NH Bike Bill Passes in the Legislature

Posted by Scott on May 21st, 2008

As a cyclist and bike commuter, I’m thrilled to see that the NH “Bike Bill”, HB 1203, has passed in both the NH House and Senate and is on its way to the Governor’s desk for a signature. This bill establishes, among other things, that motorists passing a cyclist on the road must give at least three feet of clearance while passing, or potentially face a $100 fine. It also states that road construction projects must give consideration to use of the road by cyclists and avoid creating hazards (such as ill-placed rumble strips and drain grates) to cyclists.

This legislation was modeled after similar laws that now exist in 20 other states. I really hope it will help to improve riding conditions for responsible cyclists in NH.

A Great Quotation from Roosevelt

Posted by Scott on Apr 14th, 2008

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

PDF Conference Recap

Posted by Scott on May 21st, 2007

I have returned from the Personal Democracy Forum conference in New York City, and am feeling particularly excited from the energy and enthusiasm that was prevalent throughout the event. I met some very interesting people and all of them “got” the concept of CampaignLever immediately. Of course, these are people doing work in this field already, and don’t necessarily represent my target audience of grassroots activist groups on a tiny budget.

Larry Lessig - PDF2007 Conference

Larry Lessig gave one of the first morning talks, titled “Free Culture, Free Politics.” His presentation was nearly as engaging as his famous Free Culture one (you have to watch this if you haven’t already). Lessig is thinking forward and addressing a lot of issues which need to be taken action on now in order to preserve an open culture in the future, as opposed to a controlled and proprietary one that we are currently heading toward.

Lessig made it very clear (and I applaud him for doing so) that supporting copyright is not an either/or issue; he is not against the concept of copyright. Rather, he argues that we need a more nuanced view on copyright where limitations in certain kinds of media or contexts is upheld. The most compelling example he gave were televised political debates, which some major networks are trying to control the distribution and third-party use of. He also pointed out that nearly all of the major democrat presidential candidates have come out in support of placing the presidential political debates in the public domain or otherwise not restricting the use of them. The main exception to this was Sen. Hillary Clinton, who has been disconcertingly silent on this issue. Lessig also pointed out that “fair use” rights only guarantee one the right to hire an attorney and slog through years of litigation when a copyright holder wishes to interpret fair use in light of their own interests.

Seth Godin - PDF2007 Conference

Seth Godin gave a top-notch and entertaining presentation as well. Godin discussed how the old methods of marketing and advertising (i.e, buying eyeballs for large sums of money by interrupting people) is offering diminishing returns by the day, and that this also applies to political marketing. He gave a wonderful metaphor to demonstrate what’s wrong with the current process (I’m paraphrasing below):

How NOT to Get Married:

Go into a singles bar, walk up to the first potential mate you see and propose to them. If this fails, try another person, and so on.

Godin noted that political campaigns are doing effectively the same thing thing to voters, yelling their message to everyone they can interrupt, when rather what they need to do is to take things slower and start going on “dates” with people to build a relationship where permission is given to go on future dates and finally to get married (i.e, buy the product or vote for the candidate, volunteer with the campaign, etc).

The conference also included a series of demonstrations of political and activism-related web applications by meetup.com, change.org, mcommons.com, and eventful.com, among others.

So what could have been better? At the very end of the conference there was a panel discussion by the technology leaders of several presidential campaigns. This was boring as hell – all each person on the panel did was make inside references to the their work and processes and talk primarily to each other, not the audience. Nothing insightful came out of the panel as far as I could tell, and after a half hour or so I simply left to attend the post-conference cocktail party a bit early.

PDF2007 Conference Attendee Crowd

There was a good amount of professional networking going on during the breaks and afterwards, but I would have liked there to be more breaks to allow more of this kind of thing. The cocktail party afterwards was overcrowded and extremely loud. In my estimation, there were upwards of 300+ people in attendance (Update: the official conference count was over 800!).

Overall, though, this conference was definitely a worthwhile event, and reasonably convenient to me, being on the East Coast. I’m certainly planning to attend the next one, and hope to have a compelling, working product to demo and share with the attendees.

PDF 2007 Conference

Posted by Scott on Mar 17th, 2007

No, this has nothing to do with Adobe’s document format. I’m talking about the Personal Democracy Forum, being held at Pace University in New York City. I’ll be there on Friday, May 18. The theme of the conference is something I’m becoming significantly involved in – the impact of technology in politics, grassroots activism, and elections.

I’m particularly looking forward to attending the presentations by Seth Godin and Craig Newmark. Political blogging is certainly playing a huge role in politics these days, but I’m less interested in that than I am in the more general aspects of community building and the nuts-and-bolts methods of leveraging software to empower motivated grassroots groups. It should be really interesting.

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