E-mail is under-used in politics

From the BBC:

The dramatic rise in home internet access has failed to plug the communication gap between politicians and citizens, a new survey has found.
The survey, commissioned by Telewest Business, found that only 1% of people have contacted their MP via e-mail.

Nearly half of the 3,000 people interviewed had home net access and 38% said they would e-mail their MP if they knew their address.

But 50% did not even know who their local MP was.

Some have seen the the growth of home net access as a huge opportunity to create closer ties between the state and citizens as well as transforming how individuals communicate with each other.

But there is little evidence that this has happened.

In a separate study, conducted at Strathclyde University, it was found that access to the internet has failed to make people less cynical about the government and is not encouraging people to get involved in the political process.

Nearly a half (45%) of those interviewed for the Telewest E-Politics Study thought politicians should use the internet more and one in five of those interviewed said they would be more likely to vote if online voting was available.

Those aged 18-34 year-olds were the keenest on e-voting.

The results suggest a major rethink if politicians are to engage citizens using the net.

“The revelation that 45% thought MPs should use more internet communication demonstrates that government needs to evolve its communications infrastructure to meet this need,” said Christopher Small, director of public sector at Telewest Business.

Derek Wyatt was one of the first MPs to have a website and it is obvious to him that he should seek as many avenues as possible for talking to constituents.

“Any MP worth his or her salt would want a website and e-mail. It is natural to want to communicate as there could be a vote in it,” he said.

MPs are not obliged to have an e-mail address, despite the fact that they are all assigned one.

Some do not even hold surgeries – the traditional face to face way of keeping in touch with the people they represent in parliament.

Dr Stephen Ward, a research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, has spent the last six months analysing MPs websites and is not impressed with what he has found.

“Most offer just standard information and are essentially cyber brochures. Very few offer interactivity,” he said.

He believes most MPs are wary of direct dialogue with their constituents.

“Lots of MPs don’t want that dialogue and feel they haven’t got the time for it,” he said.

The few websites that did impress him were those that were updated on a daily or weekly basis or ones which laid out how a particular MP stood on a range of issues.

Mr Wyatt, who receives around 300 e-mails each day, confessed that many of them were related to very specific local issues but he relished the chance to get involved with the nitty gritty of constituents daily lives.

“In some ways, e-mail has changed the nature of my job. But I deal with everything because every vote counts. I contact the Chief Executive of the local council and magically everything is fixed,” he said.

The dialogue that e-mail opens up between MPs and citizens can also be used to promote a more general political agenda, he added.

Dr Ward believes more MPs, especially those in marginal constituencies, are seeing the value of e-mail to sway undecided voters.

“Some are starting to put e-mails they receive in databases. They know your interests and are able to respond a bit more scientifically,” he said.

Quoting Whole Posts

From Scbole:

Diego wants off of my link blog

Diego doesn’t want me to republish his blog posts. So far he’s the third person to ask me to stop doing that on my linkblog. What do I do? Simply unsubscribe so that I don’t see their posts anymore and am not tempted to link to them.

I used to do just headlines but, personally, that format is useless.

Why do I do my linkblog? For several reasons:

1) New readers need a way to find new blogs. I don’t quote every post from someone’s blog, just the most interesting ones to me. Out of 3,500 posts I usually put 100 on my link blog.

2) As a store for me to do my own searches later on. If I only had headlines in my RSS feed this would be useless. Instead, now, I have a way for me to find things that I found interesting months later.

3) As a way to get traffic and search engine juice to the people I find interesting. One link from this blog is worth quite a bit of Page Rank. Why? Because a lot of people link to it. Because of my publishing tool (Kunal Das wrote the tool, named OutlookMT).

4) It’s pretty clear after reading my linkblog for a while that everything there came from someplace else and every item links back to its original owner.

5) I’m doing this for people who are overloaded with information and want to keep up to date on what the tech blogosphere is doing. It’s a lot easier to read 100 items a day than 3,500.

