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Tag Archive: Blogs

Web Rule #1: Link to other sites on the Web (Updated)

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Update: Roll Call is reporting that this was an issue with the Internet company hired by dozens of congressmen to run their Web sites:

"Smith’s site started blocking blogspot domains three months ago after GovTrends re-designed it and blocked readers routed from certain sites that could pose security risks, using a “blacklist” generated by Web security company gotroot.com. The blocking snafu seems to have been put to rest, at least temporarily. GovTrends unblocked blogspot from linking to Congressional clients on Tuesday, according to the company’s vice president, Ab Emam. But Emam says they’ll be closely monitoring traffic and if spam increases or there is harm to the sites, they could start blocking again without warning."

The antithesis of this rule would be to block links from other sites on the Web. That’s what Rep. Adrian Smith is doing. Smith is currently blocking all incoming links to his Web site from the .blogspot domain. This is apparently because an anti-Smith blog, Smith Watch, has been heavily criticizing him and attacking his record in Congress. The blogger at Smith Watch was having trouble linking to Smith’s site and asked the tech folks at Blogger to weigh in; this is part of their response:

The problem isn't with your link. It's with THEIR server. It's rejecting (giving a 404) when the link comes from blogspot. … He's blocking requests when it comes from bloggers.

Ok, to explain. Whenever you click on a link, the browser sends off a request to the server...yadda yadda...included in that is the referrer of the page you came from. His Official Government Website, that WE pay for (well I'm guessing on that part), is throwing up a 404 when the referrer heading comes from blogspot.com. I tested from one of my test blogs and it doesn't work either, also uploaded a test page to googlepages (a different domain) and it works. So it really is blogspot they are blocking via the referrer.

… Congressman Adrian Smith is afraid of Bloggers!

I think the key here is that, yes, we do pay for these official government Web sites and Rep. Adrian Smith thinks that he can decide who can link to and discuss his role as an elected representative of the people of the third district of Nebraska. This is a truly terrible example of a congressman miserably failing in his use of the Web and appears to be an attempt to silence an online voice by nullifying their ability to link. As anybody who’s read anything about the Web (David Weinberger’s Everything is Miscellaneous springs to mind) will tell you, links are the glue that hold the Web together and allow communication across platforms and channels. Without links there is no Web. I’ll leave it to the reader to determine what this says about Congressman Smith.

Hat tip: Eric Nebraska at Daily Kos.

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Making New Connections

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I'm excited to be in New York today to attend Jeff Jarvis' Networked Journalism Conference, and I found it fascinating to read the background statements of many of the participants. When we were asked to pick who we most wanted to meet, I simply refused to pick.

But I am interested in having some talk time with Danny Glover from the National Journal and Air Congress. Included in the site are video clips and podcasts from members of Congress themselves, as well as original content that he mostly produces. The site also posts audio and video about what's going on in Washington from bloggers, MSM journalists, trade associations, watchdog groups and even the executive branch. Sounds like a natural partner for Sunlight.

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Congress Blogs More Than You Think

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The IBM Business for Government report on blogging is a very useful introduction to Web 2.0 and blogs for wary lawmakers, as Ellen notes below. I'm not sure when they made this report - I know I first read it a month or two ago - but if they were to update their list of members of Congress blogging they would see that congressional blogs are not only more widespread than they report, but are also growing quickly. I've been collecting information related to member Web sites and the type of content they post for some time now. Below the fold you'll find a full-ish list of congressional blogs. It's a lot longer than IBM and others have reported.

These blogs vary in quality from rarely updated and only press releases to a real online communications hub.

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Governmental Blogging

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Here's an interesting new report -- The Blogging Revolution: Government in the Age of Web 2.0. Think of it as a kind of "Blogging for Dummies" without the humor. (No disrespect to the author or to the "...for Dummies" series.)

This report could be very helpful to any Member of Congress, mayor, state legislator, bureaucrat, corporate CEO who is looking to get an understanding of blogging and Web 2.0. In a straightforward and non-threatening manner, the report explains the Web; its history, its now, and its future. It also attempts to encourage decision makers to engage this brave new world. In common language, the author explains everything from how to start a blog, to social networking, to why blog in the first place. And he makes the case that Web 2.0 tools can increase civic engagement and strengthen our democracy.

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GSA Organizes Government Blogs

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This week, the General Services Administration introduced a new section to their Web site USA.gov highlighting blogs run by government agencies. Only a few government agencies are getting into the blogging spirit but you can now find them all in one spot. Thinking about joining the Peace Corps.? Now you read the Peace Corp. blog, an aggregator of Peace Corp. Volunteers' own blogs on their experiences. Want to follow the National Endowment for Arts initiative to make reading a central part of American life? Check out The Big Read Blog and follow NEA Literature Director David Kipen as he travels the country. There are a number of other blogs across the government including the Library of Congress blog, the Pandemic Flu Leadership blog, and the GLOBE Program blog. I can't think of a better way to communicate what these agencies are doing than to talk to the public through the blogging platform. Maybe Congress will decide to change the way they communicate some day too.

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The Sunlight-Berkman Conference on Political Information was a success

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Yesterday the Sunlight Foundation and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society hosted the Sunlight-Berkman Conference on Political Information. Our new intern Andrew MacRae attended the Conference in Boston and wrote up this review of the day:

On January 15th, 2007, the Sunlight Foundation in cooperation with Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society held an all day workgroup entitled “Local Political Information in an Internet Era”. The session brought together bloggers and organizations, in an attempt to share data, goals and thoughts. For addition coverage see what other participants had to say, Ethan Zuckerman, Jake Shapiro, John Palfrey, Dan Gillmor, David Weinberger and more.

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Blogs, Traditional Media, and Following Politics

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John Podhoretz draws a distinction, in his New York Post column, between those who get their information from the awkwardly-named "Mainstream Media" (I prefer traditional media) and those who follow (or follow, in addition to newspaper and television) political blogs and Web sites, and hypothesizes that the latter are getting a much different election picture than the former. Those on "Blog Time," Podhoretz argues, are more attuned to subtle or even significant shifts of voter zeitgeist: Rep. Harold Ford had a bad week; Republicans have put the worst of the ongoing Foley mess behind them; this district's latest poll looks good for the incumbent, and so on so forth. Those on "Mainstream Media Time," by contrast, are getting fed a steady diet of one way stories suggesting that Republicans are in trouble, according to Podhoretz.

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