Howard Dean, an American Neil Kinnock?


Dean was feted by the media before the nominations started, because of a vocal and visible core of supporters, but then disappeared as the votes were cast. IT Conversations has a very interesting recording of a speech byJoe Trippi who was responsible for Howard Dean’s democratic party campaign at the recent O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference. The Dean campaign looked to overthrow the system of interest group money purchasing television spots and presidential ads and so an election. He was inspired by the dialogue empowered by different web technologies.

Joe Trippi admitted that he was defeated by the system of lobbyists, money and traditional media. Dean started with 137,000 USD in the bank, 437 supporters nationally and a campaign team of seven. Dean did manage to use the Internet to get grassroots support to achieve an unparalleled amount of campaign funding from over 300,000 supporters.

The use of Meetup.com to get online supporters to meet up and then plan real world grassroots action over the water cooler, or over the garden fence was a key element of the campaign.

Trippi said that the internet community do not get the harsh realities of real world politics – money matters. It has also shone a spotlight on the established political machine of special interest groups.

Is Trippi the next Peter Mandelson? I don’t know but his tactics have raised awareness of the web as an effective political tool. The key problem with the Internet based campaign is it couldn’t respond to the repetition of negative television advertisements and negative new stories in the established media. So there is hope for PR people and ad agencies yet.

As an aside I would be interested to see how online grassroots lobbying communities like MoveOn (from the people that gave us the original Flying Toasters screensavers back in the day) will influence the political debate.

Keeping a 63-year old happy


My parents came down for the weekend. While my Mum was content to chill out and do some knitting whilst listening to Daniel O’Donnell slaughtering country and western standards, my Dad was at a loss for something to do. Having been told by my friend Kirsty who has a little boy that the Science Museum has free admission, I had a brain wave.

My Dad is a fitter by trade and we spent about two hours finding out about the development of the steam engine and the rise of the internal combustion engine. We found out that James Watt did not invent the steam engine (our school teachers lied to us) but improved on existing designs. We took a brief break and then pushed into the space section and then on into the modern world with everything from a Mills & Boon novel to an transgenic sheep proteins (derived from their milk). So far so good, the digital section did not impress, despite its architectural scale, but the aviation gallery got a big thumps up from Pops.

When he comes down to pick my Mum up next week, we hope to go back to explore more of the Science Museum.

The journey home however was a bit of a trauma with Thameslink trains shutting down their service completely. We had to get home via Milton Keynes (a soul less bit of urban planning) and it took us four hours.

Good evening Mr Carroll, we’ve been expecting you

Friday, and my Palm PDA bleeped in that nagging sort of way that it does. I looked down and saw that it was time to get my watch serviced again. I have the good fortune to have got a Rolex Submariner at a knockdown price off my old man some years ago before their prices went stupid. The watch is as old as I am and has weathered the adventures we have shared (including scuba diving, flyposting in sink hole estates, dj’ing in abandoned mills and dot.com client meetings) considerably better. Every three years it goes in for a service.

Rolex in London had changed their location since last time, so after getting off at the wrong tube and then heading halfway across W1, I arrived at their new offices in St James’ Sq in a bit of a fluster. Talk about brand experience, their foyer is all sea green wavy patterned glass, dark green marble (all in the same colours as much of their packaging and website) and high quality woodwork, with a couple of lovely looking blonde receptionists; it looks every inch like the sitting room of a Bond villain’s hideaway.

A reassuringly old man in a spotless white coat took my watch away. I will be interested to see how much work it needs in the next week or so. Seriously tempted to get it a companion with a 50th anniversary edition Submariner or a Seadweller, but that would be a bit materialistic…

Firefox up

For some reason Safari, the zippy default browser on my Mac does not like the format buttons in Blogger, the online tool I use to write these musings. I have loaded up the latest iteration of Mozilla called Firefox as a back up. I am very impressed with its speed and relative lack of bugs. It beats seven bells out of Microsoft Explorer and Microsoft was withdrawn from the Mac marketplace for Internet browsers so a fast reliable alternative was required.

Cufflinks & ‘The Game of Death’

Cufflinks are men’s equivalents to alice bands (except for David Beckham) frivolous items of attire, there is no rhyme or reason for them but shirt makers insist that you use them so that they can skimp on buttons. I can find using them to be a right pain in backside. My one set of cufflinks were bought at a shop in the West End and feature a black and white hand and shoulders portrait of Bruce Lee (from The Game of Death publicity stills apparently). This struck me as a bit of an oddity unless that practicing kung fu is as time consuming and trying as doing up a set of cufflinks in a hurry. They are bit of a conversation piece and my friend Ian and I were talking about them. I complained that using cufflinks were a ‘challenge’ and he pointed out that cufflinks in his view were a way of preparing for the day. You cant do them efficiently unless you are at ease, rather than having your mind going in 20 directions at once. There you go, one man’s frivolous clothing item, another man’s zen pillar – you decide….

DeVinci Code – storm in a tea cup

The DeVinci Code is a bit of a storm in a teacup and yet says something about our time. Basically its your Dad’s Robert Ludlum (rather than Tom Clancy – not enough tech or family values) book with a theological bombshell rather than a nuclear one and still gets the girl at the end. It has become the world’s best selling hardback novel. Dan Brown, writes well and keeps his yarn running at a good rate of knots.

Much has been said elsewhere about the way that it draws on the Gnostic gospels, so I wont go into that here – which is also good because I am not qualified to comment with any kind of authority on the accuracy or theological merit of the book.

What I found most interesting is the parallels with the war on terror, the white middle class end-boomer hero battles unknown religuous forces ‘determined’ to keep its own believers enslaved in a deluded faith. I was struck how much of George Bush like view this is of Islam and the current war on terror. Just in the same way that 1950s sci-fi films were a mirror held up to the audience of their own Cold War induced paranoia.

I am sure that Gnostic-based self help books will pepper the holiday reading charts this summer.

Coca-Cola bedeviled by Dasani

Coca-Cola have had a rough couple of weeks with their entry into the UK bottled water market. A few weeks ago the UK tabloid press ‘exposed’ Dasani as tap water from Sidcup, then the water mains burst in the town, now they have bromate contamination. Of course this did not stop me pouring petrol on the fire by bending over backwards to help a CNBC Europe researcher who phoned up looking for expert comment on how this may affect the Coca-Cola and Dasani brands, I managed to place Mark North, creative director of Henrion Ludlow Schmidt’s London office on the European Closing Bell programme as an expert commentator.

What really astonished me was that in less two hours after the story broke in the late editions of London’s Evening Standard it had appeared on 89 different news sites listed by Google News including the San Jose Mercury and Straits Times. There is no longer such a thing as a local brand….

I also posted a comment on this at AlwaysOn Network