter account. So, in the finest tradition of bandwagon jumpers, I am jumping on the bandwagon:

What good is it? Sometimes, I have an idea that’s just too brief to make a good blog post. To the twitter it goes! will also be handy for posting links to news articles and other blogs that I believe are important but would bog down the blog here. Lastly, I will use it to announce new blog posts.

There are many other twitter accounts that I enjoy keeping up with. Here are a few: — The official twitter of the Lubbock County Democratic Party. It’s very handy for keeping up with events put on by the local Party. — Stephen Colbert. Funny stuff; nuff said. — Barack Obama’s twitter. 1.7 million followers and counting.

If there’s a favorite twitter account you follow and think other might find useful, feel free to mention it in the comments.

The Revolution Will Be Twittered

twitter_iran_arsIf you want to keep up with the disputed Iran Election, online new media is where it’s at.

From Xeni Jardin at BoingBoing, I found a great set of resources for following the events up close: Cyrus’ list. Also, Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic has been providing up-to-the-second coverage. Lastly, Huffington Post has been able to keep up with events in Iran as well.

New media is currently providing serious coverage of a situation that traditional media cannot. This point is one that has already been echoing in the traditional media: new media — mostly Twitter — have been able to cover the unrest in Iran directly in a way that traditional media cannot. This is because Twitter, Facebook, and similar services are being used for the first time in a revolutionary / civic unrest manner on a massive scale while proper journalists have been shut out by the Iranian government. It’s so effective that our own State Department has asked Twitter to delay a planned upgrade (which would have shut down twitter briefly) until things settle down.

In contrast, GOP superstars like Newt Gingrich use Twitter to make snide remarks about the President or to falsely accuse Supreme Court nominees of racism. Sen Chuck Grassley recently twittered to, I guess, show the world that he has the communication skills of an eight-year-old.

Most people just use Twitter to microblog their daily lives and to keep up with friends and events in their area. The potential is there, though, for new media to be as essential in our own politics as it is currently for the Iranians. I think our own next few election cycles are going to be fascinating precisely for this reason.

Finally, have a cartoon:


(the bird + Iranian flag image above is from Ars Technica)

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