Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Google at the conventions

Sarah Lai Stirland has a nice piece has a good piece over at Wired about what we’re going to be doing in Denver and in St. Paul at the Democratic and Republican conventions. I’ve been working on plans for the Democratic convention for months, and it’s hard to believe we’re just a few days away. One of the things we’re working hard on is making it possible for those who can’t be at the conventions to follow along online; I’ll post later in the week some links to gadgets and URLs that’ll get you started.

Monday, August 18, 2008

McCain and the Cross

Keep an eye on this: Andrew (and others) are poking around McCain’s cross anecdote, and so far can find no reference to it (not in a prior retelling of McCain’s Christmases in captivity, not anywhere before 1999 when it appeared in Faith of My Fathers).

If this has legs — that is to say, if McCain lied about an apparently transformative experience in captivity and exploited others’ faith in an attempt to curry favor with the Evangelical community — it would be a profoundly stupid move. Hillary’s comments about sniper fire in Bosnia were dumb, but ultimately harmless — they just showed her trying to maximize political gain by showing how tough she was under fire (literally, in that case).

My first reaction when I heard the story retold on Saturday night was that it was a great story, and I was puzzled about never having heard it before. Seems like the kind of thing that should have been indelibly connected to his public life as a candidate — and perhaps I’d just missed it (admittedly, I don’t follow him as closely as I follow Barack). But something here doesn’t add up. (As I’m writing this, Andrew finds further evidence it’s not McCain’s story — he first told it as if it happened to someone else.)

If he’s lying about this, it makes it extremely hard for him to use his captivity as a proxy for his character, faith and duty to country. Which is why it would be so dumb to embellish… but he’d hardly be the first politician to fall victim to that trap.

Time will tell…

Update: Andrew’s most recent post on this more or less puts this story to bed:
Day said “the only friendly thing the [guards] ever did was hit me on the leg instead of on the head.” But, according to Day, McCain wouldn’t condemn them all, telling the other men of the occasional act of decency he’d witnessed from his captors. Day says McCain told him how one of those guards had “made a cross with his foot and wiped it out.”

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Could it be... Hillary?

Like everyone else, I’ve wasted a ton of cycles wondering who Barack’s VP choice would be. For a long time, I’ve thought Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer — governor in a red state, fluent in Arabic, farmer, lived in Saudi Arabia for years — was a great off-the-radar pick. But picking him — or Tim Kaine, Kathryn Sebelius, or Tom Vilsack — would likely result in a loud, nation-wide “Who?”

And that’s not what Barack needs. Other front-runners bring as many negatives (Biden’s loose lips, Gephardt’s boring, Richardson’s got some Clinton problems of his own, etc.) as they do support, and what support they do bring is lukewarm among your average voter. (Is there really a Biden groundswell coming? I doubt it.)

What’s the most dramatic, news-worthy, guaranteed-to-bring-votes VP nominee Barack could name?

Much as it pains me to say, I think there’s just one name who fills the bill.


Not really sure how I feel about that — but the more I’ve thought about it over the weekend, the more it feels possible. And just a week ago I told a friend I’d be stunned if she were the pick… now I’m not so sure.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Blog? What blog?

Even I will acknowledge the irony of being the guy who has proclaimed — for years — that anyone who says they don’t have time to blog is lying, lazy, or both. So what’s my excuse? My last post was over a month ago. I don’t think I’ve ever gone that long between blog posts since starting this blog nearly seven years ago.

Let’s see. For starters, I’m still making a fair number of comments in two places: my Google Reader shared items (the Notes feature is the killer feature I’d been waiting for) and Twitter. And for the smattering of other content I create (Flickr, in particular) you can always get the aggregated, auto-updated list of stuff over at FriendFeed.

But the lack of blog posts is a combination of factors: the ease with which I can dash off a quick comment on Twitter or in Google Reader means that I have less need to compose more fully-formed thoughts on the blog. I tend not to write too much about Google-specific matters, and I’m not all that interested in breathlessly covering the latest tech news. On the politics front, my strong support of Barack doesn’t translate into a need to pontificate on why I support him – I think anyone who’s read more than a few posts here has a pretty good sense of why I support him and would have a hard time supporting Sen. McCain.

And, of course, there’s the easy cop-out: I’ve been busy.

Quick update on what I’ve been up to, for any who care: I recently took over as the content lead for Google Product Search (formerly known as Froogle). We are a lean team within the content partnerships group responsible for ensuring that PS has all of the merchants and product listings included, and that the product team has all the info they need to continue to innovate. It’s a great challenge, I love the team, and I’m really enjoying ramping up on something entirely different.

In addition, I’ve been working for months on our partnership with the Democratic Convention. (We’re an “official provider” to both the Democratic Convention and the Republican Convention.) That means I’ll be in Denver (working, I promise!) ensuring that a variety of Google products are used to help make the convention more interactive and inclusive. I’m stunned that I get to indulge my habit (politics) while “working” — to say I’m lucky would be an understatement.

I’ll be sure to have a number of updates once I get to Denver, and will be posting photos to Flickr and  Picasa. Stay tuned!