How do I do this blog? I read all my feeds and anything I find interesting I drag over to a folder named “Blog This.” That item is automatically placed on my link blog.

I also greatly appreciate Matt Mullenweg. He’s donating the hosting and the back-end technology (it’s running on WordPress).

I do find it interesting that Diego finds my linkblog interesting to read. It’s interesting BECAUSE it has full-text reprints. If you want pure headline link blogs you can check those out on del.icio.us or bloglines. They simply aren’t as useful.

I have quoted his whole post. Seemed kind of appropriate.

The thing is, I can’t understand this attitude one bit. This sort of request really begs the question: why are you writing a blog? Jeez, most people would be delighted to have their stuff highlighted by Scoble, I know I was. It means you get a whole load of new readers, and lets you know you are on the right lines. At the end of the day, readers might not need to visit your blog to read that particular post, but, in general blog readers are an inquisitive lot and will visit your site and subscribe if they like what they see. So, if anyone wants to quote my witterings in full, in part or whatever, go right ahead!

More here and here.

My link blog also quotes in full, though I have to admit that I doubt many people ever see mine. Still, if anyone doesn’t like it, let me know.

Mobiles and Petrol Stations

I’ve always wondered about this…

UK professor concludes: cellphones don’t cause gas station fires

Maybe MythBusters isn’t a solid enough scientific authority for Connecticut state senator Andreas Stillman, who wants to ban the use of cellphones when you’re filling up your car, but a professor from University of Kent in the UK has decided to settle once and for all whether cellphones can cause gas station fires (technically he studied whether cellphones cause petrol station fires, but we’re pretty sure his research applies to the rest of the world). He studied all 243 gas station fires from the past 11 years that were supposedly sparked by cellphones and determined that not a single one was actually caused by a handset. The actual cause of most of these fires? Static electricity, which is what everyone who actually knows anything about this stuff has been saying all along.

Blogzine Launches

This might be useful and worth checking out, from Renee Blodgett

Blogzine launches, which is New Communications Forum’s new bi-monthly online publication dedicated to exploring new communications tools, technologies and emerging modes of communication, (including blogs, wikis, RSS, podcasts, search marketing, etc.).

It aims to discuss the growing phenomena of participatory communications and their effect on traditional media, professional communications, business and society at large.

Their first issue explores the evolution of new models for journalism, PR, brand marketing, and advertising, and a contribution from blogger Jeremy Wright.

Rubel Roundup

Quite a few interesting posts by Steve Rubel on Micro Persuasion recently, which I am still catching up on.

Folksonomies Turn Chaos Into Information

eWeek: The new term “Folksonomy” has emerged to describe the potential for user-defined tags to organically develop structure out of what might appear to be chaotic collections of information. One of the uncertainties about tags is how they can fit together among various services and what meaning can be gleaned from the tags of a large mass of users.

I haven’t really had much involvement with tagging, on Flickr I rarely bother. But more and more sites seem to be emerging using this technology and maybe it’s time I gave it some consideration.

Get a Job in Blogging

Want to get paid for thinking about blogging? There are plenty of blogging related jobs available via indeed.com. And there’s even a feed to keep track of them. 

However unrealistic, I am going to have to do this. Having a job where I could just do this all the time? Great!

Forest Staying Up!

Great result for Forest today.Link below from the Guardian. More to follow when I get back online.

Championship round-up

Championship: Sunderland went top with a win over Coventry, as Wigan could only draw against Nottingham Forest.

I really can see us staying up now. In Megson we have the best manager in the division, and now things are tightened up a the back, when we get some of the injured players back, we should be in a strong position come the run-in.


I have been playing with Microsoft’s OneNote (guessed at URL) software. It’s huge for what is for me just a Notepad replacement! At the moment I am just using one of the many possible screens to record notes and URLs I might want to visit in the future. It certainly offers a bit more flexibility than good old Notepad and makes a very useful scratchpad. Will post further should I actually do anything more with it…