Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Rigging the Irish Election Part 3 – Manipulate the media and blogs

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

Rigging the Irish Election Part 3 – Manipulate the media and blogs – True Voice

astroturfing via SMS

The E.A.B. system’s True Voice module makes it much easier to manipulate call-in shows, letters to editors and blog comments. True Voice is of course connected to the Tracker system and the Reach system. The True Voice module itself is split into various submodules which allow the easy manipulation of opinions. First it has a detailed database of the contact points for every media outlet both email, post and text number and can send opinions to all of these outlets automatically.

The True Voice application can randomly generate hundreds of opinions ranging from semi-neutral to very pro-candidate and pro-party. An easy drop down list allows you to generate opinions on specific topics but an AI like engine can also take a human typed opinion and from it create dozens of opinions along the same lines but rewritten to be practically unique. It can do this for text messages, for emails and for letters to the editor which are printed out and posted. The module generates fake names and locations but it also relies on real email addresses so that if a media outlet replies, they will not be told the email account does not existing. The True Voice system will rely on gmail, yahoo, Hotmail, and addresses. It is intelligent enough to not use the same email address when sending opinions to news outlets again and again. Meaning the Last Word won’t see John from Sligo emailing in every second day.

The SMS module:
It is scarily easy to fake text messages from anyone. The SMS protocol is as insecure as the email system. As a result True Voice randomly generates mobile numbers which look valid and send messages from these numbers to the various call-in shows on Irish radio and TV. For some shows that send an auto-reply, a bank of numbers of real numbers are instead used. These numbers are taken from sim cards purchased from all 3 mobile phone companies from dozens of outlets around the country.

The Email module:
Like the SMS module, this takes the autogenerated opinions and sends them into the call-in shows as opinion. In addition this sends letters to the editor of all the print publications.

The Voice module:
Using new phone technology, this system will ring volunteers through an automated system, will explain what the show is about and what opinions are needed and then will give the option of connecting to the show or declining the invite to give an opinion. “Press 1 to connect to Right Hook or press 2 to decline”.

The Web module:
Something like the text module but instead for leaving blog comments and also comments on discussion forums. The Tracker module will alert the system as to what blogs and discussion forums are currently discussing your candidate. Since those wiley bloggers are a clever lot, the web modules will have a list of IPs/proxies that can be used so as not to bring suspicion to the automated system. The web module will have a database of discussion sites available as well as up to half a dozen usernames which can be used on that each site. While opinions are autogenerated, it will still need a human to press the publish button here to ensure that what is being posted appears to be natural and is being posted in the most appropriate area.

This is Part 3 of the Rigging the Irish Election series. You can also read Part 1 and Part 2.

Rigging the Irish Election Part 2 – Profile your candidates and the opposition

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

Rigging the Irish Election – Profile your candidates and the opposition – Tracker

tracking candidates

Software solutions exist which allow you to monitor the web for people. Sites like track TDs and candidates and monitor the web for what is being said about them. The engine behind PoliticsInIreland can be used as a white label Web monitor for existing TDs as well as candidates. The Tracker Module of E.A.B. does something along the same lines as PoliticsInIreland but also has a manual input for non-Internet tracking which still comprises the majority of coverage, especially in local papers and local radio. The Tracker system builds a profile of a candidate which includes a timeline. Auto and manual tagging also allows you to read their views on all the policies of a party and issues the public care about. Some manual intervention is needed to point out the inconsistencies from a candidate and how their views change over time.

Radio and TV: The Tracker system records all news current affairs radio programmes on national and local radio. It does the same for news and current affairs TV shows. These are all kept for 3 months before being archived out of the system. All of these shows can be tagged manually and the timelines also can have notes attached to them. If they are tagged, they are kept in the main system and linked to the party and candidate profiles.

Papers and pamphlets: Local papers, freesheets and even pamphlets will not be in electronic form. Here volunteers will either scan in articles from or by candidates as well as their pamphlets or else they can post them off to someone else with a scanner. When scanned in using a local version of E.A.B. Tracker, the images are uploaded to a central E.A.B. server which runs character recognition software and creates an electronic text version of the articles. Again, all of these can be auto and manually tagged and are linked to the profiles.

The Tracker module and the profiles it creates is linked to the Reach module and so it will automatically send updates on candidates to each cell member. When policy inconsistencies and gaffs are spotted a special alert is sent out. The Tracker database can also be used to supply sympathetic media outlets and bloggers with “attack” information on opposition candidates.

Part 1 of the Rigging the Irish Election series is here.

Rigging the Irish Election Part 1 – Create cells of organisers

Monday, October 15th, 2007

Rigging the Irish Election in 5 easy steps

Irish Election pic

This is a cynical and satirical blog post series on how to skew opinion and create a movement which will get your candidate elected or get another candidate to lose an election. It will outline methods using existing technologies and techniques used by other political animals in other countries, which the technology backwards Ireland has so far failed to use. While a cynical look at mass manipulation of people and the media, it does outline the massive power of technology and how it can be used to abuse the political process if people are not award of how this abuse can be carried out.

