Living in glass houses?

Glass Houses

A statement by the most inspiring Charlie Beckett during a lecture organised by the Strickland Foundation really made me think. Beckett stated that as a result of Social Media we are now living in glass houses. I don’t personally agree with this statement as I am of the opinion that on the internet we are free to share what we want to share, so it might seem like we are living in glass houses, but the glass is very heavily tinted.

However, while browsing Facebook, there are a few profiles which feel fabricated. Of course I am not one to point fingers and judge since the more time goes by the more I find myself self-censoring, choosing which picture to upload, and untagging more and more drunk pictures of myself.

Is this a symptom of getting closer to 30? It is but 6 months away now.

But I think I can trace this fear of sharing and self-censorship to the election campaign. I am very liberal, pro-choice and believe in the live and let live mantra, I have lived by this since I was able to form an opinion. My family is of mixed political colours and I have cross voted ever since I can remember.

During the last election I found myself on the side of the Partit Nazzjonalista. My belief was that they were the party which were most fit to govern in the 5 years coming and I was reasonably happy with the direction Malta had taken, especially during the economic crisis. As any party in government, the PN weren’t perfect and I was furious after issues such as the Divorce vote and the position on ACTA, but in today’s financial climate I believed the PN were a better choice.

I understand that a liberal such as myself is not aligned with a party such as the Partit Nazzjonalista but I wasn’t convinced by the alternative, even though I am more than happy for the Partit Laburista to prove me wrong.

During the campaign, I found myself blogging, posting, updating content which was more pro-PN and I found myself being called all sorts of things and being accused of being a Nazzjonalista with blinkers. I loathed such a stamp; I couldn’t even understand how people can simply put you in a neat little box because of an opinion. I never had anything to gain by the PN winning the election and neither did my family, yet I was accused of coming from a long line of Nazzjonalisti and that I had no idea about what was going on in Malta.

The worst thing is that I found myself not having the energy to rebut such statements, and found it much easier to not post anything. Why should I share my thoughts if some people out there are pricks who cannot accept that different people have different opinions, and there is always more sides to one story.

So now, here I am once again, wondering if I should hit the PUBLISH button on the top right corner. I once read that the older you get the more conservative you become, could that be happening to me? I shudder at the thought! But for now I am posting this and I will try to go back to being more of a ‘sharer’.

And in the meantime, a song which kind of relates;

Blogging exists; deal with it.

This morning I woke up early to go for a walk and then rewarded myself with some Serkin Pastizzi. While waiting, I had a quick read at the back page of The Times and I was amused by the derivative article written by Louis Cilia titled “Let’s have a civilised debate, please.

The article started out with the usual overview of campaigns past and then quickly shifted to campaigns present. In the middle of that it turned into a complete rant against bloggers. Yes BLOGGERS!

“Many bloggers enter into the personal lives of ordinary people as well as prominent, and not so prominent, personalities, often with the direct intention of destroying their credibility (and in consequence even of those associated with them, particularly their families). Some bloggers even degenerate into hate blogs. Political parties, more often than not, have turned a blind eye on these bloggers with the excuse that they have no control or jurisdiction over them.”

As a blogger I find this incredibly offensive. Sweeping statements like the above hurt those of us who want to share their opinion about the happenings of the political scene. Familiar with that thing called freedom of expression?

It is obvious Mr Cilia is referring to Daphne Caruana Galizia – there I said it (what a shocker). Why did DCG suddenly turn into a ‘she who will not be named’ character.

Mr Cilia mentions blogs like they are some kind of 21st century plague. Some of them might well be but don’t put all blogs under the ‘rotten’ category.

This generalised understanding of anything and everything is what’s really hurting us as a nation. Instead of having the balls to stand up and name and shame someone, we postulate so we don’t step on any toes. Instead of addressing a problem from its roots we just skim the surface and continue theorising. Instead of debating we just resort to sweeping assumptions. These are the things that groom this fear for debate, this apprehension towards asking questions.

It’s not the blogs Mr Cilia, it’s people like you, who are happy to vaguely point fingers but then fall short of making any form of worthwhile statement, that hurt the debate.

