The government’s lobbying bill

So I’ve written to my MP (Jonathan Lord: Con, Woking) about the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill, due for Second Reading in the House of Commons tomorrow.

There are three main sections to this bill — one to create a register of lobbyists, a second to regulate non-party spending in the 12 months preceding a General Election and a third to tighten the regulations around trades unions. The second part of this bill is widely considered to offer an existential threat to British democracy; I also have concerns around this third part, but my MP is a Tory and I know which battles are worth fighting.

The text of my letter (edited slightly to read better as hypertext) to Mr Lord follows:
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So Disruptive their information is inaccessible

Edit 2013-08-08: Popsop have today posted a better summary of this story, with a much better “infographic” (of HTML and CSS, rather than a big inaccessible image).

Yesterday, I was sent a relatively interesting infographic entitled “What customers hate about your brand in social media”.

Missing from this infographic was an item I’d have put near the top of my list — bloody infographics. Infographics are great for visualising information, but far too often they have inaccessible text, in small point sizes, with poor colour contrast. And don’t even get me started on angular data visualisations like pie charts and curvy line graphs.

What makes this example all the worse is that Disruptive Communications are apparently not yet competent enough to have posted a blog piece talking about the information in the infographic. (To be fair to them, they only have three blog posts, the second of which is them officially launching themselves as a new “UK social media, content marketing and digital PR agency”.) The nearest I could see is a piece on Wallblog, which appears to be down at the moment.

So, as several of my friends have commented that they can’t read the text, and I’m struggling to do so too, and without apology to Disruptive Communications, who could perhaps focus a little more of their attentions on doing things well, here is the content from the infographic.

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ORGcon 2013

ORGcon 2013 logo So it was ORGcon 2013 a few weekends ago. There will be a couple of posts about the day, because there were some aspects of the day I need to comment on separately, without any hint of my ORG Board Member hat on, but this post I shall restrict to discussing the day itself.

The tone of the day was helpfully set by the revelations about the NSA’s Prism programme:

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Geekdom — a safe space for women?

This is the first of two posts about ORGcon; a second post will discuss the talks of the day itself. I need to make it explicitly clear that I am writing this post in a personal capacity and not in my rôle as a board director of the Open Rights Group. My comments here are not representative of or endorsed by ORG.

Edit 2013-06-20: ORG have today published the videos of the two keynote talks.

XKCD #385: How it Works

XKCD #385: How it Works

In the afternoon at ORGcon, the first session I went to was an excellent panel discussion between media lawyer David Allen Green, Lord Richard Allen, director of policy at Facebook, Robert Sharp, head of campaigns and comms at English PEN, and media lawyer Victoria McEvedy, chaired by Dr Alison Powell of the LSE. The title was “The right to be offensive: Free speech online in the UK” and it covered “how our laws are undermining free speech”. It was an awesome session and I recommend you look it up once ORG get the video online. One of the topics it touched upon was how hate speech directed at minority groups is an effective means of silencing those groups; David mentioned the email sent to Louise Mensch, threatening her children, for example.

I then chaired a session of rapid-fire talks, including one by my friend and fellow ORG board-member Mili Popova, titled When worlds collide, about “the grey areas, where we can see both sides of the argument” between digital rights and anti-censorship, in particular talking about online harassment and violence against women.

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From the annals of (my) history: Discursive essay writing

Photo of calligraphy nibs and dry-transfer lettering

After 7½ years together, Jen has finally merged our stationery collections.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I was a font geek as a child too, as you can see from the calligraphy nibs and the dry-transfer lettering in the photo. But I also found what I can only assume are GCSE English notes:

Discursive essay writing

  1. Begin by capturing the reader’s interest by something surprising or interesting.
  2. Write a few paragraphs putting forward the argument(s) you disagree with and explain why you disagree.
  3. Write a few more paragraphs on the points you support and explain why you support them.
  4. Save our strongest arguments until last.
  5. In the last paragraph, leave the reader with something to think about.

Aww, bless 🙂