How comments should change

You should definitely read this great analysis of comments systems by Kevin Anderson. Extract:

I often wonder if we need to go back to first principles with comments. Why are we doing them? I’m serious. We need to ask ourselves what we’re trying to achieve with comments. In some ways, I often feel as if comments are just vox pops, or man on the street at an industrial scale. Are user comments just another way to canvas public opinion? Mostly, comments are seen as a way to increase user time on site.

The deceptive beauty of technology

As I write this, I’m on a TGV heading down the Rhône valley towards Barcelona and the Personal Democracy Forum, which takes place next week. The tunnels and trains that can bring me from London to Barcelona in twelve hours are an amazing technological achievement, and also in their own way rather beautiful, as anyone who has seen a TGV streaking through the French countryside would appreciate.

Your Freedom: Government asks well, but can it answer well?

The Government today launched Your Freedom, a discussion site where people can make suggestions on civil liberties issues and legislation they want to see repealed. good site, but can Government live up to its rhetoric and answer as well as it asks?

Lunchtime list for June 7th (part two)

Here are the articles and web pages the Talk Issues team recommend today: How the Internet is changing minds – Michael Agger reviews Nicholas Carr’s new book, the Shallows. In it, Carr describes the way that the Internet in changing people’s thinking habits. Not their opinions – the way they think and absorb information. Israel’s […]

Lunchtime list for May 24th

Here are some thoughts on lunchtime reading for today: In the loop: Twitter’s transformation of British politics – The Independent’s John Rentoul writes about how his work of covering UK politics has been transformed by Twitter. Europe’s debt crisis and Keynes’ green cheese solution – Well-timed for today’s UK spending cuts announcement, Thomas Palley writes […]

Sign and Co-sign

Here’s a neat little trick. Those who signed up to Barack Obama’s campaign website (as I did to take a nose around, even though I’m not a US citizen), have just received an email asking them whether they want to “co-sign” the healthcare reform legislation that President Obama signed up to this morning.

“OK,” I thought, “must be some sort of in-advance petition effort to hinder any attempts to repeal the reform.” I clicked through the link (to this page) and was rather surprised to see:

Michael Foot: Telegraph respectful, web commenters still vile.

Every day I wonder why newspapers bother to put comment boxes under articles. Here’s an example of why they should be turned off.

The press have been suitably respectful about the late Michael Foot, who was unchallengeably a great intellectual and parliamentarian, even if he wasn’t cut out to lead a fractious party into the age of Thatcherism.

And yet on the Telegraph website, there is a comment box, and it has been colonised by vicious, bile-filled nonentities, spewing petty sarcasm and stupid jokes.

Two examples.

I tell you what, Guv

YouGov have just launched a new service called TellYouGov. Simply by sending an email, a text, or adding a #tellyougov hashtag to your tweet, your well-crafted opinion can be added to YouGov’s live stream of thinkery.

Here are the top five comments at the moment I’m writing this:

  • Conservatives: Stop Giving Our Power to Europe!
  • Katie Price: Empty
  • Work: It’s just rubbish isn’t it.
  • Colin Firth: Well deserved Best Actor Bafta. Three cheers for Colin!

A job description for a mayor of Providence

Providence, Rhode Island (state capitol of the smallest state in the US) is about to elect a new mayor, and an organisation called Uncaucus is trying to “find the right person for the gig”. They have posted a job advert on their website, and propose to

challenge assumptions about what it means to be Mayor, get more citizens involved in the hiring process and encourage new candidates to step forward.