Sweeping statements courtesy of Louis Cilia

An own goal for Labour

A swing and a miss for Labour. They might have won the argument, but this billboard shows real lack of maturity and sensitivity.

Granted, this billboard is funny. It’s topical and nicely designed, but did the Labour Party forget about one simple word? Consequences.

This particular billboard is making fun of the fact that the famous Brazilian company mentioned in the two debates in now non-existent. The Labour Party are going on and on about the Prime Minister not getting his facts right, and since everything seems to be fair game in politics it makes sense for them to use this strategy, but at the end of the day, this billboard is making fun of a private company closing down.

What are the consequences of this? Thirty-five people who once had a job, now don’t, is this a laughing matter? I don’t think so. A company which invested in Malta closed its doors today, is this something to make fun of? Definitely not! So much for their guidelines advocating, first and foremost, economic growth.

Maybe if the Labour Party could see a little farther than their noses, maybe, just maybe, they would have noticed this is not something a political party aspiring to govern Malta should poke fun at.

Trust blindly; that’s what democracy is for.

It’s the 7th of November and we woke up to the news that Obama has won the U.S. Presidential elections, same sex marriage is passed in Maryland and Maine, marijuana is legalized in Colorado and Washington  and Tammy Baldwin wins Wisconsin, becoming the first openly gay U.S. Senator.

It feels like America has passed its teenage years and is all grown up. Oh, I can almost smell the sweet scent of liberalism blowing over the Atlantic. Yet on our shores The Times decides to carry a story about an elusive Brazilian firm.

At a time when the rest of the world is embracing change, we’re debating about the position of a comma in an essay. Yes that’s all the Brazilian firm is, an insignificant story which is being hyped up simply because it makes the Opposition look better by making Lawrence Gonzi look bad.

But it’s OK, let us all clutch to this story, of course, it is very important to know more about this firm, since, from the way things are going, half the electoral campaign of the PL will be revolving around this.

No one seems to care about asking questions anymore. What is the PL’s take on same sex marriage? What are the plans of the PN with regards renewable energy? What is the PL’s position on illegal immigration? And the list goes on.

We are expected not to ask questions, and when we do we are faced with more rhetoric. Do we really want to be this person here?

Trusting blindly in politicians is not the answer. Quationing them is.

taken from Orizzont 07/11/12

No one should ever trust blindly, if you do, then what is the whole point of democracy?

Hot or Bot? 44% of Joseph Muscat’s Twitter followers are fake or inactive

image via @JosephMuscat_JM

According to Fake Follower Checker the Leader of the Opposition’s Twitter account is riddled with fake, inactive users. It is true he might have more than 2000 followers but 44% of these are just fake or inactive.

This doesn’t come as a shock, I have noticed this kind of ‘cheating’ for some time now. Joseph Muscat’s Twitter account follows 199 people but in turn is followed by 2140. If you’ve been around Twitter you will know this simply doesn’t happen unless you are an online superstar or a social media guru. Joseph Muscat doesn’t yet fall into that category and when seeing such ratio of following:followers it was clear something wasn’t adding up.

Yesterday, an article on Mashable exposed the fact that President Obama’s Twitter account also has 70% fake followers.

The guys over at StatusPeople, responsible for building the software explained how their system works “Fake accounts tend to follow a lot of people but have few followers… We then combine that with a few other metrics to confirm the account is fake.”

This is not the first occurance of politicians inflating their Twitter numbers to demonstrate their power; “They are part of the arsenal of modern-day communications – if you can flaunt a high level of support, you will attract further support.” says Marco Camisani Calzolari, an Italian Professor who also came up with an algorithim to determine fake followers and earlier this year exposed Beppe Grillo’s allegiance of fake followers.

Of course, it has to be said that everyone has fake Twitter followers, the trick is to see how the percentages tally up. Below are my Twitter scores compared to those of Joseph Muscat. For the sake of correctness I am also including the Faker scores for @PNMalta and @PL_Malta. However note that both these two accounts, when they started out, mass followed a lot of people.

So I guess we managed to find yet another similarity between Joseph Muscat and President Obama.

PN vs PL on Twitter; has anything changed?

