Obama Embraces Drupal

What a strange sounding title to a post. But this is just to point out that the new site Recovery.gov released to track the recovery plan is built with Drupal, a content management system and framework that we have been using more and more. In fact, we’re in the process of making our own site over in Drupal, and we’ve just become a partner with Acquia which proivdes professional support services for Drupal users and developers.

Anyway, this use by the Obama administration of Drupal is a big deal. It’s a big deal for Drupal itself, but it’s also a big deal as a stamp of approval for the open source movement in general. This article points out some of the roots of the cross pollination of the open source, Drupal and  Deomcratic party politics.

Is It Really All Over?

I can’t wait for the election to be over. Like many people I am worn out by the whole thing. I understand, on the other hand, that many others are on the edge of their seats and in fact working the phones and the streets like crazy to get out the vote. I applaud that effort.

But according to most of the polls and many commentators, Obama has a strong lead and McCain only a slim chance of  turning the tide. Still, the McCain team continues to declare that the race is tightening and McCain will win. But according to The Atlantic journalist James Fallows, McCiain’s appearance on Saturday Night Live is a clear admittance of defeat. That’s an interesting perspective. And watching the show after reading the blog post it really makes sense. McCain seemed relaxed and his old self again, as if he was finally able shake off his handlers and strategists, now that the campaign was really over. Too bad he wasn’t able to be that McCain from the beginning. This really would have been a nail biter of an election.

But even if the election is over, is the fight? I fear that with so much fear, anger, and outright paranoid fantasies out there, is there hope that whoever wins can bring the country together in any meaningful way? That struggle will continue.

Censorship: A Failed Policy

Apparently there is a sense, justified or not, that posts to what seems like the most popular local blog are being deleted for purely ideological reasons. Rose’s WatchPaul blog has a thread where people can post comments they claim were censored by “Heraldo”. I am of 2 minds about this issue: 1) Any blogger should have the right to delete any post. A blog is designed to present a personal point of view. It’s not designed to be a public forum that protects the right of anyone to post anything. I delete spam and irrelevant posts and reserve the right to delete excessively profane or obscene posts; 2) Deleting posts of dissenting views is self-defeating. What you want in a blog is traffic and discussion. Controversy is good. It gives you a wider audience. You still retain control of the subject of each post and you can comment on the comments.

So, while I believe bloggers have the right to delete whatever they want, I also believe that deleting opposing comments is stupid. I don’t know yet whether the charges made at Rose’s blog are accurate in this specific case. But in general I believe a blogger risks credibility and opportunity by deleting dissenting posts.

As the Times-Standard pointed out today, there are people stealing political signs of all kinds, left and right. Apparently, this is not uncommon, but the incidents seem to be increasing quite a bit. This is the most stupid type of censorship born out of ignorance and fear. It also accomplishes nothing. The act changes no minds, in fact probably reinforces the positions of the victims and their friends.

As a personal example we had an Obama for President sign stolen from our front yard. My wife put up another sign in our window and I dare someone to enter our house and try to remove it. This stupid little act of censorship made me angry enough to join her in a phone campaign to call undecided voters in swing states to encourage them to vote for Obama. By the way, the results of our little campaign has so far indicated that many of the voters targetted as undecided by the Obama campaign have already become decided. They are voting for Obama.

Tech for Obama

My wife has been an Obama supporter from early on in the primaries. I stayed neutral during that period, but since each party has settled on their candidates the choice has become easy. The McCain campaign was shaky to begin with and now appears almost pathetic.

But if you still need convincing and you’re in to tech (and who isn’t these days?) there is a web site specifically to help along your convictions. Here is a video of tech endorsements from the site. Oh, and by the way, the site was built using Drupal, a system we use more and more.

Tech Policy: McCain v Obama

Now that all the fun of guessing who will be the v.p. selections for each candidate is over, what do we have left? We have the philosophy and policy of the men at the top of the tickets for each party. We are not going to learn a whole lot from the Republican convention that we don’t already know, so I thought it was about time to address what we do know now of the tech policies of the two candidates. Barack Obama has had a policy statement on his web site since January, And while it’s not perfect, it stands in stark contrast to John McCain’s which was only released on August 14th. You may not think  a candidate’s policy statements on technology is crucial in making a decision on whom to vote for. But as tech is central to our economy our freedom of speech and so much more, it is well worth a look at who has a clear vision for the future.

I don’t have the resources or experience to go in to a detailed analysis of the two policies. But I can refer you to Lawrence Lessig, law professor at Stanford and longstanding advocate for freedom and development of the Internet and telecommunications. He’s also famous for his slide shows. You might want to click the little full screen mode button to get the full effect of the graphics and charts.