Broward Soil & Water Conservation District, Dist. 4 for 2014

flamingoSo, once again, we find ourselves with the upcoming election and people are on the search for what is the Broward Soil & Water Conservation District seat? And who are these people we are considering?

For your personal reading, here is the post from 2010 which seems to be still relevant for the actual seat/position: What is the Broward Soil & Water Conservation District seat?

As for the people in the running, there are three candidates:

  • Gineen Maria Bresso
  • Douglas Russell, Jr., and
  • Fred Segal

Now, we have only spoken with Fred Segal in the past, who had been incredibly helpful in understanding the role.  We recently saw Blue Broward post their recommendation, based on the relationship their candidate for Agricultural Secretary candidate, they supported Douglas Russell.

They spoke against Ms. Bresso since she is being Republican and was not enthusiastic about Mr. Segal because he has run before and not won and not developed a good relationship with Mr. Hamilton.  If any of the candidates which to discuss their position along the same lines as the past seats, I am happy to publish your responses.

For me, one who is good at a role is not always a good politician – so I would much rather endorse Mr. Segal from my past conversations than rely solely on the friendship of another candidate.

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John Stewart: Why Campaigns are Better than Government

John and AneeshListening to yesterday’s The Daily Show (sorry, I am in London now), I watched Aneesh Chopra speak with John Stewart about the challenges government faces with “legacy systems”, “legacy databases” and “20 year efforts” and watched John’s eyes glaze over.

John, let me see if I can help you understand why Government is not like Campaigns – and use a New Jersey metaphor for you.

Let’s Handmake a Car!

Let’s say you have a 1969 Dodge Charger – it is up on mounts, and you have been wanting to refurbish it so your kid could actually know what it feels like to have true American muscle under their feet. But this Charger has been running….okay….for the past few years, and you realize it needs to a new gas line, a new steering column, and heck – even a new engine if you are going to have this puppy run like it used to.

1969 Black Dodge ChargerWell, you could go find some automotive shops that specialize in finding those parts – and if these parts happen to have different connectors (like a hard hose versus a slinky hose), then you need to find the better part that can allow all of the systems within the car to actually work together.

You could also decide that, in the past 55 years, the technology has improved so much that you could conceivably gut the entire system and retrofit the body with a new engine, steering column, and so on. Especially since these parts are so easy to come by from the same auto parts stores.

But here is the rub: what if I told you that to get ANY of the parts mentioned above, you had to make them YOURSELF? And I mean actually handcraft the parts yourself with whatever machine you had available (like a CNC milling machine or a Dremel).

Now lets add one more dimension to this: you are going to either gut the whole thing and start fresh, and you are not quite certain you won’t make a mistake -OR- you are going to try to fix parts of the system and hope that each new part works with the older part. Either way, there are likely to be errors fitting the parts together.

You Don’t Get the Chef to Remove Your Spleen

Now, lets add one more complexity: have each part of the car made – by hand – by someone OTHER than you. And the only way to communicate is via the connections between your parts. You might suggest ways for your other coworkers to make their part, but for the most part, you only have control over how those parts fit with your part. And, remember, who is the person in charge of arbitrating the parts? Oh wait, is it you or the other person making the parts come together?

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Politics in a World of Social Data – who knows what about whom?

Originally cross-posted from The Social Engineer:

This past month, I have been reading Eli Parser’s “The Filter Bubble” on my iPad Kindle app – and I must say, Eli has done a bang up job of discussing the impact the Filter Bubble can and will have on our political and intellectual discourse.

As I continue to work on the problem of “influence marketing”, it brings back concepts of control theory to mind, and how tuning the inputs to a system can probabilistically ensure a bounds on response. And, as you begin to learn the “modes” of the “system”, you are able to generate more desirable performance from the “system” overall.

Eli uses the phrase “persuasion styles” (from Dean Eckles at Stanford and Facebook) which discuss the modes on how a person can be influenced to perform an act/action based on how the request is made, not simply by the content. And with so much Social Action data around on the web (and purchasable in large batches from companies like GNIP and DataSift), the ability to sift through the voting records, demographic records and Social Action records will be a powerful mix.

