Tagged: Social media

The Fainting Couch. Or, the B.C. Liberal Party’s Social Media Strategy

The tweet:

Well, that’s shocking. Even if you are sympathetic to the teachers, there’s no excuse for the BCTF advocating violent intimidation on picket lines and….


…maybe we should read Mr. Sharpe’s cited article first. But even before that, let’s get to know our cast of characters.

Carl Ratsoy: A teacher at Reynold’s Secondary in Esquimalt Saanich (corrected).
Matt Grinder: A teacher at Reynold’s Secondary in Esquimalt Saanich (corrected).

Back to it…

Physics teacher Carl Ratsoy asked for protection from the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association and his colleagues at Saanich’s Reynolds secondary after a fiery email, penned by math teacher Matt Grinder, circulated among teachers there last week warning them not to cross any potential picket line.

Oh my. Still, that’s the actions of an individual teacher. Is it fair to characterize them as the position of the BCTF? Um. No. Does the BCTF have a responsibility to disavow? Maybe we should take a closer look at the Mr. Grinder’s fiery, violently threatening email.

Grinder says any teacher who crosses the picket line would have to be a “real sociopath.”

Oh. Well, that’s not very nice. Personally I don’t think crossing a picket line makes you a sociopath. It makes you a jerk, but not a sociopath. It’s an opinion, nothing more. Surely there’s more to it, though?

“[Crossing the picket line] is wishing horrific fines on your fellow teachers,” Grinder wrote in the email. “I would keep my children away from you, cause you’re evil. And I’ll shout at you.

Heh. Depending on the context and what precisely is said, shouting at someone can be inappropriate and deemed harassment. But not always…or even often. And one would think seeing someone cross a picket line is a socially – and legally – acceptable time to shout at someone. It is, in fact.

But I think it must be a new record for X-Treme spin[tm] to construe Mr. Grinder keeping his children away from Mr. Ratsoy as a violent threat against…Mr. Ratsoy.

Let’s keep in mind this hasn’t actually happened yet. Teachers have not picketed. They may or may not. Mr. Ratsoy has not attempted to cross a picket line. He may or may not. Mr. Grinder has not kept his children away, to my knowledge, from Mr. Ratsoy or shouted at him. He may or may not.

Oh, there’s a pertinent detail I’ve left out:

Carl Ratsoy: A teacher at Reynold’s Secondary in Saanich and B.C. Liberal Party candidate in Esquimalt-Royal Roads in 2009.

Oh…that might have been nice for the Sun to have mentioned [UPDATEThe story has been changed since this morning to reflect this].

Now you may be saying that nowhere in the newspaper article is there talk of “violent threats” and you’d be correct. Mr. Ratsoy himself states he thinks the email falls short of actual harassment. However Mr. Sharpe, the original Tweeter, was adamant.

Now I don’t usually concern myself with someone’s background. It’s the argument that’s important to me and bringing up someone’s credentials all too often veers into dismissing said argument via attacking the messenger. But Mr. Sharpe was quite concerned about my background – which he stated was a BCTF lackey [I have no association with the BCTF. I have friends who are teachers and a friend who is a principal. I’m also a parent].

But, all things being equal…let’s make the final update to our cast of characters:

Geoff Sharpe: On Twitter he’s a Digital strategist. On LinkedIn, however, he’s President of the BC Young Liberals of the BC Liberal Party

Perhaps we should call this the Feinting Couch.


Things that make you go hmmm…Koch Bros edition

Oh my! It would seem I’ve recently received a visit from someone working for the infamous billionaires, the Koch Brothers – financial backers of a large array of extreme right-wing causes and astroturf. Why, they were in the news just yesterday, for very naughty things.

So what, you say. They have a right to use the internet and if they stumble in here, well, it’s not statistically impossible.

However, my WordPress.com stats tell me they came, not via Google or Yahoo or Bing, but via us.cisionpoint.com. What’s that? Why it’s a media and social media monitoring service. If your company is mentioned in the press or on the internet, Cisionpoint will help you find it and assess it. Which is probably a good business practice these days.

However however, the story they came to, directly, isn’t about the Koch Brothers. The Kochs aren’t mentioned at all.

It’s about the Fraser Institute.

Why is somebody at Koch Industries monitoring media and social media mentions of The Fraser Institute?

