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e-Democracy update - 25/1/06

25 January, 2006
By Daniel Macpherson

IP rights in the ACT

Should IT companies contracting with the ACT government retain ownership of their own IP?

Opposition Leader Brendan Smyth says Canberra software companies contracting with government are disadvantaged because they lose their rights over new technology they develop.

He says the government should follow the Victorian government in their recent move to grant intellectual property rights to businesses.

"From that, what we should get is lower costs, what we should get is better contracts and what we should do is get a stronger ICT industry in the ACT," he says.

ACT Treasurer Ted Quinlan says businesses can negotiate intellectual property rights as part of their contracts.

"It's a two-edged sword whether or not the product is, or will turn out to be, commercially viable or viable on a wider market than what it was developed for," Mr Quinlan says.

"The companies themselves would have to look at that on a case-by-case basis."

Tony Blair's first ever podcast

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has joined many other politicians around the world in podcasting.

In his first podcast, The Sun's Political Editor George Pascoe-Watson interviews Mr Blair on the paper’s campaign to rid Britain's streets of troublemakers.

Mr Blair urges British citizens to take responsibility for their communities in opposition to "thugs" and "yobs".

"I welcome The Sun's campaign to help its readers identify those people who are causing real trouble in their communities."

"None of us alone, not even government, can put respect back at the heart of our communities. But acting together, we can and we will."

The Sun described the podcast as "history making".

However, some consider the political use of technology in UK to be below par.

Blogger Alex Bellinger noted, "I think it will be some time before any political party produces a series of podcasts that aren’t simply viewed as another means of getting the message out to a particular voting demographic."

Another blogger, Jason Kitkat, said he was depressed over the Prime Minister's use of technology after discovering the Mr Blair used Teletext to read about the Russian spy rock affair.

"We're screwed if the PM still uses that knackered old medium to stay in touch with the world. Is Teletext better than anything the Number 10 boffins can whip up or do they just not know what's out there these days?"

John Kerry begins blogging

Former presidential candidate Senator John Kerry has started writing articles for a popular news blog.

Last week, Senator Kerry posted his first article on The Daily Kos about a recent episode of US talk show Hardball.

In the episode, host Chris Matthews said al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden sounded "like an over-the-top Michael Moore here, if not a Michael Moore" in his recently released tape.

Matthews made the comment in regards to Bin Laden’s claim, "There is no defect in the solution other than preventing the flow of hundreds of billions to the influential people and war merchants in America."

Senator Kerry says the comparison between Moore and Bin Laden "doesn't sit right".

"That's reason to be outraged," he says in his blog article, "But even more outrageous is the fact that in a flurry of sound bites what was lost was a real discussion of the fact that more than four years after the devastating attacks of 9/11, more than four years after George Bush boasted we wanted Osama 'dead or alive', more than a year after Osama Bin Laden showed his hateful face in yet another video, this barbarian is still very much alive and boasting of additional attacks against the United States…"

"President Bush's mouthpiece Scott McClellan can claim this administration puts terrorists out of business, but yesterday's tape reminds us that instead of being out of business, Osama is still out there."

Read Senator Kerry's article here.

Canadian politicians slow to embrace new communication technology

Canada has elected a new government but many technology pundits have criticised the the parties' lack of potential in using communication technology.

One such person is a former aide to Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien named Warren Kinsella, who has commented on the way Canadian political parties have used technology such as blog software in their recent election campaigns.

"Canadian political parties are reacting in the way dinosaurs reacted to climate change: they just don't get it," he says.

He isn't the only one who thinks this. A recent article by Mathew Ingram in The Globe and Mail shows that Canadian parties have yet to make the most out of their websites.

"Canada's political parties have yet to really make the most of the interactivity that the Web offers," Mr Ingram says.

"The major U.S. political parties, by contrast, are taking advantage of virtually everything, from RSS feeds and blogs to comments and podcasts."

"Both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, for example, have active blogs that are written by more than one person -- the posts aren't exactly what you would call thrilling, but they do have comments enabled for each post and a 'trackback' feature as well."

2006: The year of the vlog?

Last year saw the emergence of political blogs and podcasts. This year could yield the emergence of political vlogs, or video weblogs.

Some politicians are already producing vlogs, such as Massachusetts councillor John Tobin.

Mr Tobin says he prefers vlogs to television interviews because he doesn't have to deal in sound bites.

"What you want to say [on television], you have to condense it into eight seconds," he says.

"[Vlogs] give me a real opportunity to present my whole side of the story unedited and for sure as I want and as long as I want."

Mr Tobin says the use of communication technology is becoming more commonplace in society.

"I think by 2008... people won't tolerate candidates who don't have vlogs."

2006 Bloggies announced

Five blogs have earned a place in the "Best Blog about Politics" category as part of the Sixth Annual Weblog Awards, otherwise known as The 2006 Bloggies.

The five blogs nominated in this category are:

The 2006 Bloggies are hosted by Fairvue Central and will be announced on March 13, 2006 at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas, USA.

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