“Trust can’t be broadcast.”

David Cushman has a nice overview of PR firm, Edelman's, annual Trust Barometer launched today.

David points to the apparent "accelerating collapse in trust in advertising and traditional mass media" and makes the incisive soundbite: "Trust can't be broadcast."

I'll try to post some thoughts once I get a look at the results.

Locking down the future and what you can do to help

As a communicator with an understanding of the Internet, I’d always advise my clients that the web is fundamentally changing the ways we communicate, consume and produce media and culture and in order to survive (or at least stay relevant) they need to adapt.

Similarly, the web is making findamental changes in almost every other industry touched by society and culture and ditto they must adapt to maintain relevant in the networked world – both now and in the future.

However, when it comes to the music, film and entertainment industries it seems that they are investing heavily in preserving the past, rather than acknowledging where the future will lie.

Sadly, one result of this is a horribly flawed EU Directive which proposes doubling the current term on music copyright.

This action is opposed by all of Europe’s leading intellectual property research centres and makes little economic, technological or cultural sense. But don’t take my word for it. The UK-based Open Rights Group (disclosure, I volunteer time to support ORG) has produced this nifty little video explaining the issues at stake.

Having just finished Lawrence Lessig‘s Remix (review to follow) this is a major issue which not only risks atrophing the economy but also criminalises the next generation of artists/creators.

You can add your support in the following ways:

  1. Invite your MEP to attend the 27 January event on your behalf (you can get their contact details here: UK residents; Other EU residents)
  2. 3) Invite your MEP to sign the Sound Copyright petition
  3. 4) Ask your MEP to watch the Open Rights Group’s cartoon “How copyright term extension in Sound Recordings actually works”

“Ghost blogging is illegal”, says CIPR

Rather an interesting statement has made its way into the latest iteration of the CIPR’s Social Media Guidelines. According to the section in the Guidelines covering Social Media and the CIPR Code of Conduct:

"[CIPR] Members' use of social media must be transparent, and they must make extra effort to disclose any potential conflicts of interest. … In this regard, members should be aware that ‘ghosting’ a blog is illegal"

Uh, sorry? Come again. “[M]embers should be aware that ‘ghosting’ a blog is illegal”. Since when? Well, according to last year’s Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, misleading marketing practices are illegal. But does this really extend to any blog that is ghosted?

Back to the CIPR: “[c]reating fake blogs (‘ghosting’)” is an example of a social media activity that falls under this legislation."

I’m not so sure. Yes, I agree a ghosted blog is disingenuous, bad social media practice and yes, I would agree that a blog purporting to be written by a genuine customer but in reality written by a marketing team would breach the legislation.

But can you go as far as to issue a blanket statement claiming *all* ghosted blogs breach unfair trading regulations? I think it’s unlikely.

So what’s the CIPR’s rational? To be honest, I’m not sure. It always errs on the side of caution, but this is potentially misleading. Interestingly, the statement is a new addition from the original consultation document so maybe they took on advice from someone at the consultation stage.

If they did then great. As usual I blogged my submission which was largely similar to the previous year's and also as usual I didn’t receive any feedback on my submission so I don’t know who submitted recommendations and what changes were made. 

Obama Inauguration Speech Wordle

Obama Wordle

Via Jem Stone

Youtube rolls out video download option

Youtube download

It looks like Youtube is rolling out new functionality on the site allowing users to download videos.

The only example I can find currently is on Obama's Change.gov channel and Stanford's Lawrence Lessig blogs that this option will initially be available on "content that aspires to be consistent with principles of open government".

It's a bit of a vague definition so not sure of the full implications of this in the short-term or even whether it will be added to other content in the longer-tem. Either way I agree with Professor  Lessig, it's definitely a great thing to happen.

Via Lawrence Lessig

LabourList Review Part 3

LabourList: Conclusions

To round-off the LabList review it's worth returning to what Draper writes in his memo about LabourList aspiring to become “an independent site that aims, in time, to be our version of Conservative home”.