Hmmm? (asked rhetorically)

Ezra Levant is happy to stand corrected

Ezra Levant posts a tweet:

Curious. I looked it up. The Tides Foundation is actually only a multi-million dollar outfit (which doesn’t actually fund The Tyee anyway. It receives funds from Tides *Canada* to fund a fellowship, but the vast bulk comes from Working Enterprises and Eric Petersen).

So I tweeted him back. And he responds!

Get that? He’s happy to stand corrected! He has the self-confidence to admit he had his facts wrong!

Oh, I find most of Ezra’s positions intellectually and morally repugnant…but at least he has a self-deprecating sense of humour. Right-wing blowhards in training take note.

Big Brother iz in UR Facebook, liking UR Posts

Public Eye Online posts a public tender from the British Columbia government looking for contractors to help manage it’s online presence. Of note, the duties would include:

“creating and responding to tweets, direct messages and posts” on Twitter, Facebook and other services.

That’s fine…as long as the commenter/tweeter is clearly identified as officially representing the government. In fact I think that should be the law.

Boo! Peer review at the Fraser Institute


Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday The Sixth Estate had a piece on a topic that usually generates a lot of discussion and controversy around these parts: The Fraser Institute’s Annual Report Card on Schools. This caught my eye:

As usual, five of the reviewers of this report are actually dead, some others are in their 90s, and one of them is also the author, a conflict of interest if ever there was one.

I thought the dead people part was kinda of snort-worthy. Funnily enough at that moment on Twitter a reporter and local politician were having a conversation about the Report Card and I sort of interjected myself with a “Here’s a fun factoid…” kind of thing. I didn’t think anyone would pay attention to me. But…as things sometimes do on Twitter, tweets get retweeted and soon take on a life of their own until all of a sudden a reporter from one of the major local dailies direct messages me saying “my list” is out of date, and to phone them (I was just trying to make a funny! Really!).

A friend pointed out to me that maybe the reporter meant this list on the Fraser Institute website, where it is marked “Editorial Advisory Board Members (1974 – 2008)”. So I double-checked the 2011 Report Card and, yes, on the last page are listed the members of the “Editorial Advisory Board”. And yes, 5 are indicated as being deceased: Friedrich A. Hayek (The Messiah! The Messiah!), George Stigler, Edwin G. West, H.G. Johnson, and the appropriately named F.G. Pennance. So if that list is no longer current then the Fraser Institute should update their publications. Their mistake.

At this point I was coming to the conclusion the “Editorial Advisory Board” was simply a sort of Fraser Institute Hall of Fame/Legion of Honour sort of thing but then…it is listed under “Peer Review”. Hmm…so I try to find what they actually do…

The Institute also maintains an Editorial Advisory Board, a panel of scholars from Canada, the United States and Europe. The panel is the final arbiter in the Institute’s peer review process.

I guess some of that arbitration is done with a Ouija board.

Blog recommendation: The Sixth Estate

The Sixth Estate: Dedicated to exposing “the perpetual inability of the media to identify potential conflicts of interest on the part of op-ed writers, experts approvingly quoted in headline stories, and so forth.” A subject close to my heart. Today’s post has as it’s basis:

Would the [National Post] really let a corporate shill onto its op-ed pages pretending to be a consumer advocate…

Hmmm…would it? Click to find out!

Protest, Social Media, Revolution, Double-edged swords

Last summer during the unrest in Iran, I placed a variety of the Twitter hashtags used by the protesters to organize in my RSS feed reader, as an experiment. It was quite fascinating to observe, in real time, the ebb and flow of marches. The utility of social media for such things was readily apparent.  For example, the powerful image above was taken in Cairo on someone’s iPhone and uploaded to Twitter.

But then, after a few days, different sorts of messages began to appear. “Security Services have hacked Twitter user X’s account – ignore messages from it” and so on. And that’s the dark side – as convenient and efficient as it is to use social media to organize the positive, it can just as easily be used to spread disinformation.

It’s something I’ve always had in the back of my mind when I try and evaluate how reliable various websites and blogs are -> just who is actually behind this. Especially during the lead up to the Iraq War it seemed apparent that certain sites, if not run outright, were willingly receiving and disseminating information and disinformation from intelligence services.

As for Egypt, expectations should be tempered. As Marc Lynch wisely notes, dictators learn from each other and, when it comes to regime survival, are more than willing to adapt quickly.