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3 posts from November 2006

November 14, 2006

Is Blogging Grassroots 2.0?

Computer_networkOriginally Published on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog

UPDATE 11/06/06: The official term for Grassroots 2.0 is "Netroots".

Here is Silicon Valley the hot buzz word is Web 2.0. Being a techie turned mommyblogger allows me to participate in one of the contributing Web 2.0 technologies (blogging).  As Web 1.0 was static web pages, Web 2.0 changed the nature of web usage to interaction and social networks. With a wave of 2006 election information coming my way over email messages and flyers in the mail,  I find myself turning to blogs to observe their views on the issues. That led me to wonder if blogging has become the second generation of grassroots activism. Where grassroots 1.0 consisted of static information published by volunteer organizations, news outlets and politicians, does grassroots 2.0 now includes networks of citizen journalists who blog to start on-line conversations on political issues?

When I was single  (let's just say in the late 80's, early 90's), I felt a responsibility to participate in the political process. With whatever time I could fit into my work schedule I joined community relations boards, assisted with letter writing campaigns, made phone calls to support candidates, went to community discussions to speak my mind on relevant issues and even attended a California Democratic Convention representing my local district. The process was laborious but was the only way to reach people. The main goal was person to person contact to discuss or inform voters on issues.

Now that I am a Mom, I don't have any time to volunteer on campaigns or even read all of the flyers, newspaper articles and political emails that come my way.  I am getting more information then I have in many years from reading blogs (Huffington Post, DailyKos, Wonkette, BlogHer, posts from my fellow contributors at svmoms) and community action requests from myfellow bloggers,  like Stefania from Citymama. The grassroots 1.0 concept centered on individuals reaching out to the community to disseminate information. The reason that blogging is such a natural step for grassroots politics is that anyone in the community can have a blog, bloggers tend to be more outspoken, blogging is a discussion so the comments allow others to add their views to issues and it is a quick way to get information if the blogger or blogger community shares your ideals. Jeneane Sessum wrote a great post for BlogHer about using blogging to promote business which I think also make blogging a great platform for political discussions. The points listed below are notes for her discussion on a business blogging panel:

"The first point I want to make is that "Blogs are conversations," and what that means is that as a blogger you are ALWAYS talking to someone--hopefully MORE than some one but some days it seems like an audience of one. Conversation means you are actually talking to other human beings, not just to yourself.

With that conversation comes a responsibility. Good blogging brings a responsibility to be genuine--authentic--and honest. That doesn't mean you can't tell stories or that you can't ever use poetic license. It means that if you lie and try to cover it up, you will never present your business in a way that doesn't ring true because 1of 2 things will happen: 1) you will be left unread at best, 2) you’ll be outed and mercilessly ridiculed at worst."

And NO ONE makes fun of people better than bloggers. So big rule of good blogging is to be who you are. It's easier and more effective than pretending. Be human. Be MORE than your business is. Don't be afraid to hold a point of view you believe in.

I find it refreshing to read blogs because most are honest and authentic. It is true that blogs are written by citizen journalists and the fact checking is not the same as in the newspapers. But I would take honest views over all of the mis-information being passed out from some political campaigns.

Some people and organizations have already figured this out and are reaching out to the blogging community. When the Silicon Valley Moms Blog met with Elizabeth Edwards, I was impressed with her honesty. She was authentically interested in meeting mommybloggers and understanding their thoughts and issues. Elizabeth Edwards is also web savvy and has utilized the Internet to join communities for breast cancer and for grief support. Her husband John Edward's One America Committee has a section specifically for bloggers to create a community. This is a great example of grassroots 2.0, they get it.

There is even a blog that talks about politics and technology. Their post "2006: Rise of the Political Blogs" shows a quote from a Roll Call  on-line titled "Blogging Locally" where NRCC spokesman Carl Forti stated:

"The people who go to these blogs, it’s the very partisan Republicans and very partisan Democrats, and those aren’t the people we are worried about.”.

The politics and technology blog states that "the Republicans at the NRCC completely miss the point about blogs". I have to be honest that I am a Democrat so I may be biased, but just looking at the tool used by the Democratic Party's site shows they get it. Their tool is called "Partybuilder" has a section for blogging.

Elizabeth Edwards asked a question during our meeting with that showed her blogging savvy: "Does blogging translate to change?". Stated another way, does a blogger's expression of opinion translate to grassroots call to action?

I would like to answer that by saying "yes". I have received numerous call to actions on rallies and phone calls from my fellow contributors and blogging social network. Instead of an email from someone I don't know, these emails carry more weight with me. instead of receiving a flyer in the mail, I get to read the views of others I know and respect to help me decide which way to vote. Since my kids were sick this week I not go to the rallies, I accepted that call to action by sending emails to my friends on the issues that matter to me. That is why grassroots 2.0 is great for Moms, it can be done at home fter the kids go to sleep.


