Announcing RightofTwitter.ca

Today, I launched RightofTwitter.ca, a communitizing website for the right-of-centre twitter community in Canada. In one stop you can view (and follow) Canada’s leading right-of-centre voices in one place and track the live discussion of right-wing Canadian politics at once by tracking the #roft hashtag. There’s also a handy how-to guide for new Twitter users.

Still not on twitter and wondering what it is? Think of it in a few ways. Imagine a Facebook status update about what you’re doing or thinking, make it more public and searchable. Also, think of it as micro-blogging. Twitter users are limited to 140 characters per post (the size of a SMS text message), so Twitter essentially lowers the threshold to online discussion and self-publishing because it doesn’t require that you keep an audience by writing something extensive and on a regular basis and it’s more transactional. Twitter “posts” are more like statements and a good way to pass on links and dissemenate information.

The value of it to the conservative community in Canada is that each and everyone of us on Twitter are following/being followed by members of other communities and interest groups. When you post on a Canadian conservative topic, that can be disseminated and retweeted through other communities. Blogging Tories communitized Canada’s conservative blogging community and RightofTwitter.ca aims to do the same with Canada’s conservative tweeps (twitter lingo for twitter users).

If your name isn’t on the list and you’re on Twitter, send me a tweet @stephen_taylor and if you’re not on Twitter, sign up here.

RallyforCanada.ca by the numbers

It is now just before 11am on Wednesday. Since I launched RallyforCanada.ca at 10am on Monday morning, the rallies have attracted a lot of attention.

After 48 hours, here are some stats:

127,149 hits on the website
20,400 people signed up with their email addresses (and province)
358 followers on twitter

I’ve done a lot of media on the rallies:
CBC: Don Newman’s Politics
CTV Alberta
CHCH
CBC: The National
Citytv

National Post
Le Devoir
La Presse
Metro News (Ottawa)
Canadian Press (CP)
Toronto Star
Hill Times

CHQR (2 hits)
CJAD
CFRB
CBC Winnipeg
CBC Montreal

On my Blackberry, I have 1121 unread emails.

I’ve received calls of support from across the country and a small trickle of hate mail.

Perhaps the most bizarre call I got was from a group calling themselves “les jeunes patriotes du Quebec”. They described themselves as a group of separatists that are against the Bloc joining the coalition and selling out to Stephane Dion. They wanted to know if they could rally with us.

“You want to rally? ‘for Canada’?” I asked.
“Uh, yes” they said.

How disgusting, I thought. This was hardly a group coming on side to support strengthening our country with rallies. I tried to tease as much information out of them as I could by sounding as if I was perhaps considering their ludicrous idea. I invited them to send me an email with their info and request so I could expose it here on the blog. They never did. Too bad.

I think that what bothers Canadians most about this crazy week in politics is the proposed coalition government’s association with the Bloc. If the rogue-faction from the separatists want to rally, they can have their own. As for the rest of the separatists, they can rally with the “Progressive Coalition” which is supporting the proposed NDP-Liberal-Bloc coalition government.

Announcing RallyforCanada.ca

In response to the madness that has occurred on Parliament Hill within the last week – the Conservatives announcing their economic statement, the Opposition foaming at the mouth over it, the revelation that this was all contrived as a NDP-Bloc plan to install a Liberal government was in the works for “a long time” and so on – RallyforCanada.ca has launched.

I for one think that while the opposition has the right to play their games, this is the wrong time for Canada. We just came through an election and the Prime Minister earned a mandate to lead Canada through the economic crisis. Do we really want the Bloc Quebecois dictating the terms of the next government? Do we want the NDP at the economic helm as people stand on the verge of losing their jobs across Canada?

I put together the website to support the grassroots efforts already underway to organize rallies in cities all across this great country. People who want Parliament to stop bickering and get back to work are joining up and spreading the word. Less than 1% of Canadians are members of political parties and most people think of politics for a full 7 seconds a week. The rest of Canada worries about their kids, their paycheque and their mortgage payment.

So, go join up at http://www.rallyforcanada.ca and if you can help organize or provide logistical support, please email me.

If you’re on Facebook, please donate your status update to include “http://www.rallyforcanada.ca”.

If you’re using Twitter, tweet using the hashtag #canadarally.

If you’re a talkshow radio host or producer, let’s get the word out.