I think given time, this may happen. It won’t be easy with Labour being the party in Government. This adds a different dynamic in two areas. Firstly, in terms of what insiders can say on the site regardless of its independence. And secondly in terms of allowing the site to grow organically. This works best if both content and the ideas behind content can develop organically. We know that both ConservativeHome and LabourList (and Tory/Labour blogs in general) tend to eschew ideas generally in opposition to the mainstream party. When the mainstream party happens to be in government I think this will create tensions.

But remember. LabourList is still in beta and has a lot of bedding in to do. More importantly desipte my observations above I would clarify that if there was one avenue to resolve any intra-party tensions or overcome a desire to limit debate and move political communications and campaigning forward then sites like LabourList, ConservativeHome and LiberalVoice represent it. I'm told that at least one of the people behind LabList feel that MSM have focussed too much on the site’s launch rather than the symbolic change in Labour’s approach to the Internet. It’s early days yet, but I suspect he’s right about that.

LabourList Review Part 2

LabourList: It's Approach to Digital Politics
From a quick glance it’s evident that LabList is going big on creating clever and vitriolic campaigning tools and content seen during the Obama presidential campaign (and playing on some of the same by ConHome). My instinct tells me that this worked for those two groups because both are/were in opposition and campaigning for an election. The risk for Labour is that although it may feel at times as though it’s in opposition, it isn’t.

My advice would be to go about making friends using LabList as well as trashing the opposition.. Show a bit of humility and demonstrate you’re listening and responding to people’s opinions (party and non-party) as well as taking the party political approach. I’m not saying that this approach doesn’t happen (or won’t happen in the future) but two observations I’ve made on LabList indicate that it hasn’t quite struck this balance yet.

Firstly is Derek Draper’s comments which from reading some of the posts come across as if he is flaming other users. In fact, in the site’s first comment thread some of what appear to be responses from Derek’s to complaints by commenters about over-zealous moderation are pretty troll-like. In fact, they’re so troll-like I half wondered whether they were really left by Derek himself.

Two random examples:

“that was because it was a libel and i thought i would save you the trouble of me suing you. if you don't "get" our comments policy read it again and maybe ask a friend to explain it”

“Well… you'd better hope you don't need the police, a school, get ill, need to use public transport etc. etc. if this is the level of debate we're up against I think we're going to be ok!”

Not exactly the best way to make friends and influence people. And I understand that in traditional politics there’s llttle chance of converting those clearly not going to vote for your party and thus little point expending energy engaging/trying to convince otherwise, I would argue this approach doesn’t work – or at least translate well – into the digital political environment. I can’t help but feel that Derek’s a bit traditional politician at the moment.

Secondly, some of the creative anti-Tory campaigning stuff is – while inventive and coming from the right direction – a bit too much. A couple of comments from broadly supportive users also flag the issue of going after the Tories as too much too soon when more in-depth debate about policy, news, etc is what’s wanted.

Coming Next – Part 3… LabourList: My Conclusions

LabourList Review Part 1

I posted yesterday that I was holding off posting my review of Labour's new LabourList grassroots site until I had worked out where the cunningly titled Labourist site had come from. Well, it turns out the site is a spoiler put together by Tim Ireland so I'm going to post my review. However, I'm going to publish it in a couple of posts to spread out the reading. My aim is to break up the review into the following sections: 1) A bit about the site's background and a review of the site's look and feel 2) a review of the site's approach to digital politics and 4) my conclusions. Here's Part 1:

LabourList: Some Background
First things first. What is LabourList? The answer seems to be provided in the memo I was leaked from the man behiond LabList, Derek Draper, in a memo to Ray Collins, Labours General Secretary. Draper writes that LabList is “an independent site that aims, in time, to be our version of Conservative home”.

“Hang on a minute.” I thought, “Isn’t LabourHome Labour’s equivalent of ConservativeHome?” Not anymore. One of the other people behind LabList tells me: “I've always said Labourhome has the wrong name – Labhome is a community for people to talk to each other – Lablist will be a content engine, offering insight, thoughts, news, [about Labour]."