November 09, 2006

Mommyblogging with the CNN Live Blog Party at Home in my Pajamas

Target_pajamas_1Originally published on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog

Because I am a mommyblogger, and a self-proclaimed citizen journalist, I knew that I had to attempt some sort of live blogging for Election Day 06. But for mommybloggers, that means blogging live after all the kids go to bed and have stopped running out of their room to say they don't want to go to sleep. Which is 9:30pm. Oh and after you have prepared your kids lunch, set out their clothes for school the next day, taken a shower to get rid of the mud collected from the day and changed into your pajamas. Which is 10:00pm.

So I started my own live blogging experience at 10:00pm pst the night of the Election 06, which gave time for all of the results to come in. As I have said before, I am a Democrat so it was an exciting night for me. I decided that my live blogging moment would be after the number of house seats moves to a majority (218 seats). I set my TV on CNN because they had the results displayed on the bottom of the screen and I had read in a post by Sarah that they also had a blog party.  So I watched the CNN blog party.

Wonkette blogged about their highlights of the night. So here were my highlights of my experience:

  • I learned from the AMERICAblog pictures that cool blogger chicks wear jeans and black tops. Good to know what I need to wear when I am invited to a liveblogger party.
  • I learned that it was ok that I was not invited to the party because I ended up falling asleep for 20 minutes with my hands on the keyboard. That did not seem to hurt my live blogging. Moms need their sleep.
  • From the Wonkette banner I thought that there was a real Wonkette chick and she was cool. That night I saw a picture of Alex Pareene (the editor), and realized that I was mis-lead! He is a guy. But that is ok, because he is a funny guy.
  • They had their predictions , mine were more simple (Democrats to win, I did not care by how much).

"Wolf Blitzer knew where the real action was, ohhhh party blog style, ladies post free after 7pm.  Yes, appartently partying blog style means typing on a laptop while not partying, at one point a blogger was being interviewed about blogging while watching herself being interviewed about blogging. I wonder if she will blog about that?"

I finally got my live blogging moment at 11:00pm pst when it was final that democrats gained a majority in the house and Nancy Pelosi was in the position to be the first female speaker of the house. It was a moment worth the wait, even though I was not at the party. That night I emailed CityMama because I knew she would be live blogging (and she was).  Maybe mommybloggers should have their own blog party for the next election. That is, if we can get babysitting.


November 07, 2006

Eslate, a Silicon Valley Mom's High Tech Voting Adventure

EslateOrginally published on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog

I was still so disgusted by the Florida voting debacle where problems with the dimple, chad and butterfly ballots threw off the election, that I decided this year I would be completely paperless. And my life is so busy as a mom, who has time to keep track of the paper documents anyway. So I set off on my first adventure with a paperless election process. llll

7130e_gen_landing_new And I finally found a voter guide that agreed with all of my own opinions in a post from our blog. I emailed that to myself so I could view that guide from my blackberry  while I was voting (instead of filling out the form sent in the mail with the sample ballot). 

I went to the polls this morning armed with my blackberry and determined to try the new E-voting (eSlate) machine. If a techie mom can't use that machine, then who can? I saw other people waiting in line look at the eslate machine and then choose the old fashioned ballot instead. The machine was under a tarp and it did look ominous. I wondered what goes on under the tarp? Once I tell the registrants that I will be using the machine there is no turning back, so will I be able to use it?

I gathered my courage and told them I would use the machine. The other people in line stared at me like I was crazy. The man behind the desk handed me an instruction manual which just added more stress to what I was already feeling. I said, "I used to be a programmer and programmers NEVER read manuals so I will just see what happens. Anyway, I did look over the instructions on-line".  He gave me a confused look but allowed me to move on to the "machine".

The eSlate machine has a screen on the top that looks very similar to the paper ballots and some buttons on the bottom. I played for a second and realized that I only really needed to use a select wheel that took me from field to field and the enter button to select. There were even previous and next buttons to move backwards and forwards if you wanted to go back and make a change (really cool). I used the select wheel to move through all the selections, and used the enter button to make my selection. The current field is also highlighted in red so it is easy to spot. When you are done, it lists all of your choices and allows you to review  them (and make changes if needed) before you hit the cast ballot button which is final. I reviewed my choices and hit cast ballot.  I found the experience easier then I thought it would be. And there is a paper trail to view while voting, a printer is installed in the eslate that prints the ballot while you are reviewing your on line summary. 

Afterwards I read that some machines had system problems. I did not see any at our voting station, but Sarah said in her post that there is still a chance that the vote recorded may not be the same as the vote printed (cast) so it is up to each voter to verify their votes.  And she also suggested joining the Verified Voting Foundation. With all of that in mind, this mom will still take system problems and voting verification over chad, dimpled, or butterfly ballot problems anytime.

Are there any other Moms who would like to share their voting adventures, paperless or paper-filled?



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