We need to get Parliament back to work and provide political stability so that we can attain economic stability.

US Election 2008: Linkstream

Newer
Electoral College: Data from electoral-vote.com: Obama 353 | McCain 174 | Tied 11
Candidates vote: Palin, Obama, McCain, Biden
Electoral College: Prediction from fivethirtyeight.com: Obama 348.6 | McCain 189.4
Voting problems: Twitter Vote Report
Get out the vote: Voter turnout above 60% a safe bet?
Voter Intimidation: Black Panthers brandish nightstick outside of polling station in PA (FNC followup)
Get out the vote: Freebies a ploy to get out Democrats?: Bush/Cheney webmaster
Get out the vote: Free Starbucks, Free McDonalds, Free Krispy Kreme, Free Ben&Jerrys for voting
Older

Is s.329 of the Elections Act quixotic?

Section 329 of the Elections Act reads,

“No person shall transmit the result or purported result of the vote in an electoral district to the public in another electoral district before the close of all of the polling stations in that other electoral district.”

The polls in Newfoundland and Labrador close at 8:30pm local time whereas those in BC close at 7pm. In reference to the Eastern time zone, those eastern polls close at 7pm and those polls on the west coast at 10pm. Therefore, it is technically illegal to broadcast results of any poll between 7pm and 10pm tonight though results should be available as early as 7:45pm.

In this age of new media, bloggers, facebookers and twitterers are expected to operate in the framework of an antiquated law. When this provision of the Elections Act was written, the intent of the law was to prevent television networks from broadcasting results in Newfoundland to British Columbia in order to prevent BC voters from having results before they cast their own ballots. Now that new media offers populist broadcasting to everyone with a mobile phone or a computer, how will Elections Canada enforce this provision of the Elections Act?

In my opinion, this section is a violation of free speech. Yes, I understand the reasoning behind it, yet I do believe that the law does not reflect reality in this age of self-broadcasting. Laws should be enforceable because when it is impossible to enforce a law, a law ceases to have effect. If the purpose behind the law is valid (to prevent “specially informed” voters), a more realistic method of achieving it is required. It is much more reasonable to close all polls at the same moment no matter the time zone.

What is to stop an Atlantic Canadian from updating her twitter status as to the result of her Newfoundland riding? Or the Prince Edward Islander from posting who is in the lead on his Facebook wall? Since the possible forums for national broadcast have gone from a limited three television networks to practically limitless social media outlets, this particular provision of the Elections Act is de facto unenforceable.

And who is responsible for the rebroadcasting of early results? Do I shut down Blogging Tories for three hours this evening because a blogger whose RSS feed I aggregate there may put me in violation of the Act? Is the situation similar for Google Reader and iGoogle which both act as an RSS reader? More broadly, will Google shut down its Blogger site to Canadian IP addresses? Will Twitter face sanction because a Canadian might convey information to another Canadian through its American-hosted service?

Indeed, the law does not reflect reality and must be changed. What remains to be seen is whether change will come from mass social media violation of s.329 or through the legislative process.

twitter releases govtweets.com clone

Today, twitter released its own version of a website I developed in the summer and launched about a month ago.

Twitter Election 2008, like its predecessor called govtweets.com that I coded, aggregates twitter mentions of John McCain, Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Sarah Palin in real-time as a constant stream of data updated using asynchronous javascript and xml (AJAX).

I contacted some of the folks at twitter about my idea on July 22 when I was developing the website. The release of their version of the idea today is nicely designed and I’m flattered that they’ve released it to a wider audience. When a big player like twitter validates your proof of concept, you say thanks! So a big thank you to twitter!

Of course, for your Canadian fix you can check out govtweets.ca. Twitter has yet to touch the Canadian election in an official way. I hope they do soon.

LiberalTour (LiberalTour) is now following your updates on Twitter

I just received this email on my Blogging_Tories twitter account. Somebody in the Liberal war-room has been spending their afternoon following everyone and their brother on twitter.

At the time of this writing, liberaltour on twitter is following 1,963 people while being followed by 532 people.

Perhaps the Liberal strategy is to follow as many people as they can in order to build reciprocal followers. When people follow others on twitter, the followee receives an email indicating that they’re being followed and this gets them to reciprocate with the person who is following them. So, is the Liberal campaign building a following by blasting twitter users email inboxes with follow notices? It appears that they are succeeding somewhat as the number of people following the Liberal tour has also increased this afternoon.