Yes! A lot has changed…

Since I wrote my last blog about the two main political parties on Twitter quite a few things seemed to have changed on the twittersphere. Back in January, the PN were in a very sorry Twitter state, shameful would probably have been the best word, and the PL were slightly in advantage, not doing great mind you, but decently.

Three months have passed and the PN have blossomed – impeccable activity, use of hashtags, adding media to their tweets. The launch of mychoice.pn seems to have a very positive influence. Their Klout score (which actually measures an account’s influence on followers) has gone up from 20 to 36.

On the other hand the PL’s Klout score has gone from 32 to 26. Why? Well because they still use Twitter to regurgitate whatever they say on Facebook. At this point I am even doubting if they actually know their Twitter password.

 

Airports and thoughts

Specifically those thoughts about Nikita Alamngo’s blog about the launch of mychoice.pn

Airports; don’t you just love them? In the age of web check in, even if I do check in online I still like coming to the airport earlier so I can stay at some departure gate coffee shop. I just love the feeling of transit, that feeling of going somewhere different, and with Apple by my side, I’m never bored.

At this moment in time I’m waiting to board a flight to London and I’m killing a little bit of time going through my RSS feed. Apart from the fun blogs of Snuffalicious and the sweet blogs of Claire’s Online Chronicles, I also read some bitterness from Nikita Alamango. My oh my, what an angry, full of resentment, blog that was.

She talks about the launch of the PN’s electoral website; www.mychoice.pn, and she seems to be really ticked off that the PN want to engage with the people. She seems to be really pissed off because now Lawrence Gonzi wants to talk, when till now he has never listened. Without going into the merits of how accurate that is, I think the launch of this website is a very positive thing,

When Franco Debono had his 15 minutes in the spotlight and there was a feeling that a general election was in sight for March 2012, I blogged about the state of the Twitter accounts of Malta’s 3 parties. You can read my conclusions here, but in a nutshell my view was that none of the parties were using Social Media properly; there was no engaging with the people, it was mere one way communication.

With the launch of mychoice.pn, the PN are addressing just that, the vacuum of two way communication online. The website is in itself engaging; inviting you to share your thoughts and connect through Facebook and Twitter, and if you have any questions, there is even an explanatory video by Lawrence Gonzi in form of a mini FAQ. Thumbs up also on the design which is fresh and flowy. Probably the only disconcerting thing about the whole website is the fact that a user needs to submit an email, mobile number and an ID card number to get exclusive access. While I understand why this has been done (I assume it’s to keep away spammers and time wasters), I’m a little concerned about a certain group of users, which this website is targeting, which won’t be too happy about giving up such information.

But back to Nikita Alamango and her rants, which by all means I’m not dissing. She expressed her opinions, I read, digested and am ready to give my own. Her blog reads like the usual columns on Orizzont; “we, the people, have the right to *insert anything you aspire to here” because that is what our European brothers and sisters have”. OK fair enough, but don’t stop at the tip of your nose. Everyone cannot have everything, and you would be foolish to say that everyone has nothing. Also, whatever happened to working hard for what you want. Why are we living in a country where people expect to be given what they want?

“Students aspire to the possibility of finding job straight out of University and not have education become a political ball in the hands of politicians.”

Well yes that’s what everyone aspires to, but it doesn’t mean that that is what happens. Not everyone manages to find a job straight out of University, especially when we find ourselves in continuos global economic instability. I for one spent a year working in a customer care department, with a Masters degree, but at least I didn’t have to worry about a €30,000 loan I had to take to complete my studies. Nikita seems to forget our education system is not only free but you also get an allowance, which is weird considering she still is a student.

She goes on to attack many other things such as the pensions, free medicines, the free healthcare, and yet again I question if she even bothers to have a look at any news website bar maltastar.com, whose editor was actually the one who caused delays in ICT courses a few years back (talk about a political ball in the hand of politicians).

A rant answered with a rant I guess, but at least I got some things off my chest. I’m tired of reading these regurgitated blogs, over and over again, which go on attacking the myriad of services and opportunities we are more than lucky to have. In the real world, if you want something you have to work very hard for it. The PN may not have all the answers or solutions but neither are they blind to today’s realities.