Political Influencer Marketing

So what is “influencer marketing“? As I described in an earlier post, some circles consider the measure of influence corresponds to your perceived expertise in a particular topics or arena. It harkens back to the old E.F. Hutton commercial, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.” But in today’s world of social media focused on driving action – and advertising dollars being spent to drive purchases or brand impressions, influence marketing becomes more of a word-of-mouth advocacy concept – who is able to drive actions from whom by creating reciprocal or responsive actions to the original action.
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Republicans Sites are so non-inspiring…

Been having some fun while being across the pond – watching the coverage out in New Hampshire. Decided to take a look at some of the sites of the candidates that have not had the cash to build a campaign. So, enjoy my opinions.

Jon Huntsman 2012 Campaign logoJon Huntsman’s site is a chop off the WordPress template block. And sadly, his campaign seems not to have been updating the site for some time – the major post on his banners comes from a November 3, 2011 NYTimes article and a Lincoln-Douglas debate dated December 12th.

Let’s see what happens after New Hampshire.

Rick Sant logoRick Santorium’s site ( is a crappy mess of asking for $1 Million ($1M). And on January 10, at 7pm EST, seems as though the thermometer got stuck at less than $420M. And sadly, you would normally look for the “Skip to the site” link on the bottom of the page – but the page is so wordy and bad, they had to put the link on the top of the page. Oy vey.
Such a bad link...
When you get to the internal site – someone decided that the right-hand side of the site is where the main navigation should be. I guess that their designer spent a little time at the Gawker set of sites. Problem is – Gawker et al are very different sites (each site essentially an evolving news site) – and the Santorium site is a refugee of websites from 2004. And a blog? No – Conservatives need no such things. And the Facebook signup – seems as though he has a scary signup for the Rick Santorium Facebook app.

I can hear my grandmother exclaiming:

“What are you doing, giving your details to that strange man?!?”
more to come…
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Political Technology Answers for a Research Questionaire

I was contacted by a researcher in the past two weeks to get some thoughts on the technologies for political campaigns this year. Thought the answers to these questions might be interesting to my readership. Enjoy.

What was your involvement in the 2008 or prior presidential elections? What did you find most challenging?

I was the CTO of the John Kerry Presidential Campaign – providing technical leadership and social media guidance at the time (e.g., blogs, forums, online chats, social network presence for John Kerry).

In 2008, I was working as a consultant for various campaigns but no front-line positions during the campaign. At the time, I was engaged with other non-political clients that absorbed my primary attentions.

In 2004, the most challenging issue was convince the mainstream political machine that online campaigning was more than a ATM and a cheaper form of direct marketing (e.g., email campaigns). Creating a campaign-wide understanding of the power of social media was the greatest challenge. When John Kerry made his first win in Iowa and mentioned his website at the podium, the surge in contributions was so significant that he began to use this mechanism again and again (see

At the time, social networks were still the pervue of students and technical individuals – and was beginning to make in roads, but the solutions were still not engaging voters in an effective manner. In 2007, Facebook began to focus on the communication aspect of social networks – optimizing their NewsFeed to surface information that they sense you would be interested in – from your network.

As more information began to surface regarding what their friends were doing regarding politics – and how geography shrank – people were becoming more informed through the social networks because the social proof of being involved was demonstrated on your NewsFeed. This acceleration of information and social proof made social networks THE preferred information channel for the Obama supporters.

MySpace and other social networks did not provide this kind of informational filtering – which is why at the time, I believed social networks were not going to be instrumental in the 2008 election.

Some people point to the site as a success in the 2008 campaign. I would suggest that it was used as an advanced house-party tool for supporters to coordinate for other events. But as a source of unbiased information like Facebook was providing (e.g., the algorithm determined what you would like) or Google (e.g., the algorithm determined what the public thought was relevant for what topic), myBO was all-Obama, all the time. If it was integrated with the NewsFeed more effectively, it would have been even more effective.
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