At 2:45pm, liberaltour had just over 1,300 people that they were following, up to 1,600 at 3:15pm, to 1,731 at just before 5pm, and now at 1,932 (5:16pm).

Here are the current standings (as of 5:15pm on September 25 2008) among the five federal party leaders:

Account Following Followers Ratio Updates
jacklayton 909 920 1.01 84
pmharper 854 807 0.94 35
premierministre 17 58 3.41 28
liberaltour 1,962 532 0.27 36
tourneeliberal 0 10 10.0 1
gillesduceppe 171 182 1.06 69

Taking the English and French twitter feeds together for each campaign, the Conservatives have a ratio of 0.99 Following/Followers, the Liberals have a ratio of 0.28, the NDP has 1.01 and the Bloc 1.06.

Most campaigns follow as many people that follow them. However, the Liberals follow more than are followed in the twitter race.

The Liberal campaign should be careful, the folks at twitter advise

A Twitter account may be suspended for a variety of reasons. The most common of which is automated mass following or other types of spammy behavior.

Twitter is a growing social platform that all campaigns are trying to figure out during this campaign and it’s impact on Canadian politics has yet to be seen. If you like, you can follow me on twitter and check out political updates on twitter in real-time at govtweets.ca

DNC by the numbers

I have a bit of an embarrassing confession to make. I subscribe to an unhealthy amount of polling information via email and RSS. Polling companies in Canada and the US send me daily information on a number of topics, whether it’s the horse-race of McCain-Obama, the demographic breakdowns of perceptions on the US economy, or Canadian attitudes towards arctic development (and those are just from today)

I’ve been watching the Democratic National Convention with some interest over the past couple of days. If you’ve been following my twitter feed, you might have seen some of my live reactions to speeches by Michelle Obama, Mike Schweitzer or Hillary Clinton. The data from day 2 has just hit my inbox and newsreader and the numbers provide a look at the success/failure of the stage-managed political super-rally in Denver, Colorado.

In a comparison of keynotes of Michelle Obama vs. Hillary Clinton (though Clinton’s wasn’t technically a keynote), Nielson polling data shows that the NY Senator beat Mrs. Obama with 26 million viewers vs. 22.3 million. Further, in ratings, African-Americans are watching the DNC in larger proportions than white viewers. Black viewers were 1.4 times as likely to be watching the DNC than the population as a whole. This year at the DNC, African-Americans make up a record of 24% of all delegates. US Census records from 2000 show a 12.9% African-American population in the US. Though the Democrats reserve delegate spots for racial minorities and women, the television ratings suggest unprecedented high political engagement and interest among African-American electors. Higher voter turnouts reflect healthy democracies and it is exciting to watch the American contest unfold this year.

Comparing the second days of the 2004 and 2008 DNC conventions, the 2008 convention had five times the television viewers. This is particularly important for Hillary Clinton as she’ll likely be running for President in 2012 if Obama fails to get enough votes in November.  She still remains quite popular among Democrats with an 80% approval rating.

New website design

Well you may have noticed that things look a bit different around here. I’ve been toiling away over the past few days designing a new version of this blog to give it a more modern and polished look. Out of the online skill-set, Photoshop has been one that I’ve always wanted to master but it seemed daunting; the Adobe program is very powerful but has a steep learning curve. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been doing the necessary poking and prodding around and just recently have made the effort to get a decent handling of it.

Google reader and a number of RSS feeds have been a big help for learning from the pros. Go to http://del.icio.us/popular/css or http://del.icio.us/popular/photoshop and subscribe to the RSS feeds of the blogs that are regularly featured there. Picking up tips and tricks over time has been quite helpful at learning this facet of web design.

I’m going to be improving the functionality of this blog even further and new features are planned for the future. You’ll notice twitter implementation at the footer. I’m predicting that this webservice will start to make an impact in Canadian politics; twitter is already a hit south of the border. You can also sign up for my mailing list below and Canada’s original and most influential political blog aggregator can also be found at the bottom of the site. As for the main content of the blog, my writing will always be the central feature of this site. Hopefully the new design will complement it.

That’s my take. I’m interested in hearing yours. What do you think of the new design?