Widgets at the DNC

Even though I am officially on vacation this week, I did want to blog about some cool stuff we are doing at the DNC in NewsGator’s hometown this week. The Big Tent stuff is getting some great coverage, and our widget is aggregating feeds from a whole bunch of blogs that are covering the event. Check it out, install it, follow the activities.

You might be interested to know that the Big Tent Widget consolidates feeds from nearly 200 bloggers, new media journalists and nonprofit leaders credentialed for the Big Tent, the 9,000 square-foot new media center hosted by Progress Now, Daily Kos, the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, and is sponsored by Digg, Google, NewsGator, and others.

[From Two Innovative, New Widgets Are Launched Widgets Provide Dynamic Blog/Qik Content from DNC: NewsGator Widget Blog]

Secondly, I am really excited to hook up with the team at Qik to offer a video widget featuring their user generated mobile streaming video right from the convention floor and surrounding activities. The two offerings can be summed up as a true “pros vs. joes” with professionally published blogger content, as well as the semi-pro stuff as well, and the user generated video that is aggregated from anyone using Qik who is in Denver.

What’s next? Just aggregating content is useful but I’d like to see us layer in our related content tools to offer a more semantic take on the content offered up with other non-linked content that is similar in subject and possibly even with sentiment analysis thrown in. Maybe dynamic persistent search on any key entity extracted from a post. We’re just scratching the surface with what is capable with these widgets and the back end platform services. Stay tuned.

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Lowering the Drinking Age

UPDATE: I forgot to post this link to a post on PETA that I really liked, sent by a frequent commenter who shares my head shaking disbelief at PETA’s tactics.

At first my reflexive response was against the idea of lowering the drinking age to 18 but after some thought I think I can support this initiative. Consider the facts, we treat 18-20 year olds as adults in every other capacity, why not on this point as well? Prohibition of alcohol for 18-20 year olds hasn’t worked any better than for the broader population in the 1920′s and it may well be resulting in unintended consequences like binge drinking.

Unfortunately, MADD appears to be taking a dogmatic scorched earth approach to this idea instead of engaging in objective debate, reinforcing the notion that these groups are not simply in favor of beneficial social change but are simply put, anti-alcohol in any form. PETA is simply about better treatment for animals, they are hostile to anyone who likes to eat meat, and a wide range of environmental groups are not simply for enhancing the environment, they are anti-human contact with environment. The Brady Campaign also comes to mind, having strayed from simply preventing gun violence to being completely anti-gun.

Ultimately these groups become their own worst enemies because their anti-fill-in-the-blank approach results in their political currency being depleted. Witness the Brady Campaign, despite two decades of work they have little to show for it and this generation of politicians don’t even want to talk about gun control, especially following the Heller decision. MADD risks being ejected into the same political wilderness by taking on the opponents that they have.

What happens when presidents from more than 100 of the nation’s best-known colleges call on lawmakers to consider lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18? Well, a brigade of hyperbolic mommies start screaming at them, that’s what.

[From Let's chuck the drinking age - The Denver Post]

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