twitbook: book of twits

Wired reviews a book on the media of the Middle East, The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday. Well, even pirates have press spokesmen these days. It sounds like it could be interesting, but it strikes me that this piece by Tom Griffin about trolls sponsored by various Middle Eastern actors is its critical, rebellious twin.

The GLORIA Center at IDC gathered about thirty Israeli bloggers and members of Israel’s foreign and defense ministries for an informal gathering to evaluate the blogging effort during the Gaza war, new techniques and future challenges. Topics discussed included lessons of the Gaza battle for blogalogical warfare, live-blogging, new technologies and interactions with government. Bloggers delivered short presentations on their personal experiences and discussed future plans for cooperation….

Who wouldn’t want to be a fly on the wall? It practically glows with a radioactive mixture of trollishness, self-righteousness, and raging, thinktank/intern ambition. A weaponised version of MessageSpace. You’ll laugh; you’ll cry; you’ll read up on freeze-distilling your own hydrogen peroxide to escape all this hideousness!

As always, if you want a practical policy recommendation, make tools. A little investment in annoying javascript thingies pays off hugely by improving the productivity of your trolls; and it doesn’t have to be technically very interesting.

In Italy, meanwhile, they’ve got a truly impressive legislation tracker going.

It allows one to follow an act in its path across the two perfectly symmetrical chambers (La Camera and Il Senato), from its presentation as a proposal, to its final approval.

It tracks all the votations, highlighting rebel voters. It tracks who presented an act, and wether as a first-signer or a co-signer. It also tracks speeches of officials on given acts.

Access to textual documents related to an act is easy and documents can be emended by users online, using an innovative shared comments system (eMend), that allows discussions on a particular act to take place.

Users can describe the acts, using their own words, in a wiki subsystem, acts are ratable and commentable, too.

All acts are tagged with consistent arguments by an editorial board, and that allows to know what’s going on and who’s doing what in relation to a subject.

An event-handling subsystem allows the generation of news. Whenever an act is presented, it moves towards approval or refusal, a votation takes place, someone gives a speech or anything worth noticing happens, news are generated. A dedicated web page and a customized daily e-mail, containing just the news related to those acts, politicians or arguments monitored by the user, allows him/her to follow almost in real time what’s going on.

Pretty cool; better than anything we’ve got. And, I think, that’s much more a piece of real citizen technology than any of the TwitBook propaganda apps, which are all about creating a sense of participation; possibly, they actually exist in order to provide that sense as a substitute for real participation, in order to prevent it.

If that’s not hardcore enough for you, the Make blog has a HOWTO on listening to satellites.


  1. 1 next slide, please « Alternate Seat of TYR

    […] 26, 2009 in snark We spoke of fake and real online participation. These things also exist in other branches of IT. Thomas X. Hammes writes about PowerPoint […]

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