That makes sense to me but I think it’ll be interesting to see what happens with LabourHome as LabList develops. Will the sites work together and complement each other or compete? I suppose the nearest scenario is that of the relationship between Guido Fawkes and ConHome.

LabourList: Look & Feel
The site looks nice and clean. It is probably fair to say it looks and feels more plain and blog-like than ConHom does – but then again ConHome probably started off quite blog-like before growing into a more content rich traditional feel website. I can only guess this is the direction in which LabList will grow as it develops. If LabList is designed to be more of a “content engine” (which it is according to insiders) then the site’s layout will have to adapt to help make the content easily findable.

I think the layout and functionality of the site could be tidied up. In general, it feels a bit messy, although I think we need to bear in mind that the site is more than likely to evolve organically and so settle down once it gets going. In addition the site has also been launched in Beta so presumably any teething problems can be ironed out before the full launch.

A couple of specific (some might say pedantic) bug-bears is the comment thread and software platform. While the site looks like a blog, the comment threads seem to run like forums. While I’m sure the idea of allowing comments to comments and sub-threads is a good idea in practice I must admit I find it confusing. Equally, one commenter wonders out loud why they didn’t go with an open source platform like WordPress. It’s familiar to bloggers/new media types and there are a number of Government sites (Downing Street’s no less!) already built in WordPress.

Part 2 – coming next… LabourList: It's Approach to Digital Politics

Urgent appeal to preseve the tiny amount of parliamentary transparency won in 2008

A short but mega urgent appeal for anyone bothered in preserving a major break-through in parliamentary transparency won last year but now about to be shelved by MPs.

Hi everyone,

Bad news. Ministers are about to *conceal MPs' expenses*
even though the public has just paid £1m
to get them all ready for publication, and even though the tax man
expects citizens to do what MPs won't have to
They buried the news on the day of the Heathrow runway announcement,
showing both dubious ethics and a poor understanding of how the media
doesn't work like it did in 2001. You are the media now - you can get
this message out.

You can help in the following three ways:

1. *Please write to your MP* about this using WriteToThem.com
<http://WriteToThem.com> - ask them to lobby against this concealment,
and tell them that TheyWorkForYou <http://TheyWorkForYou> will be
permanently and prominently noting those MPs who took the opportunity to
fight against this regressive move. The millions of constituents who
will check this site before the next election will doutbtless be interested.

2. *Join this new facebook group
<http://www.facebook.com/inbox/?ref=mb#/group.php?gid=50061011231>* and
invite all your *least political* friends (plus your most political
too). Send them personal mails, phone or text them. Encourage them to
write to their politicians too.

3. Write to your *local paper* to tell them you're angry, and ask them
to ask their readers to do the above. mySociety's never-finished site
http://news.mysociety.org might be able to help you here.

mySociety is strictly non-partisan, by mission and by ethics. However,
when it looks like Parliament is about to take a huge step in the wrong
direction on transparency, we've no problem at all with stepping up when
changes happen that threaten both the public interest and the ongoing
value of sites like TheyWorkForYou and WhatDoTheyKnow.

There are some things in this world too big for a few of us to
influence. This isn't one of them. We can do this.


Tom Steinberg, Director

Via DoWire.org

*UPDATED* Is it LabourList or Labourist? I’m not sure…


It's received some big coverage already but I wanted to add my thoughts on last week's big political/new media announcement: the Labour Party's launch of LabourList (see screenshot above). I was lucky enough to get some background briefing info from Mark Hanson, one of the people behind the site [full disclosure: I know Mark fairly well], and have an strong interest in politics (see: eDemocracy Update) so wanted to share my opinions.

Or at least I was going to until today when I discovered Labourist.org (see screenshot below). I'm not entirely what's going on now – was the (beta) labourList a teaser for the real site, labourist? Or is Labourist a Tory attempt to spike Labour's big new media unveil ?

Frankly I'm not sure and I'm going to hold off posting my full review until I get to the bottom of it. :)

Apparently Labourist is a piss-take – albeit a very good one – Bloggerheads' Tim Ireland… via Chris Paul