Each part in this series relies on a software platform called E.A.B. which is a little like the SAP Customer Relationship Management enterprise application. The E.A.B. system is essential for each one of the five parts in the plan to rig the Irish Election.

1. Create cells of organisers – Reach

Irish politics has shown that there is a core set of voters in each party that will vote along party lines no matter what. There really isn’t much to do with these core people apart from making sure that they get out to vote when the time is right and also to help perpetuate propoganda when required. Die-hard supporters are far too rabid and transparent to be used for most of the steps to persaude voters to vote for your candidate and are best avoided. Those swing voters that got the Labour Government in to power, the swing voters that got Bill Clinton and George Bush are also the ones that need to be targeted. However in an environment where everyone is cynical about politics, trying to engage these people directly will more than likely be futile. Like bloggers influenced by their peers to go and buy technology, these people need to be influenced by people in their social groupings that they rely on (whether they realise it or not) when it comes to decision making.

The E.A.B. system’s Reach module allows the creation of cells of subtle volunteers, who in turn are in charge of influencing 50 people in their social grouping who would be classed as swing voters. These 50 people are all profiled and their constituency and social status are logged in the database. Also whether they are registered to vote. This is the important differentiation compared to the traditional systems. Previous to this it is all about working the streets and estates of a constituency trying to influence people with posters and flyers and knocks on the door. But by using the swing voter’s existing friends to influence their decisions, it is more powerful but at the same time much harder to track, unless of course you use modern technology. The Reach system can then track how many swing voters are being influenced.

When polling data is fed into E.A.B. it can identify areas of weakness for the party and the candidate and can alert the cell members to stealthly increase their campaigning. The Reach module automatically sends out data to all the cell members than can be used to influence their people. The data includes intelligent, independent style essays on health and the economy and other issues that concern the electorate as well as issues that the electorate should feel concerned about. Issues that the party and the candidate has the best solution for. All these essays would each match the plans of the party and the candidate. None of these essays would ever be linked to the party or the candidate. It is understood they would remain private but can be used as thought pieces in conversations and communications with swing voters. They can also be rehashed to be used in blog posts. As well as serious essays, the data sent would also include summaries of embarassing episodes on the opposition parties and local candidates, inconsistencies with previous statements from the opposition, spin to be used to combat negative publicity for the party and candidate they’re supporting and it will also include jokes, pictures and videos which make a mockery of the opposition and which can be passed on to friends.

(Image ripped off from

Cute YouTube video on coming out

Saturday, October 13th, 2007

Via Jeff Jarvis, this is a sweet enough video on coming out but I have to say the editing and the scripting make it head and shoulders above the usual YouTube videos. 100k views so far. There’s still a big divide between the usual “user generated content” and videos from the very articulate Mary Matthews.

Funnily enough this is her video response to a Human Rights Council video but she’s getting double the views they’re getting.

Irish Politics and Facebook

Friday, October 12th, 2007

Irish Politics aggregator, Politics in Ireland now has an Irish Politics Facebook application which can be installed by anyone on Facebook and it will display the latest blog posts that discuss Irish TDs. If you are on Facebook and want to use the application, then install it from here.

The new Irish voters and the potential revolution if they’re tapped

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007

Come the next election, the new kids on the block in terms of those who will vote for the first time, will be a generation who have not known what a world without the web is. It was there before they were born, like the sky. Imagine a generation where radio and TV were new and imagine trying to get your head around it while the younger ones figured it out in seconds. This is who we are. The web is here and is already strongly influencing the next generation of voters where they spend more time on Bebo than reading newspapers and listening to the radio. Friending, IMing, knowing exactly the moods and thoughts and intimate photos of their friends is the de rigeur. It is time for our generation to adapt to them, they won’t adapt to us and they seem to be making that obvious more and more.

This new generation doesn’t care about privacy, doesn’t care about the way things were done, they are used to doing less and getting more for it and they don’t carry the fears we still have from mass emmigration and unemployment to what people think of them. This is the generation that doesn’t care if they lose their Bebo password, they’ll just create a new profile and start again, they don’t really care about losing their mobile or changing number, they’ll simply use the knowledge of the group to get back most numbers. Their own lives seem to be structured like the net, if one node with information goes down (i.e. lose a mobile) the rest of the Net will keep going and they can restore from that. Fascinating to see and I doubt many people can figure out how this works, nevermind those in the political environment.

We saw what a total bag o’crap Rock The Vote was and we saw that voter turnout is still appalling despite old wrinkly people trying to lecture people using YouTube. We need people like Danah Boyd over here, we need anthropologists and sociologists to come onto the web and mix with the digital kids and figure out how to energise them and get them interested in the political and democratic system over here. Nuke all the childish “Yoof” wings of the parties to start with. They’re a new generation trying to be the old generation and already serverely disconnected from what their own generation want and are interested in and they grow more disconnected each day they live the youth wing life. They are mini-me versions of the existing people we all despise.

