Tuesday, September 30, 2008

2008 ELCA Communicators Conference keynote

You may recall that last month I gave a speech in Chicago at the 2008 ELCA Communicators Conference. This particular conference is important to me, for a couple reasons. First off, my 2006 speech to this group was the most impactful speech I’ve ever given. It was wild to see so many blogs pop up, and to receive e-mails months, even a year or more after the fact. I can count dozens of friends on Facebook and regular e-mail correspondents from people who were either in the audience that day or who heard the audio online after the conference. It lead directly to being asked to serve on the board of directors for Augsburg Fortress, an innovative publisher who’s making incredible strides as it adjusts to a changing marketplace – a professional development that has been valuable in its own right.

Needless to say, I was excited to be asked back – and thoroughly enjoyed the follow-up presentation that I gave. This year the ELCA video taped the presentation, and were gracious enough to share the video with me. For those who are interested, this year’s speech is included below.

Thanks again to the ELCA for sharing the recording. Those of us who make technology our living tend to spend gallons of digital ink complaining about the hordes who don’t get it. It’s to the ELCA’s credit that they are trying very hard to learn these new media, experiment, figure out what doesn’t work, and iterate. I never expected to sit in a position of leadership within the church – not least of all because it’s my “adopted” church (I was raised Catholic), but also because, well, church leaders were them, definitely not me. It’s humbling to be in a position to influence how those decisions are getting made.

I’m incredibly proud of what those in the audience have accomplished. Whether it’s Ning-based social networks focused on the liturgy, countless Facebook groups whose members number in the thousands, or the fact that more than one out of every 100 books available on the Kindle at launch came from Augsburg Fortress – the church is working hard to apply these modern technologies to fundamental challenges.

I’m looking forward to hearing from those who watch the speech… what did I miss?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Got Google Questions? We got answers.

Very excited to announce a project that I’ve been working on for the past several months (in addition to a few others…) – the Content Central blog and the updated Submit Your Content page. Both are intended to bring a bit more transparency to how we distribute content for content partners at Google, and help partners find the tool(s) they need to get better results from working with us.

Congrats to Don, who was instrumental in seeing this through. And major thanks to Steffanie, JL and April (none of whom have a blog I can link to, as far as I know – hint, hint) who brought much-needed focus to the project. Keep an eye on the blog, lots of good stuff is in the hopper over there.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

John McCain's dishonorable campaign

Another day, another breath-taking ad from the McCain campaign:

Go read the supporting evidence at McCain’s site; here’s the relevant portion:

The Full Text Of S.B. 99 Included Changes That Would Offer Sex Education To Children Beginning In Kindergarten. “Each class or course in comprehensive sex education offered in any of grades K through 12 shall include instruction on the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including the prevention, transmission and spread of HIV.” (S.B. 99: Illinois Senate Health And Human Services Committee, Passed, 7-4-0, 3/6/03, Obama Voted Yea)

Now I realize it’s been a while since I graduated from law school, so perhaps my ability to parse legislation is a tad rusty. But a clear reading of that sentence — really the only way to read that sentence — indicates that the legislation simply added the requirement insofar as they were already taking in a class. In other words: if (and only if) there was a Kindergarten class teaching sex ed (can anyone point out any curriculum where this was on the agenda? I’ll be stunned to see any link to any Illinois school where that’s the case; it sure wasn’t in Naperville), then that class simply needed to add language regarding HIV.

Put more simply: no class in Kindergarten? No HIV talk. The bill just toughened up existing sex ed to make sure it was more effective. You know, so that kids might not, um, get pregnant and stuff.

But that’s an entirely separate discussion.

Why was Kindergarten even mentioned? As Hilzoy points out, it was because Barack felt that age-appropriate education might help protect children from pedophiles. Hardly the “comprehensive sex education to kindergarteners” claimed by McCain.

Let’s not forget:

Monday, September 8, 2008

The truthiness of Sarah Palin's maverick credentials

Yesterday, the McCain campaign launched this new ad, titled “Original Mavericks”:

“She opposed the Bridge to Nowhere”, the ad’s voice-over declares. Which is pretty great. Except, well, she didn’t.

She lobbied in favor of the bridge, going so far as to campaign in the city where the bridge would have terminated, and proudly displaying her support by sporting a “Nowhere, Alaska” t-shirt:

[caption id=”“ align=“alignnone” width=“278” caption=“Sarah Palin Nowhere, Alaska T-shirt”]Sarah Palin Nowhere T-shirt[/caption]

Caught in the lie, the McCain campaign now points out that, well, she didn’t really oppose it from the beginning, but she’s totally the one who killed it. Only that’s not true either.

Even richer? After having earmarked $200m+ from federal taxpayer money to pay for the bridge to nowhere, she petitioned Congress to keep the money even though they were not going to build the bridge.

And guess what? She got to keep it. More than $300 for every man, woman and child in Alaska. For a bridge that never got built.

Lest you think this is an aberration, as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, she took a town with no debt and left it with nearly $20m in debt – or over $3,000 per resident. Best of all, however, is her pride in obtaining several federal earmarks:

[caption id=”“ align=“alignnone” width=“391” caption=“Palin brags of earmark success”]Palin brags of earmark success[/caption]

Last note on those earmarks: they were opposed by none other than the Original Maverick Himself, John McCain:

In 2001, McCain’s list of spending that had been approved without the normal budget scrutiny included a $500,000 earmark for a public transportation project in Wasilla. The Arizona senator targeted $1 million in a 2002 spending bill for an emergency communications center in town — one that local law enforcement has said is redundant and creates confusion.

McCain also criticized $450,000 set aside for an agricultural processing facility in Wasilla that was requested during Palin’s tenure as mayor and cleared Congress soon after she left office in 2002.

What else is there to say?

Update: TalkingPointsMemo has a nice video response to this, with even more details: