Where’s the context?

I've been playing with RDF Site Summary (RSS) for some time. When I first tried aggregating RSS feeds I did it with a webpage (think of a mini My Yahoo!) which was ok, but a long scroll. Additionally it didn't alert me to which items were new.

So these days I'm using NetNewsWire Lite and so far, so good. It collects all the feeds quickly and I can skim through those that it highlights as unread. But still it seems best to only read blogs and such things through NetNewsWire. Why? Because there's no context for the headlines coming through. So while for a blog where there is only one 'top headline' at a time this is ok. But for something as dense as BBC News online there's a sharp contrast.

BBC New Online     Net News Wire Thumb

The screenshots show BBC News headlines in exactly the same amount of space when shown through a browser and NetNewsWire (Click the thumbnails to enlarge them). Not only does the web version pack more news links in, but it gives them context with their size, placement and pictures. Now with NetNewsWire I know the full version also shows dates in the headline listing but nothing shows me a headline's importance or relationship to other articles.

So while RSS is very useful and will continue to appear in unexpected places, I'm going to stick to reading my news in Safari.

e-democ / e-gov

You win some, you lose some

A remarkable few days in the e-government world.

e-voting rollbacks

On March 31st it emerged that the US SERVE project to allow American military to vote from abroad via the Internet had actually been cancelled. In January we heard that it had been put on hold thanks to a critical report on it's technology from an elightened minority a 'Security Peer Review Group' that political pressure had foisted on SERVE. In fact SERVE is so cancelled they've already wiped their website!

This is a big win for those of us opposed to e-voting as it shows that even an organisation as technologically dependent as the US military can see the risks involved with e-voting. Tie this news in with the decision to hold no e-voting pilots in the UK this year and Switzerland's announcement that Swiss living abroad will have to wait until 2010 to vote online and perhaps we're making some progress!

ID card stampede

Now the bad news… The Prime Minister, in his 1st April briefing, seems to have decided that there are only a few minor details to resolve with ID cards now that the main arguments have been won (err… what?). Let me quote directly as it's rather a shocker:

Question You mentioned earlier there might be a need to adjust terrorism laws further and you made reference to ID cards. Can you tell us more about that? And I thought the Cabinet had decided to defer ID cards for a few years.

Prime Minister There are certain issues that are going to come up in the near future about terrorism laws and what we need to do in respect of that, and the … will publish proposals on it. But we need to make sure that in the light of fresh information and operations such as the one that we have >just seen that we are keeping our law up to date with the reality on the ground. The second point in relation to ID cards is that I think there is no longer a civil liberties objection to that in the vast majority of quarters. There is a series of logistical questions, of practical questions, those need to be resolved, but that in my judgment now, the logistics is the only time delay in it, otherwise I think it needs to move forward.

(Full textBBC News Online report)

This is unbelievable in my view. Blair explicitly ties ID Cards with terrorism when we've had other ministers claiming the issues aren't directly related. ID Cards in Spain did not prevent the bombing there and they wouldn't have stopped the 9/11 attacks either.

Yes the logistics of creating a national ID card database are terrifying, particularly with the government's record on large IT projects as shabby as it is. But to completely ignore the widespread opposition, on civil liberties grounds, to ID cards is quite astonishing. have lots more to say on it – understandably seeing as the Home Office basically tried to ignore the 5,070 consultation responses Stand marshalled.

e-democ / e-gov

e-democracy in action?

I don't know if it's just over-eager journalism or really what the folks at think, but their site is as a long way from e-democracy in action. In my view e-democracy is not just about putting information online, there's got to be interaction and accountability. While it's admirable that the site's backers want to make information about the European Parliament more digestible, I'm not sure they succeed.

current affairs

Election Manipulation?

What with Taiwan's close election result after an attempted assassination on the President being disputed and much being made of the Socialist's surprise win in ]Spain's general election][3] just after the bombing in Madrid, are we seeing a terrible new method of electoral manipulation? Possibly, but it's a high risk strategy, nobody can ever be sure how an electorate will respond to such extreme actions. In the end resorting to violence undermines whatever political arguments the terrorists might want to make.

e-democ / e-gov

Consultation Fudge

The UK Government have been all over the place with their proposed Entitlement/ID card plans. Even more worryingly they've been fudging consultation responses like there's no tomorrow… See for much more.


Holiday Cartoon

Here's a great little cartoon for the halloween season…This Modern World


Resolution on Voter Verifiability

A resolution calling for voter verifiable e-voting has gone online. It's supported by the free e- democracy project and the Foundation for Information Policy Research, please support it now.

notes from JK


Thanks to a feature in the Guardian Book Review I've just discovered the wonderful Seattle cartoonist, Horsey. Two fantastic current examples of his work which I can't stop chortling over… The War Machine and Patriot Love. A few more favourites Clean Power, Osama at Prayer… enjoy.