Civic technology

An Obama Series, and go to Ohio

‘Tis the season, as happens every four years, that I start receiving emailed narratives every day, passed through friends, family and neighbors virtual and literal, that tell the story of a Presidential election and the choice before us, the American people. Some are better than others, and some of the best I’ve ever received I’m receiving this time around. I’m deeply disturbed that this election, at the moment, appears to be to close, because the choice for me has never been more clear. That clarity, and my commitment to work to ensure that Barack Obama is elected President, gets reinforced every time I read one of these good narratives about the election. So, in hopes that it will be of service in motivating others as well, I’m planning on posting the best I receive here. If there is an author, I’ll ask their permission before posting. If there is none, I’ll post it as anonymous. To kick it off, here is my response (slightly edited) to a friend of mine who wrote me from Australia– wrote to all of her American friends in fact– with a subject line of “your politicians are scaring me.”


Dear Mei,

Yes it’s pretty scary to me that McCain-Palin can be polling equal to or ahead of Obama. Obama isn’t doing a perfect job on the campaign trail, but I say “so what”…. This election is NOT about Obama. He has some of the smartest most principled Americans I’ve ever met surrounding him, and I believe he’d be an outstanding President. So would Biden.

But the bigger issue, to me, is how horrendous the alternative would be.

McCain is even older than Ronald Reagan was in his 2nd term as President, and we now know as a historical fact that Reagan was senile by the time he left office. Members of my family the same age as McCain cite this fact as one of their primary reasons for being so worried about the prospect of electing him.  McCain admits that he knows little about economic policy, at a time of severe economic pain here in the US. And McCain is in many ways to the RIGHT of George Bush on foreign policy. He was bound and determined to go into Iraq three days after 9/11, the facts about who attacked us be damned. Iran is next, if he becomes President.

And I find the prospect of Palin as President, should anything happen to McCain, absolutely terrifying– someone who had never had a passport or traveled outside of North America in her life until last year, leading the world’s most powerful nation for the next four years? She would not only be ignorant about the rest of the world, but apparently also about the rest of the USA– she and her husband supported a political party that advocated secession for Alaska from the USA! And on domestic policy, she lies unapologetically about her public service record (regarding seeking “earmark” money from the Federal government from Alaska), and she would like to make it illegal for a raped woman have an abortion, even if her life is in danger.

If they’re elected, I think the US will continue to be perceived as belligerent around the world, will continue to spend far more than we can afford further destabilizing the world’s largest economy, will have the most conservative Supreme Court in modern history for the next 30 years, and will take no serious action on climate change. The choice couldn’t be more clear.

I think it’s likely to come down to Ohio in the election once again, and the best way I know to impact that State’s election is through my friend Billy Wimsatt’s “get out the vote” initiative: . Send your American friends there and they’ll make a difference in this election– and/or get them to support it financially at

Thanks for your concern and your support!


Civic technology

Barack Obama Aerospace Community Meeting at ISDC

Please join us at an organizing meeting for supporters of Barack Obama in the aerospace community on Saturday May 31st during the International Space Development Conference. Event details:

Organizing meeting for Barack Obama supporters attending the International Space Development Conference in Washington, DC, building on the earlier meeting on Thursday, with input from some new people who can’t make the Thursday meeting.

We’ll make plans both for conducting outreach to the aerospace community on behalf of Barack Obama this summer around events such as the Netroots Nation convention in Austin in July.

We’ll also discuss Obama’s space policy platform and how we can best contribute our perspectives to it.

Time: Saturday, May 31 at 6:00 PM
Duration: 2 hours
Host: Andrew Hoppin
Location: Lobby of the Capitol Hilton Hotel (Washington, DC)
1001 16th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036

Civic technology

Human Barometers, NASA, and Memes That Boomerang

In response to my Twit about human barometers and NASA I was asked on Facebook what a human barometer is by a buddy of mine in the broader space community.  Good question.  Answer:

Picture a typical butt-in-seat space conference without a lot of interaction or excitement.  then get everyone  out of their seats, ask them a provocative question, and get them to line up where they fall along a line from agree to disagree with the question…  then have people in each part of the line say why they chose to stand there –> human barometer on whatever question you asked.   Serves to gather interesting opinion data, also gets people up and active (especially good to kick off early morning conferences), and also gets the people at the conference to get a sense of the cultural profile of their fellow participants… offline social network profiling.   Oh– and it’s fun.

What happened today is that I was part of a conference where the moderator of a session ran a barometer and gave attribution to someone in the audience who had run a barometer at another NASA event that the moderator had attended and enjoyed… But of course the person receiving the verbal attribution had gotten it from me at yet another NASA event that I had run that she had attended and enjoyed!  And I have gotten it from a great friend who at a political technology geek event in Oakland!   I *loved* the meme and the practice of the barometer coming back into my personal space at a NASA event without (anymore) having to have any association with or dependence on me!  T’was perfect.

Full credit to Allen Gunn for inventing the human barometer (as far as I know) and schooling me experientially in its appropriate and effective use.

Civic technology

Virtual Government: Real Life Uses for Second Life

Had a blast today on the panel at the New New Internet Conference in DC for "Virtual Government: Real Life Uses for Second Life."   Check out the webcast here (my section starts at 18:00 minutes in but with sound problems, which have been corrected by the time we get to Q&A later).  Daniel Laughlin and I were there from NASA, the SRA folks working with NIH.  Dave Taylor from the National Physics Laboratory in the UK and Paul Sparrow from Newseum joined the panel in-world.  Great feedback from and connections with people in analogous roles at EPA, State Dept. etc using similar approaches to those that we’re using in CoLab to solve similar problems in their organizations.  I love encountering Birds of a Feather.  In the realm of virtual worlds, thank goodness having government BOFs find and help each other will become less ad-hoc after next week’s Federal Virtual Worlds Consortium meeting.  In the realm of Web 2.0 for more transparent and efficient Federal government Agencies, I still don’t know if such a BOF organization exists and think we may need to help create it.

Civic technology

So Glad I Can Attend YearlyKos from Dubai

The YearlyKos Convention in Second Life (YKSL) is off to a roaring start, with more than 100 paid participants from around the planet convening in Second Life to create a parallel “virtual convention.” I’m participating from Dubai.Live streaming content from three venues in Chicago is the centerpiece of the virtual convention, and is complemented by YKSL-only interviews and dance parties.Check out the YKSL Schedule. If you’d like to participate in YKSL there’s still time to register online and catch the Presidential panel!You can also check out the YKSL exhibit hall and welcome center for free– after creating a free Second Life user account and downloading the Second Life application, point your browser here to get to the YKSL venue within Second Life! Or from within Second Life, “search” for “YKSL” under “Places.”See you in Second Life throughout the rest of YearlyKos!