Perhaps people should figure out how to turn the influence experienced in small tech communities on Twitter and other areas into every day life, where people will trust the judgement of others and listen to their breakdowns of party policies. If 20 people buy nokia tablets because of one or two people, can that be transferred into having party neutral “analysts” that others can tune into too? Can a local politician use their blog to engage more and more and build up a following there that they couldn’t using traditional media? And then turn that readership into leaders of small cells of people that can assert strong influence on voters? Pyramid scheme politics?

I’m not sure what exactly will be the way to do it, but the way politics is done will have to change because even if the existing parties fight for the status quo, someone will come along and tap into the new generation and the disaffected and suddenly they’re a powerhouse.

See, even babies can use the iPhone:

I really don’t care about people being murdered in Burma

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

Because if I did give a damn I’d do more than write a blog post about so many innocent people being killed.
Because if I did give a damn I’d do more than join a group on Facebook.
Because if I did give a damn I’d still feel guilty after “doing my little bit”.

If I did give a damn about Burma, I’d have started to apply real pressure to my local representatives and called them up and encouraged all my friends to do it.
If I did give a damn about Burma, I’d have told my government to tell the U.N. to stop being a spineless bunch of bureaucrats and just send in N.A.T.O. to level the army. An envoy alone is useless. Did it help all those in Kosovo, did it help all those in Rwanda?
If I did give a damn about Burma, I’d have sent money for guns to be bought for an armed uprising to prevent more monks and locals to be sacrificed. Better than a blog post, right?

I’ve not done any of that because I don’t really care but I’m sure I’m alone on this and being my usual contrarian self.

Bertie looks like an egg

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

Yes. I was away and am stunned that at least 3 of you folks missed me. I was told I needed to get away so I headed off to Dublin for a few days and hadn’t time to be playing with the aul blog. Managed to see Feist and she was great, Halo 3 party was pretty much over when I got there but lots of drunken nerds being drunken nerds. After midnight the streets were full of Halo 3 fanboys who bought their games and a large percentage of them also bought consoles it seems. Yesterday I managed to get into the public gallery in the Dáil when Bertie had to do his weekly Taoiseach’s question time and then FG called a vote of no confidence. FF countered with a vote of confidence and Bertie went on the offensive in a meandering wittering speech.

Enda then stood up and I was impressed with his oration but the thing was too long. Eamon Gilmore then had his go and a go off the Green party too. It was fun to watch all the banter and also watch the political reporters at work too. They have their own gallery that is not glass enclosed and is closer to the chamber. They’re all seated on a long bench with kind of reminded me of the last supper. David Davin-Power was there and Harry McGee and Fionnan Sheehan, Shane Coleman and lots of others. You could see how much a bunch of politics nerds the lot of them really are by the way they got excited and elbowed each other and scribbled like mad when Enda or Eamon got in some digs. Gilmore yesterday made their day whe he showed that the biting comments from Labour leaders are not just a Pat Rabbitte characteristic. Court Jester Conor Lenihan yesterday made some smart alec remark as Gimore was doing his speech and he just shushed Lenihan and asked “Conor, don’t you know they don’t let the clowns out during the high-wire act.” Looking forward to more of that.

Right, blog posts are in my head and will be written soon. La Caverna restaurant in Temple Bar is great by the way, shame they can’t speak Italian though 🙂 Oh yes, and Bertie looks like an egg when you see him walking around Leinster House, he’s hidden that gut well.

Sounds to me like he needs to fix the disconnect between external and internal

Sunday, September 16th, 2007

So it seems that the shuffling of the deckchairs in the Green Party continues. I got a press release now saying Paul Gogarty is going for Cathaoirleach of the Green Party. Best of luck etc. What I found odd about the release though was this note at the end:

While he is best known outside the Party for his work as Education Spokesperson, as well as the development of “50 Steps to a Better Education System”, internally he is recognised equally for his work in supporting election candidates and local constituency groups and for his input into the party’s political strategy.

Shouldn’t you be recognised internally and externally for all your work? Seems odd. And did you know he has 6 toes on his left foot too? This is recognised internally.

Like his aul fella, Ardal did actually have political notions

Friday, September 7th, 2007

Nice story from Irish KC about Ardal going for SU President during his college days. Also a chance to win his election pamphlet:

Inside is an introduction, a cartoon, a list of 21 election promises (e.e. #12 I promise to collect people’s grannies at Heuston Station when they come up for the weekend), and then there’s some blurb before finishing with a campaign slogan or two, including Don’t Be A Goat, Give O’Hanlon Your Vote, and An Fear Is Fearr.

You know you want to.