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e-Democracy update - 10/5/06 - Bloggers vs Rundle, Egyptian protests and Wikipedia tampering

10 May, 2006
By Daniel Macpherson

Rundle blasts "blog craze"

A prominent Australian columnist has predicted in a recent Crikey column that the blogosphere will soon contract after the current mass expansion.

Arena magazine editor and columnist Guy Rundle says the blogosphere "is increasingly taken up with blogs that appear to be dead."

"It's eerie and suggests to me that we are entering the next stage of the online revolution, in which the mass expansion of blogs will begin to contract – especially those which are publishing out towards a putative audience, rather than simply being an online diary," he says.

"Those blogs that survive will and are evolv[ing] into multi-person sites, some with collective and decentred ways of uploading, others with hierarchies essentially identical to paper editing."

Blogger Mark Bahnisch republishes Rundle's comments and responds here.

Graham Young, founder of On Line Opinion says Rundle's right and wrong - "A trail of empty blogs doesn't mean the species is dying out, anymore than a row of tombstones means man is about to become extinct."

The tartest advice comes from Tim Dunlop: "My unwanted advice to such writers is that if blogs really are as un-captivating as you keep saying, and are as rapidly on their way to oblivion as you keep breathlessly announcing, then stop writing about them."

Online activists protest Egyptian arrests

Egyptian bloggers have organised an e-mail campaign against a government crackdown and arrest of various Egyptian activists.

One of the activists was prominent Egyptian blogger, Alaa Abdel Fattah.

Other bloggers have asked people in other countries to send e-mails to Egyptian embassies, the U.S. State Department and the White House to gather support for freedom of speech and public assembly in Egypt.

Sources say most of those arrested in recent crackdowns are members of the Kifaya ("Enough") movement, supporters of imprisoned 2005 presidential candidate Ayman Nour, and members of the Labor and Karama parties.

Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey says he is campaigning for Alaa’s release.

"Alaa is a secular democracy activist, and a tireless advocate of freedom, free speech and human rights. He organizes demonstrations and engages in protests against all kinds of injustices in Egypt and is the winner of the international Best of the Blogs award from 'Reporters without Borders' last December," he says.

"We have started an e-mail campaign to the Egyptian embassies and the US State Department in order to push for his release, and have started protests in front of the Egyptian embassy and consulates in the US for his release. We will also hold protests in France, Italy and Gemany."

Authorities have set a period of 15 days for Alaa’s detention.

US campaign manager resigns after Wikipedia tampering

A US gubernatorial campaign manager has handed his resignation after allegations of tampering with a Wikipedia entry on an opposing primary candidate.

Atlanta gubernatorial candidate and Democrat Cathy Cox says she has accepted the resignation of campaign manager Morton Brilliant after internal investigations have revealed someone within her campaign edited a Wikipedia article on Democratic primary opponent Mark Taylor.

"My campaign manager Morton Brilliant, who is responsible for all the work in my office, has offered me his resignation and I have accepted it," she says.

A spokesperson for opposing Democrat candidate Mark Taylor says Brilliant edited the article to include details of son Fletcher Taylor’s arrest in a fatal drunk driving accident.

"He was trying to smear Mark Taylor and exploit a personal tragedy and we caught him red handed," spokesman Rick Dent says.

South Korea pushes campaigns online

South Korean political parties have started online advertising to gain support for younger voters for the local elections on May 31.

Last week, the federally governing Uri Party launched their online advertising for the party's 16 mayoral, gubernatorial hopefuls on sites such as "Naver" and "Daum".

A Uri Party spokesperson says the party will also post candidate profiles and policies as banner ads.

An opposition Grand National Party (GNP) spokesperson says his party plans to take advantage of online campaigns to promote its campaign pledges among the public.

"We expect to extract greater value from the online campaigns in promoting our party's campaign policies and also making public the governing party's failure in managing state affairs," the spokesperson says.

He also says the opposition party is preparing to target advertising to appeal to different age groups.

Analysts say online campaigns could change future elections due to the rising influence of the Internet on young voters, especially those in their 20s and 30s.

According to sources, one in three Korean lawmakers has a type of personal homepage or weblog.

Computer game competition aims for e-diplomacy

A computer game detailing the conflict between Israel and Palestine has won a competition at the Universtiy of Southern California (USC).

USC Center on Public Diplomacy held their "Reinventing Public Diplomacy through Games Competition" earlier this week.

The winner entitled "Peace Maker" allows the player to choose control of Israeli or Palestinian forces and find a peaceful resolution to the conflict during a term in office.

The game's producers, Eric Brown and Asi Burak, say they gave the game to range of different groups for testing purposes; groups such as Arab students in Qatar, experienced peace negotiators in Boston and Washington, D.C., and Jewish and Muslim students in Squirrel Hill and Monroeville.

"You've got to imagine when you give this to an Arab student and he begins bombing the Palestinian region, it's kind of crazy," Mr Burak says.

Carnegie Mellon University historian Laurie Eisenberg, who helped with the project, says all students, not just Arab and Muslim ones, were wildly enthusiastic about using the game.

"Almost everyone expressed a better understanding for the 'other side's' predicament and positions, even if they didn't change their basic view of the conflict," she says.

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